Big wins on and off the court characterized this week in college basketball.
Start at Monmouth, where the Hawks topped their season-opening victory at UCLA — one of the biggest wins in program history — by beating No. 17 Notre Dame on Thursday. It was the Hawks’ first win ever against a ranked opponent.
There were also some impressive individual performances. Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine recorded his second triple-double of the season (29 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) in Thursday’s win over Boston College, but he no longer is alone in the club. Toledo center Nathan Boothe joined Valentine as the only NCAA Division I players with triple-doubles this season after his 12-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist performance in Wednesday’s win over San Jose State.
That’s just the sampling. Your weekly campus tour into what is and what was in college basketball begins now:
Team of the week
Syracuse scored wins on and off the court last week that have brought a little sunshine upstate. First came the news that the school won an appeal to the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Syracuse was initially handed a reduction of 12 scholarships over four years, which was the harshest scholarship penalty ever for a basketball program. By winning the appeal, Syracuse will get one of those scholarships back per year.
The school didn’t score a flawless victory with its appeal, though. The NCAA upheld its decision to vacate 101 wins. Syracuse is still awaiting word on its appeal of coach Jim Boeheim’s nine-game suspension set to coincide with the beginning of ACC play. If that decision is upheld, the Orange seem better prepared now to play without him.
Freshmen Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon each had breakout games in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Lydon notched 16 points and 12 rebounds in Syracuse’s upset of No. 18 Connecticut. Richardson’s season-best 16 points then helped lead the Orange in their win over No. 25 Texas A&M.
Syracuse hopes to not follow the lead of another orange-clad team that was in this space a week ago. After beating ranked teams on consecutive nights in the Puerto Rico Tip Off, Miami followed that up with a home loss to Northeastern.
The big man on campus
Without having scored a basket or secured a rebound, Cheick Diallo was a part of Kansas’ biggest victory this season.
The NCAA finally ruled the freshman from New York eligible after he missed the Jayhawks’ first five games of the season. Diallo will make his debut Tuesday when Loyola (Maryland) visits Allen Fieldhouse.
Diallo, a 6-foot-9 power forward, was ranked the No. 7 recruit in the 2015 ESPN 100. He’ll add depth to the Jayhawks’ frontcourt and could instantly be a shot-blocking presence defensively. That’s only a minor reason why the Jayhawks are so excited to have him in the lineup.
Last season, Kansas sat Cliff Alexander in late February while the NCAA looked into possible impermissible benefits given to his mother. The slow-moving investigation caused Alexander to miss the Jayhawks’ final eight games.
It appears Alexander’s case made Kansas a bit more aggressive in seeking Diallo’s clearance. There was Jayhawks coach Bill Self publicly admonishing the NCAA’s vetting process prior to the Maui Invitational. There was Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger’s scathing letter to the NCAA detailing how the case was mishandled. There was the social media hashtag #FreeDiallo that reached trending status.
No one knows whether Diallo will be the difference-maker in the Jayhawks’ season, but at least he’ll get a chance to try.
The place to be
Tobacco Road, North Carolina. UNC, Duke and NC State enjoy the rare occasion in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to all be playing at home this week.
It’ll feel just like old times when No. 2 Maryland visits No. 9 North Carolina on Tuesday. The Terrapins, a charter member of the ACC, have gutted out wins so far this season, but this will be their first true road game. UNC senior guard Marcus Paige will make his season debut after missing the first six games with a broken bone in his right hand.
No. 13 Indiana makes just its second trip to No. 6 Duke on Wednesday, with the Hoosiers already needing something positive to change the narrative on the season. IU coach Tom Crean might not make fans calling for his job forget the Hoosiers’ performance in Maui last week, but if the Hoosiers upset the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium, they’ll likely forgive him for it — for now. Duke’s freshman class is still very much finding its footing, but they all seem to be more comfortable at home.
NC State and Michigan are both in similar positions, trying to find traction on the season. The Wolverines appear to have bounced back after back-to-back losses bounced them from the polls. Injuries have already altered the Wolfpack lineup, but Anthony “Cat” Barber is starting to assert himself. The junior guard is coming off a career-high 37 points against Winthrop on Friday.
Number to know
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Davidson’s Bob McKillop proved this week that if you build it, they (wins) will come. Izzo and McKillop became the 18th and 19th coaches, respectively, to win 500 games in their first collegiate coaching jobs. They are the 91st and 92nd, respectively, to reach 500 among coaches with at least 10 seasons in Division I.
Austin Peay’s Dave Loos has a chance to join the 500-win club this season. Loos, like Izzo and McKillop, is one of six active Division I coaches to spend 20 or more seasons at the same school. In his 25th season at Austin Peay, Loos currently sits at 476 wins.
There could be more 500-win celebrations this season: Texas State coach Danny Kaspar has 489 wins, UC Santa Barbara’s Bob Williams has 479, and Colorado State’s Larry Eustachy and LaSalle’s Dr. John Giannini have 476 each.