College Basketball Betting: Weekly Cheat Sheet
by Trevor Whenham - 11/29/2008
The first in a series of weekly looks at the college basketball news and stats that bettors need to know:
If you have seen any college basketball at all in the last two years then you probably know that Stephen Curry is a serious freak. There are only a few guys in all of college basketball who as are talented at scoring as the diminutive Curry is, and as few who are as entertaining. He is a massive headache for opposing coaches and he can hardly be stopped. Loyola (MD) found a way to stop him on Tuesday, though, and it led to one of the stranger games in recent memory.
Loyola knew that they were outclassed, so they figured that a double team was the only possible way to contain Curry. So that's what they did. Without stop. The team used a triangle and two defense, and the two followed Curry like his shadow.
The best part of this story, and the strangest, is Curry's response. He trusts his team, and he knew that they could handle Loyola without him. So, every time his team had the ball he dished it off to a teammate and went and stood in the corner of the court. The two defenders followed him, and Davidson was able to play 4-on-3 the entire game. Loyola's coach never gave up on the scheme, and Curry never wavered. Curry ended up with no points on just three shots, and Davidson cruised to an easy 30 point win - more than enough to cover the 25 point spread.
We learned a few things from this game - besides the fact that Loyola's coach is a moron, I mean. First, we learned that Davidson isn't a one-player team. Bryant Barr in particular is a guy who needs to step up this year, and he has. He had a good game, and so did Andrew Lovedale, a senior who is also stepping up to fill a scoring void this year. The other thing we learned is that there are more reasons to be in awe of Curry. A lot of stars of his caliber, averaging more than 30 points a game, would have got frustrated and fought the system or made dumb mistakes. Curry just committed to doing exactly what he needed to do to help his team win. He is one of the top college players in the country, yet he truly seems to be devoid of the ego that can often go with that. This is going to be a fun year to watch this team. Davidson plays at Purdue on Dec. 20 - a game that is an early Christmas present that has me drooling.
Sorting Out The Pecking Order
The best thing about preseason tournaments is that they allow us to see ranked teams play so we can see how the rankings measure up with the teams on the court. A couple of matchups this past week have been very educational.
First No. 8 ranked Notre Dame beat a No. 6 ranked Texas is a close game. The most impressive aspect of the game was the powerful play of Luke Harangody - 29 points and 13 boards. So Notre Dame may have been a bit under-ranked. Not too much, though - the next night they went out and lost to UNC by 15. North Carolina showed hat we already knew - they are, at this point, the class of the country. Harangody was contained, and it was instead Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Deon Thompson who were able to do whatever they wanted.
Next, Maryland and Michigan State tangled on Thursday night. The Spartans were ranked fifth in the AP. Maryland is unranked, but they served notice that they don't intend to stay that way. Maryland totally dominated the game. They won the first half, then pulled away in the second, winning by 18. This result doesn't bode well for the ACC - Big Ten Challenge next week. The Big Ten has never won the challenge in nine tries, and this result foreshadows that they may not again. Michigan State has a very tough game against UNC in the challenge, while Maryland plays the suddenly interesting Wolverines.
Finally, 10th ranked Purdue and 11th ranked Oklahoma battled on Friday afternoon. Purdue is young but thoroughly entertaining and impressive. Oklahoma has the stunning Blake Griffin and impressive freshman Willie Warren, and they already have a solid win over Davidson. This one was a war. Purdue took the lead after the first half, Oklahoma clawed back, and it was tied at the end of regulation. As so often happens, overtime came down to free throws. Purdue got behind by one, had to start fouling, couldn't get anything going, and it got out of hand. Oklahoma won by a handful, but we learned that we have two legitimate exciting squads on our hands here. Oklahoma has now beaten two ranked teams. They play a feisty USC team next, and then they have an incredibly easy run to conference play. I'm not exaggerating when I say that 15-1 is likely the worst they will be when they face Kansas State on Jan. 10. Purdue plays Duke next, and then that Davidson game down the road.
Player of the WeekStephen Curry, Davidson - The guy had no points against Loyola and still averaged 19.5 a game this week.
Ranked Team of the Week
It has to be North Carolina. Every time we turn around they are finding a new way to prove how good they are. Their depth is terrifying. Opposing coaches are going to have to work very hard to find a way to beat these guys. They are 3/2 to win the national title. That's a ridiculous number, but I haven't yet seen any reason to see that the Heels are terribly undervalued.
Unranked Team of the Week
Syracuse - On consecutive nights the Orange beat Florida and Kansas. If you beat the last three national champs in a week then you are doing something right. If Jonny Flynn isn't one of your 10 or 15 favorite college players it's only because you haven't seen him play enough.
Goat of the Week
Kelvin Sampson - Idiot. At least we won't have to see him in college for at least five years.