Thanksgiving has come and gone. Hopefully, everyone enjoyed good food and time with their families. On the court we saw the college basketball season really kick into high gear with several tournaments. As we hit December which teams used feast week to make their presence known.
The Wolverines arrived in the Bahamas under first-year coach Juwan Howard as a team under the radar. Picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten nobody could have expected this kind of start. But did Michigan ever make a statement? Their first game was an 83-76 win over Iowa State. Next up was 6th ranked and undefeated North Carolina. The Tar Heels were no match as Michigan took them down 73-64 to advance to the Finals. Once in the Finals 8th ranked Gonzaga was overpowered as the Maize and Blue routed the Zags 82-64 to emphatically claim the title as champions of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis. After the game, Howard spoke about how much it meant after the game coaching at his Alma Mater and was clearly excited.
After entering the week unranked Michigan should cruise into the top 10 ahead of this week’s showdown matchup with number 1 Louisville as part of the BIG TEN/ACC Challenge.
2. Stephen F. Austin
The Lumberjacks faced a daunting task. Entering Cameron Indoor Stadium to face Top-ranked undefeated Duke is no easy task. Especially when you enter the game as 29 point underdogs. But to SFA this was nothing to worry about. Taking the fight to Duke the Lumberjacks held tight with Duke entering halftime trailing by five. In the second half SFA tied the game as Duke could never seem to shake SFA as the game entered overtime tied at 81. With the game tied at 83 in overtime, the Blue Devils turned it over and Nathan Bain raced to the over end for the biggest layup in School History.
Weeks early we saw Evansville walk into Rupp Arena and takedown number one Kentucky and now SFA followed up with an 85-83 win. Duke had won 150 straight games against non-conference games with its last loss coming in 2000 against St. Johns. This is truly one of the biggest upsets in college history.
The Terps played three games in the Orlando Invitational. Despite a few struggles, the Terps picked up three quality wins on their way to the championship. On opening day coming back to defeat a very game Temple team76-69. Day two saw Maryland outlast a pesky Harvard team 80-73. And in the championship game faced with slowing down sensational guard Markus Howard who was fresh off a 51 point performance Maryland used stifling defense holding Howard to just 6 points and defeating Marquette 84-63.
With their tournament win, Maryland should move into the top three. Maryland now turns its attention to the BIG TEN/ACC Challenge. Wednesday night they host Notre Dame at the Xfinity Center.
The Jayhawks went to Maui and handled their business. While Virginia Techs upset of Michigan State denied us a Spartans vs Kansas matchup the Jayhawks did what was expected. Thoroughly handling Chaminade in the opening game 93-63. Next defeating BYU 71-56 which brings us to the championship. For those who had not seen the Dayton Flyers play they are no joke. They pushed Kansas to the limit. In overtime, however, Kansas was able to outlast Dayton 90-84 to claim the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
The premier tournament of feast week Kansas now enters December where they will face a test from a ranked Colorado Buffalos team on Saturday.
Dayton certainly turned heads in Maui. Led by star forward Obi Toppin the nation got a chance to see just how good he is. In the first game, Dayton manhandled Anthony Edwards and Georgia 80-61. They followed that up with a dominate 89-62 victory over a Virginia Tech team that was fresh off an upset of third-ranked Michigan State. While Kansas was too much to handle in the championship game the Flyers went toe to toe with Kansas and showed they will be a problem come march.
Toppin led the Flyers averaging 22.3 points per game and was named to the Maui Invitational All-tournament team. Expect Dayton to enter the top 25 soon.
On to December
With feast week behind us, we head to December. With conference play around the corner which teams from this week will keep the momentum going?