We notched our first winner of the season as the Kentucky Wildcats notched an easier-than-expected victory over Duke. A couple observations from that game:
First, Kentucky is WAY better than I imagined. I knew they would be very good to great. I didn’t think they had the highest ceiling of any team in the country. Not to over-react to one game, but this team clearly has the highest ceiling of any team in the country. Kentucky at max potential is better than Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, etc…
Secondly, Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are the best backcourt in the country. Maryland will be good with Trimble and Soulaman and Carter, Wichita State’s Van Vleet and Baker are nice. But Kentucky is insane. Jamal Murray looked Top-Five lottery good yesterday and Ulis might be the best point guard in the country (sorry Kris Dunn, Marcus Paige and Melo Trimble). I had NO IDEA how massive the upgrade they’ve made this year in that department over the departed Harrison twins.
Lastly, this could be Kentucky’s smartest team under Coach Cal. They may not have a Boogie Cousins/Anthony Davis level talent, but they are close. The difference for me is that backcourt and floor presence of Ulis. I think he is the best pure point Coach Cal has had and I am excited to see him develop throughout the season.
Other news around college hoops – Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine put his name in (way too) early Naismith contention by leading his team to a win over Kansas with a triple-double. Tulsa beating Wichita State in Tulsa is not an upset. Neither was George Washington beating UVA. Both teams are good and beat other good teams with a healthy home court advantage putting win in their sails. The Valpo win at Rhode Island is huge. They now own wins over Iona and Rhode Island, both will be Top 100 wins with potential of being Top 50 wins. That could help them wear home uniforms when the NCAA Tourney tips off…
Let’s build a winning streak with another win today.
Today’s Free Pick:
Cincinnati Bearcats -14 at Bowling Green
It feels almost like a favor that Cincinnati would be willing to play a game at Bowling Green, and in another year, it might be a dangerous favor. However, this year the Falcons present nearly no threat to the vastly superior Bearcats. Bowling Green is picked to be one of the worst teams in the MAC, which is a struggling conference to begin with having fallen well below other mid-major leagues over the past five to seven years. It’s going to be a long season in Northern Ohio and getting blasted in their own gym by their more famous neighbors to the South won’t be pleasant.
Cincinnati absolutely beat the daylights out of Robert Morris 106-44 in their opener, and Bowling Green is probably a shade worse than Bobby Mo. It should be a long night of smothering pressure and a turnover-fest in UC’s favor. Bowling Green handily beat New Orleans in their opener, but it is a whole different level of athlete and tenacity coming to town tonight.
I like Cincinnati to jump on the Falcons early and not let up. Look for a 20-plus point Bearcat victory tonight on the road.