Wednesday in College Basketball was another really interesting day in the sport. Sure there weren’t really many marquee matchups, as there was a day ago, but there was still plenty of wackiness that went on and that’s what makes College Basketball awesome. Even when there are not supposed to be any high-level games, even when the matchup of the day provided a game with only 98 total points, the sport continues to deliver. I will also deliver with another daily roundup to react to Wednesday’s games.
Iowa State grits out ugly win against Texas Tech
Texas Tech at Iowa State provided us with the only Top-25 matchup of the day and it was not the prettiest basketball. A matchup of two Top-10 defensive teams in the sport was not set up to provide much offense but it was definitely one of the more interesting games to watch. Texas Tech only had 7 scholarship players, due to injuries and Covid, but they still gave great effort and earned a moral victory (which isn’t an actual victory). Iowa State led pretty much throughout the first half and led by 11 at the break, but scoring 0 points in the first 7 minutes and 4 points in the first 13 minutes of the second half allowed the Red Raiders to stay in the game and even take the lead. Then the play of the night saw Izaiah Brockington drill a three, get fouled and convert a four point play, which gave Iowa State the lead and they iced the game away at the line. This Iowa State team continues to add solid wins to their resumé, while this game won’t get people buying into them, they just win and that’s worth a lot. Both teams will be in the NCAA Tournament but Iowa State continues to improve their expected seed by getting these types of wins.
Strong second-half leads Alabama past Florida
In what was the premier matchup in the SEC, Alabama traveled to Florida trying to move to 2-0 in SEC play against a rusty Florida team. Florida led at the half 39-36 and fed their big man Collin Castleton to the lead, but the thing about basketball is that there are two halves and Alabama played differently in the second. The defense was the calling card for much of last season, and in the second half they played fantastic defensively, they were forcing turnovers, getting steals, and using that to get out in transition and take control of this game. The key in this game was of course the turnover battle, as they won the turnover battle 20-11 and used that to success. On nights where Alabama doesn’t shoot it well, like in this game, they have to use their defense to win games and in this game they won it on the defensive end. Their ability to go bonkers from deep can lead this team to beating mostly everyone but shooting is volatile, so being able to defend tough is key towards winning the SEC title.
Notre Dame gets win against North Carolina
In a game that didn’t get a ton of anticipation, Notre Dame picked up their second “blue blood” win of the season and moved back over .500 in ACC play. The Irish led pretty much throughout but felt susceptible to a loss when the Tar Heels went on a 24-10 run to take a 67-66 lead. Then Nate Laszewski drilled back-to-back threes to give Notre Dame the lead again, while they held on for a 78-73 win against North Carolina. Laszewski had a team-leading 20 points, including those two big threes, while Blake Wesley continues to be one of the better freshmen by scoring 18, while the Irish are still not in a position to get an at-large bid yet, having wins against North Carolina and Kentucky will go a long way towards helping them achieve that. As for North Carolina, they continue to be way too inconsistent, they trailed early and just didn’t get enough stops to have a chance to win this game, which seems to be an issue. They still should be able to get into the NCAA Tournament but by no means is it a lock, especially given they won’t have many quality opportunities left on their schedule.
Chattanooga adds quadrant two win at Wofford
Chattanooga is one of the mid-major teams that have a legitimate chance to get an at-large bid, but for that to take place they need to win a bunch of SoCon games and they need to do so against their toughest opponents. Wofford provided Chattanooga a quadrant two matchup, as they rated 105th in the NET entering this game. Chattanooga kept it close throughout but found a way to tough out this win, which will be key going forward. Malachi Smith continues to help his SoCon Player of the year case, scoring 24 points, while David Jean-Baptiste added 17, as Chattanooga moved to 12-3 overall. There is still a long way to go before they can start to feel decent about a potential at-large bid but they are on the right track.
Ace Baldwin and Isiaih Mosley deliver true Madness
These were two different games, but also two similar results as both teams won on incredible game-winning threes. Baldwin’s was not a true buzzer-beater, but he hit a stepback three late in the game to lift VCU to a 63-62 win on the road at Dayton, which stunned the crowd and was a big shot as VCU will try to chase down a potential Atlantic 10 title. Missouri State won at Bradley on a true buzzer-beater from Isiaih Mosley, as Missouri State trailed 69-68 before he hit the game-winning three. These two buzzer-beaters are awesome to watch and gives us a sense of March Madness even as we still are two months away.