What’s Trending: Tar Heel Troubles and a Tumbling Top 10

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on December 16th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

North Carolina has made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances over the past 16 seasons with Roy Williams as the head coach. After starting the season 6-1, however, the Tar Heels suffered back-to-back losses to start December. While the panic level remained relatively low heading into the weekend, that changed Sunday morning when the following news broke:

Without Cole Anthony, the team’s leading scorer, questions quickly arose about the Heels’ future. This is a team that, despite owning a top-50 adjusted offensive efficiency, ranks 297th or worse in two-point, three-point and free throw shooting percentages. Without Anthony in the lineup, North Carolina’s losing streak reached three games…


In the loss, North Carolina shot 38.6 percent from two-point range, 31.6 percent from three-point range, and just 60 percent at the line. The defeat brought out what would have been an unthinkable question prior the season. Might North Carolina miss the NCAA Tournament? While it is still just December, Williams is going to have to earn his paycheck — especially if his team is without Cole Anthony.

This past week was full of trouble for teams near the top of the rankings. A previously undefeated and #1 Louisville club had a midweek match-up against Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden. While Louisville’s 3-of-17 performance from deep did the Cardinals no favors, the storyline of the game came in the form of the surprise performance from Texas Tech’s Avery Benson.

Carnage among a trio of top-five Big Ten teams began on Tuesday night when Maryland took a trip to Penn State. Led by double-doubles from both Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, the Nittany Lions walked away victorious.

A day later, Illinois sent Michigan home with its first loss of the season. The moment of the game after Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn celebrated post-foul with this air-punch… that connected with referee Lewis Garrison…

Michigan’s week did not get any easier when the Wolverines ran into Oregon on the weekend. The Ducks, already with wins over Memphis, Houston, and Seton Hall, picked up another impressive resume win in Ann Arbor. After leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, the game was tied in the final seconds. While the ball ultimately landed in the hands of Anthony Mathis, his buzzer-beater three came on the wrong side of the buzzer.

The story of this game was the play of Payton Pritchard. Pritchard logged a game-high 23 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field. Through 10 games, Pritchard is posting a career-high in offensive rating, his effective field-goal percentage and assist rate.

Come Sunday, the frightful fate of the highly-ranked Big Ten teams fell squarely on the shoulders of Ohio State. The Buckeyes entered the day 9-0 and were the only team in the nation with both a KenPom offensive and defensive efficiency ranking of 10th or better. After 40 minutes of action at Minnesota, the Buckeyes were no longer undefeated. Minnesota’s Marcus Carr posted a career-high 35 points and dished out seven assists.

Arizona and Gonzaga played Saturday night in a game in which the Zags left Tucson with a marquee victory. The story of the game was the defensive effort of Ryan Woolridge on Arizona phenom Nico Mannion.

In four games against KenPom top 100 teams, Mannion is now shooting 36.8 percent on two-point attempts and 14.3 percent on three-point attempts. Against non-top 100 opponents, Mannion’s percentages rise to 59.4 percent and 48.6 percent, respectively. Worth monitoring? Yes… Do I expect Mannion to figure things out against top 100 teams? Most definitely.

It would not be a week in college basketball without something wacky happening. After Colgate tied things up at Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ Jarron Cumberland had a chance to win the game. That is, until he decided to haphazardly heave a half-court attempt with a few too many seconds left on the clock…

At the NAIA level, Wayland Baptist’s JJ Culver, brother of former Texas Tech great Jarrett Culver, had a game to remember: 12 made threes, 34-of-62 from the field and 20 made free throws added up to a 100-point night.


Iowa began the season not knowing if or for how long it might have guard Jordan Bohannon in the lineup. After playing in nine games to date, Bohannon revealed that Iowa’s game at Iowa State would be the last game he would play this season. His Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, but it was his postgame “salute” to Iowa State that will never be forgotten among the history of this intrastate rivalry.

From preseason #1 to now being ranked outside of the top 10, Michigan State‘s season has gotten off to to a shaky start. Off the court, the Spartans were dealt the early season tragedy of Cassius Winston’s brother. Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press does a brilliant job attempting to give a look inside the path forward for the young man in what I will call the “must read” story of the past week.

Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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