The good, the bad, and everything in between from the men’s basketball season so far

They’re playing tournaments from Maui to Missouri and Canada to Cancun this week as this is the phase of the college basketball season that comes with Hawaiian shirts and sunsets over the ocean. It also means there was already time to make some notable feats.

This one for example. . .

The typewritten list of gates in North Carolina

After the No. 1 Tar Heels slumbered through three nondescript victories, coach Hubert Davis last week asked the players to write down a few team goals. By Saturday they had sent him a list, typed it up, thought it through and signed it by every member. On Sunday, they welcomed a 4-0 James Madison team averaging 105 points per game and kept the Dukes 41 points below their average to win 80-64. Armando Bacot had 19 points and 23 rebounds for his 50th double-double, 10 away from Billy Cunningham’s North Carolina record, set 57 years ago.

“One of the things I always say to guys is I’m not calling you, I’m calling you,” Davis said. “And the reason I’m calling you is because you expect more and I expect more from you.

“This is her team, I’m in a position to lead it right now.”

Houston’s defense

The Cougars are 5-0 and giving up 48 points per game, allowing for 30 percent shooting. Two key players who lost to injury last season – Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark – are back averaging 27 points.

Houston’s defensive handwork included Oregon, who went 3-for-22 in 3-pointers on his own ground, and Oral Roberts, who shot 22.6 percent overall and missed 30 of 38 3-point attempts. The Cougars have been as dominant as anyone and could be one loss away in North Carolina from their first No. 1 ranking in 40 years.

“There’s no part of the game where we can’t get better,” said coach Kelvin Sampson after the 66-56 win in Oregon. “We didn’t play great, but now is not the time to play great.”

Virginia’s Heavyweight Championship

The Cavaliers won their eighth November tournament in the past nine seasons by defeating No. 5 Baylor and No. 19 Illinois in Las Vegas. They defeated Illinois 70-61 with a 13-0 run in the last two minutes. Two days earlier, they swept past Baylor 86-79 by starting the second half with a 30-5 wave. All of this was done while mourning, wearing pregame sweatshirts to commemorate three Virginia football players who were allegedly shot dead by an ex-player earlier in the week.

“It seems important,” said coach Tony Bennett of the tournament title. “But by and large it doesn’t.”

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The triumph of SWAC

The league enjoys its victories over Power Five opponents because they don’t typically happen every day. Except this season they almost have. By the end of the second week, the SWAC teams had four victories over the Pac-12.

The Afflictions of the State of Florida

The Seminoles battle injuries and are down 4-0 for the first time in 63 years. That includes a 17-point lead at halftime at home against Florida, followed by a 33-5 blitz early in the second half. A 88-8 program at home from 2015 until last spring is 0-3 this season.

“It’s been a long time since we suffered so many losses in a row, especially at home,” said coach Leonard Hamilton, who, as the ACC’s fifth-winning coach, is not used to such difficulties. “And so we have to teach some pride in how we’re going about it.”

Louisville’s fear

The Cardinals, ranked 338th in the nation in Division I by Ken Pomeroy, began the Kenny Payne era 0-3 by losing three straight games by a point. Her final last season was also a one-pointer. That meant four one-point losses in four games, something no other Division I team had managed in four decades. Before that, Louisville had four one-point losses in their last 464 games.

“This place is something special. This program is special,” Payne said after the recent loss to Appalachian State. “I want them to understand how special they are, and not in their words, but in the way they fight and the way they play with togetherness.”

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Indiana’s road breakthrough

The Hoosiers won at Xavier, 81-79. Why that matters is her recent history away from home.

“We used to win away from home,” said coach Mike Woodson.

But not lately. Over the past six years, Indiana has declined 16-48 in actual road games and 2-19 in opponent rankings. The Hoosiers had not won a real non-conference road game against a team that finished in the top 40 of Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings since 2001, according to The Indianapolis Star. If Woodson is to bring the Bluebloods back to Indiana, that has to change. Xavier was No. 36.

“It sets us apart from the past,” he said. “Many other teams I belonged to would have given up in games like this. That’s just the narrative we’re trying to change.”

Texas Longhorns on the run

Texas’ 3-0 start including a 19-point mashing by Gonzaga showed a full attack. The Longhorns outplayed their first three opponents 55-3 in fast break points.

“I’m pretty sure a lot of people watched the game and saw who we are and what we’re about,” Tyrese Hunter said after his 26 points led the attack against Gonzaga.

Michigan State Theater

It’s not just that the Spartans came off the leaderboard to beat Kentucky and Villanova and almost Gonzaga. The Spartans receive additional credit for dramatic flair. In all three games there was a shot at victory in the air. All missed, meaning Michigan State lost to Gonzaga with a win, beat Villanova with two and knocked down Kentucky in double overtime.

Maryland’s launch

Kevin Willard became the first coach in Maryland history to start his career there 5-0. The Terrapins won all five games by at least 18 points, and that included previously undefeated St. Louis and Miami.

Jim Larranaga’s landmark

Miami’s Larranaga earned his 700th win – by beating his alma mater Providence for the first time. Larranaga keeps fast company. The only other men to hit 700 as active ACC coaches were Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Dean Smith.

All that rattling in Wisconsin games

In the Badgers’ first three games — all wins — opponents South Dakota, Stanford, and Green Bay made a combined 5-on-45 from three 3-point lines.

The Zig Zag of the State of Arizona

The Sun Devils started the season with a narrow win over Tarleton and a loss to Texas Southern. Five days after that loss, they hammered No. 20 Michigan 87-62 for their biggest winning margin of all time against a ranked opponent.

Kentucky’s pitfalls

The stat sheet is a bit confusing. The Wildcats have six players averaging double digits, 24 more blocked shots and 20 more steals, and keep opponents under 39 percent shot. But they’ve gone from preseason No. 4 to losing two of their first five games.

While losses to Gonzaga and Michigan State are hardly cause for alarm, it was like. Kentucky let the Spartans pull away and were shredded 16 points by the Zags, and Big Blue Nation is easy to shake, especially eight months after the St. Peter game.

“I’m going to play different guys whoever wants to fight,” said John Calipari. “But it’s a long season. It’s November.”

Correct, although November can morph into December when issues need to be addressed. Thanksgiving week should answer a few. 52 are still undefeated. Not so many will come next Sunday.

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