College Hoops Big Game Review



There have been several big TV games the past few days in college basketball. We haven't had a chance yet to talk to you about the key stats you should be studying when evaluating college teams...or many of the teams themselves because there's been so much football going on. That isn't about to stop with the college football bowls coming up, and the NFL playoff races in full force. So, we decided today to kill two birds with one stone.

We're going to run the key boxscore stats from the TV games you probably watched this week...showing you how the right stats paint a picture you need to see of the major teams. We'll start with the Madison Square Garden doubleheader from Tuesday, and work through Thursday Night's upset of #10 Georgetown by Temple.


#4 KANSAS 81, #14 MEMPHIS 68
Shooting Percentage: Memphis 37%, Kansas 57%
Three-Pointers: Memphis 6/19, Kansas 6/11
Free Throws: Memphis 8/11, Kansas 11/19
Rebounds: Memphis 26, Kansas 39
Turnovers: Memphis 12, Kansas 20
Vegas Line: Kansas by 11, total of 149.5

Notebook: Our points of emphasis in basketball are always defense and rebounding. We'll type the words "defense and rebounding win championships" about a thousand times between now and March Madness. Each new season justifies that emphasis. The fundamentals are still what matter most. You can see that above with Kansas holding Memphis to just 37% from the field, while owning the boards by a dramatic 39-26 margin. Sometimes three-pointers can skew a result when a team is very hot or very cold. We include that stat line in every box summary just in case. You can see here that they weren't an issue. It was a dead heat in makes, with a poor success rate from Memphis contributing to its loss. Refs weren't much of an influence, as Kansas was just +3 in makes, though they were +8 in attempts. This tells us more about Kansas being strong inside. The teams you'll want to take over the long haul are those who win the battle in the paint with baskets and boards...earn more trips to the free throw line. Kansas is #4 for a reason! Looks like they need to work on their ballhandling though given those 20 turnovers.  Note that Kansas is on TV again Saturday in a 6:30 p.m. tipoff against Colorado State on ESPN2

Shooting Percentage: Michigan State 39%, Syracuse 44%
Three-Pointers: Michigan State 7/24, Syracuse 2/11
Free Throws: Michigan State 9/16, Syracuse 22/29
Rebounds: Michigan State 26, Syracuse 31
Turnovers: Michigan State 16, Syracuse 11
Vegas Line: Michigan State by 4, total of 136
Notebook: Syracuse has always been a classic inside team under Jim Boeheim. That jumps out here with a win in shooting percentage and rebounds...and then dramatically with a +13 edge in made and attempted free throws. Syracuse won the game by 14, with 13 of those coming from extra earned trips to the charity stripe. Great performance in the turnover department too. Vegas and the pollsters look to have overrated Michigan State coming out of the gate this season. State had already dropped to #8 from loftier heights. They'll fall further now. Oddsmakers had a false favorite here to an extreme degree. Great showing from the Orange.


#1 DUKE 83, BRADLEY 48
Shooting Percentage: Bradley 33%, Duke 50%
Three-Pointers: Bradley 4/13, Duke 15/33
Free Throws: Bradley 4/8, Duke 8/10
Rebounds: Bradley 32, Duke 35
Turnovers: Bradley 13, Duke 9
Vegas Line: Duke by 29, total of 145.5
Notebook: We don't normally spend a lot of time running the numbers from blowouts. We did want to throw Duke's boxscore in the mix since we talked about them yesterday. Big edge in shooting percentage. Rebounds weren't so dramatic, which sometimes happens in blowouts because the favorite's bench may not be particularly great in that area in an extended garbage time. You see a very clean performance from Duke in the turnover category. And, they were obviously giving themselves great open looks from behind the arc with that 15 of 33 performance on treys. We'll have to find somebody else to pick on this year. Duke is in position to have another great season. You can watch Duke on TV again in a noon ET tip today against Saint Louis.

Shooting Percentage: Vanderbilt 53%, Missouri 38%
Three-Pointers: Vanderbilt 9/25, Missouri 8/23
Free Throws: Vanderbilt 11/22, Missouri 15/22
Rebounds: Vanderbilt 36, Missouri 39
Turnovers: Vanderbilt 17, Missouri 10
Vegas Line: Missouri by 5, total of 155
Notebook: This was a great game that most of the country missed. Vanderbilt was in position to win all night, which is very tough to do on the road in December against quality hosts. Great effort from the Commodores, who should get your attention from this point forward. They probably won't shoot 53% every time out obviously. They held their own though in a game where they could easily have been overmatched. Is Missouri really a top 11 team right now? Time will tell. They didn't play to that level this evening. It may have just been an off night shooting. Remember that many teams in the 11-25 range in November and December DON'T end up there come February and March. Pollsters have to make guesses once you get past the true elite. Pollsters are never great when they're guessing.

#16 KENTUCKY 82, #23 NOTRE DAME 68
Shooting Percentage: Notre Dame 36%, Kentucky 40%
Three-Pointers: Notre Dame 6/23, Kentucky 9/24
Free Throws: Notre Dame 12/20, Kentucky 17/22
Rebounds: Notre Dame 33, Kentucky 40
Turnovers: Notre Dame 10, Kentucky 9
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 5, total of 140
Notebook: This was a very competitive game much of the night. Kentucky pulled away late on their home floor, and erased the memory of a disappointing weekend loss to North Carolina in the process. Kentucky may be one of those teams that breaks your heart this year. They'll look like a top 5 team some nights...and outside the top 25 on others. Good fundamentals here in the areas of defense, rebounding, and turnovers. Well, considering it was a ranked opponent, you could say GREAT fundamentals for the Wildcats. Notre Dame tends to rely too much on the trey for our tastes under this coaching regime. Note that Kentucky hosts Indiana this afternoon on ESPN, while Notre Dame hosts Gonzaga in a high profile prime time game on the same network.


Shooting Percentage: San Diego State 47%, California 38%
Three-Pointers: San Diego State 10/22, California 0/9
Free Throws: San Diego State 11/19, California 21/28
Rebounds: San Diego State 27, California 34
Turnovers: San Diego State 8, California 18
Vegas Line: San Diego State by 5, total of 133
Notebook: You may not have San Diego State on your radar. They're one of the great cover stories in the early part of the season. Vegas oddsmakers continue to underprice them. That was the case here in the extreme, with SDSU winning by 20 points on the road as just a 5-point favorite. The lack of rebounding is a concern...and it's tough to win consistently when you're giving away 10 free throws. Obviously a huge night from long range made up for that. We like defense and turnover fundamentals for SDSU. A relative lack of strength inside compared to the superpowers may eventually be their undoing. Right now though, they're one of the best, if not THE best of the West in basketball. They're the new Gonzaga. They're ready to take the place of New Mexico in terms of a team from the Mountain West getting a very high seed. Definitely a program for you to watch. Well, it's hard to watch a team that's not on TV much! You can scoreboard watch tonight's game against crosstown rival San Diego.


Shooting Percentage: Georgetown 44%, Temple 45%
Three-Pointers: Georgetown 5/16, Temple 4/11
Free Throws: Georgetown 18/20, Temple 16/18
Rebounds: Georgetown 31, Temple 21
Turnovers: Georgetown 15, Temple 11
Vegas Line: Georgetown by 2, total of 125
Notebook: We end with the only significant upset of the week, as a top ten team falls to somebody outside of the rankings. The oddsmakers were closer to having it right though. Georgetown was just a two-point favorite, and only lost by three. So, Temple wining is far from a shocker. A good sign for Georgetown that they won rebounds. They weren't great with internal defense though, and lost the turnover battle by a significant margin. Georgetown probably wasn't a top 10 team anyway. You'll recall last year's team was well-regarded before losing by double digits to unheralded Ohio in the first round of the Big Dance. This head coach and his stars need to work on developing a big-game presence away from their home floor.

That warps up this look at basketball highlights from the past several days. Be sure you're studying boxscores online as the games end today and tonight on this very busy Saturday schedule. JIM HURLEY has planned his biggest basketball day so far this season with the COLLEGE GAME OF THE MONTH. Purchase our blockbuster card (with a play in football's Army-Navy classic) here at the website with your credit card. Seasonal packages are available too. Call the office if you have any questions at 1-800-323-4453.

HOOPS HEAVEN gets an early start this year with so many great December matchups. The holiday tournaments are coming up too...and we'll do our best to keep you apprised of developments in those amidst all the football.'s time for you to link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK for a SUPER SATURDAY that will start two weeks of STOCKING STUFFER SUPERPLAYS from the greatest HANDICAPPING JUGGERNAUT IN ALL OF SPORTS!


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