The tides have turned for this Kentucky team and they are sitting at 3-0 in SEC play. They went into Florida and came away with a strong performance dominating on both ends. Furthermore, the development of Dontaie Allen giving Kentucky a 3-point shooter has provided a spark to Kentucky. The ability to get consistent play from Davion Mintz has been important to their backcourt. Additionally, the depth of Jacob Toppin and Isaiah Jackson has been very reliable with their roles looking to expand. Also, getting Keion Brooks back from injury gave them physicality at the wing position and it was needed greatly. Most importantly, the continued growth of B.J. Boston, Terrance Clarke and Devin Askew will determine Kentucky’s ceiling. John Calipari has this team in a position to keep getting better and continue to make noise in the SEC.
Mick Cronin has kept the momentum from a year ago in the PAC-12 to this season starting 5-0. Further, the ability to overcome the loss of Chris Smith has been telling for the overall growth of this UCLA team. Their success starts with Tyger Campbell who’s playmaking and on-ball defense sets the tone for UCLA. Having Jamie Jaquez and Johnny Juzang gives UCLA the ability to make big shots. The toughness of Cody Riley is really important defensively and on the boards. The emergence of Jules Bernard has been important stepping up for the loss of Chris Smith. UCLA is in a position to win the PAC 12 regular-season title.
Juwan Howard has this Michigan team clicking on both sides of the floor at a high level. Now, it has to begin with Hunter Dickinson who has been a problem for opposing defenses. Furthermore, his ability to be efficient around the rim and having a really good feel makes him one of the best players in the country. Isaiah Livers provides great experience, but also has the ability to make big-time plays and shots for Michigan and rebounds effectively. The versatility of Franz Wagner gives defenses trouble to match up with him and he can operate very effectively. The guard play of Michigan is a massive part of their success with the tempo they play with. Eli Brook’s ability to cause havoc defensively is super impressive against opposing guards. Michigan at 10-0 has a big-time game on Tuesday against Wisconsin.
The struggles for Arizona State playing with COVID restrictions has contributed to their 4-5 start. Missing Remy Martin for the past two games has had a major impact on their ability to win against UCLA and USC. Having players like Jalen Graham, Jaelen House and Kimani Lawrence miss multiple games has not been ideal. Therefore, they have been very dependent on the play of Marcus Bagley and Josh Christopher to lead the way, along with, guard-heavy production with Alonzo Verge and Holland Woods. The transfer of Romello White has had a major impact on Arizona State’s ability to contain interior players consistently. Arizona State needs to get back to full strength to make a run in the PAC-12.
The ACC is searching for a team to emerge at the top of the conference. The struggles at North Carolina and Duke have been there with inconsistent play on the offensive end. Virginia has not delivered on the defensive end like in years’ past and offensively trying to find an identity. The ACC has teams like Clemson and Virginia Tech exceeding expectations and playing at a high level. Additionally, Miami could have one of the best teams in the ACC if they could ever get healthy. If the traditional powers within the conference right the ship this conference could turn out to have seven teams in the NCAA tournament with the ability to make noise.
Images Courtesy of, 247 Sports, ESPN.com, USA Today
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