All four teams have played, winning relatively easy matchups. Today, with Thanksgiving still a week away, the four assembled will face difficult competition.
In the media room, the ubiquitous Ronnie is on hand and asks my prediction. ‘Syracuse and Iowa for the final,” is the reply. The prognostication was dead on, if I was choosing the consolation. Both went down in defeat and would be relegated to tipping it off at 4:30 on Friday.
The idea of a third-place game is inviting. It is early season and the teams on the short end anxiously await the chance for redemption from the prior night. The third-place victory could be one allowing entrance or boosting one’s NCAA seed on Selection Sunday. Plus, it is another game at The Garden.
The two contests gave us a look at each team’s strengths and what is needed to work on. For Texas, ‘Garden jitters’ may have contributed to a double-digit first half deficit. That was reversed as they put together a strong twenty minutes after intermission. Texas prevailed 71-57. Cal, with new coach Cuonzo Martin, looked very comfortable in handling the Syracuse zone en route to a 73-59 victory.
It is still very early in the season, but there are ample story lines and assessments to make regarding all four in the field. The game prediction may have been 0-for-2, but one forecast is certain, the Garden experience never loses excitement or gets old.
The temptation across the street from Madison Square Garden. The obligatory cold one will wait...there's a job to be done:
The West Essex High School band is excited about a Garden appearance. The New Jersey school played for Texas:
Rick Barnes (left) and Fran McCaffery (right) share a relaxed pregame moment:
Texas assistant Rob Lanier supervises the Longhorn pregame shootaround:
Hotly contested perimeter play between Syracuse and Cal:
Good officiating friend Brian Dorsey worked the Syracuse-Cal game with Roger Ayers and Mike Eades, and took a timeout to chat with a volunteer:
The Cal staff leaves the floor after a convincing win over Syracuse: