By Andrew Kahn
It seems like the college basketball season starts earlier and earlier every year. Games are being played all over the world, in arenas and on boats, but with football still going strong, much of the excitement gets lost in the shuffle. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are five noteworthy events from the weekend in college hoops.
Wake-up call for Wolfpack
North Carolina State, ranked No. 6 and the preseason favorite in the ACC, was crushed by unranked Oklahoma State on Sunday in the final of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic, 76-56. In their postgame comments, players and coaches from both sides noted that the Wolfpack lacked intensity and focus. Sophomore star Le’Bryan Nash led all scorers with 23 points for the Cowboys. Freshman Marcus Smart added 20.
Big Ten getting bigger?
According to reports, the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents may be voting today on whether or not the school will move from the ACC to the Big Ten. The thought is that if Maryland moves, Rutgers will as well, giving the Big Ten 14 teams. Conference realignment has everything to do with football, but how will the basketball programs be affected? From Maryland’s perspective, it looks like a lateral move. For Rutgers it would probably be a step up in competition, considering Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East (for the ACC) next season.
Rhode Island lost to eventual Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament champion Ohio State, 69-58, on Saturday night. But URI junior Xavier Munford provided the highlight of the game with his alley-oop dunk in the second half. Sprinting down the court on a fast break, the 6’2” junior caught the pass with just his right hand before placing his left hand on the ball and slamming it home.
Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng is known for his defense. His 128 blocked shots as a sophomore last year were a school record. And sure enough, against Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, Dieng’s paint presence contributed to Miami’s 29 percent shooting. But it was an offensive play that got the home crowd excited. Dieng received a pass as he was making a bee-line to the basket, took one step, and threw it down on a defender. Yes, the 6’11” Dieng had five inches on his challenger, but it was still impressive.
Hot from three
Two juniors caught fire from downtown on Sunday, helping their teams to easy wins. Both Baylor’s Brady Heslip and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick hit 8 of 12 three-pointers to score a career-high 29 points. Baylor beat St. John’s 97-78 to take third place in the Charleston Classic, while Cincy crushed North Carolina A&T at home, 93-39. Heslip shot 45 percent from deep last season, so these types of games are not uncommon for him.
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local who has written for ESPN the Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.