NCAA Basketball

(KMAland) -- College basketball season is back. Maybe you missed it during the course of a week full of regional final volleyball, high school playoff football and much more. But it’s back, and so are the college basketball blogs, although a weekly blog instead of daily.

I’ve got a lot of information from the opening week of play, so let’s just throw some stuff against the wall and see if it sticks.

MINK

You know the MINK League, right? The Clarinda A’s and all of that jazz. Well, MINK is Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. We’re situated here in a fun area where we have fans of all the state schools in those four states. I’m thinking I’ll go ahead and review them in this spot each week:

Iowa State (1-1): The Cyclones played the worst team in college basketball in their opener, and they scored 110 points. Seriously, Mississippi Valley State is a young, young team that should probably not turn into a joke, but the fact is that they are likely to be one of the worst teams in college basketball history. Utah beat them by 94, and Central Michigan beat them by 56 and scored 134 points.

Tyrese Haliburton probably missed an opportunity to finish with a triple-double if they had cared enough to get there. He had 12 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and six steals, and I’ve decided to set the triple-double over-under at 1.5 for the year. He had another strong line (15 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) against Oregon State in Saturday’s loss. They just couldn’t stop Tres Tinkle (27 points on 16 shots, 11 rebounds), and that’s probably going to be an issue for a lot of teams this year.

KenPom Rankings: 23rd in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, 80th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, 51st overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 15-14 overall, 8-10 Big 12

This Week: Northern Illinois on Tuesday

Iowa (1-0): The Hawkeyes rolled to a win over an SIU Edwardsville team that won 10 games last year and are breaking in a new head coach. Luka Garza spit out 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Joe Wieskamp added 16 points. Jordan Bohannon played and was joined by freshman Joe Toussaint in scoring nine points apiece. I think both are well worth keeping an eye on. Iowa averaged 1.19 points per possession and shot 18-41, 8-25, 27-32 (that’s 2P, 3P, FT).

KenPom Rankings: 4th in AdjOE, 94th in AdjDE, 41st overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 18-12 overall, 10-10 Big Ten

This Week: DePaul tonight, Oral Roberts on Friday

Nebraska (0-2): Whoof. The 19-point loss to UC Riverside was all kinds of bad. The loss to Southern Utah was not good either, but in watching both games, they took the necessary steps forward that you would expect from a young team. Really, there’s no reasonable reason that they lost that game. They were up 14 with 16:37 to go in the game and had a win probability of 96.4 percent. And then they lost, so….

Anyway, sophomore point guard Cam Mack is the real deal. He missed some free throws and some bunnies late, but he played 42 minutes and controlled the defense and the ball for most of that time. Dude got tired. He finished with 13 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, and he, too, is on triple-double watch.

One thing to watch: Shamiel Stevenson. The NCAA still has not granted him eligibility for some reason. I guess they were too busy making sure James Wiseman’s moving costs were above board. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what he brings and how he changes things should he be eligible in the near future.

KenPom Rankings: 192nd AdjOE, 100th in AdjDE, 136th overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 8-21 overall, 4-16 Big Ten

This Week: South Dakota State on Friday

Creighton (1-0): They only led by 8 against a pretty bad Kennesaw State team at halftime, but they pulled away thanks to a 26-9 first 10 minutes of the second half. Ty-Shon Alexander had 19 points on 11 shots, and Marcus Zegarowski finished with 18 points on 10 shots to go with five dimes, three boards and two steals. Sophomore Christian Bishop had a nice debut to the season with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Some might say his development is paramount with no Jacob Epperson.

KenPom Rankings: 13th in AdjOE, 67th in AdjDE, 32nd overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 19-11 overall, 9-9 Big East

This Week: at Michigan on Tuesday, Louisiana Tech on Saturday

Omaha (1-1): The Mavericks opened with a 14-point loss at Wichita State before hosting and beating Midland two days later. Junior Ayo Akinwole narrowly missed a triple-double in that second game with 17 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Matt Pile added 22 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Yet, the Mavs only averaged 1.03 points per possession. That’s after 0.79 in the opening game against Wichita State. That offense will be worth watching the rest of the way.

KenPom Rankings: 136th in AdjOE, 215th in AdjDE, 171st overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 16-14 overall, 9-7 Summit League

This Week: Bethune-Cookman tonight, at Colorado State on Wednesday

Missouri (2-0): Two dominant wins for the week – one of those over a very bad Incarnate Word team and one over a usually solid mid-major squad in Northern Kentucky, albeit one with a new coach. Mark Smith had 19 points on just 10 shots in their latest win while Jeremiah Tilmon went for 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the opener. Pretty solid start.

KenPom Rankings: 68th in AdjOE, 20th in AdjDE, 33rd overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 19-11 overall, 10-8 SEC

This Week: at Xavier on Tuesday

Kansas (1-1): The Jayhawks have to be pretty disappointed with their first two games. First, they struggled mightily on offense against a much less experienced Duke team in a two-point defeat. Even a win wouldn’t change the fact that their offense was uneven and averaged 0.82 points per possession. Or maybe strong defense is going to be a thing Duke does this year. Either way, Marcus Garrett getting 13 shots and Udoka Azubuike getting four is not what they envisioned, I’m guessing.

They did improve offensively against UNC Greensboro, averaging 1.10 per possession. Devon Dotson dropped 22 with eight boards and six assists to pull away from a four-point halftime advantage. You’d like to see a little more refinement from a team that started a senior, a junior and three sophomores – two of which received a lot of PT last year.

KenPom Rankings: 17th in AdjOE, 14th in AdjDE, 10th overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 19-10 overall, 11-7 Big 12

This Week: Monmouth on Friday

Kansas State (2-0): The defending Big 12 co-champ is off to a typical K-State start. They won two games in which they didn’t reach 70 points. Their latest was a 60-56 overtime win over UNLV. They had 6 points at the 10 minute mark and 16 at halftime. And still won. Xavier Sneed shot just 6 for 18 from the field, but he put in 19 much needed points. Cartier Diarra had 23 points on 21 shots in the win over North Dakota State. Not pretty, but it never really is with these guys.

KenPom Rankings: 126th AdjOE, 8th in AdjDE, 50th overall

Latest KenPom Projection: 17-13 overall, 8-10 Big 12

Regards to UMKC, Southeast Missouri State, Wichita State and any other Missouri and Kansas teams not mentioned here.

LEADERS

POINTS: Christian Lutete, UMass Lowell (51) – Lutete scored 51 points on Friday in an 87-74 win over LIU. The senior Radford transfer did it on 25 shots, going 9-13 from 2, 7-12 from 3 and 12-13 from the free throw line. He had 26 points total on 26 shots in his other two games this past week.

Other notables:

-The top-scoring junior of the week was Idaho State’s Tarik Cool, who put in 41 points on just 17 shots in a win over Air Force. He was 7-9 from 2, 4-8 from 3 and a perfect 15-15 from the free throw line.

-The best single-game from a sophomore was Delaware’s Nate Darling, who had 37 last night in a win over UTSA. The UAB transfer was 8-10 from 3 in the victory, which was the Blue Hens’ fourth of the week. Interestingly enough, they scored 56 TOTAL in wins over Oakland and Southern Illinois.

-And your top freshman of the week was Cole Anthony. The North Carolina newbie was outstanding in his debut, finishing with 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a victory over Notre Dame. He followed with 20 points and 10 boards against UNC Wilmington. Pretty heady stuff for the 5-star guard.

REBOUNDS: Aaron Carver, Old Dominion (20) – Carver – a senior – had his second career 20 rebound game last night, pulling in eight offensive caroms and 12 on the defensive side. This was after 8 rebounds in a loss to Northern Iowa.

Other notables:

-VCU junior Marcus Santos-Silva had 21 points and 18 rebounds in a win over St. Francis PA. Then he followed with 3 and 7 in a tight win over North Texas.

-Bryant sophomore Patrick Harding finished last night’s win over Cornell – a pretty big win for the Bulldogs – with 8 points and 19 rebounds off the bench. Harding also had 10 boards in a two-point loss to Brown before just six in a two-point loss to Rutgers.

-Eastern Washington sophomore Kim Aiken was a beast on the boards Saturday during a win over Seattle. He had 11 points and 19 rebounds in the victory.

-Another sophomore – Nick Guadarrama – of New Hampshire has had a pair of big games with 20 points and 18 rebounds against something called Curry. He then put up 28 points and 13 rebounds against Holy Cross.

-The top freshman performance was from Towson’s Charles Thompson, who finished with 9 points and 17 rebounds in a win over Bryn Athyn.

ASSISTS: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State (14) – Nobody was able to top the 14 dimes from Haliburton, who also tied for the third-most in a single game this week (the 12 against Oregon State).

Other notables:

-Ohio sophomore Jason Preston had 11 points, 13 assists, seven steals and six rebounds in an incredible performance during their win over St. Bonaventure.

-Louisville junior Darius Perry finished with 10 points, 12 assists and five rebounds against Youngstown State.

-Score one for the little guy, as 5-foot-6-inch Lamont Berzat of New Orleans had 11 assists in a win over something called Spring Hill.

-Eastern Washington freshman Ellis Magnuson had 11 assists in their win over Portland Bible.

STEALS: There were five players with seven steals this past week…

-South Florida junior David Collins finished a loss to Boston College with 19 points, seven steals, three rebounds and two assists.

-Southern Illinois senior Aaron Cook had seven steals last night in a loss to Oakland. It also included 16 points, four rebounds and four assists.

-The aforementioned Jason Preston of Ohio had the aforementioned seven steals in their game against St. Bonaventure.

-Grambling hasn’t played a D1 opponent yet, but Ivy Smith – a senior – did have 10 points, seven steals, five assists and three rebounds in a win over Ecclesia. He also had eight points, five steals, five dimes and three boards against East Texas Baptist. They will play a school you’ve heard of soon enough.

-Connecticut senior Christian Vital had 17 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and three assists in a win over Sacred Heart.

BLOCKS: There were two with nine blocks this week…

-South Alabama senior Trhae Mitchell is only 6-foot-6 and had nine blocks in a win over Pikeville. He had just one block in their next win over Southern Miss, but he is a guy that did have eight blocks in a game last year. Heady stuff for a guy with wing size.

-Wisconsin junior Nate Reuvers is going to turn into a problem, isn’t he? He had nine blocks against Eastern Illinois, and that went with 14 points and 14 rebounds, too. His performance against Saint Mary’s (a loss) was also noteworthy: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks.

There were six others with eight blocks: Oklahoma State sophomore Yor Anei, LIU junior Ty Flowers, Marquette junior Theo John, USC freshman Onyeka Okongwu, FIUI senior Osasumwen Osaghae and UT Martin freshman Eric Rustin.

OTHER NOTABLES:

-Maine senior Andrew Fleming had the top scoring double-double of the week with 37 points and 10 rebounds – just ahead of Anthony’s 34 and 11.

-Cal State Bakersfield junior Shawn Stith was the only other 30-10 double-double with 31 points and 13 rebounds against South Dakota State.

-There were two triple-doubles this past week, and they came in the same game. Utah sophomore Both Gach had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and freshman Rylan Jones finished with 10 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Again, both in the same game and both against Mississippi Valley State. That’s a bad, bad team.

-The highest-scoring team this past week was Grambling State, which put down 147 points against Ecclesia.

-Three others scored more than 130: Utah (143 against MVSU), Central Michigan (134 against MVSU) and UMBC (134 against Valley Forge).

-There were three 18-point underdogs that won outright this past week. Nicholls State beat Pittsburgh by 5, Merrimack(!) took down Northwestern by 10 and San Jose State was an 8-point winner over Hofstra.

Also, Nebraska was a 15-point favorite over UC Riverside and lost by 19, and Idaho State was a 15-point dog against Air Force and won by 10. These will get better as the season goes along.

-The most exciting game of the week, according to KenPom’s rankings – was Saturday’s 93-91 win for South Dakota State over Cal State Bakersfield. The Jackrabbits are probably going to rout Nebraska on Friday. Ugh.

-The biggest comeback came from Richmond, which trailed St. Francis PA by 10 points with 1:41 to go. They eventually won in overtime. Merrimack also had just a 2.2 percent win probability (0.1 behind Richmond’s WP) when they were trailing 8-0 against Northwestern. Of course, the rest of the game was much better.

-Georgetown had the biggest point comeback of the week. They were trailing Mount St. Mary’s 46-27 in the early portion of the second half. The Hoyas then went on a 54-22 streak to finish the game.

THIS WEEK

The top matchups of the week by day…

Monday: No. 77 DePaul at No. 41 Iowa on FS1, 7:00 PM – Hawkeyes are an 8-point KenPom favorite.

Tuesday: No. 33 Memphis vs. No. 22 Oregon on ESPN, 8:00 PM – Oregon is a 4-point favorite in a game that will be played in Portland. It’s part of a doubleheader that also includes Oklahoma against Oregon State. Also watch: Creigthon at Michigan on FS1 at 5:30 PM.

Wednesday: No. 9 Purdue at No. 15 Marquette on FS1, 8:00 PM – Purdue seems a little high here, especially after the woeful performance against Texas this weekend. The Boilers are a 1-point underdog. Also watch: No. 7 Villanova at NO. 12 Ohio State at 6:00 PM on FS1.

Thursday: No. 1 Michigan State at No. 21 Seton Hall on FS1, 7:30 PM – Another Gavit Tipoff Game and another tough test for Sparty in the first couple weeks.

Friday: No. 8 Gonzaga at No. 64 Texas A&M on SECN, 8:00 PM – The SECN gets the top game of the night, and the Zags are 4-point favorites. Also watch: The Backyard Brawl between West Virginia (56) and Pittsburgh (75) on ESPNU at 6:00 PM.

Saturday: No. 43 Washington vs. No. 25 Tennessee at Toronto on ESPN+, 4:00 PM – Find ESPN+ for this one, I guess. Also watch: USC at Nevada on CBSSN at 10:00 PM. You can tell it’s still college football with some of these TV assignments.

Sunday: No. 15 Marquette at No. 49 Wisconsin on FS1, 12:00 PM – Another Big East/Big Ten battle that isn’t a part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Marquette is a slight favorite here, despite being on the road. Also watch: Florida at Connecticut at 2:00 PM on ESPN. The Gators just lost to Florida State yesterday. They’ll have another tough Sunday matinee.

KENPOM'S TOP 10 

1. Michigan State (1-1)

2. Kentucky (2-0)

3. Louisville (2-0)

4. Virginia (2-0)

5. Duke (2-0)

6. North Carolina (2-0)

7. Villanova (1-0)

8. Gonzaga (2-0)

9. Purdue (1-1)

10. Kansas (1-1)

KenPom Player of the Year: Cole Anthony, North Carolina -- It's early, but it's hard to argue with this one.

Send any questions, comments and/or concerns to dmartin@kmaland.com.