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Sully's Court: OK, Duke's better than I thought it was

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  November 23, 2012 11:03 AM

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Always a tough choice with me: The NFL or college basketball? The conflict was impossible to avoid Thursday so except for the Patriots-Jets game, which I watched in its entirety, I resorted to much channel surfing.

The observations:

-- Thanksgiving basketball tournaments continue to produce the best non-conference matchups. I’m really looking forward to Duke-Virginia Commonwealth Friday. I bet coach K remembers when the Rams knocked them out of the NCAAs a few years ago. VCU looked strong beating Memphis Thursday. They led the whole way and constantly fought off Memphis’ surges. Duke is much better than I thought they’d be. The Dookies are huge up front and Seth Curry has really improved. Minnesota, a team I thought had great potential, couldn’t keep up. Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, a must-read, tweeted that Gophers’ big man Trevor Mbakwe just didn’t have the lift or explosion he had before ACL surgery. What a shame. I had him targeted as All-American and All-Sully.

-- Matthew Dellavedova: Seeing him briefly against Drexel I forgot how much I loved his game. He’s improved, maybe because he played with Australia in the Olympics. I wonder if someone from Saint Mary’s can be first-team All-American but he’s certainly a candidate.

-- Missouri looked good beating Missouri and Phil Pressey impressed again. He’s highly entertaining and an incredible competitor.

-- Vanderbilt could be in trouble in the SEC, Davidson took care of them pretty easily.

-- Bad loss for Xavier against Pacific. Pacific is a well-coached until the Muskies need to win games like that.

Meanwhile Wednesday night:

-- Illinois won the Maui Invitational and is off to an outstanding start under first-year coach John Groce, who guided Ohio into the NCAA tournament last season and has been an assistant under Thad Matta at Ohio State. Groce is a rising star but remember this: Bruce Weber was unfairly fired after last season and this is his team. If he were on the bench, they could have won the tournament too. It’s not the best field ever assembled at Maui either.

-- Wichita State’s Greg Marshall can really coach and the Shockers are 6-0 after winning the Cancun tournament. I expect them to be in the tournament this season, they play tough defense and are balanced offensively.

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