With so many complaints in the past about easy early schedules, college basketball fans have to thank four of the exempt tournaments that each provided two matchups of ranked teams before we even reached December.
The EA Sports Maui Invitational provided two games between top-10 teams: Notre Dame over Texas in the semifinals and North Carolina over the Irish for the title.
The Paradise Jam gave us Connecticut over Miami in the semifinals and the Huskies beat Wisconsin for the title. The NIT Season Tip-Off had Oklahoma over Davidson in the second round and Oklahoma beat Purdue at Madison Square Garden in the championship game. The Old Spice Classic had Tennessee over Georgetown in the semifinals and Gonzaga then beat the Volunteers for the title.
The Old Spice Classic could have had another ranked matchup, but Maryland upset Michigan State in the first round. The 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer had a potential top-10 matchup thwarted when Michigan upset UCLA in the semifinals, ending a chance at a Duke-UCLA title game.
rom those tournaments as Duke visits Michigan on Saturday and Gonzaga is at Tennessee on Jan. 7.
EARLY NUMBERS: Even though it's really early in the season, a look at the top 10 scorers in the nation shows there are three players who ended last season in the same place.
Stephen Curry of Davidson led the nation in scoring through Thursday's games with a 29.2 average. He was the leading returning scorer in the country this season after finishing fourth in 2007-08 with a 25.9 average.
The other players who finished in the top 10 last season and were there through Thursday were David Holston of Chicago State, who was 10th last season and is second to Curry this season at 27.7 and Lester Hudson of Tennessee-Martin, who was fifth last season and is 10th this season at 23.8.
Curry's average will be worth a second look all season considering the Wildcats' game against Loyola, Md.
Curry didn't score in that game as Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos decided to stick with a triangle-and-2 defense with the two defenders following Curry, even when he wasn't involved in the offense. As Davidson pulled away to a 78-48 victory, Curry stood in the corner leaving his teammates playing 4-on-3.
Take the goose egg away and Curry's average for the five games other than Loyola, Md. is 35.0. The last player to average 30 points per game in Division I was Charles Jones of Long Island University, who finished at 30.1 in 1996-97.
MONTY'S BACK: Before DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright began dissecting what went wrong in the Blue Demons' 10-point loss at California this week, he took a moment to touch on something else: first-year Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery.
``I'm very happy Coach Montgomery is back in college basketball. He's a great friend,'' Wainwright said. ``He's really done a great job in terms of organizing and having his older players execute to his system. They really play together. Obviously when you have 23 assists on 31 baskets, that says a lot about your teamwork.''
Cal has been impressive so far under Montgomery, who worked in television and in an advisory role at Stanford the past two years since being dismissed as coach of the Golden State Warriors after two years in the NBA. Before that, Montgomery spent 18 successful seasons as coach at Stanford.
The Bears were 6-1 heading into Sunday's game at Missouri.
Montgomery knows turning around the Cardinal's Bay Area rival in Berkeley will be a challenge. Cal finished ninth in the Pac-10 last season and was picked eighth this preseason.
``They're receptive,'' Montgomery said of his players. ``They're trying to do the right things. They recognize if defensively we try to do the things we're trying to do it's going to pay off for them.''
ONE-SIDED CHALLENGE: The 10th ACC-Big Ten Challenge ended like the first nine, with the Atlantic Coast Conference prevailing.
The ACC won six of the 11 games played this week, the fifth time in the series that the result was a one-victory difference. The ACC won 5-4 in 1999, 2000 and 2002 and it won 6-5 in 2005.
The ACC has a 62-35 record in the Challenge with Duke (10-0) and Boston College (3-0) the only teams to have never lost a game. The ACC also claims the only team to have never won a game as Miami dropped to 0-3 with its loss to Ohio State.
STUCK NUMBER: Delaware State played some big-time programs in its early schedule and the Hornets lost nine of their first 11 games. Numerologists had to be impressed with one four-game stretch.
The Hornets lost consecutive games to Dayton, Ohio State, Kentucky and West Virginia by 20, 28, 29 and 34 points, respectively. In each of those games Delaware State scored 42 points.
RAMBIS' NUMBER: Santa Clara will retire Kurt Rambis' jersey on Dec. 29, when the Broncos host Belmont in the Cable Car Classic.
Rambis, the school's all-time leading scorer, will join Steve Nash among those to have their numbers raised in the Leavey Center.
points from 1976-80 and was named West Coast Conference Player of the Year in 1980 and WCC Freshman of the Year in 1977. He went on to play 14 seasons in the NBA, winning four titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rambis was born and raised not far from Santa Clara, in Cupertino.
``It goes without saying what a tremendous honor it is to have my jersey retired and raised to the rafters in a place I called home for so many years,'' Rambis said. ``Both my time on the court and in the classroom at Santa Clara helped mold me not only into the player I became in the NBA, but into the husband, father and coach that I am today. I will treasure my years at Santa Clara forever.''
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Dick Vitale was an analyst in his first game for ESPN on Dec. 5, 1979. Two days short of that event's 29th anniversary, Vitale was working the North Carolina-Michigan State game at Ford Field.
``I got fired by the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 18,'' Vitale recalled at the site of the 2009 Final Four. ``I got a call from ESPN and I said, 'That sounds like a disease.' It has simply been a journey that has exceeded my wildest dreams. I was just with the Spartan kids tonight and it gave me goose bumps. I'm 69, and still acting 12.''
AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report

NCAAB Top Stories

Thumbnail Ohio State vs. Gonzaga Pick A busy day in sports wraps up tonight at 11:59PM ET when No. 17 Gonzaga faces off with Ohio...
Thumbnail Michigan State vs. DePaul Pick Are the Michigan State Spartans going to roll without its best player in the lineup tonight versus the DePaul Blue Demons? Tip-off is at...
Thumbnail Florida vs. Stanford Pick Can No. 7 Florida handle covering a double-digit spread out west when it takes on ...
Thumbnail Rhode Island vs. Seton Hall Pick Can No. 20 Seton Hall pick up a win and cover against Rhode Island when the two meet in the NIT...
Thumbnail Portland State vs. Duke Pick Can Portland State stay within the huge number when it plays No. 1 Duke this afternoon at...

NCAAB Headlines

NCAAB Team Pages