Upsets and upsets and more upsets have left the tournament down in Puerto Rico looking like someone screwed up the bracket. Maybe that is a good thing though. At least some of these teams will get a little more exposure, given that we know one mid-major team will be in the championship game.
So let's grab our coffee and see how exactly this happened, shall we?
What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:
I don't think I have seen a top 10-ranked team look this outmatched in a while. VCU went down to Puerto Rico as the ranked team in this contest, and ended up looking like a team brought in to just fill out the field. Florida State took every advantage in this one, winning 85-67.
The Rams couldn't shoot (29.3 percent FG, 21.7 percent 3PT), they couldn't rebound (The Seminoles cleaned up 40 defensive rebounds), and they certainly struggled in converting the 25 turnovers that they did manage to force during this one.
They also may have gotten a break as Rob Brandenburg took a very nasty spill onto his upper back and neck, but he would return to the game.
This was just one of a number of games during the Tip-Off that didn't go the way that everyone may have expected when they showed up at the arena today. Treveon Graham had just 14 points on 4-for-13 shoots and Mo Alie-Cox added two steals, two blocks and 11 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, in the loss.
This type of performance certainly doesn't help the mid-major ranks. Everyone now assumes that VCU was ranked too high (which is probably true given the jump they made), and will spout that they didn't deserve to be ranked in the first place. But let's be clear, this Rams team deserved to be ranked, and maybe the real issue was the Florida State has been ignored for their "soft" wins so far this season.
Side of bacon:
So, I am not saying that any of these teams is going to win their conference, but this has been UMass' schedule so far: Boston College (ACC), LSU (SEC), Nebraska (Big 10). All of those teams play in a power conference. All of them lost to the Minutemen. (They also have a win over Youngstown State, who should contend in the Horizon League, so there you go).
Nebraska was the latest victim of the UMass attack, falling 96-90 Thursday night. And the Huskers did the best job of containing Chaz Williams yet, holding him to just 10 points. But the way that the rest of the team stepped up around him was important here. Derrick Gordon had 20 points and Cady Lalanne added 15 points and nine boards to show that Williams doesn't have to do it all himself.
The Minutemen also held off several runs by Nebraska, which they will have to do again in the stacked A-10 this season. It does seem that we might have to think a little higher of UMass the next time our Mid-Major Madness Power 15 comes around.
- From our eyes, it really looked like Kevin Pangos had a sophomore slump. He had great moments last season, but overall didn't seem like the same player that he was as a freshman. I am now ready to believe that this was all because of the Kelly Olynyk factor. I am not sure what that factor was other than Olynyk playing, but it sure seems that Pangos is much better now that he is gone. He erupted for 27 points in a 90-74 win over Washington State. The junior was 5-for-8 from 3-point range and basically had a hard time missing Thursday night. Drew Barham added 17 points (also 5-for-8 from three) and David Stockton dished nine assists and had three steals in the win.
- The long North Carolina nightmare is over: Davidson has won a game. After dropping three in a row, almost unheard of in the tiny town outside Charlotte, the Wildcats defeated Georgia 94-82 in Charleston. Davidson used a 13-4 run at the end of the first half to close this one out, and the Bulldogs just couldn't come back. De'Mon Brooks made 13 foul shots and finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Brian Sullivan added 20 points and Jordan Barham had 18 points off the bench. (Barhams galore tonight!)
- Jacob Parker scored five of his 31 points in overtime to help Stephen F. Austin defeat Marshall, 80-73. The junior forward added 11 rebounds in the win, that was only possible as Desmond Haymon made five free throws in the final seven second, including the last three to tie it with a second remaining. He was a perfect 7-for-7 at the line. Elijah Pittman had 21 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
- If only this one were on television nationwide: USC Upstate's Torrey Craig had 26 points, nine rebounds and four assists, to lead the Spartans past Niagara 83-74. If that doesn't sound exciting, it was because Niagara needed a big comeback to make it look closer than it was. The exciting thing would have been watching Craig, and then also seeing Antoine Mason go off at the same time. The junior for the Purple Eagles had 31 points to continue his hot start to the year that has him among the best scorers in the country. At least 382 people got to watch it live.
- Someone check Bruce Weber's pulse. Charlotte is the latest mid-major to defeat the Wildcats, doing so by the score of 68-61, down in Puerto Rico, to advance to the tournament semifinals (at least they get to play in Puerto Rico and in the semifinals, unlike some of these other tournaments). Mike Thorne Jr. had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Pierria Henry dished nine assists in the win. And as a reward for winning, the 49ers get to play...
- Northeastern! Yup, the bracket in Puerto Rico was definitely busted (and hopefully they don't shuffle the schedule for "television purposes" and make these guys play early). The Huskies had the more impressive win, taking out Georgetown, 63-56. Reggie Spencer had 18 points and nine rebounds and Scott Eatherton continued to prove his worth for Northeastern with 12 points and 10 boards. As our own Jake Fischer pointed out, they did all this without Demetrius Pollard who fouled out with 17 minutes left to play in the game. Not normally the stuff that upsets are made of, that is for sure.
- This helps though: