News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Friday, Nov 10th

Happy College Basketball Season Everybody!!! 

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NEWS AND NOTES

-After about two weeks of meaningless and mostly boring exhibition games, the season is finally here!!  Like any first weekend of the season, we have a bunch of games that really aren’t a whole lot less boring, but at least they mean something!!  And, we have some pretty good showcase games as well.  At least by Week 1 standards.

-Everyone starts out at zero.  Regardless of what the write ups say, everyone starts out at zero.  To give the games some sort of context we have to do some sensible supposing, but in theory the SWAC could win 80 percent of their OOC games, end up with half the teams in the RPI top 25, and put more than half the league in the NCAA Tournament.  It’s also true that the ACC could end up losing 80 percent of their games and only sending the conference tourney winner to the NCAAs.  Everything is ultimately determined by what happens on the court, which is how it should be.

-MARCH MADNESS BE DAMNED!!!  There are college basketball games being played today than there will be on any other day for the rest of the year.  And with so many exempt tournaments being played in November, we actually have more basketball crammed into the the final three weeks of November than what we typically see in March.  And whether you believe it or not, a lot of these games are just as important as a lot of the games in March because they do so much to shape which teams will be in positions to land inside the bubble on Selection Sunday.  As the previous note says, everyone starts out at zero, and the teams that pick up the most meaningful wins early on will be the ones best positioned to make the NCAAs without needing the automatic bid.  So on that note,  NOVEMBER MADNESS IS HERE!!

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-SPRING ARBOR (nondiv1) AT EASTERN MICHIGAN.  This gets highlighted because it is the first official game to tip off!!  No other reason.  None.  I mean…ZERO!  If this were the second game to tip off there would be no reason to mention it, but since it’s the first, it gets mentioned.

-CAL STATE DOMINGUEZ HILLS AT CAL BAPTIST.  The Team of the People officially open what is destined to be their season of dominance!!!!  Your Lancers Ladies and Gentlemen!!!  CLICK HERE to watch the game at 10pm, est!

-TEXAS A&M VS WEST VIRGINIA (Armed Forces Classic in Ramstein Germany).  One of the better games of the day, and if you want to see it in person you need to fly to Germany.  TAMU should be much improved, and if they get this win over a West Virginia team that many think could end up as a protected seed, then it will go along way toward establishing TAMU as a protected seed.  I know it’s the first night, but big wins count as big wins even on the first night, and this would be a big neutral floor win for whoever pulls it off.

-MEMPHIS VS ALABAMA (Veterans Classic in Annapolis, MD).  Alabama isn’t used to being formidable in basketball, but it appears they will be this year.  They are on the cusp of the coach’s poll and could end up in the rankings before too long.  Memphis has a good coach, but they appear to have an awful team this year.  But, who knows?  Tubby Smith has surprised us before.  If Memphis can somehow get this one then everyone will sit up and take notice.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT NORTH CAROLINA.  It’s actually not technically a buy game, but it could end up looking like one.  Northern Iowa has had some good teams, but they really struggled last season and by all accounts will struggle again this year.

-ELON AT DUKE.  This is a buy game, but it is worth mentioning.  Elon had a strong finish to the season last year and they return most of their key players, so they should be a very strong UTR team.  They’re probably swinging over their heads in this game, but they’re still better than what many probably realize.

-INDIANA STATE AT INDIANA.  The IU debut of Archie Miller!  The Hoosiers may really struggle this year, but they shouldn’t struggle tonight.

-MARYLAND AT STONY BROOK.  Interesting road game for the Terps against a Stony Brook team that will be formidable in the America East, but most likely not a frontrunner.  They have a showcase game against a P5 school tonight, though, and the atmosphere alone should make it worth tuning in to.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT WOFFORD.  Mike Young has done an outstanding job at Wofford, and tonight they get to open the season and a new arena against a team that was in the Final Four last year.  Much of that team for South Carolina has since departed, but this should still be a great game and experience for both teams.

-FORT WAYNE AT OAKLAND.  I like this Oakland team and feel they’re good enough to land inside the bubble if they fail to win their conference tournament, but that means blowing through their season.  Their margin for error is small, and even though it’s opening night they need to treat this game, and every other game, like it’s meaningful if they want to pull it off.

-SIENA AT CHARLESTON.  Charleston is another team that I think may be good enough to land inside the bubble, but it’s the same deal as Oakland.  They have a small margin for error and if they’re going to pull that off then they cannot error tonight against a decent (by UTR standards) Siena program.

-TOWSON AT OLD DOMINION.  It’s unlikely that either of these teams will end up in the NCAA Tournament picture, but it’s not impossible.  ODU should be a force in CUSA, and Towson returns a lot from a team that looked good down the stretch last year.  It’s a good first game for both teams.

-MIT (nondiv1) @ HARVARD.  Harvard is actually potentially a top 40 team, but even if they weren’t I’d highlight this game.  These two commonly open the season against each other, and I love it!!

-UNC ASHEVILLE AT RHODE ISLAND.  We all like this Rhode Island team, and some of us (me included) think they may be a top 25 caliber team.  This is a buy game, but it’s not a complete joke of a game.  UNC Asheville is probably the best team in the Big South this year so Rhody just can’t completely overlook them.

-LOUISIANA AT OLE MISS.  This is a buy game, and this Ole Miss team is a team to keep an eye on, but that’s not why we’re highlighting this game.  It’s not Louisiana Lafayette anymore!  They are simply the University of Louisiana!  RAJUN CAJUN!!

-SAMFORD AT ARKANSAS.  Yes, this is a buy game, but this is a Samford team that should be a SoCon frontrunner this year, and it will be interesting to see what they do against an Arkansas team that we still have a lot to learn about.

-MERCER AT UCF.  We highlight this because we think UCF may be a tournament team, and that Mercer is capable of making some noise on the SoCon.

-UMBC AT SMU.  This is technically an unbracketed Battle 4 Atlantis game, and I like the match-up because of how drastically improved UMBC was last season, and how we have so many questions about SMU going into this year.  Can Tim Jankovich keep SMU’s program at the level of them consistently making the NCAA Tournament?

-NORTHERN COLORADO AT COLORADO (Front Range).  We love the Front Range!!!!  Okay, that’s all I’ve got, but we do love the Front Range!!

-MISSOURI STATE AT WESTERN KENTUCKY.  Missouri State is who a lot of us like to win the Missouri Valley this year, and Western Kentucky is a team that we all liked as a top forty team this year until their offseason went completely to hell.  So many question marks about the Toppers this year.  Maybe we’ll learn something about them tonight.

-NIAGARA AT SAINT BONAVENTURE (Big 4).  I like the Bonnies.  I think they can be a tournament team.  In order for that to happen, they need to take care of business in games like this.  It is somewhat of a rivalry game.

-CENTENARY AT SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA.  Whenever Centenary plays a div1 team, we mention it.  That’s not the rule, but it’s sort of the rule.

-BUCKNELL AT MONMOUTH.  Monmouth had an NCAA caliber team the last two years.  It’s a shame the committee never took them.  I understand why they didn’t because of their paper, but I also disagree with that decision and feel they were better than a lot of teams the committee did take.  They are rebuilding this year, but Bucknell is not.  This Bucknell team roared down the stretch last year and was right in there with West Virginia in the Round of 64.  With nearly all of that team back the Bison could be a force this year, and could get the attention of the committee if they fail to win the automatic bid.  In order to do that, they need to be able to win games like this, even on the first night.

-IOWA STATE AT MISSOURI.  This is a great first game for an Iowa State team that is in complete rebuild mode, and Missouri who is trying to turn around what has been a horrendous last couple of seasons.

-YALE AT CREIGHTON.  Creighton clearly has the upper hand, but I still like this match-up.  Yale is at least a formidable opponent and should finish in the top half of the Ivy League.

-PITTSBURGH VS NAVY (Veterans Classic).  It could be a very long year for Pitt this year, but if they can start their season off with a road win it may give them some much needed momentum for early in the season.

-BELMONT AT WASHINGTON.  It’s a buy game, but Belmont is perhaps the best team in the OVC, and although Washington’s struggles have been addressed with a recent coaching change, they’re still going to go through a rebuilding process.  Don’t be surprised if Belmont makes them sweat, or even beats them.

-IDAHO AT NEVADA.  It’s the Big Sky preseason favorite visiting the Mountain West preseason favorite (or at least one of them).  These are the kinds of games teams like this need to win in order to build momentum and start making a case for themselves.

-GEORGIA TECH VS UCLA (Shanghai, China).  I still believe UCLA to be a solid tournament team, but I don’t expect them to be as good as they were a year ago.  They begin the year halfway around the world against a Georgia Tech team who showed signs of life a year ago under Josh Pastner.  Okay, what is in italics is what I wrote about this game on Monday, when I first typed up this page.  On Tuesday, things happened that changed things more than a little bit.  Georgia Tech has been reported by a (presumably now former) friend of Josh Pastner for providing players with improper benefits.  So, that seemed noteworthy.  Then UCLA did something that totally blew that out of the water.  Three UCLA players, including LiAngelo Ball, were arrested in China for shoplifting.  They have since been released from prison, which is fortunate because I imagine that whatever sort of “re-education program” the Chinese have for shoplifters is not pleasant.  One can only assume that the school will deal with this very severely.  It remains to be seen how severely the Chinese authorities will handle this.  While out of jail, they have been instructed to not leave the hotel.  GOOD JOB UCLA!!!

 

BUY GAMES

-Savannah State @ Cincinnati
-Trevecca Nazarene (nondiv1) @ Middle Tennessee
-Central Arkansas @ Baylor
-Campbell @ Penn State – Campbell is improved and should do well in the Big South, but even though Penn State is nothing special they’re probably in over their heads
-Walla Walla (nondiv1) @ Eastern Washington.  The greatest name of any school anywhere.  I’m not talking about EWU either.
-Detroit @ Virginia Tech
-Alabama State @ Mississippi State
-Fairleigh Dickinson @ Seton Hall
-Cornell @ Syracuse
-VMI @ NC State – NC State welcomes Kevin Keatts as their new coach
-Western Carolina @ Clemson
-Robert Morris @ Ohio State
-CCNY (nondiv1) @ Rutgers
-South Carolina State @ Wisconsin
-UNC Greensboro @ Virginia
-Presbyterian @ Tennessee
-Utah Valley @ Kentucky – Mark Pope is the coach of UVU and a former Kentucky player.  He should get a hero’s welcome tonight.  Unless he somehow wins the game, of course.
-Bryant @ Georgia
-Colgate @ UConn
-Cal Poly @ Stanford
-Kennesaw State @ Butler
-New Orleans @ Saint John’s
-Morehead State @ Xavier
-Houston Baptist @ Providence
-Charleston Southern @ Davidson
-Ball State @ Dayton – Ball State is improving, and Dayton is reloading, but it’s still probably a mismatch in Dayton’s favor
-Grambling @ VCU
-Delaware @ Richmond
-Georgia Southern @ Wake Forest
-Southern @ Illinois
-North Florida @ Michigan State
-South Carolina Upstate @ Minnesota
-Edwardsville @ Purdue
-Gardner Webb @ Miami FL
-Norfolk State @ Auburn – Chuck Person will n0t be attending
-UMKC @ Wichita State – Stay div1 Roos!!  Stay div1!!
-Northern Arizona @ Arizona
-Northwestern State @ Texas
-Seattle @ Saint Louis – If SLU loses this then Chad will never hear the end of it
-Loyola MD @ Northwestern
-Pepperdine @ Oklahoma State
-Columbia @ Villanova
-Texas Southern @ Gonzaga
-Mount Saint Mary’s @ Marquette
-Chattanooga @ Wyoming
-Tennessee State @ Kansas
-American @ Kansas State
-UL Monroe @ TCU
-Chicago State @ Iowa
-Austin Peay @ Vanderbilt
-Sacramento State @ Colorado State
-Southern Utah @ Oregon State
-Cal State Fullerton @ USC
-Prairie View A&M @ Utah
-San Diego Christian (nondiv1) @ San Diego State
-UC Riverside @ California
-Coppin State @ Oregon

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