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RECAP: Gonzaga, St. Mary’s didn’t disappoint while challengers made statements in Sun Belt, SoCon

Basketball is fun, let’s do it again for a few months.

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at St. Mary's
Jock Landale started the year with a 33-point effort.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball’s first night is in the books, and it was a dizzying experience. Still dazed from the sheer amount of games available? You’re not alone.

Some upsets happened in the early games, none bigger than Wagner (get familiar with Bishon Mason) taking down No. 18 UConn in Storrs. Read about that and the other early surprises here.

That was only the appetizer. Though the rest of the night didn’t offer any more shockers, there was plenty to absorb. Here are some things to take away from opening night:

  • Gonzaga’s frontcourt isn’t reeling. Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer are gone but they may not have taken the Zags depth with them. Przemek Karnowski (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Jonathan Williams III (6 points, 7 rebounds) were predictably solid against Utah Valley. Their freshmen back ups showed plenty of promise too, with Zach Collins displaying a nice offensive post game and Killian Tillie flashing potential as a rim protector. The test gets much tougher Monday night against San Diego State.
  • St. Mary’s kept on humming. The Gaels picked up where they left off last season, scoring 81 points in efficient, organized fashion against Nevada. Jock Landale had the line of the night, scoring 33 points on 15-of-20 shooting as St. Mary’s seemed to get whatever it wanted around the rim.
  • Harvard didn’t beat Stanford, but the hype is real. Reid Travis ran roughshod in a 80-70 loss, but there were glimmers from Crimson’s talented freshmen: Bryce Aiken as a playmaker, Seth Towns as an athletic wing and Henry Welsh as a low post anchor. Of concern was Siyana Chambers, who played well coming off an ACL injury, getting up slowly after a fall in the final minute.
  • Valleys in the Valley. On the whole it was not a good night for the MVC, which went 4-5 against a manageable schedule. And there was plenty of tough luck as Drake (South Dakota), Southern Illinois (Wright State), Indiana State (Northern Illinois) and Illinois State (Murray State) all lost games by five points or less.
  • Not so fast in the SoCon. League favorite Chattanooga backed it up with a win over Tennessee, but don’t overlook Steve Forbes and ETSU. The Bucs hammered Fordham at home by 37 points with six players scoring in double figures.
  • #FunBelt. UT-Arlington is the understandable Sun Belt favorite because of Kevin Hervey and a great group of guards. But Tookie Brown, Ike Smith and Georgia Southern showed why it could pose a challenge. The Eagles took great care of the ball, held their own on the glass and gave N.C. State all it could handle. Troy (135 points) and Georgia State (111 points) had some fun against non-Division I competition too.
  • #MACtion. Check out the rundown on the MAC’s night by our friends at Hustle Belt.