What a night of college basketball. We were waiting over six months for tip off. It seemed like there were just so much action throughout the day. From 2:30 EST with Washington State tipping off against Alcorn State, all the way down to UCLA and CSU Bakersfield past midnight on the east coast. So lets will break down the main points and see who the big winners and losers in the mid-major ranks from the first day were:
Winner: The SoCon
The SoCon showed on day one. The conference went 7-1 as a whole with their only loss being Mercer against a ranked Arkansas team. Even in that result, Mercer lead the Razorbacks at the half. Southern Conference teams went 4-1 ATS in games with spread. Citadel beat Pittsburg by double digits and Chattanooga beat LMU in Santa Monica as a seven-point underdog. The SoCon is going to be one of the premier leagues in the country that we have to pay attention to.
Loser: Loyola Marymount
What was the Southern Conference’s win was Loyola Marymount’s loss. The LMU at-large movement took a hit on Game One. LMU had a rough play from their guards and they shot a total 5 of 23 from the floor. Northern Arizona transfer Cameron Shelton wasn’t very fluid in the offense which then forced possessions to Eli Scott in the post. When Scott was doubled, LMU did not seem to have an answer. LMU was also a disastrous 61% from the free throw line. The loss against Chattanooga may not look too bad come selection Sunday but it was definitely a missed opportunity to get a win against a solid nonconference foe. They certainly need to sweep Grand Canyon and New Mexico State at home and they need to find a way to upset a combination of Florida State, SMU, Missouri, and BYU this season. This is team still has a lot to figure out before we can call them a WCC contender.
Winner: New Mexico State
The Aggies played their first home game in the Pan-Am center for the first time in over two calendar years. They were able to strangle the Big West favorites to get things rolling. New Mexico State beat UC Irvine, 62-51, and they held the Anteaters to 30.6% shooting from the field and 4 of 21 from beyond the arc. The Aggies won by nearly double digits despite the Anteaters taking nine more shots. The Aggies were able to extend pressure and their athletic wings gave Irvine too much trouble. Offensively, four out of the five Aggie starters scored in double figures. Nebraska transfer Teddy Allen had a rough night scoring 14 points on 6 of 18 shooting, with a 35% overall usage rate. It’s apparent Allen will be the key cog on offense. This was a good win for New Mexico State and they solidified themselves as the top team in the WAC on day one.
Losers: CSU Northridge, Mississippi Valley State, Coppin State
We weren’t expecting much from this bunch, but damn. We found the bottom feeders in college basketball on Day One. We knew intern coach Trent Johnson had an uphill climb taking over a Northridge program that seems to be trapped in the deaths of despair after placing the disgraced Mark Gottfried and his staff on administration leave. CSUN is missing top scorer TJ Starks and their defense is still horrendous. They will be battling for last place in the conference. Mississippi Valley State was a 44-point underdog and they still weren’t close to covering against St. Johns losing 119-61. If you want to make money, blindly bet against the Devils, no matter the line. Coppin State lost 103-45 to Loyola Chicago and now they are a 24-point underdog to checks screen* DePaul.
Winner: Chicago State
The Chicago State Cougars won a basketball game! I repeat, the Chicago State Cougars won a basketball game. The Cougars took a 77-72 win against St. Thomas and snapped a 28-game losing streak dating back to December 2019. New coach Gerard Gillon started his coaching tenure with a much-needed win. Brandon Betson led all scorers with 22 points and shot 4 of 6 from 3. No matter what happens the rest of the year, the Cougars at least got in the win column and that’s saying something for this program.
Winners: Navy, Western Illinois, Miami OH, Citadel, UC San Diego, Northern Illinois
There were seven, mid-major teams that upset power conference schools last night. With the most notable, Navy beating No. 25 Virginia. We love it when Virginia loses to mid-majors at MMM. Navy was picked third in the preseason Patriot League poll. Senior John Carter had 19 points and Sean Yoder had 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting. UC San Diego beat Pac-12 bottom dweller Cal early in the afternoon in just their second season as a D-I program. Miami of Ohio beat last season’s ACC tournament champions Georgia Tech and it looks the Washington basketball program is going struggle once again losing to NIU.
In the biggest matchup between mid-major teams, Ohio came on top over Belmont. Mark Sears seems to comfortably take over Jason Preston’s role in Jeff Boal’s offense after scoring 27 points on 10 of 11 shooting. Sears was virtually unstoppable and Belmont simply did not have an answer. Ohio also beat Belmont without forward Dwight Wilson in the lineup. Center Jason Carter had a 20 and 10 game against his former team. A game where virtually everyone picked Belmont, Ohio showed they were clearly the better side. Last season wasn’t a fluke and we should expect Ohio to be dancing once again. Even with their star Jason Preston in the NBA, they could be better this year.
Winners: Colorado State
Not many teams dominated their matchup the way the Rams did last night. Colorado State beat last year’s Cinderella darling Oral Roberts, 109-80, in Fort Collins. They did this with inefficient performances from their top two scorers Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy. The Mountain West preseason All-Leaguers combined to shoot 8 of 27 from the field and 2 of 8 from 3. Most teams aren’t winning when their best two players are not playing well, let alone winning by 20. Oral Roberts is a very competent squad and many expect them to go back to the NCAA Tournament again. The Rams may have a found a third star in 6-foot-5 guard John Tonje who scored 31 points on opening night. The Rams solidified themselves as one of the top teams in the mid-major ranks.