What Happened This Weekend in College Basketball

It was a wild weekend in the college basketball world. Championships were won and lost all week. Some teams showed us they can be better than expected, others the opposite. Here’s your College Basketball weekend recap.

Villanova Wins Battle 4 Atlantis

In a tournament where Purdue and Arizona played in the last place game, it was Villanova who cruised to a championship in the Bahamas. The Wildcats look like a well-oiled machine with a top six that is as good as any in the nation. Donte DiVincenzo looks like the sixth man of the year and Jalen Brunson has looked like Big East Player of the Year. It should not come as a surprise, but Villanova will live within the Top 5 in the Polls for most of the year.

Arizona State Appears a Year Ahead of Schedule

Bobby Hurley is building something at Arizona State. Anyone who has kept an eye on the program would be able to tell you that. After edging Kansas State on Thanksgiving, the Sun Devils dominated number 15 Xavier on Saturday night to move to 6-0. Hurley’s top two returnees, Tra Holder and Shannon Evans, have been great so far. Holder erupted for 40 against Xavier, and has another 30+ points game on the young season. Freshman Romello White has already showed why he was highly touted, and contributing for ASU. With a couple key rotation players still missing, Arizona State could compete in the Pac-12 sooner than later.

Alabama Played 3 on 5

In the category of “Something You Don’t See Everyday,” Alabama played the last 10 minutes of their game against Minnesota with three players. The Tide lost their entire bench in the second half for leaving the bench area in the midst of an on court scuffle. They then saw one player foul out, and another leave with injury, leaving Avery Johnson with three eligible players for over 10 minutes. All that said, they still lost to a ranked team by just five points. While there are no morale victories, that’s impressive. The story here is Colin Sexton. The freshman found shined in the loss, going off for 40 points on 55% shooting. He showed why he is one of the most exciting players in the country.

Trae Young Outscored Oregon

That’s not a typo. Trae Young has been as good as advertised thus far in Norman. Young has upped his scoring in all five games this season, and capped the weekend off with a 43 put outburst against Oregon, who only managed 42 points as a team. This outburst comes just two days after he dropped 33 on Portland. Young has been nothing short of sensational thus far, averaging 28.2 points and 8.6 assists for Lon Kruger. I’ve mentioned before that Young could be the best freshman in the Big 12 since Kevin Durant, and he’s supporting that statement five games in.

Michigan State, Duke Win PK80

In a tournament that lived up to the hype, we saw Michigan State and Duke walk out of the PK80 with championships. For Michigan State, they dominated early and often against North Carolina. They completely shut down the Tar Heels’ offense and got 23 points from Josh Langford. It showed how scary the Spartans can be, winning handily against a top 10 team without huge performances from Jaren Jackson or Miles Bridges. The story was the defense however, as Tom Izzo’s squad held UNC to 25% shooting, the lowest total in program history.

Duke’s path to victory was very different. The Blue Devils were punched in the mouth early by a sizzling hot Florida club. They trailed by as many as 17 before mounting their championship comeback. Like the rest of the PK80, this championship game was just another national stage for Marvin Bagley to shine on. The freshman phenom poured in 30 and recorded 15 rebounds on his way to a MVP performance. Teams are not entirely put together during most of these early season tournaments (i.e. Arizona) but that’s scary for college basketball because it shows how high Duke’s ceiling can be.

Marvin Bagley Looks Like a Top Pick

Coming off the tough news concerning Michael Porter Jr, Marvin Bagley showed us why he is worthy of the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Bagley’s talent is much more than his scoring. Sure he put in 34 against Texas and had another dominant game against Florida, but what makes Bagley so special is he’s always moving. He is always around the rim, getting numerous tip ins and second chance points and he’s a man on the boards. He’s definitely got NBA scouts salivating.

The SEC is Far From Just Kentucky

Florida made it to the Finals of the PK80 Motion Bracket. Texas A&M beat number 10 USC in California. Missouri made it to the Finals of the Advocare Invitational and almost took down number 23 West Virginia. Even Tennessee and Georgia beat ranked teams in Purdue and St. Mary’s this weekend. Add in a full strength Alabama team that went toe to toe with Minnesota, and the SEC could be the second best conference in college basketball this year. Of course time will tell, but don’t be surprised if Kentucky is not at the top of the SEC standings by end of year.

A Look at the PK80: Motion Bracket

In honor of Nike founder Phil Knight, ESPN will be airing the PK80 tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. Consisting of 16 teams and two brackets, this four day tournament will be must watch. NCAA Tournament teams, dazzling freshman and of course, fresh uniforms. Let’s take a look at the Motion Bracket now. Here’s what you need to know.

First Round Schedule:

Portland State vs Duke – Thursday, November 23rd 4:30 PM EST

Butler vs Texas – Thursday, November 23rd 7 PM EST

Florida vs Stanford – Thursday, November 23rd 10 PM EST

Ohio State vs Gonzaga – Thursday, November 23rd 12 AM EST

What to Look For:

Bagley vs Bamba

Assuming Duke doesn’t have an immaculate meltdown, and Texas can get past Butler, Duke vs Texas is a must watch for college basketball and NBA fans. This game would feature a match-up within a match-up, as Marvin Bagley and Mo Bamba would go head to head.  Both players are expected to be lottery picks next year, so this is a great chance for Hawks, Bulls and Mavs fans to get a glimpse of what the future could hold. Aside from these two headline stealers, both teams match up well across the board. Freshman point guards Trevon Duval and Matt Coleman would face off. As would Grayson Allen and Andrew Jones, each team’s best scorer. There are many things to like about this potential second round game.

Can Butler Represent the Big East

Butler will try to spoil the match-up I laid out above by beating Texas in the first round on Thursday. Butler is off to a nice start at 3-1. Their one loss was their only test of the early season so far, a 12 point loss to Maryland at Maryland. They will get their second chance for a resume win on Thanksgiving with Texas. A win against a team in the upper half of the Big 12 will help solidify that the “new” Big East is more than just Villanova. This is the chance for Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin to make themselves known on a national stage.

How Good is Gonzaga?  

Every year Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs post 25+ wins and every year they don’t get enough credit because they seemingly don’t play anyone. Well now the National Runner Ups have helped their cause, scheduling non-conference games against Villanova, Creighton and playing in the PK80. The Zags have the potential to play teams from the Big Ten, SEC and ACC if they make it to the championship game. Two of those teams are currently sitting in the Top 10. Not too shabby for a team that doesn’t play anyone good.

Bracket is Headlined with Talented Forwards

 If you’re a fan of forwards, this is the bracket to watch over Thanksgiving. Travis Reid (Stanford), Kelan Martin (Butler), Jonathan Williams (Gonzaga), Marvin Bagley (Duke) are first all-conference talents in their respective conferences. Based on the bracket, we may never see any of these guys go head to head, but their individual talents will be fun to watch. Reid and Martin are extremely talented scorers, Williams is the piece that makes Gonzaga go, and we’re learning something new about Bagley every day. Add Dylan Osetkowski (Texas) and Egor Koulechov (Florida) who have averaged near double doubles in the short season and this is a very deep field at the forward spot.

Ideal Championship Game: Duke vs Florida

No huge surprise here. this is the game we all should want. Duke and Florida are currently ranked 1 and 7, respectively in the AP Polls. Duke has a plethora of freshman talent, and college basketball’s most hateable/loveable human in Grayson Allen. Florida is a very talented and balanced bunch. In three games they are averaging 98 points a game and have six players averaging 7 points or more, led by Koulechov’s 20 per game. Meanwhile Duke’s starting five has been as good as advertised, combining for 76 points a game themselves.

The match-up here would be Duke’s Trevon Duval vs Florida’s Chris Chiozza. Duval has been spectacular for Duke, averaging nearly 8 assists a game. He’s Grayson Allen’s biggest fan, as Duval has helped free up Allen and get him wide open looks early on. If Florida can contain Duval, they can also help keep Allen from getting great shots in the process. This job would fall on the defensive minded senior, Chris Chiozza. This would be a great Sunday night game to cap off a great weekend of college basketball.