Were we watching four NCAA Tournament teams in the Jimmy V Classic last night? My Magic 8-ball says, "yes." Oklahoma State defeated Syracuse and Arizona held off Louisville in Madison Square Garden last night amidst the annual celebration of the life of Jim Valvano and the V Foundation for cancer research.
To say that these four will be tourney teams is no stretch, but remember that neither OK State nor UL made the Dance last year. Furthermore, the Cuse was OUT of the bracket until their monster run through the Big East Tournament. So, these were not teams that were in great position last year.
I wrote about the state of basketball here in Kentucky yesterday and I also said that we would know more about Louisville after tonight. What did we learn?
1. The Cards have young talent. Guard Edgar Sosa (FR), wing Terrence Williams (SO), and freshmen forwards Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter have loads of athleticism. Coach Rick Pitino still has work to do into making them basketball players.
2. Perpetual injury. Center David Padgett has two surgically repaired knees that may never be 100%. PG Andre McGee was out with injury as well. The Cards have had LOTS of injury problems over the last two seasons.
3. Where is the defense? So far this season, the Cards are ranked #190 in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy. They also play a slow pace (#243). Let's see, poor defense and slow ball...their coach is Rick Pitino, right? Maybe this will turn around as the season wears on.
The Cards now settle in for TEN (10!) straight games at home in Freedom Hall. I guess that is good for a young team, but how will that look when Big East play begins with two straight road games at Notre Dame and South Florida? The Cards were terrible on the road last season (1-8) and they made no effort to get any road experience before conference play this season. We shall see if this hinders them in conference play again this year.
Last Night's GOI
--at LSU 64, Texas A&M 52. Aggies first real test results in an "L." No real shame in losing in Baton Rouge, however.
--at Washington State 77, Gonzaga 67. The Cougars recovered from their loss to Utah to grab a huge non-conference win. We'll be watching Wash State.
Jimmy V Classic
--vs Arizona 72, Louisville 65. Not quite the statement Louisville wanted to make, but the potential is there with this team if these youngsters learn to defend a bit better. 'Zona's Chase Budinger and Ivan Radenovic were both impressive.
--Oklahoma State 72, Syracuse 68. Cowboys are going to contend in the Big XII.
--UMass at Boston U. In-state rivalry alert! UMass is supposed to win, but this is a rivalry game.
--Creighton at Dayton. Both have just one loss and starting to have At-Large thoughts dance in their heads. Plus, they rhyme.
--Villanova at Oklahoma. Two teams that figure to need all of wins they can get for at-large purposes.
--Memphis at Tennessee. In-state rivalry alert! As far as the east is from the west...at least within the borders of Goreland. Should be a dandy.
--Utah at Utah State. In-state rivalry alert! Always a nice match up.
--Old Dominion at Virginia Tech. VT was a sexy pick to make noise this season, but they aree just 3-3 and ODU is dangerous.
--NC State at West Virginia. See Villanova at Oklahoma.