Chaz Williams, Eric Mika

College Hoops Week in Review: Wisconsin’s for real, and so is Chaz Williams

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chaz Williams, UMass

UMass has been one of the nation’s most impressive teams this season, and the reason has been the emergence of guys like Raphiael Putney, Cady Lalanne and Sampson Carter. As good as those three have played, the MVP of this UMass team has been dynamic point guard Chaz Williams, a 5-foot-9 dynamo that ended the season’s first month averaging 17.5 points and 7.6 assists while shooting 43.6% from three and operating as the engine that drives the Minutemen’s high-octane offense.

Never was that on display more than it was on Saturday, as Williams went for 32 points and 15 assists — while committing just a single turnover and shooting 9-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-7 from three — in a 105-96 win over BYU. Williams’ 15 assists led directly to 35 points, meaning that Williams was responsible for 67 points in 34 minutes. There’s a chance that the Minutemen could end up being the best team in the A-10 this season, and while it’s ridiculous to expect Williams to play like he did on Saturday all season long, the fact that he’s able to produce like that on a given night should help Derek Kellogg sleep easy at night.

They were good, too:

  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: Alex Kirk gets all the attention, but Bairstow has been fantastic this season. He averaged 22.0 points and 11.5 boards in wins at New Mexico State against Cincinnati.
  • Jordan Clarkson, Missouri: Clarkson led the Tigers to a 2-0 week in their first full week with Frank Haith running the show again. He averaged 23.5 points and 5.0 assists in wins over West Virginia and UCLA.
  • Maurice Creek, George Washington: Creek had 25 points and hit the game-winner against Maryland on Sunday to help the Colonials move to 8-1 this year.
  • Jonathon Loyd, Oregon: The Ducks played just one game this week, but Loyd had 23 points and 15 assists as Oregon won at Ole Miss in that one game. He’s been terrific this season, and Dominic Artis will have a fight for that starting spot on his hands.
  • Shabazz Napier, UConn: It seems like a long time ago now, but Napier hit the game-winner for UConn against Florida on Monday. He had 26 points on the night.
  • LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: The Buckeyes need Ross to be a 15-17 ppg scorer this season. He averaged 21.5 points in two games this week.

source:  TEAM OF THE WEEK: Wisconsin Badgers

It’s time to start taking the Badgers seriously this season. That’s not to say that, from a national perspective, we aren’t. They’re a top ten team that will get heavy consideration for the top five this week. We have them No. 3. What I mean is that we should start talking about whether or not these Badgers are the best team in the Big Ten. Seriously. Michigan State is all kinds of beat up right now. Ohio State has issues offensively with LaQuinton Ross doing standard, inconsistent LaQuinton Ross things. Michigan looks lost without Trey Burke. Indiana desperately needs to find some of those Hoosier-state shooters. Iowa is good but not on the same level.

And here comes Wisconsin, rolling along and ripping off what is arguably the best resume in the country at this point. St. John’s, Florida, at Green Bay, St. Louis, and this week, at Virginia and against Marquette. Even wins over Oral Roberts, North Dakota and West Virginia are more impressive than you probably think. The story line of the Badgers becoming this uptempo team are inaccurate. They’re more opportunistic in transition this season — 8.7% of their possessions are coming via the fast break this year as opposed to 6.4% last season — but they still are 314th in tempo and 349th in average time per possession. What makes them good? Well, their three guards are all typical Wisconsin guards — smart, good shooters, don’t turn the ball over — and Sam Dekker’s an atypical Wisconsin star in that he’s the kind of talent that could thrive anywhere in the country.

Bo Ryan’s boys are legit this year, even if KenPom is “down” on them. Take notice.

They were good, too:

  • Baylor: Baylor’s win over Colorado is looking more impressive by the day. The Bears also happened to beat some team from Kentucky on Friday as well.
  • Colorado: The Buffaloes beat their in-state rival Colorado State and followed that up with a buzzer-beating win over Kansas.
  • Missouri: Wins over West Virginia and UCLA are impressive, but both came at home. Love the Tiger’s perimeter, but still am not sold on them. Getting closer, though.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels went into East Lansing and knocked off then-No. 1 Michigan State. That’s impressive.
  • Syracuse: Their second half dominance in a 69-52 win over Indiana was something impressive. The back court of Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis has been sensational.
  • Texas: The Longhorns beat Vanderbilt and Temple this week. Not overly impressive, but UT now sits at 8-1. Hadn’t we all written this group off this year?

Auburn junior guard Kareem Canty to turn pro

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Auburn junior point guard Kareem Canty, the team’s leader in both points and assists, has missed the Tigers’ last two games as a result of a suspension handed down by head coach Bruce Pearl for a violation of team rules. Thursday night Canty announced via Twitter that he will be turning pro, ending his Auburn career with less than one full season of play.

In 21 games this season Canty averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 assists per contest, shooting 40.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. Given Auburn’s lack of perimeter depth Canty had ample opportunities to score from the point guard position, but he struggled in the four games following standout performances in wins over Kentucky and Alabama.

Auburn’s lost six straight since beating the Crimson Tide, most recently falling 71-45 at Tennessee Tuesday night. Without Canty, Bruce Pearl called upon TJ Lang and Bryce Brown as the perimeter starters in that game with Patrick Keim and New Williams playing a combined 33 minutes off the bench. They’ll continue to see those minutes moving forward.

As for next season, Auburn brings in four-star point guard Jared Harper and currently injured point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen will be available as well.

Canty began his college career at Marshall, playing the 2013-14 season for the Thundering Herd before deciding to transfer. Canty committed to Auburn in mid-April of 2014, only to change his mind in favor of USF before making the switch back to Auburn.

Canty’s name wasn’t showing up in early draft projections, and making this decision while in the midst of a suspension likely won’t help matters when it comes to getting selected.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of tonight’s bubbly action in one place

Fran Dunphy
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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This post will be updated as the games are completed.

You know what’s not going to be fun on Selection Sunday?

Trying to evaluate the profile that Temple (KenPom: 95, RPI: 69) eventually puts together.

The Owls are currently sitting tied for first place in the American at 9-3. They’ve swept UConn after coming from down 12 to beat the Huskies in Philly on Thursday. They’ve swept Cincinnati. They handed SMU their first loss of the season. They beat Tulsa. That’s four top 50 and six top 100 wins, which are good numbers in comparison to other bubble teams.

The problem?

They also lost at Memphis (yuck) and East Carolina (double yuck), have a non-conference strength of schedule that sits right around 200, lost to every good team they played out of conference and have thus far managed just six top 150 wins this season. The other issue? They’ve basically run out of quality opponents in the league. They do play at Tulsa (RPI: 50) and Houston (RPI: 91), which are basically must-wins at this point, and since every other opponent they play in the American has a sub-100 RPI, those are essentially can’t-lose games.

What that leaves us is the Villanova game. That will be played next week, and that’s as close to a must-win as you can get in mid-February.

WINNERS

  • Syracuse (KenPom: 39, RPI: 44): Syracuse landed their sixth top 50 win and eighth top 100 win of the season on Thursday. They also got word that the selection committee will factor in that Jim Boeheim missed time for the Orange. It may be time to take them off of this list, at least for the time being.

LOSERS

  • UConn (KenPom: 19, RPI: 46): On paper, UConn’s loss at Temple on Thursday isn’t all that bad. It’s a road loss to a top 100 opponent. Those happen in league play. Where it hurts is that the Owls have now not only swept UConn, but they did it by erasing a 12-point lead in the final five minutes. The Huskies fall to just 5-7 against the top 100 with just one top 50 win, albeit at Texas. With no bad losses and two shots left against SMU, UConn is still in decent shape.
  • Florida State (KenPom: 37, RPI: 38): The Seminoles missed a shot at landing a nice road win at Syracuse on Thursday. It doesn’t hurt their profile, and with three top 25, another top 50 and a top 100 opponent left on their schedule, there are still chances to play their way onto the bubble. The problem? All those games are losable as well.
  • VCU (KenPom: 32, RPI: 40): The Rams were on the wrong end of a brutal loss to UMass on Thursday night. It’s not the kind of loss that is going to eliminate VCU from the bubble conversation — not by any stretch — but one of the strengths of VCU’s résumé was that they didn’t have any bad losses to speak of. Now they have a loss to a sub-150 team. Their next four games are all potential landmines as well. Will Wade’s club would do well to avoid losing any of those four.

Games left to be played.

Arkansas-Little Rock (KenPom: 41, RPI: 63) at Louisiana Monroe, 8:00 p.m.
Northern Kentucky at Valparaiso (KenPom: 22, RPI: 48), 8:00 p.m.
No. 4 Iowa at Indiana (KenPom: 24, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
No. 11 Oregon at Cal (KenPom: 44, RPI: 32), 9:00 p.m.
Washington State at Colorado (KenPom: 56, RPI: 29), 11:00 p.m.
Gonzaga (KenPom: 33, RPI: 66) at Portland, 11:00 p.m.
Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s (KenPom: 26, RPI: 52), 11:00 p.m.
Oregon State (KenPom: 81, RPI: 31) at Stanford (KenPom: 104, RPI: 71), 11:00 p.m.