The 2019-20 RTC16: Week One

Posted by Walker Carey on November 18th, 2019

It is unusual to see a college basketball team begin its season experiencing the highest of highs and shortly following that up with a truly head-scratching defeat. But that was certainly the case with how #10 Kentucky began its year. The Wildcats earned a very impressive victory at the season-opening Champions Classic by riding a game-high 26 points from star freshman Tyrese Maxey to knock off #2 Michigan State, 69-62. Kentucky then followed up that victory with a 42-point mauling of Eastern Kentucky. After those two wins, everything seemed to be right on schedule for John Calipari‘s squad, but that came to a screeching halt last Tuesday when the Wildcats were upset by 25-point underdog Evansville in a 67-64 loss in Lexington. It is still just November and, per usual, Kentucky is still breaking in some new parts, but losing to a team that was picked to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference only a week after beating a team of Michigan State’s caliber shows the Wildcats will go through some growing pains this season. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • Louisville is the new #1. After everything that went down with Rick Pitino’s dismissal and the Cardinals limping to the 2018 NIT under interim coach David Padgett, it is incredible that Chris Mack has already taken the Louisville program to a top ranking in just his second season on the sideline. The Cardinals are 4-0 and have won each of its games by at least 13 points, led by junior forward Jordan Nwora, who is averaging 20.5 points per game, and senior center Steven Enoch with 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. It is obviously still very early this season, but there is nothing Louisville has shown that indicates it will not be a major contender in this season’s ACC race and beyond.
  • #8 Ohio State appears to be for real. It appears the preseason hype surrounding Ohio State as a legitimate Big Ten contender was well warranted. Chris Holtmann‘s squad is off to a blistering 3-0 start that includes a hard-fought win over intrastate foe Cincinnati and a 25-point thrashing of Villanova. The Buckeyes have been getting it done with a total team effort, as five different players are averaging at least nine points per game. Junior forward Caleb Wesson is continuing to develop as a stalwart in the low post — and while his 11.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game pace is likely unsustainable — his presence on the interior of the Ohio State defense should make getting to the basket a daunting task for any Buckeyes opponent this season.
  • New look #15 Tennessee has not missed a beat. The Volunteers won a school record 31 games last season and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing a heartbreaker to Purdue. It was reasonable to expect this season’s squad to take a step back, as two-time SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams, standout forward Admiral Schofield, and dynamic guard Jordan Bone are all now in the NBA. That step back has yet to take place in Knoxville, though, as Rick Barnes‘ group has raced out to a 3-0 start, highlighted by a comfortable 13-point win on a neutral court over a solid Washington squad. Senior guard Jordan Bowden and junior guard Yves Pons have taken the necessary steps forward to give Tennessee a dangerous backcourt that can create major problems. The ability for the Volunteers to survive the departures of key players and still thrive shows that Barnes’ program is in very good shape.

    Game of the Week. #6 Virginia vs. Vermont. In a relatively light week, the game that you should definitely pay the most attention to is on Tuesday night when John Becker takes his 4-0 Catamounts — fresh off a last second victory over St. John’s — to Charlottesville against the reigning national champions. The individual match-up to keep an eye on here will be the battle between Virginia swingman Braxton Key and Vermont playmaker Anthony Lamb. Key will have his hands full, as Lamb is giving the Catamounts 18.3 points per game and is seen by many as one of the best mid-major players in the country. An upset is unlikely, but Vermont absolutely has the goods to make Virginia at least a bit nervous.

Keep Tabs On. #5 Kansas vs. East Tennessee State; #3 Duke vs. California; #12 Oregon vs. Houston.

Conference Call. ACC (4), Big Ten (3), Big 12 (2), Big East (2), SEC (2), Pac-12 (2), WCC (1).

WCarey (318 Posts)

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