The signature game of the season took place on Friday as Duke pulled off the upset of Gonzaga, winning 84-81 in what was a fantastic game. Most of this will be focused on that but there were other games elsewhere. Kansas lost to Dayton in a major upset, while Baylor won the Battle 4 Atlantis in dominating fashion, and Iowa State beat Memphis handily so let’s recap a fantastic Friday of College Basketball.
Duke gets signature win of the season
Coming into this season, Coach K retiring was all of the buzz of this season but not enough was talked about whether this team was one of the top teams in the sport. Friday, Duke showed that they are a legitimate title threat, as they took down #1 Gonzaga, winning 84-81. The Blue Devils got out to a great start thanks to Paolo Banchero, who had 20 first-half points en route to helping Duke take the lead. Duke then survived multiple runs in the second half and were able to make this game come down to the wire, despite dealing with hydration and foul issues. Thanks to made free throws and big shots by Jeremy Roach, Trevor Keels, and Wendell Moore, the Blue Devils took home a big victory.
Gonzaga takes first regular-season loss since February 2020
The last time Gonzaga lost was February of 2020 when the Bulldogs lost to BYU in the Mariott Center. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, it certainly takes away some of the pressure of having to win a National Championship while going undefeated and it’s not the worst to take an early loss. Timme, Holmgren, and Watson all dealt with foul trouble, Duke made some ridiculous shots, and Gonzaga missed easy looks, yet still, it was anyone’s game with a minute left. Sure Gonzaga didn’t win and will drop out of the number one ranking but it is undeniable that Gonzaga still has a great shot to win a National Championship.
Kansas needs a better David McCormack
Early on this season, David McCormack has been one of the bigger disappointments, as he has not picked up from where he left off a season ago and has struggled to start the season. McCormack ended this game with 5 points, 5 rebounds, on 2-6 shooting which just simply isn’t good enough. While there are plenty of other reasons to blame for Kansas losing this game (9-20 free throw shooting stands out), at the end of the day Kansas needs McCormack to be better and thus far he’s been not going up strong to the basket and playing scared. Ultimately, Kansas is going to need the best version of him if they stand any chance at winning a National Championship.
Dayton has made dramatic improvements
With as many freshmen as Dayton has, there were always going to be some growing pains, of course losing to Lipscomb, Umass-Lowell, and Austin Peay is as bad as it gets, this team definitely has taken a step forward just in this Tournament. The freshmen were great in this one, DaRon Holmes was big inside, scoring 16 points while outplaying McCormack, Malachi Smith had 10 points and 6 assists, and Mustapha Amzil hit the game-winner. It is good to see this team improving, sure they’ve might have already cost themselves an at-large bid, but if they show improvement, there’s nothing saying this team can’t get back to the NCAA Tournament, especially if they win the A10 Tournament.
TJ Otzelberger proves to be the answer at head coach
Coming off a rough season, Iowa State hired TJ Otzelberger, who coached at South Dakota State and UNLV, although he was not a prototypical great choice, he has worked out great. Adding a star in Tyrese Hunter has certainly helped, while Izaiah Brockington, Tristan Enaruna, and Gabe Kalscheur have all worked brilliantly coming into the program. It remains to be seen what this team will look like later in the season, but for now, they belong in the Top-25 thanks to wins over Xavier and Memphis.
Memphis’ offense struggles
The offense has simply not been good for Memphis thus far in the year and it doesn’t appear to be getting better either. The team is turning the ball over way too much, when they do shoot, it’s a bad shot, and there’s no offensive rhythm. With as much talent as this team has, there should be no excuse to shoot 35% for the game. Their defense will carry them to some wins, but the offense doesn’t appear to be showing up anytime soon and that’s a problem.
Baylor’s athleticism overwhelms Spartans
Baylor won the Battle 4 Atlantis title by beating Michigan State 75-58 in the title game. The Bears didn’t play well for much of the first half but there seemed to be one common theme, Baylor was bigger. Once the game turned to the second, the Bears started to get downhill offensively, attacking the rim at will and getting quality shots. Baylor was the fresher, more athletic team and in the end, that made the difference in the basketball game, as Baylor grabbed a decent lead and won handily.