Daily Word: Takeaways from UNC-Louisville
Every weekday, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.
1. What was the biggest takeaway from Sunday's North Carolina-Louisville game: how well Carolina played or how poorly Louisville performed?
Andy Katz: North Carolina's performance deserves more praise than the concerns raised by Louisville's inability to defend in transition and inside. Those can be fixed. UNC has a go-to scorer in Marcus Paige and two potential rising stars inside in Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks. This was as important a nonconference win as the Tar Heels have had under Roy Williams since winning the national title in 2009.
Dana O'Neil: I'll be the glass half empty here. I was flat-out stunned at how poorly Louisville played, especially defensively. This was the first real test of the season for the Cards, and they failed miserably, especially with their bread and butter. Their transition defense was lazy, their interior defense nonexistent. I'm pretty certain practice will be oodles of fun this week for Louisville, so I suspect these issues to be addressed, if not solved, quickly.
Myron Medcalf: I was impressed by UNC and the production that the Tar Heels' young bigs gave them in a huge game. Johnson and Meeks were forces inside, especially because Montrezl Harrell struggled with foul trouble all afternoon. Meeks and Johnson could give the Tar Heels an edge in the ACC if they continue to play that way.
2. The team with the most to gain in Maui is ...?
Katz: Dayton. The Flyers have a legit shot to knock off Gonzaga in the first game, and if that happens, the Flyers could be on their way to a Maui final. If Gonzaga or Syracuse wins the championship, then it's essentially going as scripted. Baylor is lurking as a sleeper team, as well. But a Bears victory wouldn't be as shocking, either. Dayton can make the biggest statement in Maui.
O'Neil: Dayton. The Atlantic 10 is looking for some new teams to fill the void, and the Flyers can be one of them. If Dayton can pull off a few upsets -- even an opening win against Gonzaga -- that would earn the Flyers some props and perhaps put them on the path to be a legit contender in the league.
Medcalf: I say Minnesota. The Gophers could be the next underdog to knock off a Top 25 squad this week. In a matter of months, Richard Pitino has implemented his pressure style and rapid attack. It's hard to see much on film from a team that has implemented a new system in the past few weeks. That could make Minnesota dangerous in Maui.
3. If you had to pick one point guard to run your team, whom would you take?
Katz: The NBA decision-makers are looking at Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart as a playmaking big guard who can play the point. So I will defer to their expertise and would want Smart running the team. He can do a bit of everything at the position, and he's the best winner in college basketball this season.
O'Neil: Smart is the easy choice for good reason. He's terrific, arguably the best player in the country, freshmen be damned. If I needed to pick his backup, I'd go with Aaron Craft for his combination of defense and leadership.
Medcalf: It's obviously Smart. But I'll take Alabama's Trevor Releford as my No. 2. I'm not sure any other point guard is carrying more weight than he is right now.
Games To Watch
Five games, five Julius Randle double-doubles. Can you say six? The Kentucky freshman has started his career with 20.8 points per game and 13.4 rebounds a night.
Arizona State has started the season 5-0, but the Sun Devils will be tested this week. First up is Marquette, with a Thanksgiving Day matchup with Creighton looming later in the week.
This could be a dangerous game for Gonzaga. Dayton is coming off a 10-point road win against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs haven't yet been challenged this season, but that's likely about to change.
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