Nate Oats has this Alabama team clicking all cylinders as their off to a 6-0 start in SEC. They have one of the most potent offenses in college basketball. The growth and development of Herbert Jones has been impressive. John Petty has become a way more efficient player and scorer for Alabama. Additionally, Jaden Shackleford gives great dependability as the go-to perimeter shooter with good size. Now, they have always been a problem offensively, but now this team is defending at a high level holding a really good Arkansas offense to 59 points. The key for Alabama will be getting back Jordan Bruner as they need a true consistent big at some point. As of right now, the top of the SEC is Alabama and Tennessee who are in line for top seeds in the NCAA tournament.
If only this Miami team could get healthy. The absence of Chris Lykes, Kameron McGusty and Earl Timberlake has been big. However, Miami missing these players has led to the development of Isaiah Wong who had a tremendous 30 point game in the win over Louisville. Next, Wong’s ability to be the lead guard along with rebounding at a high level has been key. Also, Elijah Olaniyi has stepped up for Miami providing scoring and toughness to the perimeter. The emergence of Matt Cross off the bench has given them a stretch forward who can make shots consistently. Jim Larranaga has put Miami in a position, that once they get healthy they will make a major run within the ACC being one of the best teams.
The Virginia team that everyone is accustomed to showed up on Saturday at Clemson with an impressive performance. Virginia’s ability to defend like they’re accustomed to showed up, as they held Clemson to 50 points. Now, their ability to get more balance offensively was key with Tomas Woldentensae and Trey Murphy making perimeter shots. Jay Huff has brought the ability to contribute to all aspects of scoring, passing and rebounding. Along with, the consistent play of Kihei Clark establishing the Virginia offense. The most important factor for Virginia will be the ability of Sam Hauser to lead the way offensively. The identity of Virginia starts defensively and they must reach the top of the ACC and keep improving on the offensive end. Virginia has a great opportunity to win yet another ACC regular-season title.
Ohio State Grit
Ohio State has the strength in numbers to be very difficult within the Big Ten play. This starts with the play of E.J. Liddell and the tone he sets each game. Additionally, his ability to be dominant around the basket with his size and touch is impressive along with his ability to step away and make shots. The shot-making of Justin Ahrens makes him the ultimate x-factor for Ohio State with his clutch ability. The toughness of Kyle Young sets a tone for Ohio State on both ends giving great intensity and energy. Now, the development of the depth has been big for Ohio State with Seth Towns and Zed Key stepping up. The versatility of Justice Sueing has been really valuable for Ohio State on the wing. Also, having Duane Washington giving them great experience in the backcourt with his shot-making is big. This Ohio State team once CJ Walker returns will be a tough team for teams to compete against. Chris Holtmann has done a very good job building the depth and keeping this team towards the top of the Big Ten.
Purdue is starting to play really well in the Big Ten and Matt Painter has continued to show the ability to develop players. Now, Trevion Williams is their go-to player establishing the post dominance with his touch around the rim. Additionally, the guard play has confined to improve with Brandon Newman and Eric Hunter bringing the ability to score and have the size to be factors defensively. Furthermore, the development of the freshman has been a major part of the success of Mason Gills and Jaden Ivey improving. Also, being able to go to Zach Edey on the bench causing issues for other teams to the matchup. Next, the reliability of having a knockdown shooter in Sasha Stefanovic is a huge factor for Purdue. Overall, Purdue is putting themselves to be in the NCAA tournament and be a team that gets better with each game.
Images Courtesy of, CBS Sports, Cleveland.com, The Miami Hurricane
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