Feast Week. #FeastWeek. A week for feasting, not on food, but on basketball. It was a hell of a week, with multiple great games every night. I enjoyed that they staggered the Maui Invitational, the Battle 4 Atlantis and the PK80 over the course of the week so we got the premier tournaments every day for like seven or eight days straight. That was awesome. It was crazy too! Arizona lost three games in a row inside of a ballroom somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean! Finding the lost city of Atlantis is literally more likely to happen than Arizona losing three games in a row. Wild. It was such a fun week, something that should happen every year. And it does, to an extent, but this year felt like the basketball was much better, the tournaments were more competitive and there was SO MUCH basketball on Thanksgiving. I got up from the couch four times. Three times were to get food, and once was to go to the bathroom. Other than that, basketball.
Arguably the best tournament of the week was the PK80. Actually, I don’t think you can make an argument that it wasn’t. The Florida-Gonzaga OT thriller, the Duke-Florida championship, the Michigan State-UNC – well, not that one. But the thing is, that was the only one that’ll happen as far as we know. I’ve seen numerous basketball pundits around the media say the same thing I’m about to: please have this again. And I don’t want to wait for the PK90. This should be a yearly event. There are plenty of elite Nike schools to fill out the brackets (however, make the champions of each bracket play each other. Please). I’m sure they’d love to be involved every other year or every few years or something. I’m also fine with making it an eight-team event if that makes it easier to pull off. And then for the PK85 and PK90 (I feel like I’m assuming a lot here), have 16 teams for the special occasion. I don’t know. However it has to happen, please, Nike. Make it so. We loved this.
Let’s get to some questions.
“Is Texas A&M the clear favorite for the SEC with some impressive early season wins” – Brett Siegel
Yes! Well, sort of. Florida has been excellent as well so it’s really a two-team race. To be completely honest, I had A&M winning the SEC before the season even started, so maybe I’m too biased to be asked this, but they’ve looked phenomenal thus far. They dismantled Press Virginia on opening night, a veteran team with a suffocating defense that got broken open, and went to SoCal and beat the brakes off of USC, another top-15 team. Not necessarily the most talented in the SEC, but they have a great combination of talent and experience, something we know is invaluable in this game. DJ Hogg has been lights out from beyond the arc, shooting 52.5 percent, after shooting below 37 percent in each of his first two seasons. That’s his calling card, and while it doesn’t necessarily feel sustainable, if he’s scoring well, the Aggies aren’t losing. Tyler Davis and future NBA-lottery pick Robert Williams are the best backcourt in the conference, maybe in the country, and Admon Gilder has been stuffing the stat sheet every night (12.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.5 apg). Marquette graduate transfer Duane Wilson has been a revelation, finally a dependable point guard to take control of the offense. The talent was there for the Aggies last year, but they lacked flow, and now Wilson and a more-experienced Gilder are making the offense click. I don’t think there’s a more complete team in the conference, but Florida is right there in terms of talent. Their collapse against Duke was hardly an indictment of their team, it was more of a concerted effort by the Blue Devils to wake up and score some points. It’ll be an exciting race between the two, but I don’t really expect anyone to challenge either. The Gators travel to College Station on January 2, which should be a top-10 matchup.
“Does MSU have any competition in the Big 10?” – Trevor Deimel
Sort of? Michigan State is by far the best team in the Big Ten. I don’t think it’s very close. But there are a couple teams, namely Minnesota and Purdue, that I think could come within a game or two of the Spartans and if Sparty were to falter in their conference slate by just a game, they could be looking up at someone else. Minnesota is much closer to MSU’s stratosphere than Purdue so we’ll start with them. I know that they had five players get outscored by three Alabama players on Saturday (yeah, that was really weird), but I’m not worried. You’d get outscored by Collin Sexton alone if you had four of your friends try and help guard him! Anyways, if the season ended today, Jordan Murphy would have a legitimate case for National Player of the Year. He has been insanely goo, averaging 22 points and 12.3 rebounds per contest. While Murphy has been the highlight reel, Nate Mason, Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch are some of the best at their positions in the conference. Lynch might be the best shot blocker in the country. They’ve got a good supporting cast as well, some good shooters and a tough building to play in. They can absolutely challenge the Spartans for the top spot in the conference.
As for Purdue, they’re less likely to, but still a chance. Despite their poor showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis, they just beat Louisville tonight, so they’re bouncing back. Heck, their only win in Atlantis was a trouncing of Arizona! I don’t care how bad ‘Zona looked in the tournament, they’re a great team, and that’s a great win. Purdue is filled with good shooters and good defenders, two keys to winning games, so I like their chances. Plus, they have 7-2 Isaac Haas down low, and he’s backed up by 7-3 Matt Haarms. They’ve got length for days down in the post. Their certainly not the favorites for the conference but they’re a very good team and very well coached (I think Matt Painter is very underrated), so if things really fall their way, their a veteran group that can take it for themselves.
“Is Mike White a prospect to replace Coach K?” – Brad Kreppel
Hmmm…Interesting. This is something that actually crossed my mind Sunday night during the PK80 championship that featured Duke and Florida (Motion, Victory, I don’t know what bracket). I’m sure that’s when it crossed yours too, Brad. You see, folks, Duke Athletic Director Kevin White…is Mike White’s dad! Wow! What an emotional moment for him to have to cheer against his son (you know damn well he wasn’t going to cheer against Duke). I wonder how that conversation went afterwards.
Actually, it went quite nicely:
Anyways, I did get to thinking about this after I learned of Mike White’s association with the program. I’m going to guess no, and here’s why: Kevin White has been at Duke since 2008. Mike Krzyzewski has been at Duke since 1980. Advantage, K. If he’s retiring, he’s absolutely having the final say in who replaces him. He’s built that program coaching a certain way, and he’ll want to leave it in the hands of someone he’s coached or worked with to continue with that way. He’s had guys under his wing that are all more connected to the job already than White (Jeff Capel, Chris Collins, John Scheyer, many more). Plus, White’s only been at Florida for two years and been to the NCAA Tournament once in his career. Do I think he’ll be a good coach? Yes, definitely. Do I think he’ll be qualified enough to land the Duke job as an outsider once it becomes available? I do not.
Speaking of which…
“Is Coach K on the hot seat?” – Sean Bock
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