We are just about a month into the college basketball season, and I thought it be a great time to take a look at some things both good and bad that we’ve seen thus far and do it in kind of an interesting method… a little alphabet soup. I can’t hit every single little thing but I worked hard on this and I hope you all enjoy it.
A is for Arkansas… the Razorbacks lead the COUNTRY in 3pt defense, allowing opponents to shoot 19.9 % from 3.
B is for Big Ten… we all thought Michigan State would rule the roost, but its been pretty clear Michigan, Ohio State, Maryland, Purdue and even upstart Indiana aren’t going anywhere. All of these teams have signature wins… I’m saying it now, the Big Ten is the best overall conference in college hoops.
C is for Central Michigan… the Chips lead the nation in scoring offense at over 95 a game, they’ve topped 100 or more 4 times and as usual the pace is high, something Keno Davis loves. OVERS should be in your repertoire whenever they play.
D is for DePaul… The boys from Chi Town are 9-0! Keep in mind in 2 of the last 4 seasons, they only won 9 games all season and since 2005 have only won 15 or more games twice. This might be the first year they go dancing since those years.
E is for Evansville… The Purple Aces pulled off one of the great upsets ever going into Lexington and beating Kentucky. The problem is they’ve also lost to ECU and GW, two teams with a combined 6-12 record. Not good. Coach McCarty needs consistency.
F is for FUCK YEAH… College hoops is king and it’s only DECEMBER.
G is for Grand Canyon… A lot of people including me thought the Lopes could be a sleeper tourney team before the season, but they’ve been terrible. It hasn’t helped that none of the transfers they had hoped to get never got waivers. They are just 4-6 and have little to no bench. Maybe the WAC schedule will be the tonic to something better?
H is for Howard… The Bison are horrific! They are one of the dreaded barely score 60 a game but give up 85. They have ZERO wins in 9 games, have lost 5 games by 20 plus and even lost a game to a team called Washington Adventist? By the way, also… 1-6-1 ATS. So they aren’t even being competitive.
I is for Ivy Smith Jr… The Grambling senior leads the nation with 3.8 steals per game. He has some of the quickest hands and reaction times in college hoops. Smith is a big reason Grambling continues to be a tough out against better opposition. This will be huge in SWAC play, maybe we see the quick hands of Smith in March?
J is for Jahmius Ramsey… Let’s be honest, Texas Tech has to have him healthy to win big basketball games. The freshman is key to the offensive scoring output and without him they have dropped 3 straight something that Tech has never done in the non conf under Beard. In his 2 games out, its been evident they are devoid of a scorer. Lets hope the hammy injury is short lived.
K is for Kylor Kelly… I’m sure your thinking who? But the college hoops addicts know him. The 7 foot Oregon State senior is second in the country in blocks and one of the main reasons the Beavers are 7-1. His all around game is pretty damn good too. He anchors a front line for Oregon State that needs to be big as PAC 12 plays gets here. Him and Tres Tinkle are a nice 1-2!
L is for LIU… They aren’t LIU Brooklyn anymore, even though I still call them that. They also aren’t the Blackbirds anymore? its now the LIU Sharks? Ok then, well watch out for this team coming up as we head into NEC play, they had a bear of an OOC schedule but it will make them better. They play fast, are well coached and sport one of the most experienced teams in the country.
M is for Michigan… A lot of people just assumed because John Beilien left, so would Michigan basketball. Imagine thinking that? Juwan Howard was more than ready to fill the role with his coaching chops and assistant coaching wizards as well. Michigan has early wins against Gonzaga, UNC and Iowa State which took them from being unranked to top 5. It’s all about culture at these programs and Michigan remains as one of the premier cultures in the country. Great job by Juwan and staff.
N is for Northeastern… The Huskies LEAD the country in 3pt percentage at KenPom. Bill Coen teams are always tremendous offensive teams but this one may be the best yet. His ball screen motion offense has been a KILLER and if your in the CAA, you’ve gotta be worried. By the way they also make 81.5 percent of their FT’s as a team. Something that’s near and dear to me. This team is surprisingly just 4-5 ATS though. The defense must improve. If it does, they may become a cover giant.
O is for OVERS… Some of the best in the country at hitting them? Tennessee Martin has went over in all 6 lined game. Portland State is 6-0-1 Binghamton is 7-1 to the OVER plus SEC squads in Georgia and Vandy are playing fast and have both hit 7 out of 8 OVERS.
P is for Powell… As in Myles Powell… This guy is must see TV, he’s the best scorer in the country arguably and hes a complete highlight reel. He’s averaging over 23 a game against teams like Oregon and Michigan State. Kid’s a star. Let’s see if he can carry Seton Hall though, this team has struggled to win in the tourney, but if they get there hes certainly capable of putting them on his back.
Q is for Quinnipiac… I mean it had to be the boys from Hamden, CT. There’s just not a lot to pick from when we get to Q. Either way, the Bobcats have only played 6 games and it’s been tough so far, HOWEVER they score, protect the ball and are awesome from the FT line. Remember the name Rich Kelly. As we know in the MAAC, anything can happen. So here’s to a run for Baker Dunleavy and the boys!
R is for Richmond… One of my favorite surprise teams from early in the season. I love this team offensively, they can knock down 3’s, run great half court offense and are lethal in transition. The big question was could they step up and play someone after a start against cupcakes. They passed that test beating Wisconsin in Brooklyn and holding them to 52. Plus over the last 6 games, they are only giving up 59.5 a game which is huge. Keep in mind in the first 2 games of the season they allowed 98 and 92. Watch out for the Spiders. I’m telling you all now.
S is for San Diego State… The Aztecs are 9-0 and let me tell you something that’s important to the beautiful city of San Diego. There isn’t much to root for these days there and the Aztecs will be the void. This team has been terrific so far. Malachi Flynn is a bonafide star and the defense has been back to its dominant ways holding opponents to 57.6 a game. A soft schedule will be nice through Christmas where they should remain undefeated. The big game awaits Jan 4th in Logan against MWC foe Utah State. That game will be must watch. Dare we say though this is the best SDSU team ever? Better than the Kawhi teams? Maybe. My advice, go buy stock in them. They are really good.
T is for Tennessee State… The Tigers are 6-0-1 against the number and remain one of the best bets game to game in the country. They’ve been good as a big dog plus have had no problem going and laying points. They have excelled offensively and that will come in handy during conference play dealing with the likes of Belmont and Murray.
U is for Udoka Azubuike… The 7 foot Kansas senior has been as good as advertised this season. He leads the nation in FG percentage at 80 percent and has been key in big games so far against teams like Dayton in Maui. The duo of him and Devon Dotson will be gigantic all season. By years end, this kid will be a walking double double and is as good as big in the country. Let’s just hope for Kansas and Bill Self, he stay’s healthy. If he does Kansas is national title good.
V is for Virginia… What is going on with the Cavaliers and this offense? I know there is good as it gets defensively and regularly are must see tv on that end of the court, but this offense is putrid. They have no capable replacements or shooters and are relying on bad offense to somehow just figure it out. They have yet to eclipse 70 points and the cupboard is bar in Charlottesville. It’s not going to get any easier either. Virginia against low level competition can just defend you to death and win ugly, as they step up against really good ACC caliber teams, they will be hamstrung. Hot take Virginia loses more than 10 games.
W is for Winthrop… Pat Kelsey’s team took down St Marys early in the season and hung with Duke, but statistically there has been no team worse at the foul line in the country. They rank dead last out of 353 D1 teams at just 49.3 percent collectively. They don’t get there much but they’re leaving a boatload of points on the line. Will comeback and start hurting them soon.
X is for Xavier… The Musketeers are quietly 8-1 and since the season started have been my pick to win the Big East. I bring them up as well this week as one of the best rivalries in the sport is renewed on Saturday when they take on crosstown rival Cincinnati… Should be fun. Watch out for this team though long term. They are as experienced as it gets, and are defending at a high level right now. Experience is huge late in the season, not many teams better in that department. I’d stay away from betting them right now though, just 2-7 against the number!
Y is for Yale… I love James Jones teams over the years, they have adopted this tempo based offensive attack and this year is no different. They can win the Ivy this year anchored by a great front line in Jordan Bruner and Paul Atkinson. They also have really turned up the defensive heat and sit at 5th in the country in 3pt% def at Ken Pom. It also helps that they have made bettors money sitting at a dazzling 8-1 ATS.
Z is for Zeke Nnaji… This kid is 9 games has been terrific for Arizona. He’s average 17 a game with a FG percentage over 73%. The normal thing to say about Sean Miller teams over the years is that they always just miss and fall short. This mix of youth and experience I think propels them to a Final Four this season. They have TREMENDOUS value at 21/1 to win the whole thing. Zeke Nnaji is a big reason why. Also… the kid might just be a lottery pick, he’s gonna make a lot of money very soon.