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2022-2023 Week 3 Teams of the Week

One of the best weeks of the college hoops season has concluded. Many exciting in-season tournaments took place over the last 11+ days, showing us a lot about the vast majority of programs in the country. With all the big time games taking place, it became tough to narrow down to ten teams to recognize. We have done so below, but there are certainly many more that had fantastic weeks beyond just these.

Teams of the Week!

1. Arizona:

How good was the Maui Jim Maui Invitational? From the Hawaii themed key, to the various incredible basketball games, this may have been the best tournament of the week. The champions of that field? The Arizona Wildcats. Arizona defeated Cincinnati, San Diego State and Creighton to win the title, averaging 89.7 points per game in the three wins. The Wildcats had a different leading scorer in each win, and displayed a variety of ways to beat a defense, against a few top tier defenses at that. This moves U of A to 6-0 on the year, and they seem to be the clear favorites in the Pac-12 early on with UCLA right behind them. This is a top 10, final four caliber team that is a ton of fun to watch.

2. Tennessee:

What a great four game bounce back stretch for Tennessee. After losing a surprising home game to Colorado a few weeks back, the Volunteers have won four straight games, including three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament that gave them the title. Tennessee secured victories over Butler, USC and the reigning champion Kansas Jayhawks to secure the championship. In the win over KU, Tennessee held the Jayhawks to 50 points and only 24% shooting from three, 32% from the field. The Vols made 12 threes of their own on 44% shooting, with five different players connecting on a triple. Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Ziegler led the way with 20 and 14 points respectively. The early loss may have taken some eyes off Tennessee, but this team is very good, and should be near the top of the SEC once again.

3. Two Phil Knight Tourney Champions:

Two fantastic tournaments were put on in Portland, Oregon this past week. In the Phil Knight Legacy bracket, Purdue won three games to claim the title. The Boilermakers defeated West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke by an average of 16.3 points, and held all three opponents under 70 points. This may be one of the better defensive Purdue teams in recent years folks. These three dominant wins along with the earlier victory over Marquette gives Purdue four nice wins on the year, and it’s only November! In the other bracket, the Phil Knight Invitational, UConn dominated the tournament, winning three games by an average of 19 points per game. The three victories came over Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State as the Huskies moved to 8-0 on the year. UConn was great on both ends of the floor in all three matchups. Connecticut gave up just 59.7 points per game in the tournament, while averaging 78.7. In the wins over Oregon and Alabama, UConn shot over 38% from three, highlighted by knocking down 17 against Oregon. In the title game victory over ISU, sharing the basketball, efficiency inside and free throws got it done offensively. The Huskies assisted on 73% of its baskets, shot 56% inside the arc, while attempting 25 free throws, (20/25). Fantastic showing from a group that proved they are closer to a Top 10 team than they are a Top 20 side.

4. Oklahoma:

Much was made of Oklahoma’s opening night loss to Sam Houston. As the weeks have gone on, we have learned two things. Sam Houston is legit and not a bad loss, and the Sooners know how to respond. OU has not lost since opening night, winning six straight, including three wins in the ESPN Events Invitational to win the event! The Sooners defeated Nebraska, followed by nice wins over Seton Hall and Ole Miss to get the job done. Oklahoma allowed an average of just 58.3 points per game in the tournament, while shooting over 45% from three in each of the three contests. Of note, Oklahoma only shot seven threes in the win over the Ole Miss Rebels, but the consistency is impressive nonetheless. The offense was also balanced from OU, as four players scored in double figures in each win. Great week, and response from this team after the opening night adversity, a group to look out for.

5. Kansas State:

Kansas State was 3-0 heading into this week, but we really didn’t know how good the Wildcats were. There will still be questions to answer down the line, but K-State certainly proved they are solid, going 3-0 to win the Cayman Islands Classic. Kansas State defeated Rhode Island by 20, followed by sneaky good wins over Nevada and LSU to secure the classic title. Defense was the key against URI and LSU, as the Wildcats held both opponents under 60 points. However, in the semifinal overtime victory over Nevada, K-State needed its offense to get hot, and it did. Markquis Nowell and Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson both played 40+ minutes in that win, scoring 29 and 28 points respectively. Nowell also added 11 assists in the victory. This was an impressive week for Kansas State. The road won’t get any easier in what is the toughest conference in the country in the Big 12, but this is a great step in the right direction.

6. St Johns:

St Johns is now 7-0 on the season, and picked up three of those wins this week. The Red Storm beat Niagara on Saturday, but make this list for winning the Empire Classic. To win the title, SJU beat Temple 78-72, with four of five starters scoring in double figures. St Johns followed that up with an overtime thrilling victory over Syracuse in the championship, led by a career high 23 points from Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo who was incredible down the stretch. This is a group that has lost a lot of close games of late, so it is a great sign to see St Johns find a way to win two close battles in this past week’s Empire Classic. The Red Storm will have another notable non-conference opportunity against an Iowa State side that has looked great to start the year before SJU begins Big East play against DePaul.

7. Washington:

It has been an up and down start to the year for Washington, but overall it has been mostly positive. A few close calls, and a loss to Cal Baptist over the first few weeks has been righted by winning the Wooden Legacy tournament, defeating Fresno State and a very good Saint Marys team to do it. The Saint Marys win is the headline here, as the Huskies held on in overtime to get it done. Washington had four players score ten or more points in the win, and held SMC to 21% from three, and just 38% from the field overall. The defense has been the calling card for the Huskies thus far, as the group is giving up just 63.3 points per game on the year, including just 60.5 in the Wooden Legacy. That stingy defense will need to continue over a sneaky tough stretch, as Washington meets undefeated Seattle tonight (11/28), along with three Pac-12 matchups, Gonzaga and Auburn in December. Plenty of resume building opportunities!

8. Mississippi State:

The Egg Bowl victory on Thanksgiving by the football team was not the only highlight for Mississippi State this week, though that was a great game! The Bulldogs basketball team also had a great week, and is 6-0 on the year. Mississippi State won two games in the Fort Myers Tip Off tournament, winning both games by just three points a piece. MSU beat Marquette 58-55 Monday, and Utah 52-49 on Wednesday. As you’ll notice, the theme in those two matchups is defense, and that’s been a theme for the Bulldogs in all six of its contests thus far, as Mississippi State is yet to give up more than 55 points in a game this season, and has held four of its six opponents under 50! Now that’s some good defense! Both of the Fort Myers victories should hold as quality wins throughout the year, and Miss State will have a few more opportunities to come in December, with games against Minnesota and Drake before SEC play begins.

9. Drake:

Speaking of Drake, the Bulldogs from Iowa also have been playing a great stretch of basketball. The Missouri Valley favorites are 6-0, with two of those wins coming this week. Drake finished off the Paradise Jam tournament on Monday with a win over Tarleton after beating both Buffalo and Wyoming the week prior. Then, on Saturday, the Bulldogs got an underrated good win over Louisiana Lafayette, a group that was undefeated coming into the game including a title in the Asheville Championship. Tucker DeVries was the man in the wins over Tarleton and Louisiana, scoring 22 and 21 in both victories on 69% shooting. As mentioned above, Drake will get a quality win shot against Mississippi State, along with games against Richmond and Saint Louis in December before conference play begins. Don’t sleep on Drake!

10. UNC Wilmington:

The Nassau Championship, an underrated eight team field over the weekend, saw UNC Wilmington win three straight games to secure the title. The Seahawks stout defense was on full display in this tournament, as UNCW only gave up 57 points per game over the three day Nassau Championship. This defensive output is not new for Wilmington, as they are only giving up 62.8 points per game on the season. One of the tougher earlier schedules to begin the year saw UNC Wilmington fall to North Carolina, Oklahoma, and UConn, but UNCW has clearly used that learning along with the momentum built off last season’s CBI Tournament title, to win the Nassau Championship and move to 5-3. The Seahawks will have a few more games against solid mid major programs before beginning CAA play. Great tourney showing!

Thanks for reading hoops fans!


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