|Xavier's mollywhop of Butler Tuesday afternoon was a really surprising turn of events. Statement W for X. (US Presswire)|
Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's marathon Tuesday ...
Game of the Night, No. 1: Michigan State avoided another 0-2 start and took out Kansas.
This Champions Classic was a great idea not only because it spin-cycles four blueblood brands of college basketball programs each year, but also because it's a jolt of interest to the nation in the sport. And with that, good games are more likely. That was the case in the under card game Tuesday night in the Georgia Dome, where Michigan State pulled it out, 67-64. Both teams looked nice, especially in the first half, but the final 20 hit a bit of a sludge patch. No matter; I wouldn't be surprised if they met again in that joint come April.
Gary Harris is a player Michigan State fans already love. On the flip side, Kansas will be wondering when Ben McLemore gets the keys (though I'm kind of keen on Elijah Johnson). We'll see.
Here's the bucket that basically sealed the deal. Keith Appling, this was/is/will always be gorgeous.
Game of the Night, No. 2: The nightcap in the same building.
Duke was actually favored against young Kentucky, and with good reason. The Blue Devils fly home to Durham with a 75-68 win and a sense of how good they are/can be. A lot of writers/fans didn't think Duke was on par with being Final Four-worthy this year. Maybe this changes that some. I think it should.
As for Kentucky. We know what's going to be said, and it's all true. The UK loss wasn't just about Ryan Harrow not playing. UK has a ways to go, specifically in the rebounding realm. Young, needs to oil that offense, and almost every player has silly-good talent but one noticeable flaw (at the competent college level) in their game right now.
What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Forget the game, how about Calipari taking a shot at Duke?
Many lament and bemoan the awkwardness and vapid nature of in-game and halftime interviews. If there was one coach who could turn the concept into something beyond a reaction and into a discussion, of course it's John Calipari, who told Andy Katz on ESPN right before he jogged into the locker room at halftime, "They're flopping all over the place. In the NBA, they'd all be suspended."
That's a good win: In a rematch from one of the best Round of 64 games from last March, Wichita State avenged its loss to VCU, 53-51.
And did it at VCU, no simple place to play. Malcolm Armstead straight DRILLED a two-pointer with a toe on the line with VCU defensive stud Briante Weber in his face and 3.8 to go in the game. That gave the Shockers the lead, then VCU's Juvonte Reddic got fouled driving on a floating layup attempt with .5 left. He missed the first freebie, and so it went for VCU, which was only 12-of-23 from the foul line.
But that's a bad loss: Whenever you fall to a team with "Coast" in the name, it's a bad sign.
That's what happened to Miami (FL) Tuesday, which got run to the tune of 63-51, albeit on the road, at Florida Gulf Coast. And the Canes did not have their best player, Durand Scott. Still, early season losses like this do have impact down the road. Will almost definitely cost Miami a seed line, should it be able to play itself into the NCAAs. (Not likely.)
Oh, and god, that's just a hideous loss: Washington lost ... to, wait, who?
Make no doubt about it, this one's worse than Miami's. Albany went into Seattle and did the Huskies, 63-62. It's a brutal loss to an America East team that I'm not sure will finish in the top half of its conference. And yet, is Washington doomed to be one of the worst in the Pac-12 this year? You could argue this is the biggest upset of the young college basketball season. This is what you get for instituting lame Twitter policies, Washington. Karma.
Players with impact
The Allan Chaney road to redemption tour is off to a great start. High Point will linger in obscurity this seaosn, but Chaney could become one of the best mid-major players out there. He had 18 tonight and his team improved to 2-0.
Numbers to figure:
- 31: the minutes Derrick Nix played for MSU tonight, the most in his career. They needed every one.
- Chris Obekpa had eight blocks -- a program record for one game -- for St. John's in its win over Detroit. But if you watched this game, you saw the Johnnies almost vomit it away to the Titans. Would have been an all-time gacker.
- So far, the MAC is a combined 3-14 against Division I.
- 0-2. That's Virginia's record against the CAA. The Cavs fell to Delaware Tuesday night after getting upended by George Mason on Friday. And so UDel, not UVa, will head to MSG for the NIT semis next week.
Other outcomes of note:
- Atlantic 10 imports had a bad Tuesday, with Xavier putting a pummeling on Butler, 62-47, and that VCU loss. I'll save the Butler thoughts for upcoming Bulldogs games, instead giving all the credit I have in my account to Chris Mack for getting his team ready. I had no faith that X could look that good, even with the home game. Mack has high confidence in this team, a team not expected to be in the top half of the A10 int he preseason.
- Lehigh is still hampered and not the team it was at the end of last year. After putting up something of a fight against Pitt, C.J. McCollum's team fell by 25. McCollum put up 17, but most of those came in garbage time.
- Don't know how good Long Beach State is going to be this year (remember: very solid last year, but lost so many starters). That said, I've been high on USC, and tonight the Trojans beat the 49ers without a problem (62-44).
- We already covered the nice UMass win against Harvard. Be sure to check the video.
-- Did you miss the most devastating, disturbing news from college basketball's Tuesday?
-- Good effort here from Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff, but watching the game on TV you noticed a certain abundance of open seats.
-- The Pac-12 was the only conference left without a loss, then Washington played a game Tuesday. But we already covered that.
-- Whenever I'm running Night Court, and Nate Wolters puts up something even halfway decent, you're gonna here about it. The Jackrabbits of South Dakota State won tonight, and Wolters went for 22 points, nine dimes, six boards and two steals in helping taking outTennessee State.
-- I, uh, am not sure what's going on here, but this is evidently how Michigan readies for a game, by taping its players together. It's just better if I don't know the back story.