This weekend as the casuals were watching their fancy schmancy multi-billion dollar corporate NFL playoffs, we were in the trenches witnessing the mystique of Gonzaga basketball fade before our very eyes. Five stars. No notes. Would watch college basketball again.
With that in mind, here’s what happened in the week that was in college basketball.
Six of the top 12 teams in the nation are currently in the Big 12, according to latest AP poll. To reiterate, there are only 10 teams in the Big 12 (which in itself, is dumb but conference realignment, etc., etc.) and 60% of them are currently considered better than the 340 other D-I schools ranked behind them. That’s you know, normal.
The past two national champs, Baylor and Kansas, hailed from the conference but what makes this year's iteration so fascinating is that teams like Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State can be any team in the nation. It seems logical that some Big 12 teams will drop in the rankings as the conference cannibalizes itself, but it should be an enjoyable meal to watch at the very least.
At least according to Dad.
While speaking to The Oregonian, LeBron touched on the recruitment of his son Bronny, saying “I think Bronny can go to any college he wants to. All I have to do is pick up the phone. If Bronny says he wants to go there, he’s good enough.”
King James is speaking the truth, given Bronny is the 28th-ranked recruit in the country and his college decision is poised to be the most anticipated since Arch Mannings. Where he will actually end up is anybody’s guess, but it would be funny if he threw a curveball and decided to go to Julliard. I wonder if they’d take LeBron’s calls.
Get to know a Cinderella: Kent State
The Golden Flashes are hardly considered a basketball power—they only have five NCAA appearances in program history—but this season’s iteration is changing the narrative. Last week, the Golden Flashes increased their home winning streak to 16 games following their demolition of Ball State last week.
They now sit at 16-3 on the season atop the MAC (which, looking forward to March, is a conference great at pulling upsets). What makes this team special? This is weird to say for a team that’s won 16 games, but it is their losses that should make you pay attention.
Kent State’s three defeats on the year came to Gonzaga, Houston, and Charleston (another very good midmajor who you’ll learn more about soon enough). All three games were very close and very winnable, particularly the loss at Houston—ranked #2 in the nation at the time—who they held to under 50 points.
This is a team playing with a ton of confidence that you’ll be wanting to keep tabs on when March rolls around.
Northern Kentucky’s Marques Warrick from frankly too far deep:
Zach Edey, who is compared to many objects such as trees, buildings, and various kaiju monsters, was recently called a pinata by his coach.
LEAVE ZACH ALONE!
Kansas State, boasting a 17-2 record, is ranked 5th in the latest AP poll—yet there are currently 20 teams on FanDuel with better odds than them to win the natty. We’re going to take the value here in accepting that Kansas State is in fact good. Markquis Nowell is a tiny, dynamic shooter who pairs perfectly with conference player of the year candidate Keyontae Johnson and first-year coach Jerome Tang is already garnering consideration for much bigger jobs. With wins over top 10 teams such as Kansas and Texas, it’s clear that they can play with anybody. At +5000 (bet $10 to win $500) they seem like a really solid value.