This morning will be dedicated to making some big-picture sense of the whirling chaos of the Hoops Tip-off. I've tried to include everything that was on some part of ESPN during the 24 hours, though some were more visible than others.
Kansas 57 - Memphis 55
As StF founder Marco Anskis said during our live chat, "I can't tell if Memphis is better than I thought, or Kansas is worse than I thought." A fair question. It's a bit of both. Last season, KU's freshman class made a lot of rookie mistakes against top competition. They're still doing some of that as sophomores - fouling jumpshooters, playing out of position on defense, and generally showing some low basketball IQ. Memphis looked pretty crappy as well, but they clearly have plenty of talent and aren't going to roll over because they're "supposed to be" in a rebuilding mode. Tigers head coach Josh Pastner looks like he'll win enough to get everybody off the "he's so young" hobby horse with a quickness. Conference USA looks to be Memphis' to lose once again.
Top players: Cole Aldrich (Kansas) - 18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks; Elliot Williams (Memphis) - 21 points, 6 rebounds.
Michigan State 75 - Gonzaga 71
Another presumptive Final Four candidate struggled with a traditionally tough team in rebuilding mode in this one. Spartan Raymar Morgan fouled out in the second half as he tried to keep up with game action on two gimpy ankles, and was joined on the bench by an ineffective Delvon Roe, who played just 12 minutes, with no points and four turnovers. MSU guard Durell Summers picked up the slack, gaining a double-double on the night and hitting the key shots when his team needed them. Gonzaga played well, with four players scoring in double figures, but could have used more of highly-effective big man Robert Sacre, who managed 17 points in 19 foul-plagued minutes.
Top Players: Elias Harris (Gonzaga) - 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals; Durrell Summers (Michigan State) - 21 points, 11 rebounds.
Other Scores of Note
Georgetown 46 - Temple 45
Cal State-Fullerton 68 - UCLA 65
Tennessee 124 - UNC-Asheville 49
Duquesne 52 - Iowa 50
Marathon W-L By Conference
America East: 0-1
Big East: 5-0
Big South: 0-2
Big Sky: 1-0
Big 10: 2-1
Big 12: 3-0
Big West: 1-0
Mountain West: 1-2
Sun Belt: 0-2
Most of this goes according to form. The great showing by the MAAC in a rare moment in the limelight is refreshing. The poor performance of the CAA in same is disheartening to an Old Dominion grad like myself. Iowa's struggles continue, giving the Big Ten their lone loss of the 24 hours, which is baffling - Iowa coach Lickliter was phenomenal at Butler. On the flipside, typical Big East also-ran DePaul scored a late victory to uphold the best single showing by a league in yesterday's matchups.
Artsiom Parakhouski (Radford): 31 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists vs. Lynchburg (Non-DI)
Alexander Starling (Bethune-Cookman): 28 points, 14 rebounds vs. Edward Waters (Non-DI)
Maurice Bolden (Southern Mississippi): 29 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks vs. Loyola of Louisiana (Non-DI)
These guys obviously loaded up on junk food, while others played meaningful games on TV. Nonetheless, I love it that Southern Mississippi opened their season with Louisiana-Lafayette and Loyola of Louisiana, both of which ESPN abbreviates as some variation of LA-LA.
Categorical Undeniability (excluding Non-DI games)
Points: 33 - Aubrey Coleman (Houston) vs. Nicholls State
Rebounds: 17 - Mike Davis (Illinois) vs.Northern Illinois
Assists: 13 - Travon Woodall (Pitt) vs. Binghamton
Blocks: 6 - Anthony Johnson (Fairfield) @ Maryland
Steals: 6 - Damian Saunders (Duquesne) @ Iowa; Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech) vs. UNC-Greensboro
In general, ESPN has scored a big hit with the 24-hour Tip Off Marathon. Journalists, television personalities, fans and bloggers have made it a point of pride to stay awake for the entire event. Schools that have a tough time getting on air are being watched zealously by millions of eyeballs, albeit at strange times of the day (6 am in New Jersey for St. Peter's vs. Monmouth was strange, but fun).
Call the second annual marathon of hoops a win-win for everyone who loves college basketball.