Another calendar year has concluded, but the 2021-22 college basketball season has only just begun. While still early, we've reached the point where true contenders begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, while pretenders get exposed in conference play. For the NCAA's current elite, here are some New Year's resolutions to keep momentum and morale high in 2022.
*Statistics and rankings courtesy of Sports Reference CBB.
#1 Baylor: Keep Thinking It's 2021
It's nearly impossible to have a better twelve-month stretch than the Baylor Bears. With a national championship last year and the top-ranked team in the nation this year, Scott Drew has built a new superpower in Waco. This year's unbeaten Bears are extremely well-rounded, ranked 5th in the nation in adjusted offense and 4th in adjusted defense according to KenPom. If they can keep up this level of play, there really isn't anywhere to improve upon for the defending champs. A highly-anticipated New Year's Day showdown at #8 Iowa State could give us a good idea of the gap between Baylor and the rest of the Big XII.
#2 Duke: Make More Three-Pointers
Less than two months into the season, Duke has put any concerns to rest following a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. This year's Blue Devils, amid the media frenzy of Coach K's retirement tour, are a legitimate force, with quality wins over #18 Kentucky and #4 Gonzaga en route to an 11-1 record. The one area that could elevate Duke's offensive attack is better success on three-point shots. Outside of Wendell Moore and A.J. Griffin, the roster lacks perimeter threats, with guards Jeremy Roach and Trevor Keels finding more success in the paint. If Duke can spread out defenses with their shooting, it could give freshman phenom Paolo Banchero (17.1 PPG) even more room to work in the paint.
#3 Purdue: Defend More Three-Pointers
Unlike Duke, Purdue has no problem shooting the three-ball; they hit at a stellar 40.4