If the opening night of college hoops taught us anything, it’s that Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett are for real. We also learned that Kentucky looked extremely young, but will be a much improved team down the road. With an exciting slate of games to look forward to this week, here are four takeaways from college basketball’s opening week:
Duke, Kansas Look Legit
It’s hard to say the most-hyped high school player since Lebron exceeded expectations in his first game, but that’s exactly what Zion Williamson did. He dropped 28 points and 7 rebounds against Calipari’s Wildcats, while shooting 11-13 from the field. And he might not even be the best player on his team. R.J. Barrett had 33 points in 32 minutes, dissecting Kentucky’s defense and looking comfortable operating the offense as a freshman.
In the nightcap of the Champions Classic, big man Udoka Azubuike carried the load for the Jayhawks against Izzo’s Spartans. Quentin Grimes also looked well beyond his years, as the freshman led Kansas in scoring with 21 points, including 6/10 from three. When it comes to these two programs, you notice a constant theme. Two programs featuring two Hall of Fame coaches, consistently getting the top recruits to buy in and compete for conference and national championships year in and year out. Both teams look to spend the majority of the season in the top 10 and will be among the favorites cut down the nets.
ACC Off To A Strong Start
Albeit a majority of the games were against weaker competition, the ACC still went a combined 25-0 in the opening week. That includes Duke and Florida State beating the brakes off of SEC powers in Kentucky and Florida. With seven teams currently ranked in the AP Poll, including several contenders in North Carolina, Virginia, and Duke, the ACC once again looks to be the deepest and toughest conference in the country. Teams in the middle of the pack of the conference, such as NC State, Miami and Louisville, look to be tough out’s on any given night as well. We will see if the ACC’s hot start will continue throughout the non-conference, as many big-time matchups await in the coming weeks.
West Virginia Upset by Buffalo
Buffalo went into Morgantown and handed #13, West Virginia, it’s first loss in a home opener since 1989. The Bulls picked up a huge road win and took home a big check in the process. It was an especially tough loss for WVU, as their out of conference schedule lacks quality opponents. Yes, the Mountaineers lost their top two scorers from a season ago, but there’s enough to talent on this roster to compete in the Big 12. To the surprise of many, it’s actually the defense that needs addressing for Bob Huggins’ squad. Significant improvement on defense is a must before conference play begins, as Kansas once again looks like the favorite.
Oklahoma State Blows 24-Point Lead to Charlotte
With five minutes left in the game, the Cowboys had a 94.6% win probability. They went the final seven minutes without a field goal as the 49er’s erased a 24-point, second-half deficit. Basically everything that needed to happen for OSU to lose this game, happened. Charlotte would make two free throws and get the ball back after a Flagrant 1 foul. That would ultimately lead to Jon Davis stunning the Cowboys courtesy of a banked-in three at the buzzer . Mike Boynton will need his team to hit the reset button quickly, as a tough stretch from late November to early December looms.
Key games to watch this week:
Tuesday, 11/13: Memphis at LSU; Wisconsin at Xavier; Georgetown at Illinois; Georgia Tech at Tennessee
Wednesday, 11/14: Michigan at Villanova; Seton Hall at Nebraska; Marquette at Indiana
Thursday, 11/15: Syracuse vs Connecticut; Ohio State at Creighton; Oregon vs Iowa; Texas A&M at Gonzaga
Friday, 11/16: Ole Miss at Butler; Paradise Jam; Myrtle Beach Invitational; 2K Classic