What a day of college basketball.. 17 Top 25 teams in action.. two major Top 10 upsets.. the first game of the year on CBS.. and the debut of the most heralded prospect in recent (if not all-time) history?
I'll start with the early action and then move my way into the evening.
Is there a new, better Hansbrough in town? Freshman Ben Hansbrough poured in 23 points and 8 assists as Mississippi State romped on TAMU-CC, 96-72. Meanwhile, younger brother Tyler's 7 points and 3 rebounds kept a pesky Kentucky team alive against UNC. The Tar Heels were the better and more talented team from the tip, but Randolph Morris' 21 point domination of Hansbrough, and Tubby's ability to play the game at his pace instead of Roy's, kept the game relatively competitive. Hansbrough's struggles were reminiscent of his 9 point clunker against Josh Heytvelt and Gonzaga.
The baby faced one is still averaging 19 and 9 boards.. but his struggles against two of the only legit big men out there make you wonder how he'd fare against the annointed one.. Greg Oden made his long-awaited debut and came through with a better than expected 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. I say better than expected because Oden beat all the odds in getting back on the court so soon following his hand surgery, and it was anticipated that he'd take some time to shake off the rust. In just 23 minutes of play, Oden went to the line an amazing 15 times.. a sign of things to come.
Congratulations to Jim Molinari for winning his first game as head coach at Minnesota. Molinari took over against Arizona State because Dan Monson was forced to resign earlier in the week.
Clemson, who always seem to rack off big winning streaks in non-conference play improved to 9-0 by winning at South Carolina. The Tigers join Oklahoma State (who beat Pepperdine), and Butler (who rocked Cleveland State) as the only teams in the country with a 9-0 record.
The first big upset of the day was #5 Kansas falling to DePaul. Now DePaul's in the Big East and this game was in Chicago so you might not think its a huge deal.. but DePaul is not good.. the Demons came into this game just 2-4 against D1 competition, including losses to Bradley and a pathetic loss to Northwestern in which they scored 39 points. To make things worse for Kansas, they led by 9 at half, controlled the game most of the way, and only by blew it by being outscored 14-0 in the game's final 3 minutes.
Not to be outdone, #9 Marquette dropped an even bigger bombshell on the Top 25. The Golden Eagles lost to independent North Dakota State last night. A couple of Dribbles ago, I wrote how Marquette was playing with fire by going down to the wire against teams like Idaho State and Valpo. And then yesterday, I wrote about the impressive start by NDSU. It was thus a perfect confluence of Dribbleness as the Bison won 64-60 in Milwaukee. This win was similar to their win over a Top 10 ranked Wisconsin team last year. The moral of the story (NDSU also beat Wisconsin Green Bay two weeks ago) is that schools in Wisconsin shouldn't schedule North Dakota State..
Good to see Derek Raivio's got his groove back. Gonzaga's former point and now off guard forgot how to hit shots last year and it hurt the Zags postseason chances. But after hitting 7 threes in the Zags relatively easy 87-77 win over #25 Texas, he's now scored 20 points in the last 6 games. Raivio's 27 point total was his highest since February of 2005.
I really didn't think Illinois had a chance playing Arizona in Phoenix yesterday. But similar to Kentucky's loss at Chapel Hill, good defense and a controlled tempo enable lesser teams to win or stay in games they're not supposed to. The 84-72 final score is not indicitive of how much the Wildcats struggled to put Illinois away. Warren Carter led all scorers with a career high 24 points in the loss.
4-3 Georgetown's 9 point loss at Duke will surely knock them out of the Top 25. The Hoyas looked like they were going to make this a close game, but a putrid 6 of 23 (26%) second half allowed Duke to win with ease in the end.
Big win for #22 Wichita State who went into Syracuse and beat the Orange. The rankings of these teams should probably have been reversed to begin with as WSU had already beaten LSU in Louisiana, while the Cuse hadn't played or beat anyone of note. The Shockers are now 6-0 and deserve serious consideration for being ranked in the 10-15 range. After MVC player of the year Paul Miller graduated, I really didn't expect WSU to be this good.
Curtis Sumpter is quietly putting up some big numbers for Villanova. Sumpter, who missed all of last season due to injury, scored 28 last night and is up to 20 ppg.
Have to be impressed with Southern Utah's 6-2 start. The Thunderbirds opened last year 1-11, before ending up with 10 wins. Next up for SUU is #10 Washington.
Colorado barely avoided what would have been an embarassing loss, by beating Northern Colorado 88-86 at the buzzer. Northern Colorado lost to non-D1 Colorado Colorado Springs earlier and has yet beat a D1 yet.