2022-2023 Week 13 Teams of the Week
Saturday, February 4th might just have been one of the ten best college basketball days of the season. Upsets, statement wins, a WCC classic to end the day, and more were all present. There were also six other hoops filled days this week, leading to the below teams standing out to us above the rest. Check out who we have featured this week below!
Teams of the Week!
1. Saint Marys:
Saint Marys has won twelve straight games, is 10-0 in WCC play, and 21-4 on the year. The Gaels are also a Top 15 team, and for what it’s worth, have been featured many many times now as one of our teams of the week. Why? This team is legit. Saint Marys stayed hot this week, picking up two more wins. The Gaels defeated San Francisco on Thursday night, and then played in a late night thriller on Saturday. That late night game, a matchup between the premier West Coast Conference teams, Gonzaga and Saint Marys. SMC led this contest 4-3, and then did not lead again in regulation, trailing by as much as 11. Freshman Phenom Aidan Mahaney was 1-11 from the field, with two points with just six minutes to play as it looked like Gonzaga would pick up the road win. Then, Mahaney Madness began. The freshman scored 16 of his 18 points in the final six minutes plus overtime, shooting 7/8 from the field during that stretch to get the Gaels the statement victory. He was not only on a scoring tear, but also got others involved during that stretch. This young man is special, and a future star in college basketball. Saint Marys had incredible NCAA Tournament metrics coming into this game, and now have a statement win to match it. Some thought this would be a rebuilding year for SMC, but instead this group could be heading for a conference title. Look out!
You may be beginning this second team of the week and wondering, who is Stonehill? Tough question, but fair. This is Stonehill’s first season in Division One, transitioning up from Division Two this season. The Skyhawks went to two D2 final 4s, 3 Elite 8s, and made 15 tournament appearances before moving up. This season, Stonehill is a part of the Northeast Conference, but ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. Now that you’re caught up on this school, the next question is, why are they here? Well, Stonehill has won five of its last six games, three in a row, and won two straight this week. On top of all that, as of the first week of February, the Stonehill Skyhawks are in FIRST PLACE in the NEC with an 8-3 conference record. That is remarkable to say the least! Stonehill is not eligible for NCAA sponsored tournaments like March Madness or the NIT, but it’s still worth noting how incredible this first D1 season has been. Maybe we will see the Skyhawks competing in the CBI or Basketball Classic postseason tourneys this March. We sure hope so. Watch this group!
We move next to another team currently in first place in its conference, at 8-2. The conference being the best in basketball, the Big 12. Texas got back on track after the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, winning both of its games this week, both Q1 wins! On Monday, Texas defeated Baylor 76-71. Sir’Jabari Rice scored 21 points off the bench, including 4/5 from three to lead the Longhorns to the win. Texas was not done there. The Horns then defeated Kansas State on Saturday in an instant classic! Rice once again led Texas players in scoring, as five players scored in double figures in the 69-66 road win. Kansas State led this game by as much as 14 at one point, but Texas fought back and picked up this huge road victory. This positive week solidified Texas’ spot as a 2 seed, and has them closer to the 1 seed conversation than dropping back to a 3.
4. Oklahoma State:
Remaining in the Big 12, we head to the state just north of Texas, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State was, and frankly still is firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Before this week, there was question of whether or not the Cowboys should be in the field as of today. Those questions, for now, have been answered. Oklahoma State went on the road on Wednesday and defeated in-state rival Oklahoma in a battle between two bubble teams. The Cowboys won this game on the road by 10, but at times it was even farther apart than that. With that victory, Oklahoma State completed the sweep of OU, which could be a huge note come selection Sunday. The Cowboys didn’t stop there. Oklahoma State picked up an even bigger win on Saturday afternoon, defeating Top 15 TCU at home. Kalib Boone was outstanding, dropping 25 points on 11/15 shooting in the win. We hope you had ESPN+ to watch this great game, unfortunately Louisville versus Florida State was on national TV instead of this game at 2pm ET. Won’t understand that, lol, but we do understand that this Oklahoma State team is now a tournament team at the beginning of February! Time will tell if that holds.
UAB got its star guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker back on Thursday. While that was great news for the Blazers, and for college basketball fans alike, the good news would not stop there. UAB had a 2-0 week, holding on to defeat FIU on Saturday in one of the two wins. However, it shows up here due to the 86-77 win over FAU on Thursday night. FAU came into that game 21-1 overall, and was riding a nation leading 20 game win streak. That is, until UAB had something to say about it. Aforementioned Jelly Walker returned with 13 points and 6 assists off the bench, but it was guard Eric Gaines who led all scorers with 21 points on 50% shooting. The Blazers also won the rebound battle by eight, and shot over 52% on its two point baskets in the victory. This perfect week extends UAB’s win streak to four, and moves the Blazers to 17-7 on the season. The Conference USA tournament in a few weeks looks like it will be a good one with a lot of great teams, led by FAU and one of our teams of the week, UAB.
6. Mountain West Bubble Impacts:
We stay in the mindset of quality mid major basketball for this next section, but head west to the Mountain West Conference. We are trying to push for the MWC to be included in the “Power 7” conferences, but for now still until the mid major name. Two teams in this fun league that find themselves most on the bubble, are highlighted here after impactful, 2-0 weeks. First off, the Nevada Wolf Pack. Nevada dominated Air Force Friday night, but pushed itself back into the NCAA Tournament projected field due to a Tuesday night 75-66 win over MWC leader San Diego State. Sharpshooter Jarod Lucas was cooking in this win, scoring 26 points on 9/14 shooting. Nevada finds itself as “last 4 in” today. Next up, Utah State, who also went 2-0 this week. USU went on the road and defeated Colorado State on Saturday. Rewinding back to Wednesday though, is what gets the Aggies here. Utah State defeated New Mexico 84-73 in front of a great crowd. Four players scored in double figures, and Sean Bairstow led the way with 20 points. Utah State still has work to do to get into the field, but this week was a positive step.
The journey moves off the bubble, to a team that is a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and one we’ve featured a few times now. The Xavier Musketeers remain tied for first with Marquette in the Big East standings after another 2-0 week. Xavier thoroughly dominated St Johns Saturday evening, knocking down a season high 15 three pointers, scoring 96 points, and winning by 25. That is impressive, but it was the overtime win Wednesday night that gets the Musketeers featured once again. In front of a packed crowd at the Cintas Center, Xavier found a way to win 85-83 over a very good Providence team. Jack Nunge led all scorers with 23 points and added 14 rebounds. Souley Boum and Colby Jones also added 20 points apiece. One thing you’ll notice about that last sentence, Xavier has multiple ways to beat you on the offensive end. This week’s success is also all done without Senior Zach Freemantle, (averages 15 points and 8 rebounds per game), who is out with an injury. The ceiling is very high on this group. They should compete for the Big East title for the remainder of the month, and be a big factor come March.
VCU went 2-0 this week, and have won eight of their last nine games. The Rams are now 9-2 in Atlantic 10 Conference play after these last two wins, and 18-6 overall on the year. Due to significant conference results this week, VCU also now sits 1.5 games up in first place in the conference. VCU went on the road and beat Davidson on Tuesday in a close contest, 61-59. Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr went for 14 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the win, and VCU forced 14 Davidson turnovers while committing only six themselves. What’s even more impressive is the Rams finding a way to win this despite going 0/9 from three. Not often can a team in this age of basketball go Ofer from deep and still win. Following that, VCU traveled to Missouri to face Saint Louis, the second place team in the A10. The winner of that game would be in first place in the conference, and given VCU won 73-65, the Rams now have a lead over a game. Ace Baldwin once again led all VCU scorers, but this time in a much higher outburst. The Star Ram dropped 37 points on an extremely efficient 12/15 shooting. A performance that was a ton of fun to watch Friday evening, this young man can play! As mentioned a few times, VCU now is in good position to win the A10 and be the favorite to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament.
Akron has won eight consecutive games. The Zips are 9-1 in MAC play, 17-6 overall, and 12-0 at home. Akron also defeated Buffalo on the road on Tuesday by 17 points. That is all fantastic information. But the final piece, the Zips being alone in first place in the conference as of today, is thanks to Friday night. Akron’s arena was rocking, fans in a full white out, as they hosted in state fierce rival Kent State. As we have learned more about this rivalry, it may just be one of the most underrated ones in the country. These schools are just 14 miles apart from each other, and the all time point differential between the two is just 1.5 points. That is CLOSE! The rivalry, at least in football, is also called The Wagon Wheel, which is neat. Back to this year’s edition. Akron not only got the win, but won by 12, 67-55. Xavier Castaneda led all scorers with 24 points, and the Zips held Kent State’s star guard Sincere Carry in check for most of the night. This was a great spectacle to watch, with a ton of energy from the crowd. Hopefully these two meet once again in March with the MAC automatic NCAA Tournament bid on the line!
Speaking of teams picking up a win to move into first place in their conference alone, we head east to the Ivy League and the Princeton Tigers. Princeton is 16-6 on the season, went 2-0 this week, and similar to Akron, had a big Friday night matchup to determine who would be in first place in the conference as of that day. Princeton’s matchup was against a solid Cornell team, at home. The Tigers won 89-82, held Cornell to just 28% from three, made 44% of their triples, and assisted on over 55% of its made baskets, (the Princeton offense in full effect!). Princeton then followed this up with a dominant 22 point win over Columbia Saturday afternoon. While the Ivy League will only get one bid into the NCAA Tournament, Princeton is one to look out for as a group that could pull off an upset in March should they win the conference tournament. Good momentum built this week!
Thanks for reading hoops fans!