NCAA Weekly, Vol. 2: Metal Moraga Music
Get acquainted with Saint Mary's and their wood chipper defense
Something big happened this weekend. Something so big, you simply won’t believe it. An event so shocking that mere onlookers are stunned into silence at the thought of it. I am, of course, talking about the Saint Mary’s Gaels currently having the #1 overall resume in college basketball, per Wins Above Bubble on Bart Torvik’s site.
Yes, this screenshot was taken on Tuesday morning. Yes, a lot can still happen. This is still pretty notable. I pegged Saint Mary’s in my NCAA season preview as a team with a truly wild slate of opening week games on the least-interesting-on-paper opening week in modern college basketball history. The Gaels willingly brought three mid-major powerhouses to Moraga, CA: Oral Roberts (2021 Sweet 16, national scoring leader Max Abmas), Vermont (2022 13 seed), and North Texas (2021 Round of 32, 2022 C-USA runner-up). The latter two began the year in the KenPom top 100, and Oral was barely outside at 120th.
A very real argument can be made that among top 100 teams playing multiple first-week games, Saint Mary’s had the toughest schedule of anyone. As far as I know, they were the only team in the top 200 that played three top 150 teams. (Credit where credit’s due: Utah State, Auburn, Boise State, and South Dakota State played two.) They merely went 3-0 and led for 109 of a possible 120 minutes.
How can a team that entered the year projected 47th in KenPom with a 40% chance of starting 3-0 not only go 3-0, but do it in perhaps the most dominating fashion of any team this season? The Gaels’ offense has been excellent in its own right, hitting 42.2% of their threes and basically never turning the ball over. However, we are not here to talk about offense today.
In Moraga, CA, a quiet town of barely 17,000 that serves as the 19th-most populated municipality in its own county, a monster has been born. It is on the rest of the West Coast to figure out how to break it before it wrecks everything in its sight.
BELOW THE LINE: demolition men ($)
Stats By Will is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.