How many teams in college basketball have the makeup to win the national championship in Houston this April?
It’s a question of rich fluidity, but my top tier in the group would be Alabama, Kansas, Houston, UCLA and Purdue. Three of these teams lost this past weekend, and if that doesn’t sum up the current state of affairs in college hoops, I’m not sure what does. The sport is filled with parity and chaos, and there’s easily a double-digit number of candidates that could reach the Final Four.
The chaos was felt Sunday evening at the Fertitta Center, as Temple took down AP No. 1 ranked Houston, 56-55. It marked the Owls’ first win over the top team in the rankings since 2000. For the Cougars, it’s a setback, but those aren’t the worst things to go through on the marathon to March. Candidly, because Houston plays in the American Athletic Conference, it leaves them less susceptible to losing compared to those programs in the Power 5/Big East.
The big-picture item for Kelvin Sampson to figure out is his offense. Beyond Marcus Sasser and Jamal Shead, the Cougars did not get much from other sources. While five-star freshman Jarace Walker has two 20-point performances in his last four games, Sampson and his staff have to find a way to get contributions from him on a more consistent track. In Sunday’s loss, Walker scored nine points but went 3-for-12 from the field. At just over 33% from beyond the arc, perimeter shooting is something that goes hot and cold for the Cougars. As good as they are defensively, at some point on the big dance floor scoring consistently becomes a must.
Going back to our discussion of the double-digit number of potential Final Four candidates, one of those teams is TCU — yes, TCU. And no, I’m not just saying that because the Horned Frogs blew out Kansas on Saturday, 83-60, for the highest-ranked road win in the history of the program. Jamie Dixon’s team is ranked in the top-15 of KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency while being loaded with experience and an All-American-level guard in Mike Miles Jr. With other seniors in guard Damion Baugh and forward Emanuel Miller in the equation, and a gang rebounding mentality, this team is really difficult to stop when knocking down perimeter shots. In Saturday’s win over the Jayhawks, the Horned Frogs shot 8-for-15 from beyond the arc and six players scored at least eight points. Yes, TCU is 15-4, but three of those losses came by just a…