Prevailing wisdom had Florida State and Connecticut playing on Saturday in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Well, they'll be playing on Saturday...but with third place on the line as both lost their semifinal games in disappointing fashion. The Huskies looked to be in good shape as they held a 50-33 lead on UCF early in the second half, despite a lackluster shooting performance from Jeremy Lamb. But it was almost as if UConn turned off their "power source", and the Knights took full advantage.
The championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational provides undefeated UNLV (6-0) with not only a great opportunity but also a great measuring stick, as they take on #1 North Carolina (5-0) at the Orleans Arena. The Rebels fought off a USC team that may not be long on talent but they do make you earn everything, and UNC wasn't challenged much by South Carolina in the nightcap. Whether or not Dave Rice's team can beat the Tar Heels likely depends on the play of their most recent UCLA transfer, forward Mike Moser (15.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 3.2 spg).
In all honesty it shouldn't come as a surprise that UCLA struggled with an in-state non-conference opponent, the very teams that most in the fan base expect the Bruins to simply roll over regardless of their level of interest. But in recent seasons it's become more of an issue as the Bruins haven't been talented enough to simply flip the switch, and there was another hard lesson to learn in the LA Sports Arena. The preseason pick to win the Pac-12 shot 40.7% from the field and made just two of fifteen from beyond the arc in a 69-58 loss to Loyola Marymount.
Here's how the ACC teams stack up over the last five years according to conference wins. Unlike many leagues, the ACC has a relatively strict caste system, with Duke and UNC firmly at the top. Tony Bennett's Virginia Cavaliers are one of the few teams with a chance to jump up a level, while Wake Forest is clearly going in the wrong direction.
Friday marks the first big day of the college basketball season with more than 100 games on the schedule. Sure most of the games look to be of the "opening sacrifice" variety, but a closer look reveals some intriguing matchups. It only makes sense to begin with the game that needs little introduction, the Carrier Classic game matching preseason national title favorite North Carolina and Michigan State. The game will be played on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, which will likely cue a few "I'm on a boat" jokes.
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Question: Outside of the generally accepted top four (UNC/UK/Ohio State/UConn) who do you think can win the national title?