Never a dull moment in college basketball, is there? Just when you think you have everything figured out significant plot twists throws everything off track. Nothing is as it appears to be but is exactly as it appears to be at the same time.
Confusing? Absolutely. Let’s try to break everything that happened this week down and make sense of it.
Bo Ryan and Wisconsin Go Back To Their Roots
It wasn’t long ago that Wisconsin came out of nowhere, shed their label of a team that doesn’t “get buckets” and scored over 100 points against North Dakota. Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers have been better known for their stingy defense and scoring just enough points to be a consistent winner.
Order has been restored in Madison as Tuesday night’s game at Virginia was a display of exactly what the Badgers are used to: ugly wins. Coming off of big wins against Saint Louis and West Virginia, Wisconsin ventured into Cavalier territory and came away with a mere 48 points. Normally when a team scores 48 points, they are probably getting blown out. Wisconsin is not a normal team. Those 48 points were 10 more than Virginia scored, allowing the Badgers to remain undefeated with a 9-0 record.
Wisconsin is a strange team. Ryan never really has a star player that can dominate a game for 40 minutes. What he does have is a tradition of team oriented basketball and defense. They are about great team basketball, something that always gets lost in the shuffle. The Badgers are never going to wow you, but they know how to win games, even ugly ones.
Is UCLA For Real?
Some have been wondering whether or not the 8-0 UCLA Bruins are a legitimate threat for the National Championship. Simply put: no, they are not. At least, they’re not legitimate yet.
To date, UCLA’s toughest opponent came in the opener at home against Drexel, a game in which the Bruins escaped with a 72-67 victory. Drexel is a good team but in UCLA expectations are always high. It wasn’t long ago the Bruins were sending numerous players into the NBA Draft and playing in back-to-back Final Fours. Steve Alford came in with huge hype around him considering his success at New Mexico. He has yet to win over many people, including the Bruins faithful (numerous empty seats are painfully visible at UCLA home games).
The combined record for UCLA’s opponents as of Thursday is 28-36, not exactly high-quality win worthy. Alford has his first real test on the road against a good Missouri team on Saturday. After that is the date with the Duke Blue Devils on Dec.19. It will take wins in both games to make the Bruins legitimate in the eyes of many. Until then, there will be many questions surrounding UCLA.
Florida’s Point Guard Woes Continue
Florida came into the season with high expectations but injuries and suspensions put most of them on hold early. A road loss to Wisconsin is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is a road loss to UCONN at the final buzzer (accounting for both of the Gators’ losses this season). Unfortunately, just as it all seemed to be looking up for Florida, recently reinstated Scottie Wilbekin has been ruled out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Having already lost freshman Kasey Hill, Florida’s starting point guard, for most of the season to an injury, the Gators are in serious trouble.
To make matters worse, Patric Young has not been living up to his All-American potential this season, averaging only 10 points and five rebounds per game. Florida has skated by so far, but with back-to-back games against Kansas and Memphis, respectively, Billy Donovan has a lot to figure out or risk losing the season. Luckily, the Kansas games is on Dec.10, giving Florida a full week to prepare for Memphis.
There’s time to turn this around, but it does not look good for the Gators right now.
Who Is North Carolina?
I have no idea and it’s giving me a migraine trying to figure it out. Even without good production from James Michael-McAdoo, the Tar Heels are a hot, steamy, fun, chaotic, unpredictable mess right now. There’s no simple explanation for the season they are having right now. With that in mind, North Carolina should be a fun team to follow for the rest of the year.
What’s On Tap?
The week is not over yet, folks. We still have a full slate of quality games that could shake up the Top 25 rankings.
Friday sees Kentucky traveling to Baylor in a highly anticipated matchup. This will be the first true road game for the Wildcats and a true low-post challenge for Julius Randle, going up against the inside core of Rico Gathers, Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Taurean Prince. It should be interesting.
On Saturday, settle in for a long, pleasant day of hoops as UNLV will try to rob Arizona of the top ranking in Monday’s polls, Kansas goes on the road to battle a talented Colorado team, Marquette tries to get back on track on the road against Wisconsin and UMass looks for a signature win against BYU.
It should be a fun weekend for college basketball fans. Enjoy.