On a good Tuesday of game, we had #1 vs #2, the game of the early season was set to be a thrilling game. Well, it was only thrilling for one team, as Gonzaga ran UCLA out of the gym en route to winning 83-63. Elsewhere, the Maui Invitational had the semifinals games, while Arkansas won the Hall of Fame Classic, and Virginia won the Roman Legends Classic. Let’s recap it all with some thoughts from a variety of perspectives.
Gonzaga’s defense is why they are the Championship favorite
Gonzaga will likely finish #1 in offensive efficiency once again this season (currently ranked #1 in Kenpom), but that’s not what makes this Gonzaga team as fantastic as they are, instead it is their defense. The Bulldogs forced UCLA to 34.8% shooting, ran them off the three-point line, and had 6 blocks. Sure, the offense is always going to be fantastic, but having guards that run opponents off the three-point line, while funneling them to Chet Holmgren to just block all the shots he can see, is a successful strategy. Gonzaga is the clear-cut #1 team in the sport and it isn’t particularly close, but once again it comes down to winning six games in March.
Gonzaga has three All-Americans
Obviously, Drew Timme is the early favorite for the National Player of the year award, as he’s a high-level scorer, rebounder, and is just a fantastic basketball player. That said, he was Gonzaga’s third-best player in this game and that speaks to just how good Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard are as players. Holmgren is a unicorn, he’s a great shot-blocker, rebounder, passer, who can run the point and score effectively, while he might be the favorite to be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. Add into that Andrew Nembhard, who is an elite point guard, he can score, he can pass, and is great at initiating offense for this Gonzaga team. With how talented all three of these players are, each of them should receive All-American honors in the postseason.
Johnny Davis continues to be a superstar
Coming into this season, Wisconsin seemed to be going through a rebuilding season but Johnny Davis suggests otherwise. Davis had 30 points in Wisconsin’s upset win of Houston, while he continues to just do everything you could want. Davis is a strong, tough defender, who attacks the rim and scores at a high level. Davis is the biggest superstar that Wisconsin may have had since Frank Kaminsky, and while Davis’ play can carry Wisconsin to being one of the top teams in the Big Ten, it might be while this could be his last season at Wisconsin.
Arkansas wins ugly
The Razorbacks didn’t shoot it well, they trailed for the majority of the game, yet still came out on top of Cincinnati to win the Hall of Fame Classic. The Razorbacks didn’t have it offensively but were still win this game with elite defense, JD Notae, and Au’Diese Toney had big-time steals late in the game, Jaylin Williams drew a huge charge late and grabbed big rebounds, and Chris Lykes made his free throws to help carry this team to victory. Sure, they’ll need to play better as the season goes on, especially if they want to win the SEC, but at the very least they know how to win when things are going wrong.
Virginia wins Legends Classic
Virginia is playing good basketball once again, and it came by way of an incredible defensive performance from the team. Jayden Gardner had a big game scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, while he was helpful in bottling up Nate Watson. The Friars were held to 40 points and Virginia was able to ice the game away for a big win.