The Redshirt Senior: Opening Salvos in the College Basketball Season

by Evan Griffith | 11/11/19 2:00am

Nov. 5 marked the start of the college basketball season, objectively the greatest sports season in America. 

The NCAA is already out swinging its ban hammer at the start of the season by investigating the University of Memphis’ basketball team. It was reported that the NCAA ruled Memphis freshman and projected top pick in the NBA draft James Wiseman ineligible, finding that Memphis coach Penny Hardaway financially assisted Wiseman’s family in their move from Nashville to Memphis in 2018 with a payment of $11,500. Hardaway and Wiseman appeared in court asking the NCAA for a temporary injunction on Nov. 8 — one hour before Memphis was supposed to play the University of Illinois-Chicago (Wiseman played for 25 minutes and scored 17 points with 9 rebounds). Now all we can do is wait while the NCAA spins its wheel of punishment.

By the way, did you hear that the NCAA only punished Seton Hall University’s head coach for two games for tampering with one of Syracuse University’s players to get him to go to Seton Hall? Funny world we live in, isn’t it?

In Ivy League news, remember how I said earlier that Harvard University was going to be AP top-25 good? Yeah, the Crimson just lost to Northeastern University on the road this past weekend. It doesn’t help that Harvard lost one of its three senior stars in Seth Towns, who is currently rehabbing a knee injury. Northeastern controlled the game from the start, going on a 12-2 run to lead Harvard at halftime 44-27. Harvard would go on an 18-3 run to open up the second half and pull within six, but Northeastern would hold on to win 84-79. It’s early enough in the season where it’s not sensible to overreact, and Harvard will most likely be fine, but the dreams of a multi-bid Ivy League to the NCAA tournament might have come crashing down to Earth.

Speaking of overreacting, Dartmouth is without a doubt winning the Ivy League this season. Even after losing Brendan Barry ’20 to injury this season, Dartmouth came out and upset a University of Buffalo team just one year removed from reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Chris Knight ’21 led the way in scoring for the Big Green with 18 points as well as notching 11 rebounds for a double-double. Taurus Samuels ’22 also stepped up in a big way into the starting role vacated by Barry, making 16 buckets and going 5-for-5 on his free throws. Although Buffalo is one year removed from the NCAA tournament, the team lost most of its starting roster and its head coach, Nate Oats, to the University of Alabama (a team which curiously lost to the University of Pennsylvania in its season opener), Buffalo is still one of the strongest opponents on Dartmouth’s non-conference schedule — and getting a win over the Bulls is a great confidence builder for a team expected to finish in the middle of the Ivy League. 

The remaining difficult games on Dartmouth’s non-conference schedule include visits to Bowling Green State University, the University of South Florida and a home matchup with the perennial America East powerhouse University of Vermont. If the Big Green can win the games the team is supposed to win, the team can definitely become a contender in the Ivy League this season.

In major conference news, the first night of conference play featured the top four teams in the AP Poll facing up in the Champion’s Classic at Madison Square Garden. In the first of these games, Duke University beat the University of Kansas 68-66. This was a game in which neither team in particular wanted to shoot the ball well — Kansas shot 46 percent from the field while Duke shot even more poorly at 36 percent. Tre Jones led the way in scoring for Duke with 15 points while also notching six rebounds and seven assists. I’m not taking too much stock in this game moving forward, as many teams come across as flat in their first games. (Syracuse University scored 34 points in its first game. 34! That’s as many as Cole Anthony of the University of North Carolina just scored in one game!)

The second game was a matchup of Michigan State University and the University of Kentucky. Cassius Winston played like the preseason all-American he’s touted to be, scoring 21 points with four assists, but the rest of the Spartans didn’t really feel like showing up that night. No other Spartan scored more than eight points, and Michigan State would go on to lose the game 69-62. The highlight of this game was definitely the play of Kentucky freshman Tyrese Maxey, who came off the bench to score 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting, making three 3-pointers in the process. If this freshman can keep it up, he might be able to take over the starting role at some point later in the season.