Five Thoughts: Florida nation’s best team, UVA and ‘Nova’s weird profiles

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Florida may not be the new No. 1, but they’re the best team in the country: The Gators probably aren’t going to be. Indiana was ranked one spot higher than Florida and they are coming off of a week where they knocked off No. 1 Michigan and beat a conference rival on the road by 37 points. That, combined with the fact that the Hoosiers were the preseason No. 1 team in the country and now have sole possession of first place in the toughest conference in the country, is an easy way to get yourself a No. 1 ranking.

But that doesn’t mean the ranking will be correct.

Because as of today, Florida is the best team in the country.

Think about it like this: Louisville’s defense is allowing 0.822 PPP (adjusted) right now, which is equivalent to the most efficiency defense that we’ve seen in the Kenpom era* — Kansas in 2007. Florida’s defensive efficiency is 0.803 PPP (adjusted) right now, a number that drops to 0.779 PPP through eight SEC games. In simpler terms, if the season ended today, Florida would be the best defensive team of the past decade, and they do it playing man, zone and pressing, depending on who they’re playing.

But Florida also happens to be the nation’s second-most powerful offense, sliding in between Michigan and Indiana.

In other words, Florida is what happens when you take Louisville’s defense and Michigan’s offense and put them onto the same team.

(*The Kenpom era dates back to 2003.)

Someone explain Virginia to me, please: The Cavaliers are going to be the toughest bubble team to place this year, because they have one of the strangest profiles I’ve ever seen. Virginia is 15-6 on the season and 5-3 in the ACC, which puts them a game behind Duke in third place in the league standings. They have won all three of their games against the RPI top 50, including a win at Wisconsin, and are 5-0 against the RPI top 100.

But Virginia is only 99th in the RPI, because they’ve lost six games to teams outside the RPI top 100. Three of those losses came on the road in ACC play — Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest — while the other three losses came to teams from the CAA. One of those losses was to Old Dominion, who is 2-18 this season and winless in league play. They’re 324th in the RPI, making that easily the worst loss suffered by a potential tournament team this season.

Villanova will be the second weirdest profile: The Wildcats have a pretty standard middle-of-the-pack power conference profile. They’re RPI is in the 70’s. They’ve got five top 100 wins but a handful of bad losses — they were swept by Providence and lost by 18 to Columbia at home. They’ve currently lost five of their last seven games.

Those two wins? Against top ten teams Syracuse and Louisville. Because that makes sense.

Wisconsin’s free throw shooting: I think we can all agree that Ohio State has one of the nation’s best perimeter defenses while Illinois does not. And all it took was a week where Wisconsin played both teams to prove that to us. The Badgers lost to Ohio State on Wednesday 58-49 and didn’t attempt a single free throw in the game. That’s the first time that’s happened in the Bo Ryan era. Against Illinois on Sunday, the Badgers shot 42 free throws.

That makes sense, too.

Jarred Shaw stepping up for Utah State: We have to give some love to Utah State big man Jarred Shaw. The Aggies lost both Kyisean Reed and Preston Medlin in the same half of the same game last month, which all but ended their chance at a WAC title this season. In the last three games, he’s averaging 21.7 points, 10.0 boards and 2.0 blocks while shooting 69.0% from the floor. USU is 2-1 in that stretch, with two road wins and a three point loss to league leader Louisiana Tech.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.