Greetings, BBN, and Happy New Year! As games returned this week following the Christmas break, teams began their conference slates with some bangers. These first couple weeks of conference play will be where the rubber meets the road for a lot of teams and will be where NCAA Tournament resumes are forged or shattered. Let’s dive into this week and weekend of college hoops:
Intrigue in the SEC
The top of the South is stacked this season with #7 Tennessee holding off a strong push from Ole Miss on the road, #8 Alabama handling #21 Mississippi State on the road, #9 Arkansas losing a three-point squeaker at LSU, and of course #19 Kentucky getting run out of 11-1 now 12-1 Mizzou’s building. No team will be safe from any other in the SEC this year, and there’ll be no “gimme” games: four of UK’s next five conference games are against teams currently with a 10-3 record or better, and those aren’t even all teams projected to finish in the upper half of the standings.
North Carolina loses another ACC game
The preseason numero unos are 9-5 and 0-2 in the ACC after a Friday night road game at Pitt where the Panthers eked out a 76-74 victory to improve to 10-4. UNC’s still plenty good, but there are a lot of other teams in the country better than the preseason #1s right now.
Kentucky vs Louisville
What else? BBN is really annoyed at being 8-4 after a loss to a quality Missouri team and I’m sure the Wildcats are too, so not only do they want to beat 2-11 Louisville but also completely run them out of Rupp Arena in this Quad 4 home game. If they don’t though? If they only win by, say, five? If they—shudder—don’t win???? This game is so much bigger for UK than for U of L right now, who are underdogs in every single remaining game. A 2-30 season? This team might be able to do it.
Tough tests for UConn, Texas, Arizona, and others
No more cupcake games: conference play is starting and any top-25 and even top-10 team can lose to anyone on any given night. Get ready for some upsets this Saturday
Purdue, UConn, and New Mexico stay unbeaten
If the Huskies pull out a win over Xavier today we’ll enter 2023 with three unbeatens, but I predict that by January we’ll be down to zero. Conference play can take anybody down, except sometimes Gonzaga.
CBSsports recaps college hoops 2022 with 22 best stories
Great article by Matt Norlander looking back at this year’s best in CBB. I remember #16 from last February, when the #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6 ranked teams all lost on the same day! Aircraft carrier basketball was definitely a highlight also, and his #12 story of Louisville’s complete free-fall since the turn of the calendar gave me a chuckle as well of course. Definitely a historic NCAA Tournament last March in several ways too, with stories from that taking the top two spots. Here’s hoping 2023 is just as fun!