Tuesday's schedule is a light one but there is a very good game to check out in the Mountain West as New Mexico visits a talented group of Aztecs. Darington Hobson has been outstanding for the Lobos and if you concentrate solely on the junior college transfer than a player like Roman Martinez can jump up and make you pay. Steve Alford's squad picked up its lone loss of the season on the road, falling at Oral Roberts, so it would not be a surprise if SDSU pulled off the upset.
It was billed as the college basketball game that would drag people away from college football on New Year's Day, and the matchup between West Virginia and Purdue had the look of a stellar contest on paper. But in the flesh the Boilermakers put together a virtuoso performance in whipping the Mountaineers in West Lafayette 77-62. And to be fair the game really wasn't that close despite WVU going into the locker room down by just five (37-32) at the half.
The game of the day lived up to the hype as Purdue beat Tennessee 73-72 in the title game of the Paradise Jam. E'Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers with twenty-two points while Tennessee's Wayne Chism led all scorers with twenty-four. Tight throughout, the game changed in tempo from the first half to the second. Purdue led at the half 42-41 but the fast tempo made that lead a bit of fool's gold; a game in the eighties wouldn't bode well for the Boilermakers.
Betting odds are a great guide to college basketball entertainment. Unlike fans, who often ride the wave of media predictions, betting lines tend to be a bit more focused and can give you an objective picture of how teams matchup (though lines too can get caught up in the wave of human emotion).
One tournament concludes (Paradise Jam) while other either move on to the next stage (CBE Classic in Kansas City) or tip off (Maui Invitational). The game of the day on paper is Purdue taking on Tennessee in a matchup of contrasting styles in the Paradise Jam final. The Boilermakers will look to do things out of the halfcourt while the Volunteers want to speed things up with their full-court pressure. Bruce Pearl and Matt Painter are two of the better coaches in the game and the matchup between Tyler Smith and Robbie Hummel should be a treat.
Purdue got off to a slow start on Sunday night in the second semifinal of the Paradise Jam against Saint Joseph's due to some cold shooting and the Hawks finding open areas of their own on offense. But things took a turn about halfway through the first half with the Boilermakers harassing the young SJU guards into turnovers and rushed possessions, eventually resulting in Matt Painter's team going to the locker room up 31-30 at the half. Saint Joseph's had fifteen turnovers in the first twenty minutes and the game had the feel of one that was soon going to get out of hand.
With six teams in CHN's preseason Top 25, and 3 more teams with NCAA Tournament hopes, no league has more depth than the Big Ten. And an improving Indiana into the mix, and this should be quite a season for Big Ten fans.
Ranking players is more art then science. How do you compare the potential of freshmen with seniors who have already peaked? How much does physical talent come into play versus intangibles and experience? How big a role do numbers play?