We have all feasted on some Turkey, watched some basketball, and now it is time to react to what happened on Thanksgiving. The Battle 4 Atlantis Championship has been set, while Iona pulled off a major upset of Alabama. While eating leftovers and enjoying what should be a great day of College Basketball, let’s recap what happened yesterday first.
Iona’s defensive strategy pays off with upset of Alabama
Alabama is known for taking a high amount of threes and doing little in the mid-range but Rick Pitino was determined not to let that offensive strategy work. Alabama shot only 17 threes and only made 5 of them, which forced this game to be a low-scoring grind-it-out affair, making it anyone’s game. In the end, Iona was able to prevail and come away with a big win. Pitino’s strategy worked decently well in the Tournament when the two played, but with a younger, more inexperienced Tide team and a more talented Iona team that has legit scorers like Nelly Junior-Joseph and Elijah Joiner, this team was able to prevail. Alabama will be fine down the road, they will get better throughout this season but this was a major win for Iona.
Michigan State survives UConn, advances to Battle 4 Atlantis title game
The day games of the Battle 4 Atlantis continued to rule as UConn and Michigan State went right down to the wire, with Michigan State prevailing in the end. Fresh off a double-overtime game, UConn started slow and got down early. UConn found their footing in the second half and even took a 7 point lead, but was unable to hold off a late charge from the Spartans. AJ Hoggard made the two biggest plays of the game, down three, he made a majestic pass to Julius Marble, who laid it in to get the lead down to one. The Hoggard hit the big free throws to give them the lead, following a controversial call. The Spartans will play Baylor for the Battle 4 Atlantis title, in what should be an entertaining matchup.
Richmond continues to miss opportunities
The Spiders came into this game needing a big win following missed opportunities against Drake and Utah State, and they once again missed another opportunity to get a solid win, as they lost 86-80. The Spiders led 71-63 but allowed Maryland to go on a 17-3 run late to take the lead and ice the game away. With an Atlantic 10 that is not as good as in years past, there are only a few opportunities to pick up quality wins, and the Spiders might have missed out on their chance to build an at-large resumé.
Loyola-Chicago misses a bucket-getter
With Cameron Krutwig’s graduation, the Ramblers lost a consistent form of offense and that has been somewhat apparent, especially against tough competition. In this game against Auburn, the Tigers were able to hold the Ramblers to 2 points in a 7-minute stretch, which allowed them to take control of the game. In a grind-it-out type of game like this one was, just having someone you can trust to score on the inside is important, and right now Loyola-Chicago doesn’t have that guy. Lucas Williamson, Marquise Kennedy, and Braden Norris are all good complementary pieces but none are great isolation players. Sure Loyola-Chicago can still make the NCAA Tournament and win a game or two in it, but this lack of a pure scorer will ultimately prevent them from making a big run.
Arizona State might be the best 2-4 team in the sport
There is always going to be a loser in a basketball game, and some teams execute worse than others. That said, Arizona State being 2-4 at this point is extremely disappointing based on how good this team is. The Sun Devils have looked decent in all their matchups, Marreon Jackson has filled in nicely at the point, Kimani Lawrence, DJ Horne, and Luther Muhammad have all been productive pieces but this team just doesn’t win games. Losing two games at the final buzzer is tough, while they didn’t get overmatched by Baylor and Syracuse. That said, the objective of the game is to win, and Arizona State just doesn’t do that.