Mid-Major Takeaways: Week Seven

With all the parity in college basketball this season, it should be no surprise that upsets keep occurring. However, some are bigger than others. Every year, there are a few mid-major teams that show the potential for earning an at-large bid. However, what often keeps them from getting one is missing a marquee win outside of their conference. One team earned that this past week, while a former Cinderella had a player secure a triple-double.

Mid-Major Week Seven Takeaways

SoCon So Strong

The Southern Conference narrowly missed getting two teams into the tournament last year. Wofford dominated the league, while UNC Greensboro was the first team left out of the Big Dance. This year, the conference looks to be at it again, with a few more big upsets.

Wofford found itself in familiar upset territory, as the Terriers took down then 17th ranked North Carolina last Sunday 68-64 in Chapel Hill. This is Wofford’s second straight victory over North Carolina on the road, as they defeated the Tar Heels two years ago when Roy Williams’ team was ranked fifth. The Terriers got it done by taking care of the ball, only committing five turnovers. They also had 24 bench points compared to North Carolina’s eight. Trevor Stumpe led all Terriers with 19 points, including hitting one of four consecutive threes that broke the game open midway through the second half. To put this upset into context, Wofford’s upstate South Carolina neighbors Clemson have never won at North Carolina, going 0-59. Wofford is now 2-1 playing North Carolina on the road.

Later in the week, Wofford’s conference foe East Tennessee State earned a big win of their own. The Buccaneers defeated LSU 74-63 on Wednesday in a game that wasn’t that close. East Tennessee State led by as many as 23 and outrebounded the Tigers 40-29. That stat includes an impressive 19 offensive rebounds brought down by the Buccaneers. Patrick Good led all East Tennessee State scorers with 19 points, while Jeromy Rodriguez added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Steve Forbes’ team now has that signature win on their quest for a potential at-large bid should they fall short in the conference tournament.

Krutwig Makes History

Speaking of notable mid-major programs, Loyola-Chicago was back in the news this past week. Junior center Cameron Krutwig recorded what is believed to be the first triple-double in school history. He scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the Ramblers’ 78-70 upset over Vanderbilt. Head coach Porter Moser was impressed with his big man, calling him “an old school center who knows how to play the game of basketball.” This is the first triple-double by a Missouri Valley Conference player since Nick Norton did it for Drake in December of last year. Krutwig played a key role for Loyola-Chicago during their Final Four run as a freshman. He’ll need to keep playing at a high level if the Ramblers want to get back to the NCAA Tournament this season.

Shake, Rattler & Roll

Congratulations are in order for Florida A&M as they picked up their first win of the season on Saturday. The Rattlers defeated Seattle on the road, ending their nine-game losing streak to start the season. Rod Melton Jr. led the Rattlers with 17 points. Life can be tough as a mid-major in leagues like the MEAC. Florida A&M will play all of its non-conference games on the road, and won’t play their first home game of the season until January 11th. Give credit to Florida A&M, as they will not play a non-Division I team this season, unlike many other mid-majors. After returning home from their victory out west, the Rattlers have traveled a total of 20,490 miles thus far traveling to all their road contests.

With Florida A&M picking up a victory, there are only three winless teams left. Mississippi Valley State (0-11), Central Connecticut State (0-12), and Houston Baptist (0-10) are all searching for that first win. Hopefully, they win soon, as no one wants to see a team go winless.

Mid-Major Top Performers

There were a pair of HBCU stars who had multiple 30+ point performances this past week. Tristan Jarrett of Jackson State put up 69 points in games against Southeast Baptist and Portland. His 38 point performance against Southeast Baptist was a career-high. He shot 26-44 over those two games, including 7-16 from behind the arc. He was the catalyst in helping the Tigers score over 100 points in a game for the first time in 13 years.

John Crosby of Delaware State has been having a great season, and he went off again this week for 30 points against Delaware and 36 against Jacksonville State. The 36 point performance was a career-high for Crosby. He went 8-13 from three in those two games. Crosby has now recorded three straight 30+ point performances, the first Hornet to do so since Tom Davis 30 years ago. His 22.3 points per game average are tops in the MEAC at this point in the season.

Austin Peay’s Terry Taylor makes his second appearance as a top performer with his 39 point performance against Division II’s McKendree this past Tuesday. Taylor was especially lethal in the first half, scoring 29, more than McKendree’s total of 26 points through 20 minutes. This included scoring 18 of Austin Peay’s first 19 points of the game. Overall, Taylor finished an efficient 14-20 from the field while draining 9-10 free throws. His 23.1 points per game currently lead all Ohio Valley Conference players.

Finally, Jhivvan Jackson of UTSA put up 41 points on Saturday in the Roadrunners victory over Illinois State. 25 of his points came in the first half. The native Puerto Rican went a perfect 12-12 at the charity stripe while also draining 5-11 from the three-point line. Last year’s reigning Conference USA scoring champion is currently averaging 26.8 points per game, making him the leading scorer in all of Division I. This was his first 40+ point game of the season, and he’s scored 20 or more in 10 of his teams 12 games.

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