Daily Dribble: 12/29

December 29th, 2006
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First good day of hoops in awhile last night.. 76 games, 13 Top 25 games, 4 Top 10 games, and 1 Top 15 upset.. In overtime, #13 Washington fell at USC in their Pac-10 opener. The Huskies are 10-0 at home, but 0-2 on the road. Spencer Hawes was impressive for the losers with 24 points, and more impressively playing 47 minutes (not bad for a 6-11 freshman). He's scored 20+ in 5 of 6 games. For USC, the less heralded freshman, Taj Gibson came through with 22 points and 10 boards, arguably his best game yet. Gibson is quietly putting up one of the best rookie seasons in the country at 13 and 10 per game. USC improves to 11-3 and finally has Gabe Pruitt healthy again. The junior guard had 18 points and 5 assists in just his third game back.

Also in the Pac-10, Washington State almost pulled off a huge upset, losing by just 3 at #1 UCLA. The Cougars led by 4 at half, went on a 7-2 run to start the 2nd, and led by as many as 10 before Darren Collison turned it on late to lead the Bruins to a close win. It obviously would have been the biggest win in Tony Bennett's young career, as Washington State has never beaten a #1 team, and is just 1-50 all-time in Los Angeles. Still, the close loss helps prove that WSU's 11-2 start is no fluke.

More surprising than Washington's loss was Boston College falling to 4-7 Duquesne. The Dukes are a young team that went into Chestnut Hill having lost 7 of 8 games. With the loss, is it too early to say BC's NCAA Tournament chances are shot? The Eagles 7-4 record includes home losses to Vermont and Duquesne.. though they do have a non-conference win over Michigan State. Lets say they win their 3 easy non-conference games and then go .500 in conference play.. that would put BC at 17-12 on the season if I did my match correctly. You know the Billy Packers of the world will argue that a .500 record in the ACC automatically makes one worth of the tourney, but this team's bad losses will be hard to overcome. Overshadowed in the loss, the nation's leading shot-blocker, Sean Williams had a triple-double with 19 points, 10 boards, and 13 blocks.

Clemson improved to 13-0 by rolling over Georgia 75-60. The Bulldogs have lost 2 of 3 since the big win over Gonzaga, and now host #4 Wisconsin on Sunday night. It doesn't get any easier the next week as Georgia heads to #3 Florida for their first SEC game. Assuming Georgia loses the next two, it will drop them to 8-5 and outside the NCAA bubble once again..

Other BCS teams that lost yesterday are Rutgers (who got spanked at UNC.. though Scarlet Knights fans were only paying attention to the first bowl win in school history), Cal who lost at Arizona, Arizona State who lost to Stanford at home (if ASU can't beat Stanford at home.. then who can they beat in Pac-10 play? I guess Oregon State but thats about it..), and Seton Hall who fell to giant-slayer Oral Roberts. ORU had that big win at Kansas early in the year, but was just 2-5 in their previous 7 games before facing the Hall. Despite the seemingly mediocre 6-6 record, ORU is still the heavy favorite to win the Mid-Con.

St. John's barely escaped with a 45-44 overtime win over Boston University. This game was in the Garden, and its rather pathetic St. John's shot 32% against the 3-7 Terriers. (Though BU isn't quite as bad as their record suggests since they've played a challenging road schedule). With the win, St. John's improves to 9-3 and has won 7 straight. Don't be decieved by the record though, this team isn't any good. They've played 1 road game out of 12, and taking a page out of Jim Boheim's book, that lone game was in the state of New York. Outside of Rutgers and South Florida, who probably have locked up the bottom two spots in the league, the Johnnies just might be the other team to miss out on the conference tournament.

St. John's faces Hofstra in the finals of the Holiday Classic. The winner can claim the title of being NYC's best team.. a title which means absolutely nothing these days.

- How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Bookmark, Bookmark, Bookmark.. -