2022-2023 Week 4 Teams of the Week
The fourth week of the college basketball season has come to a close. We had the great opportunity to see one of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge games, Indiana vs North Carolina, live from Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana! Along with that exciting matchup, we watched many other quality games that led us to the below teams to highlight as our teams of the week. Enjoy!
Teams of the Week!
Welcome back to number one, Houston! For the first time since the 80s, the Houston Cougars were ranked number one in the AP Poll on Monday, November 28th. We found it fitting to do the same and put them number one here as well. It did not go unearned though. Houston went 2-0 this week, and is 8-0 on the year. The Cougars got arguably its best win on the season, defeating Saint Mary’s on a neutral floor 53-48. The health of Marcus Sasser going forward will be a big question, as he got hurt late in the game against SMC. Hopefully it is not a long term issue. Houston also defeated the MEAC kings, Norfolk State, by 48 points to complete the undefeated week. UH has prided itself on being one of the best defensive teams in the countries for many years now under Kelvin Sampson, and this team is no different. Houston ranks number two in adjusted defensive efficiency as of 12/4, (points allowed per 100 possessions), and is only allowing 48 points per game on the year, with 9.5 steals per game. Houston has some great chances to further boost the resume with Alabama and Virginia on the schedule in the next two weeks.
Is there a bad loss in the Big Ten? Coming into the year, many would have thought Nebraska would be that “bad loss” on team's resume, but that does not seem to be the case. The Huskers started the year off shaky, a few close calls against inferior competition, coupled with losing its first two games in the ESPN Events Invitational during feast week. However, over the last three games including two this week, Nebraska has figured it out. Nebraska defeated Boston College by 21 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday, and followed it up with a massive in-state Top 10 upset over Creighton on Sunday. The Creighton win is what gets the Huskers here. It shows not only that Nebraska is figuring it out against teams in its own predicted “tier”, but also that it can beat one of the best. Derrick Walker dropped 22 in the Creighton win, and the Huskers held Creighton to just 53 points. Nebraska will look to continue this momentum over a three game upcoming stretch that consists of three quality win opportunities.
Utah was able to move to 2-0 on the week, 2-0 in Pac 12 play, and 7-2 on the year thanks to surviving in overtime on the road against Washington State on Sunday. Wazzou had a few looks at the game tying bucket in OT, but it did not fall. Any conference win is solid, but the win Utah got on Thursday is what made them a team of the week. The Utes defeated one of the Pac 12 favorites, Arizona, 81-66 in a game Utah led throughout and frankly dominated. Branden Carlson was feeling it from the field, scoring 22 points on 8/15 shooting including five made threes. Utah also held a normally efficient shooting Arizona team to just 14% from three and 35% overall. This win will become massive in the spring time to help Utah’s resume. The Utes won’t be thinking about that now though. Instead they’ll wonder, just a few days after the Utah football team won the Pac 12, could the basketball team do the same? Time will tell, but great week nonetheless!
Today is December 5th, and Duquesne basketball already has more wins than it did all of last season. That is not a slight on last year’s team, but instead praise to the growth this program has seen over such a short time! The Dukes are 7-1 on the season, and went 2-0 this week defeating UCSB and Ball State. The Ball State victory was completed in dramatic fashion as Jimmy Walker III connected on a three pointer at the buzzer to finish with 16 points and give Duquesne the win! You can check out the video of the shot linked here. Duquesne’s only loss on the early season is on the road against Kentucky. That is far from a blemish on the resume to say the least, and the Dukes have non-conference opportunities upcoming against Marshall, DePaul, New Mexico State and Indiana State to continue to strengthen its case before A-10 begins. Easy team to root for to continue this turn around.
Welcome back to the teams of the week Terps! Maryland makes another appearance here after another undefeated week moves the group to 8-0 on the season. The Terps defeated Louisville on Tuesday, followed up by one of the wins of the week, taking down Illinois 71-66 on Friday night. Jahmir Young and Hakim Hart led the way offensively for Maryland in the win over the Illini, scoring 24 and 17 points respectively, and each connecting on at least 4 threes in the game. The Terps now have this great Illinois win to go along with victories over Saint Louis and Miami in what is shaping up to be a great resume. Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA are the next three on the schedule for Maryland to continue to prove it’s a Top 10 level side.
6. Northwestern State:
Similar to Maryland, Northwestern State makes another appearance in the teams of the week. The Demons are beginning to look like the favorites in the Southland conference. Already with a win over TCU on the season, NSU won on the road against SF Austin on Thursday, scoring 102 points in the process. Then, on Sunday, the Demons gave Southern Miss its first loss on the season, and at the buzzer at that! Check out the game winning shot here. Both of these victories have a shot to become quality wins down the line, but regardless this shows how legit Northwestern State is. A large reason for the wins this week was the offensive output, as NSU put together its two highest point totals of the season, 102 against SFA and 84 against USM. Northwestern State has games remaining against Rice, Baylor and Texas A&M to try and continue to put together what is becoming a more and more likely at-large resume by the week.
Pittsburgh lost three straight games, and were 1-3 after the first two weeks of the season. While all three losses were against good teams, there was more talk at that point about how low Pitt would finish in the ACC as opposed to what this group could do. The conversation has certainly flipped now, as the Panthers have won five straight games, including two this week over power 6 opposition. Pittsburgh dominated Northwestern on the road, 87-58 Monday night, and defeated NC State on the road 68-60 later in the week. Road wins always carry weight, these wins will be at worst decent, if not good when resumes are looked at deeper in the early Spring. Junior Blake Hinson led the way for Pitt against NW, scoring 22 points along with 5 assists and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes. In the win over NC State, Jamarcus Burton scored 24 points on 9/14 shooting and added 4 assists and rebounds apiece. On the current winning streak, Pittsburgh has held every opponent under 70 points, while every team scored over 71 points in Pitt’s three early losses. That could be a stat to keep an eye on moving forward.
8. Virginia Tech:
An under the radar strong start for the Hokies continued this week, as Virginia Tech got two more wins to move to 8-1 on the season. Virginia Tech held Minnesota in check on Monday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, holding the Gophers to just 57 points. On Sunday, VA Tech earned its spot on this list, picking up its first ACC win of the season over North Carolina, 80-72. Four out of five starters scored in double figures for Virginia Tech in the win, led by 27 points and 11 rebounds from Justyn Mutts. While this was a great week for Virginia Tech, it’s far from its first accomplishment of the season. The Hokies were the runner-ups of the Charleston Classic during “Feast Week”, defeating both Penn State and Old Dominion. VA Tech will look to continue its solid start to the year with games against Dayton and Oklahoma State coming up before more ACC tests.
Sticking in the ACC for the third straight team, the Clemson Tigers also had a good week, and no, not just the football team! The Tigers moved to 7-2 on the year, defeating Penn State in double overtime on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, followed up with a 20 point win over Wake Forest. In the double OT Classic, Clemson knocked down 11 threes on 52% shooting. Every starter connected on at least one outside shot, with three making more than one. That balanced scoring attack continued in the win over Wake, as all five starters scored in double figures for Clemson. On top of that, the defense showed up as the Tigers held Wake Forest to 57 points, 34% shooting from the field, and just 29% from three. Clemson has a sneaky tough test against Towson coming up on Wednesday, along with games against Loyola Chicago and Richmond on the schedule before ACC play truly begins.
10. Saturday Night Shocking Upsets:
Our final team of the week section is dedicated to two upsets from Saturday night that few saw coming. First up, and in-state upset as Northern Colorado beat Colorado State 88-83. UNCO had three players score over 18 points, and shot 57% from the field in the win. Daylen Kountz led all scorers with 27 points. Northern Colorado will have a shot to complete the Colorado sweep against the Colorado Buffaloes later in December. The other big upset Saturday night came from a group we had the opportunity to visit in person last season, the South Dakota Coyotes! South Dakota went on the road and defeated BYU 69-68 thanks in large part to 26 points and 4 threes from Kruz Perrott-Hunt. The Coyotes also held BYU to just 21% shooting from three to help hold on to the upset. Great win for the Summit League!
Thanks for reading hoops fans!