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Sleep Index: We’re wide awake on most things but there’s room for improvement

Drake, Omaha and Northern Illinois may need our attention, among others.

NCAA Basketball: Drake at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot that happens on this website but according to some, what happens most is sleeping. Mostly, it’s sleeping on Your Favorite Team or Player on Your Favorite Team and/or hyping up Your Favorite Team’s Rival (damn them!). We sleep so much you’d think we’re one big, collective Snorlax over here.

So every now and then we’ll invite it in. You tell us who we’re sleeping on, and we’ll tell why you’re right or, more fun for us, wrong.

The Sleeping Index:

1 (Not Sleeping! Chasing espresso shots with cold brew)

<—————>

10 (Okay, we’re sleeping. Slap us in the face and we’re still snoozing and missing that critical 9AM Zoom).


Matt Pile/Omaha

Sleeping? 5.

I’m confident Matt Pile’s glorious name hasn’t been mentioned on any medium connected to this site this year, and you’re right Mr. Three Beers, that’s probably a problem. That he grabbed 14 rebounds as the Mavs knocked off Washington State on Thursday night doesn’t hurt.

The more global sleepin’ may be on Omaha, as Derrin Hansen is one of the more underrated coaches in the country with the way he’s not only led the Mavs into consistent contention at the Division I level, but has continually restocked the program with talent. And that includes signing a Kansas prep product like Pile and developing him into a quality interior player that can step into a larger role with Mitch Hahn gone.


Winthrop

Sleeping? 2.

And there’s the danger of lobbing sleeping accusations about the internet. It just might come back to bite you. That said, the Eagles may have lost an ugly game to Tennessee Tech — it happens — but the win at Saint Mary’s and close losses at Fresno State and ETSU prove where this team’s potential is, especially with a breakout star and matchup problem in D.J. Burns. Their schedule may not give them the opportunity to crack our ranking — and what does that matter, really — but we’re well aware of the threat they pose in the Big South.


San Diego State

Sleepin’? 1.

We’ve currently got the 5-0 Aztecs at No. 7 in the Other Top 25, and that was before another new weapon — Vanderbilt transfer Yanni Wetzell — broke out (20 points) in a win over San Diego this week. Should they be higher after a quality road win at BYU? Maybe, but the Cougars were with(out Yoeli) Child(s), and that seems like the proper amount of respect for a team whose offense has started hot and whose defense continues to smother the opposition. They’re good, and we haven’t denied it.


Eugene German/Northern Illinois

Sleeping?: 7.

The Huskies senior is off to a flying start, in part by putting up 20-plus points against quality defenses at Northern Iowa and Iowa State. He’s working on a third straight season of averaging more than 20 points per game, which is no small feat. Can he shoot NIU into contention in the MAC? We’ve talked about how it may be a wide open league, with Bowling Green, Kent State and Toledo as favorites. Save for trips to Saint Mary’s and Pitt, the rest of the non-con looks manageable, and a nice opportunity to build momentum.

Although they lost a couple of important seniors, German and fellow senior Lacey James were a big part of a team that went on a late four-game winning streak last year, which included knocking off a good Toledo team in the MAC Tournament.


Grand Canyon

Sleeping? -10.

Oh brother, you should really talk to a New Mexico State fan, pick any of them. Even Pistol Pete is always at the ready to smash us an angry tweet. In the meantime, check out Kyle Cajero’s great piece on what Jovan Blacksher, Jr. may mean to the program. The shorthanded Lopes are without a quality win, and have that ugly opening loss to Davenport. As always there’s potential there (especially as midseason transfers become eligible), and New Mexico State isn’t off to the start it envisioned, but count us still in the Aggies-are-the-team-to-beat-in-the-WAC camp.


Richmond

Sleeping? 1.

Our eyes are plastered open. This is the website that invented #EXTENDMOONEY. We’ve properly respected the Vanderbilt win, and Nick Sherod and the Spiders’ ridiculous three-point attack (46.1 team 3P%) will get its chance to shine at the Legends Classic next week. But the real opportunity may be a four-game run in December against South Alabama, Charleston, Old Dominion and Radford. Those are all winnable games and each could be seen as a solid win; sweep that quartet of games and we may be calling for a lifetime contract for the head man.


Fatts Russell/Rhode Island

Sleeping: 1.

We’ve got insomnia on this one. Russ Steinberg, the proprietor and overlord of this website, seemingly has it in his contract to mention Fatts on every podcast. We’ve been touting the electric guard for nearly two years — and have the receipts to prove it.


Stef Smith/Vermont

Sleeping?: 6.

We’ll give it to you. We’ve heaped no shortage of well-deserved praise on the Catamounts and their star Anthony Lamb. Check out this excellent piece from Mitchell Northam for as a good profile on the senior forward as you’ll find. But Vermont has players around Lamb, and Smith is a more-than-reliable lead guard who did in fact tear it up against Virginia (13 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds). Smith had a huge task having to replace Trae Bell-Haynes, and added curiosity/added pressure of having come from the same high school as the Vermont legend. He’s done a good job, and is sporting his highest career assist rate (24.9%) so far this year.


UNC Asheville

Sleeping?: 1.

No.


Jason Preston/Ohio

Sleeping?: 1.

Oh hey, Preston was included among the 11 players we wrote about as having under-the-radar hot starts.


UTSA’s supporting cast

Sleeping?: 1.

Hey, we had high expectations because of that duo and had UTSA pegged at No. 19 in our Other Top 25 preseason rankings. Had the Roadrunners gotten off to the start we expected, no doubt the supporting cast would’ve gotten their shine. The good news is UTSA did notch that first win (albeit against a non-Div. I), and gets two manageable games of the Div. I variety (Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M Corpus Christi) to continue rebuilding momentum after the 0-5 start. There’s still time.


Drake

Sleeping?: 7.

You may be on to something here, Foo. The Bulldogs don’t have a notable win yet, but haven’t slipped up either — and that’s saying something in the always-baffling Valley. Siena transfer Roman Penn has also stepped in and been one of the best playmakers in the country in the early going (second-best assist rate in the entire NCAA), including an 18-point (7-9 FG), 9-assist effort in a win over Lehigh. The Gulf Coast Showcase does present a potential opportunity against Northeastern or South Alabama, if Drake can get past Miami Ohio.

The Valley has been topsy-turvy — look no further than Evansville — in the early going, so why not bank on a team that held steady last year? Interestly, they’re essentially posting the same offensive and defensive balance so far (top-137 in both) that served them well last year.


THE BEACH

Hey, we wish buddy. Ask Dan Monson to lay out a towel for us.