The College Basketball season continues to roll on this time with a loaded Friday of College Basketball games. UCLA-Villanova receives much of the headlines for this College Basketball slate but there were a lot of happenings in the other games that took place. With that, let’s get into the takeaways from Friday night’s action.
UCLA validates Final Four run
Coming off a Final Four, much was discussed on whether UCLA’s Final Four run was a fluke or whether that was the real UCLA team. Well through one big matchup, the Bruins seem to be for real, as they get a big overtime win against Villanova. UCLA struggled at times, oftentimes going cold, but when they needed to make plays, they made them and ultimately they end with an overtime win against Villanova. Johnny Juzang had his moments, going ice cold at the start, but heating up and really being the only reason UCLA stayed in the game, to begin with, while Jaime Jaquez played to his full potential. Tyger Campbell also was the clear best player in overtime, making big plays on both sides of the ball and setting up Juzang and Jaquez for the game-sealing baskets. The Bruins still will have plenty of games to go, but they seem perfectly capable of winning the Pac-12 and making it to the Final Four once again.
Jay Wright needs to find a couple more players he can count on
While many teams seem to be testing out lineups and seeing which rotation pieces work best, Villanova was having none of that, as they played six-man rotation. That strategy worked well for most of the game, but it was clear late in the game that some of the players were gassed and the jump shots were all missing short. In overtime, there were a lot of hands-on-hips and most of those possessions ended with contested isolation shots. Simply put, I do not think UCLA was the better team, I just think Villanova ran out of gas and that is why they lost this game. Going forward, Jay Wright needs to play more players, whether it’s Trey Patterson, Bryan Antoine, or anyone else, they need additional help if they want to go far in March.
Furman’s win should start the 2 bid SoCon campaign
The Furman Paladins went on the road and beat a good, but not great Louisville team in a buy game. For starters, credit to Louisville for playing this game to begin with because Furman is one of the toughest mid-major programs in the sport. That being said, Furman is legitimately good, Mike Bothwell looks like he could be the SoCon Player of the year, while they were able to hold a good Louisville guard tandem in check. With Furman and Chattanooga both already picking up quadrant one wins, there’s a good case for the SoCon having a chance to get multiple NCAA Tournament teams into the Big Dance.
The ACC continues to struggle
Louisville’s loss was the latest for an ACC team in a buy game, while Pittsburgh got blown out by a bubble team in West Virginia. Add to that North Carolina struggling to beat Brown and the ACC continues to make its case for being the worst Power-6 conference. Sure, Duke looks like a legitimate title contender but outside of that, the ACC hasn’t looked good beyond that.
Richmond needs a fresh start
Look I don’t think Chris Mooney is a bad coach by any means, he led Richmond to a Sweet 16 and has done a decent job of keeping them relevant for a while, but it is probably time to move on. Richmond has not made the Tournament since 2011, and with this core of super-seniors, this seemed to be a good last run for Mooney. Sadly, with them losing to Utah State, and being unable to guard, the Spiders are on the verge of missing another NCAA Tournament, and that should be it for Mooney.
New year, same Oregon
The Ducks lost a lot to the pros but haven’t skipped a beat whatsoever. Yes, adding some experienced guards like Jacob Young, De’Vion Harmon, and Quincy Guerrier was helpful but it is still impressive how quickly Dana Altman was able to put this roster together and have them playing well. Sure, every question always comes down to whether or not they can make a deep Tournament run, but at the moment, Oregon is a legit threat to UCLA atop the Pac-12 and might be a Top-10 team in the sport.
BYU can win a rock fight
San Diego State brought a fight to Provo and BYU was able to step up and match their intensity en route to getting a big win against a good San Diego State team. Alex Barcello stepped up and had a nice game, while Te’Jon Lucas was impressive running the point for BYU as well. The Cougars look to be an NCAA Tournament team, and they will get a game similar to this one in the Big Dance, they have proven they can win a rock fight if that is the game they get.
North Carolina’s offense will sell tickets but needs defense to improve to win consistently
The Tar Heels offense looked incredible against Brown, granted Brown isn’t necessarily like playing Virginia, but the ball movement was there, the shooters made shots, and Armando Bacot was eating down low. I have zero concerns with this offense at the moment and I do think it could wind up being a Top-5 offense in the sport when all is said and done but there are major concerns on the defensive end. Brown made some tough shots, I’ll give them that but there were plenty of times where they were left wide open from inside the paint, with no one stepping up to contest. This left for a high-scoring affair where RJ Davis needed a superb game to lift UNC to a win. If this team wants to prove that it is a Top-10 level team, which they are more than capable of being, they have to get a lot better defensively.
I owe Minnesota an apology
Earlier this offseason I have mentioned that I thought Minnesota would be the worst Power Conference team in the sport and I clearly owe them an apology because that is incorrect. Sure, they’ll still miss the NCAA Tournament but they don’t look bad, Jamison Battle has transferred in and become a star, while the Gophers have good team chemistry. Sure, they aren’t going to do much this season but if you compare that to Power Conference teams like California, Washington, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, and Boston College, they are on a different level from those teams.
I was one of the few people who bought into the Nevada hype and without week one of the College Basketball season even being over I am already being let down. San Diego is not a terrible team but this is a game Nevada is supposed to outclass their opponent and win comfortably and they laid a giant goose egg. I guess I should’ve known to never trust a Steve Alford-coached team to exceed any sort of preseason expectations.
It’s time to move on from Jerod Haase
While I get the academic standards aren’t easy, Stanford being this bad of a program is just embarrassing. It felt like Haase has been on the precipice of having a good chance to get the program up and running. Getting Ziaire Williams was a great addition, Tyrell Terry had Stanford competing for a Tournament appearance late in the season, even with Reid Travis, the Cardinal had their moments where they seemed poised to break out, and they just haven’t. With a bad loss to Santa Clara, it only seems like a matter of when not if Stanford moves on.