Arizona v San Diego State

College Basketball Talk’s latest top 25 rankings

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Michigan State is still the No. 1 team in the country, because I don’t think you can replace the No. 1 team in the country if they don’t lose or if the No. 2 team doesn’t mess around and do something ridiculous, like beat the other three top five teams in the span of a week.

We did have some movement, however, as Duke moved down despite winning every game they played.

Any questions? Concerns? Commentary on why I hate your team and love your rival? Get at me in the comments below.

1. Michigan State (6-0): The Spartans remained at the top of the rankings thanks to wins over Portland, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. They should be fine as long as Tom Izzo doesn’t blow a gasket with the new foul rules.

2. Kansas (4-0): Kansas stayed No. 2 after wins over Towson and Iona this week. They’re at the Battle 4 Atlantis this week.

3. Kentucky (4-1): Like Kansas, Kentucky had another quiet week. They’ll get a good test against undefeated Providence at the Barclays Center on Sunday night.

4. Arizona (5-0): I love Arizona. They got the bump up from No. 6 thanks to their versatility. They can play big, with Aaron Gordon at the two and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the three, or they can put Gordon at the four with Brandon Ashley at the five and three guards on the court. Also worth noting just how good Nick Johnson and Gabe York have been.

5. Oklahoma State (4-0): The Pokes look like the real deal after embarrassing Memphis. Marcus Smart is OK. They were No. 8 last week.

6. Ohio State (4-0): An uninspiring win over American won’t change my opinion of the Buckeyes all that much. I’m putting an APB out on LaQuinton Ross.

7. Duke (5-1): I dropped the Blue Devils from No. 5 this week because I’m getting really concerned about their ability to defend. Vermont dropped 90 on them and had a chance to win at the buzzer last night. East Carolina shredded them with dribble penetration. They don’t have a rim protector and they cannot keep anyone out of the lane. Rasheed Sulaimon belongs on the same APB as LaQuinton Ross.

8. Louisville (5-1): If you ask be why Louisville is ranked ahead of No. 15 North Carolina, you better be ready to tell me why Belmont is a top ten team. So don’t do it. That said, I think this group is going to figure out their issues — this was their first loss since the five-overtime game against Notre Dame, their season isn’t over — and I’m still not convinced North Carolina is truly as good as they were yesterday.

9. Syracuse (4-0): The Orange are still riding high on their preseason hype, but they really haven’t done much yet to back it up. They’re in Maui this week, so we’ll see if this top ten rankings is truly deserved.

10. Wisconsin (6-0): The Badgers keep rolling along. Frank Kaminsky popped off for 43 points as Wisconsin dropped 100 this week.

11. UConn (6-0)
12. Oregon (4-0)
13. Wichita State (4-0)
14. Gonzaga (4-0)
15. North Carolina (4-1)
16. Florida (4-1)
17. Baylor (4-0)
18. UCLA (5-0)
19.  Virginia (4-1)
20. Iowa State (4-0)
21. Iowa (5-0)
22. Creighton (4-0)
23. Indiana (5-1)
24. UMass (6-0)
25. Michigan (4-2)

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.