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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 7 Takeaways from Week 5 of the College Basketball Season

Top 7 Takeaways from Week 5 of the College Basketball Season

Publish Date: 12/11/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Week 5 Takeaways

1) BYU is good, but…

One of the newcomers to the Big 12 that hasn’t received as much media coverage is off to an impressive start: The BYU Cougars are 8-1 after losing to Utah yesterday and are currently ranked 14th nationally heading into this past week. These victories came over former Mountain West foe San Diego State, Arizona State and NC State, respectively – winning games by an average margin of 15 points each time with only San Diego State and N.C. State being the only close games.

The BYU Cougars have been an offensive powerhouse this season, scoring 91.9 points per game on average and shooting 48.1% from the field. Five players are scoring double figures, with Spencer Johnson leading them. His five rebounds and five assists help propel BYU to being one of the most efficient teams on both ends of the floor; BYU ranks 11th nationally for both offensive and defensive efficiency as well as second for block percentage (3.6%) as well as ranking 13th for two-point shot percentage 59.2% and being best in the country for three-point defense, allowing opponents just 22% from two-point shots!

Though the Cougars entered the NET rankings at No. 2, behind Houston, their schedule will likely prove detrimental. Their non-conference slate features four quad-four wins and only one road game (Saturday at Utah). It is off to a great start; however, its continuation into Big 12 play remains to be seen. They probably won’t win the Big 12, but don’t be surprised if they finish in the top half and get a nice seed come March.

2) The Big Ten is weak this season

Yes, Purdue looks like a National Title contender, and Illinois and Wisconsin have excellent teams. Of course, you know Tom Izzo, by season end, will have the Spartans ready to compete in March Madness, but who else is good in this league? Nebraska had a promising start brought back to earth by Creighton, who crushed the Huskers. Indiana looks solid until they play the UCONNs and Auburns of the world. Minnesota is bad, Penn State is bad, and Michigan is a mess. Iowa has been an embarrassment, and Maryland has talent but no direction.

The Big Ten has not won a National Championship in over two decades, and it looks like it may continue this season. The only real hope to win it all in The Big Ten is Purdue, and we all know what Purdue is known for in March. The Big Ten is not athletic enough to compete nationally; they also the lack coaching in most cases to compete nationally.

3) Xavier owns Cincinnati

Since the eighties, the Xavier Musketeers have owned the Cincinnati Bearcats, and every year, it seems to get worse and worse for the Bearcats. This season, the Bearcats went to Xavier as a slight favorite and were outplayed and out-coached yet again as a below .500 Xavier beat an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats squad. This was supposed to be the season that the Bearcats would go into the Cintas center and come away with a win, and it didn’t happen! Maybe no matter who plays in the game, the Bearcats are just doomed against Xavier. The biggest reason for this Bearcat loss is their refusal to play tough teams early in the season. The Cats are not ready to play in the Big 12. Xavier was battle-tested coming into this game, and don’t be surprised if they end up dancing in March.

4) Thad Matta is turning it around at Butler

Thad Matta’s return to Butler has already paid dividends. Now 7-2 and with three consecutive victories since suffering defeat at Michigan State and FAU earlier in the season, Butler is far superior to its predicted finishing spot of 10th in the Big East.

Thus far, the Bulldogs have been led by four transfer players: Pierre Brooks, Jahmyl Telfort, DJ Davis and Posh Alexander. Brooks started his career at Michigan State, where he saw limited action. This year has been a breakout season for him at Butler, shooting 51% from deep and leading his team in scoring with 17 points per game. Telfort spent three successful years at Northeastern before joining Brooks to form an tough duo, contributing 15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and three assists per game – an ideal pairing that has produced results!

Davis spent three years at UC-Irvine, where he shot 40% from three last season and improved his rebounding and assist numbers to 3.3 and 2.4 this season. Alexander spent three years at St. John’s and now leads Butler in assists and steals with 5.3 dimes per game and 1.9 thefts, respectively.

While the Bulldogs have averaged 82 points per game this season, what has truly distinguished them is their efficiency on offense – ranking 47th in effective field goal percentage and turning over just 10.7 times per game!

5) Look out for the Trees

The Indiana State Sycamores are off to a 10-1 start; the only loss was at Alabama while playing without their number-one scorer. The Sycamores are a great shooting team which comes from unselfish play. The Sycamores’ Head Coach, Josh Schertz, has turned the Sycamores program into one of the better mid-majors in the country and what looks to be a very dangerous team come tourney time. The Indiana Hoosiers should look at Schertz as a possible replacement for Mike Woodson in the future. Schertz coaches the way Indiana basketball fans are used to playing unselfishly, and they shoot the lights out. The Sycamores hit well over forty per cent of their three-point attempts, and 40 per cent of their shots come from three-point range.

6) Clemson is different this season

The Clemson Tigers have started the 2023-24 season undefeated after knocking South Carolina off. Under Brad Brownell’s tutelage, these Tigers won 23 games last season to place third in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Picked to finish fifth this year, their hallmark road victory against No. 23 Alabama at the ACC/SEC Challenge stands out among their other wins this season.

The Tigers are led by three experienced seniors: PJ Hall, Chase Hunter and Syracuse transfer Joe Girard III. All three players average double figures with at least 2.5 assists a game and shooting over 36% from deep.

As a team, the Tigers love shooting threes – they average 41% three-point accuracy, which ranks 7th nationally! Additionally, 38% of their offensive production comes via long balls. When the NET rankings were released last Monday afternoon, Alabama and Pittsburgh were both quad-one wins; all other victories currently exist as quad three or quad four victories (as of last Monday).

Clemson has had similar starts before, only to struggle in league play and end up failing. The veterans on this year’s squad want to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and I think that is a possibility. Don’t sleep on these Tigers.

7) Colorado State is one of the best teams in the Country

Last year, the Mountain West put a team in the Final Four, and the Colorado State Rams can do that again this season. Isaiah Stevens stands out as one of the premier point guards in the country, dishing out eight assists per game while stealing 1.4 times per contest! But Niko Medved’s Rams don’t rely solely on Stevens; Joel Scott and Nique Clifford combine for 26.5 points and 12.5 rebounds every contest, too. Colorado State is one of the most efficient teams on offense in the country, ranking sixth on KenPom. Their offense ranks second for effective field goal percentage and three-point field-goal percentage at 62.8%, respectively – not including their win over Creighton last month, where they dominated the Blue jays! Colorado State boasts four quad two wins so far this season, and two of these victories were earned on neutral floors.

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