Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: 10 biggest early team disappointments of 2023-24 season

Oakland v Michigan State
Oakland v Michigan State / Rey Del Rio/GettyImages
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8. Saint Mary’s Gaels - 8-6

Despite losing star guard and WCC Defensive Player of the Year Logan Johnson, the Gaels still had plenty of potential heading into this season. They got the No. 1 preseason nod over Gonzaga in the WCC coaches’ poll. They also have Aidan Mahaney, projected to be one of the top sophomores in NCAA Basketball this season.

Yet after a good win over New Mexico to open the season, things went downhill fast, losing 5 of the next 6 games. Losses include Weber State, Xavier, and Boise State. And just recently, the Gaels lost at home to Missouri State of the Missouri Valley Conference.

As the now-No. 1 option, Mahaney hasn’t taken much of a leap. He’s averaging around the same (13.4 ppg), on much less efficient shooting numbers, including 37% from the field and 31% from deep. Alex Ducas hasn’t given them much either and while Augustas Marciulionis is now a double-digit scorer, the offense for Saint Mary’s overall is highly prone to droughts when not making shots from deep.

The Gaels can still be dangerous but after the latest setback, now has to beat Gonzaga at least once to have a shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. For a team that was ranked in the preseason, that’s a fairly rough place to be in before WCC play starts.