It’s Week 9 and time to see where we stand on the Top 10 teams in college basketball.
Here we go!
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Tate’s Take: The conversation of going undefeated on the season (40-0) is warming up weekly… and for a good reason.
2. Duke Blue Devils
Tate’s Take: It seems that if ANY team has what it takes to dethrone UK, it’s this one. Problem is, that meeting likely won’t come until early April in Indy; This year’s Final site in the National Championship Game for all the marbles.
3. Virginia Cavaliers
Tate’s Take: Hands down the best defensive team in college basketball after picking up where they left off last season. Adding fuel to the fire, they’re not too shabby offensively either.
<st,rong>4. Wisconsin Badgers
Tate’s Take: May just be the San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots of college basketball with their basic, fundamentally sound, and structured style of play. Nigel Hayes is the unsung hero of these pesky Badgers.
5. Louisville Cardinals
Tate’s Take: Yes we know Montrezl Harrell is a grown (*bleep*) man and the Cards are nothing less of stellar defensively. You can thank HOF Head Coach Rick Pitino for that, although struggles frequently occur on ‘O’ when UL consistently take possessions off as seen this season vs. Kentucky, Cleveland State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana, UNC-Wilmington, Western Kentucky and most recently… Wake Forest.
6. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Tate’s Take: It’s hard to imagine GU having a much better team than they have had in previous seasons when you consider their continuous single-digit losing records on the season and high seeding in the postseason. The difference this season is the size that Zaga has inside on the block. 6’10 Freshman Domantas Sabonis (son of basketball great Arvydas Sabonis) may not be the hugest scoring threat but has the soft hands and foot coordination that many ‘Bigs’ don’t possess at such a young age. A ‘deep enough’ roster that contains high IQ’s and coachable talent including Przemek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer and Angel Nunez… and that’s just the frontcourt.
7. Arizona Wildcats
Tate’s Take: The proclaimed ‘Best of the West’ has yet to have some work to do in putting teams away soundly. Early in the season in Tucson, Zona escaped a win vs. Gonzaga who has vastly improved since the loss and is anxious for revenge. Utah is also hot on the Cats’ heels. Not many others should propose as much of a serious threat in the West region (unless Washington gets their act together). They may be relying too much on their Phenomenal Freshman Stanley Johnson. Though the Pac-12’s best shoots extremely well from the field, if a game ever comes down to a shootout vs. a ball club with explosive firepower, Sean Miller’s group could be in trouble if they’re forced to rely on getting stops.
8. Villanova Wildcats
Tate’s Take: Ahhh, the beauty of owning a roster full of sharpshooters while living by the 3 and dying by the 3. There’s usually always one standout do-it-all Forward that doesn’t get nearly enough praise for his contribution and production on both ends of the floor, and this season that guy is Daniel Ochefu. This is nothing short of your typical Villanova team that is loaded with guards and defends fairly well… Ryan Arcidiacono as the catalyst, Darrun Hilliard as the experienced leader, Josh Hart as the ultimate role player and Dylan Ennis & Ochefu as the emotional leaders, the only question mark to a deep run is can JayVaughn Pinkston consistently compliment Ochefu up front?
9. Maryland Terrapins
Tate’s Take: MD is kicking butts and taking names, making a statement lead by Freshman Melo Trimble. We’re yet to see the dominance of Dez Wells, let alone his peak since returning from injury early this season. That only adds positives to a single-loss team (Virginia) but has share of quality wins (@Oklahoma State, @Michigan State, vs. Iowa on a neutral site). Most impressively is how suddenly Mark Turgeon has gone from a coach that was likely to be on the hot seat after an extensive stint of uncharacteristic-like play during his tenure to one of the more impressive coaches with their recent success. Is this officially the return of Maryland basketball as we know it? That we remain uncertain of but there is a resurgance of optimism and positive energy with what Jack Layman and ‘bully’ Damonte Dodd brings to the table. Just wait until
preseason fan favorites Wells and Evan Smotrycz catches up to speed.
10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Tate’s Take: Mike Brey is bringing more than lucky charms and four-leaf clovers to the hardwood these days. He’s adding W’s to his resume in only his second season in the ACC which may surprise a few people. Let me remind you that this isn’t the Fighting Irish football program that you read about when you see only 1 error in the loss column, it’s the program that is a single point away from being undefeated (Providence) and seems to only be getting better every game. They more than made up for that same loss when they put on a fearless display Monday night traveling on the road handing the Tar Heels of North Carolina all they could handle on their home floor in Chapel Hill resulting in a single point victory for ND. Feeling like a top-10 ranking may be too high? Well riddle me this… following the loss to the Friars which came before Thanksgiving, ND handed losses to Michigan State, in-state rival Purdue by 31, gridiron revenge on Florida State by 20 but perhaps we’ll find out exactly how serious the leprechaun’s are when they welcome the #3 team in the country (VA Cavs) to South Bend next week. Don’t be so quick to write off the Irish before you take notice that they’re nationally ranked #1 in FG% (54%) and ranked 5th nationally in scoring (85ppg). Too many eyes on Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton gives Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson space to create and show they’re proven scorers not only in the ACC, but nationally!