Entering the holiday season, some teams are already playing like its March, others need some (or many) gifts from Santa in order to stand a chance when a single loss ends your season. Here's a rundown of what each team should be asking for this Christmas Season.
North Carolina should ask for: Defense, three-point shooting, and experience.
The Tar Heels are absurdly talented. Every player in Roy Williams' rotation could start on about 95 percent of the teams in the country. Williams has a problem though; collectively, those immensely talented players haven't figured out how to play solid team basketball on both ends of the floor.
UNC ranks just 52nd in the country in offensive efficiency and 64th in defensive (those numbers are entering the Texas game and should only get worse after the loss). Three-point shooting is non-existent in Carolina's offensive gameplan as just 22 percent of the team's field goal attempts are three-pointers and that ratio ranks 336th in the country.
It's not like UNC doesn't shoot the ball well; and including the UT game, the Tar Heels are connecting on 37.5 percent of their attempts from deep. Combine UNC's two-point dominated offense with a high percentage of turnovers and the Tar Heels' attack isn't that deadly.
The defense is just as problematic as North Carolina hasn't really been able to slow the top offenses its faced this season. Of the ranked teams UNC has played, only Kentucky produced less than a point than per possession against the Heels.
The problems culminated with Saturday's loss to Texas. 103 points allowed in 90 possessions (which is an absolute track meet--one of the fastest games that will be played by two teams not named VMI) is not something Roy Williams should be the least bit proud of.
The struggles can be traced to a lack of experience. So many games against so many good teams should help UNC in March, but overall most of the players on this team lack big game experience. Ed Davis, Marcus Ginyard, and Deon Thompson are the only ones that have played significant minutes in important games. That's only three players in Williams' 12 man rotation.
Kansas should ask for competition.
Seriously, everyone KU plays isn't living up to expectations this year. Memphis is decent, but that game looked like a classic in the making before John Calipari bailed for Kentucky. Michigan, UCLA, and California looked like tournament worthy teams in the preseason, now only the Golden Bears look like they have any shot of going dancing.
You can't fault KU for this awful schedule. Every one they scheduled turned out to be pretty terrible. They still have Temple and Tennessee coming up which could prove to be quality opponents.
Texas should ask for a deadly three-point shooter.
Avery Bradley is getting there, but for now, the Longhorns' only weakness is a consistent threat from long range. As a team, they are shooting just 33 percent from deep. Only 20 percent of UT's points come from three which could prove problematic if a team manages to keep the Longhorns off the glass or zones them.
Kentucky should ask for experience.
The Wildcats rank just 332nd in the nation in experience with an average of .96 years of experience per player on the court. The inexperience has shown with high turnovers and poor shot selection at times. Eventually, Kentucky will lose a game it shouldn't as the Wildcats keep sneaking out of games against lesser opponents with victories.
Syracuse should ask for good behavior and good health.
Syracuse doesn't have a strong track record getting through an entire season without suspending a player. Last year, Eric Devendorf got physical with a women on Halloween. The year before, Scoop Jardine's uncle stole a meal card and Jardine didn't stop him from using it.
The season before that Josh Wright decided to leave a team shorthanded by injury. 2006-2007 was a clean slate, but the previous two years Louis McCroskey and Billy Edlin gave Jim Boeheim headaches.
So if Jim Boeheim can get through the season without incident (Mookie Jones has tested him already) and with clean health among his players, the Orange will stay National Championship contenders.
Purdue should ask for a pure point guard.
Lewis Jackson still might lose the entire season to injury and if he does, Purdue will be in serious trouble in March. The Boilermakers have had little trouble scoring so far this season, but a good defensive team that they'll inevitably face in the NCAA Tournament will disrupt Purdue's offense.
If Jackson can't come back, freshman Kelsey Barlow will have to be a better point guard when he's on the floor. Chris Kramer and Keon Grant will also have to do a better job distributing as neither is a particularly good shooter or finisher.
West Virginia should ask for Devin Ebanks to figure out his "issues".
Ebanks has played four games this season and he hasn't exactly been good. Or even average. He's borderline mediocre at this point. His offensive rating is floating around the 90 point mark which is what you'd expect someone from a SWAC school to convert at.
Sophomore Kevin Jones has been a nice surprise, but he doesn't have All-American talent, Devin Ebanks does and he needs to play like it.