- Harvard, Dayton, UNLV, and Saint Louis win tournaments
- Connecticut and North Carolina lose
- Big Ten/ACC Challenge Preview
- Kentucky/North Carolina Preview
The Saint Louis Billikens finished off an impressive run at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, California by beating the Oklahoma Sooners in the championship game, 83-63. The Billikens were led by Brian Conklin‘s game-high 25 points. Cody Ellis chipped in with 16 points off the bench. Saint Louis is now 6-0 on the season.
The Dayton Flyers took home the Old Spice Classic championship Sunday night behind a stellar performance from junior guard Kevin Dillard. Dillard dominated all facets of the game, scoring 19 points, dishing out 10 assists, blocking 3 shots, and 7 steals. Minnesota senior forward Trevor Mbakwe left the game in the beginning of the second half with an apparent knee injury and did not return. The Golden Gophers committed 21 turnovers in their 86-70 loss to the Flyers.
If you didn’t catch the UNLV-North Carolina game last night, then I don’t know if you are a college hoops fan! These two teams squared off in the championship game of the Las Vegas Classic. Boy, was this a good game or what. North Carolina has five future pros and UNLV has one, but none of that mattered on this night. Basketball is a game of runs, but for UNLV, they just kept running. UNLV trailed at halftime, 42-38, but they came out in the second half with something to prove. The Rebels exposed the Tar Heels weakness, with a barrage of drive-n-kickouts for three-pointers. Senior Rebel Chace Stanback led the charge, hitting 4 three-pointers on his way to 10-19 shooting for a career high 28 points. NBA-prospect Mike Moser had 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Rebels, who had four players score 13 or more points. UNLV started the second half on a 14-0 run and built their lead up to 14 points with just under 6:00 remaining in the second half. The Tar Heels shot a dismal 31% in the second half. Sophomore Harrison Barnes and freshman P.J. Hariston each had 15 points to lead the way for North Carolina. Big man Tyler Zeller was an absolute non-factor, scoring 5 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in 24 minutes of play. North Carolina was out-rebounded, 46-37, out-assisted, 22-14, and thoroughly out-played in the second half. Combine that with the fact that UNLV hit 13 three-pointers to North Carolina’s 4 and you end up with a 90-80 victory for UNLV. Did I mention this game was in Las Vegas? North Carolina travels well, but they were not match for the Rebel crowd.
It didn’t take long for the first big upset(s) to happen in college basketball. On Friday, the #4 Connecticut Huskies lost in the Atlantis Tournament to the University of Central Florida Knights. Connecticut cruised to a nine-point lead at halftime and were up by as many as 17 at one point in the game. But Central Florida stormed back behind a brilliant performance from Marcus Jordan. Yes, Marcus is Michael’s son. Jordan led the way for the Knights, scoring 20 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. Connecticut was led by freshman Andre Drummond, who finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. The loss sent Connecticut to 5-1 on the young season. They improved to 6-1 after they beat the Florida State Seminoles in the third-place game. With the victory, the Knights improved to 4-1. They lost to Harvard in the championship game on Saturday, so their record is now 4-2.
Speaking of the Harvard Crimson, most of us remember Harvard getting screwed out of the NCAA Tournament last season. They lost on a buzzer-beater to the Princeton Tigers in last year’s Ivy League playoff game. The Crimson were worthy of a tournament bid, too, finishing 23-6. But 2011 is a new year and the Crimson are out to prove that they are one of the better teams in the country. They can blow you out (75-47 against Utah) and they can slow you down (46-41 against #20 Florida State). They were able to win the Atlantis Tournament by playing solid defense and getting baskets when they needed them most. This is definitely a team to watch come tournament time.
Big Ten/ACC Challenge
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this, ESPN and ESPN2 will be airing the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This year’s challenge figures to have some really good matchups. On Tuesday, #6 Duke will make a visit to Columbus to visit the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes. Austin Rivers will square against Jared Sullinger in this Top 10 matchup. This will be a good measuring stick for both teams to see where they are at early on in the season. The other big matchup will take place on Wednesday, when the Wisconsin Badgers travels to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels are coming off a loss to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, so I look for them to come out and look to get off to a fast start. The Badgers will look to counter the Tar Heels high-powered attack by slowing the game down and limiting possessions. Duke/Ohio State and Wisconsin/UNC are must watch games. Other notable games: Florida State/Michigan State, Indiana/NC State, Michigan/Virginia.
Kentucky/North Carolina Preview
No it’s not the NCCA Tournament yet, but there is no better way to end your weekend than with the game of the week: The Kentucky Wildcats v. The North Carolina Tar Heels. This game features numerous pro prospects including Harrison Barnes and John Henson for North Carolina and Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones for Kentucky. Both of these teams love to get up-and-down the floor (UNC: 88 ppg, UK: 84.2 ppg). Emotions will be running high in this one, as both will becoming off tough games from earlier in the week. The game can be seen on CBS, at noon ET.