College basketball is a game of momentum, and the next few years look to be no different. The NCAA Tournament will have its fair share of upsets, but it’s the teams that are expected to do well that are raising eyebrows for all the wrong reasons.
The ncaa basketball news is a publication that covers news in the NCAA. They have released their list of the biggest questions that will be answered in college basketball entering the 2021 season.
Gonzaga’s greatest question mark a year ago at this time was point guard performance. Mark Few had a lot of talent on his squad, but freshman Jalen Suggs was going to have a lot on his plate from the start, and neither Dominick Harris nor Aaron Cook were sure bets at point guard if Suggs went off the ball. Of course, the Bulldogs were able to get a waiver for Florida transfer point guard Andrew Nembhard just before the season began, and they went on to create perhaps the most efficient offense we’ve ever seen in a season.
Potential issues aren’t always simple to fix.
We prefer to think about best-case scenarios for teams when making preseason top 25s or Final Four predictions six months in ahead. Everything is on paper, where there is no chemistry and job assignment is a mystery. These activities are more about thinking broad picture rather than getting into the nitty-gritty of potential catastrophic errors.
But deadly faults are exactly why we’re here! Here are the eight questions we believe will shape the national championship debate in college basketball in 2021-22. Some questions may not be addressed until early April, but they will give you something to keep an eye on throughout the first few months of the season:
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It makes sense in principle, but throughout his high school career, Bates was seldom utilized as a facilitator and creator for others, owing to the fact that he was by far the greatest player on his squad. He is, though, an exceptional scorer and one of the greatest pull-up shot creators we’ve seen in recent years. With returning mainstays Landers Nolley II and DeAndre Williams, as well as possible first-round picks Duren and Earl Timberlake, Bates will have to enlist the help of others. He has the passing ability to rack up assists, but it will take time, and a plethora of veterans, like Lester Quinones, Alex Lomax, and Tyler Harris, will be vying for playing time.
UCLA’s Mick Cronin and his team made an unexpected NCAA tournament run. How will they fare if they are pursued by the Pac-12? Michael Conroy/AP Photo
3. Was UCLA in the NCAA tournament the real UCLA?
It’s been one of the most talked-about topics this offseason. Is UCLA going to be more like the team that finished the season with four straight losses, ending 17-9 and earning a spot in the NCAA tournament’s First Four, or the squad that won five games in 12 days and came a 40-foot buzzer-beater away from a chance to play for the national championship?
It’s easy to go with the latter, particularly now that every player from that NCAA tournament run is back in Westwood. Mick Cronin is also bringing in Peyton Watson, a predicted lottery selection, and Myles Johnson, a Rutgers graduate transfer who is one of the greatest defensive players in the Big Ten. Cronin had obviously discovered a winning formula in the competition. UCLA’s offense was much more efficient, depending primarily on Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. to generate offense, while Tyger Campbell excelled at ball handling. Against Abilene Christian, Alabama, and Michigan, the Bruins had three of their finest defensive performances of the season, and their ability to play more flexibly down the stretch made a difference.
The Sun Devils throw the ball to Remy Martin, who hits a corner 3-pointer with a hand in his face with seconds remaining in the game.
4. Is it possible for Remy Martin to be more of a facilitator than a scorer?
Kansas’ main question heading into the summer was at point guard. Marcus Garrett, who handled the majority of the ball-handling duties previous season, was gone, and there was no apparent successor. Bill Self, on the other hand, went out and recruited Arizona State transfer Remy Martin, who was probably the greatest transfer in the nation last spring. Martin has been named first-team All-Pac-12 in each of the past two seasons, averaging 19.1 points per game.
Martin, on the other hand, will be playing a completely different style in Lawrence than he did in Tempe — Arizona State was the Pac-12’s quickest team each of the previous two seasons — and he won’t be expected to light up the scoreboard every night. All four experienced starters are returning, averaging at least 9.8 points each game. So Martin will have possession of the ball, but he’ll have to focus on distribution and facilitation rather than scoring. It’s also worth noting that Self informed reporters last month that Dajuan Harris is in the mix to replace Martin at point guard. I believe Martin adjusts his game and has a significant effect, which is why I rank Kansas second nationally.
Can Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey, who are also returning, coexist with the fresh Texas talent (and each other)? AP Kathyleen Batten/Flickr
5. How does Chris Beard manage to keep everyone at Texas happy?
I’m not sure if there’s a better talented team in the nation than the Longhorns on paper. It all begins with the two returning starters, Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones, who each started 26 games last season and have been important players in Austin for years. Then there’s the class of transfer: Chris Beard is responsible for six of ESPN’s top 30 transfers. Jase Febres and Brock Cunningham, as well as top-30 prospect Jaylon Tyson, are among the returning rotation players. Obviously, having too much skill is preferable than having too little, but there are some worries about how it will all come together.
Marcus Carr led Minnesota’s offense with 19.4 points per game. At Texas, he won’t have as many opportunities, and Ramey will have the ball in his hands. At UMass, Tre Mitchell was the most dominating player in the Atlantic 10; in the Big 12, he’ll face stiffer defenses. If Utah transfer Timmy Allen starts, all-SEC forward Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt) and Christian Bishop (Creighton), who played every game for a Sweet 16 squad, will come off the bench.
I believe Beard finds it out and gets everyone on board, and if that happens, this squad will be a force to be reckoned with.
Zach Edey grabs the rebound and then goes up for his ninth dunk of the season, which puts him in first place in Division I.
6. Can Purdue’s Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey take the next step?
Matt Painter returns almost every player from last season’s squad, which earned a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament, including all five starters and big man Trevion Williams, one of the finest players in the country. A breakthrough season from Jaden Ivey would be the actual cause for a possible national title run. Despite starting just 12 games as a freshman last season, Ivey is the top-ranked returning player in ESPN’s 2022 NBA draft rankings. He’s been the target of a lot of “breakout” hype, and a fantastic performance at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia didn’t help. In 2020-21, he averaged 14.8 points in 12 starts, and being a reliable go-to man elevates the Boilermakers.
Zach Edey, who is 7 feet 4 inches tall, should not be overlooked. At the aforementioned World Cup, the Canadian big man was dominant, including a 16-point, 16-rebound performance against the United States. Last season, he only started two games, but he provides Painter with an option that few teams have.
Will a healthy Collin Gillespie be able to keep Jay Wright and Villanova in contention for the national title? Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire photo
7. Will Villanova improve as a result of Jeremiah Robinson-departure? Earl’s
Villanova is ranked in the top five in most preseason polls, but this is a club that was 16-4 and not really in the chase for a 1-seed before Collin Gillespie was gone for the season — and also before Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, the Big East Player of the Year, was lost for the season. While there aren’t any genuine substitutes for Robinson-addition, Earl’s I’m betting on the Wildcats to remain a national contender all season.
If Gillespie stays healthy, he’ll be one of college basketball’s top point guards. Last season’s starters Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, and Caleb Daniels are all back. Those four offer Jay Wright a nucleus of three seniors and a junior, which has worked out nicely for Villanova under Wright in the past. Trey Patterson, Jordan Longino, and Nnanna Njoku were all intriguing prospects, while Eric Dixon adds size to the table for the Wildcats.
Auburn looks dangerous with Allen Flanigan and a slew of potential future professionals. Butch Dill/AP Photo
8. Who do you think will be this season’s Michigan or Alabama?
If I already knew the answer to this question, I’d probably give that team a better score. However, discussing possible possibilities is still entertaining. Last year’s preseason AP poll had Michigan at No. 25, but they went on to win 18 of their first 19 games and the Big Ten regular-season title. After being placed in the “others getting votes” category in the preseason poll, Alabama won the SEC by 2.5 games. The Wolverines were given a one-seed, while Alabama was given a two-seed.
So, which side will surprise everyone and emerge as a national player during the season?
Auburn and Mississippi State are two possible possibilities. Auburn is just outside of my Way-Too-Early Top 25, but the Tigers have as much skill on paper as anybody in the nation. Allen Flanigan was one of the finest NBA prospects returning to college basketball, Walker Kessler was a top-15 recruit entering last season, and Jabari Smith is a predicted lottery selection, provided he recovers from a right Achilles injury. And the backcourt has plenty alternatives, including Georgia transfer K.D. Johnson, who was a strong scorer last season. Mississippi State returns two outstanding players in Iverson Molinar and Tolu Smith, as well as four incoming transfers, including North Carolina center Garrison Brooks. Another possibility is Florida, which has incoming transfers and Colin Castleton returning.
I’ll toss away Indiana outside of the SEC and go a little further. The Indiana Hoosiers have a lot of concerns (new coach, lost a few of players, finished 12-15 last season), but they also have a lot of skill and experience. Trayce Jackson-Davis is one of the greatest players in the nation, Race Thompson and Rob Phinisee are back as starters, and four transfers have been added to the mix. Tamar Bates, a top-25 recruit, is also anticipated to play a role. It’s a long shot, but I wanted to try something different.
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