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House of College Hoops: Weekly Digest, Week 4

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

HOUSE OF COLLEGE HOOPS

WEEKLY DIGEST

Writer's Note: College Hoops Digest, originally founded in 2013, was born on the principle of finding & telling the "real story" of college basketball. Now, in the era of House of College Hoops, we remain dedicated to this one basic grounding principle. Each week, I'll be honoring our former namesake with our "Weekly Digest" of the biggest storylines to watch throughout the season.


Week 4: November 28 - December 4, 2022


Is Purdue a contender?

With the loss of a few major contributors this year, including Detroit Pistons lottery selection Jaden Ivey & G-League player Trevion Williams, there were questions surrounding Purdue's ability to continue to compete at a national level. Of course, all eyes are on 7-foot-4 giant Zach Edey - he's on a shortlist for the Wooden Award once again. But the question of who would emerge to help him was still outstanding. Now, it appears Matt Painter has his crew trending in the right direction.


“We have a good young group that’s finding its way,” Painter told the media last week. “The fact that what separates yourself is normally the fifty-fifty balls, the rebounds, and the extra effort. You saw that from multiple people making effort plays and getting us timeouts, and in those situations we ended up scoring.”


It's translated to a 6-0 start for the second straight year. The last three have been no-doubters against KenPom Top-40 opponents. Freshmen Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer have emerged as early contributors, each in double-figures per game.

This week, Purdue won't be nearly as challenged as they were in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament - they stack up against Florida State on the road, and back at Mackey Arena on Sunday against Big Ten foe Minnesota. One thing is for sure - if Purdue keeps playing hustle basketball and gets consistent contributions from the freshmen, it'd be foolish to write off Matt Painter and the Boilermakers.


Connecticut's winning ways are coming from their big man

Don't act surprised at UConn's 7-0 record to start the season. Sure, the front-end of these wins weren't of any quality (Stonehill, Boston U, Buffalo, UNC Wilmington, and Delaware State), but statement wins over Oregon, Alabama, and potentially Iowa State (result late Sunday) show UConn is ready to roll this season.


When discussing big men across the field this year, there might not be a more talented traditional bruiser power forward than Adama Sanogo. Hustle & effort are Sanogo's modus operandi this year, and it's certainly reflecting in the stat lines. He's up to a whopping 20.6 points and over 7 rebounds per game, ranking 8th in KenPom's player of the year standings. He's improved drastically on both sides of the ball, and it's becoming clear he's ready to make an impact.

With sharpshooters Jordan Hawkins & Andre Jackson - as well as ECU transfer Tristen Newton - all contributing offensively, this could be a scary Connecticut team this year. The Huskies will take on two pesky teams in Oklahoma State and Florida this week, and if they take care of business, they'll head into Big East play (after a quick one with LIU) a perfect 11-0. Watch out.


Major Top 25 games this week

As we mentioned on our latest episode of the House of College Hoops Show, there won't be a week like Feast Week until conference tournaments begin. But Week 4 is tempting us to take back pretty quickly. Here are some games we have on our radar this week:

  • Virginia-Michigan (Tuesday): The 'Hoos are off to another great start, thanks to their vintage Tony Bennett style of play - lockdown defense, and offense good enough to survive. Armaan Franklin (13.8ppg) and Jayden Gardner (11.4ppg) are on a mission to prove they're more than part of the low-octane offensive scheme, and something more. Can they keep it rolling on the road against a Michigan team desperate for relevance after a less-than-ideal start?

  • North Carolina-Indiana (Wednesday): A brutal week for Carolina capped off with a 4OT loss against Alabama for the Phil Knight Invitational championship. Earlier in the week, they lost to a solid Iowa State team. The Tar Heels certainly won't be the number one seed after this week, but are they in danger of plummeting farther than we'd think? A loss to Indiana, who remains undefeated after not participating in any MTE's, would certainly test the fate of even UNC's most loyal apologists. Maybe the Heels' offense looks like a one-seed, but their defense needs work. The Hoosiers' Trayce-Jackson Davis (18.8ppg) is having an excellent start to the year.

  • Creighton-Texas (Thursday): Through six games, Creighton has proved they're legit. They've registered solid wins over Texas Tech & Arkansas - both ranked at the time - and took Arizona to the final possession in their 81-79 loss on Wednesday. Center Ryan Kalkbrenner (16.1ppg) is emerging as one of the Big East's top big men when healthy. If all goes to plan, this is a team that has Final Four expectations. There's just one problem - so do the Texas Longhorns, who match up with the Bluejays in Austin on Thursday night. The top college hoops pundits have been beyond impressed with the Longhorns' start, especially their defensive prowess. Can they string together a full 40 minutes and have a similar result as their 19-point throttling of Gonzaga just over a week ago? Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter (16.2ppg) seems to be the key to unlock the Longhorns offense this year.

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