2022-2023 Week 1 Teams of the Week
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
The 2022-2023 College Basketball season has begun! What a fun week 1 it was. While there were not a ton of "marquee matchups" to behold, (those are coming soon), week 1 had plenty of upsets and surprises to begin the year. See below our first edition of teams of the week for the new year.
Teams of the Week!
1. UC Irvine:
The Anteaters are legit. Many would have considered UC Irvine a preseason favorite in the Big West, and the number of believers has definitely increased after week one. UCI picked up a non division 1 win to open its season before upsetting Oregon on the road, 69-56 Friday night. DJ Davis led the way for UC Irvine, scoring 24 points, including six triples. The Anteaters also held Oregon to just 4/21 (19%) shooting from three, and 33% total from the field. That is a recipe that yields victories. Irvine has a few more in-state non conference games coming up this month, including an exciting matchup with San Diego State on November 29th. Keep an eye on this group!
2. Louisiana Lafayette:
Excluding Feast Week, (the Thanksgiving week of in-season tournaments), if you win a title during a week, you're likely to show up as a team of the week. That is exactly what Louisiana Lafayette did. The Ragin Cajuns went 3-0 to open its season, including wins over Harvard and East Tennessee State to secure the Asheville Championship. Defense was a major factor for Lafayette in this mini tournament, as they held both Harvard and ETSU to under 30% from three, while shooting above 35% in both games themselves. ULL also won the turnover battle in both games. This is a great start to the year for the Ragin Cajuns, and the team will have even more opportunities to showcase its talent with matchups against LA Tech, SMU and Drake coming later this month.
3. Saint Mary's:
After the departure of some senior leadership from last season's phenomenal squad, some were skeptical if this would be a successful season for Saint Mary's. It's only been one week, but it would appear the Gaels will be very much in the mix in the WCC and beyond this year. SMC won three games this week against formidable opposition, defeating Oral Roberts, Vermont and North Texas. After allowing 70 points to ORU on night one, Saint Mary's stepped up the defense even further, holding Vermont to 53 points, and North Texas to just 33 for the entire game! This is not a Gaels side that will have the same guy take over each game, but expect to see SMC playing meaningful basketball come March.
There was a decent amount of hype in some basketball circles about Furman coming into the year, and rightfully so as this is a solid basketball team. The Paladins certainly lived up the expectation in week one, going 2-0 including a very impressive 89-74 win over Belmont on Friday. Mike Bothwell was outstanding in that win, scoring 25 points on 10/17 shooting. Jalen Slawson also added a double-double, 17 points and 12 rebounds. Furman will get a quick chance to continue to build on this performance with its participation in the Charleston Classic, which begins with Furman taking on Penn State Thursday morning.
5. Sam Houston:
The Bearkats of Sam Houston tipped off the season in style, upsetting Oklahoma 52-51 on opening night! With 4 seconds to go in the game, Lamar Wilkerson connected on his 5th three pointer of the evening to secure the win for SHSU and finish with 17 points. Along with Wilkerson's efficiency from three, Sam Houston forced 21 Oklahoma turnovers, and held OU to 37% shooting from the field and 26% from three. All of these factors helped the Bearkats overcome a 14 point deficit to get the upset win. SHSU will have another upset opportunity this Thursday when they take on Utah.
Solid start to the season for the Rockets of Toledo. An opening night 15 point win over Valparaiso, followed up by an impressive offensive showing in its 93-85 victory over UAB Friday night. Rayj Dennis was the key in the win over UAB, scoring 23 points on 50% shooting from the field. Both Toledo and UAB held leads as large as 11 points in the game, but the Rockets were ultimately able to get the important non conference win. Toledo will have a few more relevant non conference games over the next few months before MAC play begins, including participation in the Gulf Coast Showcase next week.
7. South Carolina:
There are very few things better than defeating one of your biggest rivals in college sports, and that's exactly what South Carolina did on Friday night, beating Clemson 60-58. The Gamecocks also secured a victory over South Carolina State earlier in the week, so it was truly a week of in-state dominance for South Carolina. In the win over Clemson, SC connected on 10 three pointers, while also holding Clemson to just 37% shooting. Chico Carter Jr led the way with 16 points, including 4 made threes. South Carolina will look to continue this momentum in the Charleston Classic this weekend.
Dayton came very close to a NCAA Tournament bid last season, and with a preseason Top 25 ranking to begin the year, the Flyers are looking to start the year strong and get a berth this season. Week one was a positive first step, going 2-0 including a nice win over SMU on Friday. Daron Holmes II played 39/40 minutes in the SMU victory, and dropped 20 points on 64% shooting, very efficient! The Flyers will look to build off a strong week one in some important upcoming games including a road test versus UNLV on Tuesday, and participation in a stacked Battle 4 Atlantis field next week.
In case you cannot tell by the heading, this next section is dedicated to a few SWAC upsets or "SWACsets". We will see if that name sticks. Nonetheless, the SWAC picked up two big wins over the Pac-12 in the SWAC/Pac-12 Legacy series on ESPN+ this week. On Friday, Grambling upset Colorado 83-74, (Colorado then went on to get a road win over Tennessee, if you were curious how impressive this win is for Grambling). Following that upset, Texas Southern upset Arizona State in thrilling fashion in OT Sunday afternoon, 67-66. This is a fantastic week for this conference. The SWAC historically logs the most travel of any other league during the non-conference, at times going weeks without a home game. It's incredible that it was given this showcase against a power conference, and that a few teams had some success. Keep it up!
10. Teams Playing Louisville:
It was a tough week for Louisville to say the least, but both of its losses were at least thrilling! Despite being held scoreless for the last 4:41 of the game, Bellarmine held on for a 67-66 win over the Cardinals on opening night. This was followed by Wright State stunning Louisville with a Trey Calvin buzzer beater to win on the road 73-72 on Saturday. These could become very important wins for both Bellarmine and Wright State down the line, and were incredible showcases for both programs. These upsets on a nightly basis are what make college basketball so special for so many schools. On the Louisville side, while this was a very tough week, it is still only November 14th. Plenty of time to right the ship! Louisville is participating in the annual Maui Jim Maui Invitational next week, which will be a great opportunity to bounce back quickly.
Thanks for reading hoops fans!