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2023/24 Men’s College Basketball season: What we learned from the first week of games

There were some big upsets in the first week of the 2023-24 NCAA men's college basketball season.

Among plenty of stories, James Madison grabbed the headlines as they saw off No. 4 Michigan State, while there there was also a big clash in Durham on Friday night between two traditional powers. 

In between, last year’s NCAA champions, Connecticut, showed that they aren’t going anywhere as they are +1400 to win the NCAAB Championship this season.

Arizona wins first marquee match of season

Coach Tommy Lloyd’s Arizona Wildcats have a bitter taste in their mouths after a 28-7 season ended with a first-round loss to No. 15 seed Princeton in last year's NCAA Tournament.

They made the first big statement of the new campaign by going into rowdy Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday night and coming away with a 78-73 victory over No. 2 Duke. 

All five Arizona starters finished in double figures and transfers Keshad Johnson (14 points, 8 rebounds) Caleb Love (11 points) showed that they will be capable additions. 

Duke center Kyle Filipowski scored 25 points in the defeat, but Duke got minimal offensive contributions elsewhere and were outrebounded 45-33. 

Duke has no time to rest as it faces No. 4 Michigan State Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in Chicago. 

UConn looking good again

Several faces have changed, and the Huskies need to incorporate a talented freshman class and Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer into the lineup, but Connecticut do not look to be going anywhere after last spring’s dominant championship run. 

Tristan Newton and Alexa Karaban averaged 18 points each as UConn had no trouble with either Northern Arizona or Stonehill, winning by a combined 83 points. 

More importantly for coach Danny Hurley, the Huskies’ acclaimed five-man freshman class was able to get minutes, especially future star Stephon Castle, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists against Stonehill.

Key matchups with Indiana, North Carolina, Gonzaga and at No. 1 Kansas over the next few weeks will highlight just how strong this current Huskies iteration is, but the team made clear they don’t intend to sneak up on anyone this season.

James Madison is not just a football school

The James Madison football team improved to 10-0 on Saturday with an easy 44-6 victory over Connecticut. The school has moved up to 21st in the rankings and sits atop the Sun Belt East standings with a perfect 10-0 record. 

But that wasn’t the biggest news on the Harrisonburg, Virginia campus this week. The men’s basketball team went to East Lansing, Michigan, Monday night and upset No. 4 Michigan State in overtime, 79-76. 

Then, the Dukes went to Ohio Thursday night and ended the 23-game home win streak of the Kent State Flashes with another overtime victory, this time 113-108.

James Madison has only made the NCAA tournament twice in the last 40 years, but fourth-year coach Mark Byington has James Madison trending upwards. 

They went 22-11 last year in their first season in the Sun Belt, just two wins shy of the program record set in 1981-82. 

The Dukes picked up just their second win over a top 25 team, and the first in more than 30 years, and take the stand as the early mid-major darlings this season.

Few problems for Purdue 

When you are just the second NCAA men’s basketball No.1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in the first round and you return the reigning John Wooden Award winner who is 7 ft 4in, there really is nowhere to hide. 

And that’s just fine for Purdue, who are +1400 to win the NCAAB Championship.

Wooden Award winner Zach Edey picked up where he left off last year, averaging 17 points and 9.5 rebounds as the Boilermakers easily handled Samford and Morehead State. 

Braden Smith is averaging 11.5 points and nine assists through two games, while Lance Jones is averaging 10.5 points.

Purdue has a tough Xavier squad at home this week before opening up with No. 11 Gonzaga in a stacked Maui Invitational Field. 

Tune-ups out of the way for No.1 Kansas

Top-ranked Kansas, who are +1200 to be crowned champions this season, cruised to two opening-week wins, defeating NC Central and Manhattan each by at least 38 points. 

That schedule changes immediately as the Jayhawks take on No. 16 Kentucky in Chicago Tuesday night at the Champions Classic.  

Michigan Transfer Hunter Dickinson has been the real deal, leading the Jayhawks in scoring (19.5 ppg) and rebounding (8 rpg) through two games. 

Kevin McCullar Jr., K.J. Adams, Johnny Murphy and Parker Braun are also averaging double figures scoring so far for Kansas.

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