ALL PICKS, SIMULATIONS, AND INSIGHTS
Bryce Drew is putting together something special at Vanderbilt, recruiting the school's most highly-rated incoming class ever for the Commodores' college basketball season. Coach John Beilein also turned down the NBA and recruited his best class in years in addition to plenty of experience returning. Reid Travis, the most high-profile transfer player in college basketball this season, is headed to Kentucky from Stanford.
His arrival is everything head coach John Calipari needs, and then some. Do the Wildcats have enough to repeat? Betting odds suggest they do, but we're not too sure. Auburn returned three key players and locked up coach Bruce Pearl with a five-year extension. Gonzaga and Nevada have the best chances in years. Let's take a look at why. The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft has come and gone. Here are the programs coming out as the biggest losers in this unpredictable and agonizing process.
What is there to say about the Cavaliers that has not already been stated? Their dominant defense is both effective and exciting to watch, especially when you consider the multitude of programs that have conformed to playing average defense while putting all of their resources and efforts into developing one-dimensional, long-range shooters. Even though the Cavaliers average below 70 points per game, their adeptness at controlling the pace of play while relinquishing very few turnovers has worked unbelievably well for them this season.
Although the Seminoles may not appear to pose much of a threat to the Cavaliers, their offense has actually been fairly versatile and effective albeit on an inconsistent basis. In this particular contest, the Seminoles unpredictability combined with their capable athletes could allow them to keep this game close to what is a superior opponent.
However, the Cavaliers have rarely revealed any chinks in their defensive armor, a facet which the Seminoles will find difficult to penetrate with any type of consistency. With a defense that has been their saving grace on more than one occasion Offensively, what the Buckeyes lack in productivity Although the Boilermakers have not looked particularly dominant in their last couple of wins, there is no denying that this team has the size and personnel to maintain their consistent ways on both offense and defense 84 PPG, While the gritty defensive style of the Buckeyes is capable enough to test Purdue, the Boilermakers are too dynamic and efficient to be defeated by Ohio State on their home court.
Although the Aggies are not particularly bad on offense or defense, it has been their inability to impose their immense size on their opponent, which has prevented them from becoming the exceptional program they were expected to be this year. Conversely, the Tigers have defied all expectations this season as they are comfortable at the top of the SEC standings with just one conference loss on their resume.
With a relentless offense that can score quickly and often 86 PPG , the Tigers have been able to overcome their issues defensively Even though the Aggies have the rebounding skills to take away possessions from the trigger-happy Tigers, they lack the tenacity in other crucial areas that are necessary to take down the established shooting identity that Auburn possesses.
By their standards, both Duke and North Carolina have looked underwhelming in games where they should have won handily. However, the Blue Devils are at least fortunate enough to have a talent-laden roster that is highly prolific offensively. Although Duke has been better defensively in their last few contests, they still look out of sorts when playing man-to-man defense, something that will need to be fixed for them to go far in the NCAA Tournament.
Losing three of their last four games, the Tar Heels have gone from being decent to dreadful on defense in the span of just two weeks.
While this will undoubtedly be highly competitive and contentious, Duke has the better athletes and the imposing size needed to prevent the Tar Heels from the snatching rebounds off of the offensive glass. Although the Pac may be lacking in depth and intriguing competitors, these programs are at least competitive enough in their respective ways to make this a compelling contest. Scoring just under 83 points per game, the Bruins are a highly capable offense albeit somewhat streaky from game to game.
However, the Bruins most notable problem has been their porous defense While the Wildcats may not be much better on defense Given that both teams have struggled to reach their elite potentials this season, this could very well be a high-octane shoot out that is decided at the buzzer.
In that regard, the Wildcats have a slight advantage given that their offense is a bit more effective and reliable. To say that the Wildcats have overcome serious adversity since losing guard Phil Booth for the season would be a bit of an overstatement. With that being said, losing a strong two-way player while having a roster that lacks depth is still difficult situation to overcome especially when you consider that the Wildcats have barely faltered in conference play since then.
However, the Wildcats have to feel a bit nervous that they are facing the lone opponent who handed them their first and only loss of the season.