Opening Week Thoughts

Why not start here? Kentucky is still really good. Maybe there are unrealistic expectations set up now. Why else have this team picked apart two games in without their PG? Take a step back and you see a team playing without it’s PG and having three freshman as their best players. This experience is only going to pay off in the long run, especially for a kid like Archie Goodwin forced into playing PG. Nerlens Noel is going to keep improving and if Calipari gets Alex Poythress to play as hard as he did last night vs Duke – this is going to be as tough of an out as there is in March.

Duke will be Duke. My pick to win the ACC and be a Top 5 team all year. Mason Plumlee is really, really good and Rasheed Sulaimon was shot in the arm on the perimeter.

Pierre Jackson is a dark-horse candidate to win NPOY. There may not be a better PG in college that can blend scoring and facilitating as well Jackson, through two games he has been in complete control.

Kansas still runs some really freaking good offense, but how good can it be without great interior players on offense? Since 2005, KU has had: Wayne Simien, Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson, Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich, Morris Twins and Thomas Robinson. That type of talent inside on offense has led to outstanding action off of their high-low sets and feeding the post. Evident last night is that Jeff Withey and the trio of Kevin Young, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor don’t have the skill or experience to execute and finish plays like those before them. It also can’t help that Danny Manning is no longer around. KU will be terrific again this year – they’ll defend and they’ll score enough – but offensively there is no way they can sustain the run they’ve had.

MSU had the most impressive Game 1 to Game 2 turnaround you can find. They couldn’t run any offense vs Uconn. Just dreadful stuff and then they come out and execute vs KU to the tune of 52%. It helps when shots start dropping from Keith Appling and Gary Harris – but the action was 100% better. As a friend pointed out, it’s obvious Denzel Valentine is Izzo’s new ‘Day Day’ isn’t it? I don’t totally mean that as a compliment, either.

UCONN is in good shape. Roles have been defined by default, and things fit together much better. There was really only one option for a lineup this year (Napier/Boatright/Calhoun/Daniels/Olander) and that’s what has given Uconn a quick start. The MSU win was impressive, it also was impressive to dispatch of a quality Vermont team after returning from Germany. I don’t know how long Uconn’s front court can hold up over the grind of a Big East season, but as long as they compete – the guard play will go along way.

West Virginia can’t throw the ball in the ocean. This is a real problem, there is not one shooter on that WVU team and very little skill. Scoring points is likely a season long issue.

How good can the Gonzaga back court be by the time they finish their career? Pangos and Bell are almost already as good as it gets as SO’s.

Even though Scott Suggs left last night’s game with a concussion, UW can’t lose to Albany. With Seton Hall, Colorado St, St. Louis, Nevada, and Uconn still on the schedule there’s more than enough time to improve the resume but any more missteps will make things difficult. Why would Lorenzo Romar institute a high-post offense with the collection of guards he has? Not that they’re spectacular but it sure beats the front court options.

Allen Crabbe is staking his early claim for Pac XII POY. He has 62 points in 60 minutes of play on 21-35 shooting (8-12 from 3 and also 10-11 from the line). The competition hasn’t been good, but if he’s this assertive, he’ll make a leap from really good player on the West Coast to a really good damn player nationally.

One of his back court mates isn’t bad either in Justin Cobbs. And this looks foolish:

People had the Michigan FR class confused. Mitch McGary is not the best of the bunch or even second. Glenn Robinson III and Nick Stauskas are.

Jay Wright has a really good guard in Ryan Arcidiacono, who completely outclassed DeAndre Kane in their match up on Sunday. Kane, by the way is not a PG. That is obvious.

I didn’t believe it when people said Chris Opekpa could give Nerlens Noel a run for his money as a shot blocker. I still give a decided edge to Noel but through a pair of exhibition games and a home opener vs Detroit, it’s clear Opekpa is an elite shot blocker. He’s played 76 minutes in those 3 appearances and blocked 22 shots. Seriously.

On the topic of shot-blockers, Jeff Withey’s presence is overstated. I will never understand how people slotted him on pre-season All American teams or even the NPOY selection an ESPN expert gave him.

Miami has lost an exhibition game to St. Leo, barely got by Stetson and lost to Florida Gulf Coast. I had them as a Top 20 team. I am a fool.

Kevin O’Neill finally has himself a team again. If there’s a team that may break through in Maui it could be the Trojans. Opener vs Illinois then vs Texas to advance to the title game? That’s doable, especially with Myck Kabongo on the sidelines.

Ryan Anderson of Boston College may get talked up the most on the dreadful team in Chestnut Hill, but Olivier Hanlan will prove to be their best player and one of the better lead guards in the ACC by his JR year.

Vincent Council is out a month. Providence has 6 scholarship players without him. And ‘6’ is by definition only.

Through two games, Marshall Henderson has 49 points and has attempted 24 threes (making 11 of them). Andy Kennedy has given him the green light and figures to be one of the more entertaining players in the SEC. From reports he is somewhere in between extremely confident and an asshole.

Jerrelle Benimon posted a line of 23, 5 and 5. The year is 2012.

Today’s picks:

Wisconsin +6 1/2

Santa Clara +14


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