Three Takeaways From the Opening Night of NCAA Basketballby Ben Fadden November 26, 2020 1 comment
College basketball is back for most of the country, and the first day of action didn’t disappoint. Star-studded teams took the court before the night was capped off by an upset on the west coast.
Will we get through the season and crown a national champion? Only time will tell, but what we do know is that it will be fun while it lasts.
Here’s a look at the top three observations you should take away from Day 1 of the college basketball season.
1. Illinois is going to be a handful for the BIG 10
Illinois entered the season as the eighth-ranked team in the country but wasn’t talked about at all. All of the national pundits loved Gonzaga, Baylor, and Villanova, but Illinois got their attention on Wednesday.
Yes, they played North Carolina A&T, which isn’t a household name on any level, but they still managed to score 122 points (yes, you read that right). The scariest thing about that total was that the Fighting Illini turned the ball over more times than North Carolina A&T did. With that in mind, imagine how dangerous they’ll be once they get those mistakes cleaned up.
Illinois has a solid chance to win the BIG 10 and make a deep run to at least the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Sam Hauser will put Virginia on his back
Are we watching the ACC Player of the Year playing for this year’s ACC champion? Perhaps. Hauser hasn’t even played a conference game yet in the ACC as he sat out all of last year after transferring from Jimmy Butler‘s alma mater, Marquette.
Hauser showed how lethal he can be from long range, shooting seven-for-nine from the floor while making 100 percent of his three-point attempts. The 22-year-old forward finished with 17 points in the first half alone.
Hauser and Virginia easily defeated Towson by a score of 89-54.
3. Dear AP Poll: Stop disrespecting San Diego State
This was the biggest takeaway from opening night by far. San Diego State had a season to remember last season, as they started 26-0 and finished as the No. 6-ranked team in the nation.
However, going into this year, AP Poll voters doubted if SDSU could have another dominant season after the departures of first-round pick Malachi Flynn, big man Yanni Wetzell, and K.J. Feagin. Brian Dutcher’s squad proved those doubters wrong with their 15-point upset win over No. 22 UCLA. At one point, the Aztecs had an 18-point lead and their two returning starters took care of business at Viejas Arena.
Projected 2021 draft pick Matt Mitchell and guard Jordan Schakel combined for 30 points (15 each) with both logging more than 30 minutes. SDSU showed that they have a complete team from the stars such as Mitchell all the way down to key bench players such as Terrell Gomez, who dropped 10 points.
It was the first night, but it’s a sign of things to come for Illinois, Virginia, and San Diego State this season.
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