Men’s College Basketball Has Some Balance As Blue Bloods Struggle

Unlike college football, where Georgia entered the national championship this week, there is no clear dominant team in men’s college basketball this season.

10 teams could cut down the net at NRG Stadium in Houston on April 1, with No. 1 Houston, No. 2 Kansas (the reigning champion) and even No. 9 Arizona among the top favorites.

“The balance in the country is great, it’s going to be difficult to get into the tournament this year when you look at the number of teams,” Jim Boehm, now in his 47th season coaching at Syracuse, said Monday. “People like to say it’s mediocre, but it’s not. Just good balance. There are a lot of good teams.

1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll has already rotated several times, with North Carolina, Purdue and Houston all holding the top spot. Purdue remained undefeated through the start of 2023, but suffered its first loss on January 2 at home to Rutgers, a team that defeated Not again. 1 Boilermaker last season as well.

new Mexico remained unbeaten till 3 JanuaryWhen it lost at Fresno State, and then proceeded to lose its next game against UNLV Connecticut, it began the season with 14 consecutive wins before dropping back-to-back Big East contests on the road against Xavier and Providence. , rising teams now ranked in the top 25.

As the college basketball season heats up, here are several topics to consider.

As expected, the Big 12 Conference is absolutely stacked top to bottom, and it’s possible that eight or nine of the league’s 10 teams (yes, there are 10 teams in the Big 12) could make the NCAA men’s tournament. The conference half is ranked: No. 2 Kansas, No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Kansas State, No. 14 Iowa State and No. 17 TCU

The last two national champions have come from the Big 12 — Baylor in 2021 and Kansas last year. Texas Tech reached the championship game in 2019, losing in overtime to Virginia.

Kansas coach Bill Self and his team look like a potential overall No. 1 seed this year, especially after coming back from a 10-point second-half deficit on Tuesday to beat Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse.

“We have been very battle tested this year, especially with the close games. We always find a way to stay composed,” said Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, who is a contender for National Player of the Year honors. “We just kept playing our ball. It’s not a 10-point game, so no point in rushing shots.”

The Big Ten has not won a national championship since Michigan State in 2000. Since then, the Atlantic Coast Conference has won eight championships, the Big East six (Louisville’s 2013 title was later vacated) and the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference three each.

Boehm was not wrong in telling the Big Ten to reporters at the start of the season that the league was not good enough in the previous year’s NCAA tournament.

The Big Ten fielded nine teams last season in a 68-team field, and only two – Purdue and Michigan – advanced to the Round of 16, where they both lost.

Boehm said, “If you can’t play in tournaments, you’re no good.”

The Big Ten has just two ranked teams in No. 3 Purdue and No. 18 Wisconsin, but is projected to field more than half of its 14 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Purdue, with its 7-foot-4 center, national player of the year Zach Edey, may be the league’s best hope to end its championship drought.

After reaching the NCAA championship game last season and returning four of five starters, North Carolina Was ranked as Precision No. 1 Amidst expectations that it could win the program’s seventh national championship.

“I want them to cut down the net on that Monday night, and I want them to have a long NBA career,” said Hubert Davis, who led the Tar Heels to the title game in his first season as head coach. said in the interview. september.

The Tar Heels fell out of the national rankings entirely in early December after losing four straight games. They returned briefly, were shut out again and lost Tuesday at Virginia, 11–6. UNC’s star center Armando Bacot sustained an ankle injury during the team’s first possession of the game.

If there’s one silver lining for North Carolina fans, it would be that they started last season with a similar record (12-6) before discovering their mojo during March Madness.

Kentucky, winner of eight national championships, began the season ranked No. 4 and remains unranked, while fans grow increasingly disillusioned with coach John Calipari.

Despite having national player of the year, Oscar Tshebwe, and plenty of supporting talent, Kentucky (10-6, 1-3 SEC) has lost back-to-back games at Alabama by 26 points and at home to South Carolina. , Kentucky still does not have a single win in Quad 1, a metric used to rate the quality of an opponent for the NCAA selection committee.

Fans booed Calipari at Rupp Arena on Tuesday, and one was ejected for refusing to drop a sign directed at the coach that read, “Please go to Texas.”

texas last week fired coach chris beard That’s about a month after he was arrested on felony domestic violence charges. Calipari, who has a lifetime contract at Kentucky, had been loosely linked to the job, but he said this week, “I haven’t talked to anybody.”

As far as his message to Kentucky fans goes: “We have to get better, and that’s on me. We’re on a mission.

Duke, led by first-year coach John Scheer, 35, who replaced Mike Krzyzewski, isn’t in such dire straits, but his team has dropped to No. 24 after starting the season at No. 7. The Blue Devils (12-4) have lost two of their last four games.

Villanova (8-9), a freshman blue blood who won two national championships under coach Jay Wright, also struggled under first-year coach Kyle Neptune, 37, who served as the head coaching job at Fordham before taking over. Had only one year experience. over for Wright when he retired in April. The Wildcats have lost four of their last five games and continue to play without senior guard Justin Moore, who tore his right Achilles tendon while participating in Villanova’s Final Four last year. Unless the Wildcats win the Big East Conference Tournament, it appears they will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.

Calipari isn’t the only coach on the hot seat.

Former Georgetown and Knicks star Patrick Ewing has lost 27 straight Big East regular-season games as head coach of his alma mater. On Tuesday, the Hoyas again collapsed in the second half, being blown out by 15 points at home in a 66–51 loss against Seton Hall.

Some fans chanted “Fire Ewing” in the waning moments of the game. The Hoyas became the first team to go 0–19 in the Big East last season, and have not won a regular-season league game since March 2021, the same year they won the Big East Tournament.

“My future is my future,” Ewing, 60, said last week. “I am here at Georgetown to be the head coach until the president or the board decides for me to move on.

“But to that end — a friend of mine sent me a quote today, ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up.’ So we fell down, what we’re going to do is continue to get up.

Some Georgetown fans are calling on social media to replace Ewing with Iona coach Rick Pitino, one of the most successful and controversial coaches in recent history and Ewing’s former coach with the Knicks. Some fans at St. John’s and other schools are also calling for their programs to hire Pitino, one of three coaches to lead five programs to the NCAA tournament.

A year ago, St. Peter’s, a small school in Jersey City, Great performance in the last eight of the NCAA tournament,

Rutgers is another New Jersey school making headlines this year.

Coach Steve Pikiel has put the Scarlet Knights on track for a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance after the program hasn’t been there since 1991. For the second straight season, Rutgers defeated No. 1 Purdue (this time on the road), and has earned a reputation as a tough, defensive-oriented team that is extremely difficult to beat at home. It is currently at number 21 in net ranking Used to help determine the field of the tournament.

New Jersey churn continues elite high school talent as well. There are six in-state players up for Naismith Boys’ High School National Player of the Year, including players committed to blue bloods like Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina.

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