NT has wrapped up the first spot in CUSA pod play, where the league is divided up into pods to boost the strength of schedule for its best teams. NT finished the scripted portion of the year 12-2 and tops in the league.
The two losses were against talented WKU, who are beating UTSA right now and should finish in 2nd at 11-3, and Rice, the struggling but rebuilding Owls. There was also the epic buzzer-beater against Tech.
NT beating ODU eliminates the Monarchs from the top pod, and that means we will see WKU, Tech, Charlotte, and FIU.
Hamlet had 27 in this one, as NT cruised from start to finish. The ODU trademark man-to-man defense was seemingly left on the plane, and NT got good open looks from one or two passes and shot well. While ODU made a couple of runs here and there, there was nothing special to speak of and the NT defense was solid all afternoon.
The Mean Green are playing great ball right now and Javion Hamlet is the reason. He is in all the conversations for player of the year in the league and with good reason. His shooting from three (.385) and ability to get into the paint for little runners and hooks is a big reason why NT is tops in the league in offensive efficiency.
This season is the third straight impressive showing for head coach Grant McCasland. Last year NT started strongly but faltered around this time when injuries and stagnant play hindered the progress. This time NT is healthy heading into the most important stretch of the season: The Bonus Play + conference tournament.
North Texas is playing the most complete basketball in the league right now, but will be challenged by the likes of WKU in pod play. Beyond that, the league tournament is a crapshoot where one poor game can end your season quickly and cruelly.
It is great to see good basketball in Denton again. Much has been made of the last time NT saw the tournament — about a decade ago — and it was fitting that they honored the last team to make the trip. This blog used to write that getting to the tournament final is the expectation. It has been a long time coming to get back to even thinking that it is possible
Full credit to the staff and especially the players for an incredible season so far.