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Pollsters Top 8 Holiday Tournament

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Pollsters Top 8 Holiday Tournament


This special holiday tournament matches up the top 8 teams in the polls after the completion of pre-conference play. Both the Media and Coaches Polls this year have are identical for the top 8 places. They are:


1. North Carolina Tarheels (AAC)

2. Georgia Tech Yellowjackets (AAC)

3. Arizona Wildcats (Pac-12)

4. Michigan State Spartans (Big 10)

5. Duke Blue Devils (ACC)

6. Michigan Wolverines (Pac-12)

7. Kansas Jayhawks (Big 12)

8. Mississippi Rebels (SEC)


[NOTE: The teams and rankings are from the Tad Bolton dynasty thread that I’m running separately. This tournament is being played in “Exhibition” mode. Since it’s not possible to set Exhibition games to be played on a neutral court, games are being played on the home courts of the top-ranked team in each game. The games are being simmed with the computer running both teams.]

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Round 1 matchups:

Game 1: #5 Duke at #4 Michigan State

Game 2: #6 Michigan at #3 Arizona

Game 3: #7 Kansas at #2 Georgia Tech

Game 4: #8 Mississippi at #1 North Carolina

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Game 1: Duke Blue Devils at Michigan State Wolverines

On paper, the perimeter strength of Michigan State (10-2) seems to outweigh the interior domination of Duke. But Duke (9-3) beat Michigan St. in the championship game of Preseason NIT by a score of 71-56. Then a few weeks later the Spartans were totally destroyed by the Blue Devils to the tune of 86-54 when playing them in Durham, NC. Today’s game is in Lansing, Michigan so can the Spartans reverse the story? In addition, Duke is coming into today’s game on a two-game losing streak whereas Michigan State is riding a 6-game win streak.

Starting for Duke:

6-1 Sr PG Al Brown, 5.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 4.6 apg
6-4 So SG Andre Davis, 15.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.9 apg
6-6 Fr SF Lionel Dukes, 14.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
6-6 Fr PF Ime Selden, 7.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
6-9 Sr C Eric Smith, 9.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.2 spg, 2.3 bpg

Starting for Michigan State:

5-11 Fr PG Marques Ferguson, 9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.4 apg
6-6 Jr SG Deon Boardman, 23.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.5 bpg
6-7 Jr SF Blake Anderson, 14.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 apg
6-7 So PF Marino Brown, 4.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 apg
6-10 Jr C Mike Bersticker, 7.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.3 apg

Defensively center Eric Smith is a beast for Duke. The top defensive and offensive player for Michigan State is SG Marques Ferguson.

Pre-game questions: 

1. Can Duke’s experience at PG contain the Spartans’ talented freshman PG? 
2. Can Michigan State’s high-scoring SG have a big game? 
3. The SF’s for both teams have very similar statistics so will one gain an advantage today? 
4. Will either PF deliver a strong game? 
5. Can Duke’s center totally dominate inside?

1st half highlights: 

• Selden (D) had two blocks in first possession by Michigan State.
• Bersticker (MS) called for 2nd at 13:53 mark with Michigan State leading 10-7.
• Ferguson (MS) scored 8 points in first 7 minutes.
• Duke shot poorly early in the half to allow Michigan State to open a small lead.
• Turnovers plagued Duke and Michigan State shot well to take 23-13 lead with 9 minutes left in the half
• Spartans bombed away from outside, hitting 10 of 19 threes in the first half.
• Fans definitely provided home court advantage to Spartans.
• Michigan State pulled away for 46-34 halftime lead. 
• Guard duo of Ferguson and Boardman carried the Spartans with Ferguson dropping in 17 and Boardman chipping in 12 in the half and combined to knock down 9 of 12 threes. Anderson added 9. For Duke, Davis scored 12 while Smith scored 6 and hauled down 7 boards. 

2nd half highlights:

• Davis (D) scored almost at will but Boardman and Ferguson (MS) offset his performance by continuing to knock down shots from outside. 
• Throughout most of the 2nd half Michigan State held a 10-15 point advantage.
• Duke cut the lead to 7 with 6 minutes to go in the game, but Michigan State poured in the next 11 points to put the game out of reach. 
Final score was 82-70 in favor of the Spartans.
• Duke controlled the boards, 42-31 but turned the ball over 16 times to Michigan States’ 10 turnover. The Spartans outshot the Blue Devils 45% to 39% and hit 19 of 41 threes. Michigan State got to the foul line just 5 times (there were a total of 12 team fouls against Duke). Duke went to the line 15 times (Michigan State was called for 16 team fouls). 
• Offensively Michigan State was led by their 3 perimeter players: Boardman with 29, Ferguson with 25, and Anderson with 15. Ferguson also dished out 10 assists. Defensively Brown had 4 steals and 3 blocks and Anderson had 5 blocks and a steal. 
• Duke’s Davis finished with high-point honors, scoring 32 points. He also pulled down 10 rebounds. Smith hauled down 13 boards. Selden and Smith combined for 5 steals and 4 blocks.

Top 5 players:

1. PG Marques Ferguson (MS)-25 pt, 10 a, 4 r, 2 s (hit 9 of 16 FG and 7 of 10 threes)
2. SG Andre Davis (D)-32 pt, 10 r (20 pts in the 2nd half)
3. SG Deon Boardman (MS)-29 pt, 4 a, 1 r, 2 s, 2 b (17 pts in the 2nd half)
4. SF Blake Anderson (MS)-15 pt, 5 a, 9 r, 1 s, 5 b
5. C Eric Smith (D)-7 pt, 2 a, 13 r, 3 s, 1 b (held Bersticker and his replacement to just 4 pts and 7 reb)

Answers to pre-game questions:

1. No, Michigan State’s PG Marques Ferguson completely burned Duke the entire game.
2. Yes, Deon Boardman had a great game.
3. Michigan State’s Blake Anderson had a very strong game (15 pts, 5 assists, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 5 blocks) and completely out-played his counterpart.
4. Neither PF had a strong game offensively, but both were very dominant defensively (Duke’s Ime Selden had 2 steals and 3 blocks; Michigan State’s Marino Brown had 4 steals and 3 blocks).
5. While not dominating, Duke’s Eric Smith played a very solid game (7 points, 2 assists, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block).

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Game 2: Michigan Wolverines at Arizona Wildcats

Michigan (9-2) enters the game having just scored a big win over Duke. The Wolverines are a high scoring team and good defensively, but have occasional defensive lapses. Arizona (9-0) had a decisive win over #11 Kansas earlier this season. The Wildcats are strong offensively and defensively, but their schedule has been a little easier that Michigan’s. 

Starting for Michigan:

6-0 Sr PG Tony Crosby-20.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.1 apg
6-0 Fr SG Jared Vaughn-10.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg
6-7 So SF Abe Mueller-7/9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.8 apg
6-8 So PF Damone Owens-6.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
6-8 Jr C Matt Simon-10.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.7 apg

Starting for Arizona:

6-0 Sr PG Ritchie Allison-5.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 8.9 apg
6-6 Fr SG Kejuan McPherson-11.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
6-8 Jr SF John Anderson-29.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.3 apg
6-7 So PF Charles Hoskin-10.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.7 apg
6-8 So C Chris Walls-7.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 apg

Arizona’s John Anderson seems to score at will and he’s a defensive stopper as well with 4.4 bpg. PG Tony Crosby carries the offense for Michigan. Michigan’s defense is strong inside with PF Damone Owens (and his replacement Rashon Daniels) together with C Matt Simon combining to plug up the middle.

Pre-game Questions:

1. Michigan’s PG Tony Crosby scores well from all over the court, but can Arizona’s PG Ritchie Allison use his playmaking skills to offset Crosby’s scoring?
2. Can Michigan figure out a way to stop SF John Anderson?
3. Will Arizona’s strong defense throttle the Wolverines?
4. Which freshman SG will outshine the other?
5. Michigan appears to have the better bench, can it offset Arizona’s home court advantage?

1st half highlights:

• Michigan shot well and quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but Wolverine turnovers offset their shooting to allow Arizona to grab the lead after 7 minutes of play.
• Neither team could pull away though until the last 3 minutes in the first half when Arizona’s shooting went stone cold (dropping their FG% to 29% for the entire half) and Michigan drew away to a 43-33 halftime lead.
• SF John Anderson carried the Wildcats with 13 points at the half, but SG Jared Vaughn and reserve center Dana Carr both scored 12 for Michigan.

2nd half highlights:

• In less than 5 minutes, the Wildcats had clawed their way back into the game and took a 46-45 lead.
• Turnovers and fouls were Michigan’s undoing allowing Arizona to hold onto a small lead.
• Falling behind late in the game, Michigan’s attempt to catch up from beyond the arc was a series of misfires.

Final Score: Arizona-81, Michigan-69.

• While Michigan outscored Arizona by 6 from the field, the Wildcats made 18 more points at the charity stripe.
• SF John Anderson played as advertised, scoring 33 points plus dished out 4 assists, hauled down 8 boards, and had 3 steals and 2 blocks.
• PG Tony Crosby had an off-night shooting, scoring just 3 points, but had a double-double anyway with 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Top 5 players:

1. SF John Anderson (A)-33 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks.
2. SG John Vaughn (M)-20 points, 2 assists, 5 rebounds.
3. C Matt Simon (M)-11 points, 2 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 block.
4. PG Tony Crosby (M)-3 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 steals.
5. PF Charles Hoskin (A)-11 points, 2 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block.

Other double digit scorers: Michigan’s C Dana Carr-12, Arizona’s SG Kejaun McPherson-12 and Ritchie Allison-10 (also 8 rebounds). 

Answers to pre-game questions:

1. Strangely Allison out-scored Crosby (10-3) but was Crosby stole the playmaking show with 10 assists to Allison’s 3.
2. No! Anderson dropped in 33 points, but did shoot poorly from beyond the arc (5 of 17).
3. Yes, Mighigan’s shooting was held to 42% and the Wildcats forced the Wolverines to turn the ball over 19 times including 11 steals and 4 blocks by Arizona.
4. The edge went to Michigan’s Jared Vaughn (scoring 8 more points than McPherson).
5. Michigan’s bench crushed Arizona’s bench (25 points to 9 points) but that wasn’t enough to offset the home court advantage held by the Wildcats.

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Game #3: Kansas Jayhawks at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

One loss by Kansas (7-3) was to Arizona, but their 7 wins have been by lopsided scores. The Jayhawks very much sport a perimeter game with the 3 outside starters averaging a combined 49 ppg. Andy Forbes and Mike Sanchez ae the foundation defensively for Kansas. Georgia Tech (11-1) beat Michigan handily and won the Coaches Classic Tourney. SG Kenny Weisse provides much of the offensive fire power and also plays strong defensively for the Yellow Jackets, but C John Tibbetts is their anchor inside. The only opponent that both teams have faced is Temple and Kansas lost a heart-breaker while Georgia Tech beat the Owls by a narrow margin. Kansas seems to have played a slightly more difficult pre-conference schedule than Georgia Tech.

Starters for Kansas:

5-6 Jr PG Brandon Wallace-16.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.3 apg
6-5 Jr SG Ray Jones-14.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.0 apg
6-6 Jr SF Andy Forbes-18.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.2 apg
6-7 So PF Mike Sanchez-6.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.0 apg
6-8 Sr C Lionel Morris-6.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 apg

Starters for Georgia Tech:

6-2 Jr PG Brian Wane-6.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.6 apg
6-4 Jr SG Kenny Weisse-26.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.8 apg
6-7 Fr SF Jelani Walton-13.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.8 apg
6-8 Jr PF Darrick Holmes-5.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.5 apg
7-0 So C John Tibbetts-11.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 apg

Pre-Game Questions:

1. Will Georgia Tech’s big men man-handle the smaller Kansas players?
2. Will the slick guard duo of Brandon Wallace and Ray Jones for Kansas offset the raw scoring power of Georgia Tech’s SG Kenny Weisse?
3. Kansas has been a better shooting team the Georgia Tech...will that be the case in this game?
4. Can Georgia Tech’s ball-control advantage prevail against Kansas?
5. Which of the two starting SF’s will dominate?

1st half highlights:

• Kansas used speed and took advantage of Georgia Tech turnovers to build an early 13-3 lead.
• At that point Kenny Weisse took over for the Yellowjackets, scoring 11 of their first 13 points to cut the Jayhawks’ lead to 2 points.
• But Kansas continued to outplay Georgia Tech to lead 32-21 with 7 minutes left in the half.
• 15 fouls in the half called against the Yellowjackets sent Jayhawks’ players to the line 26 times where they scored 10 more points that Georgia Tech.
• At the half, Kansas led 53-44 with SG Andy Forbes leading their offensive onslaught with 17 points. Forbes’ substitute, Brad Lee, scored 8 points while playing just 4 minutes. Georgia Tech’s SG Kenny Weisse took high point honors, though, with 18 points and pulled down 6 rebounds.

2nd half highlights:

• Georgia Tech rattled the Jayhawks at the beginning of the 2nd half and scored the first 11 points to take a 55-53 lead with 17 minutes to play.
• Kansas roared back to re-build a 7-point lead with 13 minutes to go.
• Kenny Weisse hit a 3 from the corner to put the Yellow Jackets back on top at 66-65 with 10 minutes left.
• As Kansas’ ineptitude increased, Kenny Weisse continued to burn up the basket for Georgia Tech. With 7-1/2 minutes go to, he scored on a 12-foot jumper on which he was fouled. He sunk the free throw to give him 31 points and put the Yellow Jackets up by 6 points.
• From that point, Georgia Tech simply ground out their come-from-behind victory with the aid of a technical foul on the frustrated coach for Kansas.

Final Score: Georgia Tech-88, Kansas-79.

• Georgia Tech won the game on the basis of their stout 2nd half defense which limited the Jayhawks second half shooting to less than 30% and allowed them to score by 26 points in the final 20 minutes.
• For the Yellow Jackets SG Kenny Weisse scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds plus blocked 3 shot. SF Jelani Walton added 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
• Kansas was led offensively by SG Andy Forbes with 26 points. Sub Brad Lee added 13 points while SF Cedric Whiting scored 12 and PG Brandon Wallace put in 10 points, dished out 8 assists, and picked off 5 rebounds.

Top 5 Players:

1. SG Kenny Weisse (GT)-35 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks.
2. SG Andy Forbes (K)-26 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist.
3. PG Brandon Wallace (K)-10 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal.
4. SF Jelani Wallace (GT)-10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block.
5. PF Darrick Holmes (GT)-8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks.

Answers to Pre-Game Questions:

1. Georgia controlled the inside, limiting two interior starters to 9 points. The Yellow Jackets scored 26 points in the paint while holding Kansas to just 10 points in the paint.
2. Kansas’ starting guards (Forbes and Wallace) scored 36 points. But Kenny Weisse scored 35 for Georgia Tech. So pretty much a draw. And Weisse’s running mate PG Brian Wane scored 9 to tip the scales in favor or Georgia Tech.
3. Kansas shot well in the first half but poorly in the 2nd half, finishing with just 38% for the entire game. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech hit 50% of their field goal attempts.
4. Both teams had 15 turnovers so Georgia Tech’s pre-game advantage was nullified.
5. Both SF’s played well, but Georgia Tech’s Jelani Wallace played a more complete game.

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