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Mike Lopresti | | November 10, 2021

Men's basketball is back, and this is why we're excited

What to make of Kentucky after the 2021 Champions Classic

How many meaningful/telling/intriguing results could be crammed into the first 12 hours of the college basketball season? Opening night by the numbers:

40-2 – Mike Krzyzewski’s final record in season openers after the 79-71 win over Kentucky. This one came with a message: Krzyzewski’s last team might be a handful. “We had a chance to make a statement,” mentioned ballyhooed freshman Paolo Banchero, who said hello with 22 points. The loudest part of the statement might have been how the Blue Devils kept pushing even when Banchero was back in the locker room needing an IV for his cramps. But then, he wasn’t even the hottest Duke freshman in the lineup as Trevor Keels went for 25 points. That made 47 from two newcomers who intend to make Krzyzewski’s victory lap a happy one. Something else impressive: The Blue Devils managed a showy win despite going 1-for-13 in 3-pointers.

7-2 – Krzyzewski’s record against Kentucky. The Bluegrass won’t be sad to see him go.

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44 – Points in the paint for Kansas in its 87-74 win over Michigan State. Between that and Ochai Agbaji’s career-high 29 points, the Jayhawks looked perfectly comfortable in their No. 3 ranking.

19-1 . . . Tuesday’s record of ranked teams against unranked opponents. So opening night was a real pleasure cruise for the big names, right? Well, not entirely . . .

52.4 -- Navy’s 3-point shooting percentage in its 66-58 win over No. 25 Virginia, the Cavaliers being the 1 of that 19-1 record. The 3-point barrage would suggest Tony Bennett’s customary defense is very much a work in progress with a lot of new faces. Navy’s last victory over a ranked opponent was 1986, when its leading scorer was a tall guy named David Robinson.

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1913 – The last time Akron beat Ohio State. It took a last-second lay-in for that to not happen again, the No. 17 Buckeyes barely getting by the Zips 67-66.

25-5 – The gap in free throws that No. 15 Houston had against Hofstra. The Cougars needed them all, finally beating the Pride 83-75 in overtime, rallying from 13 down in the last nine minutes of regulation. Hofstra made all five of its attempts. Houston missed 10 of its 25 free throws. As for trouble outside the rankings . . .

46 – The Citadel’s losing streak against ACC opponents, going back to 1979. But not anymore. Jason Roche’s eight 3-pointers led a 78-63 upset of Pittsburgh, who is missing a lot of pieces and looked it.

640 – That’s how many college games the 12 returnees on the Miami (OH) roster had played in before this season, totaling 11,795 minutes. A veteran bunch like that could be dangerous. Georgia Tech found that out Tuesday night, losing to the RedHawks 72-69. That made three home defeats for the Yellow Jackets against mid-majors from the state of Ohio in the past five-plus seasons, including Ohio in 2016 and Wright State in 2018. It also made three rather unseemly defeats for the ACC on the first night.

0 – Northern Illinois’ all-time win total against the Pac-12. Well, until Tuesday night when the Huskies shocked Washington 71-64, the program’s first win ever in the state of Washington. Not a bad first game for new coach Rashon Burno. Northern Illinois had been picked to finish 12th and last in the Mid-American Conference. While we’re on the subject of directional schools from the state of Illinois. . .

23 – Western Illinois’ offensive rebounds in its 75-74 win at Nebraska. That led to a 22-8 dominance in second-chance points against the Cornhuskers, who were beaten by two 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds despite 26 points from Arizona State transfer Alonzo Verge Jr. That was the most scoring by anyone in a Nebraska debut in 50 years. Haven’t the Cornhusker fans suffered enough close losses at the football stadium?

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0-12 – UC San Diego’s all-time record against the Pac-12, until dumping California 80-67.

4-for-24 – New coach Mike Woodson wants a robust outside attack at Indiana. This 3-point shooting percentage opening night was not exactly what he has in mind. That was one reason Eastern Michigan, picked to finish 11th in the MAC, cut a 21-point deficit to one in the second half in Bloomington before giving way 68-62.

16 – Consecutive road games for Alcorn State to open the season. The first was an 85-67 loss at Washington State that tipped off at noon PST — the first Division I contest of the season. The Braves will be at Seattle Wednesday, Portland Saturday and No. 1 Gonzaga Monday. Later are trips to Houston and Baylor, meaning Alcorn State will face three of last April’s Final Four before finally playing a home game Jan. 15.

100-12 – North Carolina’s record in season openers. The Tar Heels weren’t about to lose this one against Loyola Maryland (it ended 83-67). Not with Hubert Davis on the bench for his first game as coach and Roy Williams on the first row watching.

9 --- Rebounds for Qunnipiac’s Kevin Marfo in the 83-69 loss at Maryland. Why should we notice? Because it’s part of a most unusual journey. Marfo led the nation in rebounding two years ago for the Bobcats. Then he transferred to Texas A&M. Then he came back this year. There’s a true 2021 age-of-the-transfer portal saga. Speaking of which . . .

20 – Points for Ohio’s Jason Carter in the Bobcats’ 92-80 win over Belmont. Carter is in his sixth season; three at Ohio, then two at Xavier, now back to Ohio. Belmont had been voted the favorite in the Ohio Valley Conference, so this was an impressive win for the Bobcats and the MAC. Just like Miami over Georgia Tech and Northern Illinois over Washington and Akron one second away from taking down Ohio State and Eastern Michigan pushing Indiana — the MAC had a swell first day.

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1971 – The last time St. Bonaventure took the floor as a ranked team, until Tuesday. The moment was not too big for the No. 23 Bonnies, who rolled over Siena 75-47.

901 – Career victories for Bob Huggins after West Virginia beat Oakland 60-53. He’s in a truly ritzy neighborhood now, one win behind Bob Knight, two back of Roy Williams. His mind was probably more on the 48-33 shellacking his Mountaineers took in rebounding against Oakland.

6 – Texas scorers in double figures in the Longhorns’ 92-48 pounding of Houston Baptist. Such balance should be expected from the locker room of transplants new coach Chris Beard has assembled. There are eight players on the roster who averaged in double figures last season, at seven different schools. The public obviously has had its interest piqued by the new look. Texas has set a record in season tickets and Tuesday’s crowd of 14,683 was the largest for a home opener in 20 years.

31 – Points for Colorado State’s John Tonje, as the Rams ran over last year’s NCAA tournament darling, Oral Roberts 109-80. Oral Roberts All-American Max Abmas was the big name on the floor, but Tonje outscored him 31-20. Not bad for a guy who averaged 6.6 last season.

36 – Points by the Boeheim family in Syracuse’s 97-63 win over Lafayette. That was 18 from Buddy, 18 from brother and Cornell transfer Jimmy, and none from dad Jim.

1 – Shots taken by Purdue’s all-Big Ten inside force Trevion Williams in the 96-67 rout of Bellarmine. The fact the Boilermakers could roll without much noise from their vaunted twin towers — six shots total from 6-10 Williams and 7-4 Zach Edey — should be a little scary to future opponents. Instead of forcing things in the paint, Purdue hit 16 3-pointers. The Boilermakers also outrebounded the Knights by 20.

38.8 -- Average winning margin Tuesday for No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 UCLA, No. 4 Villanova and No. 5 Texas. But the appetizer course is over. In the early season's next what-did-we-learn moment, those four will stage Late Night Theater this weekend. Villanova against UCLA in Pauley Pavilion at 11:30 pm. EST Friday and Texas visiting Gonzaga at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

P.S. Gonzaga has won 52 home games in a row.

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