01/17/06 Boston College 63, Holy Cross 53 Worcester, Mass.
01/18/06 Duke 81, NC State 68 Durham, N.C.
Great effort by NC State in this one. It was really a fun game to watch as both teams really went at it. The final margin is not at all indicative of how close the game was. State’s Cedric Simmons really had a breakout game with 28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks and three steals.
Notice how many big men are having huge games against Shelden Williams this year? I’ve actually been planning on article on this for a few weeks now, but haven’t gotten around to it. Meanwhile, the evidence mounts.
01/18/06 Miami 62, Clemson 38 Miami, FL
No, that’s not a typo. Clemson scored 38 points. 38! That’s just embarrassing.
On the flip side, Miami really seems to have figured out that they should be good. With the win, they moved up to 3-1 in the ACC, good for second place.
01/18/06 Wake Forest 86, Georgia Tech 71 Winston-Salem, N.C.
I told you Wake would win this one! They had to. And while Georgia Tech has a good collection of players (I think), they haven’t really gelled into a team yet. You are never quite sure what you’re going to get with them. I guess you could say the same for Wake, but considering how critical this game was and since it was at home, they had to win it.
01/19/06 Virginia 72, North Carolina 68 Charlottesville, Va.
Holy crap. Did you watch this game? Not only was the end result surprising, but the way that UVA went about winning defied all expectations. The Cavs are not the most athletic team in the world, but somehow they managed to block 12 Tar Heel shots. That’s just one of those things that happens in sports some times that makes no sense. I can feel pretty confident in saying that Virginia won’t block 12 shots in one game again this year.
What they did do that teams will surely replicate is beat the crap out of Tyler Hansbrough. Whenever he got the ball, he was swarmed and he didn’t show that he was very adept at passing out of the double team. If teams can cut him off, Carolina needs to show that they can consistently hit their outside shots, something they haven’t done very well this year. On the other end of the court, Virginia attacked with their three guards (Singletary, Reynolds and Bannister) and exposed Carolina’s weak exterior defense.
Expect to see a lot more of that game-plan against UNC.
01/21/06 Clemson 73, Georgia Tech 63 Atlanta, GA
What a turnaround for Clemson. Just a few days after crapping the laundry hamper in Miami, the Tigers got off the mat and won a road game. Maybe Oliver Purnell is getting some traction down there. Not only was it a rare road win for Clemson, but they had to come back in the second half to do it.
Of course, instead of praising Clemson, maybe I should cast a wary eye on that Yellow Jacket team. They turned the ball over 27 times in the loss, and that was even with the Tigers playing a lot of zone defense. You think Paul Hewitt misses Jarrett Jack?
01/21/06 Georgetown 87, Duke 84 Washington, D.C.
The big upset! Georgetown did exactly what teams need to do against Duke, spread them out and attack them with more athletic players. Duke is not a terribly quick team. If you can do that and if you can get a sub-par game out of one of the Blue Devil All-Americans, you can beat them. JJ Redick was incredible yet again, but Shelden Williams scored just four points. Even worse for Duke was the play of Greg Paulus. He was awful in the second half. He never seemed to know when to speed up or to slow down and he threw passes all over the court. The box score shows him with only four turnovers, but don’t believe that for a second.
If Duke is going to make a deep NCAA run, they are going to need much better point guard play. I think Coach K needs to use Sean Dockery more to spell Paulus. Dockery isn’t spectacular but he’s learned over his career how to make better decisions (remember, he too was once an out-of-control point guard). Maybe the loss will help Paulus learn how to play. With all the wins, he never really had to pay the price for his poor decisions.
01/21/06 NC State 92, Wake Forest 82 Raleigh, N.C.
A very solid win for NC State. This team is so poised. Wake opened a 13-point lead in the first half, but the balanced Wolfpack took it in stride. They chipped it down to 5 before the half and then went on to roll in the second. In this game Cedric Simmons didn’t really do much, but the other guys picked it up, particularly Cam Bennerman, who had a career high of 26 points.
For Wake, they have the same problem they’ve had for several years now – they don’t play defense. When NC State scores 92 points on you, you aren’t trying. The Pack is a very good offensive team, but they aren’t an up-tempo team.
01/21/06 Maryland 81, Virginia Tech 72 College Park, Md.
This one pretty much followed the script. Maryland was at home and needed the win. The Hokies needed the win (any win!), but College Park’s not an easy place to win. With the loss, VT is now 0-5 in the ACC and in deep, deep trouble. Before the season, they were a solid bet for an NCAA bid, but now it looks like it might be a struggle to make the NIT. Welcome to the big time.
01/21/06 Boston College 65, Miami 61 Coral Gables, Fla.
Unfortunately for Miami, just as they are figuring things out, so is Boston College. And Boston College is better. For the Eagles, the road win makes up for the home loss to NC State. They are back on track for at least 8-8 in the ACC, which would get them in the tourney. It’s very likely that they’ll do much better than that.
BTW, what do you think the TV ratings were for this game in the cities of Miami and Boston? Does anyone care?
01/22/06 North Carolina 81, Florida State 80 Tallahassee, Fla.
Whew! The Tar Heels were on the verge of big, BIG trouble. A loss in this game would have been their third in a row and their next three games are BC, Arizona and at Maryland. A six-game skid was extremely likely, especially considering the fragile psyches of freshmen. But now they got a road win and more importantly, found a way to overcome their troubles. The answer to the problems I listed above in the Virginia game write-up? Wes Miller! He is the one Heel who can really shoot from outside and he made FSU pay for collapsing on Hansbrough by hitting six three-pointers. Now, Miller isn’t going to do that very often, but if he can just hit one or two per game, the threat could be enough to keep the offense moving along. That little extra space created by defenders staying out on him should give all the other guys enough room to create their shots. We’ll see.
For FSU, I don’t know what to say. I’d like to think that Leonard Hamilton is a good coach, but at some point I need to see them win consistently and beat top conference team. With their current record they still have an excellent shot at an NCAA bid and that could be huge for the program.
p.s.. How about those Steelers?!! Like millions, I jumped on the bandwagon way back in the 70s when they were the best and coolest team going. This is only the second Super Bowl of my adult life and I really think they have a good shot this time. I felt really good before I watched Seattle take Carolina apart. That made me a bit apprehensive. Still, I like their chances.
p.p.s.. Man, 81 points for Kobe. He may not be the greatest guy in the world, but you can’t deny his talent and ability. 81! Even if you’re hogging the ball and taking every shot, how many NBA players could score 81? How many in the history of the game? My friend Jackie Chiles at the Airing Of Grievances is feeling pretty cocky right about now.
p.p.p.s. Congrats to the Duke women who spanked #1 Tennessee last night. Let’s see, that’s two #1 vs. #2 matchups for Duke this year, one for the men and one for the women, and they’ve won both by blowout. Impressive.