In terms of notable games, Monday provided a major upset as Southern beat Florida, while Illinois beat Iowa. For me, a person who does Bracketology, the NCAA releasing their first NET Rankings of the season was the bigger headline of the day. These will update daily but having these is a good indicator of which teams/ leagues have put themselves in position to get Tournament bids. The roundup will open on Texas Southern and Illinois’ wins, before my takeaways from the NET rankings.
Florida falls victim to major upset
Playing against an 0-7 Texas Southern team, the #20 Florida Gators seemed to have an easy win in-store. That was not the case though as the Gators fell to the Tigers 69-54 in a game that was never close. In getting this win they became the first SWAC team to beat a ranked SEC team. It was a game that was never really close, the Tigers had a good shooting night but also outrebounded Florida 46-23 as well. This is just proof that teams need to show up to play no matter who the opponent is, especially with the amount of talent at the mid-major level.
Illinois wins high-scoring affair at Iowa
In what was the most competitive game of the night, Illinois went on the road and beat Iowa. It was another game where Alfonso Plummer had a big game, as he had 21. Jacob Grandison had 21 points as well coming off the bench as he continues to be a good sixth man, while Kofi Cockburn had a casual 17 points and 17 rebounds while attracting much of the defensive attention. This Illini team seems to be back to playing as expected in the preseason. Trent Frazier has been good as the lead guard, Cockburn has found his rhythm, plus the tertiary options are stepping up.
Big Ten braces for a high amount of bids
I think everyone knew Purdue would take the #1 spot in the NET rankings, but having ten teams in the Top-70 and eight teams in the Top-50 of the NET were a pleasant surprise for the league. Minnesota and Northwestern being in the Top-50 seems fluky but with the other eight teams, they seem to be solidly in position to get an at-large bid. That is of course assuming they don’t lose to 217th ranked Rutgers, who had Tournament expectations in the preseason.
Big 12 has 90% of their league in the Top-75
The key to getting a bunch of bids is by having most of your league within the Top-75 of the NET rankings, and no league has done a better job to start than the Big 12. Everyone except TCU ranks inside the Top-75 of the NET rankings, and even TCU ranks inside the Top-140. That means any road matchup against a Big 12 team would be a quadrant one matchup. When league play starts, having this amount of depth will result in every team in the league having a potential Tournament resumé.
Wagner is this year’s Colgate
Every year there’s always one team that is objectively way too high in the NET and Wagner seems to be that team. The Seahawks came in at 23rd in the NET rankings, which is in large part due to them having only played 4 games to this point. They are unlikely to finish the season with that ranking due to them playing more games, but for now, they are that mid-major program ranked way too high.
PAC-12 poised for disastrous season
The good news for the PAC-12 is that Arizona (3) and USC (7) both debuted Top-10 in the NET rankings. The bad news, well everything else about the league. UCLA was ranked 33rd, which is fine but not Top-5 like they were preseason. Utah (57) and Washington State (61) had the dignity to show up in non-conference play and be Top-70 in the NET rankings, but that’s it. Everyone else was ranked outside the Top-100, Oregon, who was a preseason Top-20 team was ranked at 153rd, while Arizona State (221), Washington (231), and Oregon State (261) all ranked outside the Top-200. The league is poised for getting only three teams in the Tournament and would be fortunate to get a fourth bid. The league had some major momentum going after last season’s NCAA Tournament but by being this bad as a whole in the first month, the league failed to capitalize on that momentum.