Phil Knight takeaway bracket: Duke, UNC survive horrors; Michigan State falls to Alabama, loses key player – Update Alaba

PORTLAND, Ore. — CBS college basketball insider Matt Norlander is spending Thanksgiving weekend at PK85 covering the Phil Knight Invitational and Phil Knight Legacy tournaments. He will provide updates while talking to players and coaches at college hoops’ biggest event of the regular season. Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s event at the Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Tar Heels still don’t look or play like a No. 1 team

This PK85 took almost no time to dish up some drama. UNC flirted with becoming the first No. 1 team since Duke in November 2019 to lose to an unranked team not in a power conference (Stephen F. Austin). The Tar Heels continued their trend of playing in competitive games against mid-major opponents. Portland led by five with 11 minutes remaining and prompted 13 lead changes before UNC managed to fend off pesky Pilots in the final minute of the Tar Heels’ 98-91 victory.

UNC coach Hubert Davis was not surprised by Portland’s behavior; he wants his team to play with such verve, spirit and drive. Davis also admitted that Carolina’s players still haven’t embraced or collectively learned how to carry the weight of not only being the top target in every game, but holding the team’s No. 1 title.

“In the position we’re in, people expect what it should look like,” Davis said. “And so we should be up by 20 at halftime. We should win every game by 30. No, we have to compete and play hard and continue to improve and see what kind of team we can become.” .”

Davis later added, “I think they’re trying to figure it out. I think they’ve never really had to deal with it in their lives — the weight of other people’s expectations — and I’ve dealt with it. We’ve talked a lot about it, whether it comes from from criticism or from praise. It’s still noise, and it’s of no benefit to us.”

Portland averaged 1.12 points per possession and became the second team in five games to score 80 points at UNC. The Pilots set the tone and UNC came up empty, Tar Heels senior wing Leaky Black told CBS Sports. It’s a running theme with every game so far and he’s almost done with it. UNC is winning, but not winning like it should, he said.

“Lack of detail, lack of enthusiasm, lack of energy,” Black said. “Obviously we’ve got the talent, we’ve got to stop coming out slow, expecting to beat everybody because we’ve got North Carolina on our chest and we’re No. 1. Obviously coming out doesn’t work for us and we’re just trying to do whatever we can.” we want to do instead of what the coaches want us to do, obviously it’s not working for us, which puts us in a difficult position.”

Black said there are too many possessions where “nobody talks” and the team “just stares at each other.” Černý also told me that it doesn’t matter how well he plays in defense, that if the team is not doing well collectively, it starts with him and his leadership.

The good: Northwestern transfer Pete Nance tied a career high for UNC with 28 points. If he wasn’t in this game, the Heels almost certainly would have lost. Junior guard Caleb Love, who doesn’t shy away from shooting, added 23 on 10-of-15 shooting. Too much free movement but not enough defense. When I was in the locker room afterward, I felt like the UNC players knew they couldn’t afford to play like that and get out of this tournament with three wins. Davis said in the postgame press release.

“You have to have my personality to play for me,” Davis said. “I’m emotional. I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to compete. I’m ready to go after it. And as a player, if you can’t deal with that or you can’t mimic this or that something that’s not part of your personality, that’s going to be very difficult for me to play. .. One of the things I always talk about is, is there hunger and thirst? You have to be hungry and thirsty, and I’ve told them several times, I’m nowhere near full. I’m starving right now.”

UNC will play at Iowa State (more on that below) on Friday at 5:30pm ET.

Blue Devils in search of rotation – and the right guy

Both of the Carolina blue bloods scared the crap out of me, and I’d say Dukova’s was a bit more disturbing. For as good as UNC was on defense, Duke was even worse on offense. The Blue Devils won 54-51 against Oregon State, but posted their worst performance since Jon Scheyer PLAYED for the school.

Percentage-wise, Duke managed just 26.7% from the field and 0.98 points per possession per possession (55). Credit to Oregon State for screwing it up and throwing Duke away with a zone defense that Scheyer told me Duke hasn’t seen this season. Wayne Tinkle’s team has already matched last year’s abysmal win total (3) and nearly pulled off a caper on Thanksgiving.

“That’s on me to not have them ready for that,” Scheyer told me.

Why did Duke win? Maybe more bodies. Mike Krzyzewski played great with a short bench, but that’s not Scheyer’s approach right now. Unknown guys like Ryan Young and Jaylen Blakes were on the floor while highly touted rookies Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively sat.

“We feel that depth is a huge strength of ours,” Scheyer said. “And that could mean we end games differently than we started, or depending on how the game goes, someone really has it.”

Much like UNC, Scheyer said his team is coming out slow and it’s a habit he needs to shake. I asked him why Duke walked slowly from the toe; he said he honestly didn’t have an answer.

It will be interesting to see Friday if Whitehead, who was the most proven scorer among Duke freshmen coming into school, gets more than the 17 minutes he had today.

“He can’t fall in love with his jump shot and he’s shaking off some rust,” Scheyer told me of Whitehead. “I thought he made some really good moves today.

While Kyle Filipowski (game-high 19 points) has been Duke’s go-to player thus far, the mostly young Blue Devils are looking for a go-to guy. Instead of getting it Thursday, Duke mostly survived and held off Oregon State. There is a lot of untapped potential with Duke. I could see this team winning the Legacy division as easily as I saw Xavier topple them in Friday’s semifinals. The Musketeers had their best offensive game of the season in Florida, and now the X vs. Duke potential to be the best game of the day on Friday.

Injuries hinder MSU’s title chase in the Rose City

No. 18 Alabama got a big performance from freshman Brandon Miller (24 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) as the Crimson Tide dispatched No. 12 Michigan State 81-70 in the final game of the night at the Moda Center. Alabama could be having a great season, but I’ll save the influx talk for tomorrow – when Alabama takes on UConn in the PKI semifinals.

MSU is a little more interesting and wobbly at this point. Sparta is 3-2 with losses to Gonzaga and Bama. Wins over Kentucky and Villanova moved Tom Izzo’s team from unranked to No. 12 in the AP Top 25. The truth is, it’s not a top-20 team right now, not because of a string of injury setbacks. MSU was denied a jump shot Thursday because it was without starting wing Malik Hall (stress reaction) and backup guard Jaden Akins (ankle).

To complicate matters, Joey Hauser also had an ankle sprain against Alabama. Hauser is expected to play Friday vs. Oregon. Izzo said after the game that Akin could to play on Sunday, but that is not the expectation. Hall’s injury is the biggest. He could be MSU’s best player, but his left foot problem (which appeared against Villanova) will keep him out for at least three weeks.

It’s a problem compounded by the fact that MSU still has a game against Notre Dame next week, and we’ll see if they get out of Portland with a 2-1 record. Next up is Oregon, so we’ll see.

There are some positives to Villanova’s woes

No preseason Top 25 team has gotten off to a worse start than Villanova. After an 81-79 loss to Iowa State, the Wildcats are 2-3 and now must avoid a slippery Portland team on Friday. Villanova is still without star freshman/presumed lottery pick Cam Whitmore, nor is Justin Moore back from his Achilles injury. But the damage done to the resume now will have long-term consequences come March.

That said, Villanova rallied from double-digit deficits at Michigan State, plus Thursday vs. Iowa State, only to lose those two games by a combined four points. The losses sting, and Nova has won these types of games often over the past decade… but the signs are encouraging. The team has determination. Villanova doesn’t have Jay Wright, it might not have its two best players, but those challenges could become useful obstacles three months from now. To be clear: I strongly advise against losing to Portland. Alarms will go off if VU loses on Friday.

As for Iowa State, a team that reached the Sweet 16 in March, TJ Otzelberger is off to a 4-0 start for the Cyclones with a familiar defense-first approach. Through four games, ISU’s 32.4% turnover rate is the best in the sport. Transfer St. Bonaventure Osun Ossuniyi (17 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal) was the most important player for ISU in the victory. On Friday, he will have to push himself again against Armand Bacota and UNC. An event like this is perfect for Iowa State to make some noise and improve its reputation.

Xavier has the pieces to be a Big East challenger

Sean Miller’s team pulled away late and Xavier beat Florida 90-83, but the first 34 minutes or so of game time was the best viewing of the first four picks in Portland. Each of the Musketeers’ starters finished in double figures, led by Colby Jones and Souley Boum, who each dropped 22. Boum is a firecracker. The UTEP transfer is a problem in transition and hard to keep on the radar. Ultimately, Florida didn’t have answers for him, nor did UF coach Todd Golden expect Miller’s guys to be as efficient and eclectic from three-point range as they were. Jones, Zach Freemantle and Desmond Claude combined to shoot 6-for-7 from beyond the arc, which Golden said ended up being the difference.

“Those guys combined didn’t hit a 3 until here,” Golden said. “[Xavier] beat the scout a little bit, I would say, because we didn’t really think of them as deadly three-point shooters. But tonight they were.”

Florida is 3-2 and will send Oregon State into the loser’s bracket in the Legacy Tournament on Friday. That’s a tough spot for a Gators team that has potential but has a lot to discover about itself. Xavier gets Duke. With the amount of size, shooting and offensive momentum the Musketeers possess, it will be interesting to see if Duke can keep up with the X. Who will guard Filipowski for Xavier? The game could easily reach the 80s. After Thursday’s performance, the Muskies are fourth in Division I 3-point field goal percentage (45.7%).

Invitation by Phil Knight

Phil Knight Legacy Holder


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