Monday, November 26, 2007

Big Ten-ACC Preview, weekend results

I was wary of the Musketeers and for good reason. XU spanked IU 80-65. They were vulnerable inside (DJ went for 16 points & 10 rebounds), but from what little I've been able to see of the Hoosiers this season, they're working outside-in instead of inside-out. You're going to have nights where the threes don't fall (and boy, going 1 -for-15 is one of those nights) and you have to find other ways to win. The Hoosiers won 21 games last season riding DJ White. Eric Gordon is awesome, but you have to find ways to have a chance to win every game if you want to be a championship squad. It's not that Indiana should subdue Gordon's game, it's that Indiana should work on using the talent it has in the paint early on to get opponents into foul trouble. Having a twosome like DJ White and DeAndre Thomas is a rare thing, and it'd take a very unusual team (last year's Florida squad maybe?) to play them straight up.

Sure, you can just rely on one of your players being awesome, but it's just a lot better to move the ball around and get open perimeter shots when foes are having to double down into the paint. I think you better quality looks at the three, and it gives you better chances for dribble penetration and backdoors once a couple of those threes fall. Also, fouling out your foes is an excellent strategy, as it forces your opponents having to throw unusual combinations of players on the floor, who aren't used to playing with each other. I hope this loss will enable Sampson to get his players to realize that it's a team game, and a strategic game, too. I'm sure Sampson will also concentrate on the number of offensive rebounds given up (overall rebounding was pretty even, but Xavier missed fewer shots and still got more offensive boards), and the need not have let-downs, etc.

Big Ten-ACC Challenge starts tonight!
This year ought to be interesting. I still think the ACC probably wins it, although I'd project a narrow 6-5 victory. The seeding is all screwed up, tho. UNC plays middle-of-the-pack Ohio State and likely NIT squad Georgia Tech visits front-running Indiana?

Wake Forest(3-0) at Iowa (4-2)
I'll go with the home team on this match-up of cellar-dwellers. No disrespect to Wake, but I see them as last place in the ACC, and I just can't imagine they'll be able to outlast Iowa in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Georgia Tech (3-2) at Indiana (4-1)
Mismatch? Oh yeah. GT's cause isn't helped by the fact that IU's coming off a loss.

Northwestern (1-3) at Virginia (5-1)
This one's gonna be ugly. NU still doesn't have a D-I win, and the Cavs will make sure that continues.

Minnesota (3-1) at Florida State (5-2)
This one is hard to handicap, as Minnesota has a solid road win already over Iowa State and FSU has fallen to Cleveland State and South Florida, but just hammered Florida. I'm defaulting (barely) to the home team, but this is one to watch!

Wisconsin (5-0) at Duke (6-0)
Is Duke ever going to play a road game in the Challenge? I still am not on the Duke bandwagon, even after they beat Marquette, but Wisconsin usually disappoints against the ACC.

Purdue (3-0) at Clemson (6-0)
That 3-0 record of the Boilermakers might fool you into thinking that Purdue is actually an okay squad. The three wins were all home games against inferior competition, and Purdue barely got by Lipscomb (66-62). Clemson is a good team that has a shot at the Sweet 16. The result is not in doubt here. Clemson by a lot.

NCSU (4-1) at Michigan State (4-1)
This should be a solid game, but the Spartans are a good team (if not great, just yet) and are at home. The call goes for the Green.

Boston College (4-0) at Michigan (3-3)
Although BC just got a nice win against Rhode Island, I still don't think the under-sized Eagles are strong enough to go into Michigan and pull out the road win. Michigan is not going to be one of the better teams in the Big 10, but they'll do okay at home.

Illinois (4-1) at Maryland (4-2)
This is the second game where the Big Ten might reverse its fate and finally claim a challenge. The Illini have a much better chance at the NCAA tourney than Maryland, but right now the Terrapins are playing well, & they'll be at home. Fear the Turtle.

Virginia Tech (2-2) at Penn State (2-3)
This is another very tough to call. Again, I default to the home team, but this is where the ACC could make up for an earlier surprise loss by FSU or Maryland. Penn State has more talent than last year, but still has not been able to put together a good win. VT is in full rebuilding mode, but Vassallo and Washington are dangerous.

North Carolina (5-0) at Ohio State (4-1)
Sure, I'd love to see the Buckeyes spring the home upset over UNC, but the Tarheels are an elite team. OSU is not, and the freshmen are still learning. UNC, and the ACC, for the W.

Not a great weekend for Hoosier fans:
The Women's soccer team lost at home to Duke, 2-0. The Hoosiers had their chances, but the Blue Devils go on. However, it was a great year for the Women's Soccer team, and with only one starter lost to graduation, next year could be even better.

The Men's soccer team (13-4-4) faces Bradley (15-5-3) at Bill Armstrong Stadium on Wednesday. I think the IU probably takes this one, but they really need to start scoring multiple goals or the season's over.

Go Hoosiers!

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