William Lee, a 4 star, top 150 PF nationally and the #2 recruit in the state committed to UAB. I wish him well, but was really hoping he would come to Bama. He chose the Blazers over UA, UGA, and SMU. I suspect he wanted to stay in-state but did not want to compete with Jimmie Taylor and Michael Kessens for playing time. I like what Jerod Haase is doing with the UAB program, and I expect he will have them turned around in short order.
As most of you know, ESPN hosted a 29 straight hours of basketball culminating with Kentucky/Michigan State and Duke/Kansas games in Chicago last night. I would love to see Alabama take part in this one year, even if it means playing at an odd hour. In a past life, I probably would have stayed up through the entire thing. I'm too old and productive for that now, but I did watch most of the big games last night and I tried to keep up with games involving our future opponents.
Overall, it was not a great start to the season for us from an RPI perspective. I was not surprised at all that Michigan State beat Kentucky, but I was impressed that UK was able to battle back and make it a close game after Sparty ran out to an early lead. I don't care how good the 5 freshmen are, you aren't going to beat a very good, seasoned, Izzo coached team with a group that has no game time experience playing together. I would love to see these two teams play again in March. Kentucky is obviously a good team, how well they are able to gel and play together will determine if they can be a great team.
Likewise, a Duke win would have been preferable for us, since we have a potential match-up with them looming in New York. Like Kentucky, the best chance of beating Duke is to catch them early in the season. After watching that game though, I have no idea how we can hang with them. Jabari Parker is a beast. I think my game plan would be to try to shut everybody else down (easier said that done) and make Parker beat us by himself. Problem is, I think he can probably do it, he is that good.
LSU lost 92-90 at UMass. This surprised me as I expected the Tigers to be much improved this year. South Carolina also lost by 2 at Baylor. Again, bad for our strength of schedule, but Cock fans have to be encouraged with the progress under Frank Martin, Baylor is a top 25 team and they played them to the wire on the road. We have to go to Columbia this year, and that looks like a more challenging game than it has been in recent history.
Our old pal Mark Gottfried picked up a technical foul for having 6 players on the court in a loss to Cincinnati. The more things change...
Robert Morris won 90-81 over Lafayette. I didn't see any of that game, but they come to Tuscaloosa in early January, so nice to see the Colonials pick up a win.
Vandy beat Georgia State 86-80. In theory, this is good for us, since we definitely will play Vandy and GSU is just a potential match-up at this point (they have to get by McNeese State). Vandy should be improved over last year, and GSU played them within 6 in what we all know is a very difficult place to play. I remain concerned about the possibility of Georgia State derailing our trip to New York.
Speaking of McNeese State, they lost 92-66 at Louisiana-Lafayette. I doubt we will be playing them.
24th ranked UCLA beat Oakland by over 30. Playing in Pauley Pavilion will help our strength of schedule, but I doubt it does much for our record.
Unfortunately, Florida lost to Wisconsin on the road 59-53. This was a bad matchup for the Gators, they have trouble with teams that can grind it out in the halfcourt. Florida will bounce back and contend for the SEC. Xavier went on the road and beat Tennessee, 67-63. This is an RPI neutral game for us since we play both teams, but UT is a solid team, so that home game against the Musketeers looks even more challenging now. Mizzou picked up a solid 72-59 win over Southern Illinois.
Texas Tech went to 2-0 with a 20 point win over Northern Arizona. They haven't played anyone yet, but have been impressive in their wins. Tubby will have them much improved over last year.
Oklahoma won 95-82 over North Texas, North Florida got a 2 point win on the road at Arkansas-Little Rock, Texas A&M won 91-67 over Mississippi Valley State, and 16th ranked Wichita State took care of business 66-49 against Western Kentucky.