The 2019-20 RTC16: Week Three

Posted by Walker Carey on December 3rd, 2019

It seems like every Feast Week there is a team or two that establishes itself as a legitimate national contender — that was no different this year as #2 Michigan and #5 Maryland both made it known that they will be forces to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. The previously unranked Wolverines put together the most impressive performance of Feast Week with a championship run at Battle 4 Atlantis, as Juwan Howard‘s squad magnificently ripped through Iowa State, #8 North Carolina, and #7 Gonzaga en route to the tournament title. It was fair to have concerns about Michigan this preseason, as legendary former coach John Beilein departed for the NBA and was replaced by Howard, who had no previous experience coaching college basketball. The Wolverines’ returning core has done a commendable job in fully easing those concerns, as senior point guard Zavier Simpson looks to be one of the best ball distributors in the country and former role players Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers and Jon Teske have emerged as key pieces in an offensive attack that ranks third in the country. The Terrapins were also victorious in a Feast Week tournament, knocking off Temple, Harvard and Marquette en route to the Orlando Invitational title. The championship game was especially noteworthy, as Maryland’s defensive effort limited Marquette scoring machine Markus Howard to just six points in an 84-63 victory. The backcourt had led the way to its 8-0 start with Anthony Cowan Jr., Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins all averaging over 10 points per game. The Terrapins have had early season hype before in the Mark Turgeon era, and while that failed to materialize for a variety of reasons, this Maryland team — with its strong backcourt and solid interior play — appears like it should be able to buck that trend. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Louisville stays at #1. The Cardinals remain in the top spot after moving to 7-0 with a comfortable 71-54 win over Western Kentucky. The perfect start is Louisville’s best beginning to a season since the 2014-15 campaign. Competition will ramp up a notch this week, as the Cardinals will need to get by #2 Michigan and ACC foe Pittsburgh if they want to stay at #1. Luckily for Louisville, though, it will host both the Wolverines and Panthers inside the comfort of the Yum! Center. Even with this week’s homecourt advantage, just know if Chris Mack‘s squad is back in this spot next week, it will have very much earned it.

Duke falls to #11 after a stunning upset defeat. The upset of the year thus far in college basketball came last Tuesday when Duke fell in overtime at the buzzer to Stephen F. Austin inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils entered the game as 27.5-point favorites and the loss was the program’s first non-conference home defeat since falling to St. John’s in 2000. Among other things, Duke’s struggles at the free throw line helped do it in. The Blue Devils missed 16 total free throws, which was the most they have missed in a home game since 2008. Duke rebounded Friday with a home victory over Winthrop, but that win did not come without a price as freshman wing Cassius Stanley went down with a hamstring injury that Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski estimates will keep the swingman out until after Christmas.

#12 Dayton and #16 Florida State enter after successful Feast Week performances. The Flyers and Seminoles both debut in the RTC16 this week following strong performances in the Maui Invitational and Emerald Coast Classic, respectively. Dayton rode a star-making performance from forward Obi Toppin to dominating victories over Georgia and Virginia Tech before falling just short of the tournament title in an overtime battle with #2 Kansas. The Flyers have not been to the NCAA Tournament since Archie Miller bolted for Indiana after the 2017 season, but it appears Anthony Grant has enough talent on hand to break that skid. Florida State used its trademark rugged defense to best Tennessee and Purdue to take home the Emerald Coast Classic tournament title. The Seminoles held Tennessee to a futile 33.3 percent shooting while Purdue shot just 33.9 percent in the title game. Sophomore guard Devin Vassell has emerged as a key playmaker for Leonard Hamilton‘s group, bumping his production up to 12.5 points per game after only averaging 4.5 in his freshman season.

Game of the Week. #1 Louisville vs. #2 Michigan. After the Wolverines’ performance at Battle 4 Atlantis, this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge suddenly has a #1 vs. #2 match-up on its docket when Michigan travels to Louisville on Tuesday to take on the top-ranked Cardinals. The individual match-up to keep an eye on here will be between Louisville star forward Jordan Nwora and Michigan forward Isaiah Livers. Livers’ production was integral to Michigan’s success last week, so it will be up to Nwora to slow him down in hopes of leading the Cardinals to what would be a résumé-building victory.

Keep Tabs On. #10 Michigan State vs. #11 Duke; #4 Virginia vs. Purdue; #5 Maryland vs. Notre Dame; #6 Ohio State vs. #8 North Carolina; #11 Duke vs. Virginia Tech; #13 Arizona vs. Baylor; #2 Kansas vs. Colorado; #4 Virginia vs. #8 North Carolina; #7 Gonzaga vs. Washington.

Conference Call. ACC (5), Big Ten (4), SEC (2), Pac-12 (2), Big 12 (1), Atlantic 10 (1), WCC (1).

WCarey (318 Posts)

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