Greetings, BBN! College basketball and your Kentucky Wildcats have returned to the hardwood as heated buildings and arenas beckon denizens of November-chilled campuses. In this roundup we’ll look at this week’s action so far, including UK’s fun opening win over Howard, Boards on the High Seas, as well as several upsets and almost upsets across the D1 landscape, preview some fun matchups this weekend including Kentucky vs the Du(ke)quesne Duke(s) (not that Duke), and talk about whatever else is cool in hoops including but not limited to hot seats, cattle drives, Eric Musselman, bulldog combat techniques, and orange things that are orange. Let’s get rolling:
Shorthanded Kentucky shines in stellar opening night performance
Down Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, and Damion Collins in their first game of the season, few would’ve been surprised if the ‘Cats started out a bit rusty and let Howard hang around in the second half. The rest of the ‘Cats showcased the depth of this team, however, and cruised to an easy 95-63 victory with 23 points from Antonio Reeves and 20 points from CJ Frederick.
Friday night was more of the same good vibes, taking a cool 16-point halftime lead into the locker rooms against Duquesne and never looking back. Sahvir Wheeler was back, so now BBN just awaits the return of Big O and Damion Collins. If Michigan State plays the way they did against Gonzaga, the ‘Cats will need all hands on deck.
Louisville loses opener at home to cross-town Bellarmine
Looks like the Yum! Center is open for business, selling upset opportunities and road wins left and right, because just after losing by double digits to a D2 exhibition foe they lost by a point to cross-town A-Sun Bellarmine, who just joined D1 a couple years ago and is playing in one of Louisville’s old arenas. If the Cards keep this up we might see a more successful Louisville team in Freedom Hall than in the Yum! Center.
Florida State loses by double digits to Stetson
Several Power 5 teams took embarrassing losses or came close to them in their debut games this week like Louisville that showed why preseason conference picks have been predicting long seasons for the Cards, Georgetown, Boston College, etc. But perennial NCAA Tournament threatens Florida State, with Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles picked to finish in the top five of the ACC standings, losing by 11 to Stetson? Did not see that Quad 4 eyesore coming on opening night, especially not by any kind of sizeable margin. If they turn out to be on the bubble come March, November 7th might come back to haunt them.
Gonzaga Prevails in Sea Battle with Michigan State
Just off the Pacific Coast of San Diego Bay on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, two great college basketball teams took to the hardwood and put on a spectacular show that combined the novelty of the first carrier deck game since 2012 with an exciting back- and-forth game. Unranked Michigan State was an 11.5-point underdog against the #2 Zags, but anyone expecting an easy, uneventful Bulldogs victory was taken by surprise as the Spartans led by as many as 12 in the second half and came up just short at the buzzer. These outdoor ocean games don’t happen very often, so it’s very important that when they do they go well so that producers aren’t scared off from trying again. I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.
Best of the rest:
- Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both lose by a point to Sam Houston State and Southern Illinois respectively
- #14 TCU claws back from double-digit halftime deficit to escape disaster against the SWAC’s Arkansas Pine-Bluff
- Memphis goes on the road and beats Vanderbilt in gutsy opening night scheduling gamble
Seton Hall plays Saint Peters as former Peacocks coach faces former team in second game
Shaheen Holloway went down in history last March as he became the first coach to ever lead a 15-seed to the Elite Eight, which led to a phone call from Seton Hall and a little pay raise. Now in just his second game with the Pirates he faces his former team and many players he was coaching just eight months ago. Wonder how awkward that’ll feel Saturday.
Louisville tries not to lose again
With the way the Cardinals have been playing it seems like every game is “U of L Embarrassing ‘L’ Watch”, so when they host Wright State this afternoon as just a 5.5-point favorite who knows what’ll happen?
Best of the rest:
- Colorado vs #11 Tennessee in Nashville Sunday at 2:00
CBSsports ranks Top 25 and 1 coaches with many familiar faces no longer around
Fun read by the CBS staff that shows who’s at the top of the sport right now and reminds you of just how hard winning a national title can be. The only coach I saw with more than one was Bill Self (and guess where he was ranked?). More coaches like Tom Izzo and Jim Boeheim who have been coaching for over 25 years still have had their legacy forever cemented at their schools by one national title way back when that’s still cherished by their fanbases. You can find the article here:
Gonzaga checking out the Big 12 and exploring options
Definitely would be a fitting reward for the program after Mark Few’s career finally comes to an end at some point in the future, and would keep them from just sliding back into the folds of the mid-majors. Not sure how well or easy a possible transition would go, but I can see this helping out the program a lot. Sure would make the Big 12 basketball-heavy. Who knows? They could become the new ACC of hoops with Baylor and Kansas winning the last two titles and the conference being loaded again this year and Houston coming soon.
Until next time, go ‘Cats!