“I can get on Ty because he will turn it over every now and then, but where would we be without him?” Self said. “We don’t win the game tonight if he doesn’t play. He definitely isn’t 100 percent.”
-Another shootout at the Oakland Corral! Michigan went for FIFTEEN threes and scored 59 in the second half to outgun the host Golden Grizzlies. Oakland has played 10 games. At least one team has scored 70 in each of them, each team has scored at least 70 in each of them except the season opener against Alabama and its elite (basketball) defense and a 30 point win over lethargic Grambling State (who could only get to 45 in that game - their season high. Yes it's true) and today was the sixth straight game that the Grizzlies (and all of their opponents save UMKC) have both hit at least 80. Reggie Hamilton, former Wolverine Laval Lucas-Perry and co. know how to run and know how to score while not knowing (or seemingly caring) much about defending. But with today's spirited effort and a win over Tennessee already in their pocket, the Grizz have shown they can play against decent BCS competition (though as noted in part 1 the Vols' effort today was far from decent) and should still be the favorites to defend their Summit crown. As for Michigan, it's always going to be about the backcourt with Trey Burke going for 20 and 9 today to make Wolverine fans forget even more about Darius Morris. No need to forget Tim Hardaway Jr. - he and his 21 points (18 in the second half) are still leading what looks to be an NCAA tournament lock and should fight for a protected seed and positioning in the Big Ten. The Wolverines shouldn't lose again before Minnesota kicks off 2012 with a trip to Crisler Arena.
-Remember when Clemson NEVER lost out-of-conference? Now the Tigers have dropped three in a row and four of six. The bigger problem is that weren't even close at Arizona today after having the whole week to stew over last weekend's embarrassing home gaffe to South Carolina - making them unofficially the fourth best team in their own state. As for the Cats, their defense on non-Patric Young Florida players was impressive in midweek and now they've sandwiched it by giving up just 47 today after conceding only 39 to Northern Arizona last weekend. Sean Miller knows how to teach a lot of things related to basketball - defense being one of them. As for the Tigers - a team I had just outside my early season bracket - they can forget about the NCAA's unless they win at least 10 games in a weak ACC. That challenge begins January 7 when one of the few strong teams - Florida State - comes to town to kick off league play. Before that, they clearly have a lot of issues to work out, mostly on offense.
-Missouri throttled somebody again. Today's victim was Navy, who led 5-0 and then never again. The last time these programs met before today was a 1/16 NCAA tournament matchup in 1994. If the Midshipmen, 3-8 under new head coach Ed DeChellis (who shockingly left Penn State to take the job), can win the Patriot League tournament history might very well repeat itself this March. In case you're wondering - the first round of the last year of the Border War is a ESPN College GameDay game on Saturday February 4 at 9 PM. I'd pay a lot to buy that Zoo and be in it that night if I could. It might teach us a thing or two about who's getting one of those four coveted # 1 seeds.
-Man, Villanova couldn't even beat Temple with the Owls missing starting center Michael Eric? The Cats are now officially out of nonconference marquee win chances and might yet eat another OOC loss when they make another Big 5 road trip next weekend - this time at the St. Joseph's team talked about in part I. Considering it took overtime to put away La Salle by 3 and Penn was only defeated by 8, the trip to the Fieldhouse next Saturday is all that's left to salvage a miserable Big 5 campaign for Jay Wright's boys. Worse news: the Big East slate opens at West Virginia and then at Marquette so they could be looking at needing to win 10 of their final 16 - as opposed to losing 10 of their final 14 - to make the tournament that last year's team surely careened in to, particularly with this year's team being forced to carry that 76 Classic third place loss to Santa Clara on its resume. As for the Owls, today's win was really important considering that ugly Bowling Green loss could haunt them if they're anywhere near the bubble (and as just stated, it could obviously end up being a head-to-head win over a bubble rival) and next weekend's trip to Texas before home games with dangerous Buffalo (a better MAC team than Bowling Green) and even-more-dangerous Duke just after the New Year may just mean that the Owls have work to do in the Atlantic 10 to earn their NCAA tournament spot.