Friday, February 10, 2012

Notes From ESPN’s College Basketball Nation Blog

(Bob Donnan/US Presswire)
By Myron Medcalf/ESPN: These players...and teams have changed our perceptions, expectations and projections in the middle of the season. Some for better, some for worse. The bottom line is that we have a completely different take on these players right now than we did in November. 

Some of these characters even changed our minds overnight. They’ve certainly transformed our opinions.

Austin Rivers -- Before The Shot, Rivers had taken a turn toward his potential. Entering Wednesday night’s buzzer-beating victory over North Carolina (more on the Tar Heels soon), he’d averaged 16.5 ppg, shot 47.4 percent from the field and hit 39.3 percent of his 3s in his past six games. His early struggles suggested that he might not live up to the preseason buzz. The first-year combo guard is beginning to put it together at the right time. But the Blue Devils need Rivers to lead for the rest of the season.

North Carolina -- The Tar Heels were the preseason favorites to win the national title. They entered the season No. 1 on every chart that mattered. With Harrison Barnes & Co. returning for another year, the expectations for the program were grand. Their collapse over the last three minutes of their Wednesday home loss to Duke only showcased the ongoing concern about a Tar Heels squad that has four losses before mid-February. They don’t pounce on opponents or execute like past championship-caliber Tar Heels squads. The pre-NCAA tournament stakes don’t get higher than a rivalry game against the Blue Devils. And this talented group couldn’t finish. The doubts should persist.

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