The second game wasn’t even close. At times, it resembled playground and early round robin match-ups during the Summer Olympics.
Kentucky ran off by scoring the first 26 points (all before the second media time out, mind you) before UCLA scored on a driving layup that would have made the 2011 version of Derrick Rose a bit jealous. The Bruins only had 7 points at halftime en route to an 83-42 pasting. Yes, this game is not worthy of showing up on ESPN Classic in the short term, let alone the files of the CBS Sports Archives in New York forever more. At least, seeing all four schools having their logos superimposed was really cool to see.
The first game had a much inside Chicago’s United Center had a better March type of feel, as North Carolina managed to escape from whatever little rust they might have suffered from my fellow blog fan’s school of UNC Greensboro earlier in the week (you can find her posts at http://makeyourfreakingfoulshots.wordpress.com/).
Ohio State made things interesting for a while, but free throws were the difference as North Carolina got a much needed win against a quality opponent by an 82-74 count.
The Orange Crush pull another one in the Border War for the second straight year
Not as theatrical as 2013 with a pair of free throws, but Rayvonte Rice took a few dribbles as the clock wind down at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center. This game had the making of a classic, as the lead changed hands several times.
With Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals baseball manager Whitey Herzog in attendance, Rice’s three pointer as time expired gave Illinois a much needed boost going into the always rugged Big Ten winning 62-59 over Missouri.
Both Michigan schools suffer huge losses at home
Lowly Texas Southern may not make my Stock Up, Stock Down page anytime before the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics kick off but they earned major kudos on Saturday afternoon as Michigan State suffered one of its’ worst non-conference defeats at home in recent memory, blowing a 30-25 halftime lead before losing a disappointing 71-64 decision in overtime.
Even worse, Michigan has lost three non-conference games this month and are in serious danger of missing out on the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This time, the team that missed out barely making the 2014 Big Dance ran circles around Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor and completely jolted the Wolverines out of their offensive rhythm. SMU upset Michigan 62-51 and held a decisive 44-27 edge on the rebounding end.
Indiana barely held off Butler at the renamed Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis (formerly named the Boilermaker Blockbuster) 82-73. Villanova and Syracuse reacquainted themselves like it was the old Big East days but Villanova had the last laugh, holding off the hard charging Orange in overtime 82-77.
Northern Iowa, Gonzaga, Kansas, Notre Dame, Texas, San Diego State, and West Virginia all helped pad their possible Tournament resumes with convincing wins on Saturday.
Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and I hope to be back sometime just before we ring in 2015.
If we have learned one thing thus far this college basketball season, teams are not afraid to drive into the lane with more consistency. And yes, even with the later start by one week–total fouls being called is down a bit from the final weeks of 2013.
The real fun begins with the conference season kicking into high gear.
And if I get a chance to briefly borrow an image commonly used by another network, we are 84 days until Selection Sunday.
Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to one and all.
Hope Santa has your favorite school as one of the 68 schools receiving an invitation to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.