O26 Buzz: This Week’s StorylinesPosted by Nicholas Patrick on January 3rd, 2014
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. Eye-Opening O26 Results from the Past Week
- Saturday: UNC Greensboro 55, Virginia Tech 52: The Spartans’ complete list of victories against D-I opponents now includes High Point, Stetson, James Madison, oh, and a member of the ACC.
- Saturday: Massachusetts 69, Providence 67 (OT): Derrick Gordon’s game-winner gave the Minutemen their fifth victory against power conference opponents.
- Monday: Southern 116, Champion Baptist College 12: This game was already unsettling by the time CBC scored its first point (at that time, Southern had already put up 44 points).
- Monday: Louisiana Tech 102, Oklahoma 98 (OT): Alex Hamilton scored 36 to lead the Bulldogs to their first win against a power conference opponent.
- Monday: Pepperdine 80, BYU 74: The Cougars trailed from the opening minutes and finished a disheartening week that also included a loss to Loyola Marymount to open WCC play.
- Tuesday: North Texas 61, Texas A&M 41: The Mean Green took charge midway through the first half and never looked back on their way to crushing the Aggies.
- Thursday: Gonzaga 73, Saint Mary’s 51: If this blowout win over their primary WCC rival is any indication, the Zags may not have a true challenger for the conference crown.
2. Intriguing O26 Games in the Week Ahead
- Saturday: Dayton at Mississippi: The Flyers have a chance to cap a nice non-conference season with a tough road win.
- Sunday: San Diego State at Kansas: The Aztecs will earn the nation’s attention if their elite defense can stop the Jayhawks’ elite offense.
- Wednesday: Indiana State at Drake: This match-up will go a long way in settling the battle for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference (behind Wichita State).
- Wednesday: Boise State at San Diego State: At least four teams are legitimate contenders for the Mountain West Conference title, including the Broncos and the Aztecs.
3. O26 Teams that have Exceeded Expectations Heading into Conference Play
- George Washington: The Colonials, picked to finish 10th in the 13-team Atlantic 10, bring an 11-2 record into their non-conference finale Friday when they host Georgia. GW has already defeated power conference opponents Miami, Creighton, and Maryland, and its two losses came at the capable hands of Marquette and Kansas State.
- Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs figure to be a player in Conference USA, amassing an 11-3 record to this point, including an impressive recent win at Oklahoma. Their three losses came against Saint Mary’s, a decent Louisiana-Lafayette team, and Oklahoma State.
- Massachusetts: The Minutemen, picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10, have put fellow conference title contenders on notice after wins against Boston College, LSU, Nebraska, New Mexico, Clemson, BYU, and Providence. Their only loss came at Florida State.
- Mercer: The Bears’ 9-4 non-conference record included wins against Seton Hall and Mississippi. However, they hit an early bump in their Atlantic Sun schedule by suffering a bad loss at North Florida.
- San Diego State: Thanks in part to wins against Creighton and Marquette and a lone loss to Arizona, the Aztecs’ non-conference resume appears to be the most impressive among the Mountain West’s top contenders
- Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks, picked to finish fourth in the Southland, may have emerged as the class of the conference thanks to a tidy 11-2 non-conference record.
- Toledo: The Rockets had a relatively light non-conference schedule, but a 12-1 start with the sole loss to Kansas is impressive for an O26 team regardless of the opponents.