Purdue Survives Electric Atmosphere in Tuscaloosa
What we learned about Purdue: The Boilermakers confirmed that they can beat more athletic teams. After beating Tennessee in the Virgin Islands, Purdue had a second test against a more athletic, faster SEC club.
The Boilermakers needed a big second half comeback, but in the end they got the job done with a 73-65 victory over Alabama. The final 10 minutes are worth watching again if you have ESPN360 to see Purdue's incredible defense hound Alabama and hold the Tide to one point over the final five minutes.
Chris Kramer is the best perimeter defender in America and it is not really close. He could be the difference in the inevitable conference battles against Kalin Lucas and Michigan State.
What we learned about Alabama: Coach Anthony Grant has this team so close to being a legitimate contender in the SEC West. He's got the athleticism, but not the talent. JaMychal Green will play in the NBA some day, but other than that the Crimson Tide are a bit shorthanded.
Credit Alabama's fans for creating a great atmosphere on the night the football crazed school brought home its first Heisman Trophy after running back Mark Ingram won the award.
Georgetown is For Real after Delivering Knockout Blow to Pac-10
What we learned about Georgetown: The Hoyas picked up two signature victories during the past week and John Thompson III's team should be a contender in the Big East. While there is some cautious optimism after Georgetown's collapse last year, this team is different after knocking off Washington 74-66 in Anaheim.
The lack of depth is still there, but this is a team that actually gets upset if they play poor defense. DaJuan Summers and Jessie Sapp had no commitment to defense and as leaders of last year's team that attitude was contagious.
This Georgetown team isn't like that. They aggressively go after opponents on both ends of the floor. Greg Monroe is finally showing he's ready to be the go—to guy which will free up the Hoyas' shooters and help solve Georgetown's spacing issues.
What we learned about Washington: The Huskies have opened the door back up to California to jump and take what could potentially be the Pac—10's only bid to the NCAA tournament. Washington needed this victory to help build an at—large resume because racking up 13 or 14 Pac—10 victories won't mean squat this season.
The Dawgs didn't play much defense, especially in transition, against the Hoyas and overall, Washington's key contributors have been inconsistent.
Kansas State is a Solid No. 3 in the Big 12
What we learned about Kansas State: A 95-80 thumping of UNLV in Las Vegas , in addition to wins against Xavier, Dayton, and Washington State, gives the Wildcats a solid quartet of victories.
Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente make one of the best backcourt pairs in the country as the two combined for 10 three—points against the Rebels. Kansas State is having great success even with star freshman Wally Judge yet to develop into a real contributor.
What we learned about UNLV: We shouldn't get too excited about the Rebels just yet. They are probably the third—best team in the Mountain West as Lon Kruger's wins over Arizona and Louisville no longer look that impressive. MWC teams are supposed to be unbeatable at home so taking a thumping at the hands of Kansas State doesn't bode well for the future.
Xavier Wins Game of the Year Thus Far
What we learned about Xavier: Xavier isn't its usual self, but a win against Cincinnati in two overtimes is enough to still consider the Musketeers contenders in a strong Atlantic—10. If Jordan Crawford continues to take lots of bad shots, Xavier won't be beating anyone important in March.
What we learned about Cincinnati: The Bearcats can lose their cool and when they do they stop functioning. Mick Cronin did a poor job reeling Cincinnati back to reality after several hard or intentional fouls which almost resulted in bench clearing brawls during this intense rivalry.
New Mexico Might be the Best Team in the Mountain West
What we learned about New Mexico: Winning on a neutral court in Houston against Texas A&M 84-81 is a pretty good indication that the Lobos are for real. Having a twosome like Roman Martinez and Darington Hobson average 17 points per game a piece should be tough to stop during conference play.
What we learned about Texas A&M: The perimeter defense wasn't very good, which Coach Mark Turgeon confirms on Twitter: "Guarding and rebounding have to get better. That wasn't Texas A&M basketball."
How Good is the Atlantic-10?
Six different teams could be in contention to receive at—large bids in March as Charlotte, Rhode Island, Temple, Dayton, and Richmond are off to great starts. Xavier has struggled early, but might have more talent than anyone in the league.
On Sunday alone, the Rams knocked off Boston College while Temple and Xavier took down Villanova and Cincinnati in rivalry games against two ranked Big East teams.
I wasn't kidding when I said the A—10 was the hands down best league outside the top six in the country. The Mountain West has closed the gap, but the top half of the A—10 is extremely strong. Both the A—10 and Mountain West should finish ahead of the Pac—10 in conference RPI.
Other Notes from the Weekend
- Wisconsin—Green Bay knocked off Wisconsin earlier this week and then turned around and lost to Oakland...by 24. Yikes...maybe Butler still does have this league wrapped up.
- UTEP finally lost its first game of the weekend with a seven point loss to New Mexico State. More importantly, Derrick Caracter played his first game of the season scoring two points in 12 minutes for the Miners.
- John Wall continues to be awesome. Eight assists, no turnovers in a 17—point win against Indiana.
- Roy Williams had a fan thrown out of a North Carolina—Presbyterian game.
- Butler beat Evan Turner—less Ohio State team. That win won't hold much clout come March. Butler better dominate the Horizon League.
- Wisconsin won the bragging rights for the state by downing Marquette by nine.
- Jamel Jackson scored 40 points in a track meet against VMI. Those 40 points included 12 three—pointers and raised his scoring average from seven points per game to over 10. Also, Jackson is a reserve and still scored 40.
- Louisville might actually be sunk and not be able to recover from early season troubles. The Cardinals are playing poorly after losing to Western Carolina. It's one thing to lose to a 10—1 Southern Conference team, it's a whole other thing to surrender 90 points in the process.
- A much improved Loyola Marymount team already knocked off Southern California this year. On Saturday, the Lions took down the Fighting Irish by two points.
- Shocker in the Big East: Iona (who is better than people think ) upset Providence.
- Virginia Commonwealth won the battle for the city of Richmond after defeating the Spiders with a furious second half comeback.
- I've beat up on the Pac-10 enough times , but here's one more bashing for good measure. On Saturday, the league went 2-5 with losses to Georgetown, Saint Mary's, Mississippi State, San Diego State, and Nebraska. On Friday, USC escaped a two-win Idaho State team by six points.