College Basketball

A Case of the Blues

January 19

The 2020-21 college basketball season has been an odd one, to say the least.

Due to COVID-19, games have been suspended, rescheduled and, at times, canceled altogether.

If fans needed any more evidence that this season has been far from normal, look no further than the current AP Top 25.

For the first time in 60 years, North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky are all unranked at the same time.

Whether due to lack of game experience, injuries or just poor performance, none of the three has so far had its usual banner year.

Let's take a look at what has gone wrong for each team.

DUKE (5-3): Lack of chemistry

For the Blue Devils, it has been somewhat simple. They haven't played a lot.

The Blue Devils have had six of their first 14 scheduled games postponed, potentially leading to a lack of chemistry being developed on the court.

After their loss to then-No. 6 Illinois, Coach K scrapped the remainder of Duke's nonconference schedule because of concerns surrounding COVID-19.

That lack of playing time has been compounded by freshman Jalen Johnson, the team's highest rated recruit, missing three games because of a foot injury he sustained in December.

With a roster made up of a combined 10 freshmen and sophomores, Duke's youth and lack of continuity have shown in its biggest games this season, with the Blue Devils sitting at 0-3 against ranked opponents and losing by a combined 28 points in those contests.

KENTUCKY (4-8): Performing below expectations

This year, John Calipari brought in another highly touted recruiting class that featured three five-star recruits in Brandon Boston Jr., Terrence Clarke and Devin Askew.

However, so far, the freshman class has underwhelmed.

The trio of incoming stars has recorded only two 20-point games, and they've hit a combined 21 3-pointers, with nine of those coming from Askew.

The freshmen also haven't been the only newcomers to falter, with senior big man Olivier Sarr struggling to find his footing after transferring from Wake Forest.

After averaging 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds last season, Sarr is averaging 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds so far with the Wildcats.

The Wildcats lost six straight games between No. 29 and Dec. 26, including losses to rival Louisville and fellow blue blood programs Kansas and North Carolina.

UNC (8-5): Shooting woes and inexperience

After the Tar Heels shot 30.4 percent from 3-point range during a nightmare 14-19 campaign in 2019-20, it was difficult to imagine things getting worse in Chapel Hill, at least from a shooting perspective.

But so far this season, the Heels are shooting just 30.1 percent from deep.

Much like Kentucky and Duke, Carolina brought in a highly touted recruiting class, which featured two top-10 point guards in Caleb Love and R.J. Davis.

Love has struggled to find his shot so far this season, shooting 27.9 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from 3-point range.

Davis has been slightly better, shooting 35.5 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from 3-point range.

Both have struggled with turnovers, averaging a combined 5.3 per game, as opposed to 5.3 assists.

In addition, in four of their five losses, the Tar Heels have lost the turnover battle. They are averaging 15.4 turnovers per game.


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