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March 19, 2010
Can Today Be That Good?

by John Gasaway


(11) Old Dominion 51, (6) Notre Dame 50 [54 possessions]
The Monarchs entered this game with a reputation as a very good defensive team that would be able to hold its own with Big East types like the Fighting Irish. And that is exactly what took place. While ODU was led by 15 points from Frank Hassell, they were actually beaten pretty badly on the boards. The Monarch did, however, prevent Notre Dame from making shots, most especially Luke Harangody. In his final game, Harangody scored just four points in 23 minutes, two of which came as time expired. It was a strange coda to a great career. Harangody's knee injury in mid-February coincided with a stylistic epiphany experienced by Mike Brey. The combination of those two events meant Harangody ended his playing days at ND much as he began them, fitting a lot of shots into limited playing time.

(3) Baylor 68, (14) Sam Houston St. 59 [75]
Another game characterized by excellent defense, though said excellence was far more surprising coming from the Bears and Bearkats. Sam Houston launched 31 threes, of which only six were successful. Gilberto Clavell did all he could inside the arc (10-of-19 shooting, 23 points) but he didn't receive much in the way of effective help on offense. But give the Bearkats credit, they frustrated a very good offense, limiting Baylor to well under a point per possession. Ekpe Udoh recorded a 20-13 double-double for the Bears, in a game that was tied with a little more than four minutes remaining.

(10) Saint Mary's 80, (7) Richmond 71 [62]
In West Coast Conference play this season the Gaels were merely average on both the offensive and defensive glass. Well, the WCC regular season is, apparently, ancient history. Yesterday Randy Bennett's team simply did whatever they wanted in terms of rebounding, hauling down 84 percent of the Spiders' misses and 59 percent of their own. When your own misses never matter and the other team's always do, that's a big advantage. It's amazing Chris Mooney's team was able to stay this close. Omar Samhan recorded a 29-12 double-double while CBS, for reasons known only to that venerable network, played snippets of "Mr. Sandman" by The Chordettes. So on Saturday you should be ready for "Bossa Nova Baby" by the King. It will doubtless be overdubbed on highlights compiled by a certain Aussie freshman.

(2) Villanova 73, (15) Robert Morris 70 (OT) [76]
The lone Big East team to survive yesterday's chaos, Villanova itself appears rather chaotic at the moment. Players variously miss entire games (Taylor King) or they are benched at the beginning of a game (as Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher were yesterday), and the reasons remain vague and unstated. It just doesn't feel like a six-win locomotive starting to hurtle down the tracks. Be that as it may, the Wildcats move on, thanks to a remarkable 100-second span late in regulation where Reynolds would (surprise!) drive into the lane and fling himself into the nearest hapless Colonial, whereupon the officials would dutifully send Reynolds to the line for two shots. In this manner 'Nova erased a six-point deficit and took the game to OT, where ultimately they prevailed.

(7) BYU 99, (10) Florida 92 (2OT) [85]
After halftime this game was a lot like any fight in a "Rocky" movie, wherein the two boxers never simply trade punches. Instead, one is beating the other to a pulp until, suddenly and miraculously, the fighter nearest to a pulp rallies and starts landing haymakers on his tormentor. BYU had a 13-point lead with less than ten minutes to play in regulation, but the Gators got this game to OT because of some timely threes by Kenny Boynton. Finally in the second OT period threes by the Cougars' Jimmer Fredette and Michael Loyd did the trick. For the game Fredette scored 37 points on 26 shots.

(2) Kansas St. 82, (15) North Texas 62 [66]
Not even the best tempo-free opponent scouting that charity can give could prevent K-State from pounding the ball down low, launching shots from close in, and feasting on their offensive glass.

(13) Murray St. 66, (4) Vanderbilt 65 [64]
The game-winning 15-footer that Danero Thomas hit for the Racers didn't appear to be one of those carefully diagrammed shots. For one thing he barely got it off before the horn sounded. And if he missed there would be no chance for a putback. Instead, it was all-net and the pride of the Ohio Valley moves on to the second round. Give credit there not only to Thomas but also to his teammates Isacc Miles and B.J. Jenkins, who combined to score 31 of Murray State's 66 points.

(5) Butler 77, (12) UTEP 59 [67]
The next time someone criticizes a team for shooting threes, remind them of this game. The Bulldogs attempted 31 threes and just 19 twos against the Miners. (Unbalanced offense!) And yet Brad Stevens' team won going away while scoring 1.14 points per trip because, you guessed it, the threes went in. Ask Shelvin Mack, who hit 7-of-9 threes on his way to 25 points. Butler outscored UTEP 40-22 over the last 16 minutes.

(14) Ohio 97, (3) Georgetown 83 [73]
Speaking of threes going in, meet the Bobcats of Ohio University, who scored 97 points in just 73 possessions against a big scary three-seed from the Big East. When you go 7-9 in the MAC you're not supposed to pull a stunt like this. It was incredible to watch primarily because it felt so well-deserved and not at all lucky. Those made threes (13-of-23) were more often than not the product of a drive and kick or a pick and roll. Indiana transfer Armon Bassett scored 32 points on 17 shots for the Bobcats, who will be boring children with this footage for the rest of their lives. They should. They looked incredible.

(6) Tennessee 62, (11) San Diego St. 59 [60]
This was a pretty good distillation of Tennessee in 2010 right here in these 40 minutes, which were slower than you might expect if you haven't been paying attention, and which featured better defense than you used to see in Knoxville. That is how the Volunteers win games now. In a game that was tight throughout, Bruce Pearl's team led for the entirety of the last six minutes. The Aztecs couldn't get over the hump, despite a 12-10 double-double from freshman Kawhi Leonard. J.P. Prince led the Vols with 15 points on nine shots.

(11) Washington 80, (6) Marquette 78 [67]
I said I wanted to see this game and it lived up to my expectations. Both teams shot exceptionally well, meaning purists will gripe about the defenses. Well, Marquette's not exactly the tallest team you'll see and as for the Huskies, they were facing a very good offense. Make "last team with the ball" jokes it you wish, but it did come down to Quincy Pondexter's leaner in the lane with 1.7 seconds remaining. If I'm Steve Alford, I think I'd rather see Marquette in the second round.

(3) New Mexico 62, (14) Montana 57 [60]
In the first half the Lobos didn't have an answer for Grizzlies' big man Brian Qvale, who scored 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting before intermission. But even though Qvale finished with some great numbers (a 26-13 double-double) his touches were harder to come by in the second half. Meanwhile Dairese Gary was busy doing his best Scottie Reynolds impression late in the game, getting to the line ten times and scoring 15 points. Roman Martinez added 19.

(9) Northern Iowa 69, (8) UNLV 66 [58]
You don't often see a team give the ball away on 28 percent of its possessions and beat an opponent that coughed up the rock on just 14 percent of their trips. But the Panthers were able to overcome committing 16 turnovers in a slow game by making 20-of-23 free throws. Ali Farokhmanesh led UNI with 17 points.

(1) Kansas 90, (16) Lehigh 74 [73]
The Mountain Hawks toyed briefly with our emotions, leading early, falling behind, and then drawing to within one point of the Jayhawks with a little more than three minutes remaining in the first half. From that point on KU outscored Lehigh 64-49.

(9) Wake Forest 81, (8) Texas 80 (OT) [81]
I am frankly baffled by the season the Longhorns had this year. They played at a fast pace and they were strong on the offensive glass, but in literally every other measurable category this team was more or less average compared to its conference. They sure didn't look average to me in December. If they were outright bad at one or several things it might have been easier to understand. Whatever caused the malicious averageness, it spread team-wide starting on or about January 17, and it never left.

(1) Kentucky 100, (16) E. Tennessee St. 71 [80]
Eric Bledsoe entered the game shooting 32 percent on his threes and left it shooting 37 percent for the season. What a difference one game can make, especially when you hit 8-of-9 threes and score 29 points. Next!

John doesn't have space for 16 game recaps on Twitter: @JohnGasaway. College Basketball Prospectus 2009-10 is now available on Amazon.

John Gasaway is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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Around the Rim (03/19)
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2010-03-22 - Through the Roof: Cornell's Ridiculous Offen...
2010-03-21 - A New Era: No More Chalk Brackets
2010-03-20 - Return to Reality: Mostly
2010-03-19 - Can Today Be That Good?:
2010-03-18 - Perfecting the Sport: In 12 Easy Steps
2010-03-17 - Is it Duke or Cameron Indoor?:
2010-03-16 - Tournament Preview: Kentucky in the East

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