2010 NCAA Basketball: Recapping the First Week of College Hoops

Sam BlumCorrespondent INovember 14, 2010

MILWAUKEE - MARCH 21:  Head coach Jamie Dixon of the Pittsburgh Panthers calls out in the first half against the Xavier Musketeers during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Bradley Center on March 21, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Most people don't really pay much attention to the first couple weeks of college basketball. It's a time when the best teams play tune up games against some of their easiest opponents to pad their resumes and give some of their younger players some much-needed experience before the battle of the conference season arrives.

It is a time when scores are lopsided and Division II teams often are on the schedule. It is a time when gyms are half-empty and half-loud, and even a select few games are played on neutral courts. To many fans, college basketball season truly hasn't begun.

Well, they're wrong.

As we have seen on selection Sunday, so much of what is done in November and December will be accounted for come March. One bad loss, or even a close win, can be the difference between dancing and spending your spring on the couch for these teams.

In addition, so many different early season tournaments have come to fruition over the years, most of which compete with each other for the best teams. So now we are a week in, the first game was Monday, what has happened? What have you missed?

On Monday night, the first Division I game played, in fact, was between fourth-ranked Pittsburgh and Rhode Island, a team that had made it to the semifinals of the NIT last year.

Many questioned why Pitt was playing such a good team to start the season, but it was played nonetheless. Pitt struggled throughout most of the first half, and was down eight points with a minute-and-a-half to go in the first half before rallying off nine straight points.

Rhody kept hitting 3s in the second half to keep it close, but Pitt pulled away in the final minute to give coach Jamie Dixon his first win of the season. Pitt struggled in the paint, missing a lot of easy looks, but the interior defense, which will be led by Gary McGhee, was solid.

Pitt was able to win two other games this week, one of which was part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, and the Panthers are now 3-0. They will play at Madison Square Garden next week to finish up the tournament.

We also see now that Maryland will not be the same team without its star, Greivis Vasquez, who has moved on to the NBA. Maryland nearly lost to the College of Charleston in the second game of their Coaches vs. Cancer classic. The Terrapins needed a last-second hoop to cap a furious second half rally against a team that can be considered decent at best. 

We learned that the Atlantic-10 will probably live up to the hype. With Rhode Island's outstanding performance against Pitt, a Temple victory over Seton Hall and Richmond's onslaught of The Citadel, there should be some great competition.

Fordham, despite losing to Brown, is back on its way to rebuilding a program that had two wins last year. La Salle had a gritty opening win against Columbia in which it came back from a large second-half deficit. Xavier didn't look great, but won nonetheless. Keep an eye out for the A-10. 

We have learned that there are going to be shifts in many mid-major conferences. Princeton is likely back on top in the Ivies after a great three-year run by Cornell. Princeton defeated Rutgers in overtime on Friday, while Cornell barely scraped out a win against Albany.

Harvard was considered to contend with Princeton, but looked terrible against George Mason. Columbia nearly had a big win at La Salle, but collapsed in the final 10 minutes.

In the MAAC conference, the competition is so wide open that any team can compete. Siena is no longer the main team in the MAAC. In the Colonial League and the Patriot League, there is wide-open competition as well, and so no one is guaranteed to be there come March.

Overall we have seen and learned a lot in just one week. What can we expect to see next week?