College basketball analyst and author
Two weeks into the men’s college basketball season, here’s what we know:
1. Chris Beard has a real Final Four contender in Year 2 in Texas. I know we can’t always read a result, but Gonzaga’s 93-74 loss was telling. Tyrese Hunter scored 26 points and showed that last season’s Iowa State Big 12 Freshman of the Year is the perfect playmaker to place alongside Marcus Carr. This squad can defend the ground and run, and has options in every position. Texas should be a top 5 contender when the poll comes out on Monday.
2. Arkansas’ Trevon Brazile may have already had the dunk of the season when he came up against South Dakota State. The jam was just disgusting.
3. Houston coach Kelvin Sampson is not only one of the best development coaches, but he has always been able to recruit and find sensational talent. Jarace Walker is a star and one of the main reasons the Cougars will be chasing the Final Four — no less at home.
4. Jalen Wilson has emerged as a leader and top scorer for Kansas, but the key could be the advancement of Gradey Dick. The Jayhawks were led by these two late in defeating Duke at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
5. Michigan State should have been ranked. The Spartans had beaten Gonzaga before losing with one on the USS Abraham Lincoln. The Spartans beat Kentucky in a double overtime thriller at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. Then they beat Villanova back at the Gavitt Games in East Lansing. The Spartans are playing like a top 10 team two weeks into the season.
Tyson Walker leads Michigan State past Villanova
The Spartans’ Tyson Walker has 22 points, five assists and three rebounds in a win over the Wildcats.
6. The state of Arizona pulled out the madness of the week. The Sun Devils won the Legends Classic – without Marcus Bagley – by dominating Michigan in Brooklyn. The championship was some much-needed good news for the Pac-12. The Sun Devils have every reason to believe they can be a player up for a bid in March.
7. Illinois fans travel well, and the roster is as entertaining as any this season. Illinois defeated UCLA by 29 points behind Terrence Shannon Jr. in Las Vegas on Friday night. The Illini crowd rocked. This Illinois team, which includes a surprise player in Dain Dainja producing in the post, is clearly a contender for the Big Ten and beyond.
8. Indiana was/is the favorite in the Big Ten and the away win at Xavier will become more relevant this season. Trayce Jackson-Davis, a Big Ten and National Player of the Year nominee, scored 30 points in the win. The Hoosiers have a legitimate shot at finishing No. 1 if they can knock out North Carolina at home on Nov. 30 pending what happens ahead of them in the polls next week.
9. Key post-game comments came from Virginia coach Tony Bennett after the Cavaliers’ 86-79 win over Baylor in Las Vegas. Bennett spoke from the heart of his team’s first game following the tragic murders of Virginia football players Devin Chandler, Level Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry. The tragedy is enormous and difficult to fathom. But Bennett found the right words to express his sadness on behalf of the show.
10. SWAC capitalized on their Legacy Series opportunities with the Pac-12. Southern University won at Cal. Prairie View defeated Washington State at home. Texas Southern defeated Arizona State at home. Grumbling beat Colorado at home. Credit the Pac-12 for playing the series, particularly in the street games. But SWAC has proven that given the chance, they can be very competitive and win.
11. Frank Martin can get it done, regardless of location. Martin found success at Kansas State and South Carolina, the latter leading the Gamecocks to a Final Four. Now his UMass Minutemen went 3-1 into a Sunday game against Charlotte in the Myrtle Beach Invitational with victories over Colorado and Murray State. The Minutemen should be relevant in the A-10 this season.
12. Kevin Willard will win in Maryland. The Terps started 4-0, capped off by a convincing win over one of the A-10 favorites Saint Louis. Donta Scott, who has a chance to become an All Big Ten player, scored 25 points. The Terps are going to be a tough game all season.
13. Momentum is tough. UC Irvine won in Oregon last week and lost to Pepperdine a week later. Portland and Oregon State felt pretty good about their respective starts, but then lost to Seattle and Portland State, respectively. DePaul won in Minnesota and then lost to Santa Clara.
14. Daryl Banks III is a baller regardless of school. Banks scored 27 points in the historic excitement of 15-seed Saint Peter vs. 2-seed Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March. Now at St. Bonaventure, Banks scored 34 points in a win over Bowling Green. Mark Schmidt always has a bucket getter, especially in the backcourt. Banks is his latest work.
15. Rutgers lost to Temple but Caleb McConnell has yet to play a game this season. The reigning Big Ten Defender of the Year is still suffering from a knee injury. This was the Scarlet Knights’ only loss, but they can’t really be judged until McConnell is healthy.
16. Perhaps his best performance in a loss was Eric Williams’ 43/13 for San Diego in a 91-89 overtime loss to Utah State at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Steve Lavin has an extra in Williams.
17. Think about Iowa’s win at Seton Hall. This will be a Durability W that will matter in March. It also marked the arrival of Kris Murray as a star. He dropped 29 for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa’s Kris Murray is too much for Seton Hall
Kris Murray had 29 points and 11 rebounds to lead Iowa to an 83-67 win over Seton Hall.
18. Alabama has a fantastic freshman in Brandon Miller. He’s averaging 20 to four games for the Tide ahead of next week’s PK85 against Michigan State.
19. Keyontae Johnson is a walking wonder and I will not stop promoting his production. Johnson continues to marvel. A week after scoring 16 against Cal, he dropped 19 against Kansas City. Johnson was scheduled to stop playing after collapsing while playing for Florida on December 12, 2020. Now in the state of Kansas, it’s thriving. Love it.
20. Try to understand Colorado. You can not. The Buffs beat UC Riverside but lost at Grambling. They beat Tennessee in Nashville but lost to UMass in Myrtle Beach. They then blew up Texas A&M behind KJ Simpson’s 30 and six steals.
21. Reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe was scheduled to play limited minutes against Michigan State. The Kentucky forward played 34 minutes, dropping 22 points and grabbing 18 boards before fouling. bale. Oh, and he’s also kind and a great ambassador for Kentucky and the game.
Andy Katz is a longtime college basketball writer, analyst, and anchorman. He can be seen on the Big Ten Network, March Madness and NCAA.com, and hosts the March Madness 365 podcast. Katz worked at ESPN for almost two decades and before that at newspapers for nine years.
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