College Basketball Raises Its Curtain On Six-Month Reception

Ken Cross

November 14, 2023 at 12:41 pm.

College Basketball hit the 2023-24 dance floor last week with many scenarios, ideas and analyses which will be entertaining until March Madness begins and ends in March and April.

Inside the games, four opening week upsets hit the floor. Potentially the biggest was James Madison’s 79-76 overtime win over Michigan State.

Here’s a look at the four biggest upsets from opening week.


James Madison 79, No. 4 Michigan State 76 (OT) – The Dukes upped their record to 2-43 against Top 25 programs in school history, while the Spartans had won 73 consecutive games in November before this loss.

The Dukes took a 78-74 lead with 10 seconds remaining in overtime when JMU’s Raekwon Horton nailed the deciding three-pointer that punched Sparty as immediately as the season could begin.

The Spartans were only 1-of-20 from the three-point line, while Terrence Edwards and T.J. Bickerstaff led the Dukes with 24 and 21 points. Bickerstaff featured a double-double in also grabbing 14 rebounds.

“First of all, I give them a lot of credit,” said Spartans coach Tom Izzo. “They came in here and outplayed us; played stronger than us; played harder than us, and made big plays.”

James Madison has solidified itself as one of the Sun Belt Conference favorites with Southern Miss and Appalachian State as the top two favorites.

“The guys, you know, it’s an ecstatic locker room,” said Dukes coach Mark Byington. “It’s because of the respect we have for Michigan State, their history, and their players.”


Presbyterian 68, Vanderbilt 62 – The Blue Hose came into the game as a heavy underdog as the line was Presbyterian (+17.5) when the game tipped off. However, the heavily-favored Commodores were injured with Tyrin Lawrence, Van Allen Lubin and Lee Dort missing the opener.

Still, Presbyterian was picked seventh in the nine-team Big South Conference where they finished 5-27 overall and 1-17 last season.

Lawrence and Ezra Manjon will comprise one of the best backcourts in the nation for Vanderbilt once Lawrence gets healthy and the Commodores regain confidence and win challenging non-conference games before the myriad of tough opponents in the SEC.

Manjon led the Commodores with 19 points, while Blue Hose guard Crosby James scored 11 consecutive points as PC opened up a 49-38 lead with 9:03 to play.

“There’s really no excuses,” said Stackhouse. “I just thought that our guys, we didn’t perform. We were lucky to be in the game.”


McNeese 76, VCU 65 – What made this upset even more amazing is that new head coach Will Wade wasn’t on the sidelines and was serving the first of a 10-game NCAA suspension of what they termed, “findings,” when he was at LSU.

Meanwhile, it was Ryan Odom’s first game as head coach as he moved over to the Rams after two successful seasons at Utah State and also building UMBC into a solid program.

The Cowboys took an 8-6 lead with 15:22 remaining in the first half and never trailed again. McNeese guard Shahada Wells led all scorers with 23 points as he finished 8-of-18 from the floor in 34 minutes.

VCU wasn’t being able to knock down threes as the Rams were 11-of-36 from behind the line and attempted only 53 shots.

“They were not afraid,” said Odom. “They came to win with an excellent game plan. That got us back on our heels initially. We were very slow.”


Abilene Christian 64, Oklahoma State 59 – The  Wildcats built a 47-29 lead outside of halftime and then held off a late Cowboys rally as ACU upended Oklahoma State, 64-59 in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Guard Ali Dibba and forward Airion Simmons were a tough task as Dibba’s dunk with 43 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats a 62-56 advantage after OSU had been able to cut the Abilene Christian lead to three points on several occasions.

The Wildcats’ defense was the key in holding the Cowboys to 5-of-23 as OSU was only 8-of-20 from the free throw line.

Oklahoma State’s Bryce Thompson led all scorers with 19 points and scored 10 of those in the last 4:52.

“I think being down in the moment and having to make those plays and the bounces have to go your way kind of got us,” noted Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton.