Thursday’s Den: College basketball info……..

The way college basketball is now, with so many transfers happening, it is still kind of early, but here is some of what we’ve learned so far this season.

— Big X
6 of 14 teams are in Top 20
Houston/BYU, newcomers to the Big X, are highest-rated teams right now.
Houston has the best eFG% defense in the country.
Oklahoma State (6-5), West Virginia (4-6) have regressed.

5 of 14 teams are in the top 25.
Tennessee is 8-3, but they’ve played the #12 schedule, a tough schedule.
Ole Miss is 11-0, but they’ve played schedule #262.

Vanderbilt is 4-7; they’re 65-76 in 4+ years under Jerry Stackhouse, 24-46 in SEC games. Five years ago, Vandy was off to a 4-0 start under Bryce Drew, but their best player (Darius Garland) got hurt, missed the rest of the season, and the Commodores went in the ashcan, going 9-23- they fired Drew. 

Garland is now a productive player in the NBA, while Drew has moved on to Grand Canyon in the WAC, where he has a 73-28 record coaching the Antelopes. I’m thinking the administration at Vanderbilt screwed up- they should’ve kept Drew as coach.

— Big 14
Only have three teams rated in top 20.
Michigan State is struggling at 6-5.

Zach Edey must have a great NIL deal for him to return to Purdue this season. Boilers have five top 20 wins, but lost conference opener at Northwestern. Purdue is shooting 40.3% on the arc; what will they shoot in March, when the heat is on?

— Pac-12
In its last season, Pac-12 is 0-5 SU against the Mountain West; no bueno.
Arizona/Colorado are only Pac-12 teams rated in top 30.
UCLA is 5-5, losing five of last six D-I games; there are rumors about Mick Cronin’s interest in the Louisville job, when that opens up.

Arizona has eight foreign players on its roster, UCLA has seven.

Meanwhile, Oregon State/Washington State are joining the WCC in basketball for the next two seasons.

Duke, Clemson, North Carolina are only teams rated in top 25.
Duke had a quality neutral court win over Baylor Wednesday.
Syracuse is 8-3 with a 20-point win over Oregon, but all three Orange losses were by 17+ points; they’re forcing turnovers 21.7% of time, a marked improvement over recent years.

— Teams in country with best continuity:
Columbia- Ivy League
Drexel- CAA
Florida Atlantic- AAC
Marquette- Big East
Cal-Davis- Big West

— Teams in country with most experience:
St Bonaventure- A-15
Washington- Pac-12
TCU- Big X
North Carolina- ACC
St John’s- Big East

Morehead State is 8-4, the only OVC team in the top 200; Tuesday night at Indiana, they led the Hoosiers by 15 with 8:58 left, but lost 69-68. Morehead looks like one of those dangerous 14-seeds we’ll be talking about in March. 

— Word of the Day- Grinch- a person who is unfriendly, a killjoy.

— Big East
Seton Hall upset UConn Wednesday, Providence upset Marquette Tuesday.
Villanova just beat Creighton in overtime, another upset.
Rick Pitino is going to make waves with St John’s, just not sure it’ll be this year.

Jay Wright retired in the spring of 2022, after a 30-8 season. In his last nine years at Villanova, Wildcats went 265-53, 130-31 in Big East games.

Since Wright left, Villanova is 25-21, 11-10 in Big East games.

— Mountain West
Three best teams appear to be Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State.
Rams/Lobos both have one loss; both losses were against Saint Mary’s. 

Like we said before, Mountain West is 5-0 SU against the Pac-12 this season.

Right now, MW is ranked as the #7 league; this would be the third year in a row Mountain West is in the top 7- 2013 was the last time before that.

— Atlantic 15
9-2 Dayton is the only team rated in the top 70.
Duquesne is 9-2; their coach is Keith Dambrot, who was Lebron James’ high school coach.
St Joe’s is 9-2, but against schedule #325; they lost to Texas A&M-Commerce.

A-15 got only one team in NCAA’s LY (VCU), could be headed that way again.

14 teams in this league now; they’ve reshuffled more than any league this year.
FAU is legit good; they were in Final Four last year, have whole team back, are 9-2 now.
Memphis is 9-2, with seven top 100 wins (schedule #10)

Other than FAU/Memphis, SMU, North Texas, Tulane appear to be AAC contenders.

— Missouri Valley
Indiana State/Drake are both 11-1, the Valley’s only top 100 teams.
Drake has played schedule #301, Indiana State #264. Sycamores are shooting 61.2% inside the arc, 41.4% on the arc- they have the best eFG% in the whole country.

Evansville is 10-2 against schedule #318; the last five years, Evanaville was 40-111, so a great rebuilding job being done by David Ragland. They did lose their only top 100 game by 41 at BYU, but 10-2 is 10-2.

Murray State is 3-8; they’ve had only one losing season since 1997.

Right now, WCC is 5-14 against the Mountain West
7-6 against the Pac-12
0-5 against the WAC
3-4 against the Big Sky,

In other words, the WCC is down; losing BYU hurt, especially this year, because BYU is really good. Saint Mary’s is a disappointing 7-5, but they’ve played better recently. Gonzaga is 8-3, 3-3 against top 100 teams.

It’ll be interesting next year, when Oregon State/Washington State join the WCC.

— Ivy League
Princeton is 10-1, with three top 100 wins; KenPom has them at #44.
Yale, Cornell appear to be the teams best poised to upset Princeton in the Ivy tournament.

— Conference USA
League looks like a 3-way battle between Liberty, Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky.

This league has teams in Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico; lot of travel.

— Other mid-majors we’ve got our eye on:
Grand Canyon, WAC- Antelopes are 9-1, with wins over San Diego State, Liberty

James Madison, Sun Belt- 11-0 Dukes opened season with OT wins at Michigan State/Kent State and they still haven’t lost. JMU has #27 eFG% in country; they’re forcing turnovers 21.8% of the time (#29).

Western Carolina, SoCon- Catamounts have Power 5 wins at Notre Dame, Vandy; WCU has been in the NCAA’s one time- they were a 16-seed in 1996, lost 73-71 to #1-seed Purdue.

Western Carolina also made the first 3-point shot in NCAA history, on November 29, 1980. Ronnie Carr made the shot.

Cal-Irvine, Big West- Anteaters haven’t been in NCAAs since 2019, when they upset Kansas State in a 4-13 game. Irvine always defends well; their subs are playing 8th most minutes in country, so they’ve got good depth.

Vermont, America East- Catamounts have been in four of last six NCAA Tournaments; they have wins over Charleston, Yale this season.

McNeese State, Southland- Will Wade has never had a losing season as a coach, whether at VCU, LSU or Chattanooga; his first team at McNeese is 10-2, shooting 41% on the arc, while playing a slow (#348) pace.

Joe Dumars’ alma mater hasn’t been to the NCAA’s since 2002; could this be their year? 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.