Three Point Play: February 16, 2010

1. North Carolina should still make the NIT, and Ed Davis’ injury helps their case

The defending national champion Tar Heels were left for dead after losing seven of eight games and four straight. Following the 64-54 loss to Duke, the team announced that Ed Davis would be out for the season with a broken wrist. His loss seemed to spell doom for the struggling Heels. Instead, UNC played perhaps its best game in weeks in a win over North Carolina State on Saturday.

The absence of Davis actually may have helped the Tar Heels’ hopes. Against the Wolfpack, John Henson was able to play his natural position of power forward, and the team’s offense played much more fluently. Davis commanded the ball too much while producing an insufficient amount of effort that actually hindered the team’s production.

With six games left, UNC needs to win two more in order to be eligible for the NIT. The most winnable games in that span are at Boston College on Feb. 20, and Miami at home on Mar. 2. The other games include trips to Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Duke and a home game with Florida State. Maybe with the improved outlook on offense, the Heels might have a chance.

2. Game of the week: Purdue at Ohio State, Wednesday 6:30 ET

With the recent slide Michigan State is on in conference play, this is a pivotal game involving two of the Big Ten’s best teams. The Boilermakers have not lost in a month, and are led by the dynamic trio of E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson. The Buckeyes enter the game on a six-game winning streak; they also defeated Purdue in West Lafayette earlier this season 70-66 in one of the best games this season.

Evan Turner returned from a serious back injury to play in the first Purdue game, and delivered a memorable performance. The national player of the year candidate scored 23 of his 32 points in the second half to help erase a 12-point halftime deficit. It was a complete turnaround from the first half, when Robbie Hummel scored 29 of his game-high 35 points. He also made eight three-pointers in the game, tying a school record.

The Buckeyes sit at 10-3 in Big 10 play, while Purdue is only a half game behind them at 9-3. A win in this game would put that team in prime position to win the regular season conference championship. Both teams are red-hot coming into the game, and if it turns out anything like last month’s tilt, it should be an exciting match-up.

3. Whatever happened to William and Mary?

Remember earlier this season, when the Tribe, picked to finish at the bottom of the Colonial Athletic Association, were knocking off ACC teams like they were Duke? That is a distant memory now, as they sit in fourth place in the CAA at 10-5 in the conference.

The Tribe currently hold victories over Richmond, Wake Forest, Radford, and Maryland to their name, and as of the beginning of January they looked to be a bona fide NCAA tournament team. Instead, they lost four of five games starting Jan. 20 and took themselves out of consideration for an at-large bid.

They have righted the ship to some extent by winning their last three games but the damage has already been made. The best they can hope for at this point is to win the CAA Tournament and finish the season strong, earning at best a 12 seed in March.


Jamison said...

Ugh I should've went to a school where people know about sports! I've been telling people all year that WM is overrated--we shoot threes, we win. NO inside presence whatsoever (Marcus Kitts is clumsy and turns the ball over at least three times a game just by dropping the ball or travelling; Danny Sumner is never agressive in the paint...he's more of a shooting guard out there on the court; Steve Hess just doesn't get enough playing time!).

At the same time, I've been shocked at the relatively wide-open CAA. Northeastern outplayed WM, and yet a last-second tip-in pushed the Tribe over. VCU has been a disappointment. ODU is getting hot at the right moment, but they are modeled like WM, living and dying by the three-ball. Big game tonight between WM-Mason, esp. with Mason missing a starting forward due to two technical fouls.

Hahaha I hope you all enjoyed that great CAA bball talk. Whoever comes out of this conference will not win a NCAA game.

I hate UNC.

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