Upset Week Shows How Much Parity is in College Basketball

It was a crazy week in college basketball this past week. No team in the Top 10 was safe, and we saw a number of highly ranked teams fall. It’s early in the year, and most teams are trying to find their identities, but we are seeing how wide open the NCAA basketball season is this year. Aside from about three teams, the rest of the pack is jumbled together trying to figure themselves out.

Florida Looks Like Two Different Teams

It started Monday with Florida’s loss to the rival FSU Seminoles at home. This loss wasn’t terrible, as Florida State came into the game undefeated, and will likely move into the Top 25 with the win. But after taking Duke to the wire in the championship of the PK80, expectations were raised for Mike White’s club. The Gators’ week got even worse two days later when they suffered another loss. This time to University of Loyola-Chicago. What we learned this week is Florida needs to make shots to compete on an elite level. This may sound obvious but look at how good they looked when they made shots vs Duke, and how bad they looked when they didn’t against Florida State.

Notre Dame Falls in South Bend

The weirdness continued Tuesday with #9 Notre Dame losing to Ball State in South Bend. The Irish got their normal contribution from potential ACC Player of the Year, Bonzie Colson. The issue was, that they will only be as good as Colson’s supporting cast. Senior Matt Farrell chipped in with 14, and two other starters finished in double digits, but the lack of bench hurts ND. Playing only three bench players for a total of 27 minutes is not a recipe for long term success. The Irish could use some reliable bench help to sure up their rotation before the head into ACC play.

Is Arizona Back?

After Notre Dame suffered their fate, Texas A&M followed up with a loss to Arizona. On paper this loss is not nearly as big of an upset, but Arizona is still going through an identity check. The Wildcats looked to answer a few questions though, and got great support, in addition to another strong game from DeAndre Ayton. The Cats looking to trending upward after this week, but nonetheless this is still another Top 10 upset right now. A&M may have wowed us opening night, but maybe we got greedy with how good they looked

Kansas Gets Exposed

Safe to say it was a bad week for the #2 ranked team in the country. It started Wednesday night when Washington came in and had the perfect game plan for the Jayhawks. It ended Sunday when Arizona State, maybe the hottest team in the country, came into Lawrence and won, something that doesn’t ever happen. Washington’s Mike Hopkins devised a perfect zone defense that contested KU around the three point arc all night long. The two loss week left head coach Bill Self calling this team the softest he’s ever had here at Kansas. It really showed how reliant Kansas is to making shots from deep. Similar to Florida, if they’re falling they look great. But if they’re not, who knows. Kansas could really use Bill Preston, or even Silvio De Sousa to help sure up their front court issues. Meanwhile, for Arizona State…

Down Goes #1

The week of upsets would not be complete without the number one team falling. The young Duke Blue Devils lost their first ACC game of the year, walking into BC and losing to the Eagles. All credit should go to Jim Christian and staff for great execution. Ky Bowman’s 30 point effort and near triple-double doesn’t hurt either. Duke won’t suffer a ton from this, it will likely be a better learning curve for a young team that was getting talked about as maybe going undefeated. It does show however, that every team has their holes, and no one is a sure thing.

So that wraps up the week. It will likely have Villanova, Michigan State, Duke, Arizona State (yes, really) and Wichita State in the new top 5. This feels like a year that will have a lot of fluctuation within the top part of the polls, but we may not see another week that compares to this week.

A Look at the PK80: Motion Bracket

In honor of Nike founder Phil Knight, ESPN will be airing the PK80 tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. Consisting of 16 teams and two brackets, this four day tournament will be must watch. NCAA Tournament teams, dazzling freshman and of course, fresh uniforms. Let’s take a look at the Motion Bracket now. Here’s what you need to know.

First Round Schedule:

Portland State vs Duke – Thursday, November 23rd 4:30 PM EST

Butler vs Texas – Thursday, November 23rd 7 PM EST

Florida vs Stanford – Thursday, November 23rd 10 PM EST

Ohio State vs Gonzaga – Thursday, November 23rd 12 AM EST

What to Look For:

Bagley vs Bamba

Assuming Duke doesn’t have an immaculate meltdown, and Texas can get past Butler, Duke vs Texas is a must watch for college basketball and NBA fans. This game would feature a match-up within a match-up, as Marvin Bagley and Mo Bamba would go head to head.  Both players are expected to be lottery picks next year, so this is a great chance for Hawks, Bulls and Mavs fans to get a glimpse of what the future could hold. Aside from these two headline stealers, both teams match up well across the board. Freshman point guards Trevon Duval and Matt Coleman would face off. As would Grayson Allen and Andrew Jones, each team’s best scorer. There are many things to like about this potential second round game.

Can Butler Represent the Big East

Butler will try to spoil the match-up I laid out above by beating Texas in the first round on Thursday. Butler is off to a nice start at 3-1. Their one loss was their only test of the early season so far, a 12 point loss to Maryland at Maryland. They will get their second chance for a resume win on Thanksgiving with Texas. A win against a team in the upper half of the Big 12 will help solidify that the “new” Big East is more than just Villanova. This is the chance for Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin to make themselves known on a national stage.

How Good is Gonzaga?  

Every year Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs post 25+ wins and every year they don’t get enough credit because they seemingly don’t play anyone. Well now the National Runner Ups have helped their cause, scheduling non-conference games against Villanova, Creighton and playing in the PK80. The Zags have the potential to play teams from the Big Ten, SEC and ACC if they make it to the championship game. Two of those teams are currently sitting in the Top 10. Not too shabby for a team that doesn’t play anyone good.

Bracket is Headlined with Talented Forwards

 If you’re a fan of forwards, this is the bracket to watch over Thanksgiving. Travis Reid (Stanford), Kelan Martin (Butler), Jonathan Williams (Gonzaga), Marvin Bagley (Duke) are first all-conference talents in their respective conferences. Based on the bracket, we may never see any of these guys go head to head, but their individual talents will be fun to watch. Reid and Martin are extremely talented scorers, Williams is the piece that makes Gonzaga go, and we’re learning something new about Bagley every day. Add Dylan Osetkowski (Texas) and Egor Koulechov (Florida) who have averaged near double doubles in the short season and this is a very deep field at the forward spot.

Ideal Championship Game: Duke vs Florida

No huge surprise here. this is the game we all should want. Duke and Florida are currently ranked 1 and 7, respectively in the AP Polls. Duke has a plethora of freshman talent, and college basketball’s most hateable/loveable human in Grayson Allen. Florida is a very talented and balanced bunch. In three games they are averaging 98 points a game and have six players averaging 7 points or more, led by Koulechov’s 20 per game. Meanwhile Duke’s starting five has been as good as advertised, combining for 76 points a game themselves.

The match-up here would be Duke’s Trevon Duval vs Florida’s Chris Chiozza. Duval has been spectacular for Duke, averaging nearly 8 assists a game. He’s Grayson Allen’s biggest fan, as Duval has helped free up Allen and get him wide open looks early on. If Florida can contain Duval, they can also help keep Allen from getting great shots in the process. This job would fall on the defensive minded senior, Chris Chiozza. This would be a great Sunday night game to cap off a great weekend of college basketball.

In Midst of Recruiting Scandal, Duke Remains Supreme

There hasn’t been a more talked about off-season in college basketball than this year. By now everyone knows about the FBI investigation that flipped multiple programs upside down, and likely isn’t going anywhere for sometime. The investigation has exposed all the flaws and corruption that exist in college recruiting. Despite the negativity surrounding recruiting, one thing remains constant. Duke is number one.

Last night, RJ Barrett, ESPN’s #1 player in the class of 2018 announced his commitment to Duke over Kentucky and Oregon. Barrett solidified himself as the premiere recruit in the 2018 class with his play in the U19 FIBA games this past summer. He led Canada past Team USA, coached by John Calipari, in the semifinals on his way to a gold medal.

With Barrett’s commitment, Duke has now landed the top ranked recruit in four of the last five recruiting classes. In the those five years, Coach K has landed a total of 22 players ranked in ESPN’s Top 100. Barrett gives the Blue Devils three of the top ten next year already.

Five lottery picks in the last three years and countless McDonald’s All-Americans prove that when it comes to recruiting, it is Coach K, along with John Calipari, at the top of the list. And with players like Barrett, Marvin Bagley, Trevon Duval, Gary Trent and Cam Reddish waiting for their draft nights, you can expect that lottery number to continue to rise.

A lot of people like to label Coach K a cheater. When top recruits choose Duke, critics like to make pay-for-players jokes. Whatever your personal opinion may be, facts are that coaches all over the country are getting busted for illegal recruiting. None of them have the last name Krzyzewski. The FBI investigation is expected to be around for awhile. Duke may come up, they may not. But until that day comes, you have to admire and respect Coach K’s ability to bring in the best of the best.