Oh What a Night

COLLEGE TEAMS MUST RECOVER QUICKLY FROM THAT WILD WEDNESDAY OF HOOPS

We had originally planned to talk about the NBA today given the busy schedule. But, that thrilling night of college basketball on Wednesday definitely needed some NOTEBOOK coverage! We're going to run the key numbers from the most important games of that memorable evening, with an eye toward how the teams involved may or may not recover when they take the floor again Saturday and Sunday.

You've seen highlights of Duke's buzzer beater a million times. You've heard Jim Boeheim complaining about his team's rebounding on Mike and Mike and Bill and Chuck and Skip and Bob for hours on end. Let's see what REALLY happened in the games everyone is still talking about...

#9 DUKE 85, #5 NORTH CAROLINA 84
Shooting Pct: Duke 44%, North Carolina 49%
Three-Pointers: Duke 14/36, North Carolina 1/6
Free Throws: Duke 17/26, North Carolina 21/30
Rebounds: Duke 31, North Carolina 41
Phantom Score: Duke 57, North Carolina 71
Turnovers: Duke 10, North Carolina 9
Vegas Line: North Carolina by 6, total of 155
Pomeroy Rank: Duke 14, North Carolina 8

You regulars know that this Duke team pretty much HAS to hit three-pointers to compete with the very best this season. There's just not much athleticism or depth. The team trailed by double digits very late, as the actual scoreboard was in line with our Phantom Score secondary stat (two-point scoring plus rebounding). Those treys started to fall in the last two minutes. And, the rest is over-replayed history on a permanent loop.

Carolina attacks the basket with a passion, so the media made a bit too much of their 14-1 deficit on treys. They win if it's 13-1. They win comfortably if it's 10-1. This should have been a double digit win for the hosts. They took their foot off the gas too quickly. And, they were too timid on their perimeter defense because Duke had been missing so many bombs through the course of the night.

It's possible to pick highlights for each team and imagine a deep run in the Dance. It's a little easier to see the negatives that will keep these teams from playing to their projected seeds. We don't want to rain on the parade though. This really was an entertaining game in a great rivalry. And, Duke deserves all the credit in the world for not giving up and battling until the end. We'll complain about Duke some other day!

This Saturday:
North Carolina hosts Virginia, who is certainly capable of scoring a road upset if the Tar Heels are still down in the dumps emotionally.

Duke hosts Maryland...and we're talking about a Duke team that just lost at home to Miami of Florida last Sunday in overtime. It's been a draining week physically and emotionally for a team that lacks depth.

#2 SYRACUSE 64, #11 GEORGETOWN 61
Shooting Pct: Georgetown 33%, Syracuse 35%
Three-Pointers: Georgetown 5/21, Syracuse 8/24
Free Throws: Georgetown 14/16, Syracuse 12/16
Rebounds: Georgetown 48, Syracuse 30
Phantom Score: Georgetown 80, Syracuse 58
Turnovers: Georgetown 14, Syracuse 9
Vegas Line: Syracuse by 9, total of 130
Pomeroy Rank: Georgetown 11, Syracuse 6

You can see why Boeheim was so mad about the rebounding. Georgetown had 20 offensive rebounds, which allowed them multiple second and third chance opportunities to make up for the fact that they weren't shooting well. That's the danger of this aggressive Syracuse defense. They do a great job of disrupting shots...but then they're in lousy position to rebound. That's the nature of their approach. They sacrifice rebounding position while confusing opponents. The media raves about the "impenetrable" defense (that seems to be less impenetrable when they run into smart teams in the Dance), but neglect to talk much about the poor rebounding until the head coach is blowing a gasket. This is ALWAYS an issue.

Syracuse themselves had trouble on offense...which was a big deal here. They shot poorly and didn't earn many trips to the line. Hopefully the team didn't peak too early. They were playing like a real champion a few weeks ago. That mojo has worn off...and Syracuse is just another contender at the moment. The Orange are 2-4 ATS their last six games.

This Weekend:
Syracuse hosts Connecticut who's been slumping lately but may smell blood in a national TV tilt early Saturday.

Georgetown plays Sunday against a St. John's team that's had some very ugly results of late. Was an overtime loss at Syracuse a confidence builder for the Hoyas? Or, a heartbreak? Answer that question and you've probably got the ATS winner of this one.

#10 KANSAS 68, #6 BAYLOR 54
Shooting Pct: Kansas 51%, Baylor 37%
Three-Pointers: Kansas 6/14, Baylor 2/8
Free Throws: Kansas 16/21, Baylor 12/21
Rebounds: Kansas 30, Baylor 29
Phantom Score: Kansas 64, Baylor 65
Turnovers: Kansas 19, Baylor 12
Vegas Line: Baylor by 2, total of 145
Pomeroy Rank: Kansas 3, Baylor 15

One of the most impressive performances of the night got minimal coverage because the game wasn't a thriller. Kansas re-established its bona-fide's as Baylor may have officially confirmed its "pretender" status despite a great record. Baylor is now 0-3 against Kansas and Missouri...and they've only played one impressive game the past few weeks. They barely got by Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State in a recent spell that has them at 1-6 against the spread their last seven games. Wait, it gets worse. The next game for Baylor is at Missouri!

Great stuff for Kansas, who broke even in Phantom Score (which can be tough to do on the road against athletic teams), and then won the game with a 6-2 edge in made treys and a +5 differential in made free throws. This is where Baylor was supposed to make a stand. Kansas seemed to be in control the whole way, even if they didn't really pull away until the second half.

This Saturday:
Kansas hosts Oklahoma State, which is a game they can win without sweating even if they're not at their best. Will they be able to cover a big number in a ledown spot?

Baylor visits Missouri as we said a moment ago...taking very little confidence for their toughest road game of the year (given Missouri's great play at home this season). That's definitely a game to keep an eye on because Missouri loves to bully downtrodden opponents.  


NOTRE DAME 55, WEST VIRGINIA 51
Shooting Pct: Notre Dame 43%, West Virginia 41%
Three-Pointers: Notre Dame 5/21, West Virginia 2/16
Free Throws: Notre Dame 10/14, West Virginia 1/3
Rebounds: Notre Dame 29, West Virginia 29
Phantom Score: Notre Dame 59, West Virginia 73
Turnovers: Notre Dame 5, West Virginia 3
Vegas Line: West Virginia by 7, total of 127
Pomeroy Rank: Notre Dame 42, West Virginia 38

This game might as well have not existed given the media coverage of the other games we discussed. But, we wanted to include it because it was a matchup of Dance-bound teams that painted a great picture of playoff style basketball. Look at the turnover category. The teams just safely passed the ball around the perimeter all night hoping something would open up! Look at the free throw totals. The home team attacked the basket so rarely that they only earned three free throws all night! Have you ever seen that? A HOME team with 3 turnovers and 3 free throws?

Notre Dame was a medium sized dog here, and deserves credit for jumping ahead (29-19 at the half) and holding on. They didn't necessarily play great...but the defense was obviously doing something right in terms of discouraging shots from West Virginia's comfort zone.

The Irish have now won five games in a row, with the scalps of West Virginia, Syracuse, Marquette, and UCONN on the list. That's a fantastic run considering how the season had been going before then. Notre Dame has surged in the Bracketology estimates to a #10 seed, even though they're playing much better than that. West Virginia is a projected #8 seed...even though they trail Notre Dame in the Big East standings by 1.5 games and just lost at home to them.

This Saturday:
Notre Dame hosts DePaul in a virtual bye. But, the minute teams start thinking games are going to be easy is when they get into trouble.

West Virginia hosts Louisville in a big TV game early in the day. They have to be concerned about that one because Louisville's defense is better than Notre Dame's.

Obviously a huge weekend is on tap in the baskets. We'll build some bankroll TONIGHT in the NBA with games like Atlanta-Orlando, LA Clippers-Philadelphia, Dallas-Minnesota, and LA Lakers-New York highlighting the card.

We've already mentioned a few of the big Saturday games on tap in the colleges. Among games we haven't mentioned are Michigan State-Ohio State (to be previewed Saturday on these pages), Kentucky-Vanderbilt, California-UCLA, and San Diego State-UNLV. JIM HURLEY will be releasing one of his biggest plays all season on the Saturday ticket.

Sunday brings Chicago-Boston and Miami-Atlanta in the NBA, along with Illinois-Michigan and a diverse slate in the colleges.

Game day releases always go up a few hours before first tip. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. We're in the midst of a true BASKETBALL BONANZA. Don't sit on the sidelines...GET IN THE GAME!

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