2018-19 RTC16: Week Two

Posted by Walker Carey on December 3rd, 2018

Right around the beginning of December, the college basketball world begins to really notice which teams may have been severely underrated in the preseason. This year, #5 Michigan is the most glaring example of a team whose significant early season success has been wholly unexpected. The Wolverines began the year with several question marks stemming from the loss of significant production from last season’s national runner-up squad. Because of that looming uncertainty, John Beilein‘s team did not receive even a single vote in the preseason RTC16. So far, that has turned out to be a big omission, as Michigan sits at 8-0 following a week in which it laid waste to both #11 North Carolina and a solid Purdue team. Sophomore guard Jordan Poole and junior forward Jon Teske have taken crucial steps forward this season, and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis has emerged as a viable offensive weapon. Their development has aided veteran guards Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews in leading the Wolverines to their unbeaten start. It should be a requirement to not overlook a Beilein team in the preseason because he has proven time and time again that the Wolverines are usually going to surpass expectations. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

  • Gonzaga remains #1. The Bulldogs improved to 8-0 on the season with wins over North Dakota State and at Creighton last week. The victory in Omaha was impressive in that Gonzaga trailed by seven points at halftime before using a second half offensive flurry to register an 11-point win. Sophomore guard Zach Norvell, Jr. continued his early season tear with a 28-point effort to lead the Bulldogs. Mark Few‘s team has another potentially challenging week ahead of it, as it will host an improved Washington squad on Wednesday evening before facing off with #6 Tennessee on Sunday in Phoenix at the Jerry Colangelo Classic.
  • #2 Kansas survives to remain unbeaten. The Jayhawks were clearly lethargic on Saturday following an eight-day break after its title run in the Preseason NIT, as an undermanned Stanford squad visited the hallowed Allen Fieldhouse and gave Kansas everything it wanted before emerging with a six-point overtime win. While Bill Self is still integrating new pieces into his lineup, senior swingman Lagerald Vick has become the team’s primary play-maker. Vick turned in a star performance in the narrow victory over the Cardinal, finishing the afternoon with a game-high 27 points while burying seven of his 11 three-point attempts — the biggest of which came with just a few seconds remaining in regulation.
  • After a lost season, #13 Wisconsin looks to be back in form. The Badgers missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000 a season ago, with an injury-plagued 15-18 season feeling very unusual for a program so accustomed to winning. That lost year will likely remain an outlier, however, as Greg Gard‘s club is off to a 7-1 start after surviving NC State on Tuesday before handing Big Ten foe Iowa its first defeat. Leading the Badgers are sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice — who has found an offensive rhythm after missing most of last season with an injury — and senior forward Ethan Happ –– who continues to be one of the most dangerous low post scorers in the game. Wisconsin continues early Big Ten play on Wednesday with a home game against Rutgers before traveling to Milwaukee on Saturday to take on intrastate rival Marquette.

Game of the Week. #1 Gonzaga vs. #6 Tennessee. Next Sunday afternoon’s neutral site match-up between two top 10 teams figures to be appointment television. The Bulldogs have already found great neutral court success this season with a title run at the Maui Invitational, while the Volunteers will look to boost their résumé with a #1 takedown. The individual match-up to watch here will be between Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura and Tennessee forward Grant Williams. Both players have the ability to dominate in the post as well as step out and make key plays from the perimeter. Whoever gets the upper hand in that duel should go a long way in determining which team grabs the high-aprofile win.

Keep Tabs On. #12 Michigan State vs. Iowa; #14 Villanova vs. Temple; #1 Gonzaga vs. Washington; #7 Nevada vs. Arizona State; #12 Michigan State vs. Florida; #13 Wisconsin vs. Marquette.

Conference Call: ACC (5), Big Ten (3), SEC (3), Big 12 (2), Big East (1), WCC (1), Mountain West (1)

WCarey (318 Posts)

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