We often discuss small sample size theater in these blog posts. It’s a needed caveat when talking about college basketball this early in the season. Otherwise, whenever pointing to something good or bad, it comes off as insanely hyperbolic.
Operating under the assumption everyone understands small sample size theater is used since there’s no other way to use data to talk about players at this point, let’s throw some caution to the wind.
It’s The Morning After College Basketball!
What The Hell, Florida Gators
Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone): The Florida Gators entered the season as many’s sneaky cool pick to be a Final Four team. Four games into the 2019-20 college basketball season, and this appears to be a less than stellar time to admit being one of those hipsters.
I am one of those hipsters.
Following a loss to the Connecticut Huskies on Sunday, the Gators now have an overall record of 2-2, without a good win to their name.
When Kerry Blackshear Jr. joined the fold, it was easy to assume linear positive growth from Florida. After all, the Gators were coming off a 20 win season, returned a good amount of players, added a five-star in Scottie Lewis and landed the best player to have graced the transfer market in years.
And then… the offense broke. Through four games — small sample size theater! — the Florida Gators are only averaging 62.5 points per game (313th in the country) while shooting a horrific 38% from the floor and mind boggling awful 24% from three. Furthermore, as a team, they have more turnovers than assists.
Still, it’s incredibly early in the season. Florida’s two losses are to good teams (FSU is the other). Considering Blackshear and Lewis are both new to the fold, but also expected to contribute a ton, growing pains should be expected.
Nevertheless, if things keep going in this direction, Mike White is going to face some difficult questions. And we’re not talking about his kids asking where babies come from, either.
More On The Florida Gators
Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell): As my friend Joe put it, Florida isn’t playing good basketball right now. On paper, the Gators looked like a special team heading into the season, and they’ve not looked anything like that thus far.
The defense has been there since Mike White took over as head coach back in 2015. Florida has ranked in the top 25 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings the past four seasons and currently ranked 23rd in that category this season.
Again, that’s been the strength.
But the offense just hasn’t been consistent enough for the Gators to be a true national title contender. On paper, that trend was one that seemed to be less of a concern heading into this season due to the addition of Kerry Blackshear Jr. and a top-five freshman class.
However, that’s why they don’t play games on paper.
If Florida wants to get back on track, oddly enough, it all starts with offense. Defense may win championships, but you still have to be able to score points.
And with the amount of talent on the roster, most would agree that the Gators should be able to score points in a more effective manner than they have through four games.
Everything Is Coming Up Jordan Nwora
Joe: The Louisville Cardinals improved to 4-0 on the season over the weekend. Jordan Nwora, a talented 6-foot-7 wing, is a large reason why.
After four games of the season, our friendly neighborhood Nwora is averaging 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s scoring buckets in a gloriously efficient fashion too, shooting 54% from the floor and 56% from beyond the arc (on slightly over four attempts per contest).
We bring up Nwora because the offseason discussion was all about Louisville’s insane freshmen class. How Chris Mack lured a ton of teenagers to campus… in a good, not serial killer creepy way. And yet, here we are, focusing on an upperclassman.
College basketball is fun because we can rank whatever the hell we want to in the offseason, but when the games are played, things happen we don’t expect. While Jordan Nwora was a known very good player, especially after last season, his development is going to put him in a lot of conversations to in individual awards.
The Louisville Cardinals will, obviously, need to keep this energy when playing better teams on a consistent basis, but when you couple Nwora with the super freshmen class, there’s reason to small if you’re a fan of this program in a post-Rick Pitino world.
The Arizona Wildcats Are Pretty Good
Blake: With a 30-point win against WAC favorite New Mexico State on Sunday, Arizona is now 4-0 on the season and has achieved that mark in convincing fashion.
Sean Miller’s squad has each game by at least 21 points, and while it’s still early in the season, it seems pretty obvious that the Wildcats are back to looking like the Wildcats after a 17-15 campaign a season ago.
The schedule will get tougher in December when Arizona prepares for non-conference matchups against Baylor, Gonzaga, and St. John’s before starting Pac-12 play on Jan. 4 against Arizona State.
So, maybe we will learn a lot more about whether Miller does indeed have a national title contender to work with this season.
But for now, the Wildcats certainly look the part considering how dominant they’ve been in their first four games.
In Closing A Cat Without Comment
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Blake Lovell is a national writer for ClutchPoints. He’s also a contributor for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine. He hosts two podcasts: Marching to Madness (CBB) and Establish the Pass (NFL).
You can follow him on Twitter @theblakelovell.
Joseph Nardone has been covering basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. He currently contributes to Forbes and Clutchpoints. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.