This season, B101 will feature a new weekly column that analyzes all of the highlights and lowlights from the previous week's slate of games. The teams, players, conferences, etc. that deserve praise for what they accomplished over the past week will make our Dean's List; those deserving ridicule will be put on Academic Probation.
Here are this week's honorees:
The Dean’s List
Give it up for the best story in the young college basketball season – the dominant force otherwise known as the Atlantic Sun Conference. Not only did Gardner Webb put the league on the map by stunning Kentucky, but Mercer pasted USC (scoring 96 points in the process), and Belmont drubbed Cincinnati. If nothing else, this week all but guaranteed the league a 15 seed on Selection Sunday.
While it was an incredible week for the Atlantic Sun, the Runnin’ Bulldogs – picked to finish eighth in the league – deserve to be singled out for their monumental upset of 14th-ranked Kentucky (in case you were wondering, GWebb was a 26-point underdog). There will certainly be more memorable and more meaningful upsets as the season goes on, especially in conference play and during Championship Week, but none will be as utterly shocking as this one was.
Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Let the Kevin Durant comparisons begin. In his first two college games, Beasley is averaging 32 points and has 38 total rebounds for 2-0 Kansas State. In what is shaping up to be a legendary year for freshmen, Beasley’s name – so far – is at the head of the class.
Austin Daye, Gonzaga
With Josh Heytfelt on the shelf for four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot, the Zags need a scoring lift in a hurry – and they got one from the freshman Daye in their season-opening win over Montana. The 6’-10” Daye also added 10 rebounds in the 77-54 victory.
Josh Mayo, Illinois-Chicago
At the end of the first full week of games, a Mayo leads the leads the nation in scoring – and it’s not one you’ve ever heard of. Junior guard Josh Mayo dropped 34 points, to go along with five rebounds and four assists, in the Flames’ season-opening win over Bradley Saturday. He's your NCAA leader at 34.0 ppg.
Also receiving votes: UNC-Greensboro, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, the unbeaten Horizon
Enough has already been written about how upset/stunned Kentucky fans were with the debacle that was the GWebb game. We’ll only add the following: on the bright side, the Wildcats won’t be hurt too much by losing out on potential games against UConn and Memphis. Their OOC schedule, which features UNC, Indiana, and Louisville, is still impressive – and will give Billy Gillespie three chances to make fans forget the Runnin’ Bulldogs incident ever happened.
It won’t matter how many points O.J. Mayo pours in this season if the Trojans can’t find a way to hold Atlantic Sun squads under 95 points. Then again, maybe Tim Floyd decided to play VMI’s defensive sets and just forgot to tell anyone.
Belmont beat Cincinnati, Creighton beat DePaul, Cleveland State beat South Florida, UConn barely beat Morgan State (by 4), and Seton Hall had to go to OT to beat Monmouth. Wake up boys, the season started…and the Atlantic Sun is better than you.
If the two played right now, Gardner-Webb might beat the Spartans by 30. Tom Izzo’s squad had already lost to DII Grand Valley State in double OT last week, and this week, they almost pulled off the DII double before barely beating Michigan Tech 61-55. Yes, it’s way too early to panic, but…wait, maybe it’s not.
The Cameron Crazies
For a group that considers itself in a class by itself in terms of fanaticism and tradition, this is beyond pathetic.
Also receiving votes: Auburn, New Mexico State, Georgia Tech