Saturday was hands-down a best day of a college basketball deteriorate so far.
Twenty-two of a teams in a Top 25 were playing, including 4 matchups between dual ranked teams (North Carolina-UCLA, Virginia-Villanova, Purdue-Butler and Baylor-Texas AM). Two of college hoops’ bluebloods, No. 4 Kentucky and No. 7 Duke, mislaid on a same day. It was a initial time in college hoops story those dual programs mislaid to unranked opponents on a same day while ranked in a tip 10.
Here are 10 large takeaways from a day that was filled with them:
Kentucky’s detriment to Ohio State changes positively zero about how we feel about these Wildcats. Yes, we know that Ohio State was 5-5 going into this diversion with waste to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech and that Kentucky’s talent spin is a integrate of tiers above Ohio State’s. But we felt accurately a same about Kentucky Saturday night as we did Friday night. The Wildcats are young, as always, and they are absurdly talented, as always. And a group has issues, that is something we already knew.
Skal Labissiere still usually doesn’t demeanour tough adequate for college ball, many reduction a NBA. (Two points, 5 rebounds.) Isaiah Briscoe can spasmodic demeanour like this backcourt’s diseased link. (Three points on 1-of-9 shooting.) Jamal Murray is this team’s best player. (A career-high 33 points with a stupid second-half strain of 7 3-pointers.) Tyler Ulis is this team’s many critical player. And this group too mostly finds itself station around on offense and not display adequate dispatch on defense.
As for Saturday? Saturday usually wasn’t their day. It was a rugby compare of a basketball game: Too many good shots rimmed out for Kentucky. Too many bad shots were taken by Kentucky. Too many Ohio State prayers were answered. Too mostly we wanted to bottle adult Alex Poythress’ energy, put it in an elixir and give it to a rest of a team.
I saw a twitter during a second half (by a news editor of Kentucky Sports Radio) that was a many shocking thing I’ve listened about this team. “When UK is out of sync like this it reminds me of 2012-2013, solely it’s Isaiah Briscoe instead of Archie Goodwin,” tweeted @MrsTylerKSR.
In a moment, that was true. But this group is not like that NIT team. we trust in John Calipari’s five-month process, and these players do, too. If anything, we cruise this group will be like a group from 2013-14, that had copiousness of bumps on a highway to Mar yet afterwards tore by a NCAA Tournament on a approach to a inhabitant pretension game.
They competence have been Yucky Kentucky on Saturday, yet this group will usually keep removing better. we don’t caring if they’re a 10-loss group come Selection Sunday (which they won’t be); a Kentucky Wildcats should still be deliberate a inhabitant pretension contender.
Here’s what Calipari pronounced after a game: “We’re not as good as we were a year ago. we still cruise we’re good adequate to do good things, yet we contingency play to win.”
Louisville, one of a dark-horse teams of this college basketball season, is in damage trouble. Mangok Mathiang — who along with associate 6-10 large male Chinanu Onuaku has done Louisville one of a improved resilient and shot-blocking teams in a nation — pennyless his feet in Louisville’s home win over Western Kentucky and will be out as prolonged as dual months.
It could frequency have come during a worse time for Louisville: a week before a in-state adversary diversion with Kentucky and usually before starting contention play.
Nobody gave Louisville a shot before a deteriorate other than manager Rick Pitino, who desired his team. It has been an overachieving group; no, they haven’t played many top-notch games, yet a Cardinals looked good in their usually defeat, a down-to-the-wire detriment to a No. 1-ranked group in a country, Michigan State.
I know Mathiang isn’t a star, yet don’t blink his impact on this group — generally when Louisville faces a group like Kentucky during Rupp Arena a day after Christmas.
Could Georgetown skip a NCAA tournament? It’s unequivocally probable after a Hoyas forsaken their fifth diversion of a non-conference schedule. Yes, there are a integrate of decent wins on a Hoyas’ resume — over Wisconsin and Syracuse — yet those are distant overshadowed by a bad losses: a deteriorate opener to Radford (ranked 202nd on KenPom.com) and Saturday’s detriment to UNC-Asheville (148th on KenPom.com). And that’s not even counting a blowout home detriment to Monmouth, given during this indicate Monmouth feels like an at-large NCAA contest team.
Weird thing is, we still cruise Georgetown has a intensity to win a Big East. This is a group that mislaid to Maryland and Duke by a total 6 points. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is one of a improved indicate guards in a country. Bradley Hayes has been a smashing warn in a post during his comparison season. And gifted sophomores L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland have been solid. But this group has dug itself an early hole. The Hoyas will need to perform in a Big East that is built toward a top.
We competence have seen Indiana spin a corner. With 16:43 left in a diversion Saturday, Indiana trailed by 16 points after Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson done a bucket. This was sounding like a five-alarm glow for Tom Crean’s team, that had nonetheless to secure a signature non-conference win (and had already forsaken games to Wake Forest, UNLV and Duke).
And then? Indiana started removing some stops on defense, finished a diversion on a 17-2 run, kick Notre Dame and in so doing competence have incited a deteriorate around.
When we demeanour during Indiana’s subsequent 8 games — where a toughest challenges, opposite Wisconsin and Ohio State, are both during home — we can see a trail from 8-3 streamer into a Notre Dame diversion to 17-3 by late January. If that happens, a Hoosiers will be sitting pretty, expected behind in a tip 10 or so and in a Final Four discussion. For a group that has struggled so mightily on invulnerability this year, that’s an huge turnaround.
I’m not certain accurately what to take divided from Utah’s dissapoint win over No. 7 Duke on Saturday. But a few things that cocktail to mind: Duke isn’t going to win many games when it gets out-rebounded by 18. Utah’s Jakob Poeltl is a best actor west of a Rockies (with apologies to Jaylen Brown and Kyle Wiltjer). Senior Amile Jefferson is a many critical actor on a young, gifted Duke team, and his fractured feet is a big, large problem. Utah is going to win a Pac-12.
Brandon Ingram is right now a usually actor I’d even cruise holding over Ben Simmons on a NBA breeze (although no one is going to get taken over Ben Simmons in a NBA draft). Grayson Allen has now shrunk from a dual biggest spotlights of his season: opposite Kentucky in Chicago’s United Center (2 of 11 sharpened for 6 points), and opposite Utah during Madison Square Garden (3 of 18 sharpened for 7 points). we cruise those dual dress should be adequate to take his name out of a Player of a Year discussion.
A month from now, we’ll be knee-deep in Marcus Paige Player of a Year speculation. Did we see what Paige did on Saturday, where UNC trailed UCLA by 11 before using divided with a diversion and winning by 13? No, we don’t meant usually looking during a box score, that showed Paige as a plain writer (10 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) who was overshadowed by teammate Brice Johnson (27 points and 9 rebounds).
I mean, did we unequivocally watch Marcus Paige? He is a heart and essence of this team, a categorical reason UNC is means to wear down opponents with such fast-paced basketball. The ways he sees a court, a intelligent plays he creates off instinct and a purchase 3-point shooting. I’m not certain there’s one actor on a inhabitant pretension contender who is as critical to his group as Paige is to UNC. When Bill Raftery compared him to former Ohio State star Mike Conley Jr. on Saturday, it rang true.
Virginia is personification like a 1 seed. In a deteriorate filled with uncertainty, Tony Bennett’s methodical, mature Virginia group is one of a few things we can count on. we wondered streamer into a deteriorate how Virginia’s slow-paced organisation would adjust to this new faster college game, with a 30-second shot time and tighter coercion of defensive fouls. The answer? The Cavs demeanour accurately a same.
They rubbed Villanova Saturday during home in a win that’ll usually indurate Virginia’s symbol atop a KenPom.com rankings. The Wahoos are still delayed (348th in a nation in practiced tempo, according to KenPom.com), yet we know what? This is one of a few slow-paced basketball teams that’s a fun to watch. It’s pleasing basketball. we adore how many Virginia fans conclude it when their group does one of a things it does improved than any other group in college hoops: force shot-clock violations.
This group knows a temperament improved than any other group in college basketball. Oh, and by a way: Malcolm Brogdon deserves to be in a swarming Player of a Year contention as well.
Wichita State is a best 5-5 group I’ve ever seen. Yes, a Shockers forsaken a highway diversion in overtime Saturday to a decent Seton Hall team. And yes, that’s one some-more black symbol opposite a Wichita State group with an NCAA Tournament resume that won’t have many opportunities to urge come contention play. There’s not a singular diversion left on a Shockers’ report opposite a group now ranked in a tip 60 on KenPom.com.
But we still like this team. we unequivocally do. Wichita State competence really good need to win a Missouri Valley contest in sequence to secure a bid in a Big Dance, yet a contest preference cabinet should take into care that indicate ensure and personality Fred VanVleet was out for a team’s initial 4 waste and that send Anton Grady usually played 16 mins on Saturday in his initial diversion given a frightful spinal damage scarcely a month ago. For a initial time given a Final Four run in 2013, Gregg Marshall’s group has a possibility to hide adult on people — and we cruise it’ll work good from that position. Do not be astounded if this group that struggled in non-conference is again a force in March.
Chris Mack competence have a best group in Xavier history. This competence be me being serf of a moment. But round this date on your calendar: Dec. 31. (Wait, that’s New Year’s Eve, we already circled that.) If Xavier beats Villanova on a highway in a Big East opener on New Year’s Eve, we can start job a Musketeers a inhabitant pretension contender.
At 11-0, this is already a best start in module history. This group has balance, experience, abyss and a good indicate ensure in beginner Edmund Sumner. All of this in a deteriorate that CBS’s Seth Davis has ideally summed adult this way: “The universe is flat.”
There are lots of good teams this season, yet no good ones. Xavier is one of a dozen or so teams in a nation we could call a really good group during this point. This sounds like a regulation for Xavier’s initial Final Four appearance.
Bill Self looks primed to continue a many considerable stream strain in sports. It is not accurately a pretension that Kansas whooped Montana during home by 42 points. It is a pretension that a recently dangling Brannen Greene is back, and on Saturday shot 3 of 4 from three. Greene competence be a nation’s best 3-point shooter.
Kansas has a third-best 3-point sharpened commission in all of college basketball, attack threes during a 45.8 percent clip. Now that Cheick Diallo is authorised and Greene is back, this deep, balanced, gifted group doesn’t have a singular weakness. Also, this is Self’s fastest-paced group in his Kansas career, that comes as college basketball as a whole is relocating toward a speedier tempo. Self is going to win his 12th true Big 12 title, that is ridiculous. He also competence get his second inhabitant title, too.
Follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter @reidforgrave or email him at [email protected].