Beware making too many early judgments during this college basketball season when nearly a third of the teams in Ken Pomeroy’s Top 25 have yet to play a road game.
Wednesday, December 5th 2018, 4:28 PM EST
By Rick Bozich
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — We are one month into the latest greatest college basketball season, which means it is time for my annual public service announcement:
Not all early season records are equally constructed.
Check beyond the record, beyond the margin of victory, beyond the Zion Williamson highlights that ESPN splashes across the screen whenever Mike Krzyzewski tosses his sport jacket.
In November and December, don’t tell me how many games your team has won.
Tell me where they won them.
Not bloody likely. There aren’t many descendants of the Denny Crum Any Time, Any Place, Anybody School of Scheduling.
Of the 25 highest ranked teams in Ken Pomeroy’s computer power formula, eight have yet to play a road game. Nine others have played one game against a road opponent.
Does it matter? Check this number: The overall road record by Pomeroy’s Top 25 teams is 17-10. That’s a winning percentage of 63 percent — and a winning percentage of 63 percent won’t keep you in the Top 25.
How many Top 25 Pomeroy teams have played three road games?
That is a short list: No. 7 North Carolina (Wofford; Elon, Michigan) and No. 24 Indiana (Arkansas; Duke; Penn State).
That’s not how the game is played in January and February.
You can’t hide at home all winter against Stetson, Morgan State and a $95,000 Guarantee Check to be named later.
You want names of the most impressive teams in the nation after one month of basketball? I offer these nominees:
According to Pomeroy, those are the only Top 25 teams that have beaten a pair of Tier A teams on the road.
Michigan took down defending national champion Villanova (by a lot) and Northwestern (by a basket).
Nevada toppled No. 72 Loyola of Chicago and No. 64. USC.
Wisconsin dropped No. 57 Xavier and No. 41 Iowa. The only burp on the Badgers’ schedule is no reason to blush. They were beaten by seven points by Virginia on a neutral court.
Ohio State’s two road victories remain impressive: The Buckeyes’ delivered at No. 34 Cincinnati as well as at No. 29 Creighton. The only thing keeping the Buckeyes from perfection was a 10-point homecourt loss to Syracuse.
I’m not saying Duke, Kansas, Gonzaga and Virginia are not terrific. The Blue Devils have dazzling Top 25 wins on neutral courts against Kentucky and Auburn.
I’m not arguing against the scouts who have ranked Williamson, R. J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish as the likely first three picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
I’m saying this: Let’s wait until Duke wins at Florida State, Virginia, Louisville, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and North Carolina before we confirm the Blue Devils are the greatest one-loss of all time.
Scheduling is what makes it challenging to determine the quality of this Kentucky team, especially after the Wildcats’ loss to Duke.
Kentucky joins Duke, Kansas, Auburn, Texas Tech, Tennessee, Iowa State and Villanova on the list of eight Top 25 teams who have yet to play on their opponents’ homecourt.
Kentucky won’t play on the road until the Wildcats visit the KFC Yum! Center Dec. 29, although John Calipari has booked them for neutral site games with Seton Hall (Saturday in New York City) and North Carolina (Dec. 22 in Chicago).
But other than Duke, the Wildcats have not played a Top 60 opponent.
Chris Mack, for the record, has challenged his Louisville team. The Cardinals’ last four games have all been against Top 60 opponents. Louisville’s road win against Seton Hall last Saturday will stand as a solid credential for the Cards on Selection Sunday.
Indiana folks howling about the Hoosiers’ back-to-back two-point victories against Northwestern and Penn State should take note of their status in the Three-Road-Game Club.
Archie Miller’s team stands as the only team in the Top 25 that has played three of Pomeroy’s Tier A teams on the road — losing to No. 51 Arkansas by a point; getting blasted by No. 1 Duke by 21 and outlasting No. 37 Penn State by a basket Tuesday.
The Hoosiers have won only a single road game. But eight Top 25 teams have not played a road game. Not one.
That’s college basketball in November and December. It won’t be college basketball in January and February.
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