Memphis v Xavier

Memphis, not Kentucky, has the most to prove this season

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On Tuesday afternoon, Eamonn Brennan of posted a list of his top ten teams with the most to prove this season.

Brennan has Kentucky at No. 1, a number that I’m not sure that I can get behind.

The Wildcats are coming off of an ugly season, one which saw them underperform throughout the year, lose in the first round of the NIT and proceed to shed two of their more disappointing player through transfer. For a program designed to build around a new crop of freshman every season, that’s a tough blow to take.

But it’s also important to remember that Kentucky is now all of 18 months removed from winning a national title using this exact same formula. They’ve already proven that stocking up on McDonald’s all-americans every year can lead to regular season and postseason success; remember, that national title came a year after Coach Cal led the Cats to the Final Four in 2011.

Part of the reason that expectations are so high for this group is that it’s been done before.

The same cannot be said for the folks down in Memphis, TN. (The Tigers were fourth on Eamonn’s top ten list.)

Josh Pastner has quickly established himself as one of the most impressive recruiters in the country, slowly but surely stockpiling enough talent on his roster that preseason top 15 rankings have become the norm.

But what does he have to show for four years of accumulating of prep phenoms? A pair of league titles in the watered down Conference USA, three trips to the NCAA tournament, a single tournament win and zero wins over teams ranked in the top 25. Talents like Joe Jackson and Adonis Thomas that failed to live up to their immense hype. For all the hype and attention the Tigers get, their results, on paper, aren’t that much different from a program like Belmont, a strong mid-major program overmatched against the big boys.

This season, Memphis have arguably their most talented roster in the Pastner-era. They are making the jump to the AAC, which pits them against UConn, Temple and, for one season, Louisville. They have arguably the best back court in the country, a four-headed monster headlined by Jackson and Missouri transfer Mike Dixon. Their front line has big bodies in the middle with a couple of talented combo-forwards to balance everything out.

Pastner and Memphis, on paper, look like a top ten team.

But this is Memphis. Their reputation precedes them.

And this may be Pastner’s best chance to change the perception of his program.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Kris Dunn vs. Denzel Valentine; Two 6-0 teams from Ohio battle in Orlando

Kris Dunn
AP Photo
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Michigan State vs. Providence, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Two Player of the Year candidates lock horns on Sunday night as Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine battles Providence’s Kris Dunn. Both players are strong threats to record a triple-double each time they take the floor and both are key reasons why their teams are 6-0. The Friars could probably use this game a bit more than Michigan State since they enter this game unranked and could use another confidence-boosting win for a team filled with newer players. As for the Spartans, winning the Wooden Legacy would mean another great accomplishment before December even started for a team that has national title aspirations.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 23 Xavier vs. Dayton, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

These two 6-0 teams from Ohio will meet in Orlando in the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational. The Musketeers have six different players averaging at least 9.7 points per game this season as they’ve received great balance on the offensive end. As for Dayton, Charles Cooke as emerged as a go-to player early this season while guard Scoochie Smith has also been outstanding. This will be the first time these two schools have played since Feb. 16, 2013.


  • One of the fun teams to watch this week has been Monmouth and their amusing end-of-bench antics. On the floor, the Hawks knocked off Notre Dame and gave Dayton a scare and they’ll face USC for the second time this season to close out the AdvoCare Invitational. The Trojans won the first one 101-90, but this is a 12:30 p.m. EST tip, so that could benefit Monmouth the second time around.
  • Wisconsin visiting No. 7 Oklahoma is an intriguing Sunday matchup. The Badgers could certainly use a true road win here as they’re off to a 4-2 start. The Sooners get more of a real test after only playing Memphis as a notable opponent their first three games.
  • Also going on in the AdvoCare Invitational is No. 20 Wichita State facing Iowa and No. 17 Notre Dame battling Alabama. The Shockers are going without senior starters Fred Van Vleet and Anton Grady as they try to escape Orlando with a win. Notre Dame is hoping to close out the event strong after its surprising upset to Monmouth.
  • Action also continues in Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy as No. 11 Arizona will take on Boise State, while Boston College plays Santa Clara and UC Irvine faces Evansville. Arizona will look to get back on the right track after the close loss to Providence in the semifinals.
  • No. 6 Duke gets an afternoon tilt with Utah State at home before they face Indiana during the week. It’ll be interesting to see if Blue Devil freshman wing Brandon Ingram keeps his strong play going from earlier in the week.
  • UCLA returns home and could badly use a win against Cal State Northridge. The Bruins went a disappointing 1-2 in the Maui Invitational and need to get back on the right track before the face No. 1 Kentucky next week.


  • Brown vs. No. 25 SMU, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)


  • Jackson State at Marquette, 12:30 p.m.
  • Rider at Rhode Island, 1:00 p.m.
  • Savannah State at South Florida, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • South Carolina State at Kansas State, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Colorado at Colorado, 2:00 p.m. (PAC12)
  • UC Santa Barbara at Arizona State, 4:00 p.m. (PAC12)

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics