Chasing St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s is the lone undefeated team within a major conference at 20-4 and 10-0 in the West Coast Conference. The ACC, Big 12, Big 10, SEC, American, Big East, and other conferences are all beating up on each other and usual conference leaders including North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan St, and others are looking to have six or more conference losses before the end of the season. Relaxed transfer rules and the extra year of eligibility granted to all players on teams during the first season affected by the Covid-19 pandemic have changed the way rosters are shaped. Some players that had been granted a fifth year of eligibility also got a sixth year to complete their playing time. This has helped to narrow the talent gap as teams that traditionally attract the best high school players are also having to adapt to recruiting experienced transfer players to compete with teams that are having success recruiting more mature players through the transfer portal.
ACC Big Four
The Big Four ACC college basketball teams (North Carolina, Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest) provide a good example of how different teams are put together and how balanced the conference is. North Carolina has one transfer and relies heavily on multi-year players. Wake Forest and NC State reshaped their rosters with as many as 8 transfer players, and Duke has seven freshmen plus transfers on its roster. The results have been somewhat surprising. North Carolina easily beat Wake Forest and NC State at home but struggled with Duke in a loss on the road. NC State beat Duke soundly at home, won a tight matchup against Wake Forest on the road, and had the previously mentioned loss to North Carolina on the road. Duke suffered double-digit losses to Wake Forest and NC State on the road but held off North Carolina at home. Like the rest of the major conferences the ACC is balanced. Results from Big Four play provide a good example of what we should expect from other conferences this college basketball season.