Good morning and happy Friday!
If you’re anything like me, you got into the office, took care of whatever was at the top of your inbox, and are now just trying to coast until the earliest possible moment you can leave.
It’s understandable — you have a lot to do this weekend. The yard work can wait, the kid will have more soccer games, and the dog can just go in the house. Forget all that, because there’s a ton of basketball to watch.
Since THIS IS ONLY NOVEMBER, the action starts on Friday night as to not interfere with college foosball. Here’s everything you need to know about the next three days:
Game of the Weekend
BYU at Houston, Fri., 9 p.m., ESPNU
You ready for some hot, sweaty, Cougar on Cougar action? Then tune in Friday night, because BYU is visiting the AAC co-favorites. BYU held off a really, really good Southern Utah team at home after falling to San Diego State and will need a couple signature wins if it hopes to make the NCAA Tournament, assuming Gonzaga gets the auto bid.
Dalton Nixon is a four-year BYU player who has started to break through as a senior. As Vanquish the Foe outlines here, he can run the floor well, and might give Houston some problems. Jake Toolson has been their best player so far and is coming off a 22-point performance against the Thunderbirds. Both teams like to play small and have shot well in the early going. KenPom has Houston as a 10-point favorite, but something tells me they’re a tad over-valued...
Rhode Island has another chance
Alabama at Rhode Island, Fri., 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports
The Rams hung tough at Maryland last week before letting the game slip away late. It’s not a big deal — anyone can lose at a top-10 team — but it makes their game Friday night against Alabama a little more important. Rhode Island expects to be in the hunt for an at-large bid, and to get one, it will have to beat a quality team out of conference. Looking at its schedule, there are five chances remaining: at home against Alabama, vs. LSU on a neutral, at West Virginia, home vs. Providence, and home vs. Western Kentucky. Rhode Island can’t lose all of those games, and this one might be its best chance. In fact, the Rams are a one-point favorite per KenPom.
Fatts Russell and Cyril Langevine both had subpar offensive games against the Terps and will need to do more to help out. Rhode Island is experienced and should not be expected to stay down for long.
The Daly Show
Saint Joseph’s at Loyola University Chicago, Sat., 2 p.m., ESPN3
Saint Joseph’s ran UConn out of its own building on Wednesday. Don’t let the score fool you — the Huskies made a great run to get back into it, but the Hawks led 15-0 and outplayed UConn in every facet of the game. Ryan Daly, who came into the game 0-for-the-season from three, hit six from downtown to help Saint Joe’s build a 27-point lead. That came two games after his 26-point outing against Bradley to open the season.
By now, it’s clear that the Hawks are better than people thought (they were picked 13th in the 14-team Atlantic 10), and they will have a chance to build some series momentum on Friday with a game at Loyola University Chicago. The Ramblers desperately need a win, having dropped back-to-back games to Furman and Coppin State (you read that right). Cameron Krutwig will be the key for the Ramblers, as the Hawks may not have anyone capable of stopping him.
Canada’s college teams
Harvard vs. Buffalo and Rutgers vs. St. Bonaventure, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., ESPN+
College basketball heads north-of-the-border with a tripleheader in Ontario that includes two teams from So Far Upstate That It Might As Well Be Canada*. First up, Harvard takes on a new-look Buffalo team in search of its first Division I win of the season. Jayvon Graves, one of the holdovers from last year, leads the Bulls through the first two games at 16 ppg. As for Harvard, we’re still waiting to see the Crimson at full strength with Bryce Aiken and Seth Towns still being held out due to injury.
The second game may be the more intriguing of the two (ever say that about something Rutgers was doing?). The Scarlet Knights have already struggled to beat both Bryant and Drexel, and will face a desperate 0-3 St. Bonaventure team. The Bonnies nearly knocked off Vermont, but are without Osun Osunniyi and did not look good against Siena on Tuesday.
*anything north of 125th Street qualifies as upstate
MMM at the Game
The Mid-Major Madness staff will be hard at work this weekend, both from our couches and from the arena. I’ll be in Queens to see Anthony Lamb and Vermont try and take down St. John’s on Saturday afternoon. The Johnnies got an unexpected test against New Hampshire earlier in the week, only no one noticed because at the same time, Evansville was taking down Kentucky. One thing to watch: Vermont has struggled mightily on offense in the early going this season, Through three games, the Catamounts have yet to score more than 66 points and they are shooting just 18.5 percent from three.
On Saturday, our own Stephen Thompson will watch his alma mater, Morgan State, challenge George Washington at Foggy Bottom. Stanley Davis has started his senior year with three straight double-digit performances and leads the Bears to face a team that is coming off a loss to American.
Folks, it’s been one heck of a brutality season so far. As of this writing, our spreadsheet has 12 entries so far and it’s a safe bet that we’ll get a few more this weekend. A few prime candidates:
Missouri State over Xavier: Dana Ford’s team plays slow, defends well, and has high-major talent. All the ingredients needed for an upset.
South Dakota State over Nebraska: I mean, everyone else is beating them.
Vermont over St. John’s: (see above section)
New Mexico State over Arizona: This one lost some luster after the Aggies fell to UTEP, but the talent is still there. Trevelin Queen leads the nation in assist rate and has been one of the best players in the country, per KenPom.
Yale over Oklahoma State: If you’re going to pull an upset, you can’t beat yourselves, and the Bulldogs rank in the top 20 nationally in turnover percentage.
UT Arlington over Oregon: Oregon looked great against Memphis, but this is a trap game against a really good mid-major before the Ducks take on Houston.
Belmont over Boston College: This barely even counts.
Louisiana Tech over Creighton: The Bulldogs haven’t faced a real test yet. That’s about to change.
A few more games to watch:
(all times Eastern)
Lipscomb at Duquesne, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Utah Valley at UAB, 8 p.m., CUSA.tv
Gonzaga at Texas A&M, 9 p.m., SEC Network
Cal Baptist at Cal, 10 p.m., PAC-12 Networks (Bay Area)
Old Dominion at Northeastern, 1 p.m., FLOSports
Temple at La Salle, 2 p.m., ESPN+
Merrimack at UMass-Lowell, 4 p.m., ESPN3
Yale at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN+
Ball State at Indiana State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN3