Early Season College Basketball Observations

In case you haven’t noticed (and with all the great college football and NFL action you may not have) the college basketball season is upon us with some great early season matchups.

Just a couple things before I get started, unlike the polls I will only comment on teams I have seen play. That is also the last time I will ever mention polls or rankings. They are absolutely useless since most people don’t watch all those teams play.

Things got off to a great start in the Carrier Classic.  A new event that featured North Carolina and Michigan St. playing on an aircraft carrier.  This was one of the cooler events I have seen with the game being played outside.  Weather was not a factor although the court seemed to get slippery at times.  North Carolina was led by sophomore Harrison Barnes who scored 17 points.

The Maui Invitational had an especially strong field this year with the likes of Memphis, Georgetown, Michigan, UCLA, and Tennessee.  Heavyweights Duke and Kansas squared off in the championship game in  what can be called a “tournament like” atmosphere.  The two teams traded blows until the final minute when Duke sophomore guard Tyler Thornton hit two desperation 3-pointers to give the Blue Devils the win.  Duke is the same type of team they are every year.  Great catch and shoot guards, but soft on the interior.  If they make 3’s they probably win.  Kansas is tough defensively but has very little depth (especially in the front court) and is too careless with the ball.  Senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor had 11 turnovers (8 in the second half alone).  You just can’t have that from senior point guard.

In the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational the hometown UNLV Running Rebels upset North Carolina by simply being a tougher team.  A typical Roy Williams coached team, the Tarheels were punched in the mouth right out of the gate and folded like a cheap suit.  The Heels did rebound with nice win at home over a pretty tough Wisconsin team.

The marquee match up of this week featured the Duke Blue Devils making a rare out of conference road trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State.  Value City Arena was rocking even with Urban Meyer nowhere in sight as the Buckeyes jumped out to a big early lead and never looked back.  Jared Sullinger looks to be in much better condition this season and dominated the paint against the overmatched interior of Duke.  Duke’s shooters seemed to be feeling the affects of playing 7 games in 14 days including the aforementioned trip to Maui, as most of their jump shots seemed to come up short.

This weeks marquee match up features the North Carolina Tarheels traveling to Lexington to take on the Wildcats of Kentucky.  Be sure to check that out before all of the college football conference championship games on Saturday.  And check back here soon for more hoop thoughts.

Garrett

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