Welcome to basketball season!
Yeah, yeah, we know a lot of people around here have been enjoying basketball since November, but for some the college roundball season doesn’t really start until after the Super Bowl.
If that is you – or you just want a refresher – we’re here to help with 10 things to know about the basketball season so far:
1. Dayton is in first place.
The Flyers have had to deal with injuries to multiple players at one time or another but still are on track to repeat as Atlantic 10 champions.
At 17-5 overall and 8-2 in the league, UD is tied atop the league standings with VCU while Richmond is a half game back.
Coach Archie Miller’s crew is No. 32 in the RPI and projects as an eight seed in the NCAA tournament by CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm.
2. The Flyers women’s basketball team is good, too.
Coach Shauna Green’s first Dayton squad was just 6-6 in non-league play but at 10-1 in the A-10 leads the league by two games.
ESPN projected the Flyers as a 12 seed last week.
Jenna Burdette leads Dayton in scoring at 12.3 points per game while Kelley Austria, a senior from Carroll, is second at 11.7.
3. Watch out for the Wright State women’s team.
The Raiders are also in their first season under a new head coach, and Katrina Merriweather had WSU in first place in the Horizon League as of Monday afternoon.
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Fairmont graduate Chelsea Welch leads Wright State in scoring at 17.9 points per game while Lexi Smith averages 13.5 points and nine rebounds.
At 142 in the RPI, they are going to have to win the league tournament to make the NCAA tournament.
4. The start of the Scott Nagy era hasn’t been as smooth.
Wright State’s men’s team is in the middle of the pack in the Horizon League at 6-5 (15-9 overall).
With a 125 RPI, the Raiders are going to have to win the league tournament to go to the Big Dance, but we know they’re at least adept at making it that far.
Mark Alstork, a guard from Thurgood Marshall, leads the team at 18.3 points per game and has dished out 80 assists.
5. The Ohio State men’s team is disappointing again.
Despite a win at Michigan over the weekend, the Buckeyes appear to be headed toward another NIT bid barring a drastic reversal of fortunes.
Thad Matta’s team is 68th in RPI and tied for 10th in the Big Ten at 4-7 in league play. They’re 14-10 overall.
Aside from the improved play of center Trevor Thompson, there’s not much for the Buckeyes to hang their hat one.
6. The Ohio State basketball team to watch this March belongs to Kevin McGuff.
The 13th-ranked Buckeyes entered the season expected to contend for a berth in the women’s Final Four, but they’re only 1-4 against ranked teams.
Still, McGuff’s squad is just a half game behind Maryland in the Big Ten standings with a visit from the third-ranked Terrapins scheduled for Feb. 20.
Princeton High School graduate Kelsey Mitchell is again among the nation’s top scorers while a largely new cast from last season has worked in around her with varying degrees of success. The best newcomer has been center Stephanie Mavunga, the Big Ten’s leading rebounder and a transfer from North Carolina.
7. Two Queen City teams may be going in different directions.
Mick Cronin’s UC Bearcats (21-2) are riding a 14-game winning streak, including an 86-78 win over Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout on Jan. 26.
Cincinnati is undefeated in the AAC and projected as a No. 3 seed by Palm.
The 24th-ranked Musketeers eked by St. John’s and Seton Hall after losing to UC, but they got a quality win at Creighton on Saturday. That was their third game without Edmond Sumner, their No. 2 scorer who blew out his knee against the Red Storm.
Xavier has slipped to a projected No. 7 seed after looking like a sleeper Final Four contender when it was full strength.
8. Luke Kennard has been Duke’s best player.
So much for concerns the sophomore from Franklin would be recruited over.
At 20.2 points per game, Kennard is the leading scorer for the nation’s 18th-ranked team, which has endured injuries, controversy around star guard Grayson Allen’s conduct and the temporary absence of coach Mike Krzyzewski in the span of three months.
9. Gonzaga is undefeated.
Is THIS the year the Bulldogs are for real?
Only time will tell, but this version has already beaten six teams in the RPI’s top 50, including No. 9 Arizona.
Coach Mark Few lost Domantas Sabonis to the NBA but has benefited from the addition of transfers Nigel Williams-Goss, Jordan Matthews and Johnathan Williams and freshman Zach Collins.
10. The Connecticut women look unbeatable. Again.
Those folks out there – such as this writer – who thought this version of the Huskies wouldn’t be quite as good as last year aren’t looking very smart.
Geno Auriemma’s team is 22-0 with wins over eight ranked teams. The four-time defending national champions have won 97 games in a row.
Katie Lou Samuelson has taken over the mantle of leading scorer at 21.4 points per game.