Duke, Kentucky and the limits of one-and-done rosters

Duke, Kentucky and the limits of one-and-done rosters

5th December 2018OffByRiseNews

NBA draft tracker: Who’s in, and who’s testing? John Calipari explains the experience of coaching Kentucky duke, Kentucky and the limits of one-and-done rosters season and why he’s happy with how the bracket has shaken out. It’s time to find out how your bracket is holding up.

I’ve heard it all in the years I’ve written my annual bold predictions. These critiques often follow calls for my resignation and subsequent retirement from sports journalism. North Carolina fans still point to the infamous “UNC won’t last the first weekend” prediction in 2016. Well, the Tar Heels reached the national title game that year. And I won’t waste time explaining the intent of a piece called bold predictions.

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No league in America matched the ACC’s nine-bid haul on Selection Sunday. But the paths for the league’s top contenders — North Carolina, Virginia and Duke — to reach the Final Four come with complications. Virginia’s path to San Antonio will probably demand a win over Arizona or Kentucky — a pair of squads with unique frontcourts and big wings capable of playing the inside-outside attack needed to beat Tony Bennett’s team — in the Sweet 16. Where does Nova rank among champs? North Carolina entered the ACC tournament title game against Virginia with a chance to contend for a top seed. But one of the Tar Heels’ most blatant weaknesses in league play was their porous perimeter defense and mediocre shooting from the 3-point line.

The West Region features potent shooters from Xavier, Missouri, Gonzaga, Houston and Michigan. No other squads in the league boast the tools necessary to reach the Final Four. Defensive problems are the greatest indicators of a team’s ability, or lack thereof, to win a title. But no opponent has registered more than 1. 00 point per possession against the Wildcats during their current five-game win streak. If they can play solid defense in the NCAA tournament, Deandre Ayton will handle the rest.

The 7-foot-1, 260-pound prospect is averaging 20. He has made 82 percent of his shots at the rim this season, per hoop-math. Against man-to-man defenses, he has made 58. 9 percent of his shots, placing him in the 97th percentile, per Synergy Sports. I think Virginia is playing the best defense we’ve seen in years. I think Kentucky is hot and dangerous right now.

I think Tennessee and Cincinnati are both impressive contenders Arizona might have to face to escape the South Region. But nothing — absolutely nothing — seems too difficult for Ayton to overcome with the support of an Arizona team that’s arguably the most perplexing matchup in the field. That’s why I believe Sean Miller’s run won’t end until he captures his first trip to the Final Four. If Kentucky were playing any other 12-seed in the opening round, I would pick the Wildcats to win by 20. Right now, Kentucky is capable of dominating any team that allows John Calipari’s squad to dictate the flow of the game.

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They’re not a great 3-point-shooting team, but they ruin you with their size, explosiveness and skill. But Florida disrupted everything Kentucky attempted to do when the Gators limited their turnovers and made 41 percent of their 3-point attempts in a win on March 3, the Wildcats’ second loss of the year to the Gators. Davidson has averaged 10 made 3-pointers in its past four games, a 4-0 stretch that includes two wins over Rhode Island and another over St. Bonaventure, a pair of NCAA tournament teams. Peyton Aldridge leads a group of seven players — from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-11 — who’ve made at least 39 percent of their 3-pointers this season.

Yeah, Davidson’s best chance to beat Kentucky involves turning the game into a shootout and shredding this talented group from beyond the arc. They’re capable of doing just that. Gonzaga lost Zach Collins, a first-round pick in last summer’s NBA draft, and veteran big man Przemek Karnowski. They’re equipped to reach the national championship game for the second consecutive season. The field is stacked in every region, but the Midwest seems surmountable for a team like Michigan State. Kansas, the top seed in the region, might not have a healthy Udoka Azubuike. Even if the Jayhawks do have their big man available and ready, Michigan State has the highest ceiling in the region for any team not named Duke.

6-foot-11 forward who has made 40 percent of his 3-pointers this season and who recently won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, will become a household name this week. Miles Bridges has strengthened his already lofty draft stock in his sophomore season. They have a savvy guard named Cassius Winston. And they’ve lost one game since Jan. The Big Ten’s 18-year national title drought — Michigan State last won it in 2000 — will come to an end this season in San Antonio, as Michigan State stands atop the dais in San Antonio.

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North Carolina’s top-five offense failed to reach 50 points in a Jan. It’s not crazy to predict UMBC and the Creighton-Kansas State winner won’t collect 80 points combined against the Cavaliers, the greatest defensive collective of the advanced stats era, in the opening weekend. The Aggies boast wins over Davidson and Miami. They’re ranked among the top 20 teams in adjusted defensive efficiency and top 10 in 3-point defense. Clemson and Auburn at the rim.

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Tennessee will see in the second round has played above the expectations attached to its seed and will shock the world with a win over the Vols. Loyola-Chicago will contest shots around the rim and play an efficient game to beat Miami in the opening round. San Diego State just held a top-10 offense at Nevada under 75 points twice in a six-day stretch. Brian Dutcher’s squad ain’t afraid of Houston. TCU hasn’t won a game since Feb. Oklahoma’s collapse down the stretch nearly cost the Sooners a trip to the NCAA tournament. Many national pundits have criticized the selection committee for assigning this reeling Oklahoma squad a 10-seed.

Rhode Island squad they’ll face on a neutral court this week. They’ll push the pace and expose Rhode Island’s limited playmaking ability. And that win will propel Oklahoma into a second-round matchup against Duke — just a coincidence, since the committee ignores TV-friendly pairings and only focuses on performance. He knows he’s lost the mojo he enjoyed earlier this season.

But this is Young’s last collegiate stretch and another chance to finish his brief career with a redemptive finale. Young will author a memorable 40-point, 10-assist effort in a loss to Duke that will eliminate Oklahoma but confirm Young’s gifts and talents, a rare skill set that carried an 11-win team a season ago to the NCAA tournament. NBA draft tracker: Who’s in, and who’s testing? Jay Bilas tells SVP that he doesn’t expect this Kentucky team to contend for a championship after the start it has had. CHICAGO — The Champions Classic has been around for seven years. While the star power and matchups are compelling, the event itself often has played out like the November basketball that it is. In six previous iterations, there have been exactly two one-possession games and not a single overtime or memorable finish.

There have been more double-digit victories, including a 32-point rout of Kansas by Kentucky in 2014, than close encounters. There have been more first-round NCAA losers from the Champions field — shoutouts to Lehigh, Mercer and Middle Tennessee — and Kentucky was one-and-done in the NIT the year after its last title. But the 2017-18 season feels a bit special, at least on the court, and no one in the sport would be surprised if multiple teams that gathered here on Tuesday are playing five months from now in San Antonio’s Final Four. The Devils go on the road in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge but get rebuilding Indiana.

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The rest of the schedule, even by ACC standards, is benign. In other words, an ACC title and NCAA No. The last time that happened, Duke won it all in 2015. Few would bet against it today. The good news for Michigan State is that Tom Izzo’s teams often take a few early lumps before hitting their stride later in the year.

We’ll know more after Notre Dame visits East Lansing at the end of the month. But the Big Ten slate doesn’t look as friendly today for Sparty as it once did. The Spartans are still more likely than not to earn a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday, but Tuesday’s outing was an uneven performance that will linger — especially if they end up facing Duke a second time in March or April. The Jayhawks were good, not great, against what could have been a not-ready-for-prime-time Kentucky team.

They left a possible blowout on the table in the first half, then had to scratch and claw down the stretch to hold off the Wildcats. Kansas’ offensive polish — or more accurately, Kentucky’s lack of same in key spots — was the difference. If and when Kansas wins the Big 12 again, that should be good enough for no worse than a No. Yet they fought their way to a late-possession game against the Jayhawks. Kentucky looks like a possible overachiever in March. The main problem is that Kentucky might not be the best team in the SEC. M lead the deepest and best group of challengers from that conference in a long time.

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The Wildcats might not like their seed, but they figure to be more tested than usual once the NCAAs begin. Two words kept coming to mind for Kentucky as Tuesday’s game unfolded: Buy low. All told, a repeat of the 2014-15 season — when three teams from the Champions Classic reached the Final Four in Indianapolis — doesn’t compute. After Kentucky’s expected 40-0 coronation was thwarted by Wisconsin, few might remember that season’s other national semifinal, in which Duke repeated its November drubbing of Michigan State. After Tuesday’s performance, the Spartans can only hope history does not repeat itself.

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Kansas and Kentucky, meanwhile, are thankful it’s still November. NBA draft tracker: Who’s in, and who’s testing? John Calipari explains the experience of coaching Kentucky this season and why he’s happy with how the bracket has shaken out. It’s time to find out how your bracket is holding up.

I’ve heard it all in the years I’ve written my annual bold predictions. These critiques often follow calls for my resignation and subsequent retirement from sports journalism. North Carolina fans still point to the infamous “UNC won’t last the first weekend” prediction in 2016. Well, the Tar Heels reached the national title game that year. And I won’t waste time explaining the intent of a piece called bold predictions.

No league in America matched the ACC’s nine-bid haul on Selection Sunday. But the paths for the league’s top contenders — North Carolina, Virginia and Duke — to reach the Final Four come with complications. Virginia’s path to San Antonio will probably demand a win over Arizona or Kentucky — a pair of squads with unique frontcourts and big wings capable of playing the inside-outside attack needed to beat Tony Bennett’s team — in the Sweet 16. Where does Nova rank among champs? North Carolina entered the ACC tournament title game against Virginia with a chance to contend for a top seed. But one of the Tar Heels’ most blatant weaknesses in league play was their porous perimeter defense and mediocre shooting from the 3-point line.

The West Region features potent shooters from Xavier, Missouri, Gonzaga, Houston and Michigan. No other squads in the league boast the tools necessary to reach the Final Four. Defensive problems are the greatest indicators of a team’s ability, or lack thereof, to win a title. But no opponent has registered more than 1. 00 point per possession against the Wildcats during their current five-game win streak. If they can play solid defense in the NCAA tournament, Deandre Ayton will handle the rest. The 7-foot-1, 260-pound prospect is averaging 20.

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He has made 82 percent of his shots at the rim this season, per hoop-math. Against man-to-man defenses, he has made 58. 9 percent of his shots, placing him in the 97th percentile, per Synergy Sports. I think Virginia is playing the best defense we’ve seen in years. I think Kentucky is hot and dangerous right now. I think Tennessee and Cincinnati are both impressive contenders Arizona might have to face to escape the South Region.

But nothing — absolutely nothing — seems too difficult for Ayton to overcome with the support of an Arizona team that’s arguably the most perplexing matchup in the field. That’s why I believe Sean Miller’s run won’t end until he captures his first trip to the Final Four. If Kentucky were playing any other 12-seed in the opening round, I would pick the Wildcats to win by 20. Right now, Kentucky is capable of dominating any team that allows John Calipari’s squad to dictate the flow of the game. They’re not a great 3-point-shooting team, but they ruin you with their size, explosiveness and skill. But Florida disrupted everything Kentucky attempted to do when the Gators limited their turnovers and made 41 percent of their 3-point attempts in a win on March 3, the Wildcats’ second loss of the year to the Gators. Davidson has averaged 10 made 3-pointers in its past four games, a 4-0 stretch that includes two wins over Rhode Island and another over St.

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Bonaventure, a pair of NCAA tournament teams. Peyton Aldridge leads a group of seven players — from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-11 — who’ve made at least 39 percent of their 3-pointers this season. Yeah, Davidson’s best chance to beat Kentucky involves turning the game into a shootout and shredding this talented group from beyond the arc. They’re capable of doing just that. Gonzaga lost Zach Collins, a first-round pick in last summer’s NBA draft, and veteran big man Przemek Karnowski.

They’re equipped to reach the national championship game for the second consecutive season. The field is stacked in every region, but the Midwest seems surmountable for a team like Michigan State. Kansas, the top seed in the region, might not have a healthy Udoka Azubuike. Even if the Jayhawks do have their big man available and ready, Michigan State has the highest ceiling in the region for any team not named Duke. 6-foot-11 forward who has made 40 percent of his 3-pointers this season and who recently won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, will become a household name this week.

Miles Bridges has strengthened his already lofty draft stock in his sophomore season. They have a savvy guard named Cassius Winston. And they’ve lost one game since Jan. The Big Ten’s 18-year national title drought — Michigan State last won it in 2000 — will come to an end this season in San Antonio, as Michigan State stands atop the dais in San Antonio.