The College Basketball season rolled on Wednesday with another really solid, but not incredible slate of games. The Big Ten exacted some revenge in the Gavitt Games, although the Big Ten didn’t go without facing a major upset. There were some other decent matchups and interesting results that took place, so let’s get into the daily roundup.
Kim English is legit
While Maryland was a team that I think most people thought was overrated and not warranted of their Top-20 ranking, that is irrelevant. What is relevant is George Mason for what feels like the first time since 2006. The Patriots have gotten off to a 4-0 start, with the biggest win coming as they beat Maryland on the road 71-66. The transfer additions of D’Shawn Schwartz, Devon Cooper, and Davonte Gaines have all filled in seamlessly, while this team is now in the NCAA Tournament race. This credit should go largely to Kim English, who was the architect of Tennessee having major success and now has this team undefeated in this early season. It is hard to know how much longer English will be at George Mason, but for as long as he is there, this Patriots team will compete near the top of the A10.
Julian Champagnie has signature performance in loss
St. John’s lost the game, but Julian Champagnie had the performance that had him on All-American lists coming into the preseason. Champagnie had 32 points and was the sole reason that the Red Storm were able to hang around. Sure, he lost, but it reminds me a little bit of 2019 Myles Powell vs Michigan, where even though his team lost, most respect how good he is as a player and it eventually led to some postseason awards. As for St. John’s, they looked pretty clearly like an NCAA Tournament team in this performance, and if the Red Storm are able to make the Tournament, Champagnie should be the recipient of the Big East Player of the year award.
Indiana gets a gritty win
These are the type of games where Indiana always found a way to end up losing, but tonight the Hoosiers were able to get a nice win against a likely NCAA Tournament team in St. John’s. Indiana jumped out to a solid lead, but St. John’s kept coming, they tied it on multiple occasions and had a chance late to take it away from Indiana, but the Hoosiers held strong. Race Thompson hit a huge basket to keep the Hoosiers up, and after a masterful full-court press was set up on the last possession of the game, Julian Champagnie ended up with a low-percentage three that didn’t go in and the Hoosiers won. Whether it was the players, coaching, or shooting, the team stepped up in a big way and now moved Indiana into a position where they might be able to move into the Top-25.
Michigan State shows form
A little over a week ago, the Spartans lost to a really good Kansas team and that left some wondering just how good this Michigan State team is. The answer at least for this game was really good. Max Christie had a breakout performance, scoring 18 points while the Spartans controlled the game from tip-off to the final buzzer. There are questions about the backcourt duo of Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard being good enough at the point to lead this team deep into the NCAA Tournament, and Joey Hauser might be needing to get benched, but this is a team that still will be very solid this year.
Flyers continue to struggle
Dayton was on track to be a #1 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, while they had the National Player of the year in Obi Toppin, plus Anthony Grant won the National Coach of the year. Since then, it’s been a major downward spiral. Last year was weird for many different reasons, but they should have been at least competitive for an NCAA Tournament spot, which they weren’t. While they have had three buy games to start the season, while they’ve only won one of those games. This roster wasn’t designed to necessarily get this team to the NCAA Tournament, as this team is so young. That said, getting run out of the gym by Lipscomb is flat-out embarrassing. Lipscomb was better from the tip-off and Dayton really had no good answers to Lipscomb’s plan. Sure there will be development from these younger players throughout the season and the future will hopefully be bright, but the question is whether Dayton missed their window to capitalize on that outstanding 2020 season.