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The Morning Dish – Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 24, 2016 The Morning Dish No Comments

Wishing a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to all today…

A pair of top 10 ACC teams faced similar opponents on Wednesday, with dramatically different-but ultimately successful-results.

North Carolina matched up with Wisconsin in a highly anticipated Maui Invitational final, considered even a possible Final Four preview by some. About a half hour later, Louisville tipped off with Old Dominion in a Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal in a game considerably less anticipated, but on that, as it went on, took the distinct feeling of a 4-vs.-13 game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, with the lower seed a significant thorn in the higher seed’s side.

The Badgers are known as a team that controls tempo, takes great care of the ball and rebounds exceptionally well. Yet, Carolina was unfazed by any of it and rolled to a 71-56 win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.

This was a domination. The 4th-ranked Tar Heels led by as many as 25 points and essentially beat Wisconsin at its own game. Kennedy Meeks owned the inside with 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while Joel Berry lit it up outside with 22 points.

UNC is being touted by quite a few as the best team in the country right now, and there’s no argument here. Whether it’s Wisconsin, Oklahoma State or Tennessee-Chattanooga, the Heels have made some good teams look really bad already this year.

Old Dominion’s reputation isn’t as well-known, but the Monarchs excel doing many of the same things Wisconsin does. The Monarchs aren’t nearly as efficient offensively as the Badgers, but they are a bruising rebounding team capable of giving anyone trouble if they can hit a few shots and if their bad free-throw shooting doesn’t haunt them.

ODU frustrated Louisville much of the game, slowing the pace and owning the glass in leading much of the second half. ODU held a four-point lead late in regulation until the Cardinals caught fire late and also bowed up on the glass, and Louisville finally put it away in overtime for a hard-earned 68-62 win.

The 10th-ranked Cardinals looked bad for much of this one, shooting poorly and clearly bothered by ODU’s defense and physicality. Nevertheless, this will be a good learning experience for a team where things came easy in the first three games. Donovan Mitchell helped rescue Louisville with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, including all of his points after halftime.

Old Dominion, meanwhile, will lament a missed opportunity, like so many low seeds in the NCAA Tournament that have come up just short over the years. This was there for the taking, but the Monarchs shot an unsightly 15 of 32 from the free throw line. ODU will still be a factor in Conference USA, but this was a huge opportunity on a big stage missed for a solid program.

Side Dishes

  • Also in Maui, Oklahoma State routed Georgetown 97-70. The Cowboys looked good here, while the good vibes from the Hoyas’ win over Oregon were offset by lopsided losses to Wisconsin and OSU. Oregon also defeated Connecticut 79-69 for fifth place, and the Huskies-like Georgetown-are now 2-4. UConn also got bad news as it was announced Terry Larrier is out for the rest of the year due to an ACL tear. A rough start gets even tougher for the Huskies.
  • Other Battle 4 Atlantis results included Wichita State debuting in impressive fashion, blowing out LSU 82-47. Baylor outlasted VCU 71-63 and Michigan State pulled away to defeat St. John’s 73-62.
  • The Great Alaska Shootout opened with the NCAA Division II host school Alaska-Anchorage giving a Division I team a fit, as usual, before falling to Buffalo 85-79. The second game was also a dandy, as Nevada rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to upend Oakland 82-78.
  • Valparaiso defeated BYU for the second time in less than eight months to win the MGM Grand Main Event in a 92-89 shootout. The Crusaders weathered the Cougars’ hot start to rally and win, and doing so with offense, outscoring the potent BYU lineup. Alec Peters was terrific-26 points, 12 rebounds-and so was Shane Hammink with 23 points.
  • Houston is the champion of the fourth annual Gulf Coast Showcase after Devin Davis scored with a second left for a 72-71 win over Vermont. Heartbreaking loss for the Catamounts, who were down 11 at the half but hit nine three-pointers in the second half.
  • Another buzzer-beater: DePaul’s Billy Garrett Jr. hit a jumper at the buzzer to sink Missouri State 68-66. Also a painful loss for the Bears, who held a 13-point lead on the road with 7 1/2 minutes left.
  • South Carolina continues to clean up on big chances at home out of conference. First it was Monmouth, and now the Gamecocks have a quality 61-46 win over Michigan in authoritative fashion, holding the Wolverines to 19.6%-yes, that number is correct-shooting. Frank Martin-coached teams are known for defensive intensity, but this is wild.
  • Tennessee State is now 5-0 after a convincing 72-58 win on the road at Canisius. Also out of the OVC: Tennessee-Martin improved to 5-1 with a 66-63 win at Duquesne as Jacolby Mobley hit a 25-footer at the buzzer for the Skyhawks, the capper on a career-high 25-point night.
  • Southeastern Louisiana went on the road and took down Texas-El Paso 72-56. Jay Ladner continues to do an excellent job with the Lions, while UTEP continues to mystify.
  • Finally, you’ll have a hard time finding a better comeback all season than the one by Utah Valley on Wednesday. The Wolverines rallied from a 27-point deficit on the road to defeat Denver 88-85.

Today’s Menu:

  • The Battle 4 Atlantis continues with semifinal games of Baylor vs. Michigan State and Wichita State vs. Louisville in a matchup of a 2013 Final Four semifinal. Two excellent games, and any combination of these teams in the final will not be a surprise.
  • The AdvoCare Invitational and Wooden Legacy events open. Orlando has the far stronger field, including solid quarterfinals featuring Stanford against Miami (Fla.) and Seton Hall vs. Florida, while a rather tame field in Fullerton/Anaheim is led by a New Mexico vs. Virginia Tech quarter.
  • The Great Alaska Shootout continues with its final two quarterfinal games, as Drake takes on Iona and UC Davis faces Weber State.
  • The NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals take place in Brooklyn, with Temple-Florida State and Illinois-West Virginia the matchups. Illinois lost to Winthrop in a game allegedly part of this tournament, yet the Fighting Illini “advanced” to the semifinals. What a joke. Absolutely no reason why the NCAA gives an exemption to these events.

Again, a blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all.

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