Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.
Welcome to the top line, San Diego State. The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update. SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.
The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East. As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them. Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall. And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed. The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.
The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …
UPDATED: January 20, 2020
FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown
NC State vs. VCU
PR VIEW-AM vs. NORFOLK ST
MONMOUTH vs. ST. FRANCIS (PA)
SOUTH – Houston
WEST – Los Angeles
16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST
16) MONMOUTH / ST. FRANCIS (PA)
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST
12) NC State / VCU
13) S.F. AUSTIN
13) NEW MEXICO ST
11) NORTHERN IOWA
11) Saint Mary’s
14) NORTH TEXAS
14) LITTLE ROCK
2) SETON HALL
EAST – New York
MIDWEST – Indianapolis
1) SAN DIEGO STATE
6) Penn State
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown
3) West Virginia
14) WRIGHT STATE
7) Ohio State
7) Wichita State
10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State
2) MICHIGAN STATE
15) AUSTIN PEAY
15) NORTH DAKOTA ST
Last 4 Byes
Last 4 IN
First 4 OUT
Next 4 OUT
Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State Seed List
Breakdown by Conference … Big Ten (10) Big East (7) ACC (5) SEC (5) Big 12 (5) Pac 12 (5) American (3) West Coast (3) Atlantic 10 (2) Mountain West (1)
College Basketball Top 25 Power Rankings: Baylor and Gonzaga lead the way
Baylor is not the No. 1 team in my poll, and I suspect that they are going to be the No. 1 team in the country when the AP poll is released on Monday morning. The only reason they weren’t No. 1 last week is because four people (like me) had Duke at No. 1, stealing votes from the Bears. That … did not go well, so here we are.
I also want to talk through something else: Last week, I wrote extensively about why I think that it’s foolish to allow the result of one possession games to have a significant impact on the way that you view a team. One shot in a 70 possession game that is just one of more than 30 games that will be played this season is insignificant when determining the quality of a team, and I truly believe that.
But I also think it is important to consider how and why teams are winning close games, not just games that are one-possession games.
So let’s use Duke and Baylor for this example once again.
One thing that the Bears have proven over and over this season — at Texas Tech, at Kansas, at Oklahoma State — is the ability to close out a tough game, particularly on the road. That’s because they have a number of players on the roster that are capable of taking and making clutch shots. Against Tech, it was Jared Butler. Against Oklahoma State, it was Devonte Bandoo. The Bears may not look as good in the metrics because they haven’t obliterated the mediocre teams they have played, but they are 15-1 because they come through in the clutch.
Now, some of that may eventually regress. I believe in the clutch gene because I think life — not just sports, but everything every human being does — is confidence. Baylor has confidence in clutch situations, as much as anyone in the country. They do not get rattled by the moment, and they have a number of different options they can go to down the stretch.
Duke, on the other hand, does not. Their three losses this season have all been close games where the Blue Devils have struggled to find an outlet for offense in the final minutes. Maybe that will come with more experience — Duke is loaded with freshmen, Baylor is as old as anyone in the country — but as it stands, that’s the difference between these two teams.
The other thing that I want to discuss in this space is where I have San Diego State and Dayton ranked in the college basketball top 25. They are currently sitting and eighth and ninth in my poll, exactly where they have been for a couple of weeks now. And that is where they are going to stay for the foreseeable future.
The reasoning for me is simple: I don’t want to fall into the trap where I’m bumping a team up in the rankings simply because they keep winning in a league that is not as tough as the leagues where the rest of the teams in consideration for the top ten are playing, and losing.
I’m sure there are going to be people in San Diego and Dayton that call me a hater for this, and that’s fine. Maybe I am being a hater.
But the truth is this: I love both of these teams. SDSU is so tough defensively and Malachi Flynn has proven himself to be a flat-out winner at the point, while Dayton runs a pro-style, aesthetically-pleasing offense heavy on three-balls and Obi Toppin.
I just don’t believe they are one of the top six or seven teams in the country, and beating the likes of Nevada and Saint Louis is not going to change my mind.
Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.
BREAKING: Washington point guard Quade Green is academically ineligible, sources told @Stadium. Green is averaging 11.6 points & 5.3 assists in 15 games for Huskies. Winter quarter ends in mid-March, so source said still slight chance he plays again this season in postseason.
The Kentucky transfer is averaging 11.6 points, 5.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 44.7 percent from 3-point range. Goodman’s report notes that Washington is on the quarter system, so there is a possibility that Green could get his grades in order in time to regain eligibility in March before the postseason begins.
Washington’s path to the NCAA tournament, however, looks a lot more daunting without Green on the floor. The Huskies are 11-4 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-12, and they don’t really have a win of great consequence since they handed Baylor a loss in the season opener – the Bears haven’t lost since – though they did get their first Pac-12 win last weekend against USC.
It puts a ton of pressure on the Huskies to find an immediate alternative at point guard, where Green has been logging heavy minutes. Freshman Jaden McDaniels and sophomore Elijah Hardy would seem to be in line to try to help at the one with Green sidelined for an extended period of time. TMcDaniels has spent most of his season playing at forward. Green has started in 14 of the Huskies’ 15 games this season.
Green spent his first two seasons in Lexington playing for John Calipari and the Wildcats, but left for Seattle last winter and was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA before the start of the season, giving the Huskies a major boost as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament for a second-consecutive year under coach Mike Hopkins.
Washington plays at Stanford Thursday night and then will head to Berkeley for a showdown with Cal on Saturday. Their win last Sunday at home against USC stopped a two-game slide that featured losses to Houston and UCLA.
Player of the Year Power Rankings: Is Payton Pritchard the favorite?
It has been a weird year for college basketball and college basketball Player of the Year.
Not only is there no clear-cut best team in the country, but there is anything-but a favorite for National Player of the Year at this point. That is unusual. Recent seasons have seen one player emerge in November as the favorite to win the award. Zion Williamson stepped into that role after a monstrous performance in a blowout win over Kentucky in the Champions Classic. The year before, Trae Young’s ridiculous November made him the obvious favorite. Frank Mason led the charge in 2017 starting from, quite literally, the first game of the season. The year before that, it was Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine in a two-horse race all season. The year before that, Jahlil Okafor emerged as the early favorite.
Sometimes, those early favorites end up winning all the Player of the Year awards. Sometimes, they get chased down. That’s what Frank Kaminsky did to Okafor and what Jalen Brunson did to Young.
But either way, there always was a guy to chase.
This year, there is not.
Here is the definitive college basketball Player of the Year rankings:
1. PAYTON PRITCHARD, Oregon
STATS: 18.5 PPG, 6.2 APG, 4.3 RPG, 39.7 3PT%
At this point, I think that Pritchard has to be considered the favorite to win the National Player of the Year award. He’s putting up numbers that are on par with what Jalen Brunson posted the year he won Player of the Year. He’s doing so on a team that is the favorite to win the Pac-12 and currently sitting in the top five of the AP poll and the top ten at KenPom.
And he’s had College Basketball Player of the Year moments. Like roasting Zavier Simpson down the stretch in an overtime win at Michigan. Or the big shots that he hit late in a win over Memphis when they still had James Wiseman. There are a lot of really good point guards around America this season, but Pritchard, to date, has been the best.
Toppin has been this year’s breakout star. He entered the season as the best player in the Atlantic 10 and a potential first round pick, but he’s gone on to become a candidate to go in the top ten while being the anchor for one of the most surprising teams in the sport. Dayton is a ton of fun to watch, and so much of that is because of the way that they have built around Toppin, both offensively and defensively. There is a very strong case for him as the National Player of the Year right now. Who saw that coming?
3. DEVON DOTSON, Kansas
STATS: 18.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 spg
I still think that Udoka Azubuike is the single-most dominant force in college basketball this season, but what Dotson has done this year has helped mitigate the fact that some teams are going to sell out to stop the big fella. His ability to beat teams down the floor in transition is a game-changer for a Kansas program that has had some lulls offensively, and he is the guy that can create in the halfcourt when Bill Self isn’t able to scheme up a way to get shots. He’s far from a perfect player right now, but what he’s provided Kansas this season has been close to that.
I’m lumping these two together because I can already tell the debate about who the best player is on Duke is going to rage all season long.
I think there is a valid argument for both. Tre Jones is Duke’s leader. He is the guy that sets the tone defensively by smothering opponents at the point of attack. He is the leader is the locker room. He is their second-leading scorer, third nationally in assists among high-major players and an improved three-point shooter.
Carey, on the other hand, has been better than anyone thought. He’s hardly a great defender, but he’s been good. He’s made threes. He’s been able to play away from the rim. And, most importantly, he’s been just a dominant force on the block. He’s as much of a reason for Duke sitting at No. 1 on KenPom as anyone.
So you tell me.
Who is the best player on the Duke roster?
6. FILIP PETRUSEV, Gonzaga
STATS: 17.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 55.1 FG%
I’m honestly not even sure if Petrusev is the best player on Gonzaga, but I think that he needs to be on this list. He’s the leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker on the No. 1 team in the country, but more importantly, he is the best post scorer on a team that survives off of post touches as much as any high major team in the country.
Wesson’s counting stats don’t really show it, but he has been one of the most improved players in college basketball this season. Not only has he developed into one of the best frontcourt shooters in college hoops, he’s also worked to improve his body and his athleticism to make himself really good on the defensive end of the floor. He’s not only the fulcrum of the Ohio State offense, but he’s become the piece that allows them to be as good defensively as they have been.
8. MARKUS HOWARD, Marquette
STATS: 25.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 47.1 3PT%
I’m not convinced yet that Marquette is going to end up being good enough for Howard to truly get considered for a spot as a first-team All-American, but he’s averaging 25.6 points and shooting 47.1 percent from three on more than eight attempts per game. That should never stop being wildly impressive.
9. MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall
STATS: 21.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 37.0 3PT%
It’s tough to know where to slot Powell on this list. On the one hand, he has had some of the most impressive individual performances of the season and is arguably the most dangerous player in college basketball. He put 37 points on Michigan State, 32 points on Oregon, 24 points on Iowa State, 27 points on DePaul. But his two best games of the year came in losses, he has missed time with an ankle injury and a concussion, and he did not play in Seton Hall’s best win of the year.
10. JORDAN NWORA, Louisville
STATS: 20.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 39.5 3PT%
Nwora is another player that is tough to slot. He’s averaging 20.2 points and 7.2 boards for a top five team in the country. He was a Preseason All-American that is putting up the numbers you would expect from a player of that caliber. But he has also been invisible in Louisville’s two losses, shooting 6-for-26 from the floor and 2-for-13 from three against Texas Tech and Kentucky. He was a decoy in the second half against Kentucky, and that was certainly not something the Louisville staff planned.
ALSO CONSIDERED FOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JARED BUTLER, Baylor; ANTHONY COWAN, Maryland; MAMADI DIAKITE, Virginia; SAMIR DOUGHTY, Auburn; LUKA GARZA, Iowa; COLLIN GILLESPIE, Villanova; TYRESE HALIBURTON, Iowa State; MASON JONES, Arkansas; NICO MANNION, Arizona; TYRESE MAXEY, Kentucky; MAC MCCLUNG, Georgetown; JAHMI’US RAMSEY, Texas Tech; PAUL REED, DePaul; LAMAR STEVENS, Penn State; ISAIAH STEWART, Washington; TRES TINKLE, Oregon State; CASSIUS WINSTON, Michigan State; MARCUS ZEGAROWSKI, Creighton
More college basketball all-decade team content here.
The 2010s are coming to an end, which should make you feel incredibly old.
We’ve now gone a full decade with John Calipari in charge of the Kentucky Wildcats. We’re more than a decade removed from the existence of Psycho T on a college basketball campus. In the last ten years, we’ve seen Kentucky and Duke win titles by playing as young as possible, Virginia win by playing as slow as possible, Villanova win by shooting as many threes as possible and UConn win a pair of titles by hoping a star point guard can carry them through a six-game tournament.
We’ve experienced Jimmermania. We survived Zion Williamson’s Shoegate. We watch Louisville win a national title and then had the NCAA erase it from our collective memory because an assistant coach like to turn dorm rooms into the Champagne Room.
It’s been a wild ride.
And over the course of the next two weeks, we will be taking a look back at some of the best parts of the decade.
Today, we are taking a look at the best college basketball all-decade players.
The criteria for picking the all-decade teams was kind of tricky with the one-and-done rule in effect.
On the one hand, some of the very best players that we have ever seen in the collegiate ranks spent all of six months playing college basketball. How do we weigh that against guys that had sensational three or four year careers without ever reaching the heights that some of those one-and-dones reached.
It was difficult to balance, and after spending too many hours thinking about it, I’ve come to the decision that there is no right answer.
And that that is OK.
So without further ado, here is college basketball’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.
McDermott’s path to becoming one of the greatest college basketball players of a generation, not just the decade, was not typical.
He played his high school ball in Ames, Iowa, where he was completely overshadowed by his teammates, Harrison Barnes. His father, Greg, was the head coach at Iowa State at the time, but Doug committed to play for his dad’s old school, Northern Iowa. He eventually left Iowa State and took the head coaching gig at Creighton. Ben Jacobson let McDermott out of his letter of intent so that he can play for his pops at a league rival, and that turned out to be a costly decision.
Doug played in the Missouri Valley for three season. He averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 boards as a freshman, seeing that number jump to 22.9 points and 8.2 boards as a sophomore and 23.2 points and 7.7 boards as a junior. As a senior, when the Bluejays made the jump to the Big East, he led the nation by averaging 26.7 points.
He left Creighton as the fifth-best scorer in Division I history, amassing 3,150 points; he’s since been surpassed by Chris Clemons from Campbell. He was the first player in 29 years to be named a first-team AP All-American for three consecutive seasons. He is one of just three players in the history of men’s basketball to record 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, and he owns an NCAA record by scoring in double figures in 135 games. He only played in 145 games for the Bluejays.
Not bad for a kid that was the second-best player on a public high school team in Ames.
JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova
If things had gone the way that the Brunson family had wanted them to go, Jalen never would have ended up at Villanova. He would have played for their city rival, Temple. That’s where his father, Rick, played, and where he was going to get a job as an assistant before a legal issue ended that dream.
So Jalen went to Villanova, where he would become a starter that averaged 9.6 points and 2.5 assists, an integral piece of a team that won the 2016 national title. He was a first-team all-Big East player as a sophomore, but it was his junior season that is the real reason he is a first-team All-Decade player. Brunson would average 18.9 points and 4.6 assists, putting together one of the most efficient seasons in college basketball history en route to a National Player of the Year award and a second national title in three seasons for the team we named as the best in college basketball this decade.
In three seasons with Villanova, Brunson went 103-13 with a 45-9 record in the Big East. He won two Big East regular season title, two Big East tournament titles and two national titles. That’s decent.
That is the line that I will always remember about Kemba Walker’s 2010-11 season, which is wild when you really do think about it.
Because that line was delivered by Dave Pasch in the quarterfinal of the Big East tournament. Granted, the line was justified. Kemba had just dropped Pitt’s Gary McGhee to give UConn, the No. 9 seed in the Big East tournament, their third win in three days over the league’s regular season champs. He would go on to lead UConn to eight more wins in a row, taking home not only the Big East tournament title but the national title as well.
Which leads me to one of the most incredible information nuggets that I’ve come across in my years as a college basketball writer: After averaging 23.5 points, 5.4 boards and 4.5 assists for a team that became the first to win a major conference tournament title by winning five games in five days before leading that same team to a national title as a No. 3 seed, Walker did not win any Player of the Year awards.
There are six major college basketball Player of the Year awards, mind you. And not a single one of them determine that Kemba was the best college basketball player that season.
Zion makes this list despite playing just 33 games in his college career thanks to Duke’s Elite Eight exit and a knee injury that stemmed from a shoe that exploded in the middle of a game against North Carolina. No one on any of these teams will have played fewer games.
But I didn’t think I could justify have the best player that I have ever seen in the college ranks not on the list. He finished the year averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 boards, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks. No one has done that since at least 1992-93, which is as far back as basketball reference’s database goes, and he was a freshman playing in the ACC. He holds the record for the highest PER in college basketball since 2009-10, which is as far back as that data goes.
We’ll never see anything like Zion Williamson ever again, so I have no problem making an exception to get him on this list.
ANTHONY DAVIS, Kentucky
I love the Anthony Davis story because I love the trajectory of his career.
When he was a sophomore in high school he was a goofy, 6-foot-2 guard that wore rec specs and was completely inconsequential. When he was a junior he grew to 6-foot-6 and got an offer from Cleveland State, but he was only part way through his growth spurt, as he eventually sprouted to 6-foot-11 without losing any of those guard skills while adding a 7-foot-5 wingspan, making him just an absolutely perfect player for modern basketball.
Suddenly, the dude that looked like this when he was a sophomore is the No. 1 recruit in the country and putting up 14.2 points, 10.4 boards and 4.7 blocks to lead Kentucky to their first national title since 1998 before becoming the No. 1 pick in the draft and, eventually, LeBron’s running buddy in LA.
But that’s jumping ahead.
Because in college, Davis was an absolute game-changer to the point that everyone that saw the Wildcats play immediately knew who their best player was despite the fact that he took the fourth-most shots on the team.
Monday’s Overreactions: St. John’s, McKinley Wright and why Kentucky and Arizona are overrated
It’s probably not a coincidence that, in the first game that the Buffaloes played where they legitimately looked like a team that could contend for the Pac-12 title, McKinley Wright was the best player on the floor.
In what will likely go down as the biggest game of Colorado’s non-conference slate, Wright finished with 29 points and 10 boards to lead the Buffaloes past No. 13 Dayton in overtime. Colorado desperately needed that win, too. Entering Saturday, the best win that the Buffaloes had this season came in the season-opener, when they picked off Arizona State. The Sun Devils are only marginally better, according to KenPom’s metrics, than Clemson.
That’s unless you want me to be impressed with wins over the likes of UC Irvine or Colorado State.
And while the Pac-12 is improved this season, there are still four teams that rank outside the top 100 on KenPom in the league and just two teams currently in the top 40. As weird as it sounds, beating Dayton gave Colorado their marquee non-conference win.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: St. John’s Red Storm
I don’t know how many coaches are the country have had a better start to the season than Mike Anderson.
He entered St. John’s without a shred of expectation this season, and while I was more bullish than the field on Anderson long term, I didn’t expect this: On Saturday, the Johnnies flew across the country to play a neutral site event against Arizona in San Francisco to honor Chris Mullin, the head coach they fired in April.
And they won despite the fact that their best player, Mustapha Heron, was injured.
It will go down as the second top 25 win of the season for the Johnnies, who also picked off West Virginia this month.
We’ve seen this St. John’s program land big wins before disappearing in recent years – anyone else remember when they won at Villanova and then beat Duke in back-to-back games after starting Big East play 0-11? – so I’m not going to overreact to this just yet, but rest assured, the Johnnies are now on everyone’s radar.
1. IT’S OK IF YOU STILL THINK KANSAS IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE COUNTRY
On Saturday, Kansas went on the road in their last game before the Christmas break, played in front of 20,000 Villanova fans and lost, 56-55, to a program that has won two of the last four national titles because Devon Dotson missed this shot:
If you believed heading into this game that Kansas was the best team in college basketball, than you are more than justified in keeping the Jayhawks at No. 1 today. If your opinion of a team boils down to what happens on the final possession of a one point game, than you probably shouldn’t be allowed to rank teams.
That’s not to say that it shouldn’t impact the way that NCAA tournament bracket projections work.
Wins and losses should matter there. There should be some tangible impact on whether or not that last second shot goes in. It should lower Kansas a bit in the No. 1 overall seed pecking order.
But if it has an impact on the way you view Kansas in the longterm, or whether or not you buy into them as the best team in the country, you’re doing this wrong.
2. KENTUCKY IS NOT FIXABLE
Kentucky more or less invented the superteam era in college basketball, so it would be awfully ironic if the team that has thrived in the one-and-done era as much as any program in the country had their season saved by a grad transfer fro Bucknell.
And that may end up being the case this season.
Nate Sestina came back from injury on Saturday and scored a team-high 17 points while hitting five threes. That’s important for a couple reasons. For starters, the Wildcats have been just atrocious shooting the three this season. They entered Saturday making just 27.5 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, and if you take Sestina’s shooting on Saturday out of the equation, the rest of the roster was just 2-for-15 from deep against Ohio State.
Getting someone on the floor that will punish defenses for selling out on drives is pretty important. Sestina does that.
But just as important is that Sestina provides some scoring pop at the four. E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards have had some good moments this season, but most of those moments have come against the bad teams that the Wildcats have faced. Combined, those two are averaging 10.5 points and 8.0 boards against the four high-major opponents Kentucky has faced. Keion Brooks has had some flashes of potential, but that’s about it. Kahlil Whitney has looked less like a lottery pick and more like a guy destined to be in Lexington until he transfers because he’s sick of being recruited over.
Sestina has his limitations physically, but he plays hard, he provides some leadership and he does the thing none of those guys have been able to do: Provide some scoring pop.
And with him back in the fold, it does feel like Kentucky is getting closer to figuring this thing out. Tyrese Maxey’s making shots again. Ashton Hagans has really been the one guy that has consistently performed for the first seven weeks of the season. The execution wasn’t there against Ohio State – that has as much to do with Ohio State and Chris Holtmann as it does Kentucky and John Calipari – but the effort was there. The fight was there.
I don’t think Kentucky is ever going to look like a top ten team, and I doubt Cal is ever going to feel comfortable about what’s going on at the five, but the good news is that given the landscape of college basketball this season, you don’t have to be great. You just have to give yourself a chance.
3. ARIZONA AND DAYTON HAVE THE MOST OVERRATED RESUMES IN THE COUNTRY
Dayton is objectively good this year. They’ve blown out Virginia Tech, they’ve blown out Georgia and they have a convincing win over Saint Mary’s on a neutral court. That’s before you consider how well the Flyers can shoot and the fact that they are built around a future lottery pick in Obi Toppin. They’re legit.
Their biggest issue is that they lost to Kansas and Colorado in overtime. Those might end up being the two best teams that they play this season, and while those losses shouldn’t affect how you view the Flyers, they assuredly will affect how they are seeded come Selection Sunday. Results matter on a resume, and right now, Dayton’s resume does not match where they (deservedly) are being ranked.
The same can be said about Arizona, but I have much less conviction about this team actually being good. Arizona has now lost three of their last four games. The losses are by a total of 12 points, but in each one of those games, Arizona rallied late to make the final score respectable. They were down double-figures in the second half of all three.
And as it stands today, their best wins are Illinois at home, New Mexico State at home and Wake Forest on a neutral. That’s not exactly worthy of a No. 1 seed.
4. SAN DIEGO STATE IS 2014 WICHITA STATE
At this point, it is undeniable that San Diego State is a good basketball team. I’m not sure why any one would argue against one of the three remaining unbeatens being good, but if you are, you’re wrong. The Aztecs are 12-0 with wins over Creighton, Iowa, at BYU and by 28 against a Utah team that, just three days earlier, beat Kentucky. They’re good. I promise.
The question, however, is just how good they actually are, and that’s somewhat up for debate. I think that Iowa and Creighton will end up being tournament teams, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. I think BYU is good, but generally speaking, WCC teams with four losses in non-conference play aren’t making runs for at-large bids. Could all three end up being NIT teams? That’s certainly in the range of outcomes.
Which leads me to my next point: There really aren’t any great wins available in the Mountain West this year, not if Utah State’s actually the 48th-best team in the country, as KenPom says they are. The only other top 100 teams in the league are New Mexico (who just lost a pair of starters) and Nevada (who may or may not have last season’s success baked into their rankings right now). Is it crazy to think that the Aztecs, like the 2014 Shockers, can climb to the very top of the polls as the nation’s last remaining unbeaten even if their body work doesn’t necessarily justify it?
5. THE STATE OF COLLEGE HOOPS IS PROVEN BY THE IRRELEVANCE OF UNC-UCLA
We spoke about this on the podcast in each of the last two weeks, so I’ll be brief here.
I never would have thought that a Saturday afternoon tip off between UNC and UCLA would be a complete afterthought nationally for college hoops, but that is precisely what it was this Saturday. This epitomizes a point that I’ve made repeatedly – and one that was backed up by both Jay Wright and Bill Self on Saturday: College basketball is down this year. The talent level is down, the quality of the teams is down and, as a result, the level of play is down.
In total, these two teams lost six players to early entry. That’s part of the problem. Cole Anthony being injured is another part of the program. UCLA going through a coaching change certainly doesn’t help.
But the simple fact of the matter is that two of college basketball’s bluebloods were playing on Saturday, and it was overshadowed by Utah State-Florida and Butler-Purdue, which tipped at the same time.