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

3 Comments

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.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

1 Comment

Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

Allen Dean Steele /Allsport
1 Comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.