Wow. I took one on the chin last night with the Indiana Hoosiers. I was cognizant of the possibility for weird results in Maui – we’ve seen a few over the years up on the Island. But what I was most disappointed by was more than the result, it was the effort. Indiana allowed more straight-line dribble drives than I’ve seen a team allow so far this season. Their defensive effort was so poor, it led Jay Williams to remark that “James Blackmon Jr couldn’t guard a chair. More importantly, it doesn’t seem like he wants too.” Ouch. But that just about sums up the pathetic effort yesterday. I still think this team has Final Four talent, but they have a LOT to figure out on how to play together on both ends of the floor.
The biggest buzz yesterday in the world of college hoops was the 20/20 performance put up be freshman wunderkind, Ben Simmons. But perhaps the bigger story should be that Marquette beat them by a point. The Eagles are widely thought to be a year away from being really good with the young talent Coach Wojo has been assembling, including potential Lottery pick, Henry Ellenson. Is Marquette ready to compete in the Big East??
There are a ton of great tourney games today, so let’s bounce back from yesterday’s debacle with a nice winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Missouri Tigers vs. Northwestern Wildcats -7 (CBE Hall of Fame Classic Consolation Game)
This game SOUNDS like it should be a Missouri win. After all, the Tigers have been a perennial tourney team lately while the Wildcats are the only major conference team to have NEVER made the NCAA Tournament. I’m not sure it is going to happen this year (I’d wager not) but they are a program heading in the right direction. Meanwhile, Mizzou is a mess. The Tigers won just 9 games last year, their lowest total in 40 years and their two best players left the program.
It’s a new day, and right now Chris Collins’s team is markedly better. Northwestern lost respectably to North Carolina last night and notched a quality win against Ivy League favorite, Columbia. Meanwhile, Missouri has been outscored by 36 points in their last two games against Xavier and Kansas State. I think they will be similarly outclassed today.
Northwestern will have trouble staying above .500 in a good Big Ten, but this is a quality ballclub. Sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh is averaging close to 20ppg after averaging 11.2ppg as a freshman. They have three other guys averaging double figures and are solid inside with freshman Aaron Falzon and seven-foot senior Alex Olah.
Look for NW to roll today against a really poor Missouri team.