Perhaps more than any season in recent memory, the top teams in the country have taken so brutal poundings this season.
The most obvious victim is Duke, who got manhandled by Miami back in January. That’s the same Miami who is currently sitting at No. 2 in the country despite the 19 point whipping they were on the receiving end of against Arizona in late December. That same Arizona team lost by 13 points in a brutal showing at Colorado on Thursday.
That’s not all.
Michigan lost by 23 points at Michigan State last Tuesday. Ohio State lost by 22 points at Wisconsin on Sunday. New Mexico lost by 21 points at San Diego State. Georgetown lost by 28 points at home to Pitt. Florida lost by 11 point at Arkansas, but the final score doesn’t do the mollywhopping justice. Perhaps the worst loss of all came when Kansas, who beat Kansas State by 21 last Monday, lost to TCU.
No team since the tournament expanded to 64 teams has lost by more than 26 points and won the national title. Only four have suffered losses by more than 17 points and won the title. And, according to a study done by Peter Tiernan of CBSSports.com, 10 of the top 20 teams in the country have lost by more than 17 points this season.
What does all of that mean?
Well, in case you didn’t realize it already, the NCAA tournament is going to be a mess.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.