Thursday was all about Wednesday, as everyone waited to hear the severity of the injury to Zion Williamson, which turned out to not be so bad. Which is good for college basketball. Still, there were actual games – some that made a bubble difference – and here’s what you need to know:
GONZAGA CAN’T BE STOPPED
There’s usually not much reason to talk about Gonzaga from January until Selection Sunday. We know Mark Few’s team is going to steamroll the WCC and then show up as one of the country’s best teams in the NCAA tournament. We know this is a national title contender, and we know the WCC can’t stand up to such a force.
Let’s take a moment, though, to appreciate what the Bulldogs are doing after their 92-64 win over Pepperdine on Thursday.
The ‘Zags have won every WCC game by double-digits, with last week’s 12-point win at Loyola Marymount the most closely contested result. They beat Santa Clara by 59, St. Mary’s by 49. Pacific, BYU and San Francisco are all 30-point victims.
The strength of schedule isn’t good, but the dominance of it is pretty dang good. Gonzaga can only beat who is on its schedule, and the ‘Zags are absolutely laying that slate to waste.
Sure, we don’t need to spend a lot of time on Gonzaga given how weak the WCC, but it’s worth noting just how well they’re taking care of business with no one watching.
BEARCATS STAY A GAME BEHIND HOUSTON
Not unlike how Gonzaga isn’t particularly relevant until it is again, so too has the AAC race gone dormant. The only way that changes is if Cincinnati stays perfect or Houston gives a game back ahead of the two conference frontrunners’ regular-season finale meeting in Cincy.
The Bearcats held up their end of the bargain against one of the AAC’s top teams with a 60-55 win over UCF at home.
Mick Cronin’s team did it with a balanced attack as no player had more than 12 points and every starter had at least seven. There were no bench points for the Bearcats. UCF made nine 3s, but shot a pedestrian 48 percent from inside the arc against the Bearcats’ rugged defense.
The Bearcats still have to go to Orlando to face UCF again while Houston has the Knights at home. If both can conquer Johnny Dawkins’ team, it sets up a March 10th meeting for first place in the AAC. Houston is a game up on Cincy at the moment.
Maybe it’s because Murray State’s Ja Morant takes up all the mid-major oxygen as a dynamic, likely top-five pick, but South Dakota State’s Mike Daum isn’t getting the recognition deserved of a player who just went into the NCAA’s top-10 career scoring list and is about to hit 3,000 points.
Going for 38 points and 20 rebounds in a win against Fort Wayne should help remind people how, ahem, dominant Daum is.
The Jackrabbit senior was 13 of 24 from the floor and 4 of 8 from distance. He’s averaging 25.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game for the Summit League frontrunners.