Kansas cruises to a big win over Indiana. The Indiana Hoosiers are a very respectable team, treated me super nicely when U attended the game last year, and very much should be in this year's NCAA Tournament. However in this exercise they are Exhibit A.
First let's give a quick recap of the game ... in 2 words it was a BIG DICK show. Gradey Dick
The Freshman showed out again and was compared to Chris Mullin and Steph Curry on the broadcast by Dick Vitale in terms of a guy who gives you a feel of a shooter who knows it's in the minute it leaves his hands. I've been critical of Dick Vitale in the past but i thought this was a fair comparison as Gradey Dick does show a ton of confidence when he lets it fly.
Back to Indiana ...
Coming into this season they returned 4 starters (Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis) all four are healthy, all four are playing big minutes yet Indiana isn't considered elite in terms of national title contenders (at least if you ask me). You know who are national title contenders ? Arizona and Kansas and Indiana just got handed by both. It's great to have a player like TJD and a shooter/Tik Tok star like my guy Miller Kopp, and all those returning minutes are nice, but in March can you hang a banner that says "Led The Country In Retuning Minutes" ? I sure don't think you can in Indiana.
Let's move to Exhibit B.
The Creighton Blue Jays
Simply put these birds can't get off the ground. Yes Ryan Kalkbrenner is battling sickness but the boys in Omaha are doing their best Jeff Fisher impression and after starting 6-0 , have now dropped 6 in a row to fall to .500, including a conference loss last night to Marquette. Reminder this is a team that came into the year as high as 9 in the polls. Everyone had Creighton on their list of teams who could cut down the nets. Why was everyone so high on Creighton ? They brought back 5 of their top 7 scorers from last year. Very similar to Indiana.
Again it's great to have guys you are familiar with and know the day to day grind of college hoops, but if these guys haven't improved from last year, you are lying to yourself if you think they all of a sudden have taken the leap to national title contender, when last year you lost in the 2nd round (granted to the eventual national champion).
Finally Exhibit C
The North Carolina Tar Heels
Coming into the year The Tar Heels were #1 in the country , that sure didn't last long …
In fact UNC went from #1 to unranked in like a month. I'll go one step further … if the selection committee was judging a team like North Carolina right now, and their name wasn't North Carolina …they would LAUGH at the resume.
Which of these wins jumps out to you the most in terms of impressive ?
UNC Wilmington ? Charleston ? Gardner Webb ? James Madison ? Portland ? Georgia Tech ? Or The sharpshooters from The Citadel (shoutout Austin Ash) ?
Carolina had all the preseason accolades this year why ? BECAUSE THEY BRING BACK EVERYONE !
Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, RJ Davis , Leaky Black, and Puff Johnson all back. And they added Pete Nance from Northwestern. Everyone was in love with the Tar Heels. They made the National Championship game last year and had a monster lead against Kansas …for sure this team can be great this year with these pieces was a common claim by fans and experts.
However if you look closer, the Heels were an 8 seed last year after a disappointing season (again with all that talent), And needed a miracle 25 point comeback with 10 minutes left to erase a 25 point deficit. They also got maybe the easiest Elite 8 matchup ever in St.Peter's (a 15 seed). Now all credit to the Peacocks but I think if you told Tar Heel nation they would be wearing white as an 8 seed in the Elite 8 they would have said you were crazy.
Now UNC can prove me wrong today as they tip off against Ohio State shortly, but the common theme across the nation right now is it seems that "experts" or talking heads or fans for that matter should never get too excited coming into the season about a team that brings back everyone , if those guys aren't going to produce at a high level. I think Indiana, Creighton and UNC fans are learning that each night of the season.
Time will tell, but on my list …cross off all 3 of them in terms of teams I take seriously until I start to see different results on the court.