Jayhawks’ Title Defense Starts With Two Blowouts
The defending champions had a lot of questions to answer coming into the season. They were tasked with replacing their three leading scorers and four of their top five. The most notable losses being consensus All-American Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, and David McCormack. This would also be there first season without Mitch Lightfoot since the Reagan was in office (not really, but he had been there since 2016.
Well, the Jayhawks seem to have found the answers to nearly all of their questions already. They have won their first two games by a combined 48 points and have trailed for a total of 27 seconds. Jalen Wilson looks ready to take over the lead role, averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Freshman Gradey Dick looks like the next young star for this program, putting up 17.5 points in his first two collegiate games. For a team that was replacing a LOT of production and bringing in a LOT of new faces, they seem to be clicking on all cylinders early. Their first real test will be Tuesday in the Champions Classic against Duke.
Three Top 25 Teams Go Down
The parity in college basketball seems more and more apparent every year. Whether it be a higher volume of NCAA Tournament upsets or conference battles being a daily grind, the middle of the pack seems to be catching up to the best of the best.
That parity was already showing itself in the first week of the season, as three top 25 teams found themselves on the wrong end of one of those upsets. The biggest team to fall was 11th ranked Tennessee, who fell to Colorado after making just seven shots over the final 15 minutes of game time. Next on the list was Villanova, who lost to cross-town foe Temple on a pair of last second free throws by Damian Dunn. The Wildcats made just two three pointers in the game. Finally, Oregon was embarrassed on their court by the Anteaters of UC Irvine. Again the three point line was a major factor, as the Ducks were outscored by 24 from beyond the arc, leading to a 13 point home loss to a far inferior opponent.
Armed Forces Classic is Just That
One of the greatest spectacles every year it is played is the Armed Forces Classic. Having been on hiatus the past three seasons, I was happy to see its return. It did not disappoint one bit, as we got to see one of the best opening week games play out on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Second seeded Gonzaga faced off against Tom Izzo’s 28th Michigan State team.
For most of the game, it looked like the Spartans would get the better of the Bulldogs and earn a statement win in week one. However, Drew Timme decided he didn’t want his final season to start off on the wrong foot. His 22 point, 13 rebound, four assist stat line is nice, but it was his ability to foul out both Joey Hauser and Mady Sissoko, which are the only non-freshman big men on the Spartans. Over the final 10 minutes of play, Timme collected nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and drew five fouls. The preseason All-American made his presence felt when it mattered most and the Bulldogs escaped with a win.
61 Teams Score 100 Points
Basketball has seen its scoring slowly climb ever since it was invented back in 1946. Athleticism, skill, strategy, and just about everything else related to the game have increased year over year. That certainly showed in the first week of the college basketball season.
A total of 61 games saw a team hit the century mark. I’m not sure how that compares to past season, but that seems like a ridiculously high number. The biggest highlight of these games was Bryant dropping 147 points en route to a 108 (yes, 108) point win over Thomas College. The Bulldogs had eight players finish with double digit points, while the second leading scorer for Thomas College totaled a whopping six points. I’m not sure if domination is even a strong enough word.
Although 61 teams hit the 100 point mark, not a single game saw both teams reach that threshold. The closest game to seeing two 100 point scorers was Davidson and Wright State, which ended 102-97 after two overtime periods. Wright State had two chances to get to 100, but missed two shots on what would end up being their final possession. Needless to say, if you like offense, you should tune into college basketball.