Much has been made of Long Beach State playing five non-conference opponents who were ranked in the Top 15 of the major preseason polls. Many wondered how Dan Monson's team would navigate such a slate in spite of the fact that this experienced group went through a similar schedule last season. If Wednesday night showed anything about the 49ers it's that they're ready for the challenge, as they handed Pittsburgh its' first loss in November or December at the Petersen Events Center in the history of the arena.
After wins over Belmont and Presbyterian moved Mike Krzyzewski into a tie with Bob Knight for the most wins in college basketball history, many at Madison Square Garden were hoping that the Duke head coach would become the record-holder with a win over Michigan State on Tuesday night. But while some went as far as to almost assume the game to be a coronation of sorts, Tom Izzo's Spartans refused to back down.
As part of our
5-Year Ranking series,
here's how the Pac-12 teams stack up according to conference wins. With the
exception of Oregon St, every team in the league has had at least two .500
seasons or better in the last five years. The league adds Utah, who was a
mid-level MWC team, and Colorado, who was in the bottom rung of the Big 12.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have some impressive offensive performers that Washington State likely made themselves very aware of in preparation for their game at midnight. Elias Harris and Robert Sacre are formidable frontcourt players while Marquise Carter is a jet-quick point guard who is more than willing to attack defenses. But if the Cougars had a plan for how to slow down freshman guard Kevin Pangos it sure didn't look like it.
ESPN's 24-hour college hoops tipoff marathon will get off to a good start at midnight as rivals Washington State and Gonzaga meet at The Kennel in Spokane. The Cougars have embarked on life without Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, and while that means they've got a lot of scoring to account for Ken Bone's got some established returnees back to lead a solid recruiting class. As for Gonzaga, the best news for them may be the health of junior foward Elias Harris.
In all honesty it shouldn't come as a surprise that UCLA struggled with an in-state non-conference opponent, the very teams that most in the fan base expect the Bruins to simply roll over regardless of their level of interest. But in recent seasons it's become more of an issue as the Bruins haven't been talented enough to simply flip the switch, and there was another hard lesson to learn in the LA Sports Arena. The preseason pick to win the Pac-12 shot 40.7% from the field and made just two of fifteen from beyond the arc in a 69-58 loss to Loyola Marymount.
Friday marks the first big day of the college basketball season with more than 100 games on the schedule. Sure most of the games look to be of the "opening sacrifice" variety, but a closer look reveals some intriguing matchups. It only makes sense to begin with the game that needs little introduction, the Carrier Classic game matching preseason national title favorite North Carolina and Michigan State. The game will be played on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, which will likely cue a few "I'm on a boat" jokes.
While much of the college sports world was captivated by the goings on in State College, PA, four college basketball games were being played. And one of the four teams expected to win fell at the hands of the defending MAC Tournament champs, but in hindsight it wasn't much of an "upset". Behind 19 points from Quincy Diggs the Zips beat Mississippi State 68-58 at The Hump. Simply put, Keith Dambrot's team outworked and outplayed the Bulldogs, who weren't as effective as they were on Monday night and it cost them.
Tonight brings the second day of college basketball games that count with the four host teams in the 2K Sports Classic Benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer on the floor. Arizona, Mississippi State and St. John's all played games on Monday night, and tonight marks the beginning of the season for the Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies are expected by many to contend in the Big 12, but things haven't gone as smoothly as anyone connected to the program would have hoped.
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