The top 25 of college basketball, per usual, has fluctuated quite a bit through the first few months of the season. As we enter the new year and enter conference play, teams will have their chance to prove whether or not they belong in the conversation of who’s capable of deep March runs. Reflecting on this past weekend, let’s take a look at some teams who have seen their stock change.
Rising Stock – No. 13 Notre Dame
The Fightin’ Irish have come on strong to start the season, and after Monday night’s victory on the road in Chapel Hill, they don’t appear to be slowing down. Being lead by senior Jerian Grant, Notre Dame continues to win in high scoring fashion, currently third in the nation in points scored per game. Senior Pat Connaughton seems to be next in line in the in the Irish’s recent tradition of big bodies who rebound the basketball well and make smart plays, and the upperclassmen leadership appears to be sending them in the right direction.
Falling Stock – No. 24 St. John’s
Through 12 games this season, St. John’s was sitting at 11-1, with their only loss coming to an incredibly talented Gonzaga team. They had defeated Syracuse on the road and also taken down Minnesota at home, and appeared to be rolling. However, last week saw two not so good losses for the Red Storm against Seton Hall and Butler, both of whom were unranked. St. John’s has looked good this season, however these past two losses have exposed some flaws. Only averaging 12 assists per game simply isn’t going to get the job done for a top 25 team, but senior guard D’Angelo Harrison’s 20 ppg should help correct the ship. With No. 8 Villanova coming to town Tuesday night, St. John’s looks to prove they’ve done just that.
Red Flagged Stock – No. 10 Texas
The return of Isaiah Taylor to the starting lineup was supposed to spell magic for the Longhorns. Everyone knew they were good, but the return of an elite guard with the capability of scoring 15 points per night should have helped. However, in Taylor’s first game back, Texas took on No. 16 Oklahoma at home and got absolutely whomped. Taylor shot just 4/13 from the field and the Longhorns got dropped by 21 points at home. Granted, Oklahoma is a very stout team who is also very likely to make the tournament, but getting pounded by 20 at home to a conference opponent is always a major red flag.
Stock to Buy Low – No. 18 North Carolina
North Carolina continues to lose games many thought they’d win at the beginning of the season. Monday saw a loss at home (again) at the hands of Notre Dame. However, despite their struggles, the Tar Heels are simply too talented to keep themselves out of it. Marcus Paige has seen nearly every one of his statistics fall in comparison to last season, but good players figure it out when it matters most. Paige proved last season he was a good player, and now, entering the thick of the ACC schedule, has a chance to prove he’s a great player. Kennedy Meeks is shooting 60% from the field so far this season, and role players like JP Tokoto will help propel the Heels in the right direction. With No. 5 Louisville coming into town this week, North Carolina can get back on track in a hurry.
Stocks to Count On – No. 1 – No. 7
First, let’s get it out there that each of these teams is likely to lose at least one more time before conference play is over…except for Kentucky, they’re still invincible. However, with No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Virginia and No. 5 Louisville all playing in the ACC, they will likely have to fall at some point; their competition is just too good. No. 4 Wisconsin plays in the dauntingly good B1G Conference, where someone is likely to knock them off. No. 6 Gonzaga doesn’t have too many troublesome games left, and very well could run the table from here out. Last but not least, No. 7 Arizona, a team that has lost only one game, and has a starting five as good as any team in the country. Besides Kentucky and Duke, all of these teams have been proven vulnerable, but all have also proven to be good enough to win a national championship in April.
*Section Photo credit to Michael Hickey, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit toTrevor Ruszkowksi, USA Today Sports