Six things I learned from this past weekend of college basketball, starting with Cincinnati and SMU in the American Athletic Conference.
Cincinnati (13-2, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) and SMU (14-3, 4-0 AAC) are on a collision course in the American! The Bearcats have won six straight and 11 of their last 12 games. SMU has now won 10 straight and will call on the Bearcats on Thursday night. These two teams are the class of The American and both are NCAA Tournament teams with deep run ability.
Belmont dropped 18 three pointers in their win over UT Martin as they were 18 of 35 (51%). Nick Smith led the shooting barrage by going 10 for 13 (77%) from long distance as the Bruins knocked down 14 treys in the first half. Their first 12 field goals were from deep!
Oakland has been the Horizon League’s best offensive team for the past two years but is now the top defensive team. The Golden Grizzlies are leading the league with a 4-0 record after knocking off Valparaiso, 78-66. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to Valparaiso and upped the Golden Grizzlies record to 14-3 overall. Greg Kampe is the head coach at Oakland and I am most grateful as he gave me full access to their locker room for their Horizon League showdown on Friday at Valpo. Kampe is a positive taskmaster and educator who combines a sense of humor with Yoda-like wisdom. He told his team prior to going out for the second half, “Do you want your coach to die of a heart attack on national TV? If you do keep throwing up 3-pointers. We’ve got to get it inside or else I’m going to die on the sideline. Is that what you want?” The team responded with a 78-66 win and Kampe is still breathing as I write this.
New Orleans was the Southland Conference's preseason No. 9 pick. The Privateers have gotten off to a 4-0 start in conference play after the Privateers won their second road game of the week. This week they won at Lamar 66-62 (OT) and at Incarnate Word 87-72. In two of their four wins New Orleans has gone to overtime against Texas A&M CC and Lamar.
Northeastern (11-5, 4-0 CAA) is the best kept secret in college basketball. Seven straight wins with four of those wins on the road including at Michigan State. Delaware came to historic Matthews Fieldhouse as the No. 19 three-point defensive team in the country holding opponents to 29%. The Huskies, led by T.J. Williams, went 21-of-33 (63.6%) from behind the arc in a 90-54 drubbing of the Blue Hens. The CAA will come down to UNCW (15-2, 4-0), Northeastern and Charleston (13-4, 4-0). These are three really good teams in an under-valued conference, but not by me!
VCU has now won seven straight games. The team will have a long way to go to catch head coach Will Wade who has run at least one mile for 740 consecutive days (and counting). Wade is disciplined and wanted to set an example of what it takes to be committed. His example is taking root with the Rams.
Mark Adams is ASN’s men’s basketball analyst. Follow him on Twitter at @EnthusiAdams.