Hey, everyone! Welcome back to basketball season. If you were around these parts last year, you remember our weekly feature: This Week in Hoops. It’s changed a bit, but the essence is the same. If you’re new to Palestra Back, TWIH is a helpful guide to the recent goings on in the world of basketball. If something happens on the hardwood, you’ll hear about it here.
The Biggest Story in Basketball
A highly ranked team losing at the buzzer on the road to a fellow power conference foe is, while exciting, not a major deal come tournament time.
The preseason number one ranked team now having two losses before Christmas is much more alarming.
The North Carolina Tar Heels have not impressed like many thought they could early in the season. Two road losses to solid teams are no reason to jump ship just yet, though both losses have showcased the trouble that Roy Williams’ team could have moving forward.
Marcus Paige can flat out score the basketball. On Saturday night, he became the all-time UNC leader in 3-pointers made. Considering the list of Tar Heel greats in the past, that’s a very impressive accomplishment.
Marcus Paige, unsurprisingly, is not the problem. The issue has been finding a reliable second scorer. Justin Jackson should fit that role and has to a certain extent. He’s averaging 14.1 points per game, but Carolina is scoring 84.1 as a team and playing at the 46th fastest tempo nationally. The problem is that Jackson hasn’t been scoring efficiently.
He and Paige have attempted the same percentage of Tar Heel shots while on the court (23.6% each, per KenPom). Here’s what they’ve done with those shots on a per game basis:
The biggest problem in that chart? Jackson shooting 5 threes per game and making a ghastly 28% of them. That’s a problem that extends beyond Justin Jackson. He’s 6’8 and long, which is why he’s shooting so well on 2-point attempts. The larger issue is finding space with Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson, and other bigs clogging the lane.
Sadly, college basketball doesn’t have lineup information as readily available as the NBA yet, but we can use what Ken Pomeroy has to see the lineups Roy Williams has played Jackson in. Per his numbers, Jackson has yet to play any minutes at the 4, with two of Meeks, Johnson, Isaiah Hicks, Luke Maye, and Joel James always on the court with him.
For a team that likes to run as much as Carolina, I’d be curious to see how effective a Jackson-Meeks or Jackson-Johnson frontcourt could be with 3 guards around them.
Until something like that happens, Marcus Paige will need to get used to seeing help defenders and double teams.
Basketball is Fun!
With all of the hot takes and super serious basketball related opinions out there, it’s important to remember that this is a game being played and watched for fun. Every week we’ll highlight something on the lighter side of the hoops world.
SBNation’s Rodger Sherman brought something very odd to the attention of the basketball loving world.
Dirk Nowitzki brings a plate of leftovers to the arena with him every night?
When last night’s dinner was killer, you gotta wrap up that plate.
All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball.
In my newest post over at Rush The Court, I went deep on the success of Tom Izzo and Michigan State, both this year and over the past decade.
And if you haven’t read Zach Lowe’s interview of Sam Hinkie, WHY HAVENT YOU DONE THAT? CORRECT THAT ISSUE.
May the Tuesday Top Tens rest in pieces. Long live Rank Shots! If you’re not familiar, this is where we rank the best teams in the NBA, college basketball, and rank another totally irrelevant something.
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Michigan State
- Iowa State
Harry Potter Books
Reading: It’s For Nerds!
- Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
- Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince
Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now
“The truth always comes out in the wash.”
Games To Watch This Week
NBA: Suns at Mavericks (8:30/NBATV)
NBA: Cavaliers at Celtics (8:30/NBATV)
NCAA: Louisiana Tech at Ole Miss (7 PM/SECN)
I don’t know how this is the best game of the first two days of the week, but it is two top 100 KenPom teams.
NBA: Grizzlies at Bulls (8PM/ESPN), Suns at Warriors (10:30/ESPN)
NCAA: Mississippi State at Florida State (9 PM/ESPN2)
Why are the college games so bad this week? Is it because its finals week? STUDENT ATHLETES!
NBA: Thunder at Cavaliers (8PM/TNT)
NCAA: Marshall at #14 West Virginia (7 PM/ESPNU)
NBA: Clippers at Spurs (8 PM/ESPN)
NCAA: South Carolina at Clemson (7PM/ESPN3), Ole Miss at Memphis (8PM/ESPN News),
NCAA: BIG DAY!
#25 Utah vs #8 Duke (Noon/ESPN)
#9 Villanova at #10 Virginia (Noon/ESPN2)
#1 Michigan State at (TRUE ROAD GAME!?) Northeastern (12:30 PM/NBCSN)
#3 UNC at UCLA (1PM/CBS)
Indiana vs Notre Dame (2 PM/ESPN2)
Creighton at #7 Oklahoma (2PM/ESPNU)
College of Charleston at #17 Miami (FL) (2 PM/ESPN3)
#5 Kentucky at Ohio State (3:30/CBS)
#23 Cinicnnati at VCU (4 PM/CBSSN)
#18 Butler at #11 Purdue (5 PM/BTN)
Northern Iowa vs #4 Iowa State (7 PM/ESPNU)
Princeton at #6 Maryland (7 PM/BTN)
Oklahoma State at Florida (8 PM/FS1)
#16 Baylor at Texas A&M (9 PM/ESPNU)
UNLV at #13 Arizona (9:30 PM/ESPN2)
Tennessee vs #20 Gonzaga (11 PM/ESPNU in Seattle)
NCAA: Pitt vs Davidson (Noon/ESPNU)
Enjoy the Games, Everyone.
(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops will end with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here.)
Header Image via Jeffrey A. Camarati
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.