The defending national champions are looking good enough to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament after their 78-73 road win over Tennessee on Sunday. Much of that is due to the emergence of Luke Maye. The junior forward is averaging 19.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season and has filled in aptly for the departed Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.
Maye burst on the scene during last year’s NCAA tournament when he hit the game-winning jumper to send the Tar Heels to the Final Four over Kentucky. He has been even better than anyone outside of the North Carolina locker room could expect this season.
Inside that locker room, they say they’re not surprised because they saw Maye put in the work.
“Let’s be honest, too, it’s not coaching,” North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said earlier this month according Raleigh News & Observer. “It’s sweat because Luke Maye has been willing to put in the sweat at an amount and level that very few players have done.”
Add him with proven winner Joel Berry at point guard and the Tar Heels have enough veteran talent to sustain success throughout this season.
National Player of the Week: Tyus Battle, Syracuse. Battle wasn’t the most efficient, but he hit big shots when his team needed in a rivalry game on the road. His 29 points helped propel the Orange to the win over Georgetown on Saturday.
Stock Up: Oklahoma. Buoyed by high-octane freshman Trae Young, Oklahoma went on the road (basically) and beat a good Wichita St team. The Sooners are now 8-1 and are putting together a solid NCAA resume.
Stock Down: Andy Kennedy’s job security. Ole Miss has now lost home games to Illinois St and South Dakota St this season while getting blown out on the road by Middle Tennessee. This was a critical year for him and he’s not off to a great start.
Stock Up: Clemson. The Tigers went on the road (basically) and beat Florida for their second win over a marquee opponent this season after winning at Ohio St last month. Brad Brownell was on thin ice going into this season, but he’s having the kind of start he needed.
Stock Down: UCLA. The Bruins are almost out of chances to get a good non-conference win before league play starts. UCLA lost back-to-back games to Michigan and Cincinnati and only have Kentucky left on the 23rd. If the Bruins lose that one, they’ll have a lot of work to do in a down Pac-12.
This Week’s Top 25:
2. Michigan St
3. Arizona St
7. Texas A&M
9. North Carolina
12. West Virginia
13. Wichita St
17. Seton Hall
18. Texas Tech
20. Florida St
25. Notre Dame