College Hoops Mailbag: Conference favorites, team with most bust potential, and more

Today marks two weeks into the season, which means it’s time to check in with another College Hoops Mailbag!

Through two weeks, we’ve started to get a real feel for which teams are legit and which teams are, well, not. Kentucky has already dropped out of the top 25 completely — something we thought was unfathomable not too long ago — and Texas is actually living up to expectations! 2020 has been a weird year, indeed.

I get to touch on some of those surprises in this mailbag, along with what’s become a weekly review of my feelings towards Iowa, so let’s get into it!

We will post these mailbags every Wednesday throughout the course of the season, so make sure you join the conversation on Twitter at @brauf33. Thanks as always to those who contributed this week.

Mid-majors making most of chances
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This was alluding to last night’s slate of games, and the answer is yes. It didn’t have the most exciting top-tier games (the night of Gonzaga-West Virginia and Baylor-Illinois tops that in my mind) and it didn’t have the sheer volume of games we had during Feast Week, but it did have the best combination of the two.

Creighton-Kansas going straight into Iowa-UNC going straight into Duke-Illinois is close to as good as it gets for a college basketball fan over a six-hour power period. Throw in Miami’s comeback over Purdue, Penn State’s shocking blowout of Virginia Tech, and Kansas State proving to be that bad, and last night certainly felt like the best night.

Why do you STILL hate Iowa? – MattyMc1 (@triaxmax)

Speaking of Iowa!

Again, I don’t hate Iowa and the Hawkeyes were impressive in their win over the Tar Heels, their first real test of the season. Iowa surged out to a big lead despite Luka Garza’s struggles and then, when UNC came back and took the lead, responded with a lengthy run that put the game away. That was excellent and exactly what you want to see from a veteran team.

I had no questions about their offense and the Hawkeyes continue to show why. My questions centered around their defense, which still didn’t look great against the Tar Heels (who shot 47.7 percent as a team). However, Iowa’s offense was so good that it just didn’t matter, and that might be the case in a lot of games they play.

Are they on the same level as Gonzaga and Baylor? No. But they’re just as good as anyone else right now.

I like this question. I’ll go boom and bust for the power conferences with a short description for each.

ACC
Boom: Florida State — Solid defensive team that has a budding star in Scottie Barnes.
Bust: Duke — They don’t have a point guard and their offense is bad right now.

Big 12
Boom: Texas — Shaka Smart’s squad has proven to be legit with wins over Indiana and UNC.
Bust: Kansas State — The Wildcats were expected to finish in last, but they’re 1-4 with a 13-point loss to D-II Fort Hays State on their resume.

Big East
Boom: Marquette — Steve Wojciechowski’s squad has a top 25 defense and a couple of young stars in DJ Carton and Dawson Garcia.
Bust: Providence — The Friars had high expectations yet have struggled out of the gate (3-2) as shooting woes continue to plague them.

Big Ten
Boom: Illinois — We knew the Illini were going to be good, yet they’ve emerged as a legit national title contender with their shooting.
Bust: Wisconsin — I break down why I’m not high on the Badgers here.

Pac-12
Boom: Arizona State — As talented of a backcourt as there is in the country outside of Gonzaga and Baylor.
Bust: UCLA — The Bruins currently lack the spark and intensity that spurred their late season run last year.

SEC
Boom: Missouri — I go in-depth on Mizzou’s start here.
Bust: Kentucky — Obviously. They’re 1-3 and atrocious offensively.

Tristan was my guy when I wrote for him at Busting Brackets. He taught me a lot so many things about writing and my research while I was there and became a good friend. He’s as knowledgeable as anyone about college basketball, so I recommend giving him a follow.

As for the Valentine…never got one. I’ll settle for our #HeatCheckSim trash talk.

Man, a low blow to close this out, huh? I’m not a football expert — I just play one on Twitter every Saturday in the fall.

For the uninitiated, I am a South Carolina alum and a big South Carolina football fan. You have to be when you go to an SEC school. It’s in the rules.

The Gamecocks went 2-8 and fired head coach Will Muschamp after seven games. It simply was time. He was excellent for the program from an administrative and recruiting standpoint, but the actual coaching and game management was subpar. There are rumors that the culture wasn’t all about winning, too, which obviously isn’t ideal.

South Carolina just hired Shane Beamer (Frank’s son) to replace Muschamp, who was an assistant on Steve Spurrier’s staff in Columbia from 2007-10. We have high hopes that he’ll be able to turn it around quickly.



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