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College Basketball Talk’s Player of the Year Power Rankings

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The 2013-2014 season is sure to be a thrilling Player of the Year race, so to keep track of it, we will be posting weekly Player of the Year Power Rankings for your reading goodness.

Who’d we miss? Who’s ranked too high? We love to overlook your team’s best player and overrate your rival’s superstar.

1) Shabazz Napier, UConn: Napier is averaging 16.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 5.6 apg and 1.9 spg through eight games. The Huskies are 8-0, but their four biggest wins have come by a combined five points. You want to take a guess who gets the ball in the clutch for the Huskies?

2) Jabari Parker, Duke: The Blue Devils have struggled a bit early on this season given their lack of interior play, but Parker’s been tremendous. He’s averaging 23.0 points and 8.0 boards, shooting 50% from three despite going 0-for-5 against Arizona.

3) Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart struggled a bit down in Orlando, but he’s still been arguably the most dominant all-around player in the country this season.

4) Julius Randle, Kentucky: The double-double machine saw his streak come to an end on Sunday night at the Barclays Center, but Randle is the best player on the team with the most potential in the country. He’ll be at the top of this list all season long.

5) Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling has been the best player on the floor for the team that’s currently sitting at No. 1 in the country. The fact that he’s come up huge in the Spartan’s two biggest wins doesn’t hurt, either.

6) Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson is going to end up being the most important player on the Arizona roster. The Wildcats are going to have issues in the half-court against elite defenses, and he’s the guy with the talent to break people down. He’s also a terrific defender on a very, very good defensive team.

7) Doug McDermott, Creighton: Dougie McBuckets was McAwful against George Washington, struggling with the length and athleticism that Isaiah Armwood could throw at him.

8) Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith one Kenpom’s Player of the Year award last year, and he’s been more efficient this season than he was last season.

9) Jahii Carson, Arizona State: Carson’s Sun Devils had a rough weekend at the Wooden Legacy, and Carson had some issues with rolling his ankles. The one concern that popped up? Carson appeared to quite in a blowout loss to Creighton.

10) Perry Ellis, Kansas: Ellis has been the best player on Kansas this season, but he had a bit of a disappointing week in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Others: Kyle Anderson, Ron Baker, Dylon Cormier, Aaron Craft, Tyler Haws, Alex Kirk, Rodney Hood, Roberto Nelson, Marcus Paige, Elfrid Payton, Elijah Pittman, Juwan Staten, Joseph Young

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.