The first Monday of 2017 was an exciting one to say the least. It also left us scratching our heads, asking more questions about preseason conference favourites.
Monday’s slate was made up entirely of mid-major programs, with the majority of games being conference match-ups as the battle for conference supremacy is officially under way.
While no power conference teams were in action, there will still several marquee programs in action. The Monmouth Hawks, Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, and the Little Rock Trojans, who all had stellar seasons a year ago, were all in action on Monday.
All three teams suffered defeats.
Following the slate of games on Monday, we were left with more questions than answers when looking at certain programs, and conferences, as the 2016-17 moves along.
Here are the things you need to know from Monday’s action.
Conference Races Wide Open in the Southland, MAAC
Monday night wasn’t too kind to the preseason favourites in both the Southland Conference and the MAAC.
Stephen F. Austin, the perennial powerhouse in the Southland Conference, fell on the road to the McNeese State Cowboys. Fans of the conference know just how rare the loss for the Lumberjacks in conference play is, especially with how dominating they have been over the past few years.
Over the past four years, the Lumberjacks went a combined 69-3 in Southland play, and only lost one game in conference play over the last three seasons combined. After Monday’s defeat, they’re 1-1 on the year.
Four teams in the Southland Conference currently sit at 2-0 on the year, and all four teams reside in the state of Louisiana. If you add in the Lamar Cardinals, who sit at 1-0, five teams in the conference are currently undefeated to start conference play.
On the East Coast, both the Iona Gaels and the Monmouth Hawks suffered defeats in MAAC play. The Gaels are a top contender year after year in the conference, while the Hawks burst onto the scene last year with their impressive play right out of the gate.
Both teams took a loss on Monday, however. The Hawks fell by 10 on the road against the St. Peter’s Peacocks, while the Gaels fell to the Fairfield Stags. Both the Gaels and Hawks sit at 2-2 in MAAC play, and are in the middle of the pack in therms of the conference standings.
While it’s still early into the conference portion of the schedule, both of these conference races appear to be wide open. The teams that many projected to be dominant have limped out of the gate, giving other teams the opportunity to build some early momentum and score some confidence-building wins.
It may only be January, but it feels a little bit like March already.
Points, Points, and More Points
Every team in action on Monday was playing their first game of the New Year, and several teams came in with a bang.
There was a ton of offense all across the NCAA, with a handful of teams either flirting with the century mark, or eclipsing it. In total, 23 teams topped the 80-point mark.
Fourteen teams scored at least 90 points, and five of those teams topped the 100-point plateau. Three of the teams to score more than 90 points suffered a loss on Monday.
The Wofford Terriers scored 103 points, but fell to The Citadel Bulldogs in overtime, 104-103. The Hofstra Pride (95-93 loss) and the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (105-91 loss) also put up a ton of points in defeat.
With 105 points, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions scored the most points of the night, rolling to the 14-point win over the Delta Devils, denying them of their first win of the year in the process.
Other Notes from Monday
- Two teams remain winless in 2016-17, as the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (0-12) and the Alabama A&M Bulldogs (0-14) both suffered defeats on Monday. They square off in SWAC play on Saturday.
- With their 70-65 win, the Samford Bulldogs have started 2-0 in Southern Conference play for the first time in program history. Forward Wyatt Walker ( 11 points, 12 rebounds) recorded his ninth double-double of the year in the win.
- The road team won 19 of the 48 games played on Monday (.396).
- Eight of the ten teams in the Patriot League won at least one conference game over the first weekend. The two teams without a win? The Army West Point Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen.
– T. Bennett