Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

A Look Back at the Opening Week of 2008-09

Posted by Tommy on November 16, 2008

If this week has been an indication of how the rest of the season will play out, college hoops fans better strap themselves tightly to their favorite chair and get ready for a ride. Usually the first week consists of the big schools tuning up against weaker opponents, but a number of big programs failed to avoid upsets or barely did so.

Most notably, Kentucky suffers another upset at the hands of a weak non-conference opponent. Some may question the choice of the high-octane Keydet offense as an opponent to open the season, but a team like Kentucky has no business losing to VMI. Virginia, a bottom feeder in the ACC, beat VMI by 10 today led by freshman Sylvan Landesburg. Wildcats have no reason to fret quite yet, just look at last season.

Alabama, another contender in the watered-down SEC, lost to Mercer earlier today in Tuscaloosa. Guards Brandon Hollinger and Alonzo Gee were a combined 3-16 from the field. The Tide shot 66.7% from the line and were out-rebounded 49-32.

In my opinion, the worst loss of the week belongs to Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies in their debacle against Portland. Brockman had 30 points and 14 rebounds, but even that effort couldn’t prevent the Pilots from flying past the Huskies. Quincy Pondexter and Darnell Grant couldn’t buy a bucket. Pat’s #3 team in the Pac-10 has some serious work to do in their supporting cast if they want to live up to that prediction.

Another terrible loss took place in Utah, where the Utes lost to the Division II Southwest Baptist. The Bearcats drained 16 3-pointers. No matter who you are, you’re not going to win if you let the other team make 16 3’s. I really liked the Utes chances to challenge UNLV at the top of the Mountain West, but this loss is giving me some second thoughts…

A couple of teams in the ACC dodged some bullets over the week. Duke played host to URI, who beat Brown by just two points earlier in the week. Nobody thought the Rams could charge into Cameron and play with the Dukies, but Jim Baron and his sharpshooting son had other plans. The Crazies haven’t seen a shooting performance quite like the one Jimmy Baron put on since J.J Redick. He was bombing them from the “Coach K Court” symbol, fading into the Crazies and sinking shots pretty much everywhere else from beyond the arc. Singler hit two go-ahead free throws with just under 20 seconds to go and stopped Baron on URI’s final possession to win the game 82-79.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb were looking to pull off another upset at a major conference team’s arena. Virginia Tech, who had a handle on the game for a large portion, saw their lead dwindle to one point with 24 seconds left. Malcolm Delaney hit two clutch free throws to put the Hokies up by three, and their defense did the rest to hold on 65-62.

The parity that is developing in college basketball should make for an exciting 2008-09. We’ve already had a fair share of upsets and a couple of overtime games. Just hope that your team doesn’t fall to the upset bug.

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