Happy Monday, friends!
Comebacks, conference rivalries, and more littered the mid-major landscape this weekend. Out west, Nevada pulled off one of the more unbelievable comebacks you’ll ever see (you’re off the hook, Northern Iowa), while in the east, Atlantic 10 schools had chances for statement wins.
When the dust settled, Oakland, Nevada, Boise State, and more came away victorious, while I got dumped and spent Sunday in my pajamas watching the Atlantic 10. Great day!
Here’s everything that happened:
Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies’ five-game winning streak started with a home win over Georgia and was punctuated on Friday by a win at conference rival Valparaiso. With a pair of home games up next, Oakland could be looking at a 6-0 Horizon League start.
Marshall: Speaking of unbeaten conference starts, the Thundering Herd are 4-0 in Conference USA and took down Old Dominion at home in the process. Sophomore Jon Elmore has been the KenPom MVP in three of Marshall’s last four games, including one of the best performances in the country on Saturday. More on that below.
Northeastern: The Huskies haven’t lost in over a month and own wins over Vermont, Michigan State, and Oakland in that time. Throw in a 4-0 start to conference play and Northeastern has officially put the rest of the CAA on notice.
Alabama A&M: Congrats to the Bulldogs, who took down Mississippi Valley State for their first win of the season on Saturday! Alabama A&M is now 1-13…watch out, SWAC!
George Washington: The win over Davidson last week was nice, but the Colonials have lost three out of four, including a furious comeback that fell seven points short against Richmond on Sunday. Up next: a trip to VCU and a potential 1-3 start in the Atlantic 10.
Hofstra: The loss to Charleston over the weekend was expected, but the Pride should not have lost at home to James Madison before that. Rebounding machine Rokas Gustys is still worth watching if you get a chance.
Rice: We had such high hopes for Rice earlier this year, and there’s still time to come back, but a 1-3 start to Conference USA play is rough… even if those three losses were to the league’s best teams. A win at Louisiana Tech Thursday would go a long way toward righting the ship.
San Diego State: OK, it’s time to admit that San Diego State is not the team to beat in the Mountain West…mainly because three teams have already beaten the Aztecs. Steve Fisher’s club is 8-7 overall with just one KenPom top 125 win in seven tries.
Team of the Weekend (by Game Score):
G Milton Doyle, Loyola Chicago: GmSc 31.9 | 35 pts | 11 rbds | 5-7 3PT
G Jon Elmore, Marshall: GmSc 30.5 | 29 pts | 10 ast | 2 stls
F Shawn Prudhomme, Southern: GmSc 30.6 | 32 pts | 4 stls | 11-13 FG | 5-7 3PT
F Jordan Caroline, Nevada: GmSc 34.1 | 45 pts | 13 rbds | 5-8 3PT
F Drew McDonald, Northern Kentucky: GmSc 35.3 | 37 pts | 10 rbds | 5-6 3PT
You’ve seen it by now. You must have seen it by now. New Mexico led Nevada by 25 with exactly 11 minutes to go…and lost 105-104 in overtime. Remarkably, the Wolfpack still trailed by 14 with 1:30 to play. Then Marcus Marshall led a barrage of threes that you truly have to see to believe:
Atlantic 10 basketball is flippin’ fantastic:
I don’t know why I felt the need to rewind and record this on my phone, but it’s pure pitchman art and for some reason it was played during a timeout in the second half of the Richmond-George Washington game.
Speaking of Sunday’s commercials, this one was shown way too many times and is terrible.
OK this is off the men’s mid-major topic a little bit, but I’d be remiss if I did not mention the two epic fights in college basketball over the weekend.
Next, a Mountain West women’s fight!
A fight broke out in the UNLV Utah State women's basketball game. pic.twitter.com/JzwutY8A9n— Tyler Bischoff (@Bischoff_Tyler) January 8, 2017
Stay safe, friends. Be smarter than this.
What we learned:
Every week, I ask two questions in our weekend preview that I hope are answered with Saturday and Sunday’s games. Here they are for this week:
Can Monmouth right the ship?
Monmouth came into the weekend on a three-game losing streak, highlighted by a 10-point loss at St. Peter’s. The same Hawks team that won at Memphis and beat Princeton at home was suddenly stumbling, with the heart of the conference schedule approaching. This weekend, Monmouth made a statement by dismantling a solid Iona team on national TV Friday night, then beat Rider on Sunday to finish the weekend.
VERDICT: Yes it can. It probably won’t be enough to start up the at-large conversation again at any point this season, but at minimum, the Hawks took down the second-best team in the MAAC and avoided a letdown Sunday.
Marcus Marshall or Elijah Brown?
OK so their numbers were similar, maybe with a slight edge to Brown:
Marshall: 26 points (6-12 3PT), 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Brown: 29 points (3-6 3PT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
But to look only at that would be to ignore the four (4!) threes Marshall hit in the final 52 seconds to help pull off the unbelievable comeback highlighted above.
VERDICT: Marshall’s team won in unbelievable fashion, and he played a key role in that. So he wins for now. These two teams will meet in Reno on Jan. 28.
Gonzaga is now more than halfway to an unbeaten regular season. The Bulldogs passed a tough test at San Francisco Saturday night, 95-80, to improve to 15-0 and 3-0 in the West Coast Conference. Nigel Williams-Goss led the Bulldogs with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. If this segment is also in next week’s recap, it will mean Gonzaga has survived one of (at least) two tests against Saint Mary’s.
This week: vs. Loyola Marymount (Thurs.), vs. Saint Mary’s (Sat.)
KenPom’s unbeaten probability: 14.1%
Mississippi Valley State: The losing team in the vaunted matchup of winless SWAC powers. The Delta Devils are now the lone remaining winless team in Division I, and fell to 0-15, 0-2 in conference play.
This Week: vs. Alabama State (Mon.), at Alcorn State (Sat.)
KenPom’s winless probability: 0.2%
Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T are the two other schools winless against Division I competition. Both have beaten non-D-Is in the regular season.
Little Rock at Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m., ESPN3
It’s a rough Monday, guys. I might suggest watching St. John’s vs. Georgetown instead. At least those teams were good in the 80s. Little Rock, coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, is kind of intriguing and they’re playing a team with an intriguing coach, so…go nuts I guess.
Have a great week, everyone!