It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Feast Week has ended.
There’s still a ton of fun basketball upcoming, but the wild ride that is a million simultaneous tournaments is done for now. The good news: we learned a lot this week about some of the best mid-major teams in the country (as well as some of the teams we THOUGHT were the best).
Here’s a breakdown:
These teams were good:
Portland State: OK, the Vikings went 1-2, and sadly moral victories don’t count, but let’s give them a round of applause for a good showing at the PK80. First, they pushed Duke to the limit, leading for much of the game before the Blue Devils took over and earned a deceiving 99-81 win. Then they hung tough with Butler, only to lose by two. Finally on Sunday, Portland State pulled one out. Deontae North had 22 points and Bryce Canda had 17 as the Vikings beat Stanford, 87-78.
La Salle: The jury is still out on La Salle in terms of its overall standing in the Atlantic 10, but a home win over a good Temple team will certainly raise eyebrows. B.J. Johnson and Pookie Powell combined for 54 points and the Explorers outscored the Owls 29-17 over the final 10 minutes to earn the victory. Their three losses are all respectable, and they now have two Tier-B wins per KenPom.
Central Michigan: Congrats to the Chippewas on winning the final Great Alaska Shootout. While none of their three wins was particularly impressive, CMU entered the weekend ranked 244 in KenPom. In other words, any win is a good win. Through six games, the Chippewas have the best opponent free throw rate in the nation, while shooting nearly 80 percent from the line themselves.
These teams were not:
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawk isn’t dead yet, but a two-loss weekend salvaged only by a narrow win over Sacramento State is a little alarming. The loss to a better-than-expected Washington State team is acceptable, but to follow it up with a loss to Harvard, who has struggled mightily, is a bad look. Saint Joe’s is now 3-3 headed into a three-game stretch that includes games against Bucknell, Villanova, and Temple. The Hawks really needed to pad that record and missed the opportunity.
Saint Mary’s: I believed at the beginning of the season that Saint Mary’s could contend for the Final Four and the Gaels could still get there. But losses to Washington State and Georgia at the Wooden Legacy don’t inspire much confidence. True to their form, the Gaels are one of the slowest and most efficient offensive teams in the country, but they have struggled to force turnovers and have allowed opponents to shoot an abnormally high percentage from inside the arc.
Harvard: I had such high hopes for the Ivy League this year, but November has been an absolute nightmare for the conference. The Crimson’s weekend didn’t help, either. The loss to Saint Mary’s can be forgiven, but they needed to beat Cal St. Fullerton. With losses to Holy Cross and Manhattan earlier in the month, it’s fair to question whether Harvard is a legit Ivy contender.
Team of the Weekend:
I usually do this by GameScore so you can’t get mad at me, but Sports Reference hasn’t updated for the weekend’s games yet, so here are some players who stood out:
G David Cohn, William & Mary | 25 pts | 9 ast | 4 rbd | 4 stl
F Brekkott Chapman, Weber State | 29 pts | 7-8 3PT | 5 rbd | 3 stl
F Zach Thomas, Bucknell | 38 pts | 11 rbd | 7 ast | 13-13 FT | 5-9 3PT
F Travis Munnings, UL Monroe | 31 pts | 9 rbd | 5 ast | 3 stl | 14-18 FG
F Jackson Rowe, CS Fullerton | 25 pts | 5-5 3PT | 10-10 FG | 5 rbd
Game of the Weekend:
William & Mary 79 Old Dominion 77
Imagine taking one shot all game and it being a half-court prayer to win it at the buzzer over a potential NCAA Tournament team. Congrats to Oliver Tot, who did just that, answering a go-ahead bucket from the Monarchs just seconds earlier. Here’s the finish:
I’m mad online at ESPN:
If you were watching the Penn-Monmouth fever dream on Saturday night — and why wouldn’t you have been? What else would you be doing on a weekend? — you also probably got mad at ESPN. That’s because somewhere around the third overtime, ESPN3 just decided to stop working. I was infuriated, and now you’re going to relive it through my tweets.
Did I say Double OT?— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) November 26, 2017
I MEANT TRIPLE OT https://t.co/4c0Pi8mgPN
Love when ESPN3 goes down smack in the middle of the third overtime— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) November 26, 2017
Live look at the Penn-Monmouth game, currently in the third overtime pic.twitter.com/Tx3TksZPfC— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) November 26, 2017
This is great. Someone tell me who wins.— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) November 26, 2017
I'll take your word for it.— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) November 26, 2017
I WANT TO WATCH MORE BASKETBALL PLEASE https://t.co/DehMpr5YoO
This game needs as many overtimes as it takes to get the damn feed to work again— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) November 26, 2017
Remember when Florida Gulf Coast played with three players?
People seem to have forgotten about this, so I thought I’d bring it back to the front of everyone’s minds. What Alabama accomplished on Saturday by coming back against Minnesota while playing 3-on-5 was unbelievable. Collin Sexton and the Crimson Tide deserve all the credit in the world. But FGCU also played 3 on 5 a year ago and won (albeit in a summer exhibition). Here are the highlights, complete with the ghost high fives.
Let’s beat up on the American:
Sunday was a rough one for the AAC. St. John’s beat UCF and UConn lost by a million to Arkansas, but the league took even tougher hits against mid-majors. East Carolina lost its third buy game of the season, this time to North Carolina A&T (KenPom 327). In addition, Eastern Michigan destroyed USF, Georgia State beat Tulane, and La Salle beat Temple. The AAC was supposed to be much-improved this year, and it has still had some good moments, but Sunday was bad. Real bad.
Let’s give Marcus Burk some credit:
I’m not done shouting out Marcus Burk yet. Everyone gives Chris Clemons all the love for Campbell, but with the Camels’ superstar out, Burk has been unbelievable. Over his past five games, Burk has averaged 26 points and has gone 30/50 from three. That’s 60 percent. Six Zero.
29 unbeaten teams remain. They are: Kansas, Villanova, Virginia, Texas A&M, Duke, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Baylor, Miami, Minnesota, Louisville, TCU, Florida State, Nevada, Syracuse, Arizona State, Mississippi State, Georgetown, Loyola Chicago, Albany, Valparaiso, Colorado, UNLV, Louisiana Tech, Illinois, Rutgers, San Diego, and Washington State
14 teams are still looking for their first win. They are: Texas Southern, Nebraska Omaha, Lafayette, Marist, Idaho State, Norfolk State, Northern Arizona, Howard, Alabama State, Coppin State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, South Carolina State, Alabama A&M, and Mississippi Valley State
Albany at Monmouth, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
It’s not a great slate of Monday games, but this one should teach us a little bit more about Albany. The Hawks are the best team that the Great Danes have faced on the road this season (they beat Yale at home) and it is their third game in six days. The Hawks are coming off of three-straight losses, including that four-overtime thriller against Penn. They’re hungry for a W.