The NFL and college football crowned their champions, with the Los Angeles Rams and the University of Georgia winning the titles. Winter Olympics in the rearview mirror. And the start of the Major League Baseball season is in flux due to a insurance.
But the men’s college basketball season is starting to heat up, with the NCAA tournament scheduled to begin on March 15 before concluding with the Final Four in New Orleans in early April.
Here’s a look at the major themes of the college season so far.
Gonzaga is the team to beat again.
Since Gonzaga is in the West Coast Conference—which means most of its games are broadcast late at night on the East Coast—not many people get to see the Bulldogs until March.
But a year after their only loss of the season In the NCAA Championship Match Against Baylor, the Bulldogs are the favorites once again to win their first title. They ranked first in an Associated Press poll and in Ken Pomeroy ratingsAnd when the NCAA Division I men’s basketball announced its Top 16 prediction for Sunday, Gonzaga was in first place overall.
Unlike last season, the Bulldogs (23-2, 12-0 WCC) would not enter the National Championship unbeaten because they lost to Duke and Alabama, but they did win 16 games in a row and actually conclude their 10th consecutive season of the FIFA World Cup. nickname.
With four teams likely to be sent to the NCAA tournament this year, Gonzaga coach Mark Few said “unbeaten is a huge accomplishment.”
Entering Tuesday, the Bulldogs led Division I with a score of 89.5 points per game — and once again, the team will likely put in at least 85 or 90 points for a chance to upset them in March. Five Gonzaga players boast double-digit scoring rates, led by skilled forward Drew Tim (18.0 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game) and 7-foot freshman sensation Chet Holmgren, who averages 14.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game. Toy. The game is expected to be in the top three in this summer’s NBA draft. In a year without many elite guards at the top of college basketball, Gonzaga’s senior quarterback Andrew Nimbard, who averages 10.9 points and 5.7 assists, may be the floor’s smartest general.
The blue-blooded Duke of Kansas and Kentucky are all rivals.
Last year, the Duke of Kentucky Missed the NCAA Championship the same year For the first time since 1976. KS, the other powerhouse, made the No. 3 ranked tournament but it was so Destroyed, 85-51, by Southern Californiaseeded No. 11, in the second round.
This season, the Three Blue Bloods are back, and they all have a legitimate chance to make it to the Final Four and compete for the title.
Kansas, 23-4, 12-2 in its conference after beating Kansas State by 19 points on Tuesday, sits atop the Big 12, boosted by National Player of the Year nominee Ochai Agbaji, who averages 20.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. She is ranked number one—along with Gonzaga, Auburn and Arizona—by the Division I men’s basketball committee, whose membership includes athletic directors and conference commissioners.
Duke and Kentucky, who feature an impressive mix of singles novices alongside experienced senior players, are both ranked No. 2.
Mike Krzyzewski, 75, He coaches his last season at Duke (23-4, 13-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) and he appears to have all the weapons he needs to compete for the program’s sixth championship.
The Blue Devils have five selectable players in the first round of the NBA draft, led by 6-foot-10 freshman Paulo Panchero, a predictable pick among the top three with an average of 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game; junior winger Wendell Moore Jr. (13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists); And new goalkeeper Trevor Kells (12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds).
Keels recently said that this year’s team had “better talent” and “better depth” than the 2014-15 NCAA Championship-winning Duke team — and that it could “definitely” cut the net.
Kentucky, which lost by 8 points to Duke in November at Madison Square Garden and blew Kansas out on the road by 18 points in January, has a chance of winning the title as it blends elite Novices like point guard Ty Washington, averaging 12.4 points and 4.1 assists in each Matches, with older players and transfers.
Oscar Chebwee, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound junior transition from West Virginia who was dubbed “The Mountain Disguised as a Man” by a talented scout Tom Konchalsky, averaging 16.4 points per game and best 15.2 rebounds in Division One. He is a prominent contender for the John R. Wooden and Naismith, awarded to the best college basketball players.
Kentucky (22-5, 11-3 Southeast Conference) has a variety of other guns: Kellan Grady, a Davidson graduate transfer, averaging 12.3 points per game while shooting 45.1 percent from a 3-point range, and Sapphire Wheeler, a junior transfer From Georgia, he is a fast driver with an average of 9.6 points and 7.1 assists.
Many first year coaches have their teams in competition.
When the list of the 15 coaches competing for the Naismith Coach of the Year award was released last week, some family names who have run their programs for years appeared: Gonzaga’s Few, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl. Few of Drew and Pearl’s teams have ranked first in an Associated Press poll this season.
But two first-year coaches are also in the mix to win the award, and for deep prep in March: Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd and Texas Tech’s Mark Adams.
Lloyd, 47, came to Arizona from Gonzaga, where he was chief recruiting under a pinch, to replace Sean Miller, who had failed to reach the fourth final in his 12 years with the program and his team had been the subject of FBI and NCAA investigations.
All Lloyd did in his first season as head coach was lead the Wildcats (24-2, 14-1 Pac-12 Conference) to the top of the league standings with major contributions from NBA Lottery prospect Benedict Mathurin, a 6-foot-6 native from Montreal with an average 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Adams, 65, was promoted to technical director at Texas Tech in April after Chris Bird left for Texas. Despite losing several players in the transfers, Adams rebuilt the roster, and the ninth Red Raiders (21-6, 10-4 Big 12) earned two wins each over Texas and Baylor, the national title holders.
“He’s always wanted to get the best of us, and he’s doing really well now,” said young goalkeeper Terrence Shannon Jr.
Some big-name coaches and programs are making headlines — and not in a good way.
Joanne Howard, Benny Hardaway, and Patrick Ewing have a lot in common: they’ve all starred in the NBA and are now coaching at their university.
They all struggle in different ways at the college level.
Howard, the Michigan coach, was too Five matches suspended and a $40,000 fine Monday after Wisconsin assistant coach slapped in the head In the handshake line after losing a blast to Badger on Sunday. Howard, who has apologized and will be eligible to return to the Big Ten Conference, said he was upset by the late deadline called by Wisconsin coach Greg Gard while the Badgers were leading by double digits.
Veteran coach Phil Martelli will lead the Michigan team (14-11, 8-7 Big Ten), which represents the bubble in the NCAA after finishing fourth in the rest of the regular season.
In Memphis, Hardaway spoke candidly about his aspirations to win the National Championships, and the Tigers were among the pre-season favorites after Hardaway convinced superstar recruits Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren to reclassify and sign up this season as a freshman. But Bates, once compared to young Kevin Durant, struggled early and hasn’t played since late January due to a back injury. Without the Bates, the Tigers (15-9, 9-5 American Athletic Conference) won six straight games before losing to Southern Methodist on Sunday. They have impressive wins over Alabama and Houston but remain in the NCAA Championship bubble.
In Georgetown, Ewing and Hoyas are making history — and not in a good way. They lost 16 games in a row and hit 6-20 and 0-15 in the Big East Conference. One year after winning the Conference Championship, Georgetown is trying to avoid becoming the first big East team to finish 0-19 in a league game.
Major transmissions play an important role again.
When Baylor won the NCAA title last spring, the team started two transfers (Davion Mitchell and Maceo Teague) and took two more off the bench (Adam Flagler and Jonathan Chamoa Chachoa). Gonzaga began another transfer, Nembhard, into the guard position in his run toward the title match.
Given that more than 1,700 players entered the NCAA transfer gate after last season, don’t be surprised to see them play a role in teams moving deep into March. Gonzaga, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas Tech all have major diversions on their roster. After losing three players to the Pros, Baylor brought former Arizona and Georgetown guard James Akingo, who averages 13.2 points and 5.8 assists, to the Bears’ 10th.
At Auburn (24-3, 12-2 seconds), Pearl may have won the jackpot with the additions of Walker Kessler (North Carolina), K.D. Johnson (Georgia), Wendell Green Jr. (Eastern Kentucky) and Zeb Jasper (Office College) Charleston. ).
The 7-foot-1 Kessler teamed up with Jabari Smith, a potential No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, to give the Tigers a fearsome front streak that some NBA teams would envy. After averaging 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks as a freshman with the Tar Heels, Kesler averaged 12.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and best 4.6 blocks in Division One. In his recent win at Texas A&M, Kessler had a triple-double with 12 points, 12 cuts, and 11 rebounds.