7 Food Stands From College Basketball’s First Week

1) We need a better selection of games to start the season

Opening night should be one of the most exciting nights of the season not just in college basketball but in all sports. Last Monday there were over 100 games on TV with some of the top ranked teams in action……but there was a problem. Neither of them actually played in a game that anyone wanted to see. There wasn’t a single two-player game from the Power 6 conferences.

The only games that caused even a bit of a stir from a fan’s perspective were Memphis-Vanderbilt and Auburn-George Mason. These coaches deserve credit for planning their teams to play a challenging game on opening night. However, it’s a big problem for esports if there aren’t any games worth watching on your premiere night. There are plenty of coaches with unlimited job security who could afford to attend a huge opening night game.

While there were some solid games in the end, based on shocking upsets from mid-tier teams, that doesn’t change the point that there had to be better games on opening night. In years past, the Champions Classic has featured Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State on opening night, always giving fans something to look forward to. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen this season as election day took place last Tuesday.

Even under such circumstances, there had to be at least a couple of two-program games that most college basketball fans are familiar with. Especially if you are competing with some other sports at this time of year.

2) “Louisville’s Struggles” was the biggest storyline of opening week

Just three years ago, under Chris Mack, the Cardinals were the number one team in the country and number one in the world. That didn’t take long, because just three years later, the Louisville Basketball Program could be breaking new ground. As poor as the 2022 season was for Louisville, it was obvious that Chris Mack wasn’t getting the job done in the recruiting ranks. For a program as big as Louisville, it was unacceptable that their original point guard was a transfer from Marshall, and they also relied on several former JUCO players to get the job done.

Although Chris Mack’s failures were astounding considering how quickly everything happened, Kenny Payne seemed like the perfect man to hire him. Payne was known as a recruiter who would be able to hire much better players. Especially in today’s new version of college basketball, where every player has at least one chance to switch and play straight away.

Payne didn’t bring any significant differences in the first offseason, adding Tennessee’s Brandon Huntley-Hatfield as the only transfer from the Power 6 ranks. That lack of talent carried over to the floor as the 2022 season opened, as Louisville lost its first two games to Bellarmine and Wright State. Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse than they were under Mack, the start of the Kenny Payne era was just that.

3) The Pac 12 continues to injure itself in non-conference play

Although UCLA and USC’s move to the Big Ten was largely based on money and the football side of things, from an overall perspective we’ve already seen why the Pac 12 conference has been so behind the ball for the past several years. In just over a week of play, the Pac 12 Conference has already lost five games and the conference has zero losses. This has been a trend in recent years as there have been a handful of Pac 12 teams that have been eliminated from contention for the NCAA tournament due to poor performances against lower-level competitors before conference play has even started.

Arizona State, a consistent member in that category, fell to Texas Southern on Sunday. Additionally, Oregon, which ranks in the top 25, lost to UC Irvine at home with 13, and it wasn’t even that close. Even USC, which was one of the consistently really good teams at the conference, was evicted from its home floor by Andy Enfield’s former program, Florida Gulf Coast.

Even though Arizona and UCLA are getting back to normal and getting back to the top of college basketball, it’s still not enough to save this Pac 12 conference. Teams like Stanford, Washington, California and others that used to be regulars at the NCAA tournament have fallen and failed to recover.

Even Colorado, which had the Pac 12’s best-ever win of the season against Tennessee on Sunday, lost an unacceptable game to Grambling State on Friday night. The conference even had two opportunities to regain some momentum, but Washington state fell to Boise state and Stanford to Wisconsin. Even in the last few years that UCLA and USC are present, this league continues to stand in its own way and prevents any success.

4) Gonzaga was overrated by many heading into the season

Mark Few had propelled Gonzaga into one of college basketball’s elite programs, and for the past two years there hasn’t been a better program than the Zags. Besides, if Gonzaga hasn’t been able to win a national title in each of the last two seasons, then this team won’t be able to either. The amount of talent Gonzaga has lost after each of the past two seasons is something that hasn’t been talked about enough.

Gonzaga has lost four players who were in the first round of the NBA draft during that span, Jalen Suggs, Chet Holmgren, Corey Kispert, and Andrew Nembhard. They also lost Joel Ayayi, who currently plays in the NBA G-League. That’s a lot of lost talent that’s very difficult to replace.

Drew Timme is one of the best players in all of sport, and without his 22 points and 13 rebounds, Gonzaga would have lost to Michigan State on Friday night. However, unless Gonzaga’s guard is among the elite, it’s hard to imagine this team as a true contender for the national championship.

Big things were expected of sophomore Nolan Hickman at point guard, but we haven’t seen that this season or at any point in his collegiate career so far. Hickman was benched in the second half of Friday’s game and finished the game with 10 points on a 4/11 shot from the field. Chattanooga signing Malachi Smith, who was also expected to contribute in the backcourt, finished the game with zero assists and three turnovers. Gonzaga will need a better guard game if they are to be considered a legitimate contender for the National Championship, and I’m not sure they have that after Friday night’s game.

5) The same applies to Florida

Unlike Gonzaga, Florida wasn’t ranked in the top 5 or considered a realistic contender for the national championship, but it was unreasonable to think that Todd Golden would come straight to Gainesville and find success, especially right away. While he’s a clear upgrade from Mike White and there’s some talent in this Florida team, there will always be the best players to beat analytics. Analytics has always been and always will be about cutting margins and using numbers to exploit the smallest inefficiencies. These inefficiencies will not make up for the talent gaps.

That wasn’t even Florida’s problem Monday night as they lost at home to Florida Atlantic for the first time in the program’s history. This loss isn’t the end of the world for the Gators, but for a team that’s been labeled SEC and Final-4 sleepers, losing to Florida Atlantic is a bad start. Things aren’t getting any easier for the Gators either as they will travel to Tallahassee to take on a desperate Florida State team before competing in the PK85.

There was also a valid reason that Golden’s San Francisco team shouldn’t have been an NCAA tournament team last season. Their main argument for getting in was based on the advanced numbers, but their wins didn’t necessarily come across a ton of teams playing in the big dance. In fact, Davidson and UAB were the only two teams to beat San Francisco last season to make the NCAA tournament. Both teams lost in their opening games, and UAB just wouldn’t have been selected if they hadn’t won their conference tournament.

A lot of people have been very high on this Florida team going into the season and there’s still plenty of time for them to turn things around. It’s no guarantee, however, as this was one of the most overrated teams in college basketball heading into the season.

6) Tennessee needs to be more consistent offensively or it will cost them

I was someone who was very high on that preseason Tennessee team, despite another heartbreaking early loss at the NCAA tournament in 2022. The Vols have brought back much of their team from last season, including Santiago Vescovi, Joshiah Jordan -James, Zakai Ziegler and more. The only key guy they didn’t bring back was former McDonald’s All American and current Memphis Grizzly Kennedy Chandler. Although Chandler was a very talented player, there was hope that Zakai Zigler would follow in his footsteps while the other guys around him would make up for the lost goal.

Zachary Krull

Zachary Krull

Zac Krull has been covering college basketball for the past 2 years while collaborating with Aaron Torres of Aaron Torres Media and recording his own Zac Krull Sports Podcast. Zac currently writes online weekly articles as a contributor to Aaron Torres and works as a producer for the BETQL Network. Zac graduated from SUNY Cortland in 2021 with a degree in exercise science.

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