It was looking like college basketball was going to have a relatively quiet night even with the start of the Maui Invitational, but that plan was shot to hell thanks to Virginia Tech and Mike Young.
Here is everything you need to know from the night in college basketball.
1. VIRGINIA TECH RUINED OUR SHOT AT A TOP FIVE MAUI TITLE GAME
No. 3 Michigan State is not playing well right now. I think that much is very clear, and we’ll have something coming on Michigan State in the near future.
But that’s not what we are talking about right now.
Because as flawed as Michigan State is at the moment, they are still one of the best teams in the sport and Virginia Tech went out and beat them in a pretty convincing matter. Yes, the final score was 71-66 and no, this was not a blowout win by any stretch of the imagination.
My point is that this wasn’t a fluky loss. Virginia Tech is a good team that is exceptionally well-coached, executes and, on Monday night, played about as well as they can. Landers Nolley put on a show. When Virginia Tech needed a bucket down the stretch it was Nolley that they went to, and he delivered, beating Aaron Henry on back-to-back possessions for a floater and a three that kept the Spartans at bay.
Wabissa Bede played well. So did P.J. Horne. The thing that I like about this team more than anything else is that they understand what they are and what they are not. They are a team with a ton of shooting that can space the floor and make opposing defenses uncomfortable with the sets that they run. They are a team that has enough good individual defenders to be tough enough on that end of the floor to execute a game-plan. They are not a group that will let you get them playing at a pace they aren’t comfortable with, and they are not a team that is going to beat themselves.
I did not expect much from this team this season. I don’t think anyone did. But after this win in Maui, the Hokies are sitting at 6-0 on the season.
Credit where it is deserved: Mike Young has done a terrific job to date.
Now if he only could have held off on this breakout until after we saw No. 3 Michigan State and No. 4 Kansas play for the Maui title.
2. DAYTON AND RICHMOND SHOW OUT FOR THE ATLANTIC 10
We knew that the Atlantic 10 was going to be better this season than it has been in the past, and Monday night certainly did not change that feeling.
The win that everyone is going to be talking about tomorrow was Dayton knocking off Georgia and potential No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards. That’s because it came in the first game of the Maui Invitational and featured another potential first round pick in Obi Toppin popping off for 25 points and four boards on national television in a game every college basketball fan was locked in on.
But the team that might have actually landed a more impressive win was Richmond.
Now, it was not that long ago that Richmond fans were protesting the fact that head coach Chris Mooney had not been fired yet. I think they are going to come to regret that, because on Monday night, the Spiders went into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and knocked off Wisconsin, 62-52. Blake Francis had 19 points and six assists to lead the way while Grant Golden chipped in with 16 points and 12 boards.
The Spiders now have a date with Auburn on Tuesday night, and it was these Auburn Tigers and lit the soul of Davidson on fire earlier this month.
I still think VCU is probably the best team in the Atlantic 10 – they have yet to do something to convince me otherwise – but Dayton has proven themselves to be damn good, and Richmond is not all that far behind.
It may not be exactly the teams we expected, but it turns out the A-10 is pretty top heavy after all.
3. STANFORD MIGHT BE FOR REAL
I’ll be honest. I did not expect anything out of Stanford this season. That might end up being a mistake. The Cardinal improved to 7-0 on the season by beating previously undefeated Oklahoma by 19 points, 73-54, in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City on Monday night.
Tyrell Terry led the way with 20 points and 11 boards for Stanford. A 6-foot-1 freshman from Minneapolis, Terry has been awesome Jeron Haase to date, averaging 15.2 pints, 4.2 boards and 3.3 assists. His addition has allowed Haase to play small-ball and move Daejon Davis to an off-guard spot.
The Sooners get Butler tomorrow night. That will be a nice test for both teams.