NEWS AND NOTES
-And the craziness has begun on Day 1!!
-The top five match-up between Kentucky and Duke started off with Kentucky winning the tip, and then winning pretty much nothing after that. Duke ran them over in a very impressive showing. I don’t think Duke will always play that dominantly, and I don’t think Kentucky is going to end the season without being anywhere close to the #1 or #2 line, but for a moment in time (and granted it was the first moment) Duke blew their doors off.
-Before that, Kansas had a comfortable lead over Michigan State for most of the game, but with less than a minute to go the Spartans had cut it to 3. The Jayhawks held on for a huge win, and even thought it’s this early it will likely be one of their biggest wins of the season.
-North Carolina picked up a very nice road win at Wofford. I know on the surface that doesn’t seem too exciting, but when you step back from it this is a very good Wofford team that may not lose at home for the rest of the year, so it’s a good win for the Heels.
-Florida State blew Florida off the floor in a win over a rival that had to feel good. The Noles were in the Elite Eight last year and look to be good again this year. Since the football team isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, don’t be surprised if you see a swell of support for this basketball team even as early as November.
-Western Kentucky had a string of off the court ‘issues’ (we’ll go with that) leading in to a hugely important game against Washington. Nevertheless, they had a halftime lead and appeared to be in control for the first part of the second half, but then Washington finally got it together and looked great in the latter part of the game. This is big because WKU’s chances at notable wins go away once conference play begins, and although this doesn’t sink them, they need to win a few games like this one if they want to impress the selection committee.
-Arizona State had all kinds of trouble with Cal State Fullerton, and at times looked to be beaten, but ended up pulling it out in double overtime in a game that was much more exciting than expected.
If you missed it, there was A LOT of excitement involving UTR Teams, and since it’s the first day and everyone is technically tied for first, then at least for right now these were all big games!
-Penn picked up an exciting 1pt road win against a George Mason team that we felt could be a top 40 team.
-Stony Brook fell down 22-0 at GW, but came back to win in overtime
-NJIT went to overtime, but got by Colgate
-Florida A&M picked up their first true OOC road win since 2008 with a 65-50 win at Jacksonville, so BIG TIME congrats to them!
-Campbell held off UNC Wilmington in a seesaw overtime thriller
-Boston U got a surprising 77-74 road win against a very good Northeastern team in a thriller that seesawed back and forth.
-Cal State Northridge fell at home to New Mexico (who I know is not UTR) on a last second 3pt shot that banked in. Mark Gottfired just missed picking up a big win in his debut at CSUN.
-Last, but certainly not least, South Dakota State knocked off Grand Canyon, but what I took away from this game is how impressed I was with both teams. GCU fell behind, but kept battling back, and this is a South Dakota State team that we feel is good enough to perhaps end up not needing the automatic bid on Selection Sunday, so it was a good showing for both teams despite the loss.
-Oh yea, and Texas Southern knocked off Baylor for one of the bigger true road wins of the day! Congrats to Johnny Jones for winning his debut with Texas Southern.
-OHIO STATE AT CINCINNATI. YES!!!!! FINALLY!!!!! These two teams, despite both being very accomplished programs, have only played about ten times since 1921, and have not played a game that did not involve the NCAA Tournament or a third party scheduler for I don’t know how long. This is a great game and series for both programs, and it’s a great game for both teams to open the season with. It is currently just a two year deal, but I hope it turns into a fixture game that we get to enjoy every year. As for the match-up, both teams seemed to have lost more than what they are bringing back, but we still expect both of them to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, so it’s a good chance at a quality win.
-SAVANNAH STATE AT TEXAS A&M. YOUR TEAM OF THE PEOPLE!!!! Unless something changes (and we really hope it does) this will be the last season opener for Savannah State at the div1 level. Winning this game, or any other buy game, will be a huge challenge because we know how overmatched they are, but if they could somehow win just one of these, it would put them in the spotlight and hopefully make it so more people can learn their story. We will be supporting them all year long!!
-BUCKNELL AT SAINT BONAVENTURE. Both teams are in complete rebuild mode after being good for several years in a row, and it may be a rough ride for either one of them to make any sort of a postseason tournament.
-North Florida @ Dayton
-Bethune Cookman @ DePaul
-Cal State Bakersfield @ TCU
-Colorado Christian (nondiv1) @ Colorado State
-Houston Baptist @ Arizona
-McNeese @ Saint Mary’s