2022-2023 Week 6 Teams of the Week
A special week of college basketball as we were fortunate enough to attend the two games apart of the CBS Sports Classic in New York City. An incredible experience at Madison Square Garden with four teams that should be playing in the NCAA Tournament in March. The two winners of that showcase are detailed below, along with others to make up our teams of the week. Check it out!
Teams of the Week!
Following the Main Event tournament in mid November, UCLA was one of the unluckiest teams in college basketball according to KenPom. Since that two game event, UCLA has not needed any luck, as the Bruins have won its last seven games by an average of 21.6 points per game. While some of that data is skewed by easier competition, this past week was not. UCLA went on the road on Wednesday and dominated Top 20 Maryland from the opening tip. The Bruins held Maryland to just 20 first half points and continued that defense throughout, while Jaylen Clark scored 19 and David Singleton added 18. On Saturday night, UCLA continued its momentum, defeating Kentucky 63-53. Getting to see a Mick Cronin coached defense in person was quite the treat. For the vast majority of the game, the Bruins had Kentucky uncomfortable on the offensive end. Jaime Jaquez led all scorers with 19 points and added 12 rebounds. This group has a solid mix of shooters, good guard play, and elite defense that should see them near the top of the Pac-12 and around the Top 10 all season.
2. North Carolina:
The other team we saw win on Saturday evening in New York City was North Carolina. Boy did they do it in thrilling fashion! The first half was mostly dominated by Ohio State, who led by nine after a first half last second shot. Little did we know it would only get more exciting! The Tar Heels played great defense in the second half and flipped the script, setting up the chance to tie the game with 1.2 seconds remaining. UNC inbounded from mid court and found Pete Nance for a turn around jumper, at the buzzer, for the tie! In overtime, North Carolina got the win 89-84. The crowd at Madison Square Garden was packed with Tar Heel fans for game one and they were ecstatic at this turn of events. This win, along with beating The Citadel 100-67 earlier in the week continues to signal a turn around for UNC as they have won three in a row after a tough losing streak.
UCLA may have had the best collection of wins this week, but the Cougars had the best individual win in the last seven days. Houston defeated Virginia 69-61 on the road to give UVA its first loss of the season. Houston and Virginia are regularly top five defenses in the country, but surprisingly both teams broke 60 in this one! All five starters scored in double figures for UH, and Houston assisted on 68% of its made baskets. Houston also defeated NC A&T earlier in the week to make it a perfect 2-0 seven day stretch. The Cougars have just one winnable game remaining next week before American Conference play tips off for this Top 5 side.
Similar to Houston, the week as a whole may not have been number one, but one win in particular was fantastic for Gonzaga. The Zags defeated Alabama, 100-90, in Birmingham, Alabama Saturday afternoon in what is a massive win for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga in recent years has regularly had one of the best non conference schedules in the country, and this year has been much of the same of that. It has been a bit up and down for Gonzaga’s high standards, but the offense was clicking on all cylinders in the Bama victory. Senior star Drew Timme finished the game with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and six players in total scored 11 or more points for Gonzaga. While again it has been up and down for the Zags for their incredibly high standards, Gonzaga still has six quality wins on the season already, and is likely a Top 10 team as of 12/19. Don’t forget about this mighty powerhouse in the Northwest!
5. New Mexico:
There are now only five undefeated teams left in the entire country. One of those teams is the previously recognized New Mexico Lobos of the Mountain West Conference! New Mexico is now 11-0 on the season, it’s best eleven game start in a decade. The Lobos picked up two of those wins this week, defeating a solid San Francisco side on Monday, 67-64, and winning the “Pitino Bowl” over Iona 82-74 on Sunday evening. Richard Pitino is the new coach of UNM this season, and his father Rick Pitino is the head coach of Iona, in case you were confused by that game name. In that sneaky good win over Iona, New Mexico saw five players score 10 or more points, and held the Gaels to just 12.5% from three. New Mexico has one final non conference game against Prairie View remaining to attempt to keep the undefeated non conference season alive before MWC play begins.
Since the loss to Utah a few weeks ago, Arizona has won four straight games, two of those coming this past week. The Wildcats defeated Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Tuesday, but appear here thanks to a great win over Tennessee late Saturday night, 75-70. This was a game of many runs. Tied at the half, Arizona ballooned the lead to 10 with just over seven minutes remaining. However, over the next three minutes, Tennessee recut the deficit to one, before Arizona gained control once again to win by five. All 75 of Arizona’s points came from its starters, led by 19 from Azuolas Tubelis. This win is incredible for Arizona’s resume, and continues to keep the Wildcats atop the projected Pac 12 standings along with UCLA.
7. Norfolk State:
The MEAC kings are back in our teams of the week once again. Norfolk State played three games this week, winning all three to move to 9-4 overall on the season. On Wednesday, the Spartans defeated Bowling Green 81-75. Then, over the weekend, Norfolk State won two neutral court games in the Chris Paul HBCU Challenge to win the event. NSU beat Hampton by 12 on Saturday, and NC A&T in a close 4 point battle on Sunday. While star guard Joe Bryant Jr led the team with 23 points on Saturday, NSU had a different leading scorer in each win this week. Cahiem Brown dropped 20 versus BGSU and Dana Tate Jr led all scorers with 24 in the Chris Paul HBCU Challenge win over NC A&T. Norfolk State has been taking care of business this year in games it’s supposed to win, along with games that would be considered “50/50”. Three of NSU’s four losses are to Baylor, UCLA, and Houston, all top 15 teams nationally. This is a good sign for Norfolk State heading into MEAC play, a group once again that won’t let up when favored, but has experience against some of the best teams in the country. The Spartans have one final test against Nevada this week before conference play starts.
8. Oral Roberts:
Oral Roberts has won six straight games, and eight of its last nine, with the only loss coming on the road to undefeated Utah State. This week, ORU kept that win streak alive by defeating Liberty and Missouri State. Both are sneaky good wins, but the focus here is on the Liberty win. That was a battle of two solid mid major programs, led by elite guards. Both teams and guards did not disappoint. Darius McGhee had 24 points for Liberty, while Max Abmas dropped 26 points for Oral Roberts. Abmas jumped on the scene a few years ago during the Golden Eagles incredible March Madness run, and has not stopped since. We have watched many ORU games this season on TV, and have seen Abmas play live in person, it seems like he always delivers. Oral Roberts is not just Abmas though, this is a complete team that averages north of 85 points per game, and 15.4 assists per game as a team. The favorite in the Summit League this season, and a group to watch out for in March.
Kansas only played one game this week, but the Jayhawks did not disappoint. Following a 28 point road win over rival Missouri last weekend, KU defeated a Top 15 side in Indiana at home Saturday morning. Kansas took advantage of Indiana losing starting point guard Xavier Johnson in the first ten minutes of the game, and held the Hoosiers to just 62 points. The Jayhawks also got hot from the outside, shooting 44% from three led by 4/5 from deep by Gradey Dick. Kansas now finds itself with multiple good wins, and an overall record of 10-1 on the season. The reigning national champions should be right in that conversation once again this season. KU has multiple capable scorers, and gets after it defensively, a great formula to win in March, and really any month for that matter.
10. Queens University:
Our final team of the week is a shoutout to a team in its first year in division one, Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. This week, Queens went on the road and defeated East Tennessee State 78-75 in a fun game to watch. While that win may not jump off the page on its own for the casual fan, Queens’ 9-2 record in its first D1 season might. Along with this win over ETSU, Queens also has good wins over Marshall (10-2) and High Point (8-3), two teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations. The Royals average over 81 points per game on the year, 15 assists and shoot over 46% as a team. Currently with the best overall record in the Atlantic Sun Conference, this is a fun group to watch as the season continues. Queens has a road test against Nebraska this week before beginning conference play. As we’ve said on Twitter, if they keep winning, we’ll keep tweeting!
Thanks for reading hoops fans!