While "Snowpocalypse" may have cut down on the number of fans able to get down to the Verizon Center it did nothing to the offensive execution of the Georgetown Hoyas. John Thompson III's team did whatever they wanted in the first half, shooting 55.6% from the field (including 8-13 behind the arc) in taking a 50-31 halftime lead. The star of the half: Jason Clark, who scored seventeen points (4-4 3PT) fourteen minutes of action. Austin Freeman added twelve and Villanova played the role of willing prey by turning the ball over sixteen times.
The Mountain West schedule makers hit the nail on the head with their opening week slate, scheduling games between the four teams expected to compete for the regular season title. On Tuesday San Diego State defended their home floor with a win over New Mexico but it remains to be seen how long Billy White (high ankle sprain) is out of the lineup. Wednesday's showdown will be in Provo, with UNLV visiting BYU in a game that should be an entertaining one. The Rebels have depth and will need to use their defense in order to beat one of the best scoring teams in the nation.
Las Vegas can be a dangerous trip for ranked teams. The sights and sound can be enough to distract anyone, much less a group of people in the 18-23 year-old age bracket. But there's also another issue, one that #16 Louisville ran into on Saturday afternoon: there's a pretty good college basketball team in that town. UNLV, expected by many to be a factor in the Mountain West, using a run that covered about a twelve-minute stretch from the end of the first half to the beginning of the second, knocked off the Cardinals 76-71 in front of a frenzied crowd.
The Saturday schedule is lacking in big-time matchups but there are some intriguing games on the slate. La Salle and Villanova face off in a Big 5 game at the Pavilion and Dr. John Gianinni's team has the talent and depth to hang around with the Wildcats. And with it being the Big 5 you never truly know what's going to happen. Louisville had better be on "upset alert" in Sin City; Lon Kruger's Runnin' Rebels are deep with talent and experience, a recipe for consistent success.
Wednesday offered Utah and UNLV the opportunity to knock off in-state rivals (Utah State and Nevada) who will enter their respective conference seasons expected to compete for league titles, and neither disappointed. The Utes were able to capitalize on seventeen Utah State turnovers and a hot-shooting Carlon Brown (sorry for referring to you as Carlton yesterday) to pull out the 68-67 win over the Aggies.
Betting odds are a great guide to college basketball action. Unlike fans, who often ride the wave of media predictions, betting lines tend to be a bit more focused and can give you an objective picture of how teams matchup (though lines too can get caught up in the wave of human emotion).
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