John Calipari looking forward to practice time with team
We are but four days into December, so it’s way, way, way too early to begin college basketball bracket talk.
We’re going to do it anyway.
ESPN’s chief bracketologist Joe Lunardi is out with an early “Bracketology” that has Kentucky as the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region, which will be played in Kansas City in March. Yes, that is three months away.
Joey Bracket’s No. 1 seeds: Duke (East), Virginia (South), Gonzaga (West) and Kansas (Midwest). His No. 2s are Nevada (West), Auburn (South), Michigan (Midwest) and Michigan State (East).
Lunardi has Louisville playing in the First Four against Oklahoma as the No. 12 seed in the Midwest. He has Northern Kentucky as the No. 14 seed in the Midwest.
Aside from Duke and Gonzaga, the most impressive team I’ve seen, on television anyway, is Michigan. Watched the Wolverines destroy first North Carolina 84-67 and then Purdue 76-57. Ken Pomeroy — what, you thought I was going to write a college basketball post without mentioning kenpom? — has the Wolverines as the No. 1 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
That goes back to the interesting story of Michigan Coach John Beilein going outside his comfort zone and hiring former Illinois State assistant Luke Yaklich as his defensive coordinator, of sorts. Since then, Michigan’s defense has taken off. The Wolverines went from 69th in defensive efficiency in 2016-17 to third in 2017-18.
As a team manager, Yaklich had roomed with basketball player Dan Muller at Illinois State. Yaklich was then a high school social studies teacher and coach when he agreed to join the Illinois State staff for Muller’s second year as head coach. Muller had previously been an assistant to Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt.
After Beilein lost a pair of assistants before last season, he took Muller’s recommendation and interviewed and offered Yaklich a spot on the Michigan staff. The Wolverines have improved dramatically on defense ever since.
By the way, the online sports book Bovada is out with its updated national championship odds for college basketball.
The top 10 (with ties); Duke 2-1, Gonzaga 7-1, Kansas 10-1, Virginia 12-1, Michigan 14-1, Nevada 14-1, Kentucky 16-1, North Carolina 20-1, Tennessee 28-1, Auburn 30-1, Michigan State 30-1, Villanova 30-1.