| USA TODAY
Men’s college basketball teams continue to accumulate games in a season in which cancellations and postponements have become the norm amid coronavirus pandemic concerns.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and several other high-profile coaches have called for the 2020-21 season to be re-evaluated but games continue to be played around the country. So schools have taken matters into their own hands, with the Blue Devils canceling their final non-conference games to allow players the opportunity to be with their families during Christmas.
What that means is that Duke’s two-week extended break will cost a blue-blood program a strand of likely wins that would have bolstered its March Madness profile and NET score.
There will be plenty of teams like Duke come Selection Sunday that will have five or so less games (the season was already pushed back two weeks with less games this year), likely hindering their seeding line based on overall credentials.
The Wildcats (1-4) continue to lead this list following a 64-63 loss to Notre Dame – the team’s fourth in a row. Kentucky looks to be at its best when it’s full-court pressing teams and coach John Calipari said after the loss to the Irish, “maybe that’s who we are.” That quote alone illustrates the lack of identity this youth-laden roster continues to wrestle with early on, as the pathway back to .500 is steep heading into a non-conference game against UCLA and then their SEC slate.
Will this UK squad miss the NCAAs like Calipari’s 2012-13 team? Unless things get better soon that’s the obvious trajectory.
MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHES POLL: Top 5 remains the same; West Virginia makes big jump up
The Sun Devils (4-3) fell out of the Coaches Poll top 25 this week after starting as the preseason No. 17 team with high expectations to contend for the Pac-12 title. Coach Bobby Hurley’s team lost to UTEP (a team that ranks in the 190s of the NET) in a game that saw ASU get out-rebounded by 20 and shoot 1-for-18 from beyond the arc. The program’s résumé isn’t hurt by losses to Villanova or San Diego State, but those were missed opportunities that could’ve kept ASU further in the national equation. Freshman Josh Christopher has made an instant impact but this team chemistry has not been perfected yet.
The Shockers (2-2) couldn’t have had a worse start to the 2020-21 season, with longtime coach Gregg Marshall parting ways with the school ahead of the season amid abuse allegations and then the program being forced to play its first several weeks with a bare-bones roster due to positive COVID-19 tests. Then factor in last Saturday’s last-second loss to Oklahoma State (freshman Cade Cunningham hit a game-winner with 9.8 seconds left) and it’s as if any semblance of hope for interim coach Isaac Brown’s team this year continues to wane.
The Bluejays were a preseason top 10 team and looked the part early on, even in a one-point loss to Kansas on Dec. 8. That’s largely due to a veteran roster. But Sunday’s loss to Marquette showed some flaws that coach Greg McDermott’s team will need to remedy to be a Big East contender. McDermott told reporters after the game: “I’ve got a locker room of really mature guys. When they watch the film, it’s not going to whisper to them, it’s going to scream to them the areas we are falling short.”
The Blue Devils’ 2-2 non-conference start – with home losses to Michigan State and Illinois – was its worst since the 1999-2000 season and this week saw Duke tumble 12 spots in the Coaches Poll top 25. That’s why Wednesday’s ACC opener vs. Notre Dame was a crucial victory the program needed with no 2020 games until Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.