Opening Night Recap
College basketball is back! For the first time since March 2020, college basketball felt the way it is supposed to. The fans were back in arenas and you could feel the passion that was lacking all of last year. I'm very excited for what this season is going to bring us over the next 5 months.
As far as the ACC goes, it was as mixed night. 12 teams were in action, but 3 of them lost to smaller conference opponents. Duke had the biggest win of the night for the conference and both Hubert Davis and Earl Grant picked up their first ever victories. Speaking of Duke...
Duke 79 - Kentucky 71
Watch out ACC, Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels are the real deal. They already look like NBA players and Duke seems to want to play an NBA style of basketball. They spread the floor and look to get these two in one-on-one matchups and it works. Kentucky could not guard either of them and I think the rest of the ACC will struggle with it as well. Banchero had 22 points and it doesn't seem fair that he gets to be that tall and can move that well. Obviously he's not there yet, but the Kevin Durant comparisons are coming. Trevor Keels had 25 points and he was the one that impressed me the most. He's so strong and quick. He's going to get to the rim on anyone and he's a great finisher once he's there. There was one major weakness I saw out of the Blue Devils. Their defensive rebounding was atrocious. They gave up 19 offensive rebounds to Kentucky, but at the end of the day, Coach K gets to 1-0 on his farewell tour.
Navy 66 - Virginia 58
I'm actually not surprised by this loss. I think Virginia will struggle with smaller teams that can shoot well from outside. Navy shot 52.4% from 3. You'll beat a lot of teams if you can do that.
Tony Bennett has also shown that he's fine losing some of these early season games. He's more worried about how his team is progressing than the actual wins and losses at this point of the season. There was actually a lot to like of the Cavaliers from this game. Reece Beekman looks like he's taken a big step forward and seems to have taken over a majority of the ball-handling duties from Kihei Clark, and I think that will help their offense in a big way. Jayden Gardner is a beast inside. The wins will come. They get a big opportunity against Houston next Tuesday night.
UNC 83 - Loyola (MD) 67
Hubert Davis picks up his first win as the head coach for the Tar Heels in a game they controlled for all 40 minutes. Caleb Love looks to have improved his game (22 points) and the transfer big all made an impact with Manek scoring 20 points from inside and out, Garcia adding 12 points and 9 boards, and McKoy contributing plenty of hustle plays that don't show up on the stat sheet. Carolina shouldn't get their first real test until they play Purdue in ten days.
Syracuse 97 - Lafayette 63
The Orange are off to a hot start after nearly hitting triple digits against their Patriot League foe. Syracuse shot 50% from downtown (13-26) and had very balanced scoring. All 5 starters had 11 or more points and Girard led the scoring with 20. Jimmy Boeheim seems to be fitting in nicely with his father's system and Benny Williams had the block of the night.
The Citadel 78 - Pittsburgh 63
It was not a good night for the Panthers. The Citadel lead the entire game and Pittsburg struggled to hit shots against the zone. They were 12% from 3 and only shot 38% overall. 75% of the Panthers scoring came from Hugley and Odukale. They'll need to find some more options if they want to win any conference games.
Clemson 64 - Presbyterian 53
The Tigers came out sluggish and found themselves down 11 at one point in the first half, but had a strong 2nd half to pull away from the Blue Hose and get their first win of the season thanks to good defense. Presbyterian was only able to make 3 of their 24 threes and shot 35.6% overall. Al-Amir Dawes paced the Tigers with 21 points.
Miami (OH) 72 - Georgia Tech 69
This was not a good start for the reigning ACC Tourney Champs. From what I saw, the Yellow Jackets didn't play as bad as this loss looks. They seemed to have their normal pesky defense and Michael Devoe was lighting it up from everywhere on the floor. They're going to need to find some more offense, but better days are ahead for Georgia Tech.
Miami 77 - Canisius 67
I'm sure Miami fans wish they would have won this game by a bit more, but you never turn down a double digit win. Especially when your leading scorer, Isiah Wong, goes 3-11 from the field. Kameron McGusty led the way for the Hurricanes with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
NC State 88 - Bucknell 70
The Wolfpack started 0-10 from the floor and were tied with Bucknell at the half, but had dominating second half to win by 18. Hellems (22 points) and Seabron (18 points, 11 rebounds) starred for NC State. Freshman Terquavion Smith, had a fantastic debut with 20 points and 4 steals. Manny Bates went down with a shoulder injury in the first minute of the contest and will have an MRI today. Hopefully he will have a speedy recovery.
Virginia Tech 82 - Maine 47
What a dominating start for Mike Young's Hokies. A 35 point win without any player scoring more than 15. Things are looking good in Blacksburg and Cassell Guards gave us the coolest moment of the night.
The Hokies travel to Annapolis on Friday night to play a Navy team that just knocked off Virginia.
Boston College 73 - Dartmouth 57
Earl Grant earned his first victory as the head coach for the Eagles in his very first try. Boston College was led by the Langford brothers, who combined for 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. Kanye Jones has a nice collegiate debut with 12 points off the bench.
Louisville 72 - Southern 60
Louisville began it's first of 6 games without Chris Mack with a victory over Southern. The Cardinals look like they will be a deep team this year, with ten players playing at least ten minutes. Transfers Noah Locke and Matt Cross led the way with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Louisville has now won 59 consecutive home games in the month of November and will get a chance to add to that streak on Friday night against Furman.
Florida State and Wake Forest begin their seasons tonight and Notre Dame takes the floor for the first time on Saturday.