The Hall of Fame Tip-Off Championship features 4 ranked teams
The inaugural week of the college basketball season was, as usual, packed with marquee games.
No.7-ranked Duke defeated No.13 Kentucky in the Battle of the Blue Bloods while No.3 Kansas State Michigan knocked out two top-ranked heads at Madison Square Garden. Eighth-ranked Gonzaga defeated the No.8-ranked Texans in Spokane and outpaced UCLA for the fifth in what may be one of the best games of the season.
Week two is filled mostly with pay-to-play games, with one exception: the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut, this weekend.
The mini-tournament at the Mohegan Sun Arena features four teams from the top 25 AP. It starts on Saturday as Villanova faces No. 17 Tennessee, followed by No. 6 Purdue against No. 18 North Carolina.
The same four seeded teams will participate in the tournament and mourning matches on Sunday.
Villanova (1-1) entered the season as one of the early runners-up to win the National Championship with loaded team and point guard Colin Gillespie returning from a knee injury that knocked him out of the post-season.
The Wildcats opened the season with a predictable defeat over Mount St.
The two highly ranked teams played what looked like an NCAA championship match at the bustling Pauley Pavilion, with UCLA taking an additional win 86-77.
“I think we can be a good team but we still have work to do,” Vilanova coach Jay Wright said.
After hosting Howard, the Wildcats get another big test against the Vols.
New Look Tennessee (2-0) entered its early schedule, defeating UT Martin and East Tennessee by 60 points.
The Vols will have a week off before facing Villanova, which should give forward John Fulkerson more time to build up his stamina after returning from a thumb injury against East Tennessee State. The first graduate had six points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes.
“We wanted to get Volcke in good shape,” said Vols coach Rick Barnes. “Maybe we left him there a little longer than we normally would. There was one time he asked to come out. We need to set him up.”
North Carolina State (2-0) looked strong in their first two games under new coach Hubert Davis. Former replacement Roy Williams had done well on the recruiting circuit to keep up the talent level at Chapel Hill and Tar Heels beat Browns 94-87 on Friday after beating Loyola of Maryland in the opener.
“I was so proud of them, how they responded,” said Davis. “Brown was a very good team, played very well and we didn’t panic. Everyone who was involved put in a play that helped our team win.”
Purdue, led by Big Ten striker Travon Williams, opened the season with two easy wins. Boilermakers rolled Bellarmine 96-67 in the opener and beat Indiana State 92-67 on Friday night.
Purdue demonstrated his versatility through two games, scoring 16 three-pointers in the opening game and dominating inside against Indiana State.
“They are the elite on both ends of the earth, they have incredible size and incredible talent,” said Indiana State coach Josh Schertz. “All the hype is legit and they have a chance to be the last team standing.”
No. 4 Michigan is one of the favorites for the national title and it’s a good start.
The Wolverines opened the season with an 88-76 victory over the Buffalo and followed that up by crushing Prairie View A&M 77-49.
The Michigan road gets even more challenging this week with a game against Seton Hall on Tuesday night, then a trip to Las Vegas to play UNLV, then Arizona or Wichita State.
The Wolverines’ biggest problem yet: the free throws. They have lost 27 games in two games and are shooting 56.5%.
“We’re not too concerned about that,” said Hunter Dickinson of Michigan. “I feel like that’s the one thing we can definitely improve on and that’s something I will definitely work on.”
For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.