For those of you who have followed for a long time, you are probably familiar with my Teams of the Week tweets coming on Sunday Nights or Monday Mornings. This year for Conference play, I’d like to shed a little bit of light into how the teams are chosen and write a quick snip it for the teams awarded and add a few nuggets where I see fit.
Teams of the Week
New Mexico - The Lobos must’ve been relieved to end a rugged non-conference slate. A Non-conference schedule that included two losses to arch rival New Mexico State, three more losses at the Pit against CU, North Texas, and Penn, plus a blowout loss against Saint Mary’s. But the turn of the calendar and a clean 0-0 MWC record, gave the Lobos a fresh start. On Wednesday, they went to Colorado Springs and took care of business against Air Force, 65-58. Setting the stage for the matchup with 14-0 Nevada in the Pit. I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted what happened next. The Lobos demolished Nevada from the opening tip, and cruised to a 85-58 victory. Anthony Mathis continues to put up a lot of points, scoring 27 in the win. And KU transfer Carlaton Bragg, who is slowly increasing his MPG’s, picked up 12 rebounds. This Lobo team mainly plays seven players, and only one (Mathis) is shorter than 6-7. Could give a lot of teams fits in the MWC this year.
Jacksonville State - The Gamecocks came into the season looking like a contender in the OVC. Many had them in the Top 3 in preseason polls plus they routed Alabama in an Exhibition Game. Then the games started counting and the 0-3 start was disappointing. The Gamecocks finished non-league play at 8-5 but without a significant win. That all changed on Thursday night in Nashville. The Gamecocks went into Belmont and stunned the favored Bruins 83-73. The key was only committing 8 turnovers and controlling the rebounding edge 47-32. Jacksonville State then continued their road trip with a 69-62 win at Tennessee State. Quite an impressive road sweep and early control in the OVC conference race belongs to tthe Gamecocks.
Iowa State - January 5th was circled on the Cyclone calendar since last summer. Every season when KU visits it is the biggest game of the year at Hilton Coliseum. But before that, the Cyclones were dealt with an always difficult road test in Stillwater. The finally healthy Cyclones were able to grab an important road win while Coach Prohm ironed out some different lineup combinations. Then it was time for the big matchup, KU. Cyclones would soon find out that the Jayhawks would not have key big Udoka Azubuike for this game, not sure it would have mattered. After a seesaw first half, the Cyclones dominated KU thuroughly in the second half and cruised to a 77-60 win. This establishes ISU as an early contender in the Big XII race.
St. John’s - The Red Storm, led by Shamorie Ponds and Mustapha Heron have had a fun start to the season. The biggest issue has been the schedule, leaving most of us wondering - how good are they really? Well, Big East play is here now and the Johnnies just had a marvelous week. An 89-69 win over a very good Marquette team and an OT thrilling win at Georgetown on Saturday were big for this team. Johnnies now head to Villanova tonight. Looking more and more like a tournament team.
Michigan State - I typically like to reserve this space for underdogs or lesser known teams, but this week the Spartans earned the honors. A gutsy win at Ohio State where the Spartans had to rally and a blowout win over Northwestern earlier in the week were enough to elevate the Spartans in seed projections and get to a perfect 4-0 in a loaded Big Ten. Well done Sparty.
Purdue Fort Wayne - Huge win over South Dakota State by 16 in only game of the week. Now 3-0 in Summit League play.
Minnesota - Road win at Wisconsin in only game this week, but it was so big for the resume that they almost made the cut.
South Carolina - Stunning upset win at Florida with one second to go on a homerun pass with 1 second left in only game of the week.
Texas - Longhorrns had a fantastic week. Winning at Kansas State and vs. West Virginia. Good to beat up on those teams while they are down.
Georgia State - Big time road sweep over Texas State and UT Arlington. Texas State was looking to establish themselves as the team to beat in the Sun Belt. Ron Hunter’s club wouldn’t let it happen.
Oregon State (Beat Oregon on the road), Rice (Surprisingly beat LA Tech and Southern Miss at home), Alabama (Big Home win over Kentucky), Texas Tech (Beat WV on road, KSU at home), George Mason (blowout wins at Saint Joe’s and vs. Bonnies), Navy (Surprising wins over Holy Cross and Colgate), Ball State (Big Road win at Toledo), Virginia (won showdown over FSU, and beat Marshall), La Salle (wins conference opener at UMass).
Oral Roberts Frosh, Kevin Obanor, is starting to play a more significant role. He has helped the Eagles to a surprising 3-0 start in Summit League play. Obanor is coming off the bench still, but averaging 20.3 PPG in the three contests despite averaging just 24 MPG. A player to keep your eye on.
A bizarre week for both UTSA and UTEP, who were tasked with facing each other twice in a three day window. Round 1 was in San Antonio on Thursday, then Round 2 in El Paso on Saturday. The Roadrunners pulled off a sweep of both contests (75-60, 67-63 respectively) and are now 2-0 in CUSA play.