The Heels are 19-3, but far from perfect. What do you view as this team’s biggest weakness?
Danny Nowell (@dmnowell): I hate the notion of intangibles, but the answer to this point is clearly discipline. Previous Tar Heels champs have learned how to execute relentlessly, and this team hasn’t shown that. I’m hopeful that the current stretch of excellent games shows the team figuring it out.
Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid): Although it hasn’t been problematic yet, back-up point guard play and/or Kendall Marshall wearing down is an area of concern with the loss of Dexter Strickland. Also, the Heels have not responded well to super-physical play and can be pushed around some by beefy, veteran teams.
Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell): Focus. This team is good enough to win games when they play hard for only 30 minutes and coast the other 10. The 2005 and 2009 teams had the same problem, though. Roy Williams somehow always gets his team to peak at the end of the season.
Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): Free-throw shooting. Marshall, McAdoo, and Henson all shoot below 70% from the line, Henson by a huge margin at 46.2%. For all the fouls he draws, Barnes shoots a meh, 71.8%, leaving plenty of points on the board. At some point their ability to cash in those freebies will either win or lose them a tournament game.
Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill): The lack of an outside shooter. The Heels shoot only 35% from the outside (116th out of 345 D-1 teams), which hurts their bigs posting up, as the defense can sag off the perimeter players and help on the post offense. This also puts them in a big hole if they start slow, and it’s a much bigger hill to climb if you cannot shoot three pointers consistently.
Which big man has more to prove this March, Tyler Zeller or John Henson?
AA: Zeller proved plenty last March, averaging 26 points and 9 rebounds in Carolina’s four NCAA Tournament games. His play has been ACC POY-caliber over the past few games. Henson, who fouled out of UNC’s Elite 8 loss to Kentucky with only 4 points, will be hoping to redeem that performance this March.
JP: Henson has quietly transformed himself from a defensive specialist into an all-around post threat. He’s a tremendous passer with his back to the basket and his leaps as a scorer are easy to see. Once Carolina faces comparable frontcourts to its own (likely not until the Elite Eight), Henson’s progression will truly be put to the test.
IL: I’m not sure either has much to prove. Both are known quantities as far as the NBA Draft is concerned. If we’re talking about Carolina legacies, Barnes has more riding on this team than anyone. Henson and Zeller just need to show up and do their jobs, not put the team on their back.
JR: Henson. I think we know what Zeller is at this point – an athletic big man who can run the floor, has some above average post moves, and is a capable defender. Henson has shown us he is a strong shot blocker but he needs to prove he can play physical on both ends of the court. If he does that in March, he will shoot up many teams’ draft boards.
DN: I think I’ll say Henson. Zeller has shown that he can carry the load for key stretches, and his production almost never dips below a certain point. Henson, however, is much more mercurial; when he’s enjoying himself and getting good shots with aggression, the Heels are extremely tough to beat.
Continue reading “Full-Court Press: All About North Carolina” »
The play of freshman point guard Marcus Teague will be essential for a Kentucky title run this spring.
True or False: Kentucky’s current roster is the most talented group of John Calipari’s career
Dave Ryan (@DRyanBBall): True. Any given night there are six players who can step up and be the guy who dominates. We know there’s always going to be a ridiculous amount of talent in Lexington, but it truly feels more dispersed than in past years.
Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill): False. In terms of pure talent, I prefer the 09-10 UK team led by Wall, Patterson, Cousins, and Bledsoe. Whichever big man Terrence Jones drew, Cousins or Patterson, would have had a field day. Wall is also much better than Marcus Teague. I think if you matched them up, the 09-10 team would win at least six out of ten times.
Collin Murphy (Caltech guard): False. While this group is good I still think the 09-10 team was better. It had five first-round picks (even if counting Orton is kind of cheating). Plus, the combination of Wall and Cousins is a better top-end than the current group.
James Liu (@liuj1128): True. Calipari has had some amazingly talented teams, but I think this is the best. Although they may not have as much star power as previous versions, the 11-12 Wildcats have Anthony Davis and he alone impacts games more than anyone Calipari has ever coached.
Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): I’d have to say true. We’re talking possibly four first round draft picks on this roster, three lottery players in this June’s draft and arguably the best defensive presence at the college level since Patrick Ewing.
Offensively, what do you view as the Wildcats’ biggest strength?
JR: I think its their ability to offensive rebound, as they currently rebound 38.3% of their misses, 21st in the nation. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and Davis all able to crash the offensive glass and power over defenders, they can create plenty of second and third opportunities.
CM: Kentucky’s greatest strength is within a couple feet from the basket. Whether it is Davis going to work down low or one of the guards attacking off the dribble, this team ravishes teams in the paint.
JL: Balance. The Wildcats have six players averaging double figures in points so far this season. Everybody seems to get involved on the offensive end, and no one is overlooked. Doron Lamb is the consistent force on the perimeter, while Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist hold it down inside.
JW: Their sheer wealth of weapons. Lamb and Miller spotting up, Kidd-Gilchrist’s swiss army knife repertoire, Teague running the pick-and-roll, while Jones and Davis dominate around the rim. It’s almost unfair.
DR: The bigs. The three-headed monster of Davis, Jones, and Kidd-Gilchrist in the post is pure insanity. And with how vastly different each guy is offensively, seriously, how the heck are defenses going to keep tabs on all three? It hardly seems possible. Continue reading “Full-Court Press: All About Kentucky” »
The class of the Big East, Syracuse has its eyes on a trip to New Orleans this spring
Jim Boeheim’s kids are sitting pretty at 22-1. What do you view as this team’s biggest strength?
Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): It’s underrated because they don’t play that fast, but the Orange have one of the best transition games in the nation. ‘Cuse averages better than 1.2 points per possession on the break on 61 percent shooting. No team with over 300 transition possessions comes close.
Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell): Its balanced scoring attack. The Orange are fifth in the country in offensive efficiency and first in the Big East in scoring. They have seven players who average between seven and 14 points per game. While it’s nice to have a premier scorer, having a group of players to pick up the slack if one struggles is comforting.
Zach Zimmerman (@Zach_Zimmerman): The ball movement this season has been phenomenal. ‘Cuse has the second best assist-to-turnover ratio in the nation at 1.54. Dishing the rock is essential on a team without a true 1-on-1 threat, and the Orange are among the best in the nation at fighting through its shortcomings.
Fred Katz (@FredKatz): Depth. There isn’t another sixth man in the country better than Dion Waiters. Meanwhile, C.J. Fair and James Southerland, who both come off the bench, would be well-above average starters at other schools.
Dave Ryan (@DRyanBBall): Confidence. Syracuse is easily the most balanced team in the country, and every player on the roster knows, and accepts his role in the rotation. These kids know what they’re capable of. They’ve seen it. Everyone has their eyes on a title, and right now, they look and act the part.
Most glaring weakness?
JP: Post depth. With Fab Melo out, the Orange is good, but definitely not great. If Syracuse makes it to the Final Four, it will need a healthy Melo to stay out of foul trouble against frontcourt-oriented teams like North Carolina, Kentucky or Ohio State if it hopes to win it all.
ZZ: Rebounding. The loss of Fab Melo has really exposed the team’s weakness on the glass. Even with the sophomore center Syracuse is No. 234 in the nation in defensive rebounds per game. The tournament is rarely kind to teams that can’t clean up the garbage.
FK: Free throw shooting from the guards. If Syracuse is leading a close game, its biggest problem is that the guy Jim Boeheim wants handling the ball isn’t the one he wants shooting the free throw. Scoop Jardine (51.1%) and Dion Waiters (69.7%) have both struggled from the line this year.
DR: Consistent long-range shooting. Syracuse has five guys who make at least one triple per game, but aside from Brandon Triche’s 40.2%, we’re talking about a quartet of sub-35% shooters from the perimeter. If the Orange are down big, will it be able to count on the three-ball?
JW: Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. Syracuse has one of the worst rebound margins in the Big East and a whopping 10 percent of their opponents shots this year have come from the offensive glass – this is well above average. Continue reading “Full-Court Press: All About Syracuse” »
Head coach Archie Miller's Dayton Flyers are 4-1 and leading the Atlantic 10. But are they for real?
Kentucky is a near-unanimous No. 1 this week. Who is your No. 2 team in the country?
Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell): Syracuse, without a doubt. The Notre Dame fiasco is the Orange’s only blemish, and it came without Fab Melo. It’s a small caveat, but a caveat nonetheless. The Orange’s body of work to this point keeps them narrowly ahead of Ohio State, Missouri and Baylor.
Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid): I’d reward Missouri for its huge road win over Baylor with a No. 2 spot in the polls. But Frank Haith’s Tigers still trail teams like Syracuse (assuming Fab Melo returns at some point this season) and Ohio State as legitimate title contenders.
Fred Katz (@FredKatz): Missouri. The Tigers still only have one loss (at Kansas State) and are rolling after a one-point win at Baylor, one that might be the most impressive win by any team in the country, thus far.
Dave Ryan (@DRyanBball): Syracuse. This isn’t college football. A team that starts 20-0 doesn’t instantly become the fourth or fifth best team in the country after one loss. Missouri is right there too, but I’d vote ‘Cuse No. 2 this week.
Jacob Jaffe (@Jacob_Jaffe): Missouri. The Tigers earned the spot with one of the most impressive road wins of the season so far when they beat Baylor in Waco, and their overall resume is as strong as any team in the country.
On a scale of 1-100, with 100 being extremely significant, how impactful is Fab Melo’s suspension to Syracuse?
AA: 95. Melo is by far Syracuse’s best interior defender, and the anchor of Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. Among players with at least 50% of their team’s minutes, none has blocked a higher percentage of shots than Melo’s 15.4. He’s also the Orange’s best offensive rebounder.
FK: 75. This is a similar situation to what Syracuse had two years ago when it lost Arinze Onuaku. Syracuse struggled down the stretch, lost its first game of the Big East Tournament and lost in the Sweet 16. That zone needs a rim protector.
DR: 85. Potentially devastating loss here. Melo is a 1st Team All-Big East type-defender who is really starting to blossom. Without him in the rotation going forward, Syracuse’s title hopes should, sadly, diminish significantly.
JJ: If the suspension sticks at two games, I’ll give it a 15. The ‘Cuse should still be at or near the top of the Big East at season’s end and looking at a top-two seed. If he’s out longer, it’s a lot more troubling.
JP: 90. Without Melo, Syracuse might still be the best team in the Big East, but certainly not the country. Notre Dame dominated the glass by a 38-25 margin on Saturday. The Orange is thinnest inside, and Melo’s resurgent season is the biggest reason for the 20-0 start. Continue reading “Full-Court Press: Who’s No. 2?” »
ESPN tandem Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman are each two of the best in the business
College basketball is ripe with a bevy of talking heads. Who is your favorite analyst/play-by-play man right now?
Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill): Doug Gottleib is probably my favorite analyst. He is knowledgeable about the game, comes prepared and doesn’t force excitement or catchphrases but focuses on breaking down the game in front of him. Also, he is great on Twitter, even though his responses can sometimes be hard to decipher. My one criticism of him is that he interrupts his partner too often when he wants to make a point. If he controls that, he would be nearly perfect.
Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): Dick Vitale, which I know puts me in an exclusive club. He can be painful to listen to at times, but no one is as enthusiastic about college basketball as Dickie V. A guy excited enough to be shouting about the 10th man for St. Bonaventure is a character that should be cherished.
Zach Zimmerman (@Zach_Zimmerman): I’ve always been a huge Rece Davis fan. It’s one thing to have a tremendous knowledge of the game. It’s another to have said knowledge and be able to moderate the discussion between those that don’t. He is just an undeniably likable dude that exudes passion for college ball.
Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): For college hoops play-by-play Dan Shulman is as good as it gets. His professionalism, knowledge, pace and sense of the moment is spectacular. He also happens to be the perfect partner for Dick Vitale – not an easy task.
Dave Ryan (@dryanbball): I thoroughly enjoy listening to games with Jay Bilas on the call. The guy is so tapped-in to the sport, and I often find myself agreeing with Bilas’ take on both in-game and sport-wide issues more often than not. He’s also about as professional as they come.
What one announcer or analyst continuously forces you to reach for the mute button?
IL: I don’t discriminate. If they’re talking about college basketball, I’m happy to listen.
ZZ: I’m all about enthusiasm, but voice modification and random shouting of vegetable names is on another (unnecessary) level. Bill Raftery is a legend, sure, but to me he’s just a poor man’s Chick Hearn with fewer witty catchphrases in his arsenal and far more love for Jerome Lane.
JW: Sorry Hoosier nation, but Bobby Knight, for as knowledgeable as he is about the game, doesn’t translate well on TV. It’s obvious he doesn’t prep much for games and often doesn’t know what players he is talking about.
DR: Hubert Davis. Many of the things he says in studio are straight from cue cards, and yet he still makes more mistakes than most live guys. Not a college hoops media member out there that makes it sound MORE like he’s reading a bunch of canned sentences than Hubert.
JR: Jimmy Dykes is every quality of a bad analyst rolled into one person. He brings one or two talking points which he repeats like a broken record throughout the game, he forces catchphrases (‘that’s not the extra pass, that’s the right pass’) and he fills the game with bad gimmicks (Jimmy’s Jet). If I was as bad at my job as he was at his, I would be kicked to the curb in a heartbeat.
Some knucklehead in Michael Rothstein’s player of the year poll gave a first place vote to Vandy’s John Jenkins. Where is Jenkins on your POY ballot?
ZZ: I’ll stick him at No. 10, but never in my wildest dreams would I consider giving him a first-place vote. It really is a three-man race between Robinson, Sullinger and McDermott, and Jenkins isn’t anywhere close to that group. He’d have a compelling case had Vandy not stunk it up in the early going.
JW: Given his insane shooting (65.7% TS) and efficiency (1.164 PPP) numbers, I feel comfortable saying Jenkins is between the 10th and 15th best player in the nation. He might not have the kind of upside as other names, but his productivity is tremendous.
DR: Cheap plug time – I have Jenkins at No. 10 in my weekly POY rankings, but anywhere in the 10-20 range seems fair. A lot of guys around the country putting up comparable, yet slightly less impressive numbers in similar roles. But not one can tough his NCAA-leading 3.9 three-pointers per game. That’s elite stuff right there.
JR: 51, but only for the sake of giving a rank as he might be lower than that if I chose to go that far. I know that I could find 50 players more deserving of this honor. In fact, I bet I could find 10 players in the SEC alone more worthy of the POY. He brings points to the table for Vanderbilt (19.8 per game) but what else does he give the team? Not enough in my mind to give him a sniff of the POY ballot.
IL: Robinson, Davis, Sullinger, McDermott, Barnes, Jones, Jones III, Green, Kidd-Gilchrist, Lamb, Denmon, Scott. Jenkins has had an incredible shooting year, but there’s too many other talented players having huge impacts for top teams for him to be in the top ten.
True or False. Virginia’s Mike Scott is the best player in the ACC
JW: False. Among the top five, no question, but there are still a couple of names I would take over Scott at this point in the season.
DR: False. Right now Scott is nearly a 30% possession guy. His numbers have been ridiculous in that UV offense, but the unquestioned best player in the league? Let’s put Harrison Barnes in the same type of role and see how he looks.
JR: False, although he is worthy of the ACC Player of the Year award and national consideration. This doesn’t make him the best player in the ACC, however. He is putting up great stats on a slow Virginia team, but if you put Zeller, McKie, Leslie or Barnes in his position, I think those four players could be just as effective.
IL: True. He’s tops in ORtg, second in eFG%, third in DRB%, 6th in free throw rate, fifteenth in TO% and has led Virginia to a 14-2 start. He may not be the best prospect in the ACC, but he’s definitely been the best player this season.
ZZ: Best? False. Remember, this is a conference littered with lottery picks. Scott is beasting for the second season in a row, but even this master of efficiency and team MVP doesn’t hold a candle to the elite talent in the ACC.
Looking ahead, what is the weekend’s most important conference game involving soon-to-be bubble teams?
DR: Oklahoma at Texas A&M perks my interest. We expected much more out of the Aggies than a 1-4 start, while the Sooners are inexplicably in search of their third straight Big 12 win. A victory for either team here could prove significant.
JR: I am going to cheat and go with Maryland-Temple. Maryland didn’t get any good non-conference wins without Pe’Shon Howard or Alex Len. Now that they have the services of both those players, they look like a different team and one that could challenge for a tournament spot in the ACC. They need this non-conference road win to bolster their resume and a win in this game could put them over the edge for a NCAA tournament berth.
IL: Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. This one is much more important for Mississippi State. They already have quality wins against Alabama and West Virginia, but their resume needs polishing. It’s tough to imagine them beating Florida, Kentucky, or Alabama on the road which means they need this game stay in the at-large hunt.
ZZ: Remember the Pac-12? After Stanford’s loss to Wazzu last night, Cal looks like the only team left in the league with any chance at an at-large bid. If Mike Montgomery’s crew is unable to escape from Pullman with a win, this could be a one-bid conference. Woof.
JW: Certainly Arizona visiting Colorado could one day be viewed as a key game for both teams. Each school already has six losses and both stand at 4-2 in the Pac-12. The winner of this one can get as close as within a half game of first place.
A bench player a year ago, Kansas sophomore Thomas Robinson looks like the most complete big man in America.
You’re building a team from the ground up. Who are you taking, Thomas Robinson or Jared Sullinger?
Fred Katz (@Fred Katz): Robinson. He’s a freakish athlete with outrageous upside. Sullinger is a great player and might have Robinson beat in the “skill” department, but when he’s at his best, there isn’t a better player in the nation than Thomas Robinson.
James Liu (@liuj1128): This one’s hard, but I’d go with Thomas Robinson. Robinson is more athletic, in better shape, and less injury prone than Jared Sullinger. However, Sullinger is much more offensively gifted with an array of post moves. You really can’t go wrong with either one here.
Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid): Both are freakishly good defensive rebounders — Sullinger’s a more polished post scorer, Robinson’s a more explosive athlete. Because of Sullinger’s injury history, I’d choose Robinson as my anchor. But don’t get me wrong; either would be welcome to man the post for Team Atkinson.
Collin Murphy (Caltech junior guard): These two are close but Thomas Robinson is more athletic and has a larger upside. He is also the better rebounder and defender, and has almost single-handedly made Kansas a top-10 team despite all the talent lost last year.
Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell): Thomas Robinson. He’s durable, which is his biggest advantage in this scenario. I love Robinson’s energy on the glass. It’s infectious. Oh, by the way, he’s practically unguardable. I’m not convinced he won’t carry Kansas to the Final Four, Danny Manning style.
Prediction time. Who is your pick for Pac-12 Player of the Year?
JL: Tony Wroten from the Washington Huskies. I hate to give it to a freshman, but I love this 6’5” guard who can flat out score the ball. He already has six 20-point games and has been very consistent all year. He also averages 1.9 steals per game as well.
AA: My choice is for Cal’s senior leader, Jorge Gutierrez. In addition to averaging 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game, he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the Pac-12. The Bears win the league; Gutierrez wins the hardware.
CM: Tony Wroten, Washington. He’s second in the Pac-12 in scoring and is dangerous on the break. If Washington continues to stay near the top of the Pac-12, that will help him become only the third freshman to win the award since 1975.
JP: Cal’s Allen Crabbe has been the Bears’ best player so, seeing as they are tied for the conference lead at the moment, I’ll give him the nod. He leads the team in scoring (15.7 ppg) and is second in rebounding (5.7 per game) from the 2-guard spot.
FK: Allen Crabbe. This is an incredibly difficult question. There are about six or seven guys who could be the answer. But Crabbe is the leading scorer on the best team in the conference and is shooting 45.1% on 113 three point attempts.
Continue reading “Full-Court Press: The Thomas Robinson Effect” »
Stanford students terrorized Colorado with a Jim Harbaugh cut-out last week (Image via 30FPS.Mocksession)
What one thing are you taking from North Carolina’s 33-point loss to Florida State on Saturday?
Dave Ryan (@dryanbball): That Florida State’s Devidas Dulkys (“David Us Duel Keyys”) needs to play about 39.4 minutes per game for the Seminoles going forward. Ol’ Daggum Roy’s Tar Heels will be just fine – it’s only January. The key here is that we need more Dulkys.
Zach Zimmerman (@Zach_Zimmerman): Florida State’s record is misleading. Six losses in 17 games is far from an ideal start, but the Seminoles almost won games against Harvard and UConn, and have played a rather brutal schedule in the early going. FSU is not 33 points better than UNC, but it’s no slouch.
Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): That, like any other team, everything can go wrong all at once. They suffered through an incredible individual performance (32 points from Dulkys), turned the ball over, got out-rebounded, and went completely cold from the field. Usually those problems don’t materialize all at once. I think the blowout was a blip.
Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): That Roy Williams was right about his team growing complacent during a nine-game homestand. Florida State’s scoring – particularly that of Deividas Dulkys – was an aberration of sorts. But for UNC this should be a wake-up call with March not all that far off.
Danny Nowell (@dmnowell): A drinking problem.
Don’t look now, but Indiana is 3-3 in league play after a 12-0 start. From a worst-case scenario perspective, how far can IU fall in the Big Ten?
ZZ: Indiana, despite its three losses, is still a tournament-caliber squad. The loss to Minnesota was fluky, and although the early blips are legitimate causes for concern, I can’t imagine any other teams passing the Hoosiers. IU will finish in fourth in an immensely talented conference.
IL: It is not panic time in Indiana. They had respectable losses at Michigan State and Ohio State, and a slip up against Minnesota. They should still have no problem winning seven or eight of the remaining conference games, good for a top four finish.
JW: 4th. The Big Ten is very good, but Indiana is efficient scoring at the rim, converts open looks better than most teams (that does count for something) and handles its business on defense. If not for the slip up against Minnesota, no one is panicking.
DN: Worst case? Maybe sixth in the conference, with losses to a few teams who have less talent than them. Their wins are good enough, though, that I have a hard time seeing a truly dismal seed for them.
DR: Maybe sixth in the conference at worst. Considering we’re talking about a group that hasn’t really played on this stage before, it’s entirely possible that playing in the best league in America will take its toll. Similar to what happened with Connecticut in Big East play (9-9) last year.
Continue reading “Full-Court Press: The Parity Edition” »
A title threat before the season, Xavier's poor play has drastically altered opinions about its chances in March.
Buy or Sell: Xavier as a Final Four contender
Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell): I see no reason to buy. The Musketeers are headed in the complete wrong direction. Even if they don’t zip it up…er…turn it around…in a few weeks, they won’t earn a high enough seed to clear the way for a Final Four run.
Dave Ryan (@dryanbball): Call me crazy, but I’m buying. You know why? Because Tu Holloway is a clutch-shooting machine when it counts just like Kemba Walker was, and Xavier is an extremely cheap commodity right now. Buy low, sell high – business 101, right?
Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): Sell. Even before the Cincinnati brawl I wasn’t sure they were a Final Four team. They have stellar guard play, but their frontcourt isn’t strong enough to get them past a team like UNC or Syracuse in a Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight game.
Fred Katz (@FredKatz): Sell, Sell, Sell!!! (in the Jim Cramer voice). The Musketeers have lost five of their last seven and guess what? Tu Holloway just hasn’t been good. He’s shooting 40.3% from the field and 31.1% from three.
Collin Murphy (Caltech junior guard): Sell. They are only ranked 75th by Sagarin, and some of their impressive wins have lost their luster. Vanderbilt and Butler are not the teams we thought they were. Karma has smitten them for the brawl and ridiculous press conference afterwards.
Buy or Sell: St. Mary’s as the kings of the West Coast Conference
DR: Sell begrudgingly. Not having a serious big man like Omar Samhan will be the difference in the end. I love the ultra-efficient Matthew Dellavedova in the backcourt, but BYU’s presence in the league will shake things up.
JW: Sell. Nice record, but not a tough schedule to date. I like Rob Jones, but he can’t keep Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre and Elias Harris off the glass himself. The ‘Zags are still top dog – no pun intended.
FK: Sell. St. Mary’s is good but no one in the WCC touches Gonzaga right now. I struggle to believe that a team that lost by 12 points to Denver is better than an experienced Bulldog team.
CM: Sell. The kings of the WCC are the Zags until beaten. They have won 11 straight regular season titles and have won the conference tournament eight times in that span. St. Mary’s is off to a good start, but Gonzaga still owns the conference.
JP: Sell. They may come out on top, but Gonzaga (15th) and BYU (20th) are both ranked ahead St. Mary’s (24th) by the Bible Ken Pomeroy. I actually think this will be the most exciting WCC race we’ve seen in a long time.
Buy or Sell: Wisconsin as a top three team in the Big Ten
JW: Sell. Even if Jordan Taylor is playing better, they can’t defend the post at all. That alone puts them behind teams like Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State.
FK: Sell. Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State are all better than the Badgers. Wisconsin’s dominance has always come on its home floor, but now it seems to have lost that advantage, with three home losses already this season.
CM: I’m going to have to sell again. Wisconsin has inexplicably already dropped two home conference games including one to Iowa. With OSU, Indiana, MSU, and Michigan in the conference, Wisconsin is closer to the middle than the top.
JP: Sell. Ohio State’s better. Michigan State is better. Indiana is better. Top three teams in the Big 10 don’t lose to Iowa, or Michigan by almost 20. The Badgers have been a huge disappointment, especially Jordan Taylor.
DR: Sell. What a stunning fall from grace for Bo Ryan’s team. Jon Leuer isn’t walking through that door, and the Badgers desperately lack the pieces to make a serious run at, well, anything this season. Top five, at best.
Buy or Sell: Faux Anthony Davis stick-on unibrows for sale at Rupp concession stands.
FK: Buy. I want these fake unibrows almost as much as I want the Knicks to start handing out Amare Stoudemire yarmulkes at MSG. Who in his right mind wouldn’t wear a fake Anthony Davis unibrow at a Kentucky game?
CM: Sell. I would hope that this would be something that Kentucky would not embrace. Meanwhile, Florida should definitely be selling these. I would love to see a whole student section of plastered-on unibrows. SEC fans, make this happen!
JP: Sell. I’d want to see John Calipari hairpieces or Memphis/UMass Final Four replica banners instead.
DR: Buy. I’d snag a handful of these and secretly stick them to opposing fans around the arena. So even when they leave the game all sad, trying to forget about what Davis just did, he’s still right there with them.
JW: Buy. Davis is the best thing to happen to unibrows since Bert (of Sesame Street fame) and would surpass Ben Wallace afros as the best novelty hair item ever sold at a basketball game.
No. 1 Syracuse travels to Villanova tonight. What are the chances the Orange lose?
CM: 25 percent. It is difficult to win on the road in college basketball, but Villanova is not that great this year. It would take a great three point shooting night for ‘Nova to pull the upset. Syracuse should stay unbeaten.
JP: Slim-to-none, maybe 10 percent. The Orange is tremendous on the road, winning by an average of 16.3 points per game. The Wildcats can’t compete with Syracuse’s depth and athleticism. The Orange has at least another two weeks before it will be truly tested again.
DR: Let’s go 25%, solely because of how ridiculously unpredictable conference play has been thus far. We know Syracuse will get tripped up eventually, and for as bad as ‘Nova has played this year, they still have enough talent to compete with a team like this.
JW: Fifteen percent just for home court advantage. Syracuse is top 90 nationally in finishing at the rim, Villanova is 394th in defending shots at the rim. Does that sound like a recipe for success?
FK: 5%. The best way to beat Syracuse is to hope Scoop Jardine turns it over six times. He did that against Marquette and ‘Cuse still won. Meanwhile, this is Jardine’s homecoming and last time the Philadelphia-native traveled home, he put up 20 points and six assists in front of his friends and family.
Trying to avoid back-to-back losses, Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils will square off with Georgia Tech on Saturday
True or False: The loss to Temple earlier in the week exposed flaws in Duke’s offense/defense
Zach Zimmerman (@Zach_Zimmerman): True. It’s no secret that Duke is vulnerable when it’s uncomfortable on the perimeter. The Blue Devils turned the ball over 16 times and only managed to drop in six shots from distance. But if I’m an opposing coach, I’m trying to find ways to take advantage of Austin Rivers’ fondness of shooting, because 3-of-11 performances from the freshman rarely end well.
Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill): I don’t think Temple showed us anything we didn’t know earlier. Duke doesn’t have enough players who can score on their own and even fewer people who can create shots for their teammates. Austin Rivers’ decision-making is drastically improved from the first few games but not enough to make Duke a top five team. On defense, the Plumlees demonstrated they are still not ready to be the post defenders a championship team needs. I don’t think Temple exposed anything new but they did remind us this Duke team is not very strong, which many thought at the beginning of the year but forgot after some solid early wins.
Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): It showed the Duke is vulnerable from inside the three-point line. 62.0% of their points allowed have come on two-point shots, the third highest mark in the nation. They don’t block shots and you can score on them closer to the basket. Not everyone will be able to take advantage the way Temple did, but the chink is there.
Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid): True. Not offensively; the Blue Devils are excellent there. On the defensive end, however, Duke’s inability to contain dribble penetration remains a glaring issue. Krzyzewski’s worst statistical defensive team of this millennium will need to find a way to guard the basketball—or switch to a scheme less predicated on ball pressure.
Josh Parcell (@JoshParcell): Exposed? False. The loss showed nothing we didn’t already know about Duke. They struggle to stop dribble penetration, but are typically effective at protecting the rim. A lot of Temple’s points came on contested shots. The Owls committed 17 turnovers. Duke’s shot selection, (cough…Austin Rivers), effort on the glass (minus-3 rebound margin), and poor ball-handling made the difference Wednesday. Continue reading “Full-Court Press: Weekend Primer” »
A transfer from Memphis, Jelan Kendrick will contribute right away for Ole Miss
1.) Of all the players who become eligible for the second semester, who will make the biggest impact?
Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill): Ian Miller of Florida State. He should be back for Florida State on Thursday for its matchup with Florida and will provide some much needed playmaking ability to the backcourt. Once again, Florida State’s defense is one of the best nation, as they currently rank second in adjusted defensive efficiency, but their offense is preventing them from being a great team. He averaged only 5.5 points per game in 14 minutes last year but should see an increased role this year. Miller could provide the spark the FSU offense needs on the perimeter to supplement their incredible defense and help the Seminoles blossom into a great team.
Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): Sure, I could go Kevin Ware at Louisville. I could say Tony Mitchell at North Texas. Instead, how about Jelan Kendrick at Ole Miss? The first ever McDonald’s All-American to land in Oxford, the 6-foot-6 freshman is extremely versatile and gifted offensively. He’s had some off-the-court issues in the past, but if he stays in line, this is a dangerous weapon joining a Rebels team that is already off to a 9-2 start including wins over TCU and Miami.
James Liu (@LiuJ1128): Matt Carlino of BYU. The redshirt freshman transferring from UCLA is a big-time player. Carlino has the scoring potential of Jimmer and fills a role that the Cougars desperately need – a scoring point guard. In his first game, he scored 18 points in 24 minutes, with eight points down the stretch, and nearly hit a game-tying 3 pointer against Baylor. Look for BYU to make a big push in the second semester.
Fred Katz (@FredKatz): Tony Mitchell. Mitchell was actually eligible to suit up as of last night. The North Texas freshman has had quite a journey from Dallas Pinkston High School to Missouri and now to North Texas. Mitchell has been academically ineligible for a year and a half now but on the court, he really could end up being something. The No. 2 forward recruit coming out of high school according to Rivals.com averaged 20.5 points per game, 13.2 rebounds per game, and 4.1 blocks per game in his senior season.
Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid): This may be stretching the rules a little since he was not ineligible—just injured—but my vote is for Miami’s Reggie Johnson. The huge (6-foot-10, 284 pounds) center returned over the weekend and stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocked shots in a 2OT win over Florida Atlantic. His presence might make the ‘Canes a legitimate force in a watered-down ACC.
Continue reading “Full-Court Press: Familiar Faces in New Places” »