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December 21, 2009

SCS.comChristmas isn’t usually associated with college basketball, nor should it be. Besides, the NBA already has the Christmas sports market covered. Here’s what you need to see this week as you celebrate the holidays.


Thought 1: Wild ending at Hinkle

While Texas handled North Carolina in the “Game of the Week” on ESPN, a thrilling ending went down on ESPN2 between Xavier and Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse. In case you missed it, the Bulldogs’ Gordon Hayward grabbed a loose ball and made a go-ahead layup with 1.2 seconds to play after an incredible possession which featured three Butler offensive rebounds. However, during that final series, the clock had malfunctioned, stalling at the 14.7 second mark. After deliberation, the officials declared the game over, neglecting to give Xavier the extra 1.2 seconds by claiming that the clock would have run out had it not malfunctioned. Television cameras showed that Hayward’s layup left his hands at the 1.8 mark, and the officials apparently believed the clock stalled enough to let the clock run out, but not enough that Hayward’s shot wouldn’t count. Still following? If so, congratulations. It took me 15 minutes just to write that explanation. There’s a reason it took the officials more than 10 minutes to make the final decision, which led to an explosion by Xavier coach Chris Mack and some of his players. I understand their frustration, but the ruling makes sense. I don’t think the Musketeers got jobbed in the least bit—unless, of course, the clock actually did stop for more than 1.8 seconds. If that’s the case, then the game should be protested.

Thought 2: Double Takes

I’m home on winter break in St. Louis, which means I needed to make a one hour and 40 minute trek back to Columbia to see Missouri host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday at 7 p.m. I missed all of the day’s action from about 3 p.m. on and didn’t see a single score until I returned home just before midnight. So as I perused Yahoo! Sports’ online scoreboard, several scores jumped out at me. First, of course, was this one: Richmond 56, Florida 53. The Spiders are an A-10 sleeper—I learned that first hand when they knocked off Mizzou—but with the Gators’ strong early-season performance, who could have predicted this? Next, I noticed this one: Old Dominion 61, Georgetown 57. So much for the new-and-improved Hoyas, I guess, though the Monarchs are a CAA favorite. And finally, the shocker of the day: USC 77, Tennessee 55. Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill isn’t exactly beloved by the basketball community, but he must be doing something right. As dreadful as the Pac-10 has been, score one for the conference with USC’s convincing upset.

Thought 3: I don’t like watching games in domes

I’ll keep this one short because there’s not a whole lot to say. I don’t like college basketball in domes. Heck, I don’t like football in domes and I don’t like baseball in domes. But I really don’t like college basketball in domes. It’s a terrible atmosphere. More than 35,000 fans packed into Cowboys Stadium for the Texas/North Carolina clash on Saturday, and it sounded like a Broadway play in that place. College basketball is all about the atmosphere, and domes don’t have an atmosphere. Simple as that. Keep the games on campus.



Michigan State at Texas
Tuesday 6 p.m. ESPN

Both Michigan State and Texas have been featured in the “Game of the Week” already this year, but instead of whining about it, I’ll use this as an opportunity for praise. Thank you, Tom Izzo and Rick Barnes, for challenging yourself in the non-conference! Izzo especially has gained a reputation for playing tough non-league schedules. It’s a great thing for college basketball.

Prediction: Texas 80, Michigan State 70


Missouri State at Arkansas
Tuesday 7

Did you know that Missouri State is still undefeated? The Bears haven’t truly been tested yet, with their best win coming at home against Tulsa. Arkansas isn’t very good, but a road win at an SEC team will certainly turn some heads before MSU begins its Missouri Valley schedule.

Prediction: Missouri State 75, Arkansas 72

Butler at UAB
Tuesday 7

UAB, which is riding a nine-game winning streak, looks like a C-USA contender along with Tulsa, Memphis and a handful of other teams.

Prediction: UAB 81, Butler 77

California at Kansas
Tuesday 8 ESPN

Kansas destroyed a struggling Michigan team on Saturday and might do the same to California if the Golden Bears aren’t careful.

Prediction: Kansas 85, California 66

Texas A&M at Washington
Tuesday 10

Washington beat Portland—that same team that was once ranked in the top 25-- by 45 points on Saturday.

Prediction: Washington 67, Texas A&M 65

Rider at Siena
Wednesday 6

Siena is the top-dog in the MAAC, but several teams are chasing the Saints. Rider is one of those squads, and a road win at Siena on Wednesday would change the entire complexity of the MAAC race.

Prediction: Siena 82, Rider 72

Mississippi at West Virginia
Wednesday 6:30

Remember when Andy Kennedy replaced Bob Huggins at Cincinnati? Now fast forward to Wednesday night, when Andy Kennedy will play against Bob Huggins. Fun stuff.

Prediction: West Virginia 76, Mississippi 62

Illinois vs. Missouri (in St. Louis)
Wednesday 8:30

I’ll be in attendance at this one, hoping the Tigers break a nine-game losing streak to the Illini. Look for me. I’ll be the one wearing gold.

Prediction: Missouri 76, Illinois 75

West Virginia at Seton Hall
Saturday 3:30

Temple handed Seton Hall its first loss of the year this weekend. Now, the Pirates will look to rebound with a critical season-opener at home against a top-10 opponent.

West Virginia 79, Seton Hall 77

Last week’s prediction record: 8-5
Overall: 35-25

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