Saturday’s slate of top-10 matches not just used an opportunity for a few of the most interesting basketball we have actually seen this season however it was likewise a chance to address a couple of concerns. In the ACC, North Carolina had actually skyrocketed ahead of its conference with competing Duke, and after that, it lost at Georgia Tech. Heaven Devils are stacked with a predicted lotto choice ( Kyle Filipowski) and a fleet of luxury potential customers, however Jon Scheyer’s team had actually not beat lots of elite groups, as it got ready for the Tar Heels. Which group would show something on Saturday?
Houston had actually been on a five-game winning streak. However could they stop Kansas if the Jayhawks fumed in Allen Fieldhouse? Would Johnny Furphy‘s breakout stretch continue for Kansas? Could Dalton Knecht include another huge efficiency in his pursuit of Zach Edey and the Wood Award? And would Kentucky really play defense?
By the end of Saturday night, we had some responses.
ESPN’s Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello and Joe Lunardi have actually taken in the 3 huge top-10 matches and have some ideas.
Filipowski, Ingram get testy in Duke-UNC match
Moods flare as Duke and North Carolina attempt to assist their colleagues up from the flooring.
Medcalf: Hubert Davis has actually not been shy about applauding Harrison Ingram (21 points, 5-for-9 from the 3-point line, 13 rebounds, 4 takes), the Stanford transfer, for his grace, effect and management. On Saturday, he played like the 3rd star on a group with nationwide title aspirations. With RJ Davis (5-for-14) having a hard time, Ingram created among the most excellent well-rounded efforts of the weekend and reinforced the concept that the Tar Heels might make their 2nd Last 4 run in 3 years. For whatever Ingram did on offense, he was likewise disruptive for a group that turned Duke (5-for-19 from the 3-point line) into a substandard 3-point shooting group (heaven Devils had actually linked on 39 percent of their shots from beyond the arc getting in the video game). With Armando Bacot and Davis, the Tar Heels have a set of legitimate elite skills. However Ingram’s finest video game of the year got here in the greatest video game of the year. Which’s an appealing indication for Davis’ rotation and Ingram’s future contributions for a group with nationwide title dreams.
Borzello: Armando Bacot has actually taken a rear seat offensively this season to RJ Davis, which is exceptional in a manner, however Hubert Davis was singing previously today about requiring Bacot to go back to the production level he had previously in his profession in order for Carolina to reach its complete capacity. After balancing 6.3 points and 6.7 rebounds over his last 3 video games, Bacot appeared like his dominant self versus Duke. He completed with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 helps. Carolina made a collective effort to get him touches in great areas in the post and Bacot had the ability to go to work early and frequently. He was likewise active on the offending glass and seldom required offense when Duke had the ability to double-team him on the block. Davis has actually been probably the very best guard in the nation this season, however Bacot provides Carolina a physicality and post existence that extremely couple of groups can match on the interior. When he plays like he did this evening, it brings a various measurement to the Tar Heels’ offense.
Joe Lunardi’s bracket effect: North Carolina highly verified its No. 1 seed status. The Tar Heels stay 4th amongst those on the leading line of the predicted bracket, however took a huge action towards gathering what would be the ACC’s very first 1-seed in 5 years. Maybe more significantly, it’s now rather most likely Carolina will open its NCAA competition run-regardless of seed-in neighboring Charlotte. This substantial in-state benefit has actually been delighted in regularly by ACC groups for many years. Duke, on the other hand, continues to reside in the 3/4 seed variety, however might certainly enhance on that with a triumph in the groups’ rematch next month.
Kansas fans go wild after this Kevin McCullar Jr. series
Kevin McCullar Jr. gets a take and goes all the method for a substantial slam to put Kansas up 15 over Houston.
Myron Medcalf: Throughout their five-game winning streak they delighted in before their loss at Kansas on Saturday, Houston had actually been a hazardous protective group that had actually held their challengers to a 44 percent clip inside the 3-point line. However the opposite of that success deserved thinking about, too: The Cougars had actually gone cold. Throughout those 5 video games, Houston was a sub-300 group with a 44 percent clip inside the 3-point line on offense. They completed 16-for-40 (40 percent) in their loss to the Jayhawks, who made 78 percent of their 2-pointers. Kansas made almost 70 percent of their field-goal efforts. The very best protective group in America could not stall Costs Self’s team. However they likewise could not stay up to date with that offending barrage. Which has actually silently been a subplot for this Houston team. Can Houston win everything? That will depend upon its capability to not just protect a hot group however to match it.
Jeff Borzello: Kansas was lights-out offensively on Saturday, however it’s been the ongoing development of Johnny Furphy as a genuine offensive choice that takes the Jayhawks to another level at that end of the flooring. All season, Costs Self discussed the requirement to discover a dependable 5th gamer beyond his 4 veteran anchors– Hunter Dickinson, Kevin McCullar Jr, KJ Adams and Dajuan Harris Jr At various times, Elmarko Jackson, Nicolas Timberlake and Jamari McDowell all stepped up, however no one might do it regularly up until Furphy was placed into the lineup in mid-January. He’s scored in double-figures in 6 straight video games, and chose 17 points and 8 rebounds on Saturday versus Houston, striking 3 3-pointers. The freshman from Australia has 6-foot-9 size, is shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point variety and is a finisher in shift. His capability to extend the flooring and take a few of the heat off Dickinson and McCullar Jr. makes Kansas much harder to protect.
Lunardi’s bracket effect: Even in defeat, Houston stays a strong No. 1 seed on our board. A single loss at Phog Allen Field Home isn’t going to trigger much of a budge in the Cougars’ power numbers. They entered into this video game ranked initially in internet, BPI and KenPom, in addition to 2nd in our Strength of Record (SOR) metric. For Kansas, this was an ideal initial step back to a possible No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks will probably be a 2-seed when we upgrade the complete bracket on Tuesday, however the leading line is well within reach for a program that has actually resided in the 1-seed area essentially all of Costs Self’s period.
Vescovi blows a kiss to the Kentucky fans after the 3
Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi tears down the 3-pointer and blows a kiss to the Kentucky crowd.
Medcalf: Kentucky’s skill can’t conquer its protective concerns. That’s an obstacle that might cause another early surface in March. Days after it suffered a loss to Florida– the Gators signed up 118 points per 100 ownerships– Kentucky quit 103 indicate Tennessee in a loss. Kentucky boasts several predicted first-round choices in 2024, per ESPN’s newest mock draft. However that skill can’t remove history: No group with a sub-75 mark in adjusted protective performance has actually ever won a nationwide title. The Wildcats were 76th in adjusted protective performance before the Tennessee home loss on Saturday. They have actually given up 85 points or more in 7 video games this season. Rob Dillingham (35 points versus the Vols) and his colleagues can set up huge numbers, however the Wildcats simply do not have the analytical makeup of a Last 4 group based upon their protective problems. How bad are they? 4 sub-100 groups on KenPom have wins over the exact same UNC-Wilmington (half clip inside the arc) group that beat Kentucky on Dec. 2 at Rupp Arena. This isn’t an issue for John Calipari’s team. It’s a crisis.
Borzello: The story for Tennessee the last couple of weeks has actually been Dalton Knecht, Dalton Knecht, Dalton Knecht. The Northern Colorado transfer has actually been among the very best gamers in college basketball all season, however he’s taken his video game to a brand-new level in the previous 5 video games, balancing simply under 32 points per video game over that period. On Saturday in Lexington, however, Knecht cooled down, completing with 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting. However the Volunteers revealed they can win without him having a beast efficiency. Zakai Zeigler revealed elite playmaking capability with 26 points and 13 helps, while Josiah-Jordan James chose 26 points. The group shot 12-for-30 from 3-point variety and likewise scored 42 points in the paint. Knecht is the factor Tennessee has actually a considerably enhanced offense this season– and he’ll likely be the driver if the Vols make a deep run in March– however setting up 103 points on the roadway at Kentucky without Knecht going off is a fantastic indication for Rick Barnes’ side.
Lunardi’s bracket effect: Tennessee securely made its case for a No. 1 seed by racing previous Kentucky at Rupp Arena. The Vols’ wire-to-wire success definitely passed any possible “eye test,” offering us 5 groups with genuine leading line profiles. The knee-jerk response after Saturday would be to drop Houston and move Tennessee up, however that would be the incorrect impulse and not likely what the committee would carry out in comparable situations. The Cougars still have the metrics and wins to sit behind just Purdue and UConn, leaving UNC and UT for the last area. The Tar Heels’ small edge is strengthened by a pre-conference win over the Vols. Kentucky, on the other hand, lost an opportunity to gain back a leading 4 seed while losing for the 3rd time in 4 starts.