By Austin Payne
As per usual going into the college basketball season, high expectations remain in place for the annual blue bloods that seem to consistently gather up top ranked recruits on the merit of their history and prestigious stigma associated with the programs alone. You know the teams i’m referring to here. Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Gonzaga recently, Florida, Syracuse at times? Michigan, Michigan State, and perhaps a few other noteworthy teams that content consistently.
These teams share a huge percentage of the interest in college basketball, as well as soak up the majority of each years recruiting class at the top. Sometimes though these giants do fall, occasionally to someone totally unexpected like umm S.F. Austin…*cough* Duke…or sometimes to a fairly good team. Then they proceed to turn around and beat another top tier team in Michigan State. So, while losses can’t be overvalued, they do happen unexpectedly sometimes, and when they do i’m all here for the upset.
This happened to UNC Wednesday night, when they lost to a surprisingly good Ohio State team by…25 points. Not a close loss, not a sketchy call or missed call by the officials, but by 25 points, at home. Headlining the dismal performance was prized recruit and combo guard Cole Anthony, who had himself a wonderful 4-15 shooting night, all four males coming on three point attempts. This isn’t exactly uncharacteristic of Cole, who’s shooting roughly 38% from the field as a whole this year yet maintaining a good 37% 3 point clip. (Stats)
The game was very close and low scoring at half time, sitting at 29-27 Ohio State leading, so it’s not as if it was over from the jump and they pulled the plug. This was entirely a second half loss, where UNC allowed 45 points from OSU and only put up 22 themselves.
So how exactly does this happen in the first place to such an elite team? For starters, they got out rebounded fairly heavily, 48-32. It also doesn’t help to lose your other top recruit, Armando Bacot, to injury for the rest of the game after only getting up two shots. (Injury)
While the Heels’ are a well coached program, we can’t deny that they don’t exactly have the best depth this year, especially at guard. The only real backcourt help Anthony is getting is from Senior Brandon Robinson, who’s only averaging 10 a game. They have a nice front court pairing of Brooks and Bacot, but when you lose Bacot you lose your scoring there. While Brooks is nice, he’s no Joel Embiid in the post, so without Bacot on the floor, Cole Anthony becomes the Westbrook of College basketball.
Aside from UNC’s shortcomings, Ohio State deserves due credit, as they are a well rounded team with numerous options on offense. Led by Kaleb Wesson, they have seven other players averaging north of seven points per game, with multiple at about ten. While they don’t exactly flash the top ranked recruiting class, or someone like D-LO anymore, they’ve put together a solid roster that plays well together and has gotten them to the number six spot in the nation.
So while nobody expects the Buckeyes to become national champions this season, we could easily anticipate to see them make it to the sweet sixteen or even possibly further if they play their cards right. Yes UNC is battling injuries, but it’s an impressive statement win nonetheless to knock off a powerhouse program with great discipline, and now they’ve got fans attention.