Pierson’s Potency

Pierson%E2%80%99s+Potency

Many unique events took place last week, but this week delivered the same amount of craziness. The United States crowned its 46th President Joe Biden along with Vice President Kamala Harris. Also, Donald Trump pardoned famous rappers, Lil Wayne and Kodak Black in his last day in office. The sports world did not disappoint either. We witnessed the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, a weekly dose of college basketball, and high school state championships/semifinals. In this week’s edition of Pierson’s Potency, we will discuss the growing storylines that impacted an enjoyable week of sports. 

There are two clear top teams in college basketball

After a huge win versus a top 10 ranked Wisconsin team, Michigan seemed to be in the discussion with Baylor and Gonzaga. But after a blowout loss vs Minnesota, it seems apparent that there are two top teams in college basketball: Gonzaga and Baylor. Gonzaga is ranked #1 while Baylor is ranked #2. The two juggernauts were set to match up on December 5th at a neutral site. Only 90 minutes away from tip-off, an announcement was made that the game was canceled. Due to two positive COVID tests from the Gonzaga side, the game was canceled. These two positive tests may have cost us the game of the year. Or has it? These teams will most likely meet in April in the Final Four, but why are these teams so well rounded?

Gonzaga has one thing in particular that stands out from every other team in the country: scoring. They are averaging 94 points per game while shooting 55% from the field. The Zags also have four double digit scorers on their team. Their leading scorer, Corey Kispert, is averaging over 20 points per game. He is a lethal shooter that can score from all three levels of the court. Arguably their best player, Jalen Suggs, averages the 3rd most on the team with 14 PPG. Suggs also averages about five assists and five rebounds per game. The former five star is giving the Zags a much needed lift as a freshmen, which may put them on top for the remainder of the season.

Their best players have shined in big games this season. Gonzaga has a few monster wins on their resume. They include wins against Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia. These weren’t nail bitter victories either; Gonzaga won by an average of 12.8 PPG. These were all ranked games that the Zags dominated in. It seems fair to say that the Zags perform at their peak in the biggest games. 

The only other team that could compete with the high powered Gonzaga offense is the Baylor Bears. Baylor is a completely different team than the Bulldogs. They are a more defense oriented team. Baylor has players that can completely take opposing stars out of the game. Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague are both top notch defenders who can carry them to the top. The Bears also have no issue scoring the ball as they average 86 PPG on 50% shooting. Jared Butler has been their all-around best player averaging the most points and steals on the team. 

Baylor also has some high volume wins on their resume. They have wins over Illinois, Texas Tech, and Kansas. These games have not been necessarily close as they have won by an average of 10 PPG. All these teams are ranked in the top 15 of the AP poll and winning by double figures in most of them is fairly impressive. Both teams have won by an average of over 20 PPG which is unheard of, but the real question the media has been wondering: when will these teams face off? Who would win if they played? Only time will tell. 

Lamar Jackson’s playoff woes continue

After a hard fought victory over the Tennessee Titans, many people thought Lamar Jackson had quieted his critics about his winless playoff record. I did not see the win as “shushing his doubters”, but if he beat the Buffalo Bills in the divisional, he would have accomplished that. Going into the Saturday night game, the media was unsure of who was going to win. The Ravens seemed like one of the hottest teams in the NFL while the Bills had just come off a near loss to the Colts. Well, there was no need for the uncertainty during the game. One team completely dismantled the other, and it was not the Ravens. Buffalo’s defense dominated the whole game and came up with crucial stops that would lead them to the AFC Championship. 

Lamar Jackson seemingly struggled throughout the game and never seemed comfortable. Whenever the Ravens were able to put together a solid drive, kicker Justin Tucker would uncharacteristically miss easy field goals. Tucker was one of three on the game. Before the game, he had only missed one field goal earlier in the year. So many fans after the game said Lamar had zero help to win this divisional game. That is not necessarily true though.

The biggest play of the game came on a 3rd and goal towards the end of the third quarter. Down 10-3, it seemed like Baltimore would close the gap regardless of the result. Lamar would throw it into coverage and cornerback Taron Johnson intercepted the pass. He would take it 101 yards to the house to give the Bills a 17-3 lead. This would turn out to be the play of the game as Lamar went down during the fourth quarter with a concussion and the Ravens had no answers after the injury.  This begs the question: are Lamar’s playoff woes all his fault or is the front office a part of the blame?

The front office has part of the blame in the Lamar playoff losses. Although they cannot control some of the horrible passes Lamar has thrown, they can control the weapons Lamar has to throw to. In Lamar’s first 3 years, the Ravens front office has failed horribly to deliver some help for Jackson. I understand that the Ravens have Mark Andrews and Marquise (Hollywood) Brown, but that does not explain the fact that they have not addressed the need in either the draft or trade deadline. Instead of trading for former All-pro defensive linemen, maybe they should trade for receivers or tight ends. Their problem has not been defensively, it has been offensively. They should know it is a problem as their second best receiver is either Willie Snead or Miles Boykin, and if the Baltimore Ravens front office does not address these needs expect Lamar’s playoff woes to continue