The PK85 tournament features quality teams, headlined by Gonzaga, Duke, Purdue, Florida, Xavier, West Virginia, Oregon State, and Portland State.
One of the better tournaments will be the PK85, featuring many good teams that can lead to some very fun matchups.
The first matchup will be between Duke and Oregon State (Nov. 24 – 3:00 PM EST). The second matchup features two quality teams in Florida and Xavier (Nov. 24 – 5:30 PM EST). On the bottom half of the bracket features a matchup between Purdue and West Virginia (Nov. 24 – 10:00 PM EST) and Portland State against Gonzaga (Nov. 25 – 12:30 AM EST). All teams will play the following day, with the final matchups being played on Sunday, November 27th.
The two favorites are Gonzaga and Duke. However, Florida, Xavier, Purdue, and West Virginia will all prove to be honest challenges within the tournament. Oregon State and Portland State do not project to win their first round matchups, but crazier things have happened.
Below will be a summary of each team heading into the tournament, and some things to look for each team.
Duke Blue Devils
Kenpom Ranking: 9
Duke has beat up on 4 mid majors, and they lost a good game to Kansas by 5, although they did not have freshman Dariq Whitehead, a projected lottery pick. Duke has started out well in their first season since Coach K’s retirement. They have absolutely dominated the offensive glass, including the game against Kansas. They have the third highest offensive rebound percentage in the country, headlined by the frontcourt of Kyle Filipowski and Ryan Young.
Freshman Filipowski has come out of the gate strong, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds on the season. Ryan Young has been a solid addition from Northwestern, currently being 17/23 from 2. He has also been one of the best offensive rebounders in the country.
Freshman Tyrese Proctor and Dariq Whitehead have struggled to shoot the ball, but tehy seem to be starting to adjust. They are both very talented and will pose problems for many opponents.
Duke has been very good in transition, averaging 1.11 PPP on transition players per Synergy. They have generated a good amount of spot up opportunities off of kickouts from paint touches.
They have defended the perimeter well, closing out to guys and forcing tough 3s. They are overall a solid defensive team, but they have shown some lapses in pick and roll coverage. This will be something to monitor going forward.
Oregon State Beavers
Kenpom Ranking: 238
There was not much confidence coming into the season as they were predicted to finish last by many in the Pac 12. California may end up taking that spot, but Oregon State has not necessarily been impressive. They started out with a solid win against Tulsa by 3, before beating Florida A&M and Bushnell. They just lost at home against Portland State, another team that will be a big underdog in this tournament.
Oregon State has struggled a lot with guard play. They are currently shooting 25.5 percent from 3, and they turn the ball over on 22.6 percent of their possessions. Needless to say, that is not great.
The Beavers are going to focus more on working the ball inside. Rodrigue Andela has been solid in the post, and Tyler Bilodeau has shown he can also work down low. A lot of their offense has come from Glenn Taylor pushing in transition. Oregon State has been playing slightly uptempo games, headlined by the sophomore.
Point guard Jordan Pope has been one of the brighter spots on the team. He is currently 6/13 from 3 on the year, and he is someone that is able to create some turnovers.
This is a team that will not be good until they can get more consistent perimeter shooting, especially from Dexter Akanno who is 4/17 from 3 on the year. He has been very good getting the ball inside the paint off of pick and rolls however.
Pick and rolls are something Oregon State has struggled to defend a lot though. They will have to be able to keep guys in front if they want a chance.
Kenpom Ranking: 36
Florida has maybe not looked as great as some predicted in the preseason so far. They beat Stony Brook and Kennesaw State, but lost to Florida Atlantic at home by 2 before getting a 9 point win at Florida State.
Colin Castleton has completely dominated the first few games for Florida. The 5th year senior is currently averaging 25.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 3.3 blocks per game. Pretty wild numbers to start out the year. He has been a really big roll threat out of pick and roll, although he has shown he can post up when needed.
Will Richard has shown some scoring capability. His shooting splits are currently 60/46.2/100. He is going to be more of a pure scorer, while backcourt counterpart Kyle Lofton is more of a facilitator.
Florida runs a good amount of pick and roll. They will either hit Castleton on the roll, or kick it out to someone spotting up on the wing. They have been solid off catch and shoot, but Florida’s efficiency as a whole goes down a lot when putting the ball on the ground.
The Gators have been solid defending the pick and roll so far, but one area they have struggled on defense is in transition. They’ll need to be able to limit opponents getting out and running.
Kenpom Ranking: 33
Xavier started the year out by beating 3 mid majors, and then they lost to Indiana by 2 at home.
The Musketeers start with 7’0 big man Jack Nunge. He is currently averaging 17.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, while shooting 55.6% from 3. He has posted up about 4 times a game, and has been one of the most efficient post players. The offense will run through him at times, and the first round matchup between Nunge and Castleton will be a lot of fun.
Souley Boum has been a big perimeter threat so far for Xavier. He is currently shooting 61.5 percent from 3. He will be more of a perimeter threat, and will be running in transition some.
Point guard Colby Jones has been one of the better facilitators in the country, and he will be more pass first.
Zach Freemantle may be the best player on Xavier. He is going to post up a good amount, and that is where he is best. He has also shown the ability to take someone off the bounce a couple times this season.
Xavier currently has the 3rd best 3 point shooting percentage in the country, although they only have 4 true shooters on the team. Xavier does not put up many threes, but they make the ones they take. Their top 4 three point percentages on the team are 61.5%, 55.6%, 52.9%, and 41.7%.
Xavier has defended perimeter shooting well, but they have struggled containing dribble penetration and rim pressure. They will need to improve their interior defense, although these numbers may be slightly skewed having played Indiana, a team that religiously gets the ball inside.
Kenpom Ranking: 25
Purdue is currently undefeated after pulling out a come from behind win against Marquette.
The Boilermakers have to start with 7’4 big man Zach Edey. He is currently averaging 20.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. He is an absolute force down low in the post. Per Synergy, Edey posts up more than every player in the country, and he is also the 31st most efficient post player. His combination of size and foot work make him really hard to guard, and he keeps improving as a passer.
Purdue also features a true freshman backcourt, starting both Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer. They both struggled in the second game against Austin Peay. Loyer started the season out strong, scoring 17 points on 5/12 shooting from 3 against Milwaukee. Nobody may have had a bigger impact against Marquette than Braden Smith. He finished with 20 points on 6/8 shooting, in addition to 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
Purdue will go 10 deep, and Coach Painter will be confident playing all 10 at times. Caleb Furst and Trey Kaufman-Renn provide an interesting backup frontcourt. They complement each other well, with Furst being more of a stretch guy while Kaufman-Renn wanting to bang down low more. Brandon Newman and David Jenkins will come off the bench looking to score, something they have both proven they can do.
Purdue has struggled shooting the ball this year so far, only shooting 28.8% from 3 on the season. This is a team that features 9 guys that have shot at least 40% from 3 at some point in their career, so it is expected for this number to turn around.
Purdue’s defense has been much improved. They have done better containing the ball handler in pick and roll, although this has opened up someone that rolls or pops. If teams have a big that can pop out, it makes it much tougher for Edey to defend in pick and roll. Teams are going to try and always put Edey in space.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Kenpom Ranking: 39
West Virginia has won all 4 games, beating Mount St. Mary’s, Pittsburgh, Morehead State, and Penn. This is another West Virginia team that is pretty athletic and can use it to disrupt offenses.
They have not been pressing quite as much as in previous seasons, but they are still really getting into ball handlers, making it difficult for offenses to be set up. Kedrian Johnson leads that charge, with 8 steals on the season. It helps that West Virginia has been really good at protecting the rim, which allows West Virginia to play more aggressive.
On offense, Joe Toussaint will be the main player that runs pick and roll. He will be looking to pass more than score, and he provides good defensive energy off the bench.
Emmitt Matthews, Tre Mitchell, and Erik Stevenson are 3 athletic wings that all do a little bit of different things. Matthews is a good defender that can get to the rim well on offense. He is also 5/12 from 3 on the year. Tre Mitchell is closer to a big, and he has had success posting up smaller players this season. He is going to try and bully down low, but he can step out and shoot when needed. Erik Stevenson is more of a shooter, but he can still mix it up on offense. He is currently 8/15 from 3 on the season.
West Virginia wants to push, but if they don’t, they often use a lot of shot clock in the half court. They try and drive and kick a lot, or turn some into more isolation ball. When Toussaint is in, he will be running pick and roll.
One area to watch is rebounding. They have been solid on the offensive glass, but they have struggled at times on the defensive glass.
Kenpom Ranking: 3
Gonzaga has had one of the tougher non conference schedules. They took care of North Florida to open up the season. They then were able to get a 1 point win against Michigan State on a neutral site. They followed that up by going to Texas where Texas’ length and disruption was too much for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs then came out and comfortably took care of Kentucky.
Drew Timme is currently averaging 21.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. The National Player of the Year hopeful has picked up right where he left off. He has been good in the post, and that is where he will often go. He also showed the ability to drive by some bigger defenders against Kentucky. He is a smart player that understands what he needs to do for Gonzaga to win.
Julian Strawther has played well for Gonzaga, shooting 50% from 3 currently. He has also been active on defense, averaging 1 block and 2 steals per game. He can both play on the wing and handle the ball when needed.
Guards Rasir Bolton and Nolan Hickman will be key going forward. They struggled against Texas, especially Hickman with taking care of the ball. Their defense is going to be needed in order to limit paint touches and deter shots at the rim, an area Gonzaga has been just ok at defending this season.
Gonzaga has turned the ball over a good amount this season, and it is what has held their offense “back” some, although they have the top ranked offense per Kenpom. They are going to work the ball inside early and often, and that is where they have been most efficient.
Portland State Vikings
Kenpom Ranking: 261
Portland State opened up the season with losses against Portland and Seattle, but were able to beat Evergreen State and Oregon State.
Portland State has shoot free throws very well, and they haven’t turned the ball over much. Aside from that, things have not bene great. They have not shot the ball well this year, and their defense has not been good. They are fouling people a ton, and sending them to the line.
The Vikings are going to play fast and put up 3s. They are often going to be looking for players to be spotting up on the wing and in transition. When in the half court, it will be much of the same.
Jorell Saterfield and Hunter Woods will be the two that are going to be putting up the most 3s. They are currently 8/25 and 9/21 from 3 respectively. Hunter Woods has also shown he can be very active on the defensive end.
Cameron Parker is the starting point guard, and he is going to be the one pushing the pace. He will shoot, but he is going to be looking to set others up more.
Portland State has been solid defending in transition, but they have really struggled defending pick and rolls. If teams can get into the half court against this team, it becomes really tough for Portland State to execute on both ends.
3 Exciting Potenetial Matchups
First round – Colin Castleton vs Jack Nunge
This will be a matchup of two bigs who have been very good so far. They should be matched up against each other early and often.
Second round (Potential) – Drew Timme vs Zach Edey
Another big dual, Timme vs Edey would feature two of the best bigs in the country if they end up facing. Both are monsters in the low post, so it would be fun to see them go up againsr each other.
Third round (Potential) – Gonzaga vs Duke
This will be the favorite for the championship game. If this matchup happens, it will feature two top ten teams that both will want to prove how good they are. It would be another heavy weight matchup that would be very exciting.