With over 140 games, plenty of things happened last Saturday.
And like every Saturday, you had things to do. You don’t live in a sports book -- or maybe you do — and even if you did, someone’s bound to take issue with you having McNeese-Lamar on monitor #43.
So to get caught up, here are five of the biggest things that Saturday gave us.
Jimond Ivey stole the show in the MAC, sort of.
The junior guard carried a respectable scoring average (14.9 PPG) into the Zips game at Ball State on Saturday. He then exploded for a program-record 48 points, which included nine three’s. none bigger than this one to force double overtime.
It was, alas, in a losing effort as the Cardinals held on for 111-106 win. The scoring bonanza may also have obscured the MAC’s most consequential results, as Buffalo and Toledo continued to roll and are running away with their respective divisions.
We’ve written about the Bulls and how their talent makes them a favorite in the league. But how about the Rockets? Toledo now sits at 7-1 in MAC play after winning their seventh-straight game by hanging 101 points on Bowling Green on Saturday. They hit 47 percent of their three’s against Falcons, which is what their dangerous offense has done throughout MAC play.
Louisiana continued making all sorts of history.
With a home win over Troy, the Ragin’ Cajuns improved on their program-best Sun Belt start (9-0), and tied their best-ever start in the Cajundome (11-0), where they’ve played since 1985. Louisiana has been the toast of the Sun Belt, but has a tough test upcoming after a week off. The league’s most efficient offense and defense heads out on a three-game road trip, which includes games at second-place Georgia State (must watch) and Georgia Southern (slightly less must watch).
Should the Ivy start getting worried about Penn?
Remember, all roads lead to the Palestra in the Ivy, and in the hyper-early going, the Palestra’s tenant is looking like it’ll be at the party. The Quakers are off to a 3-0 start to league play, which includes a win over Princeton. On Saturday, they went outside the league to pick up a quality win over Saint Joe’s, forcing the Hawks into one of their worst offensive performances of the season (30.8 FG%).
Penn has lost just three times since Nov. 22, with one of those coming to Villanova. Picked to finish fourth in the league by the media, they’ve risen amid an Ivy that has, at the top, been disappointing this season. Harvard improved to 4-0 against Brown behind a 30-point effort from Seth Towns, but the Quakers’ non-con statement has to have them feeling good about getting another crack at hosting a conference tournament game. And unlike last year, it doesn’t look like they’ll limp in with a losing record.
Loyola Chicago, step right up.
60 percent of the Valley is within three games of first place, and so let’s sort this jumble out. Missouri State, the preseason favorite, dropped a home game to Southern Illinois to fall to 5-5. At the same time, the Salukis won their third-straight to move to 6-4. This brought them even with Bradley, which won a third-straight game of its own, and Drake, which has dropped consecutive games after rocketing briefly to first.
Above it all, the finally-healthy Ramblers have begun to look like the clear-cut favorite. They blitzed Northern Iowa at home by 23 points on Sunday, getting a season-high 21 points from Clayton Custer. He’s been tremendous after missing the first three games of MVC play, but so has Cameron Krutwig. The freshman forward has been more than solid in league play (11.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG), suddenly giving Loyola a low post option alongside its bevy of perimeter scorers and skilled, undersized bigs.
Bucknell is what we thought it was.
The Bison returned to our power rankings this week, and it was just a matter of time. They picked up a win over Boston to move to 9-1 in Patriot League play, getting some measure of revenge for a home loss to the Terriers on Jan. 2. It wasn’t their finest defensive effort, but the Bison shot 69.2 percent within the three-point arc and got big games from their three stars.
Remeber, Bucknell was 7-8 less than a month ago. Some of those losses were understandable (North Carolina, Arkansas) while some look worse in hindsight (Monmouth), and others are ones you’d expect a team with the Bison’s talent and experience to win (Northeastern, Saint Joe’s). But they’ve stabilized with a seven-game winning streak, and their defense has throttled the Patriot League. With just three remaining games on the road (all to teams ranked 269 or lower per KenPom), an undefeated rest of the season seems probable.