What a crazy day. You were probably grabbing those supposedly cheap “Black Friday” deals or sleeping after that helping of leftover turkey but for your sake as a college hoops fan, I sure hope not.
Today was one of those days we’ll look back on later in the year as a perhaps a defining moment for a few teams despite it being this early in the season. With that, let’s break it down.
Andre Hollins (Minnesota Golden Gophers): The oft criticized guard was outstanding against the Memphis Tigers, scoring from nearly everywhere on the floor. He finished with 41 points on 12 for 16 shooting. The Gophers will live and die by their front court although with Trevor Mbawke struggling early on, any extra scoring is paramount.
Chasson Randle (Stanford Cardinal)- Along with his teammate Aaron Bright, the Cardinal were supposed to have one of the best back courts in the nation. A few games into this season that duo wasn’t gelling. Today, even without Bright, Randle was 4 for 6 from 3 point range and he quickly buried a tired Northern Iowa Panthers team that battled hard the night before.
Penn State Nittany Lions– After getting the news that leading scorer Tim Frazier was lost for the year I thought Penn State would pack it in. Boy was I wrong. The Nittany Lions gutted out a nice win at home over a good Bucknell Bison team that already took down the Purdue Boilermakers on the road. Guard Jermaine Marshall will need to lead the way on a team that should keep the pace down to stay in games.
Michigan Wolverines– I expected Michigan to beat the Kansas State Wildcats but not like this. Bruce Weber‘s squad is known for their physical play and grinder ball. Michigan showed they can finally adapt to that style. The addition of Mitch McGary has paid instant dividends for the Wolverines. He’s shown that he can be one of the best rebounders in the Big Ten and perhaps the nation.
Duke Blue Devils– The Dukies are legit. In the “Eric Maynor Bowl”, they showed poise and confidence, despite their limited depth. The VCU Rams pressure really wasn’t a factor and Rasheed Sulaimon showed a bit of everything. This team might be the most complete bunch in the country at this early stage.
Oregon Ducks– Dana Altman may finally have a team ready to really take the next step in Eugene. His athletic group just went into Las Vegas and defeated a UNLV Rebels team that almost never loses at home. Freshman Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson showed no fear throughout. They were willing to take the big shots. If Tony Woods can stay out of foul trouble, this team can be a top 4 squad in the Pac-12.
Missouri Tigers– I know they didn’t have Michael Dixon but there were still plenty of weapons to play with and they seemed neglected. Frank Haith wants to run consistently but when you have a big like Alex Oriakhi, you might want to consider your situation. Get the big man touches. Phil Pressey showed he can score but that’s not going to be a long term recipe for success.
Vanderbilt Commodores– We knew this was going to be a rebuilding year. Add on to that the suspension of Dai-Jon Parker, oh dear. Have fun Kevin Stallings!
North Carolina State Wolfpack– Mark Gottfried‘s group has perhaps the best starting lineup in the country and you barely beat UNC-Ashville? I know they gave the Syracuse Orange a good run in last year’s tourney and you were probably looking ahead to the Michigan game but goodness gracious. This wasn’t a fall asleep for one half type of deal, you had to win in the final minutes. I thought the disaster in Puerto Rico to the Oklahoma State Cowboys would wake you up. Perhaps not.
Michigan State Spartans– Another home game to an inferior opponent that wasn’t easy. The Oakland Golden Grizzlies were good with Keith Benson and Reggie Hamilton. Problem is, that was 2 years ago. This is a team you should run over but just like the Boise State Broncos contest, you didn’t. Get it together Sparty. I have a feeling Tom Izzo will.
Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts!