We’ve written plenty about James Wiseman today, so consider that the most important thing that you need to know after Friday night.
1. BAYLOR BLEW A 13 POINT LEAD
For 32 minutes, the Bears were in control. They looked like a true contender for the Big 12 title as their array of talented guards and their monstrous frontline overwhelmed a young Washington team.
And then they decided that they couldn’t finish over Isaiah Stewart.
That’s more or less what it came down to. The way Washington plays in their 2-3 zone is that they allow the ball into the high-post and then dare whoever is playing there to make something happen – challenge the center at the rim, shoot a 10-foot jumper, try and pass the ball to the other big for a shot at the rim. And Baylor just had no answers, because Stewart eliminated anything at or around the rim.
It was really quite impressive.
So was Jaden McDaniels, who had a bit of an up-and-down night but made some big plays in the second half and had three or four moves that just left your jaw on the floor. Truth be told, this Washington team is dangerous when Stewart and McDaniels play the way they did on Friday, and that’s because there is more than enough length and athleticism elsewhere on the roster to make Mike Hopkins’ defense effective.
And while I’m going to avoid jumping to any conclusions after that result – when you comeback from 13 down in the final eight minutes to win you still had to play poorly enough to get down 13 – I have a feeling this win is going to look really, really good on Selection Sunday.
2. DAVIDSON’S LOSS THE MOST VISIBLE ON A BAD NIGHT IN THE A-10
I was expecting the Atlantic 10 to be better this season, but Friday night was not exactly great for the conference.
Let’s start with Davidson, who really struggled against Auburn. The Tigers were simply too athletic for Bob McKillop’s team, who repeatedly missed layups, committed costly turnovers and struggled to keep the faster Auburn guards out of the lane. St. Bonaventure was playing without their star center Osun Osunniyi, but that doesn’t change the fact that losing at home to Vermont is not exactly a great look. No. 25 VCU was able to escape with a win against North Texas, but they had to hold on on their final possession in order to beat North Texas. Richmond was taken to overtime by St. Francis (PA).
So it could have been much worse.
But after watching those games, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence at my prediction that there will be three A-10 teams in the second round of the dance.
3. MERRIMACK BEAT NORTHWESTERN
This may end up going down as the worst loss in college basketball this season.
Northwestern is, allegedly, a Big Ten team. Merrimack is a transitional Division I program playing their second game of their first season at this level. They opened the season with a 20 point loss to a Maine program that won five games last season.
Northwestern lost to Merrimack at home by a score of 71-61.
It’s a good thing that Chris Collins can say he’s the only head coach to have taken Northwestern to the NCAA tournament.
Because I think the Northwestern of old is back.