While College Basketball was never going to get much run on National TV with College Football having priority, that does not mean that it wasn’t a great day of College Basketball. The Hall of Fame Classic took place with four Top-20 teams, and that led to one great game and one not-so-great game. We also had some signature mid-major moments as well to make note of, so let’s break down what we saw from this day of games.
Purdue guards carry them to a signature win
Playing a big game against a good North Carolina team, the Boilermakers had an opportunity to prove they were legit and they answered the bell. Sasha Stefanovic was hot in this game notching a team-leading 23 points. Jaden Ivey did everything, he made highlight plays, scored 22 points, grabbed 10 boards, added 6 assists, and was instrumental in the 9-0 run that put the Boilermakers on top. The frontcourt duo of Edey and Williams is the main headliner for the team, but to win big-time games they need their guards to have these types of performances like they had against North Carolina on Saturday.
Defense continues to struggle for North Carolina
While North Carolina played better than I thought it would in this matchup, and the offense remains spectacular to start the season, we still need to talk about this defense. The Heels have given up 80 or more points now in 3 of their 4 games, and while I know the team plays at a higher pace than most, that’s still no excuse for poor defense. The Heels did a decent job of not getting eaten alive inside but instead got beat by Ivey and Stefanovic. The Boilermakers wound up shooting 55% from the floor, which is really good and that’s the main concern. Sure, the Tar Heels will be able to make the NCAA Tournament and could win the ACC playing this way, but if this team wants to make a deep run, it starts with fixing the defense.
Villanova blows out Tennessee
Did you know that coming into this day, Villanova-Tennessee was supposed to be the close game of these two matchups. You wouldn’t have known it watching 40 minutes of this game as the Wildcats rolled. The two teams were similar in skillsets and talent, but you could see which team was coached by which coach. The well-disciplined Wildcats picked apart a good Tennessee defense with precision, while Tennessee looked like a group of gazelles, out there to get swallowed up by a good Villanova defense. Sure, Tennessee will play better as the season goes along, but this was a great way to keep the Final Four expectations from getting in people’s heads for this team.
Malachi Smith lifts Chattanooga to big win
One thing I am heavily vying for this season was a 2 bid SoCon and lone behold, Chattanooga seems to be ready to answer my request. The Mocs won 56-54 thanks to a Malachi Smith jumper, that was essentially at the buzzer. Smith had 20 points and is looking like the potential SoCon Player of the year, while Silvio De Sousa stepping in and scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds was impactful. Sure there’s a ton of season left, but if the Mocs can keep this momentum up through Conference play, the committee might just put them in as an at-large bid, assuming of course that they don’t win their league title.
Colgate drops 100 on Syracuse
Colgate has been the premier program in the Patriot League as of late, so winning at Syracuse shouldn’t come as much of a surprise but what did to me, wad they hung 100 in the process. Jack Ferguson had 25 of those. Colgate is a well-rounded team but this once again shows how volatile the zone can be for opponents, some teams could score 100, others might score 60. The key for Syracuse is making sure the latter happens more often than not.
Drake comes from behind to beat Richmond
In what was an early-season potential big bubble battle, between two teams that really needed victories to help bolster their NCAA Tournament resumé, and ultimately Drake was able to get the victory. Richmond led for pretty much the entire game but Tremell Murphy hit big shots throughout, while Roman Penn sealed the victory away late. Sure, there’s a long way to go in this season but these are the type of games that could define which teams ultimately dance, and for Drake to get this win, they move a step closer towards that goal.