1. Connecticut (1-0, 0-0; LW- 1):
The defending champs beat Bryant 66-53 on Friday, but it wasn’t the dominant performance that many expected. Still, they get the number one spot because of the lack of any other strong performances. The Huskies came back from a nine-point deficit in the second half. Ryan Boatright picked up where Shabazz Napier left off, scoring 24 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out five assists and making four steals. Kentan Facey brought down 11 rebounds in his first game as a starter. Amida Brimah scored 12 and blocked five shots. If Boatright can consistently produce like he did against Bryant, and his supporting cast stays strong, UConn should remain atop the ranks. It plays College of Charleston in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Thursday.
2. Memphis (0-1, 0-0; LW- 2):
The Tigers opened their season against 11th-ranked Wichita State on Tuesday and lost 71-56. Sophomore wing Nick King led them with 16 points and seven rebounds, but the game was even more lopsided than the score suggests. Wichita State went on an 8-3 run to close the first half after Memphis made it a two-point game. The Shockers led by as many as 20 in the second half. Memphis shot just 40.8 percent, and preseason All-Conference pick Shaq Goodwin had a rough day. Josh Pastner has time to sort it out before Memphis’ next game, a Nov. 24 date with Prairie View A&M.
3. SMU (1-1, 0-0; LW- 3):
Larry Brown’s crew throttled Lamar on Friday 93-54, but took one in the chin against Gonzaga, 76-52. This game was also more lopsided than the score suggests. SMU was pushed around down low on both ends of the floor and had no answer for guard Kevin Pangos, who dropped five three-pointers on the Mustangs. They miss Markus Kennedy, but guard play has been an issue. SMU also shot just 31 percent. Nic Moore must step up and pull his team out of the hole on the road against Indiana on Thursday.
4. Cincinnati (1-0, 0-0; LW- 5):
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Cincy won a low-scoring game. The Bearcats beat St. Francis (PA) 52-37 on Friday, led by junior college transfer Octavius Ellis’ 13 points and eight boards. They shot the ball well (45.7 percent) for such a low point total, although they made only two of 14 three-point attempts. But Cincinnati’s pressure defense overwhelmed its opponent; it forced 11 steals and 21 St. Francis turnovers. Morehead State comes to the Queen City on Wednesday night.
5. Temple (2-0, 0-0; LW- 6):
Neither win was pretty, but the Owls beat two teams that could win their respective conferences. They gutted out a 40-37 win against defending Patriot League champion American despite shooting 23 percent. Star guard Will Cumming was just 1-13 from the floor. Temple beat C-USA contender Louisiana Tech (29-8 a season ago) 82-75 on Monday, led by 20 points apiece from Cummings and Quenton DeCosey. The Owls get a bear of a game on Thursday when they play Duke at the Barclays Center in the continuation of the Coaches v. Cancer Classic. They may not have an answer for Duke stud freshman Jahlil Okafor.
6. Tulsa (1-1, 0-0; LW- 4):
The Golden Hurricane laid an egg in Frank Haith’s debut with a 77-68 road loss to Oral Roberts. In a foul-filled game in which neither team topped 40 percent shooting, Oral Roberts made 32 free throws, compared to Tulsa’s 24. Haith and Co. rebounded with a 64-53 win over Louisiana-Lafayette despite 19 turnovers and just four points from star guard James Woodard. Haith needs to get his team’s sloppy play corrected heading into a matchup with Abilene Christian on Wednesday.
7. Houston (1-0, 0-0; LW- 8):
Houston’s revolving door of players continued when guard Torian Graham left the program for personal reasons. But the Cougars got an impressive 77-74 road win against Ohio Valley power Murray State. They trailed by four at halftime, but survived even after committing two turnovers in the final minute. Forward Devonta Pollard scored 19 to lead Houston. Morgan State comes to town on Saturday. Wins like Friday’s should give the Cougars confidence they can win without injured point guard L.J. Rose.
8. East Carolina (1-1, 0-0; LW- 7):
And we thought Tulsa had a rough start. The Pirates gave up 81 points in a Friday win against UNC Wesleyan (a Division III team), and then lost at home to UNC-Asheville 83-79 on Sunday. ECU played horrid defense all of last season, and looks even worse so far this year. Jeff Lebo has some scorers at his disposal, notably forward Caleb White, but this defense has to be corrected or his team will continue to plummet down the ranks. Thankfully, a Thursday matchup with Virginia University of Lynchburg (a USCAA member) should help. ECU would be ranked lower if not for equally poor performances from the teams below it.
9. Tulane (0-1, 0-0; LW- 9):
The Green Wave was blown out by Wake Forest at home, 71-49. Louis Dabney managed 17 points but was the only Tulane player in double figures. Ed Conroy’s team made an appalling one of 20 three-point attempts (Dabney had the one). Tulane has an easier game when it hosts Mississippi Valley State on Thursday.
10.Central Florida (1-0, 0-0; LW- 10):
The Knights held off visiting Stetson 64-55 on Sunday, but didn’t do anything special. Freshman guard B.J. Taylor led them with 14 points and junior college transfer Shaheed Davis had 11 points and 13 rebounds. UCF hosts Division II Eckerd on Thursday.
Not a bad start for Orlando Antigua. The Bulls had two home games, knocked of Division II opponent Flagler 75-61 on Friday, then beating Jackson State 73-64 on Sunday. Sophomore forward Chris Perry led USF in scoring in each game (18 and 21 points, respectively). A road win against UAB would definitely put them out of the cellar for now. Perry will need to dominate again for the Bulls to have a chance.
11. South Florida (2-0, 0-0; LW- 11):