NON-CUPCAKE NIGHT, MINN. -- And that folks, games like Richmond last night, is why Gopher basketball season-ticket holders clamor for additional "meat" on the home nonconference schedule every season. How refreshing it was to attend a Gopher nonconference game where GOING INTO THE ARENA fans actually had a legitimate reason to get sweaty palms. I'll take a couple games like that (is 2 or 3 asking too much?) over the Cupcake City smorgasbord we're fed most every season. Now, back to our original programming.
A Little of This & A Little of That from Week 2
(1) Can you say cheesy? BTN, I love ya' still, but once again what a cheese ball and cheap move to not send announcers to the Richmond-Gophers game. You disappointed me last night; you should be above that. Can you say high-schoolish move by a cash-cow conference?
(2) Week 2 Scores That Made Me Say "Wow":
Albany 63, Washington 62
Belmont 70, Stanford 62
Florida 74, Wisconsin 56
Florida Gulf Coast 63, Miami-Florida 51
Fresno State 39, UC-Riverside 30
Gonzaga 84, West Virginia 50
Iona 94, Wake Forest 68
Nebraska 50, Valpo 48
Pepperdine 58, Wazzu 56
Santa Clara 74, Saint Louis 62
(3) Prove Me Wrong, Gophers: I think the Gophers are capable of winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, but my gut tells me we're going to be disappointed, but not entirely discouraged, with a 1-2 finish in the Bahamas. I'll say the Gophers knock off Duke in the quarterfinals, but follow with losses to Memphis and Louisville.
(4) Big Ten Power Rankings: Based solely on early-season impressions:
3. Michigan State
4. Ohio State
12. Penn State
(5) Bouncing Back: Future Gophers opponent Florida State rebounded nicely from its season-opening home loss to South Alabama, beating BYU and Saint Joseph's to capture the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic championship.
(6) Uh Oh: Wake Forest's Jeff Bzdelik did his job security no favors with a 94-68 thumping from Iona in the loser's bracket of the Paradise Jam.
(7) The Vagabond: Larry Brown has SMU off to a 3-0 start.
(8) White Teeth: Two years ago Maine coach Ted Woodward -- head man of one of the worst D-I basketball programs in the country -- couldn't find enough playing time for Murphy Burnatowski, so the talented 6-7 Canadian forward transferred to Colgate. Good move my Burnatowski. Through five games, he's averaging 18.6 ppg and 6.8 rpg and shooting 44.8% from three-point range for the improved Raiders, including a combined 47 points and 16 rebounds vs. Illinois and Marquette.
(9) Pleasant Surprises: Count Colorado (4-0), Northridge State (6-0), Wichita State (4-0), and William & Mary (3-0) among the surprise early-season unbeatens. Colorado's Charleston Classic title included wins over Baylor and Murray State. Northridge won four games in four days at the San Diego NUCDF Challenge. The Shockers logged an impressive road win at VCU despite losing five seniors from last season's 27-6 NCAA squad. Then there's Bill & Mary, which already is halfway to its 2011-12 win total.
(10) On the Flip Side, The Disappointments: Drexel, Notre Dame, Saint Louis, and USF rank among the early-season disappointments. Prohibitive CAA favorite Drexel has lost two of its first three games. I was underwhelmed by the Fighting Irish in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, especially considering how much head coach Mike Brey has been talking up his team. There's little chance Saint Louis -- 12-point losers at home to Santa Clara -- will be the same team with Jim Crews on the sidelines in place of former coach Rick Majerus. ... what a shame that such a gifted coach/tactician as Majerus can't take proper care of himself. Then there's USF (2-2), coming off a NCAA Round of 32 appearance, already with a pair of home losses.
Five prominent exempt tournaments concluded last week. Picking up championship hardware, along with at least a quality win or two were: Alabama (2K Sports Classic); Colorado (Charleston Classic); Florida State (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic); Ohio State (Hall of Fame Tip-Off); and Oklahoma State (Puerto Rico Tip-Off).
An additional 12 exempt tournaments begin this week, including the Gophers' participation in the stacked Battle 4 Atlantis. Thus far I've picked two correct champions, Colorado and Ohio State, with two pending, the Paradise Jam (New Mexico) and NIT Season Tip-Off (Michigan).
Thanksgiving week tournament predictions. ... North Carolina over Illinois (Maui Invitational); Indiana over UCLA (Legends Classic); Kansas over Texas A&M (CBE Classic); Iowa over Wichita State (Cancun Challenge); Belmont over Charlotte (Great Alaska Shootout); Gonzaga over West Virginia (Old Spice Classic); Mizzou over Memphis (Battle 4 Atlantis); Cal over Saint Mary's (Anaheim Classic); Illinois State over Northwestern (South Padre Island Invitational); UNLV over Cincinnati (Global Sports Classic); Wisconsin over Arkansas (Las Vegas Invitational); and SMU over South Carolina (Hoops for Hope Classic).
Turkey Week Games to Monitor
(Monday) New Mexico vs. UConn (Paradise Jam championship), Georgetown vs. UCLA (Legends Classic semifinal), Illinois vs. USC (Maui Invitational quarterfinal). (Tuesday) Iowa vs. Western Kentucky (Cancun Challenge semifinal). (Wednesday) Michigan vs. Pitt (NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal). (Thursday) Duke vs. Minnesota (Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal), Memphis vs. VCU (Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal). (Friday) Creighton vs. Wisconsin (Las Vegas Invitational semifinal), Oregon @ UNLV (Global Sports Classic semifinal), Cincinnati vs. Iowa State (Global Sports Classic semifinal). (Saturday) Richmond @ Ohio, Colorado State @ Washington. (Sunday) San Diego State @ USC, Delaware @ Temple
Mano-a-Mano Update: Top 8 Conferences (Nov. 12-18)
Results of the top conferences going head to head:
Alabama over Oregon State; Alabama over Villanova; Baylor over Boston College; Baylor over Saint John's; Colorado over Baylor; Colorado over Dayton; Dayton over Boston College; Dayton over Auburn; Duke over Kentucky; Florida over Wisconsin; Florida State over Saint Joseph's; Michigan State over Kansas; Minnesota over Richmond; NC State over Penn State; NC State over UMass; Ohio State over Rhode Island; Ohio State over Washington; Oklahoma State over NC State; Oklahoma State over Tennessee; Oregon over Vandy; Oregon State over Purdue; Penn State over Providence; Pitt over Fordham; Saint Joseph's over Notre Dame; Seton Hall over Rhode Island; Tennessee over UMass; UConn over Wake Forest; UMass over Providence; Villanova over Purdue; Virginia Tech over Rhode Island; Washington over Seton Hall; Xavier over Butler.
T-1. Big 12 (5-2)
T-1. Pac 12 (5-2)
3. SEC (5-4)
4. Big East (7-6)
T-5. ACC (5-5)
T-5. Big 10 (5-5)
7. Atlantic 10 (5-11)
8. Mountain West (0-2)
Last Week: Auburn over Murray State (L, the Racers waxed Auburn, 79-59)
This Week: Texas A&M over Saint Louis (Monday/CBE Classic semifinal)
Tag(s): Gopher Basketball