Amid the turkey and Dak Prescott there was some significant mid-major action going on yesterday.
Here’s what you may have missed:
Indiana State sees big win rim out
Brenton Scott’s potential game-wining three as time expired just rimmed out, quashing a chance at a big upset win over Iowa State. Despite some turnovers, Scott was great (17 points, six rebounds) and the Sycamores got a career (and perhaps breakout?) game from sophomore guard Laquarious Paige (20 points, 8-12 FG). Indiana State may have been overlooked. The Sycamores defense has been great, and the only other loss was at Northern Illinois to open the year. We’ll find out more today against Stanford, but they could be a cut under Wichita State and UNI in the MVC pecking order.
Another near-upset bid out West
Herb Sendek nearly roped himself a big upset. Santa Clara pushed Arizona throughout the teams’ Las Vegas Invitational game, trailing by just one with four minutes left. Jared Brownridge has bounced back from a slow, by his standards, start. He followed up a 32-point outing against Sacred Heart by scoring 25 points (6-14 3FG) against Arizona. He got praise from Sean Miller, who saw Brownridge drop 44 on the Wildcats last year.
"Our team did a much better job this year guarding him than last year," Miller said. "He made some really, really good shots. There aren't many guards that play college basketball that are better ... being able to shoot the 3 than Brownridge."
Dayton falls to Nebraska
This isn’t a game we expect the Flyers to lose, but it’s by no means unforgivable. Especially not when short-handed Dayton battled back from a 14-point deficit and took a lead in the final minute. Archie Miller said after the game that the team is still searching for its identity, but this was the first poor defensive outing from the Flyers this season. And that includes the St. Mary’s game. The silver lining? Kendall Pollard and Josh Cunningham may both be available in March. In the meantime, guys like Xeyrius Williams (27 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds) are getting the chance to grow.
Pump the brakes, Wichita State
But only slightly. If you can’t forgive a loss to Louisville on a neutral court, then you’re a cold-hearted soul. The Shockers didn’t respond well to a jump up in talent over what they’d seen so far this year. Against the Cardinals, they had their worst shooting and rebounding night of the season, by far. This is still a team with some very young critical players, like Markis McDuffie and Landry Shamet. It happens. WSU can pick up a big win over “reeling” Michigan State this afternoon.
Some other quick-hitters:
- VCU followed up a competitive loss to Baylor by beating St. John’s behind a great effort from Jonathan Williams (22 points, 6 assists). You expect this type of bounce back from the Rams, even if St. John’s isnt’ one of the strongest Big East programs right now.
- Long Beach State dropped to 1-6 after falling to Binghamton. KenPom had the 49ers with a 74 percent chance to win, and there are few spots for victories on their non-con schedule.
- Iona got its first win of the year - albeit having played just three games - by beating Drake. The schedule has eased up for the Gaels, who started with Florida State and Nevada. They have a sneakily good game today against Weber State, which blew out UC Davis yesterday.
- Old Dominion fell to LSU in a close game. You had to feel confident about the Monarchs’ chances, but that overtime loss to Louisville may have been weighing on them.
- Montana might be a team to watch in the Big Sky. The Grizzlies are 1-5 after a loss to Ole Miss, but they pushed the Rebels until the final minute. Each of their five losses are to teams in the KenPom top-191.