Thursday, December 27, 2007
du·el /ˈduəl, ˈdyu-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[doo-uhl, dyoo-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb, -eled, -el·ing or (especially British) -elled, -el·ling.
1. a prearranged combat between two persons, fought with deadly weapons according to an accepted code of procedure, esp. to settle a private quarrel.
2. any contest between two persons or parties.
It's not a duel in the desert when there are four teams involved. It's a stupid name. It's not even a tournament, it's round robin. It's not on TV anywhere, and two of the four teams are at the bottom of the NCAA. Basically everything about this pisses me off, except for the test the Gophers will get against UNLV.
Nicholls State and Kennesaw State are pretty much not even worth previewing, as they are perennial bottom dwellers, even in their weak conferences. Nicholls does have a somewhat decent win at New Orleans earlier this year, and only lost by 10 at North Carolina. Looking at the rest of their resume however, at 4-8, shows some really bad losses which suggest those two positives were anomalies and not to be worried about. Kennesaw (2-8) is even worse, with that kind of record despite having only played one team from a big conference in Auburn. Gophers should win both games by 20.
UNLV is definitely a nice test, especially considering they are at home for this game. The Rebels are 8-3, and it's tough to know exactly what to make of them. They've lost their two biggest tests, at home against Arizona and at Louisville, but gave Arizona all they could handle and beat Nevada. They have taken care of business against lesser opponents, and I would probably rate them similar to the Gophers right now.
The Rebels were a sweet 16 team last year, as I predicted, but lost four starters from last season. The lone returner is excellent, and small, shooting guard Wink Adams, who the Gophers held to 3-12 shooting last season. Adams leads the team at 14.5 ppg this season, and is one of three guys in double digits. The other two top scorers are fellow returnees 6-7 forward Joe Darger (12.8) and 6-5 swingman Curtis Terry (12.0), who is also third in the MWC in assists at 4.2. The Rebels don't have a whole lot of size, and don't shoot particularly well (31% from 3) so this is certainly a winnable game for the Gophers.
The key to the game will be keeping UNLV off the boards, as despite their lack of size, they rebound well, good enough for third in their conference. Darger (6.0), Matt Shaw (4.5), Rene Rougeau (4.1), Adams (4.1), and 6-10 freshman Emmanuel Adeife (4.0) all average at least four per game, and another three players are getting at least three. They rebound well from all positions, so it's not just on Spencer and the big guys to help out.
Hope and optimism leads me to almost pick the Gophers here, but I don't think they've come quite that far yet. UNLV 66, Minnesota 61.
Nevada +21.5 @ UNC
Seton Hall -3 vs. NC State
New Mexico -6 @ Hawaii
Rider +2.5 @ Drexel
God, I miss Vegas. I need to go back.