Over the course of this season at Palestra Back, the Full 353 will cover every ounce of college basketball with one clear and stated goal:
We’re going to try to mention every single men’s Division I basketball team.
This is a lofty goal that I’m certain I will struggle to meet. If we don’t get there by March, we’ll scratch and claw as far as we can. In the end, no matter the final number, I hope that this effort brings you a deeper, more complete, and more enjoyable experience here at the blog. We’ll count along in (bold) to track our progress through the season.
The next month will be filled with discussion of teams who make the NCAA Tournament. But we still have lots of teams to cover that will not be dancing. So today (for the second time), let’s roll through all the power conference teams that will certainly NOT be reaching the promised land. Was this a one-year blunder or is the program in disarray?
(all stats and standings current through the games of March 7)
Ole Miss (133)
I’m not sure there’s a more underappreciated player in college basketball than Breein Tyree from Ole Miss. He’s the SEC’s 2nd leading scorer at 20.0 points per game. He dropped 40 points on Mississippi State, 38 points on South Carolina, and 36 points on LSU. Sure, he hoists 15 shots per game, but on a middling Ole Miss team without much going for it, Tyree has been very impressive. Worth a mention, which is more than he’s getting on national TV.
We’ve covered the Hokies before. The future is bright in Blacksburg, with two freshmen standouts on campus. Landers Nolley scored 15.9 points per game and Jalen Cone shot 49.6 percent from outside the arc. That’s a backcourt to build around.
There will be a lot more to say about Georgia come NBA Draft time, with freshman Anthony Edwards sure to be a one-and-done and likely to be a top three selection. His talent came in flashes, often very brief flashes. That left Georgia in a weird place. Edwards was liable to pop for a 30-point game or unbelievable play at any moment. He also coasted through long stretches and disappeared for possessions, halves, or even games.
So Edwards will leave. What happens to Georgia?
Kansas State (134)
If you thought Kansas State getting in a bench clearing brawl with its arch-rival would be its low point this season, well that might not be true anymore. The Wildcats have now lost ten straight games and turned this season from mediocre to disaster. Against the KenPom top 100 this season, Kansas State went 2-19. And one of the wins was versus UNLV, ranked 99th.
Sooner or later, we’re going to either see Pitt return to its place as one of the premier programs in the Northeast or forget that they ever occupied that space in the first place.
Jeff Capel might be the recruiter to help make the jump back to relevancy. The Panthers’ core is made up of four sophomores and a freshman. The future should be bright. We’ll check back in with Pitt next year.
Northwestern had 121 steals as a team this season. So did Merrimack’s Juvaris Hayes, who led the nation in steals. He had the same amount of steals as Northwestern’s entire team. He also had 3 steals against Northwestern, to go along with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and a win. Merrimack, in it’s first season in Division I, went 20-11 and won their conference. Merrimack was fun!
Northwestern was not.
This season, Northwestern also lost games to Radford (136) and Hartford (137). The Wildcats also went 1-16 against Big Ten teams that aren’t Nebraska.
Is it possible to have an opinion on a season that ended 15-15 with a win at Illinois and a home loss to Pitt? Miami, on paper, was the most boring team in America.
In practice, that was not true. Miami had Chris Lykes.
Chris Lykes scored 15.3 points per game this year, his junior season. Lykes is listed at 5-foot-7.
I need Miami to be relevant again next year to have a good reason to watch Chris Lykes embarrass people who are taller than him.
Wake Forest (139)
I have not regretted the format or goals of the Full 353 more than this moment. Writing about Northwestern, Miami, and Wake consecutively during Championship Week feels like a punishment.
Wake, except for a win over Duke, was not good this season. In six seasons as head coach, Danny Manning has made one NCAA Tournament. In 2017 he led Wake to the First Four, where the Demon Deacons lost to Kansas State. That’s a long time to go without playing even in the round of 64.
I don’t know what expectations are at Wake, but they should probably not be high. Wake Forest has about 5,200 undergraduate students and an endowment of $1.3 billion. Boston College has 9,900 undergraduates and $2.5 billion in endowment. Duke has 6,900 undergrads and over $8 billion in endowment. It’s not even worth looking up those numbers for the public schools in the ACC. Wake is a goldfish in a pond full of sharks.
But a tournament appearance now and then is probably not too much to ask.
I can’t believe all of these teams played full seasons in front of fans and occasionally on television.
Missouri committed the 14th most fouls in the nation and faced the 11th most free throw attempts in the nation. Do better next year!
Now this is a team I’ve actually watched! I like the Utes. Rylan Jones is a fun freshman point guard who will grow into a player that every college basketball fan will love or despise.
Utah also has an exciting sophomore scorer named Both Gach. He beat Colorado with game-winning free throws, thanks to this gift of a call.
Washington State (142)
It’s a bad look that a former Wazzu player is going to be an All-American for another school, with Malachi Flynn leading San Diego State to a two-loss season.
But it was head coach Kyle Smith’s first year at Wazzu, so, let’s wait and see. Thanks, for the Cosmic Crisps, guys.
Texas A&M (143)
Let’s let Buzz Williams talk for his team:
It’s still weird that he has hair now.
The Huskers lost 15 in a row to end the regular season. The entire Nebraska team shot 59 percent from the free throw line. They had over 13 percent of their shots blocked!
They also beat Purdue (144) by 14 in December. Just another reason Purdue should not be in the NCAA Tournament.
Let me say that again:
Purdue should not be in the NCAA Tournament.
I don’t think Vanderbilt should be allowed to have their home court set up the way that they currently do, with the benches on opposite baselines. I think it is, for some reason, a massive advantage. Sure, the ‘Dores went 3-15 in SEC play, but they always steal a win thanks to the baseline benches.
This year, they beat LSU (36th per KenPom). Last year, they beat Arizona State (57th). In 2018, it was Florida (22nd) and TCU (24th). The list goes on and on.
Make Vandy put the benches where they belong!
Boston College (146)
Disclosure: I graduated from Boston College. If for some reason you think that means I’ll be complimentary of the program, well I’ve got news for you.
It’s a weird program. It’s probably the only program in the ACC that has two other sports at its school that are better funded and better attended. If you’re questioning that statement, you have never been to a hockey game at Conte Forum. Basketball, barring a major shift in success, will always come third at BC.
That’s especially notable given BC’s position within the Boston area. College sports are an afterthought, if that, compared to the four pro teams in Beantown.
That makes Boston College basketball a blip on the radar. There’s little support from the surrounding community. There’s next to no student support. Until recently, the school barely seemed to care whether the program made a name for itself.
That makes for a tough coaching job. Jim Christian has tried his best. He didn’t inherit much. In his second season, the Eagles went 0-18 in the ACC. He has not reached an NCAA Tournament and only has one NIT berth in five seasons. His predecessor, Steve Donahue, was given four tournament-free seasons before being shown the door. Time has come for Christian to see the same fate. A revolving door on the head coach’s office is no way to build a program, but Christian has done nothing to earn more time on the Heights.
One name to watch should BC move on from Christian: Thad Matta. Boston College’s athletic director, Martin Jarmond, was an assistant AD at Ohio State before moving to Chestnut Hill. Just months after Jarmond left Columbus, Matta and the Buckeyes parted ways. Since then, Jarmond’s most notable move as AD at BC was hiring a new football coach, Jeff Hafley. Surprise, surprise: Hafley was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator prior to the BC gig. Even though he and Jarmond never crossed paths, clearly the connection was part of the move.
Matta is the kind of big name splash that a program like BC is usually incapable of creating. Matta is a good in game coach and clearly could recruit, both at Butler and Ohio State. If Matta’s retirement was legitimate, Jarmond’s next call should be Vermont’s John Becker, who could be interested in step up to the big leagues.
On March 8, 2020, I learned that Mark Fox is now the coach at Cal.
I’m not sure. I think Cal might have the distinction of being the power conference school with the lowest expectations to succeed.
FINAL TALLY: 15
SEASON TO DATE: 147
We’re getting there, slowly. Conference tournaments should give us plenty to talk about, but it’s not easy to match up the interesting storylines from this week with teams that we haven’t hit yet. I was excited for Wyoming’s big run, but turns out we checked them off months ago.
Regardless, we soldier onward. We go down with this ship.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and senior writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to ESPN.com, Rush The Court, Larry Brown Sports, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. You can find every post from this blog on Twitter by following @PalestraBack.