Monday Madness: Best & worst of the weekend

College basketball's opening weekend was, for the most part, a bunch of preseason exhibitions that just happened to count toward regular-season win-loss records. Although the next few days on the calendar will give us some marquee matchups, few of the country's top teams tested themselves against noteworthy competition on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

So while we'll know a lot more about the likes of Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas and Duke by this time next week, not much has happened yet to change anyone's perceptions. Here is the best and worst of the weekend that was:



Oregon 82, Georgetown 75: The ESPN broadcast was all about spectacle, uniqueness and paying respect to U.S. military personnel on Veterans Day weekend. Playing in front of a crowd of soldiers on an Army base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, both teams wore camouflage uniforms with words like "Respect," "Courage," "Integrity" and "U.S.A." on the back of their jerseys. It was a good show. And somewhere in there, we got a good game between two Top-25-caliber teams. The Ducks edged the Hoyas despite the absence of starting point guard Dominic Artis (suspension) and their inability to stop G'town big man Joshua Smith (25 points). Joseph Young led Oregon with 24 points, Jason Calliste added 16, and that pair combined to shoot 33 of 33 from the free-throw line. Georgetown, meanwhile, was done in (as usual) by turnovers and poor shooting.

Providence 82, Boston College 78 (OT): The latest edition of an old New England rivalry belonged to Providence guard Bryce Cotton. On his way to 28 points, Cotton made up for missing a three-pointer that could've won it in regulation by scoring the Friars' first six points in overtime to help them put away the Eagles. Oh, and Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery were on commentary for this one, which automatically made it better.

UConn 78, Maryland 77: The Huskies were blowing the Terps out at Barclays Center in Brooklyn before a second-half rally made it entertaining. Shabazz Napier (18 pts, 7 rebs, 7 asts) led UConn to a 17-point lead with 12 minutes left, but the tech he received for taunting after assisting Ryan Boatright on a fast-break dunk seemed to wake Maryland up. They responded with an 11-0 run, and Dez Wells' pull-up jumper with 38 seconds left brought the Terps within one point. Some missed free throws by UConn gave Wells two chances to hit a go-ahead bucket, but he couldn't convert and the Huskies escaped with a win.

Temple 78, Penn 73: A good old Big 5 showdown at the Palestra in Philly saw the Owls go up by 15 with under 13 minutes remaining, lose that lead with under two minutes left, then pull out the W thanks to Dalton Pepper's go-ahead layup with 45 seconds to play. Conference realignment, money and politics may have claimed rivalries like Kentucky-Indiana and Georgetown-Syracuse, but if the Big 5 ever dies, then we'll know college basketball truly has lost its soul.



Glenn Robinson III, Michigan: With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. gone to the NBA, and Mitch McGary gone for the Wolverines' season opener with a back injury, Little Big Dog had to play the role of UM's undisputed go-to guy for the first time. Robinson put up 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in Friday's win over UMass-Lowell, but the Wolverines were actually losing in the second half to the D-1 newcomers, and their sophomore star didn't exactly take over. Robinson was good, but he didn't do anything to quell the criticism that he tends to drift when he could be dominating.

Gary Harris, Michigan State: The multi-talented sophomore had 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a rout of McNeese State. Harris is one of those throwback guards who would fit in and shine in any era. Stick him on Magic Johnson's Spartans teams, Shawn Respert's or The Flintstones and he'd still be one of the MVPs.

Joshua Smith, Georgetown: Despite what Oregon coach Dana Altman and the official school bio says, Smith is not carrying 350 pounds on his 6-10 frame. I just don't see it. Whatever the number may be, Smith looks like he's in better shape than he was at UCLA, and he used his Zach Randolph-like girth and skill set to pour in 25 points in just 27 minutes in his Hoyas debut against the Ducks in South Korea.

LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: A high school phenom in Mississippi who seemed destined for one-and-done status, Ross took a little longer than expected to establish himself on the college level. It happened last season, when his game-winning three lifted the Buckeyes over Arizona and into the Elite Eight. Now a junior, the 6-8 wing is one of Ohio State's go-to scorers. He opened the season with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort against Morgan State on Saturday.



C.J. Wilcox, Washington: It was assumed for most of last season that Wilcox, the Huskies' third option during the Tony Wroten/Terrence Ross era, would be going pro after showing what he could do in the No. 1 spot. Wilcox decided to come back for his senior year, however, and now the 6-5 shooter continues to know he can do more than catch and fire. In Sunday's win over Seattle U, Wilcox often played out of position due to injuries on UW's front line. While SU defended him well on the perimeter, he managed seven rebounds and four assists and scored a game-high 22 points on a night where his shot wasn't falling.

Cleveland Melvin, DePaul: During Saturday's win over Grambling, the 6-8 senior forward Melvin (17 pts, 5 threes) became DePaul's 10th all-time leading scorer. He and senior guard Brandon Young have been the cornerstones of Oliver Purnell's rebuilding project at the Chicago school that has no business not being nationally relevant.

D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's: The program hasn't seen a pure backcourt scorer like Harrison since the days of Marcus Hatten. The 6-3 junior averaged 17.8 points last season before a suspension cost him the final six games, and he kicked off this season with a 27-point outing in Friday's loss to Wisconsin.

Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: Before Marcus Smart arrived in Stillwater and took the Big 12 by storm, Nash was the Cowboys' headliner. The former high school All-American has been solid, averaging 13.3 points as a freshman and 14.0 as a sophomore, but he's also struggled with shot selection and learning to play under control. In Friday's rout of Mississippi Valley State, Nash grabbed 10 rebounds and scored 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the line.



Julius Randle, Kentucky: Before the season began, I wrote something about Randle possibly not getting the ball enough on Kentucky's guard-heavy team to put up the numbers representative of his talent. Two games in, Randle is averaging 22.5 points and 14.5 rebounds. So yeah...

Jabari Parker, Duke: One guy doesn't have to dominate the ball on this deep and versatile Blue Devils squad, but Parker could be Coach K's version of Carmelo Anthony given the opportunity. The 6-8 forward scored an easy 22 points in Duke's opening rout of Davidson.

Kasey Hill, Florida: The Gators need a generous point guard to spread the ball around and keep everyone happy, while also knowing when the tantalizingly athletic lineup needs to slow things down. Hill looks like the man for the job. He had 15 points and four assists in Friday's win over North Florida, but that was just a warm-up for Tuesday's game against Wisconsin and its forever-tough defense.

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: The most hyped-up college freshman since Greg Oden would've had to score 30 with a triple-double and 10 dunks to live up to expectations in his KU debut, but there wasn't anything wrong with Wiggins' 16 points, three steals and two three-pointers in a ho-hum win over Louisiana-Monroe.



Kentucky: If you don't like the one-and-done thing, if you don't like high school superstars teaming up to form loaded squads in college, if you're tired of the SEC's dominance in football and couldn't stand to see it repeated in basketball ... Well, you might want to bury yourself in NBA League Pass right now and not look back. The Wildcats' two tune-up blowouts before Tuesday's 1-versus-2 matchup with Michigan State offered no evidence to suggest Julius Randle and Co. won't run through the rest of the country like Anthony Davis and his crew did two years ago.

Michigan State: Adreian Payne had a quick and quiet double-double, Gary Harris was dominant, and Tom Izzo was able to empty the bench in Friday's blowout of McNeese State. I think the team manager and trainers even got some PT.

Syracuse: Trevor Cooney and his seven threes owned the night as 'Cuse ran over Cornell on Friday, but the Orange front line will be what carries them deep into the NCAA Tournament. Small forward C.J. Fair scored 19 points on Friday (although he had seven turnovers) and Rakeem Christmas added 12. Then there's sophomore center DaJuan Coleman, senior center Baye Moussa Keita, and freshman forwards B.J. Johnson and Tyler Roberson, who all played double-digit minutes against Cornell. And that was with sophomore forward Jerami Grant, also expected to be a major contributor, sitting out one game for a reported NCAA violation of summer-league rules.

Wisconsin: While the majority of high-major teams chose to open their schedules with cupcakes, the Badgers tested themselves against St. John's of the Big East. And they won convincingly. This team is just like every other Bo Ryan team you've seen at Wisconsin -- tough on defense, balance and efficient on offense -- and it wouldn't surprise me to see them in the national championship picture.



Oregon State: Craig Robinson knows that as soon as Michelle and Barack Obama are out of the White House, he's out as the Beavers' coach, right? Whatever recruiting advance was supposed to come with being the President's brother-in-law -- and Robinson really did go on the campaign trail publicly soliciting 7-footers to call him -- hasn't led to noticeable results for Oregon State, as its NCAA Tournament drought is nearing the 25-year milestone. The Beavers were upset by Coppin State on Sunday, at home, and despite getting 36 points from senior guard Roberto Nelson.

Virginia Tech: Expectations aren't high for the Hokies -- multiple media outlets picked them to finish in last place in the ACC -- but they're still not supposed to be losing at home to USC Upstate.

La Salle: The feel-good vibe from last season's surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen is officially gone, or at least it will be in the Explorers' practice gym after a season-opening home loss to Manhattan. La Salle will have to run a lot if coach John Giannini continues to go with a short rotation. In Saturday's double-overtime loss, three starters played at least 44 minutes each, and only three reserves saw action.

Georgetown: I don't know about JT3, but the Hoyas would definitely be in trouble if Big John Thompson was still coaching. You think he'd want to fly 35 hours to South Korea just to lose?



Is it too early to declare Andrew Wiggins is going to be only the third-best freshman in the country behind Jabari Parker and Julius Randle?

Would Charleston Southern face more resistance from Johnson University, who they destroyed 130-51 on Friday, or from Johnson & Johnson?

With Indiana State unveiling a bronze statue of Larry Bird over the weekend, do you think a player needs to play at least three years in college to get his or her own statue?

Who will be this year's Miami, as in the veteran-laden team in a power conference that we should have seen coming all along and still overlooked?



God'sgift Achiuwa, St John's

Onzie Branch, Gardner-Webb

Basil Smotherman, Purdue

Hikeem Champaigne, Savannah State

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