Duke comes off an overtime win against the Longhorns and Florida comes off an exciting double overtime win against Gonzaga (probably the game of the season thus far). Florida has one of the best guard rotations in all of college basketball. Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson, and Egor Koulechov have been seen on the court together on a frequent basis. Keith Stone, a natural small forward, has seen time at the five with these four guards. So, Mike White has gone extremely small. The Gators have a limited frontcourt, especially with John Egbunu injured. Kevarrius Hayes and Gorjok Gak typically play the big man minutes, but small ball is the identity of this team. The scary part is that KeVaughn Allen hasn’t even gotten going yet. It will be tough for Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter to deal with the guards of Florida. Their ability to play perimeter defense will be the key. It doesn’t seem like a game that Marques Bolden will play major minutes in. On the flip side, we saw what Johnathan Williams of Gonzaga did against the Gators offensively, Marvin Bagley could do similar damage.
Michigan State and UNC come off of decisive wins against UConn and Arkansas respectively. Miles Bridges came off of the bench against UConn and only played 17 minutes due to the ankle injury that he is dealing with. With a day of rest in between the semis and the championship, hopefully he will be able to play more minutes, the Spartans will need him. UNC is one of the hottest teams right now in all of college basketball. The backcourt of Joel Berry and Kenny Williams has been phenomenal, Theo Pinson has been the glue, and Luke Maye has established himself as a superstar on the college level. Garrison Brooks, Brandon Huffman, and Sterling Manley have adapted to the college game better than I anticipated. This game will be a battle on the boards. Jaren Jackson and Luke Maye creates a really intriguing matchup as well. Cassius Winston will have his hands full with Joel Berry.
Marvin Bagley had 34 points and 15 rebounds in the overtime win against the Longhorns. The Blue Devils had to claw back in this game and had to play in an overtime period without Grayson Allen. The good news for Duke was that Mo Bamba and Jericho Sims fouled out, forcing Shaka Smart to put Eric Davis in the game during overtime. Instead of going with a big like James Banks (who didn’t see any minutes in this game), Smart elected to insert a guard. Duke took full advantage of this opportunity and Marvin Bagley delivered the goods.
It took a while for Duke to get back in this game, but they did it. Their defense wasn’t great and their offense didn’t get going until the end of the second half. Duke trailed by 16 with 11 minutes to go. What really stood out was the inability of Texas to shoot from the outside. They were 4-23 from downtown. I never realized that this was a huge issue for this team.
Duke found out that it is tough to score and tough to defend against a team that has two quality bigs. Duke was also horrific in transition. But in the end, Marvin Bagley took over.
Here are some takeaways from college basketball on Thanksgiving:
1. Purdue and Arizona in Trouble?
The Boilermakers have now lost back to back games. They lost to Tennessee by three and then to Western Kentucky by four. It is early, but Purdue is an experienced team with four seniors in their starting lineup. This is not a good sign for Matt Painter and company. Arizona has also lost two straight. They lost to NC State by six and then to SMU by six. This is absolutely shocking, something that I would never have imagined. Sean Miller has one of the most talented teams that he has ever had. The Wildcats have a lot of things to fix. They need a lot more offensive production from those not named Allonzo Trier or DeAndre Ayton. There is also a grey cloud that continues to hover over this program. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that these two programs would be playing each other in a game that means absolutely nothing. Yes, these two teams will be deciding who gets seventh place versus who gets eighth place in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
2. Villanova and Duke Second Half Bursts
Villanova outscored Tennessee by 21 in the second half after trailing by 12 at halftime. Brunson and Bridges were sensational once again, scoring 25 points and 21 points respectively. Duke outscored Portland State by 22 in the second half after trailing by four at the half. Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter both had double-doubles and Trevon Duval added a career-high 22 points. Some of Duke’s best offense is a missed shot. Bagley and Carter have been sensational on the offensive boards. It took a while for both teams to get going, but they eventually pulled away. Both teams will be just fine.
3. Florida and Arkansas Show Strength of SEC
Florida absolutely obliterated Stanford 108-87. Egor Koulechov continues to be ridiculous. He had 26 points on 10-14 shooting. He was also 5-5 from deep. The Gators are one of the best teams right now in all of college basketball. The Razorbacks beat a good Oklahoma team 92-83 behind 27 points from Daryl Macon (6-8 from downtown). Trae Young had 28 points for the Sooners. Arkansas is a team that you can’t forget about in the SEC. They were one of my dark horses in the conference. They have a chance to avenge their loss to UNC from last season. They battle the Tar Heels on Friday. The SEC is deep and much improved. And I think it will just keep getting better and better.
4. Defense Still Defines Virginia
The Cavaliers held a good Vanderbilt team to just 42 points. The Commodores only shot 23.1 percent from the field. Saben Lee and Riley LaChance were both held scoreless. Although there are some young pieces on this team, Isaiah Wilkins is still the anchor defensively for Tony Bennett. It is so tough to score on the Hoos.
5. Rhode Island Gets Big Win Over Seton Hall, UConn Gets Big Win Over Oregon
The Rams got a major win over the Pirates on Thursday in a 75-74 victory. Jared Terrell had 32 points. Rhode Island should run away with the Atlantic 10. They can compete with just about anybody. This is also without E.C. Matthews. UConn defeated the Ducks 71-63 and will play the winner of Michigan State and DePaul. Terry Larrier had 18 points and Jalen Adams and Alterique Gilbert had 16 each. This continues the woes for the Pac-12 so far. The Huskies are ready to be back in the spotlight this year. As long as they are healthy, they will be very competitive in the American.
Simi Shittu announced via the Players’ Tribune that he will be taking his talents to Nashville next year. Shittu is the number two power forward in the class of 2018 and the 6th overall recruit according to ESPN.
Shittu joins fellow five-star recruit Darius Garland as pledges for the Commodores next season. Now, it all comes down to if Bryce Drew can convince Romeo Langford to come to Vanderbilt. Langford will announce his decision sometime during the spring signing period. He is down to Kansas, Indiana, and Vanderbilt.
Louisville Basketball has announced that Brian Bowen will not play at the University of Louisville. He may remain on scholarship, but will not be allowed to practice or compete.
Bowen was the five-star recruit involved in the recruiting scandal that led to the dismissal of Rick Pitino. Bowen was the 14th overall player on the ESPN Top 100 Chart for 2018. This raises some interesting questions.
Will Bowen elect to transfer to another school?
Will he workout on his own and prepare for the 2018 NBA Draft?
Will he decide to play overseas or go into the G League?
It is a shame that we will never see Bowen suit up for the Cardinals. I imagine that he starts the process to prepare for the draft, we just don’t know what vehicle he will use to do so.
The Fighting Irish will take on the Shockers in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational championship game. This sets up a meeting with two top 15 teams in the nation. Here are a few things to look out for.
Shaq Morris and Bonzie Colson. Who is going to own the boards in this one? Colson comes into the final game averaging a double-double (19.0 points and 10.4 rebounds while shooting 60.7 percent from the field). He had his third double-double of the season against LSU on Tuesday night. Shaq Morris comes into the final matchup averaging 17.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 59.1 percent from the field. Expect a battle on the boards throughout this game. Both dudes can take up a lot of space in the paint.
Point Guard Play:
Landry Shamet comes into the final matchup averaging 17.3 points per game with a crazy 62.5 percent clip from 3-point range. Farrell comes into his final matchup averaging 18.0 points per game while shooting 42.1 percent from downtown. Both point guards can get hot from the perimeter and both guys like to dictate the tempo of the game. Point guard play will be at a premium in this one.
My dark horse player in this game in T.J. Gibbs. So far this season, he is having a breakout year. The sophomore guard had a career high 26 points against LSU in the semi-final game of this tournament. This marks his third 20+ point performance in the young season. His season high in points last year was 13. If you don’t know who Gibbs is now, you will in this championship game.
Missouri Basketball has announced that freshman phenom Michael Porter Jr. will undergo surgery today.
“The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season.”
This is an absolute shame for Missouri and for college basketball as a whole. Porter Jr. came into the season as a potential number one overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Additionally, his presence in Columbia created hype for Missouri Basketball, producing crazy amounts of excitement for the Tigers and their fans. A player with his skill set, size, and scoring ability simply doesn’t come around often.
Is is hard to imagine MPJ coming back to college next season, but this injury does raise some question marks. Will teams be more hesitant to draft him? Will he slide at all in the draft? Porter has only played two total minutes this season, hitting his only field goal attempt, and grabbing two rebounds in the season opener against the Cyclones. He will definitely impress teams at workouts, but there will be no college game experience under his belt. It is really unfortunate.
If he isn’t ready to come back at the end of the season, there is no reason for him to play again and risk anything. Even if he is healthy before the season ends, it is still very unlikely that he will suit up for the Tigers again.
The Shockers were down by as many as 18 to the California Golden Bears on Monday in Maui. Sloppy play and turnovers tormented Wichita State in the first half. They could never string together consistent offensive possessions. Despite their poor first half performance, they only trailed Cal by nine at the half.
The Shockers kept fighting back in the second half, but didn’t really pull away until the final two minutes of the game. They ended the game on a 14-2 run.
Landry Shamet was nothing short of sensational. He had 23 points, was 8-10 from the field, and 4-4 from 3-point range. Shaq Morris added 25 points and seven rebounds. Don Coleman, who came in averaging 26.0 points per game, had 35 points for the Golden Bears in the loss.
Wichita State gets Marquette tomorrow.
The number one center on the ESPN Top 100 Chart for 2018 has picked the Ducks. Bol Bol was down to Oregon and Kentucky. His story (that includes his college choice) can be seen on The Players’ Tribune. Being a West Coast kid, Oregon had a locational advantage over Kentucky when it came to landing Bol.
Bol Bol is an extremely impressive talent and is a type of recruit that Oregon basketball usually doesn’t get. He is a program-changing type of player. Dana Altman has been in Eugene since 2010 and he has built Oregon into a tremendous basketball school. Recently, the Ducks have had great success in the Pac-12 and in the NCAA tournament. They have won the regular season championship the past two seasons in their conference, won the Pac-12 tournament in 2013 and 2016, were an elite eight team in 2016, and a final four team in 2017.
Even though they will still be a tournament team this season, the Ducks aren’t the contender that they have been the past couple of years, mainly due to the fact that they lost so many pieces. They will be good, but not great. Next year, with this recruiting class coming in (headlined by Bol), they could definitely be a championship contender like they were in 2016 and 2017.
Bol Bol has transferred to powerhouse Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. Findlay Prep has produced Pac-12 legends like Jorge Gutierrez, Nick Johnson, Dillon Brooks, and Allonzo Trier. Bol joins five-star small forward Louis King, four-star point guard Will Richardson, and four-star power forward Miles Norris as Oregon pledges for 2018.
Allonzo Trier through 3 games:
30.0 points per game
3.7 rebounds per game
3.3 assists per game
Shooting 70.0 percent from the field
Shooting 58.8 percent from 3-point range
Trevon Bluiett through 3 games:
25.3 points per game
7.7 rebounds per game
2.7 assists per game
Shooting 59.0 percent from the field
Shooting 54.2 percent from 3-point range
Trier and Bluiett have been unbelievable through three games. They both seem as though they are on a mission this season. Both players are the go-to guys for their respective programs. When their team needs a big shot, these dudes will deliver. If we get lucky, we could see a rematch from last year’s Sweet 16 showdown between the Wildcats and the Musketeers.