The Breakfast Buffet: Duke and UNC boost weight class at PK85, Kansas/Tennessee, Villanova – Update Kansas

Who’s hungry for college basketball?

Here’s today’s installment of “The Breakfast Buffet,” a daily column found here every morning that lets you catch up on everything that happened the previous day/night and everything that’s going to happen in the next 24 hours.

Mango!

Things to show

Duke and North Carolina moved up a weight class to PK85
Two ACC blue-blood programs were fortunate to advance to the second round of this tournament on Thursday, as the Blue Devils topped Oregon State by three points and the Tar Heels had to rally to hold off pesky Portland by eight. Things are going to get even tougher today. North Carolina will face defensive-minded Iowa State in the semifinals, while Duke will face Xavier, which scored 90 points in a first-round win over Florida.

Kansas’ deficit will increase against Tennessee
The championship game in this year’s Battle 4 Atlantis will feature the small ball Jayhawks against the massive size and power of the Vols. Kansas has used 6-7 sophomore KJ Adams consistently at center through the first six games of the season, but it will be interesting to see how he fares against Tennessee’s powerful starting trio of Uros Plavsic, Jonas Aidoo and Olivier Nkamhoua, who are all 6-9 or larger. In this game, the contrast between the speed and skill of the Jayhawks and the overall strength and girth of the Vols is fascinating.

Villanova’s schedule is too difficult when you consider his injuries
That type of slate would be a bear even if Justin Moore (Achilles) and Cam Whitmore (thumb) were healthy. Without them, it’s basically pushing a boulder up a hill. Moore — who averaged 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds last season — would be a first-team All-Big East player if healthy, while the 6-8 Whitmore is a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA draft. These types of reinforcements would make a big difference for Kyle Neptune, who will play 30 of 31 regular season games against either Big 5 or Power Conference opponents in his first season as Villanova’s head coach. The Wildcats enter tonight’s matchup with Portland 2-3 in the PK85 after losing back-to-back games against Iowa State and Michigan State by a combined four points.

On the side

  • The development of Conner Essegian will be a major key for Wisconsin this season. The 6-4 freshman is a natural scorer and his presence helps the Badgers avoid long scoring droughts. Essegian scored a combined 30 points in the first two games of Battle 4 Atlantis.
  • Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell is quietly playing as well as any quarterback in the Big 12. The 5-8 floor general is thriving under Jerome Tang and leads the Wildcats’ offense with a surgeon’s focus. Through six games — all of which have been wins — Nowell is averaging 15.3 points, 7.8 assists and two steals.
  • The best defensive team I saw this week? Mississippi State. The Bulldogs — who are 6-0 in their first season under Chris Jans — averaged just 52 points in back-to-back neutral-site wins over Marquette and Utah.
  • DePaul (3-2) will play five of its next eight games on the road, with trips looming against Loyola Chicago, St. John’s, Northwestern, Duquesne and Creighton. The Blue Demons are also without two starters in Caleb Murphy (wrist) and Nick Ongenda (hand). Tony Stubblefield’s team will host Texas A&M today in Chicago.
  • Is this the year UNLV (6-0) finally gets back to the NCAA Tournament? Don’t rule it out. The Runnin Rebels have been incredibly impressive in their second year under Kevin Kruger and have already won over both Dayton and Minnesota. UNLV has not played in the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

Daily specials

  • Kansas/Tennessee (Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • North Carolina/Iowa State (PK85)
  • Duke/Xavier (PK85)
  • Alabama/UConn (PK85)
  • Gonzaga/Purdue (PK85)

Leftovers

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