Thursday, December 1, 2011

Early Season College Grades

We have finally seen enough from some of the big boys of the college basketball landscape to start making judgment on whom, or who appears to be legit to contend for the 2011-2012 NCAA Title. Now granted we’re only six or seven games into a season that will last until the end of March for some. So improvements, injuries and bad breaks will all play a role in who can reach New Orleans with a chance to dance like no other!

To no surprise, 6-0 Kentucky is ranked as the top team in the land and the Wildcats have played like it. John Calipari sports a starting five of three freshman and two sophomores and so far inexperience due to youth has not been a problem. The bluegrass blitzkrieg has averaged 84 points per game with a margin of victory averaging 30 points. Kentucky’s lone top-ten test was passed with flying colors, a 75-65 win over #11 Kansas at Madison Square Garden. U.K. has all five starters averaging double-figures along with sixth man Darius Miller. Their early season test gets tougher this week however with St. John’s visiting Rupp Arena tonight and #5 North Carolina rolling into Lexington on Saturday. Things could change for the Wildcats by next week, but so far you have to give Big Blue an “A” for both effort and results.

4th ranked Duke experienced its first growing pains on Tuesday as the Blue Devils were embarrassed on national television at #2 Ohio State 85-63. Now the Buckeyes are no joke, but Coach K’s crew appeared to be overmatched for most of the night. Thad Motta’s team jumped on the visitors for an 11-0 lead and never trailed in the game! When was the last time a Duke team got beat like that? It’s hard to remember as much as it was hard to take for the Dukies. Now Duke was coming off wins over both Michigan and Kansas which led them to the Maui Invitational Championship, but these are the type of things that happen when young players are in the fore-front. Freshman Austin Rivers did score 22 points but he took 18 shots to do it while adding just three assist. Junior guard Andre Dawkins contributed zero points in 19 minutes. Despite the loss, quality wins over Tennessee and Michigan State earlier in the year have made the Duke start very successful and a solid “B” is the worse grade they could possibly receive.

If you had to find a surprise in the top 25, then just go ahead and take a hit on 18. This is the one time in Vegas; it’s actually a good move! The Runnin’ Rebels are off to an 8-0 start! First year coach David Rice has people taking notice has it took the Rebs double overtime to escape Isle Vista with a win at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday 94-88. Mike Moser is off to early recognition has one of the top players in the country. He dropped 34 on the Gauchos and leads the country in rebounding. He also can get it done from beyond the arc as he dropped home six 3-pointers. Now normally a win over a Big West school would really be no big deal. But UNLV was coming off a 90-80 victory over then #1 North Carolina on Monday Night. Games at Big-10 powerhouses Wisconsin and Illinois loom on the Runnin’ Rebels schedule but it takes more than stacked dice or lucky cards to beat what should be a final four Tar Heels team. We’ll see how long what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas before the word is really out. Runnin’ Rebels get an easy “A+” three weeks into the season.