A Review and Analysis of Last Week's Action

A Review and Analysis of Last Week's Action
Nov 13, 2006, 03:41 am
-I’m going to hold off until next week in order to update the bracket since there are a large number of teams who haven’t played a game yet. Even if I were to do a new one this week, there wouldn’t be too many changes. There were a few surprises, but for the most part teams that appear to be of tournament caliber really haven’t challenged themselves yet. Therefore, most of them won, but did so against opponents that aren’t likely to be any sort of a factor when the committee looks at them. It’s always possible for teams that appear to be cupcakes now to go on a rampage, pull off several wins against big time opponents, and actually turn out to be quality wins, but in more cases than not that just isn’t likely.

-One team that did challenge themselves was Arizona, who went on the road to play Virginia for their season opener. Virginia was inaugurating their new arena and had a very enthusiastic crowd on hand. Arizona led by as many as 19 in the first half, but it was a fast paced game, which allowed Virginia to come all the way back and pull off the upset. For UVA it appears to be the highest quality opponent anyone has managed to beat so far. That’s big for a school that is in the midst of a long absence from the NCAA Tournament. The only thing UVA needs to focus on now is being competitive in ACC play. They do face NC State on December 3 for an early conference game, but other than that they should be favored in their next seven games. After that they will face Gonzaga and Stanford at home in back to back games.

-Charlotte is back to their typical bi-polar selves. They opened the season at home against Hofstra, who is a very strong team, and were simply blowing them out as they took an 18 point lead into the half. Hofstra then came roaring back and actually got themselves in a position to win in the end, but couldn’t quite get over the top. Charlotte escaped with an 88-82 win that will likely be a high quality win for them. It’s not a good loss for Hofstra because they don’t have that many opportunities to come up with statement wins, and Charlotte is a potential NCAA Tournament caliber team.

The next day Charlotte faced North Texas at home. Why they scheduled back to back games that weren’t part of an exempt tournament to open the season I have no idea, but they did. North Texas appears to be a middle of the road Sun Belt Conference team but they managed to beat Charlotte senseless, 90-72. Charlotte shot just 32% from the floor while North Texas shot 54%.

-George Mason struggled in their opener with Cleveland State and actually trailed most of the game, but came from behind to win in the end. Still, they had a much tougher time than one would expect.

-Albany knocked off Bucknell 55-49. Bucknell led most of the game, but did not score in the final 2:20. It is a big win for Albany, who won 20+ games last season, went to the NCAA Tournament as a #16 seed, and built a 12 point second half lead against top seeded Connecticut. Bucknell was a tournament team last year as well and advanced to the second round.

Both teams have a lot of talent back and could potentially make some noise this year, so it is a very nice win for Albany. It may end up being their best chance at a quality win all year. They will go to Connecticut later this year, but they’ll likely be over matched in that game and they really won’t have high quality competition in conference. Albany should be favored in the majority of their games, but they can’t really afford to lose more than three or four if they want serious consideration for an at large bid. Bucknell also plays in a weak conference, but they have other out of conference games against Wake Forest, Saint Joseph’s, Northern Iowa, Xavier, George Mason and Texas Tech. Only one of those games are at home, but at least they’ll have their opportunities to establish themselves as a strong NCAA Tourney team.

-Although there weren’t any big upsets, several teams had their hands full. Iowa State was nearly knocked off by Eastern Illinois, but held on to win 56-54. Connecticut had more trouble with Quinnipiac than most would expect. Quinnipiac shot a horrible percentage from the field, but somehow kept the game within reach until the end of the second half. Georgetown really had their hands full with Hartford. They won 69-59, but it was close all the way through. Cincinnati had some trouble with High Point, but eventually pulled away and won convincingly.

-One team that looked awesome this weekend, despite having lost most of their top players, was Gonzaga. They completely destroyed Eastern Washington, who doesn’t appear to be a tournament caliber team, but is still a competitive team out of the Big Sky who is quite honestly a lot better than some of the cream puffs the other ranked teams opened against. Gonzaga looked good in their 90-75 win shooting 53% from the floor and 46% from three point land.

Most of the top five teams looked like they’re ranked right where they should be. Florida blew out a Samford team who is favored to win the Ohio Valley Conference. Pittsburgh beat Western Michigan, who should be a pretty good MAC team very convincingly. Kansas crushed Northern Arizona, who is one of the better teams in the Big Sky. Ohio State won three games against VMI, Loyola and Kent State to win the BCA Classic.

-Savannah State improved to 2-0 on the season after winning 67-64 against Jacksonville. Savannah State won just one game against a div1 opponent last year and none the year before. They are still feeling the growing pains of making the jump to div1, but this is a great way for them to start the year. Their next opponent is a home game against Mercer, followed by two more games against teams outside of div1.

-Another shocker from this past weekend was NJIT’s 56-55 win against Manhattan. NJIT is just beginning the probation period of making the jump to div1 and wasn’t all that good of a team when they were competing in div2. Manhattan, on the other hand, won the Metro Atlantic regular season title a year ago. This is as unexpected as any result we might see all year. NJIT’s next opponent is Rider, who is also a member of the Metro Atlantic Conference.

TOP 25

-Here is my personal top 25. It has nothing to do with my bracket projections because those are an attempt to accurately hypothesize what the selection committee will do, not what I think they should do. At this point it is still very hard to tell, especially because some of the teams haven’t even played their first game yet.

1. Florida
2. North Carolina
3. Kansas
4. Pittsburgh
5. Ohio State
7. Wisconsin
8. Duke
9. LSU
10. Alabama
11. Boston College
12. Georgetown
13. Texas A&M
14. Syracuse
15. Washington
16. Arizona
17. Gonzaga
18. Creighton
19. Texas
20. Nevada
21. Virginia
22. Marquette
23. Memphis
24. Kentucky
25. Wichita State

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