Virginia Tech is having a tremendous season and Mike Young is putting them in a position to be towards the top of the ACC. The win over Virginia was yet another statement win on this season for this team positioning for a high seed in the NCAA tournament. The growth and development of Keve Aluma as a player has been sensational with him being the focal point of their success averaging 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. Next, the defense has a step up in a major way slowing down a streaking Virginia offense.
Also, Nahiem Alleyne has been very productive on the offensive end giving them a guard with size who can create. Additionally, Hunter Cattoor has been a major contributor off the bench with his 3-point shooting. The guard play of Wabissa Bede and Jalen Cone is undersized but their overall ability to a contributor in multiple areas is key. This Virginia Tech team will continue to improve with the leadership of Young and if Tyrece Radford returns it would give this team even more.
Lon Kruger could have the most under the radar program in the country that consistently produces. Oklahoma has a strong stretch beating Alabama, Kansas, and Texas. The toughness and consistency of De’Vion Harmon are very key for Oklahoma’s success on both ends. Next, the shot-making of Umoja Gibson has been critical to the offensive capability of Oklahoma. Also, having Brady Manek come off the bench gives Oklahoma greater depth and a big that stretches the defense. The growth of Elijah Harkless will continue to be key for Oklahoma and having a go-to guy like Austin Reaves is imperative in big-time games. Oklahoma will be in a really good position come to the NCAA tournament with their offensive capabilities.
Michigan State Struggles
The struggles at Michigan State have continued with two big losses against Ohio State and Rutgers. Their 22-year streak of making the NCAA tournament is in jeopardy unless they can get big-time wins in the Big Ten. The lack of an identity at the point guard position has been a problem throughout the season. Additionally, the growth and development of Aaron Henry and Joey Hauser hasn’t taken the leap that was needed for this Michigan State team. They don’t have that same physicality in the paint on a consistent basis and aren’t dangerous in transition. This team must have a strong February and early March to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
This Duke team is showing life in the ACC coming off of wins over Clemson and Georgia Tech. Furthermore, the return of Jalen Johnson has been imperative for Duke. Johnson brings versatility and the ability to be a difficult matchup for opposing teams. Continued, the play of Matthew Hurt has been very good with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and mid-post. As well as, getting more consistent guard play from Jeremy Roach and D.J. Steward providing scoring and more stability. The growth and development of Wendell Moore must continue to give Duke a true wing. Moore needs to be able to score and defend at a high level. Further, the tone is set by Jordan Goldwire with his defensive ability and making winning plays throughout. Duke will need to have a strong February and early March to make the NCAA tournament, but they are on their way.
North Carolina Emergence
This North Carolina team has started to figure things out as they have won six out of seven. The frontcourt is growing into its expectation of Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot being efficient offensively, as well as having Day’Ron Sharpe being able to be mobile attacking the basket. Next, the development of Caleb Love has been progressing and will need to continue for North Carolina’s potential. Also, the shot-making of Kerwin Walton has been vital given the lack of shot-makers for North Carolina. The overall growth and development of the North Carolina freshman will make them an interesting team as this season finishes out.
Images Courtesy of, Duke Athletics, Roanoke Times, Sports Illustrated
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