The first week of college basketball passed on by, and now we no longer have to discuss basketball teams in terms of what they have coming back from last season. We can gauge them on how they beat up on division three opponents and how they kind of came close against teams from better conferences.
1. South Dakota, 3-0
My preseason ranking: 1st
The Coyotes started their season undefeated in Hawaii as part of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic with 2 neutral games against Pacific and Florida A&M, as well as a game at Hawaii.
Even though Nebraska transfer Brady Heiman was granted a waiver, it appears he’ll still be sitting out this season. The Coyotes were still able to prove they had plenty of depth with 5 players scoring in double figures over the weekend.
The Coyotes shot over 50% from the field and 50% from behind the three point line over the weekend. Three players averaged 17 points or more in Hawaii.
6’7″ true freshman Hunter Goodrick out of Australia showed off as a nice surprise averaging 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through the first three games.
2. Oral Roberts, 1-1
My preseason ranking: 2nd
Down by as many as 14 in the second half, Oral Roberts was able to come back and almost beat Oklahoma State. The Golden Eagles are now 2-0 against the spread this season.
With three seniors off the bench, the Golden Eagles will be a mature team and that teams will have to play a complete 40 minutes against.
Sophomore RJ Fuqua came back to the lineup after sitting out 2018-2019. Maybe it was rust, but Fuqua had 10 turnovers and shot 25% from the field through the first two games and may not be the appropriate point guard to lead this team who had the most turnovers in the Summit League this season. He almost seems to be too fast, if that’s possible.
Kevin Obanor hasn’t had a great start to the season. Coaches say the biggest jump for players can be from their freshman to their sophomore season, but sometimes a sophomore slump can occur. Obanor got in foul trouble in his first two games this season and has shot 2-of-12 on the year. He really didn’t use his large frame to get inside baskets and relied on the three just a bit much.
Still with Obanor and Fuqua struggling, the Golden Eagles took Oklahoma State to the wire and beat Houston Baptist by 14.
3. North Dakota State, 2-1
My preseason ranking: 3rd
The Bison haven’t started as hot as they would have hoped to, shooting 29% on threes, but it’s the North Dakota State Bison and they will come around.
4. Omaha, 2-1
My preseason ranking: 4th
The suspension of KJ Robinson has allowed for Ayo Akinwole to step up into a starring role, and allow Zach Thornhill and Wanjang Tut to showcase their talents as they’re being integrated into the starting lineup.
Without Robinson, the Mavericks are averaging nearly 15 turnovers a game.
Not having Robinson and UMKC transfer Marco Smith, the Mavericks are only playing with 7 players, which is depth that won’t get you too far in conference season.
5. South Dakota State, 3-0
My preseason ranking: 8th
The Jackrabbits are 3-0 with a team entirely made up of newcomers. We’ll have a little to compare them to as their first opponent, UT Rio Grande Valley will square off against North Dakota State this Friday.
Sophomore Matt Dentlinger was a huge surprise notching a double-double in their home opener.
Junior college transfer Douglas Wilson is on his way to being candidate for Newcomer of the Year, averaging 21 points and 8.7 rebounds through three games.
6. North Dakota, 1-0
My preseason ranking: 5th
The Fighting Hawks haven’t fought too hard, only playing one game so far against division three Crown College.
Paul Sather’s team will play the opposite of opponents tonight when they faces off against Gonzaga.
7. Fort Wayne, 1-2
My preseason ranking: 7th
The Mastodons only beat Division 3 Manchester by 11 points?
With not much of a point guard presence, the Mastodons look lost on offense and everything appears to be played in random.
8. Denver, 1-1
My preseason ranking: 9th
The team everyone thought would get beat up by everyone this season actually has not looked bad to start the season.
With an 11 point loss to Colorado State and an 12 point win over Utah Valley, the young team can look to build on some confidence. They were able to beat Utah Valley with Ade Murkey scoring just 9 points, and people said the Pioneers would live and die with Murkey.
9. Western Illinois, 0-2
My preseason ranking: 6th
I don’t even want to talk about Western Illinois right now. They’re 0-2 with an understandable loss to Indiana and a 2 point loss at home to Stetson. They lost at home against Stetson only committing 5 turnovers in the game.