Last season, the Clemson Tigers finished one of the most historic series in college basketball by beating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the first time in Chapel Hill. UNC will be better in 2020-21, but so will Clemson, who makes his last CAC appearance as a top 20 team. Our experts watched this and other important races over the weekend, highlighting the current status of the 2021 Timber Price Race and some important recent starts in university hoops.
(Editor’s note: Clemson, North Carolina has been moved to Friday).
Take part in the survey and get your predictions for the best matches of the weekend.
It took Clemson 60 games and 93 years to win at Chapel Hill, and there seems a reasonable chance that the on 19. The ranked Tigers won two consecutive games on Saturday (19:00 Eastern Time, ESPN). How do you think this team of tar heels will line up in March? Give fans a reason to believe that this team can still be an eligible North Carolina team. (Editor’s note: Clemson vs. North Carolina has been moved to Friday).
Myron Medcalf, university basketball writer: I think this team will always play with a team of eight or nine men, but I don’t know if they are going to improve. The Tar Heels, who have many offensive rebounds but can’t take advantage of those secondary chances because they can’t shoot, seem vulnerable to a first-round surprise this crazy year.
With Caleb Love on the field, she scored only 92 points in 100 games and made reversals on almost a fifth of their games, according to hopelens.com. If they can’t find a point guard, they’ll have even bigger problems in the next few months. Relevance? They still have a group of former five-star recruits and a top 20 defensive unit. If the offensive efficiency improves, they can win races in March. Maybe.
Jeff Borzello, College Basketball Insider: At the beginning of the season my biggest concern was whether they would find a coherent shooting edge. I assumed Harrison Brooks and Armando Baco would take most of the load, I loved Day Ron Sharp in high school, and I expected Love to become an elite leader pretty soon. The last part wasn’t there yet, and that was a big problem.
Carolina struggles with the numbers and tries to take pictures of 3, and I’m not sure if that will change soon. However, I don’t think the best of the CCA are very good, so they have to finish in the top six or seven in the league and make the NCAA tournament a 9-10 seed. This team defended better than in previous editions of Carolina, the group from the inside is still elitist, and I still have hope for Love.
John Gasaway, college basketball writer: It could be a UNC team, because the Tar Heels do two things very well. North Carolina plays the defense and breaks the offensive window. As for the shooting, did I mention that North Carolina is playing defensive and destroying the offensive glass? These two qualities could be enough to win him two or three games above the .500 in the CCA and put him, let’s say, on the 9th place in the tournament. At least the Helen can always miss a shot (it happens sometimes) and rely on Brooks, Beckot or Sharp to get it.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN Bracketologist: What Cole Anthony really needs is a year less. Last season’s star would have been a missing piece for this year’s unbalanced team. In the real world, however, the perimeter of North Carolina still has a long way to go to balance a productive front. The size of the UNC is always an important advantage, but the rest of the team will be seriously outnumbered by the best teams in the country. Fortunately, none of the top teams seem to play in the CCA, so the Helen should sneak into the tournament. But they won’t wear white, and the first four won’t be out of harm’s way.
The list of the 25 players for the Wooden Award is published Wednesday night. What would the first three places of your wooden balls look like now?
Fault! The file name is not specified. It’s hard to bet against Luca Garza in the race for the Wooden Award, but there’s still time for the others to impress. Keith Gillett/Sportsweare symbol
Medcalf: Let’s be honest. Luca Garza from Iowa has all three places, right? I think the field is fighting for second place. If I had told you before the start of the season that Garza, who finished second behind Obi Topping last year, would return as the big 0 man shooting 49% of the 3-point line, 66% inside the bow and 74% of the charity strip, all for the best U.S. offensive team after KenPom, you might not have believed me. But that’s exactly what happened. That’s his reward.
For number two, I’m going with Corey Kispert Gonzaga. During the 2013-14 season. Doug McDermott achieved an average of 26.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per race on 45% of his 3-point attempts. Kispert has an average of 21.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 2.2 APG on America’s No. 1 team and makes 51% of his attempts within 3 points, despite playing alongside game maker Jalen Suggs, who could be the best player in this year’s NBA Draft. Number 3 would be Illinois Ayo Dosunmu (23.0 PPG).
Gas path: Garza, Jared Butler from Baylor and Hunter Dickinson from Michigan. To be honest, Dickinson was fired on the 25th. The season isn’t over yet and he’s not exactly about to win the Wooden Award. He’s a rookie who wasn’t particularly enthusiastic for the season and won’t be able to make up for it against (deserving!) players like Garza and Butler. But do me a favor and compare the two-point accuracy and the use of a young man’s possession with what we saw in a certain (rightly!) first year student of the duke two years ago. It’s an instructive equation.
Lunardi: Garza is the obvious number one, and that probably won’t change. The top two players from the top two teams, Drew Timme of Gonzaga and Jared Butler of Baylor, are as follows. In the end Butler and Ayo Dosunmu are in third place. And how confusing would it be, by any chance, that Butler has a star named Jared Baylor?
Borzello: I think Garza is the obvious choice as the number one right now. He entered the season as a big favorite to win the Wooden Award and he didn’t disappoint. His evil parts are always 18 and 6, 22 and 9, 16 and 14. These numbers alone can be enough to get a player on an American team. I would choose Dosunmu in second place, although I think there is a fairly large gap between Garza and Dosunmu. Dosunmu scored at least 30 points on three occasions, was very good in late situations, and greatly improved his out of shot.
I love Hunter Dickinson’s Gasaway scream, and Jared Butler would be on my Mid-season All-American team, but I’m going to pick Gonzaga’s player for my number 3. In the first weeks of the season it would be Suggs. Then I would have chosen Timmé. It’s true that Kispert doesn’t play himself now. He has scored at least 25 points in three of his last four games, with a score of 75.8% for 2 and 50.8% for 3.
Four players from the original Wooden Watch roster – Keyontae Johnson (Florida), Caleb Mills (Houston), Chris Smith (California) and Oscar Chibwe (West Virginia) – will not play this season. Which of the teams will survive this absence best and make a splash in March, and which one will have the most difficulty?
Fault! The file name is not specified. Chris Smith’s absence is a great loss to the UCLA Pac-12 champion team. Jeffrey Brown/Sportswire icon
Borzello: I’m going with Houston. I think the Cougars are definitely an AAC class, with or without Mills, and that probably means that in the NCAA tournament they have to be in better shape when it comes to sowing. Kelvin Sampson is also loaded on the perimeter. Quentin Grimes has the kind of season we all expected from high school a couple of years ago, Marcus Sasser is fantastic and DeJohn Jarreau is a jack-of-all-trades. The new Tramon Mark also had its glorious moments.
In fact, I think all four teams should survive the misses and make it to the NCAA tournament, but Florida probably has the most problems. Keyontae Johnson was the best player of the four absentees mentioned above, and while transfers Anthony Durudgeon (Louisiana Tech) and Colin Castleton (Michigan) have played well in recent games, I’m more concerned about the Gators.
Medcalf: I also think Houston will be okay. Mills’ role has changed as part of a large Cougar team that didn’t need him to play the minutes he did a year ago. We’ve seen Justin Gorham (12.5 PPG in his last two games without Mills) do more offensive work to help his team beat SMU and Wichita State in back-to-back games. Sampson has depth with this group.
I think Florida’s at the top of the list, too. Johnson was a potential first choice when he collapsed against the state of Florida in the worst incident of the year. Moreover, the SEC seems to be a tougher race than at the beginning of the season.
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Gas path: Houston seems to be doing well without Mills. The Cougars are one basket away from being undefeated, and in any case we will probably see this team finish the regular season with an exceptionally low number in the losing column. Mills was the top scorer last year, but he wasn’t the last word on efficiency. In his absence, Grimes competently fulfilled the role, crushing UH American opponents with offensive signs and line drives.
Lunardi: The answer is Houston, for all these reasons. But West Virginia’s epic comeback against the state of Oklahoma is still going strong, and Bob Huggins seems more than happy to hold on with Derek Culver as the lone wolf at the helm. I think the mountaineers will come through, and unfortunately the biggest loss will be Keyontay Johnson from Florida.
ESPN.com expert selects the best matches of the weekend
(Lines, if any, from Caesar Sportsbook.) Forecasters do not have access to the lines when making predictions on accounts).