We are just a few weeks away from the March Madness and things are starting to heat up. Kansas, with two of the top five players in the country, looks to be the team to beat. They are young, however, and we’ve all seen young Bill Self teams self-destruct in the past. Nadir Tharpe may be the most important player on the team, even more so than Andrew Wiggens and Joel Embid. If he struggles with his shot, Kansas can get beat. If he plays like he has on Monday, they will roll.
Kansas clinched its 10th straight regular season basketball title in the Big 12 with their win over Oklahoma. While the Big 12 outside of Kansas may have had some down years and done little damage in the tournament, it is still impressive that the Jayhawks have maintained excellence for so long. Elite programs usually have some hiccups along the way. Kentucky was an NIT team last year, and struggled with Billy Gillispie at the helm. Arizona was really bad for a time. UCLA has also had some down years. North Carolina, Louisville, even Duke has gone into the tank at some time. Not so with Kansas. Outstanding coaching job by Bill Self. At some point in time, the NBA will come calling.
My play for today: Cal at Arizona
Arizona has hit the skids recently, winning games but struggling in the process. They are coming off a dominating win at Colorado on Saturday, and returning home after a three game stretch on the road. Arizona will have revenge on their mind as California gave them their first loss of the season on February 1st. Arizona since lost their big man Brandon Ashley and it has had to adjust to a new rotation. Head Coach Sean Miller has moved hot-shooting Gabe York in the starting lineup. York gives Arizona another perimeter shooter that they have been looking for. The bench is starting to develop as well. Freshmen Hollis-Jefferson and fellow freshman Elloit Pitts are now getting comfortable and this is a statement game for Arizona after battling on the road for the last two weeks.
Cal has been inconsistent all season. They were crushed by UCLA last Wednesday at home, then easily handled a mediocre USC team on Sunday, winning at home 77-64. Cal held Arizona to their worst shooting performance of the season when they upset the Wildcats; that won’t happen tonight. Arizona turns it up a notch on defense at home, holding opponents to 36% shooting from the floor and allowing only 54 points per game.