O26 Buzz: This Week’s Top Storylines

Posted by Nicholas Patrick on December 13th, 2013

Every Friday throughout the rest of the season, the Other 26 Microsite will dig into some of the top storylines featuring those leagues from the previous week. 

1. O26 Teams Make Statements Against Power Conference Teams

George Washington's Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek turned heads with a buzzer-beating win at Maryland (washingtontimes.com)

George Washington’s Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek turned heads with a buzzer-beating win at Maryland (washingtontimes.com)

  • Saturday: New Mexico cruises at home, handing Cincinnati its first loss, 63-54; Green Bay’s Greg Mays and Keifer Sykes each contribute 20+ points to defeat Virginia, 75-72
  • Sunday: Maurice Creek’s buzzer-beater lifts George Washington to a big win at Maryland, 77-75

  • Tuesday: After trailing nearly the entire game, Gonzaga surged ahead late to win at West Virginia, 80-76
  • Wednesday: North Dakota State’s Marshall Bjorklund scored 26 points to lead the Bison over Notre Dame, 73-69

Near misses: Arizona 63, UNLV 58; Xavier 85, Bowling Green 73 (OT); Washington State 67, Idaho 66; Kansas State 64, South Dakota 62; Xavier 63, Evansville 60.

2. Chances For More Statements to Come

With only a few weeks remaining before conference play gets into full swing, opportunities are winding down for Other 26 teams to trip up power conference opponents. Some of this week’s most intriguing match-ups:

  • On Saturday, Oakland will challenge Michigan State. The Grizzlies are certainly long shots in this one, but seniors Travis Bader and Duke Mondy will look to make the most of this opportunity of a lifetime.
  • With a week to prepare for the Jayhawks, New Mexico will take on Kansas in Kansas City Saturday. Bill Self’s team is reeling, losing three of their last four to Villanova, Colorado, and Florida.
  • Louisiana Tech is off to a fast start, compiling an 8-2 record. But none of its opponents compares to Oklahoma State, who await them Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
  • Wichita State has the chance to move from lovable to elite this week as it hosts 6-2 Tennessee on Saturday. Tuesday, the Shockers will visit a 4-4 Alabama squad hungry for its first signature win.
  • KenPom only offers La Salle a seven percent chance to defeat Villanova on Sunday. But all bets are off in any Big 5 match-up, as the Explorers look to recapture some of their magic from March.

3. Player Losses

allen chaney high point

Best of Luck to Allen Chaney in Graduation and Beyond

  • Drake lost senior guard Gary Ricks, Jr. to a season-ending foot injury. The Bulldogs, who had emerged as a contender in the Missouri Valley Conference, will miss Ricks’ production. He was solid in every way, leading the team in assists (3.6 APG), second in scoring (12.6 PPG), and chipping in 3.8 rebounds per game to go along with 49 percent shooting from the field (including 45 percent from beyond the arc) and 89 percent from the line. Good luck to him with his rehabilitation.
  • UNLV freshman forward Jamal Aytes has decided to transfer out after just seven games, citing a lack of playing time.
  • Quite sadly, High Point’s Allen Chaney, who was following up a 14.5/8.1 campaign with an 18.3/9.8 season, has decided to end his career due to risks associated with heart complications.

4. Under-the-Radar Players to Enjoy

Five of KenPom’s top seven Player of the Year candidates hail from Other 26 conferences:

  • John Brown (High Point) – has scored 18+ points in all but one game this season; ranks seventh in offensive rebound percentage.
  • Chris Fowler (Central Michigan) – contributes as a scorer, but makes his mark with an assist rate that ranks fourth in the nation.
  • Javonte Green (Radford) – racks up points largely because he draws fouls at such a high rate (8.2 per 40 minutes, 20th in nation).
  • Seth Hinrichs (Lafayette) – has used a well-rounded game to contribute at least 23 percent of his team’s points in each game this season.
  • Keifer Sykes (Green Bay) – can climb even higher with better shot selection; he is shooting 59 percent inside the arc, but only 27 percent from three-point range.
Nicholas Patrick (5 Posts)

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