Past the seven day mark of the 2022-23 NCAA Basketball season, there are always teams, players and conferences that got off to hot starts.
And then there are others that didn’t.
Ahead of the Champions Classic and the other big matchups in Week 2 of the season, let’s take a look at some of the biggest winners and losers from the last seven days.
Winner – Emoni Bates
On Friday night, the country was reminded why Emoni Bates was talked about for years before he arrived on any college campus. His 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting including perhaps the most disgusting and disrespectful step back three ever taken at the college level. He was scoring at all three levels and looked like the best player on the floor against Michigan.
Bates’ last couple years have been weird, to say the least. He reclassified to 2021 and enrolled at Memphis only to struggle with injuries and play just 18 games for Penny Hardaway. The highly anticipated recruit finished his freshman season averaging 9.7 points per game on 38 percent shooting from the field and just 32 percent from beyond the arc. Quite simply, he wasn’t one of Memphis’ best players and his stay was short for none of the reasons you would’ve thought.
Friday night reminded everyone why Bates was a presumed NBA lottery pick. Of course, his baggage and the rest of this season’s body of work will determine how things go next spring. But a lot of people had an “oh right, he’s that good” moment.
Loser – Louisville
Even the most skeptical of Louisville observers wouldn’t have predicted the first week to go the way it did for Louisville. After losing an exhibition game, the Cardinals opened the season with back-to-back 1-point losses to Bellarmine and Wright State. El Ellis had 29 points against the Raiders but it didn’t matter because Trey Calvin hit a game winner. There’s very little to be excited about in and around Kenny Payne’s program.
Then, to add insult to injury, five-star prospect and No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2023 DJ Wagner picked in-state rival Kentucky over Louisville. That’s cruel and unusual punishment, but you can’t exactly blame Wagner for not being attracted to routinely losing to mid-majors. Times are very strange at the KFC Yum! Center. Before last season, the Louisville men’s basketball program had two losing seasons since the mid 1940s. They’re staring a second straight losing season right in the eyes.