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College Basketball

5 Observations From College Basketball’s Return

The 2020-21 college basketball season is back, and while this isn’t the time to make any definitive claims, here are 5 observations after the first two days of the season. 

The 2021 title is the Zags’ to lose

Last season, Gonzaga spent four weeks at No. 1 and seven weeks at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll, which is where it finished in the final rankings. This year they’ve been placed No. 1 in preseason polls and are +800 to win March Madness. Thursday evening, the Bulldogs showed a glimpse as to why they’re number one in the nation. In a 12 point win over No. 6 Kansas, the Zags had a solid performance, displaying a great offensive balance. They outscored the Jayhawks 30-14 in the paint and made 5/10 three-pointers. They also made 68 percent of their shots in the first half (21 of 31). With freshman guard Jalen Suggs leading the way with 24 points, the Bulldogs proved they have a high ceiling this year.

SDSU’s trademark defense is back

After a tremendous 30-2 season in 2019, the No. 6 Aztecs were expecting their highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. After losing several key players and being unranked in preseason polls, SDSU came face to face with No. 22 UCLA. The Azetcs were able to use their physical defense during the first half to force UCLA into 10 turnovers and a scoring drought to come away with a 15-point win.

Luka Garza is right back where he left off

Coming off an unstoppable junior season, Luka Garza finished as a Naismith Player of the Year Trophy Finalist and ESPN National Player of the Year. The 6-foot-11 Iowa big man picked up right where he left off Wednesday evening. Garza led Iowa to a 97-67 victory over North Carolina Central with 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in only 24 minutes played. 

Some speculation for Kentucky has diminished

Everyone knows Kentucky has a talented squad this season. They added multiple true freshmen and Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr. The only doubt they’ve had stems from their experience: they’ll be starting four freshmen. Despite the uncertainty, No. 10 Kentucky came out strong in their first matchup, dominating Morehead State in a 81-45 home win. The four starting freshmen combined for 46 points. Brandon Boston Jr. led the way with 15 points. Devin Askew and Terrence Clarke both accounted for 12 points and Isaiah Jackson contributed nine points and two blocks.

Look out for Illinois’ backcourt

The season opener was about as good as it could’ve been for Illinois. The Fighting Illini cruised past North Carolina A&T in a 122-60 victory. Preseason All-American Ayo Dosunmu scored a career-high 28 points and made a career-high five 3-pointers. By his side was freshman Adam Miller, who contributed 28 points and knocked down six of his eight 3-point attempts. Miller would go to shoot 10 of 12 from the field. Dosunmu and Miller, who were teammates at Morgan Park High School in Chicago three years ago, looked pretty comfortable playing with one another Wednesday afternoon. Alongside Kofi Cockburn and a solid roster, the backcourt duo will be looking to take home a Big Ten Title and possibly a national championship. 

 

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