Our first full week of the season is in the books. Top teams went down and unranked teams emerged. Here are five things we learned from week one of the college basketball season.
We had Kentucky at #6 in our Preseason Top 25 and our Big Blue Nation followers weren’t happy. The reason we had the Wildcats at #6 was because we weren’t sure whether or not all the new freshman would be ready right away. Some groups are, while some groups aren’t. This week showed us that this group definitely is ready to play with the best of them. The Wildcats hammered Michigan State by 21 in the Champions Classic on Tuesday. They’re getting tons of production from a bunch of different guys, whether it’s Isaiah Briscoe, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox or someone else. That ability to have multiple guys go off makes them super dangerous. Kentucky is #1 in our latest Top 25 and people need to stop handing Duke the title right now. Kentucky will having something to say about that come March.
Villanova and Xavier have company in the tier of Big East title contenders: the Creighton Bluejays. The Bluejays are off to a 4-0 start with wins over #16 Wisconsin, Washington State and NC State. The Bluejays have a super athletic team that’s putting up 95.8 PPG early on. They may end up being one of the most exciting teams to watch in the country. It’s early, but Creighton definitely needs to start being involved in the Big East title conversation. Their 12 point win over Wisconsin proved that.
Oregon’s All-American player, Dillon Brooks, has yet to step foot on the court this season as he is battling a foot injury. Last Tuesday was evidence that the Ducks need Brooks badly. Oregon went into Waco and got hammered by Baylor, 66-49. The Ducks have a really good group of players in Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell, among others. But without Brooks, as the beatdown to Baylor showed, the Ducks are a completely different team. When Brooks gets back, they’ll be a top 10, maybe top 5 team. Without him, they might not be a top 25 teams.
Last week, we said the Valley was Wichita State’s to lose. We spoke too soon. The conference is Wichita State’s AND UNI’s to lose. UNI hammered Arizona State in the Tire Pros Invitational, then came storming back in the semi-finals to beat Oklahoma. On Sunday, they lost to Xavier by 8 in a game that was tied at halftime. The Panthers have became one of the best mid-major programs in the country behind Ben Jacobson, one of the best head coaches in the country. He has a deep lineup headlined by Preseason MVC Player of the Year in Jeremy Morgan. The Panthers will push Wichita State for the conference title and those two could make the league a multi-bid league once again.
If you’ve seen the hashtag #BIFM in the last week, it’s about Frank Mason. It comes from a line in a rap about Mason. Here’s the rap (explicit content):
Frank Mason III has been incredible to start the season. He took over for Kansas at the end of the Indiana game to force overtime. He hit the game winner to beat Duke on Tuesday. Mason is averaging 23.0 PPG and 5.7 APG. He may only be 5’11, but Mason has shown he is one of the best and most exciting players in the country, and that he can do it against big time competition. It’s going to be exciting what else Frank has in store for us this season. #BIFM