12 Storylines to Follow early in this College Basketball this season
We are about six weeks into the season, which means that there are plenty of storylines that have popped up early in this season. These storylines could be good or bad for teams or conferences, it doesn’t necessarily mean your team is good or bad if not mentioned. Overall this is just based on some storylines I have seen in the sport thus far this year.
1.Duke’s great Freshmen
Duke has started the year off incredibly, which is in large part due to the great play of their four freshmen. RJ Barrett is an elite-level scorer, Zion Williamson is a freak of nature, Cam Reddish is a great overall player, while Tre Jones is a perfect fit at the point guard position. Those four have been sensational this season and they look like one of the favorites to win the National Championship.
2.Michigan has emerged as a great team
Michigan has gotten off to an 11-0 start and they are playing some of the best basketball in the country. Ignas Brazdeikis has been a great fill to the starting lineup, Charles Matthews has been great on both sides of the ball, and Zavier Simpson is a pest on defense. This team looks like the favorites to not only win the Big Ten but one of the favorites to win the National Championship.
3.Kentucky is off to a slow start
Kentucky has started off the season 8-2 and they really haven’t been great this season, they’ve played 8 home games and they won all of them but the two games they have played away from Lexington they have lost. They lost on opening night 118-84 to Duke in the Champions Classic and lost 84-83 against Seton Hall in Madison Square Garden. There is still time for this team to develop but thus far they have greatly underachieved.
4.Buffalo has a great chance at an at-large bid
Buffalo has started the season 11-0, which is really impressive. Their resume now features wins at West Virginia and at Syracuse, while they have also beaten good mid-majors like Southern Illinois and San Francisco. The Bulls rank in the Top-15 in the new NET metric and they have all the looks of a team that can win the MAC. With those wins already accumulated, a good NET rating, and a great team, this team looks like a lock for an at-large bid.
5.Nevada has a chance to run the table in the regular season
The Wolf Pack have played their two toughest games on their schedule already, as they played at USC and Arizona State on a neutral court. This team all together is really talented, really deep, really experienced and knows how to turn it on in tough situations. Those things combined add up to a team that looks like it could run the table in the regular season, which would surprise no one.
6.Villanova is not the same team as in years past
Villanova lost a ton from last years team that won a National Championship but they had a good recruiting class and good players, so they looked poised to be good again, however, that hasn’t been the case. Freshmen like Jahvon Quinerly and Cole Swider have disappointed, Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo has been disappointing. The trio of Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Collin Gillespie have been good but they are about all the offense for the Wildcats. For now this team isn’t very good but they could rally late in the season.
7.Kansas is unbeaten, yet they could be around .500
Kansas has started now 10-0 which is impressive, especially considering they have played the number one strength of schedule in the sport. Lagerald Vick has become an outstanding scorer, Dedric Lawson is a 20 and 10 machine, while those two are the only real threats on offense for the Jayhawks right now, they are still undefeated. They’ve won 5 games this season by an NET rating of 5 points or less (this means overtimes are counted as one point wins). They could easily be near 6-4 or 5-5 but they are not, which is a credit to the toughness of the Jayhawks.
8.Tennessee has gotten even better
Last year when Tennessee won the SEC it came as a surprise to most including myself, the question then became, what is next? Well what is next has become a Top-3 ranking in the AP Poll and a win already over #1 Gonzaga. The duo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield have been great and is a big reason for their success.
9.The Pac-12 is terrible
The Pac-12 has been straight garbage this season and that might be saying it nicely. Arizona State is right now the best team in the conference but they just lost to Vanderbilt and that’s not great. Arizona has a quality win over Iowa State and at Uconn, which is good but they also lost to a pretty bad Baylor team. The two Los Angeles schools have been a disaster, Washington and Oregon have yet to live up to their hype and no one else looks to even be on the level of those six schools already mentioned. This league looks like a 2-bid league and even then it might be saying a lot.
10.Houston looks like the favorites in the American
Houston has started the season 10-0 behind a roster that isn’t great but they know how to play together. Armani Brooks and Corey Davis Jr. are great players, while Galen Robinson Jr. are good. UCF and Cincinnati look to challenge at the top but right now I think Houston is the team to beat in the league.
11.Never doubt Chris
Coming into the season people thought Ohio State wasn’t a tournament team, thus far this year they have picked up enough quality wins not only to be a tournament team but also to be a Top-15 team. Meanwhile Texas Tech looked to be just in the field, however, they are unbeaten this season and ranked slightly ahead of Ohio State. Overall both teams have surprised and both teams have good head coaches named Chris, which is why I gave the storyline of never doubt Chris
12.The NET is a lot different from the RPI
The RPI has been a results-based metric, which has been very predictable, however, it did reward teams for winning games. Now there’s the new NET ranking, which rewards winning but also winning by a lot. This has led to some quirky results, such as Kansas not being number one, despite having the best resume, NC State being in the Top-20, despite playing absolutely no one to this point in the season. Overall I think both metrics can be good but it’s clear there is a big difference between what the NET is doing as a metric and what the RPI is doing as a metric.