With the advent of the new year, it is time for group play! And while teams still have plenty of time to build their resume before March, the end of traditional no-conference play is a good time to look at what we’ve seen so far in men’s college basketball. Who came up with the best win? Worst loss? Who deserves to be honored as Player of the Year? Sports Illustrated Answer those questions and more in ints nonconference superlatives.
Best game: Duke vs.
The phrase “felt like March” is overused in college hoops speech, but this game actually she did Feel like you’re facing the Elite Eight or the Final Four. Played in front of the largest audience for a basketball game in Nevada history, this game lived up to the hype and more. Entering, Gonzaga felt nearly unbeatable after the UCLA bombing earlier that week. But Paulo Banchero’s scoring blast in the first half dealt Zag an early blow, and Duke olds Wendell Moore Jr. and Mark Williams made huge second-half plays to carry the Blue Devils across the finish line. Each team had several future NBA players on the ground and Hall of Fame coaches on their sidelines. It was everything you could ever want in a game without conferences.
Best win: Alabama vs Gonzaga
The revolving door at the top of the AP Poll this season has been largely due to the elite teams’ inability to win on the road. The Duke lost at Ohio State on the heels of a win at Gonzaga and the Purdue lost to Rutgers days after taking the first-ever finish. But no team has a better road (or half-way) than Alabama’s victory over Gonzaga in Seattle. While Seattle is across the state from the Gonzaga Campus in Spokane, Zags certainly had the home grounds advantage in terms of travel and fans being in this spot. However, Crimson Tide exploded from the depths, drilling 13 triples in a stunning win to open this two-year streak between clubs. With his win over Gonzaga and Houston at the convention and an early SEC victory over Tennessee, Tide has one of the best resumes in the sport entering the new year.
Worst Loss: Washington to Northern Illinois
Expectations weren’t high in Seattle entering what many believed to be a successful year for Mike Hopkins at the University of Wisconsin, but this opening night, 71-64 clunker was particularly awkward. The Northern Illinois team that went 3-16 last season and finished 337th at Kienbaum came to Seattle and fired the Husky, helped by the fact that Washington fired 27% from the field and missed 15 free throws. Winning others niu this season? KenPom wins over No. 349 Eastern Illinois and No. 354 Chicago State. Not exactly the best company to keep for a big company like Washington.
Best moment: Mostafa Amzel banged the bell against Kansas
This moment has it all. An almost impossibly beeping beat with a piercing bounce to complete a wonderful turbulence, all with my fifth cock on the call?
The moment the ball bounces off the edge and the crowd is silent for a split second before it falls over the net is unbelievable. I can watch that shot all day.
Best Performance in a Game: Johnny Davis, 30 points vs. Houston
I had a front row seat to this amazing show of footage in what would become an upcoming party of sorts for Davis and this young Badgers team. The sophomore sensation took over the game in the first half to help Wisconsin take an early lead, then took huge shots along the stretch to help fend off the mighty Cougars in the closing moments. Suspending 30 on one of the best defenses in the country remains the most impressive thing I’ve seen all year in college hoops, and it was his explosion in Las Vegas that propelled him up the big NBA boards in a potential lottery pick.
The most surprising team: Iowa
Iowa State won two games last year. Both games were against SWAC teams. And while the Hurricanes’ unbeaten season ended Saturday against Baylor, that doesn’t change how awesome ISU’s start was. Using a combination of transfers and a new elite man on Tyrese Hunter, TJ Otzelberger has compiled a roster talented enough to compete in the Big 12 and with a chip big enough on her collective shoulder to win some games she shouldn’t. I have my doubts that the Hurricanes will remain in the top 15 all season, but the fact that this is an obvious first-year NCAA team is great news for the future and a strong case for Ötzelberger as this year’s national candidate.
Go to follow
Most disappointing team: Memphis
Oregon is also in the conversation with this one, but the hype around Memphis in pre-season was simply on a different level. But despite all the talent on this Tigers’ roster, Penny Hardaway’s started 7-5 which included some hurtful resume losses for Georgia, Ole Mays and Murray before losing the opening conference to Tulane. The Tigers had major chemical problems, their offensive was crippled and they missed a huge CV-building opportunity against Tennessee before Christmas because not enough of the squad had been vaccinated against COVID-19. There is still time for Memphis to change it up, but the path to an all-encompassing show gets narrower and narrower with each passing loss.
Best Player: AJ Liddell, Ohio State
Liddell has been nothing short of a monster this season for the Buckeyes. The youngster has expanded his game in every season of his career and returned to school in 2021-2022 with a better hit and blocker than he had before a season. Injuries and defections in the NBA have helped Liddell around him less than he did last year, but it didn’t matter: Liddell still had 9-2 Pokeies. He is very efficient and can create for others and has become a great defender too.
Best Newcomer: Oscar Chiboy, Kentucky
Those who had been familiar with Tshiebwe since his prep career and the AAU knew that leading the country in rebounding was well within Tshiebwe’s abilities. But John Calipari made the most of his massive move from West Virginia, getting Chiboy to play hard at both ends and turning him into one of the top positions in college basketball. Tshiebwe’s combination of high physical gear and high engines makes him a threat on the inside, and his blast of 28 rebounds against Western Kentucky continues to be one of the most impressive performances of the season.
Quite simply, Oscar makes watching bouncing balls fun…unless you’re a fan of the opposing team.
Watch college basketball games Online all season with fuboTV: Get started with a 7-day free trial!
Best Coach: Minnesota Ben Johnson
I expected nothing of Minnesota in my first year under Johnson, who surprisingly got the head job at his alma mater straight from being an assistant at Xavier. It felt like handing a list of the Big Ten’s least talented to a head coach for the first time was a recipe for disaster. Instead, Johnson did a great job of making the most of the menu with obvious limitations. The Golden Gophers have little or no depth, lack size up front and didn’t have a proven base-caliber Big Ten player on their roster in pre-season. What he’s got from the transfers of Payton Willis (College of Charleston) and Jamison Battle (George Washington) has been incredibly impressive, and Johnson has done a great job plotting the game around his team’s limitations to put together a disciplined group that never outdoes itself. the floor.
In pre-season, I would have been a little surprised if Minnesota won 10 games all season. Will you hit 10 wins before Christmas and be in a position to dance? This is a general coach material.
More college basketball coverage:
• Auburn rises to the top 25 in the men’s AP
• Nikki Cullen Tracks Her Own Path at Baylor
• NCAA: Tournaments continue as planned
Sports Illustrated You may receive compensation for certain links to products and services on this site.