Sunday provided us with another solid day of College Basketball games, even in a day where there weren’t a ton of games, we still got a couple of upsets, as well as a marquee matchup between two Top-10 teams. Sure, that game wasn’t all that close as Baylor won in commanding fashion, but there were plenty of other great games to discuss in the daily roundup.
Baylor overpowers Villanova to reach #1 ranking
When the polls come out Monday morning there will be a new #1 team and it will be the Baylor Bears, who dominated against Villanova on Sunday. It will be the first time the Bears will achieve the #1 ranking since February of 2020 (yes, they won a title and there should be a postseason poll). In doing so, the Bears took care of Villanova soundly, beating them 57-36 in a game that really was never close. From the jump, Baylor just overmatched Villanova. The Bears’ front line of Flo Thamba, Kendall Brown, Jeremy Sochan, Matthew Mayer, and “Everyday John” continues to cause havoc for teams because of their size, speed, and athleticism. The Bears forced Villanova into taking a lot of contested shots, with much of them being guarded looks from deep.
It was really a matchup that felt like NBA size vs College size, as the Wildcats just weren’t able to get any halfway decent looks against this athletic Bears team. Offensively, it was James Akinjo who had the best game, scoring 16 points, granted Baylor wasn’t great on that end. The Bears’ inconsistencies and inability to have a true go-to scorer will be the thing that prevents them from winning a National Championship, but they certainly are capable of winning it thanks to this defense. With this size, this is a team that can matchup and oftentimes overwhelm teams athletically, which they did in this game, the lone concern left is offensively speaking, which has still been good to start the season.
For Villanova, I’m not sure they have what it takes to win a National Championship and this is now the third marquee game in a row to back that up. They run good offensive sets, play tough scrappy defense, but that isn’t enough along. The games against Purdue and UCLA were close, but they had some matchup advantages to help them along the way. They just had no matchup for Baylor’s defense and were overwhelmed on both sides of the ball. Sure they can win the Big East title but come March, this lack of athleticism will be what prevents them from winning a Championship.
Pirates win Garden State Hardwood Classic title with win against Rutgers.
In the yearly battle for the King of New Jersey, Seton Hall got a commanding 77-63 win against Rutgers to win the title. This is just the latest example of this Pirates team performing at a high level when the lights are at their brightest as this is a big game for both programs. Bryce Aiken continues to play like the potential All-Big East player he could be, scoring 22 points off the bench, Jared Rhoden had 16, while five Pirates scored in double figures. Sure Rutgers was seemingly destined to struggle after their upset against Purdue, but they played well for much of the game. In the end, Seton Hall just has more firepower and is a legitimate threat to win the Big East, while Rutgers is a middle to lower half Big Ten team.
South Carolina rallies to beat Florida State
This is a game where Florida State is supposed to win and win big, playing in Rock Hill South Carolina might have given the Gamecocks some advantage but on paper that shouldn’t have mattered. As was expected, the Noles got out to a 16-point lead but struggled to close the game. The Gamecocks went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, while Devin Carter hit the shot to put South Carolina up for good. This is just another example of the ACC struggling this season, the Seminoles were expected to finish third in the ACC, but this loss is just another example of this team being young. Caleb Mills and Malik Osborne had solid games but didn’t step up late offensively, and they are the main scoring options. This Florida State team has a lot of work to do and if it takes any time, that could be what keeps them out of the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland gets ranked win thanks to late shot
With the post-Mark Turgeon era beginning, the Terrapins hoped to get a win over a ranked opponent Sunday, with Florida being the victim of defeat. This was a game that was close throughout and thus provided late-game drama. In the end, it was Donta Scott who hit the post shot to put Maryland up, while Tyree Appleby misses the game-winning three-point attempt. For Florida, this is a bad week and a bad way to finish the week. Losing to Texas Southern was bad in itself, but losing to a Maryland team that just lost their coach isn’t good either, that’s a stinger. Florida finds itself in the same exact situation with White, as Maryland had with Turgeon. Sure both coaches are good coaches, but neither elevate their roster into making Final Fours on a consistent basis.
Oregon loses again on buzzer-beater
What better way to finish a great week of College Basketball with a buzzer-beater from Jaiden Dalaire to lift Stanford to a 72-69 win against Oregon. This is a nice win for a Stanford program that while unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament, still is hoping to get some sort of postseason berth following the season. Oregon continues to be the most disappointing team in the sport for me, I didn’t think they would necessarily have NCAA title hopes, but the roster and coaching led me to think this team would be a clear Top-25 team. At this point, they are destined to miss the NCAA Tournament unless they dramatically turn around the season and get a couple of wins against Arizona, UCLA, or USC.