I ordered an entire platter of cheese curds and a gourmet bowl of macaroni and cheese when I went out to dinner in Madison the night of the Duke-Wisconsin game. When I felt like crap two days later, I assumed it was because I had eaten 10 pounds of cheese. I was only partially right.
As it turned out, Wisconsin not only gave me a clogged digestive system — it also gave me the flu. This explains why the most powerful power rankings in college basketball took last week off.
But fear not — unlike the Michigan Wolverines, I refuse to lie down for two straight weeks. Although, I am still a little under the weather, so bear with me. I’ll try to gripe about how much I despise ball handlers who throw their head back to exaggerate contact. I’ll try to mention how hilarious it was that Karl Hess made his first appearance in Raleigh after almost three years, and four minutes into the game he T’d up Mark Gottfried. And I’ll do my best to discuss new announcer clichés.1 But I can’t make any promises.
I can’t decide if “buy in” or “the ability to” is worse. I’m thinking “the ability to.” Hearing commentators say, “And then he shows the ability to knock down the shot” during a replay instead of “He knocks down the shot” drives me up the wall. By the way, have you noticed how many college basketball players have bought in this year? I just love it when guys buy in. I especially love it when guys who hadn’t bought in before decide they’re ready to buy in now. There’s just too much ego in the game. Give me a group of guys with the ability to buy in.
We’ve got a lot to catch up on, so let’s get to it.
12. Ohio State
Ugh. I really don’t like including teams by default in college basketball’s most powerful power rankings. But I’ve got little choice here: Ohio State has steamrolled through its schedule, with the only blemish coming on the road against a top-five team in a game the Buckeyes trailed by three with a minute left. Meanwhile, Wichita State needed a miracle to escape Alabama at home on Tuesday. Iowa State was smacked in the mouth on a neutral court against Maryland not long ago. Oklahoma lost at Creighton. Washington squeaked by Eastern Washington. Miami lost at home by 13 to Green Bay. San Diego State scored 36 points in an entire game.2 Ohio State hasn’t done anything special to earn its ranking, but someone has to be 12th and the Buckeyes probably deserve it more than the other contenders.
Reminder: San Diego State plays at Cincinnati tonight. When I say there might not be 75 total points scored, I am not kidding at all.
For what it’s worth, I like this Ohio State team. They play unselfish basketball and have great chemistry on both ends of the court. The 2-3 zone is working much better than I expected, Amir Williams is providing consistent effort, and D’Angelo Russell is good enough to single-handedly win the Buckeyes some NCAA tournament games. It’s just that Ohio State has played only one decent team all season and it looked like a steaming turd for a large chunk of that game. Yeah, the Buckeyes deserve respect for the way they clawed back against Louisville, but I just can’t shake how awful they looked in the first half. And games against Sacred Heart and Campbell teach us nothing except just how bad Sacred Heart and Campbell are. So I’m refusing to pass judgment on Ohio State until I see what happens Saturday against North Carolina. Check back next week, when we’ll know more.
Kent C. Horner/Getty Images
True story: I went on a road trip to Edmonton, Alberta, this summer and stayed in a small town in Montana along the way. I was there only about 12 hours, but that was long enough to visit a local dive bar. I entered on a Monday night expecting to find a couple of sad degenerates sitting around a smoky room. Instead, the place was packed and full of energy. One customer in particular seemed like the life of the party.
Ten minutes after I sat down, my buddy and I made eye contact with the guy, and not long after, the bartender brought us a couple of beers and said, “Courtesy of the mayor” as she pointed to Mr. Life of the Party. We laughed because we thought the bartender was joking. She assured us she wasn’t kidding — the guy did buy us a round and he was, in fact, the mayor. After I raised my glass to Hizzoner, I pulled out my phone and Wikipedia’d my new favorite town in the world. And there in the notable residents section, I was greeted with a familiar name: head coach of the Utah Utes, Larry Krystkowiak.
Is this relevant to Utah’s team? Of course not. I just wanted you to know that Krystkowiak’s hometown mayor buying me a beer is why I’ll be driving the Utah bandwagon all season. Oh, and it helps that in their last three games, the Utes beat Wichita State, which no other team has done in the regular season since March 2013; beat BYU in Provo, which no other team has managed since November 2013; and took Kansas to the wire in Kansas City. And Utah did all of this without its second-best player (Jordan Loveridge). There’s that too.
It’ll be our secret, Kansas fans. Don’t tell anyone that the Jayhawks are 8-1 against the toughest schedule in college basketball, and that their only loss came against what could be a historically great team. Don’t remind people that Kansas was a young team that faced Kentucky without much of a scouting report because it was only the Wildcats’ third game of the season. Don’t explain how that game would look completely different if they played again tomorrow. Kansas would probably still lose, but it wouldn’t be a 32-point blowout.3
You might be thinking that the same excuses I’m making for Kansas could also apply to Kentucky. That’s not true, of course, since Kentucky had a significantly more experienced roster heading into that game than Kansas did. But even if it were true, games that early in the season are typically won by whichever team has the better individual players. Without the structure that comes with understanding your coach’s system, and without knowing the opposition’s tendencies, games in November often boil down to who has the better athletes rather than who has the better team. And spoiler alert: Kentucky has the best athletes.
But don’t let anyone know about that. Let them keep thinking Kansas sucks because Kentucky boat-raced the Jayhawks in mid-November. Let them think Kelly Oubre is a bum who won’t have an impact this year. Let them think Frank Mason can’t run the point and Perry Ellis is overrated. Whatever you do, don’t tell the rest of the college basketball world that Kansas has beaten Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown, and Utah in its last five games, that four of those five games were played away from Allen Fieldhouse, and that Ellis, Mason, Oubre, Cliff Alexander, and Wayne Selden still haven’t all played their best in the same game this season. That way it’ll be more fun when people realize in January that Kansas is actually pretty damn good.
William Mancebo/Getty Images
I watched the Gonzaga-Arizona game for the first time yesterday. I knew that Arizona had won in overtime, which I probably could’ve guessed anyway, given Arizona’s penchant for grinding out close games. Yet even though I had the box score right in front of me, I couldn’t accept that the Wildcats actually won until I saw Byron Wesley air-balling his first free throw with three seconds left in overtime. As I watched the game unfold, I couldn’t believe that Gonzaga would eventually let it slip away. The Zags outplayed the Cats for 40 minutes and ended up losing only because Arizona was put in the college basketball world to let opponents get the taste of an upset before ripping out their hearts. If this happened against any other team, I’d accuse Gonzaga of choking in a game it should have won. But it’s Arizona. If I start criticizing teams for losing close games to Arizona, I may never sleep again.
By the way, let’s not gloss over some breaks that went against the Zags. They outplayed the third-ranked team on the road without a great game from their best player (Kevin Pangos). Plus, the Zags shot just 23.5 percent from the 3-point line4 and dealt with foul trouble through most of the game. If you’re looking for proof that it just wasn’t Gonzaga’s day, consider this: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley, Stanley Johnson, and T.J. McConnell all made a 3 in the same game that Sean Miller was never shown coughing on the sideline. For Arizona, this is like seeing Halley’s Comet, finding a cure for cancer, and Kenny Chesney putting out a song about something other than the first 25 years of his life all rolled into one. We were a McConnell dunk away from the entire universe ceasing to exist.
Arizona’s defense contributed to this, but Gonzaga also missed several wide-open shots it typically hits.
If Gonzaga plays defense like it did against Arizona, then it is a Final Four–caliber team. It proved this against Arizona and reaffirmed it a week later when it beat up a decent UCLA team on the road. Do yourself a favor and watch Gonzaga play at BYU on December 27. As long as Tyler Haws is able to return from an ankle injury, the over/under on points scored for that game will be something like 700 points.
If Kentucky beats Louisville at the end of December, we’re going to start hearing endless discussions about which teams (if any) could beat the Wildcats. If that day comes, I suspect Duke and Arizona will get all the attention while Texas will be ignored, since the Longhorns came up short against Kentucky two Fridays ago. But writing off Texas would be a mistake. Texas had a perfect game plan against the Wildcats. It lost only because of foul trouble and the lack of a perimeter playmaker. Texas had the size to match Kentucky on the boards, it limited the Wildcats’ transition opportunities, and it frustrated Kentucky by going under screens in the 2-3 zone.
But points were hard to come by for Texas, and understandably so. After all, we may end up looking back at Kentucky’s defense as one of the best of all time. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what difference Isaiah Taylor, who is out with a broken wrist for at least another few weeks, could’ve made. Javan Felix can have good moments under the right circumstances, but those circumstances do not include facing Kentucky’s suffocating pressure. Demarcus Holland did what he could, but the Horns desperately needed a player who could create his own offense, collapse Kentucky’s defense, and kick the ball to open shooters. The Horns needed a player who wasn’t going to be intimidated, someone they could rally behind. Texas needed someone who could get a couple of buckets in transition so Kentucky couldn’t set its defense every time down the court. In other words, the Horns needed Taylor.
For at least three more months, Kentucky will be irrelevant to a Texas team that hopes to survive the Big 12 and knock Kansas off the conference throne. Be that as it may, the college basketball conversation will center on Kentucky all season long. The ultimate question for every team will be if it’s good enough to beat Kentucky. Texas certainly qualifies as one of the few teams built to beat the Wildcats, which is why I’m desperate for a Kentucky-Texas rematch when Taylor gets healthy.
I can’t decide if Ryan Arcidiacono is Villanova’s best player or worst player. And he’s not one of those inconsistent guys who you never know if they’re going to show up, either. Arcidiacono’s production across the board has dipped so much this season that you wonder why he averages more minutes than everyone on the team but Dylan Ennis. Arcidiacono is supposed to be a good shooter, yet he’s averaging only 29.7 percent from the field and he’s been so bad from the 3-point line that he might as well try shooting left-handed. His right hand was heavily taped against Illinois last Tuesday, so maybe he’s playing through an injury that’s affecting his shot. Whatever the case, Arcidiacono is a three-year starting point guard for a top-10 team who averages only 3.3 assists per game and is Villanova’s seventh-leading scorer. That could be better.
On the other hand, every time I watch Arcidiacono play, I see him make a positive impact on the game. Arcidiacono is as good as any player in the country at moving the ball and making the extra pass. I know, I might as well say he’s the best at getting in triple-threat position, slapping the floor on defense, sliding over to take a charge, and making the scrappy play. But here’s why, in Arcidiacono’s case, this is a legitimate compliment: When the Villanova offense is at its best, the ball moves so quickly that defenders are left running in circles. This doesn’t happen by accident. Arcidiacono is a master at quickly swinging the ball to an open teammate on the perimeter. And just when a team gets used to him reversing the ball when he catches it, Arcidiacono throws in a pass fake, dribbles into the gap, and kicks it back out for a teammate to knock down a shot.
The point guard’s job is to put his teammates in positions to succeed on offense. Sometimes when he does this, he racks up a ton of assists. Arcidiacono sets up his teammates by making sure the ball moves from side to side. Villanova is so deep, talented, and balanced that it doesn’t need to get the ball to a particular player a certain number of times. Arcidiacono knows that all it needs to do is keep the ball moving and eventually a capable scorer will be open. He doesn’t average many assists because the team doesn’t need him to dominate possession, probe the defense with his dribble, and then find the open man. That he’s playing the best defense of his career paired with the way he understands and facilitates Villanova’s strengths makes Arcidiacono if not the best player on the team then perhaps the most irreplaceable player, even if his stats suggest otherwise.
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
It’s halftime, which can mean only one thing: It’s time for Dick’s Degrees of Separation, the most mildly amusing Internet game involving college basketball! You know the drill: I give you the endpoint of a Dick Vitale tangent and you pick the path he took to get there. Let’s get down to business.
During the Gonzaga vs. UCLA game played in Los Angeles on Saturday, how did Dick Vitale end up talking about Memphis?
A. During a break in the action, Vitale turns to Dave Pasch and mentions how it’s great to work with him. Vitale then reminds viewers that Pasch typically calls games with Bill Walton. Pasch laughs, then Vitale tells him to ask Walton why he missed a couple of shots in the 1973 national championship against Memphis (then known as Memphis State).
B. Highlights of the 2006 Sweet 16 matchup between UCLA and Gonzaga are shown as Pasch explains that UCLA scored the final 11 points of the game to win. Vitale then says that the Bruins ultimately lost to Florida in that year’s national title game. Vitale adds that it was the first of three straight Final Fours for Ben Howland, with the last one coming in 2008, when UCLA lost to Memphis.
C. Pasch mentions that Mark Few has the highest career winning percentage among active Division I coaches, prompting Vitale to say that Few is second to John Wooden on the all-time list. Vitale then asks if Pasch knows who has the second-best percentage among active coaches. Pasch correctly answers Roy Williams. Vitale says that third on the list is John Calipari, who racked up wins at UMass and Memphis before starting at Kentucky.
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Is it too early to say this year’s Virginia team looks better than last year’s? Of course it is, right? Virginia won last season’s regular-season ACC crown as well as the conference tournament. We can’t dismiss those accomplishments just because this year’s team is off to a hot start. And that’s to say nothing of the absence of Joe “Virginia’s Aaron Craft” Harris. It would be a slap to his beautiful, flawlessly constructed face to forget all he did for the Hoos just because of a few Justin Anderson dunks. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The hell with it, let’s get way ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about how Virginia’s offense looks far better than it did at this point last season.5 Let’s talk about how there’s dynamism to this offense that Tony Bennett teams usually don’t have. This doesn’t feel like a system offense. Virginia is still methodical, and it still milks the shot clock. But the Hoos have also shown they don’t need to play system basketball to win. Anderson, Malcolm Brogdon, and Anthony Gill are skilled and athletic enough to create their own offense. London Perrantes’s shot isn’t falling like it should be by the end of the year, but he’s been really good the last two games and has shown great command running the point. There have even been some Evan Nolte sightings! With all the talent and depth Virginia possesses, watching the team no longer feels like watching a machine run by faceless cogs. Now, it looks like a group of talented players who run a very efficient offense.6
I can’t mention Virginia’s offense without bringing up the timeout Bennett called when it was up four with 6:50 remaining in the VCU game. The Hoos didn’t miss another shot and rattled off a 15-2 run that conjured memories of the Notre Dame run from last year. If you could bottle that stretch of Virginia offense and sell it, San Diego State would throw its entire athletic budget at you to get its hands on some.
Unfortunately, Virginia’s improved offense seems to have come at a price. The Hoos defense didn’t look as sharp against Maryland and VCU as it normally does. The VCU game was particularly uncharacteristic for the Cavaliers. VCU has the right combination of shooters to space the floor and penetrators to attack the paint once the shooters stretch the defense, so it makes sense that Virginia’s defense wasn’t as dominant as usual. But most of Virginia’s problems in that game seemed to stem from poor effort and mental lapses rather than VCU’s play. It was as if the Hoos knew they didn’t need to play great defense because they could score easy baskets against the Rams. While that turned out to be true as Virginia shot an absurd 68 percent from the field, Bennett needs to make sure his team doesn’t lose its identity. If they can resume playing the lockdown defense they’ve played most of the season while maintaining their offensive efficiency, the Hoos will be scary good.
Indiana played balls to the wall, drained 3s all night, and actually got steady production from Hanner Mosquera-Perea against the Cardinals on December 9. If IU had valued possession more and slowed the game down, if it had missed four or five of those 3s, and if Mosquera-Perea had played like the Mosquera-Perea who makes Hoosiers fans want to throw things, I probably wouldn’t have ended up writing what you’re about to read. But none of those things happened, so here we are: Louisville’s half-court defense needs to get better.
This is far from a unique problem for Louisville teams. In fact, it seems like I make a version of this point around the same time every year — Louisville has one of the best defenses in America because its press causes so many headaches, but when the press doesn’t force turnovers, it’s much easier to score against the Cards than it should be. This, of course, leads to Louisville fans explaining that this is how Louisville wants to play, and that the Cards don’t mind occasionally giving up easy points because over the course of a game, their press will create more easy baskets for Louisville than for their opponents.
I get it. And I get that Indiana hitting so many early 3s forced Louisville’s defense to extend farther on the floor than Rick Pitino probably would’ve liked, which in turn led to more easy buckets for the Hoosiers. It’s just that Louisville botched so many simple actions against Indiana that I refuse to let the Cardinals solely blame their defensive lapses on stylistic preference. There’s a difference between giving up transition layups when the press gets broken and getting set defensively, facing screens a couple of times, and giving up a wide-open layup. Louisville’s players often seem more interested in making flashy defensive plays — blocks off the glass, open-court steals, intercepted passes that lead to runouts — than they are in playing fundamental defense. The Cardinals’ communication is bad, their understanding of defensive concepts isn’t much better, and their half-court effort is worst of all. It’s really just a slap in the face to their phenomenal press.
Louisville is a legitimate national title contender. The Cardinals should be ranked in the top 10 all season. Their offense is tough to stop, especially when Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, and Wayne Blackshear are hitting 3s and Montrezl Harrell gets nasty on the offensive glass. And it should be noted that my critique of Louisville’s defense applies only when the press doesn’t work, which rarely happens. But just imagine if Louisville had Kentucky or Virginia’s half-court defense along with Pitino’s press. Imagine how dominant the Cardinals defense would be at its full potential. Serious question: Would you rather face a defense like that for 40 minutes or watch Harrell shoot free throws while explaining all the hairstyles he turned down before settling on his “Cheetos held in place by a cut-off T-shirt sleeve” look?
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Let’s talk about Sam Dekker.
That sound you hear is Wisconsin fans sitting up in their seats to see what might come next. But you already know what’s next, don’t you? It’s me throwing out a rhetorical “How good is Sam Dekker?” question. Then I point out his inconsistent play and his tendency to disappear in big games and wonder if he’ll ever live up to the hype. I mention how great he is on paper and how it makes sense that he’s a projected lottery pick. I mention that he should theoretically be a Gordon Hayward or Chandler Parsons and how rare a 6-foot-9 guy who can put the ball on the floor and shoot 3s off the dribble is in the college game. But then I circle back to how we’re still waiting on him to have that breakout game where he goes for 25 and 15 against a ranked team and knocks all of his critics on their asses. Finally, I wrap everything up by asking Wisconsin fans to decide whether Dekker or Traevon Jackson is the more frustrating Wisconsin player. Buzzcuts fans tweet me their answers, a discussion is started, and we ultimately solve nothing. That’s exactly what happens next.
For what it’s worth, I’m a huge Dekker fan and I think the criticism of him is mostly unfair. The guy has performed well in plenty of big games, most notably when he went for 15 and 9 and 15 and 11 in back-to-back road wins at Michigan and Iowa last season. And let’s not forget that in Buzzcuts years, Dekker is still young. Yes, he’s a junior, but think about how Bo Ryan runs his program. Imagine playing with four seniors who average 20-plus minutes a game for an old-school coach who preaches buying in (BUYING IN!!!) and waiting your turn. Dekker should definitely be more productive than he’s been, but doesn’t it make sense that he might still be figuring out where he fits in with this team? Think about it: When was the last time a non-senior led Wisconsin in scoring for a Ryan team that started three seniors? The only example that comes to mind is Alando Tucker, who was a junior in 2005 when he led the Mike Wilkinson/Sharif Chambliss/Clayton Hanson Buzzcuts (who made the Elite Eight) in scoring. In other words, the only time it happened was almost a decade ago, and the guy who did it is Wisconsin’s all-time leading scorer. You can forgive Dekker for not stepping up to be THE MAN considering few in his position ever have.
One thing’s for sure: Dekker can’t use his bum ankle as an excuse anymore. Maybe it could’ve explained his five-point effort against Duke or his 1-for-5 game at Marquette. But now that Dekker has scored 17 points in both of his last two games, we have to assume he’s healthy. Now we find out what he’s really made of.
Three things about the Wildcats:
1. Sean Miller deserves applause for Arizona’s nonconference schedule.
Bill Self is the undisputed king of nonconference scheduling, but Miller is also doing a hell of a job. Arizona played in the Maui Invitational, it played Gonzaga and Michigan at home, and it’ll play back-to-back road games leading into conference play. It might not be the toughest schedule in the country, but there are a lot of coaches who would stay as far away from San Diego State and Gonzaga as they possibly could, since Arizona has little to gain in those games. But to his credit, Miller’s team will have played the Aztecs and Zags along with UNLV this year. If the basketball gods truly love us, this will become a tradition. How great would it be to know that every year we’re guaranteed Arizona games against San Diego State, Gonzaga, and UNLV? And what if the Cats rotated between playing BYU, New Mexico, and another Mountain West/WCC team as their fourth big nonconference game every year? Loading up on must-see games like that is how you combat the East Coast bias.
2. Zeus “Zeus” Zeuszeuski has been great.
It’s easy to see that Zeus’s numbers are down from last year and wonder what went wrong with him, but the truth is that he’s just fine. Zeus has played only one bad game this season (San Diego State) and it’s little surprise that he’s rebounding less with Brandon Ashley back and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s role expanding. If you expected Zeus to be Jahlil Okafor or Willie Cauley-Stein, that’s on you. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get nastier on defense, but he’s been great as a space-eater who plays physical, cleans up the glass, and doesn’t force shots. He’s given everything Arizona needs from him.
3. Stanley Johnson is still my favorite freshman.
In five games against power conference teams and ranked teams, Johnson is averaging 14.8 points, 6.6 boards, and 1.6 assists while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. He’s 6-7 and 245 pounds, yet he regularly hits floaters. He was named the MVP of the sport’s most prestigious early-season tournament. He wears a T-shirt under his jersey, he has an Afro, and he has stripes shaved into the side of his head. He quotes JFK on Twitter and apparently has a bromance with Frank Kaminsky. That is all.
Here’s a Christmas joke for you: Who is from up north, likes to spread the wealth, pulls off miracles in December, and hauls around an enormous sack?
I’m still reeling from my trip to Wisconsin to watch Duke play the Buzzcuts two weeks ago. (And by reeling, I mean coughing, sleeping, and blowing my nose. Thanks again for the flu, Madison!) Jones turned in one of the most impressive individual performances you’ll see all season against Wisconsin. Okafor looks more incredible every time I see him. Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson are playing better than any sane person thought was possible in the preseason. Marshall Plumlee even played great at Wisconsin!7 Thousands of drunk Wisconsin fans packed into the Kohl Center in anticipation of a party. And then Duke did this.
Coincidentally, Plumlee played out of his mind in the first game he decided to part his hair. You are now thinking of Plumlee staring at himself in the mirror two hours before the game while saying, “If they want a war, that’s what they’re going to get. No more Mr. Nice Marshall. IT’S TIME TO UNLEASH THE BEAST!!!” He then rubs a bunch of gel into his hair and parts it meticulously, looks back at himself, lets out a primal scream, and knocks down the locker-room door.
I was so impressed with the way Duke traveled to Madison and handled the no. 2 team in the nation that I actually considered power-ranking the Blue Devils no. 1. I thought about it for half a second, and then I realized the flu was driving me insane — but damn it, I still considered it.
Because of final exams, Duke’s only game in the last two weeks was Monday’s lackluster win against Elon. But here’s the good news for everyone who’s eager to see Duke play another halfway decent team: The Blue Devils face UConn in East Rutherford on Thursday night. UConn is talented enough to upset Duke, and the Huskies are desperate for a marquee nonconference win. But will they pull it off? Or is this the game that convinces UConn fans it’s 2012 all over again and makes them give up on the season, only for the Huskies to tear through the American and pull the fans back in? I’m going with the latter.
If Kentucky continues shooting the 3 like it did against North Carolina on Saturday, it’ll go down as the greatest college basketball team of all time. There’s no way to defend that much size and athleticism without stacking the paint, and if the Cats can stretch defenses by knocking down 3s, I honestly wouldn’t blame some SEC teams for forfeiting instead of spending their money to travel to Lexington and get their asses kicked. This is why Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker are maybe the most valuable bench players in college basketball.
Let’s assume that Kentucky won’t always shoot so well from deep, though. Let’s assume that shooting performances like the ones Kentucky had against Texas and Columbia will outnumber the red-hot nights. In that case, the Cats don’t look quite so invincible. In fact, at this point the formula for beating Kentucky seems pretty obvious — win the rebounding, transition, and 3-point battles. For all of the Wildcats’ talent, they don’t have a great back-to-the-basket offensive presence like Julius Randle was last season. That means a team can negate Kentucky’s size advantage by taking away transition dunks, offensive rebounds, and pick-and-rolls. Texas was pretty good at this, except for a stretch early in the second half when Kentucky pushed the tempo. North Carolina did a great job of scoring before Kentucky’s defense could get set. And Columbia hit six more 3s than Kentucky did, which played a huge part in the Lions giving the Wildcats their closest game of the year. So far, however, no team has been able to do all three and sustain it for 40 minutes.
This is why I’m so excited for Kentucky to play at Louisville. The Cards are one of the nation’s best rebounding teams. They have one of the best defenses in America, they score a ton of points in transition, and they have capable 3-point shooters. Remember, though, that Louisville’s half-court defense could be much better. So while it’s possible that Kentucky might struggle against the press, shoot poorly from outside, get destroyed on the boards, and ultimately get run out of the gym by Louisville, it’s just as likely that the Cats break the press, pick apart the Cardinals’ half-court defense, dunk all over the place, and laugh as Louisville’s offense struggles against Kentucky’s nasty defense. I could be talked into that game being a 20-point win for either team. December 27 can’t get here soon enough.
The Tell-All Book of the Week
Former Vanderbilt point guard Kyle Fuller is working on a tell-all book based on his time in Nashville that promises to “tell you what the NCAA does not want you to know,” and apparently Kevin Stallings isn’t happy about it. Fuller’s motivation for writing the book and the accuracy of his stories remain unclear and will be debated plenty. As a former college basketball player who wrote a book about my time at Ohio State, I’m on Fuller’s side insofar as I support the idea of college athletes sharing their life experiences with the public. Sure, based on the excerpts, it sounds like Fuller’s book will be little more than “SEX WITH CHICKS, MAN!” but whatever — if every college athlete wrote a book when they graduated, the world would be a better place. I know firsthand that there are plenty of great untold college sports stories, just waiting for the athletes to tell them. For example, did you know that some of these basketball players have SEX WITH CHICKS, MAN?! It’s true. I read about it online.
The Dick’s Degrees of Separation answer is A. See you after Christmas.