We’re mixing it up this week, and not just because we may have already broken into the egg nog. We’re going to blend our usual weekend ramblings with some college football picks and if we have time, we may make fun of Duke. We’ll just see where things go.
This week, the Maui Invitational came to you live from Asheville, NC, naturally. The Heels lost in the finals on a buzzer beater to Texas, extending some form of a magical spell that Texas basketball has over UNC basketball. UNC’s three games showed the potential of this young Tar Heel team, as well as provided some terrifying flashbacks to the season that shall not be named.
On the bright side, the Heels showed some competitiveness and fight, coming back from 16 down against Texas to take a lead and battle to the bitter end. Leaky Black appears to be learning how to impact the game in ways that fit his skill set – great defense, double-digit rebounds and timely points around the basket. The bigs are proving to be as formidable as anticipated, keeping the Heels in games by dominating the glass and finishing around the basket.
On the “are we reliving last season” side, still way too many turnovers on careless passes, a lot of missed free throws and no consistent outside shooting. While there were many turnovers to choose from, the two-handed overhand pass that more closely resembled a soccer throw-in from Platek into the post. To the surprise of no one, it did not reach its intended target. And Platek did not spend much more time in the game.
Like any great team, but especially great Roy Williams’ team, the guard positions are critical to success. The Heels start two freshmen – Caleb Love and RJ Davis – in their backcourt, and they are going to be great. Carolina fans are going to love them by the time they complete their college careers, which could be as early as April. But they aren’t there yet. They both struggled against Texas – Love especially so – finishing with a gaudy 5-24 shooting performance. Carolina needs them to play well, and shoot the ball well, to reach its potential. We’re still optimistic they will get there, as it takes most freshman point guards some time to adjust to Roy’s system. Most recently, Coby White started his career 13-35 in his first four games against weaker competition that Love has faced. In his first four games, Love has shot 14-51. Not saying Love will turn into Coby White, but just offering an example of a freshman we all remember as an elite player who had a tough start in Carolina Blue.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Heels, as their next matchup is against #3 Iowa and Luka Garza, the pre
This week has been a great week of college hoops around the country, so here are a few things we noticed:
Duke lost at home to Michigan State, although given that the collection of socially inept teenagers from various pricey prep schools in the northeast that typically attend their games couldn’t be there, we’re assuming Krzyzewski will assign the loss to Pete Gaudet’s coaching record. Interestingly enough, the printed banner of Duke students that was in place of where they usually provided more intimidating environment. Those kids are hard enough to look at when they are life-size, but we don’t know how you shoot when you must look at images of them that are 3x their normal size. Frankly, it might explain the 5-23 performance from three for Duke.
In another buzzer beater, Penn State knocked off VCU on a last-second three from Myles Dread. Penn State’s season will be intriguing to watch given the abrupt resignation prior to the season by previous head coach Pat Chambers. We are firm believers in Pat Chambers as a result of one of our unbreakable rules. Any time a head coach you’ve never met before texts your wife the day she is due to go to the hospital to deliver your baby, you are a fan of his for life. That said, we’re certain there’s a lot more to the Pat Chambers – Penn State story than has been reported. Regardless, the guys on that team are dealing with the fall out amid, you know, that pesky global pandemic. So, for one night, they deserve the spoils of victory.
Gonzaga continues to show that it is currently the class of men’s college basketball, most recently with a win over West Virginia where its star freshman Jalen Suggs was limited due to an ankle sprain. If you’re looking for something to do this Saturday at 1pm, tune in to watch Gonzaga vs. Baylor in a 1 vs. 2 matchup.
Meanwhile, as we write this, Luka Garza is destroying the poor souls at Western Illinois, with 30 points and 9 rebounds. At halftime. Uhh…is that good? As we mentioned earlier, the Hawkeyes are the #3 team in the country, which is yet another reminder that this is a bizarre year in college hoops.
In addition to Gonzaga, Baylor and Iowa atop the polls, Wisconsin, Illinois, Creighton and Houston also claim spots in the top 10. Of the traditional powers, only Kansas, Duke and Michigan State are featured in the top 10 today, with Duke likely dropping out after the next poll. Did we mention Duke lost?
Speaking of Duke losing, let’s dive into some college football picks for this weekend with a speed round of every game involving a top 25 team:
#1 Alabama @ LSU – Rescheduled game from mid-November, but more time will only make this worse for LSU. Roll Tide.
#2 Notre Dame vs. Syracuse – Notre Dame has already clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game, thanks the ACC cutting off games as early as possible to ensure a Clemson-Notre Dame rematch and its hopes of getting both teams in the CFP. Syracuse can’t say enough Hail Mary’s to make this one close.
#3 Clemson @ Virginia Tech – Night games in Blacksburg in the fall can be chilly and miserable. The fans should be thanking COVID for not having the freeze their asses off to watch their team lose to Clemson.
#4 Ohio State @ Michigan State – Nothing would make us happier than Michigan State beating Ohio State. Except maybe Michigan State opting out of the game to make Ohio State ineligible to win the Big Ten Championship.
#5 Texas A&M @ Auburn – Upset alert. Aggies are riding high thinking they’re all great, and this is just about the time Gus Malzahn pulls something crazy off to keep his job. War Damn Eagle.
#6 Florida @ Tennessee – Normally played early in the season so Tennessee has plenty of time to make up for its huge, embarrassing defeat at the hands of its rival. Not the case this year.
#7 Cincy – Off due to COVID
#8 Georgia vs. Vandy – Only interesting thing about this game is the chance that Sarah Fuller remains the kicker for Vandy. If they didn’t even attempt a field goal or extra point against Missouri, we don’t like their chances against Georgia. Here’s hoping she gets a chance though.
#9 Iowa State vs. West Virginia – Cyclones win, and Matt Campbell gets one step closer to an $8 million pay day from someone in Austin or Ann Arbor.
#10 Miami @ Duke: The U. Did we mention Duke’s basketball team lost?
#11 Oklahoma vs. Baylor – After all the scandals and tragedies in Waco, there is now a rule that only one team can be good there at a time, and right now it’s the men’s basketball team’s turn. Boomer Sooner.
#12 Indiana @ #16 Wisconsin: Indiana is in the driver’s seat to play Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship as long as COVID continues to spread through Ann Arbor. The Big Ten office deserves an Indiana-Northwestern Big Ten Championship game, while Ohio State sits on the sidelines and watches. Wisconsin wins, as unfortunately, Indiana’s star quarterback tore his ACL last week.
#13 BYU @ #18 Coastal Carolina – The Chanticleers were hosting Liberty until this morning, and then COVID struck again. Fortunately, they had BYU waiting in the wings for a huge game between two teams struggling to get any respect nationally. College GameDay will be there and it should be a great showcase for these programs. We’ll go with the Chants to pull off the upset. Hope proud Coastal alum Dustin Johnson is sober enough to realize this game is taking place, but not too sober that he won’t make a scene on the set of GameDay.
#14 Northwestern – Off thanks to an ELITE case of COVID at Minnesota.
#15 Oklahoma State @ TCU – The only thing we know about this game is that we won’t be watching. Go Pokes.
#17 UNC vs. Western Carolina – Heels lick their wounds and bounce back before they face Miami next week. Apparently, there is still a chance the Heels can play in the Orange Bowl, which would be pretty awesome.
#19 Iowa @ Illinois: The only people watching this game will be the parents of the players, and some of them will probably will only be half watching. Illinois with the upset. No one audits these picks anyway.
#20 Southern Cal vs. Washington State – It’s odd to be December and these two programs have combined to play 5 total games. Southern Cal wins.
#21 Marshall vs. Rice – Marshall, I guess. This is exhausting.
#22 Washington vs. Stanford – Stanford is not allowed to even practice on their own campus, or in their own county, so they have relocated to Seattle for the week and then will move to Oregon next week to play Oregon State in a game that was supposed to be at home. Their basketball team is apparently just staying in North Carolina and looking for games from anyone. Such a weird time. Give the Cardinal the win.
#23 Oregon @ Cal – Oregon wins the game but loses when they are forced to quarantine for two weeks with the tree sitters around Berkeley.
#24 Tulsa @ Navy – Tulsa is ranked? Give the Midshipmen and God Bless America.
#25 Louisiana @ App State – No one just strolls into Boone on a cold, rainy Friday night and gets a win. We’re guessing this won’t be App State’s most memorable win over a Top 25 team, but it’ll be a win over a Top 25 team nonetheless.
Ok friends, enjoy the weekend. In the meantime, Stay Positive, Test Negative and remember, Duke lost.