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The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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Michigan State tops Luke Winn’s power rankings (Sports Illustrated)
Luke Winn’s weekly power rankings are an entertaining and informative read, with statistical analysis of the teams proving to be quite valuable. A top his rankings this week is Michigan State, thanks to their win over Kentucky, and the Spartan’s ability to get out and run while limiting opponents’ chances of doing so is one reason why. Through two games an area that was a weakness for Tom Izzo’s team at the end of last season has been a strength.

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin promotes Titus Rubles to captain (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Entering the 2013-14 season Cincinnati seniors Sean Kilpatrick and Justin Jackson were the team captains, and rightfully so, given the fact that they’ve been productive members of the program for three seasons. This week Cronin made senior Titus Rubles his third captain, citing Rubles’ play in wins over North Carolina Central and NC-State as the reason why.

Should college basketball players be paid? Syracuse, ACC athletes weigh in (Syracuse Post-Standard)
This question has been debated for quite some time, and that will continue to be the case until there’s a resolution to the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. The Syracuse Post-Standard asked the question of players at Syracuse and throughout the ACC, and there are some solid points made on both sides of the argument.

D’Angelo Harrison, Mike Rice bonded at anger management (New York Post)
With St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison  and Rutgers head coach Mike Rice having some serious issues to address during the offseason, both wound up under the wing over John Lucas in Houston. The two would form a bond that remains strong, with Rice attending the Red Storm’s second exhibition game against Humboldt State. But while Harrison has made it back to the college game, Rice’s return will be more challenging.

UC Irvine 86, Washington 72 (Big Apple Buckets)
Russell Turner’s Anteaters were dominant in the second half of their win in Seattle, and John Templon of Big Apple Buckets was there to see it all. Irvine’s interior play, featuring Will Davis II and Mamadou Ndiaye, is what stood out on Thursday night with Ndiaye setting a Big West record for blocked shots in a game (nine).

Tom Crean thinks James Blackmon Jr. will be worth the wait, drama (Indianapolis Star)
After making the decision to de-commit from Indiana this past summer, 2014 guard James Blackmon Jr. ended up re-committing to the Big Ten school. And after receiving Blackmon’s national letter of intent, Indiana head coach stated that he believes the drama will be worth it.

Observation Room: Temple/Towson (City of Basketball Love)
The Towson Tigers are 3-0 for the first time in 41 years after knocking off Temple at SECU Arena. Josh Verlin of City of Basketball Love offered up some of his observations of the game, including some thoughts regarding the Owls’ problems closing games.

Five freshmen you might want to pay attention to (Run the Floor)
For all the chatter about the freshmen who played in the Champions Classic, and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, there are other newcomers college basketball fans should be aware of. Among the five players mentioned here are a McDonald’s All-Americanand a mid major wing who originally signed with Old Dominion.

Devyn Marble following his father (ESPN)
Being a “legacy” can be difficult for young players, especially when the family member who preceded them was so successful. That’s what Iowa senior Devyn Marble struggled with at times due to the fact that his father Roy is one of the school’s all-time greats. But instead of allowing the expectations/comparisons to weigh him down, Devyn’s worked to create his own legacy at Iowa.

CBT Podcast: Luke Winn joins to talk Kansas and their unorthodox backcourt

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 03:  Devonte' Graham #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with Frank Mason III #0 after making a three-pointer during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Allen Fieldhouse on December 3, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn, Mr. Power Rankings himself, joined the podcast this week to talk about something other than the Power Rankings.

Luke wrote a long feature on Kansas’ back court of Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, a serendipitous pairing of former mid-major recruits that have turned into arguably the nation’s best pair of guards and the next great two-point guard back court. You can read that story here. You can listen to the podcast below.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

VIDEO: Mark Gottfried on Sunday’s N.C. State performance: ‘It’s embarrasing’

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Mark Gottfried of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center on November 29, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated North Carolina State 88-74. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Mark Gottfried is probably the happiest man in the world that his N.C. State team played – and lost – a home game against Georgia Tech on Sunday night, overlapping with the end of the thrilling Green Bay-Dallas NFC Playoff game.

No one was talking about it.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Joe Giglio of the News & Observer was there and, like he did after last weekend’s loss at Boston College, he took Gottfried to task for his team’s performance.

The biggest issue? Gottfried’s nonchalance at the way that a team with the talent to finish in the top six of the ACC and get to a Final Four is playing. The Wolfpack should not be sitting at 1-4 in the ACC having already played BC and Georgia Tech. Gottfried told the media after on the loss to Boston College that his team “got better,” which was as laughable then as it is now.

On Sunday night, he certainly did not try and view his team through rose-colored glasses:

That’s about as mad and emotional as you’ll see Gottfried get.

And he’s got every right to be mad, because the Wolfpack – who count a future top five pick, another future first rounder and at least three more guys that will get a shot on NBA Summer League teams – currently sit at the bottom of the ACC standings and third-to-last in KenPom’s ACC rankings.

The biggest issue is on the defensive end of the floor, which Gottfried made so clear Sunday.

“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “We’ve got to decide if we want to play some defense. I can talk about it for 2 hours every day at practice, at some point, they better make a decision. Right now, we struggle to guard anybody.”

The numbers back it up. N.C. State is dead last in the ACC in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and the only high-major programs that are worse than them defensively are Michigan, Washington State, DePaul, LSU, Washington and Arizona State. The Wolfpack are by far the most talented team out of that group, and probably the most athletic as well. They should be good defensively, but, if you talk to coaches in the league and NBA scouts that have watched that team play, the most consistent knock on them is, simply, that they don’t play hard.

And that may be more worrying than any of the results the Wolfpack have posted this season.

“I don’t want to paint the picture that I walk in there every night, even after a loss, it’s Pollyanna inside my locker room,” Gottfried said. “I think it’s time they understand, they need to understand. I can coddle them, I can baby them, but they have to take ownership.”

VIDEO: Roy Williams gets customized shoes from Michael Jordan

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels is presented with a gift as he celebrates after his 800th career victory with a 85-68 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Roy Williams became the second-fastest coach to get to 800 career wins last night, and to honor him, UNC did things like put together a video presentation, give him a jersey with the number 800 and bring him to the center of the Dean Dome floor to get cheered by everyone in attendance.

But it was Michael Jordan whose gift floored everyone.

Literally.

Because MJ got Ol’ Roy a pair of customized shoes, and it just about killed Brandon Robinson:

Here’s a closer look at those kicks:

No. 2 Kansas utilizes mismatches to outlast Iowa State

AMES, IA - JANUARY 16: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks battles for the ball with Monte Morris #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones, and Matt Thomas #21 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the first half of play at Hilton Coliseum on January 16, 2017 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Kansas used its size advantage to pound the glass as the Jayhawks outlasted Iowa State for a 76-72 Big 12 road win on Monday.

Using only a seven-man rotation once again, Kansas (17-1, 6-0) used its size advantage on the interior and on the wings to crush the Cyclones on the boards as they outrebounded Iowa State 41-22. With a huge advantage on the interior, Kansas focused on working the ball inside-out as they shot 54 percent from the floor.

Kansas did a great job of finding mismatches on the offensive end and had a balanced scoring effort as all seven players scored between 16 and six points. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks with 16 points and chipped in six rebounds while Landen Lucas (14 points), Svi Mykhailiuk (13 points) and Carlton Bragg (10 points) all finished in double figures.

Iowa State (11-6, 3-3) was able to hang with Kansas for the entire game but they just couldn’t get over the hump every time they would cut the lead to around four points. The Cyclones tried to use a little bit of Hilton Magic to make a late charge, as Monte Morris (23 points) made two free throws to cut the Kansas lead to three with under 20 seconds left but it ultimately wasn’t enough.

With Iowa State lacking the size to matchup with Kansas, the Cyclone offense had a lot of one-and-done possessions since they had no offensive rebounders that were a threat. The Kansas perimeter defense limited Iowa State to a lot of contested jumpers as the Cyclones shot 33.3 percent (9-for-27) three-point shooting. Deonte Burton added 21 points for Iowa State while Naz Mitrou-Long added 18 points.

It’s never easy to win at Iowa State, so the Jayhawks will certainly take this win and be happy with it as they just seem to have a huge matchup advantage against the Cyclones this season.

Jenkins, Brunson, lead No. 1 Villanova past Seton Hall 76-46

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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Kris Jenkins scored 16 points and Jalen Brunson added 13 to lead No. 1 Villanova to a 76-46 win over Seton Hall on Monday.

The Wildcats (18-1, 6-1 Big East) looked every bit like a team that could win back-to-back national championships in their first game at No. 1 in The AP Top 25 poll following a one-week hiatus.

Villanova fell from the top spot to third in the poll following a Jan. 4 loss at Butler. But wins over Marquette and Xavier vaulted the Wildcats over the Kansas Jayhawks and back into the top spot.

Led by four 3s from Jenkins, the Wildcats set a school record 47 straight wins at the Pavilion. Under coach Jay Wright, Villanova has been nearly unbeatable at home for most of the last 10 years.

Seton Hall (12-6, 2-4) was just the latest to go down in front of the 177th straight sellout crowd. Villanova’s rare blemish on its national championship season was losing to the Pirates in the Big East Tournament title game.