The days have gotten shorter, the weather will only continue to get colder, and college basketball is officially back to help us through the darkness. The start of the season has not been known for high level competition in recent years, with most power conference teams not wanting to risk tanking their NET on the first night of the season. I hardly care about the lack of Top 25 matchups in the opening week, I, and most everyone I think, is just happy to have it back.
The Big East teams all got a game under the belts across the first two nights of the season, and went a remarkable 10-1. Yes, the 1 is the remarkable thing there. DePaul went full DePaul on their first night of the season, managing to lose to KenPom #262 Purdue Fort Wayne. If there was faith Tony Stubblefield can turn this around, and I’m not sure there was, it’s likely gone now.
Ed Cooley’s Georgetown put an opening night beat down on Le Moyne, which I learned last night existed. Fairfield transfer Supreme Cook led the way for the Hoyas with 19 points and 13 boards. The new look Hoyas managed to get five players in double figures, and looked the best the program has since March of ‘21.
Speaking of projected basement dwellers, Butler hosted Eastern Michigan and put a 39 point curb stomping on them. A pair of transfers had standout performances, the first being Posh Alexander who dropped 13 points and dished 8 assists. Former Northeastern man Jahmyl Telfort led the game in scoring with 18 points on 10 shots. The only confusing thing in the box score is the Bulldogs’ insisting on shooting 22 three pointers (of which they made 6) while shooting 73% from inside the arc on the game.
Seton Hall opened the season by winning the Shaheen Holloway Cup over Saint Peter’s. The Pirates were less than stellar in this one, only managing to pull away late for an 11 point win. They were good defensively, allowing under a point per possession, but the offense left something to be desired. Kadary Richmond led with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals. Richmond lived at the line, attempting 13 free throws on the night. Dylan Addae-Wusu chipped in 10 points, while Al-Amir Dawes went for 14 thanks to a stellar performance from beyond the arc.
In Rick Pitino’s first game in charge of the Johnnies, his team ran out 90-74 winners in a game that didn’t feel that close. Joel Soriano wasn’t off the pace at all, notching his first double-double of the season. Daniss Jenkins, who followed Pitino from Iona, had a stellar performance from the guard spot that was hampered by his 6 turnovers. Chris Ledlum and Jordna Dingle, from Harvard and Penn respectively, both notched double figures and didn’t look overwhelmed in the slightest.
The Providence Friars opened the Kim English era with an unceremonious butt-kicking of Columbia. The school, not the country. Bryce Hopkins struggled in the opening night, getting 14 points on 13 shots and chucking the ball away 5 times. Devin Carter dropped 13 in a very solid performance, and Rafael Castro (who?) put up 13 in limited time. The Friars shot a miserable 26% from three and threw the ball away at a rate that would make Xavier blush, but pounded the ball inside and outplayed an inferior opponent.
Villanova opened the season against American, and dominated start to finish. Eric Dixon, a 12th year senior, put up 15 points without really breaking a sweat, Justin Moore was in double figures despite not making a three, and transfers TJ Mamba and Tyler Burton both hit double figures as well. The team shared the ball well, while only throwing 7 turnovers. A vintage Nova performance.
Marquette took care of business in their opener against Norther Illinois. Kam Jones dropped 20 points in the 24 minutes, Kolek and Ighodaro both put up double figures, and the game was never close. The Golden Eagles shot a strong 62% inside the arc on the night, a respectable 36% from three, played the fast and fluid ball they became known for a season ago.
Marquette and Nova won blowouts, there needs to be a different term for what Creighton did to Florida A&m. The Bluejays ran out with a 51 point advantage behind a stellar 18-38 (47%) from beyond the arc. Trey Alexander led the Jays with 20, as he appears to be the unquestioned first option on offense this year. Baylor Scheierman contributed 15, and Utah St. transfer, Steven Ashworth, put up 17 points on only 9 shots. Ashworth comes in as an elite shot maker, and will be a big piece for the Jays title hopes this season.
Last, but not least, UConn celebrated their National Championship prior to a 43 point blowout over Northern Arizona. Alex Karaban went for 22 on 8-12 shooting, and was the only brightside from three, beside Cam Spencer. Spencer comes in from Rutgers with the reputation as a knockdown shooter. He only went for 8, but doing that on 2-3 and 2-2 from the line isn’t a bad start. Donovan Clingan played only 15 minutes due to a recent foot injury, and the fact this game wasn’t a contest. He still put up 12 in limited time, and his only struggles observed were at the free throw line.
The opening weekend isn’t known for thrilling matchups these days, nor does it need to be. The important fact is that college basketball is back, and it’s here to carry us through the winter months. The Big East specifically looks to be a strong conference yet again this season, and the teams showed that in their first games; except DePaul.