After a thrilling weekend of basketball that saw the #1, #2, and #4 teams in the AP Poll lose, and eleven ranked teams lose in total, each of us are discussing our takeaways from this weekend. Here are 3 of Andrew DeGeorge’s takes:
- Luka Garza is a top 3 player in the nation
Certainly, Garza has been extremely impressive all year. He was one of our earliest March Impact Player Profile features, and for good reason. Garza is a legitimate contender to become the National Player of the Year, and Iowa’s hopes for a deep tournament run this year. Technically, Iowa didn’t play this weekend, but they did take on a red-hot Ohio State team on Thursday, and Garza dropped 24 points, bringing his average to 23.7 points per game. It was his twelfth straight game of over 20 points, and he’s shot over 50% in six straight contests. He’s shooting 56% from the field and averaging almost 10 rebounds per game. He’s an unreal player who is turning the Big 10 on its head.
2. Jarron Cumberland is the best player in the American Conference
A senior guard for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Cumberland has been the focal point of the Cincinnati offense all year. The Bearcats are in a 3-way battle atop the American Conference, and Cumberland is stepping up late, including this past weekend, when the senior made a whopping 16 free throws as part of a 24-point outing to close out a huge win over Wichita State. The Bearcats have won eight of ten, and they’ll continue to look to their best player, and arguably the conference’s best player now that James Wiseman has left the picture, as they hope for a conference title and automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
- Payton Pritchard is the best point guard in the country
Back to the National Player of the Year conversation, another player who has simply played his way into candidacy is Payton Pritchard, Oregon’s senior guard. After leading the charge in the Ducks’ upset run to the Sweet 16 last year, Pritchard has returned with a vengeance this season. He has increased his output to 20.1 points per game, and he turned in his most impressive game of the season this past weekend. Coming off a tough loss to Arizona State and playing a huge road game against #24 Arizona, Pritchard never left the court, scoring 38 points on 44% shooting, turning the ball over just two times, as the fourteenth-ranked Ducks survived the Wildcats 73-72 as they jockey for the Pac-12 lead with three other teams.