The first 48 hours of college basketball were not without it’s fun, and certainly some teams had fun, others? Well, we’ve already got ELEVEN tweets from Jon Rothstein that use the phrase “the epitome of brutality”.
So yeah, the season’s off to a wacky start. If you happen to be a fan of Florida State, Rhode Island, Cleveland State, Temple, Oklahoma, South Florida, Kansas City, Northern Illinois, UCF, USC, or California, you may want to click off. I’ll be taking a not-too-terribly deep dive into those games. What went wrong for the home team, or possibly more accurately, what did those ‘easy wins’ do right to snatch a win away from the home team and cause Rothstein to hit Ctrl+V on his Twitter account again?
But first, some buy games that were… the opposite.
No Pain to Bear Here
They’re ranked fifth in the country for a reason. Mississippi Valley State has never been a good team, and Baylor just gave them another beating to send them back to the basement. The No. 5 Bears demolished the Delta Devils on Monday by a scoreline of 117-53. Six different players hit double-digits for points, and Flo Thamba grabbed ten boards in 20 minutes in the Bears’ 64 point victory. Despite a slow start from range for Baylor, missing their first seven from beyond the arc, they drilled their next five en route to a 41% clip. Not too shabby. This game reminded me of Utah’s game against the Delta Devils in 2019, although that was a worse team from MVSU and Utah beat them accordingly. Baylor will look to have a similar performance against Norfolk State on Friday.
They’re Just One Guy
And now for a quick run-through of buy games against low division colleges where we can all make the joke of “Firstname Lastname was out there by himself, of course he got clobbered!”
Give credit to Johnson & Wales (NC), they at least had the decency to give their guys someone to pass to. The Division III college was definitely out of their league against UNC Greensboro, but didn’t make it a loss that we’d all collectively say “They’re already dead!”. They hung in there, if you can call it that, only losing by 33 to a UNCG team that was a 13-seed in the Big Dance only two years ago. Sure, the Spartans are not what they were then, but it’s still a Division I team that you’d probably expect to win by more.
Poor old Warren Wilson wasn’t so lucky, having to take on the Mountaineers of Appalachian State, and it did not go as well as it did for Johnson & Wales. The Owls let up 83 points in the first half alone as Appalachian State put up what I thought was going to be the most points of the day. We’ll get to the winner of that in a moment, but it was the Mountaineers who cruised easily to a 142-74 win.
Sarah Lawrence did well enough for one girl playing against five guys. Jokes aside, the Gryphons visited Ivy League school Yale and were promptly sent home by a score of 96-41. Amos Grey led the losing effort with 9 points, which sums up basically how every offensive possession was to watch.
It’s a pickup game! One on one, you and me, or in this case, Thomas College against Bryant University. The Bulldogs were the offensive highlight of the night, putting up 147 points against the opposition. It wasn’t any more difficult on defense either, holding Thomas College to 39 points. Well, most of the team anyway. Parker Desjardins was the one-man army for Thomas, putting up 20 of his team’s 39 points. 20 points is an impressive statline for most players in Division I, let alone a DIII player whose team got beat by 108. Good on you, Parker. Good on you.
One game that doesn’t necessarily fit the ballot but was still a blowout nonetheless, and the first one of the day after Baylor, was James Madison. I was checking my app Monday afternoon and noticed the score at James Madison 98, Valley Forge 16. The Dukes took a 72-11 lead into the half, and although they couldn’t win by a century, a 123-38 victory is nothing to turn your nose at. Similarly to Thomas’ Desjardins, Valley Forge had their own little one-man army, with Jay White scoring 20 himself and adding four boards and two assists.
The Epitome(s) of Brutality
And here we are. All eleven buy games that found themselves not going the way we expected, plus one extra at the end that had most college basketball fans scratching their heads. From the top!
Stetson 83, Florida State 74
Where to begin? The Hatters came into this game ranked 313th on KenPom, compared to 65th for the Seminoles. Threes were the name of the game for the Hatters and they were on fire early. They had the first five points of the game, and for a brief moment it looked like Florida State was going to come alive and run away with it, scoring the next eight. The teams traded threes for a bit until Luke Brown took hold of the game. The sophomore from Carmel, Indiana, was 7-for-11 from three during the game and pushed the Hatters out to a 34-16 advantage. The Seminoles would bring it closer but it was mostly two-balls for Florida State and they were unable to overcome Stetson’s barrage from range. The Hatters shot 40% from 3, and shot 35 threes overall compared to only 26 from inside the arc. Luke Brown led the way in scoring with 27 and Florida State would only bring it back to as close as four points. Stetson was 18-point underdogs but if Ryan Brown can shoot like he did in this game, the Hatters might be a name to watch in the Atlantic Sun.
Quinnipiac 67, Rhode Island 62
With 12 to play in the first half, the Rams had a 13-12 lead over Quinnipiac, but an and-1 from Paul Otieno put the Bobcats in the lead for good. Rhode Island had actually tied it at 60, but Quinnipiac was able to finish it out in a game where they were nine point underdogs. While not as egregious as the Seminoles’ loss, this game hurts Rhode Island as it looks to try to compete in an Atlantic 10 conference that has quite a few teams eyeing bids to the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. This loss will not help the Rams’ confidence, but they’ve got a chance to get right against their second-straight Bobcats team, this time being Texas State.
Notre Dame (OH) 72, Cleveland State 68
No, this is not the Notre Dame that just lost their football head coach to LSU to beat Nick Saban with a less-than-perfect southern accent. These are the Notre Dame College Falcons, a DII school that pulled off the inter-division upset against Cleveland State. It was Jaedon Willis and DeAirius Barker combining for 40 of the Falcons’ 72, but it was fouls and free throws that killed the Vikings. Notre Dame took advantage of the charity stripe, sinking 17 of their 24 shots from the line. The Vikings shot below 50%, going 8-for-18 in a game where one or two possessions decided the difference. An easily avoidable loss turns into a harsh lesson for CSU as they try to rebound against Cincinnati.
Wagner 76, Temple 73 (OT)
Temple led this game by as much as 15. Up 57-42 with under 8 minutes to play, the Owls put it in cruise control too early, and Wagner took full advantage. The Seahawks stormed back and capped off their regulation comeback with a mid-range jumper by Rahmir Moore and a triple from Jahbril Price-Noel. They kept that momentum into OT and the Seahawks completed their comeback over Temple. It’s an incredible victory for one of the Northeast Conference basement dwellers, and while it’s not terribly likely they’ll keep that momentum into a game against La Salle, this one showed that the game is never over until triple zeroes hit the scoreboard.
Sam Houston State 52, Oklahoma 51
Sooners fans probably aren’t having the best year right now. A less-than ideal football season and the first game of the year which was right in their grasp, slips away by virtue of a missed layup to a buzzer-beater triple from the wing. This one hurt to watch as a neutral fan. Up 51-49, the Sooners had the ball with 30 seconds to go and a chance to put away the Bearkats for good. But Grant Sherfield missed a three, and despite an offensive rebound, Tanner Groves missed a layup and the rest was history. Quickly down the court to a wide-open Lamar Wilkerson, and the Sooners are 0-1. They have a game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff next, which if you go by preseason KenPom rankings should be an easy win. Well…
#14 TCU 73, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 72
I was going to save this one for last, but the lead-in is too perfect. The Golden Lions came into this season ranked 360th out of 363 teams on KenPom. The fourth-worst team in the country went into TCU and almost delivered the Horned Frogs what would’ve been the early-season favorite for upset of the year. UAPB was up by 11 on the Frogs at halftime, and if it weren’t for a three-and-a-half minute drought, I don’t think TCU would’ve been able to come back. Ultimately, it would be Chuck O’Bannon’s free throws that saved the 14th-ranked Horned Frogs, but there is some soul searching to do, if they weren’t already sold to pay off the undefeated season their football team is having currently.
Southeast Missouri State 64, South Florida 61
With 2:14 to go in the first half, Philip Russell hit a jumper to put SEMO up 30-27. These would be the last points that they scored until almost five points into the second half on a pair of Chris Harris free throws. South Florida’s offense was just as anemic, however, only putting 10 points of their own on the board in that time frame. The seven-point deficit was no problem for the 309th ranked Redhawks, as they took the lead with 3:34 on a Chris Harris jumper and never looked back. South Florida isn’t by any means among the worst in college basketball, but as a whole, their athletics programs have been dismal. Another nail in the coffin to a Bulls fanbase that’s probably already made themselves comfy down there.
Lincoln (MO) 59, Kansas City 56
The Roos have two difficult games coming up on the schedule, with road trips to LSU and #23 Illinois, so maybe they were overlooking the Lincoln Blue Tigers, who came back from a ten point second half deficit to pass UMKC in the final minutes of the game and steal the win. The Roos do have a break after the aforementioned road trip against the Calvary University Warriors, but they should be careful not to let this happen and most likely fall to 0-4 on the season.
Illinois-Springfield 83, Northern Illinois 77
When one guy is shooting 42% of your team’s shots, chances are they’re either going to figure out how to slow him down, or it’s that they’ve managed to slow everyone else down. The latter was the case in the Huskies’ loss to Illinois-Springfield, as Keshawn Williams was the only one who was able to get a large amount of momentum. He and David Coit combined for 43 of the team’s 69 shots, 54 of their 77 points, and 12 of their team’s 14 free throw attempts. If you’re Luke Brown and you’re on fire from three, I’m all for shooting it. Coit was only 6-of-20 from range though, and that consistent shot attempt is one of the leading factors that doomed the Huskies here. The Prairie Stars were much more liberal with their distribution, with four different players in double digits and no player taking more than 10 shots.
UNC Asheville 98, UCF 95 (2OT)
It took two overtimes, but UNC Asheville was finally able to complete the upset in which they were 7.5 point underdogs. The Knights led for most of the second half before Brandon Suggs fouled Drew Pember, who sunk both free throws to tie the game at 76. C.J. Kelly couldn’t hit the buzzer-beater, and Asheville was just the better team in the extra periods. Kelly had the first seven for the Knights in OT 1, but the Bulldogs answered every time and would finally take the lead for good on a Fletcher Abee triple with under a minute to go in second overtime. Directional Florida isn’t having a particularly good time (though North Florida wasn’t expected to beat Gonzaga anyway).
Florida Gulf Coast 74, USC 61
Remember these guys? It may not be the fun NCAA Cinderella team that Dunk City was, but they were certainly the better team on the court today. Traveling cross-country to Los Angeles to be 18 point underdogs to the Trojans didn’t faze this team, and after a back-and-forth first half, FGCU went on a 15-2 run in the middle of the second half to extend their lead to 60-42, slamming the door in the face of the crowd 10,258 strong. The Pac-12 may not be even three deep as besides UCLA and Arizona, this Trojan team was the only one to receive votes in the preseason AP Poll.
UC Davis 75, California 65
The Aggies rarely trailed in this game, leading for over 33 minutes of play and defeating the Golden Bears for the first time ever. California was held to 28% from three and was outrebounded by UC Davis 40-34. From Kentucky to Texas and now California, Devin Askew can’t seem to catch a break, despite leading his team with 19 points. It’s already a better showing than either of his first two seasons, but California will need more from the rest of their roster if they want to be competitive this year. Lars Thiemann and Kuany Kuany were the only other players to break double-digits, and it won’t get easier as they host Kansas State in their next match