Daily Dribble: 12/20
I wouldn't say Tuesday was a wacky day of colege basketall.. but it was certainly an odd day. Appalachian State over Virginia is certainly the day's shocker. Virginia was 6-1, including a win over Arizona, heading into the matchup with then 7-3 Appalachian State in Puerto Rico. Perhaps inspired by the football team's good run in the 1-AA Football Tournament.. the Mountaineers basically controlled Virginia from the tip. App State comes out of the game with an 8-3 record.. but don't be deceived, this team hadn't done anything before Tuesday. 3 of their wins were against non-D1 teams and they had losses of 30 against Clemson and 32 against Virginia Tech. This is not just the most shocking win of the day, but arguably the most shocking win of the year. North Dakota State over Marquette got some headlines, but this is twice as surprising.
Half as surprising is Syracuse falling to Drexel at the Carrier Dome. Frank Elegar scored a career high 27 in the Dragons big win. Elegar, a junior out of New York has been playing the best ball of his career in recent weeks, scoring 20+ in 3 of 4 games. Drexel was supposed to be a contender for the CAA title, but they faltered out of the gates with early losses to Rider and Penn. But back to back road wins at Villanova and Syracuse put the Dragons right back in the thick of the NCAA Tournament watch.
For the overrated Cuse, its now losses in 3 of 5, none of which were road games. Without Gerry Mac around to save them in the Big East tournament.. the only thing that can save them now is a Big East biased selection committee.
Atlantic Sun favorite Belmont gave Michigan State a battle up in Lansing. The Bruins led at the half, before Drew Neitzel scored 18 in the second stanza to pull of the 9 point win. Belmont had a similar result last game at Illinois, where they kept it close for a half before faltering.. but mostly these games are learning experiences for the Bruins. For MSU, its the same old Drew Neitzel show.. there's only so far they can go as a one man team.
Omni Smith came out of nowhere to score 33 points to keep Kent State alive against Duke until the last seconds. Smith had never broken 20 before Tuesday.. talk about stepping up in a big game. Still, ultimately Duke prevailed in Cameron.. as they've barely managed to do against inferior opponents all year. I still think the Blue Devils will do not but improve as the season goes on.. but they have to be one of the country's most overrated team.
Mark Tyndale, who recently became eligible from academic issues, score 18 to lead Temple to a 5 point win at Ball State. With Tyndale back in the mix and Dionte Christmas playing well, the Owls have a chance to be a surprise team in the A-10.
How bout North Carolina scoring 65 points in the first half against FAU. What I'd like to see is UNC's third group of 5 (Alex Stephenson, Surry Wood, Mike Copeland, Quentin Thomas, and Dewey Burke) start playing teams. That five could probably beat a third of the teams in the country.
Very good game between Illinois and Missouri in Saint Louis. The Illini eventually pulled out a 73-70 victory in a game that was back and forth most of the way. The game reminded me of a quality mid-major affair. It was mostly quality half-court basketball between two teams that don't really have dominant individual talent, but are solid all-around teams. The improving Shaun Pruitt scored a season high 19 points in the win. The 6-10 big man has improved substantially each season, and showed off some nice footwork in the post.
That's all for now..
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