The first week of the college basketball season technically doesn’t end until Tuesday, but we have made it through the first weekend of games. With a lot of things to take away from specific teams and conferences, a new article idea has come to life. Some of the biggest storylines from the week are from the top two games of the week.
These were #2 UCLA vs #4 Villanova and #5 Texas vs #1 Gonzaga. A bunch of teams had spectacular starts to their seasons. Others were hit with Jon Rothstein’s “Epitome of brutality” tweets. The weekly “Big and Bust” pieces will usually have three teams in each category.
The “Big” is for teams that impressed or came away with big wins during said week. The “Bust” category is for teams that underperformed for the week. Easy enough, right? Here are your nominees for the Week 1 edition of Big and Bust.
Ohio Bobcats- Wins: Belmont, Cleveland State
Week 1 Record: 2-0
The Ohio Bobcats are one of the mid-major teams that have impressed fans so far this season. The Ohio/Belmont matchup was one of the best games to look forward to on the opening night of college basketball, besides the Champions Classic. Belmont is the favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference this season and Ohio took pretty easy care of the Bruins, 90-82. Three Bobcats finished with 19 or more points in the opening night victory. Sophomore, Mark Sears led the way with 27 points on 10/11 shooting from the field.
In the Bobcat’s second game of the week against Cleveland State, Mark Sears led the team again in scoring with 15 points. It was still a balanced offensive attack with five players scoring eight or more points. Ohio has committed only 20 turnovers in 40 minutes of game time this season. They are taking pretty good care of the ball offensively. Overall, the MAC will be a conference to watch throughout the season.
UCLA Bruins- Wins: CSU Bakersfield, #4 Villanova
Week 1 Record: 2-0
The Bruins came into the 2021-22 season fresh off an NCAA Tournament Final Four run. Opening their season with a dominating win against CSU Bakersfield gave UCLA a practice run before their late-night showdown with Villanova. The big development in the Bruins’ first game is the injury to Cody Riley. Even without Riley, UCLA cruised to a 95-58 victory. Johnny Juzang led the team in scoring with 19 points. UCLA showed off all of their weapons on night one.
Friday night was the big showdown in Pauly Pavilion against #4 Villanova. This game had a hectic pace from the start, but the physical play of UCLA was the big takeaway of the night. Battling on both ends of the floor, and a spectacular second half and overtime showing from Johnny Juzang, the Bruins took down Jay Wright and the Wildcats. Juzang led the way with 25 points, Jaime Jaquez followed with 21 points and 13 rebounds. UCLA is the real deal. Their NCAA Tournament run was no fluke, they proved that on Friday night.
Gonzaga Bullsogs- Wins: Dixie State, #5 Texas
Week 1 Record: 2-0
Just like UCLA, Gonzaga got a practice run on Tuesday night in their 97-63 win over Dixie State. This allowed Mark Few and the coaching staff to get potential lineups and rotations down that they could use in their showdown with Texas on Saturday. Julian Strawwther led the scoring for the Bulldogs with 17 points on the evening.
The main event for Gonzaga’s opening week of the season was on Saturday night against #5 Texas inside the Kennel. It was no surprise that coming into this game Texas would have a disadvantage on the block against Preseason Player of the Year, Drew Timme. Right from the tip, Gonzaga exposed the interior of Texas’ defense. Allowing Timme to score what may be the easiest 37 point game of his life.
Chris Beard tried throwing different matchups at Drew, the main one being Brock Cunningham. The offense ran through Timme all night, allowing the offensive balance to shine for Gonzaga. Anytime anyone on Gonzaga had the ball in their hands, they made a move with purpose. This is the best offense in college basketball and it is not even close.
Ohio State- Wins: Akron, Niagara
Week 1 Record: 2-0
Don’t let the record fool you with this Ohio State team. The Buckeyes have severely underperformed to begin the season, winning their first game against Akron by one. With EJ Lidell back in Columbus, he is the star who will do well every night. On night one, he did just that by scoring 25 points by putting the team on his back.
The biggest question mark after watching this game is production from the backcourt. The starting backcourt of freshman, Meechie Johnson and senior transfer from Penn St, Jamari Wheeler combined for six points on 0/6 shooting from the field. All the points came from the free-throw line. Would something change after game one?
It’s no question that the Ohio State frontcourt will produce points. After watching the first game, Chris Holtman decided to switch up the lineup and start another freshman, Malachi Branham. In the end, the first half went pretty much the same as the first game, with no production from the backcourt. The bright spot was late in the second half when Jamari Wheeler scored his seven points in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Ohio State needs to figure out a way to get their guards to look to score. EJ Lidell has scored 54 points in the first two games, and the Buckeyes are lucky to be 2-0.
Virginia Cavaliers- Wins: Radford. Losses: Navy
Week 1 Record: 1-1
Virginia’s biggest question coming into the season was where they will get their shooting? That question was not answered in their first game loss to Navy. The Cavaliers shot 4/16 from deep in their 66-58 loss. Virginia doesn’t have that guy on offense that they can go to hit a big shot in a close game. It will be a full team effort to win games offensively for Virginia.
Virginia’s second game ended in a victory against Radford, 73-52. Armaan Franklin showed that he can be that guy for Virginia when they need him. He ended the game shooting 62% from behind the three-point line. Tony Bennett is known for his defense, and his defense showed up in the second game. Forcing 15 turnovers, and holding the Highlanders to 37% shooting let Virginia open up their offense a bit. The defense will be leaned on with this team.
Yes, I know this isn’t a specific team, but both of the conferences had subpar first weeks of the season. As of Sunday afternoon, the A10 conference lost 10 times during the week while ACC teams lost seven times. Here is a list of all the teams that got handed losses in each conference. Hopefully, these struggles do not last all season.
A10: La Salle, George Washington x2, Richmond, Fordham, UMass, Datyon, VCU, Duqesne, Davidson
ACC: Virginia, Pittsburgh x2, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Florida State
That will wrap up the first week’s edition of Big and Bust. Each edition of Big and Bust will be released at the start of the next week. We have a long season ahead of us, so hopefully, your team does not make the bottom end of this article!
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