Another day of College Basketball is in the history books, and while the day didn’t have a terrific amount of games or upsets, there’s still plenty to talk about when it comes to Sunday’s action. The ESPN Events Invitational had the majority of the games to talk about, with four decent matchups to talk about, and a lot of the remainder of the slate was pretty light as well. With the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge set for this week, first, it’s time to recap Sunday’s action.
Dayton is the king of Orlando
Dayton completed the major shocker of Feast Week as they won the ESPN Events Invitational, as they beat Belmont 63-61 in the title game. Sure the field wasn’t overly deep, with only two for sure tournament teams, plus upsets were a theme, setting up an odd title game, and we had a winner and it was the Dayton Flyers. Coming off an upset win against Kansas, the Flyers struggled a little bit offensively but they were still able to stay ahead for the second half. Sure Belmont made their runs at Dayton, but in the end, the Flyers did just enough and made clutch shots to put the game away. Three terrible buy game losses had this team looking like the worst team in this field coming in, but this freshmen group bought in and for three days they were the best team against a decent field. We’ll see what the rest of this season entails, but for now, Dayton has at least something to celebrate.
Kansas rebounds with great offensive performance against Iona
Coming off a tough loss against Dayton, Kansas rebounded in a major way by scoring 96 points against a good Iona defense. Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji proved to be dominant on the wing, scoring 35 points combined. David McCormack had his best game of the year, scoring 13 points himself, Joe Yesufu, and KJ Adams provided energy and scoring off the bench as well. This defense still has things to work out, especially late in the shot clock, but Kansas is back on the right track after a stunning loss to Dayton.
Bench shows improvement in Villanova’s win at LaSalle
Villanova has lost two games this season because of their lack of bench production, but that was not the case against LaSalle. In the return of the Big-5 games, Villanova beat LaSalle 72-46, and the bench proved key. Caleb Daniels had 11 off the bench, Chris Arcidiacano had 6, Trey Patterson played key minutes, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree returned to play games. The bench doesn’t have to be fantastic, but if it can help out similarly to this game, they have a chance to achieve their ultimate goal of winning a title.
Drake finishes 0-3 at the ESPN Events Invitational
Being in a league like the Missouri Valley, there are only so many opportunities to build an at-large bid and Drake may have just missed all of those opportunities by going 0-3 in Orlando. The Bulldogs struggled to a total of 54 points in a 57-54 loss to North Texas in the 7th place game of this Tournament. They needed to get 1-2 wins in this Tournament to at least stay around the bubble line, and by going 0-3, they slip into a major hole. The worst part is that they seem to have lost the spark that they had a season ago, they seem less well-connected and are playing more iso basketball, which was apparent today.
Huge second half powers Alabama
Alabama struggled through much of the first half against a bad Miami team but rebounded by outsourcing Miami 63-34 in the second half en route to a 96-64 win. The Tide won big in the way you would expect, they went bonkers from the perimeter, shooting 16-30, while they hustled Miami on the glass, winning that battle 42-23. With the hustle and competitive energy that Alabama brings on any given occasion, paired with their three-point shooting, it would have been hard for Duke or Gonzaga to beat Alabama, much less this Miami team.