The 2020-21 college basketball season is back, and while this isn’t the time to make any definitive claims, here are some observations we’ve noticed after week one.
The Zags’ are a team to be reckoned with
Last season, Gonzaga spent four weeks at No. 1 and seven weeks at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll, which is where it finished in the final rankings. This year they’ve been placed No. 1 in preseason polls and are +800 to win March Madness. This week the Bulldogs showed a glimpse as to why they’re number one in the nation. On Thursday they pulled off a 12 point win over No. 6 Kansas, outscoring the Jayhawks 30-14 in the paint and making 5 out of 10 three-pointers. The Zags beat Auburn the next day with a score of 90-67. With freshman guard Jalen Suggs leading the way, averaging 18 and 7, the Bulldogs proved they have a high ceiling this upcoming year.
SDSU’s trademark defense is back
After a tremendous 30-2 season in 2019, the No. 6 Aztecs were expecting its highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. After losing several key players and now unranked in preseason polls, SDSU came face to face with No. 22 UCLA and UC Irvine this week. The Aztecs used their physical defense to force UCLA into 15 turnovers and UC Irvine to 25 turnovers, coming away with two solid wins.
Luka Garza is the real deal
Coming off an unstoppable junior season Luka Garza finished as a Naismith Player of the Year Trophy Finalist and ESPN National Player of the Year. This season, the 6-foot-11 Iowa big man picked up right where he left off. On Wednesday, Garza led Iowa to a 97-67 victory over North Carolina Central with 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in only 24 minutes played. On Friday, the all-American closed with 41 points with 14-for-15 shooting, 3-for-3 from deep, and 10-for-12 from the line in a win against Southern.
Kentucky proves they’re talented, but they’ve got a lot to learn
Everyone knows Kentucky has a skillful roster this season. They have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation and add Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr to the mix. The only doubt they’ve had stems from their experience: they’ll be starting four freshmen. Despite the uncertainty, No. 10 Kentucky came out strong in their first matchup, dominating Morehead State in an 81-45 home win. The four starting freshmen combined for 46 points. However, the Wildcat’s inexperience was displayed on Saturday noon. In a 12 point loss to Richmond, Kentucky looked flustered and out of place throughout most of the second half. They weren’t able to find any rhythm to their scoring and connected on zero of their ten three-point attempts. The team has lots of potential, but they’ll have to find themselves and work with one another if they want to make a run in March.