StatJunkie's Hoop Blog | thoughts on ncaa hoops from http://statjunkie.org

Jan/11

31

Two month Marathon Begins

So there is officially no more football (I don’t count the Super Bowl as a football day, that’s a holiday). Finally we can start to think about college basketball. Yes, that’s my excuse for it being the last day of January just now putting in a post, whatever I don’t answer to anyone, so screw it. Plus we are finally seeing some separation in some of the more marquee races. Let’s take a look at things from the best conference to the worst

Big East

This conference should absolutely be known as the backcourt of America. Take a look at all the talented guard duos that are in the conference:

-Pitt’s Brad Wanamaker (12.5 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG) and Ashton Gibbs (16 pts, .887 FT%, .445 3P%)
-Louisville’s triple threat of Preston Knowles (15 PPG, 4 RPG, .864 FT%), Peyton Siva (11 PPG and 5 APG), and Transfer (Manhattan) Chris Smith (10 PPG, 4.5 RPG, .523 FG%, .469 3P%)
-Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough (35 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 4 APG, .411 3P%) and Scott Martin (6’ 8’’, 10 PPG, 5 RPG)
-Connecticut’s all world Kemba Walker (24 PPG, 5 RPG, 4 APG), along with Frosh pair Jeremy Lamb (10 PPG, 5 RPG) and Shabazz Napier (9 PPG, 3 APG)
-Villanova’s three-headed monster of Corey Fisher (16 PPG, 5 APG, 3 RPG), Corey Stokes (15 PPG, 4 RPG, .947 FT%, .415 3P%), Maalik Wayns (14 PPG and 5 APG)
-West Virginia’s Casey Mitchell (17 PPG, 4 RPG, .871 FT%) and Darryl Bryant (11.4 PPG, 3 RPG, 3 APG)
-Georgetown’s dynamic Austin Freeman (19 PPG, .538 FG%, .875 FT%, .472 3P%) and Chris Wright (12 PPG and 6 APG)
-Marquette’s traditionally strong rotation of Darius Johnson-Odom (16.5 PPG, 3 RPG, 3 APG), Jimmy Butler (34 MPG, 16 PPG, 6.5 RPG, .433 3P%), and Dwight Buycks (10 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG, .438 FT%).

Pretty damn impressive list of 8 teams who are all in or tied for being in the top 7 of the league. If you read any of my posts last season you know I like guard duos in which both can score come tourney time. So just letting you know, consider all these teams as difficult outs come March.


Best Team (thus far): Pittsburgh (20-2, 8-1 Big East)

Yes they lost to Notre Dame at home last Monday night and sneaked past Rutgers on Saturday, however they have been the dominant team of the league thus far. Four of the starters can go off on any given night (see Nasir Robinson’s 21 pt. game vs. Syracuse), they lead the nation in assists (which simply means they are very unselfish and can pass the ball well), and are third in the country in rebounding (they aren’t afraid to get physical, especially with the Cro-Magnon Gary McGhee down low). They didn’t play the most brutal of non-conference schedules and they’re best true road win was over Georgetown (who was struggling at the time), but at this point no team looks as complete. The second half of the schedule only gets more difficult for the Panthers with 6 of their final 9 against top seven teams, with half those games on the road.

Next in line: Louisville (see below), Connecticut (17-3, 5-3): Most impressive non-conference resume in the league, lead by potential POY candidate Walker, and have gotten a lot more production from the rest of the team than many thought they would.

Biggest Disappointment (right now): Syracuse (18-4, 5-4)

Just a week ago this would’ve been the Hoyas of Georgetown (17-5, 6-4), what a difference a week makes. While the Hoyas have recovered from their 1-4 start, the ‘Cuse have lost four straight after starting undefeated and a fifth straight loss seems very possible as they head to UConn tomorrow night. Losses in the Big East should be expected, however home losses to Seton Hall (what the hell was that?) and Villanova really hurt the Orange. Neither of those games were very close and throw in a road loss to unranked Marquette this team looks like it will struggle to get out of the middle of the pack if it doesn’t find some consistency soon. The biggest concern during this four game losing streak has to be that the 2-3 zone has given up an average of 81 PPG.

Next in line: Villanova (17-4, 5-3): The preseason favorites have lost 3 of 4 including a bad one @Providence and home versus Georgetown.  However they could bounce back quickly. In their final ten they should be favorites in 8 of them until the final two on the road against Notre Dame and Pitt.

Biggest Surprise (at present): Louisville (17-5, 6-3)

Three of their Big East wins have been by 1 point so this could easily belong to another team, but the Cardinals have made some splashes. The loss at Georgetown was the start of a ten game stretch that is probably the most difficult for any of the contending teams in the next month. Currently in second place (some publications picked them as low as 10th) the Cardinal have gotten great results from their lone senior Knowles, strong defensive play, and willingness to spread the rock (4th in nation in assists).

Next in line: Cincinnati (18-4, 5-4): They have a strong record, but just haven’t beaten anyone of consequence in either non-conference (maybe Xavier?) or conference.

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