The first week of the year has been characterized by a flurry of surprises, trends and overreactions. In this article we take a look at what’s next for society in 2021, from Brexit to economic turmoil to how social media is used as political battlegrounds.
The “college basketball predictions 2021-22” is a trend that has been present for a while. The surprise is that the overreactions are all negative.
The 2021-22 men’s collegiate basketball season is just a week old, yet there have already been shocks, disappointments, victory laps, and incorrect forecasts. While you may argue that it is too early to judge anything, I would argue that there is no better moment for overreactions and snap judgments.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was set to be a star after one weekend of the 2020-21 season, and Illinois possessed maybe the finest backcourt in NCAA basketball. Kentucky, on the other hand, looked like a preseason top-15 team, while Arizona State was perhaps the most entertaining team in the nation. So, certainly, there will be some remarks that will later seem to be ill-advised hot takes. But, perhaps, we can keep them to a minimum.
Here’s a look at some of the surprising stories and possibly significant patterns from the opening week of the college basketball season, and if they’ll stick around for the next four months.
Trevion Williams of Purdue is transitioning from All-American contender to reserve.
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Is it going to last? There will always be difficulties following a coaching change, particularly if the system is new. Hubert Davis is definitely attempting to modernize the system by playing two conventional bigs together less than Roy Williams did in Chapel Hill, but this might result in some growing pains, even if the Tar Heels seem to be dangerous and efficient on offense. They won’t have much time to strengthen their defense in the coming weeks, with games against Purdue, Villanova or Tennessee, Michigan, and UCLA all on the schedule.
One coach who scouted North Carolina’s first two games noted, “They’re not as physically threatening inside.” “With the quality of those players [Dawson Garcia and Brady Manek], they seem to be more difficult to defend on the other end. Both are competent, have a high IQ, are quite talented, and they greatly assist them on the other end. But, with the exception of [Armando] Bacot, they’ll undoubtedly give up some physicality and rim protection. Their ball-screen defense was problematic versus Brown, and I felt Loyola did a better job than Brown, but you can take advantage of some things there with effective off-ball cutting and screening. They aren’t defensively where they need to be, but no one is.”
Despite Jason Preston’s departure, Ohio might be a better place.
Mark Sears has proven himself in the Jason Preston-shaped hole in Ohio. The Bobcats have a chance to go far if he can keep it up. Icon Sportswire/Frank Jansky
What exactly is going on? Last season, Ohio captivated the country by winning three games in three days to win the Mid-American Conference championship and then stunning 4-seed Virginia in the NCAA tournament first round. Jason Preston, a remarkable 6-4 point guard with incredible vision and playmaking skills who was selected early in the second round of the NBA draft, was the star of that Bobcats squad. What was Coach Jeff Boals’ strategy now that Preston was gone?
Obviously, turn to rotation guard Mark Sears. And it’s worked so far. Sears, who started just five games last season, has smoothly transitioned to point guard and has performed well. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 3.3 assists in three games, while shooting 75 percent from 3-point range. With victories against mid-major favorite Belmont and reigning Horizon champion Cleveland State, the Bobcats are 3-0 heading into Friday’s game at Kentucky.
Is it going to last? There are a few different perspectives on this. On the one hand, Ohio finished sixth in the Mid-American Conference last season, finishing 9-5 in conference play. So, certainly, the Bobcats are expected to finish with a better league record this season. On the other side, they finished the regular season with a six-game winning streak, advanced to the conference championship, and then defeated a strong Virginia team in the national tournament. Will the Bobcats be able to reach such heights this season? It’s tough to say for sure.
However, Sears has ensured that Ohio does not lose a beat when it comes to playmaking. Jason Carter, who played three seasons at Ohio before moving to Xavier for two seasons before returning to Athens, has provided a major help on the inside. And Ben Vander Plas is still one of the MAC’s most underappreciated players.
“What’s interesting about Mark is that he played at Hargrave Military Academy, so he’s played in huge games against high-level kids,” Boals told ESPN. “He is unfazed by anything. He’s a peaceful, laid-back child. Last year, he made just 29% of his 3s, but this summer, he remained and made 15,000 of them. He had a fantastic summer, and I believe the start of this season has instilled confidence in him.
“It’s a little strange. Many mid-major clubs can’t afford to lose their point guard to the NBA early and avoid a drop-off. Mark Sears is a wonderful addition to our team. Everyone, though, is a year older. They’ve been in the system for three years. We were so ball-screen-heavy last year, but this year we have the balance and depth.”
Is it true that the Atlantic 10 is a one-bid league?
Jaren Holmes sprints down the court on the fast break and finishes with a huge slam and a foul.
What exactly is going on? Since 2005, the Atlantic 10 has garnered two or more invites to every NCAA tournament, but it is on the verge of breaking that trend. Only three of the 14 teams have yet to lose a game. Richmond, ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll, was defeated by Utah State by an 11-point margin. Saint Louis, ranked third in the preseason, is 3-1, but Player of the Year contender Javonte Perkins is sidelined for the season due to injury, and the team was also blasted out by Memphis.
VCU, Dayton, and Davidson, the next three teams in the preseason poll, lost to Wagner, UMass Lowell, and San Francisco, respectively. Even St. Bonaventure, a preseason top-25 team that should be the league’s obvious favorite, needed a late 17-1 run against Canisius on Sunday to overcome a double-digit second-half deficit. The league’s start has been far from ideal.
Is it going to last? Teams in the Atlantic 10 still have time to improve their resumes before conference play starts, and Wednesday night was a big step in the right way. The night’s big victory came from George Mason, who defeated No. 20 Maryland on the road, while Rhode Island defeated Boston College and VCU defeated Vanderbilt. The last two victories won’t make a huge difference, but beating the Big Ten, ACC, and SEC on the same night is a big plus. The commencement of George Mason, in particular, is worth seeing. Under new coach Kim English, the Patriots are 4-0, including three blowout victories before to the win against the Terps.
In the future, Richmond may provide the greatest chance for a spectacular nonconference performance (apart from St. Bonaventure). The Spiders are a seasoned squad that will go to Drake to face a potential NCAA tournament team in the coming weeks before playing Maryland and either Louisville or Mississippi State in the Bahamas. They also have a game against NC State in December. Chris Mooney’s squad can’t afford any more nonconference blunders, but they’ll find a way to win. And, hey, if no one else apart from the Bonnies stands out, there’s always the conference tournament to sneak a second bid.
The “way-too-early 2022 college basketball rankings” is a list of surprises, trends and overreactions one week into the 2021. The list includes some teams that are ranked very high in the preseason polls.
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