What to Watch for this weekend in college basketball: Louisville has to stop hitting the snooze button
It’s been a wild start to conference play the past week, meaning the next two months will once again be a chaotic and shocking march towards March.
The top of the ACC has looked far from stable, with Duke, Louisville, and Virginia all getting close calls in their first few conference games. They’ll get even tougher test this weekend as the upper-middle class of the conference looks to unseat them.
The Big 12 will once again go through Kansas, which got a nail-biting win over Baylor to start on the right foot. What does all this mean for this weekend’s games? Glad you asked.
No more snooze button.
Louisville got through the first week of the conference schedule unscathed, but it wasn’t pretty. The Cardinals needed a late run fueled by some high-difficulty shot making to take down Wake Forest last Sunday. This week, they needed an 18-0 run to beat Clemson and still nearly allowed the Tigers to come back and snag the win in a low-scoring, sluggish affair.
Now Louisville takes on no. 18 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday. The Tar Heels haven’t woken up for ACC play yet either. They’re coming off a one-point loss to Notre Dame at home with their comeback bid falling just short.
Somebody has to roll out of bed this weekend and get the win. It’s a huge opportunity for a resume booster, especially after the recent struggles of both teams.
Virginia and Notre Dame are two very different teams outside of a single common trait: size. Neither team will tower over the referees, much more plenty of ACC lineups. Beyond that stylistic choice, though, the Cavaliers and Irish are a perfect foil.
Virginia has the second-best scoring defense in the nation. Notre Dame has the second-most efficient offense in the nation. Virginia will try to slow the game down and limit Notre Dame’s possessions. The Fighting Irish will look for fastbreaks and drive and kick to shooters early in the shot clock.
Whoever can force the opponent to adapt and change philosophies first will likely get the win. The likelihood of both styles mixing to some degree means it will be one of the most intriguing games to watch this season.
Keeping up with the Joneses.
The Kansas Jayhawks are definitely the Joneses of the Big 12. They’ve won 10-straight conference titles and none of their Big 12 neighbors like them, but everyone still smiles and waves at Bill Self because they want to be like him.
With Kansas’ gritty road win over Baylor this week, it once again became clear that, no matter how wide open the conference appears, the road still goes through Lawrence. That brings added pressure to the Iowa State versus West Virginia game this weekend as both teams look to keep up with Kansas in the standings.
A win wouldn’t burn the Joneses’ house down, but it would definitely put a shiny new car in the victor’s driveway that Bill Self has to look at every time he goes to work against the Big 12.