Wichita State

College Basketball Talk’s Latest Top 25

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source: AP

Thanks to road wins over the two toughest teams in the Missouri Valley this week, we’ve reached the point in the season where it seems more likely that Wichita State will head into the postseason with a perfect record.

What that means is that over the course of the next five weeks, the biggest topic of discussion is going to be whether or not the Shockers deserve a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and the answer is not as easy and you’d think.

(MORE: See where Wichita State sits in our latest bracket)

You see, Wichita State’s schedule this season has not been difficult. They’ve beaten three teams with RPIs in the top 50, but only one of those three — Saint Louis — is a surefire NCAA tournament team. That win came in Saint Louis, which is nothing short of impressive, but the Billikens are in a similar situation to the Shockers in that we don’t really know how good they are. The wins that Saint Louis has amassed this season are not all that different from the wins Wichita State has.

Beyond Saint Louis?

Wichita State has beaten BYU, Tennessee, Indiana State twice and … Alabama? DePaul? Missouri State?

Here’s where they will get the benefit of the doubt: they tried to play a tough schedule, and that’s just about all you can ask for from a team in their position. They played at Alabama. They played in the CBE Classic. They played Tennessee. They tried to get into that eight team season kickoff event in Dallas. Gregg Marshall refuses to play buy games, but he has shown that he’ll play anyone that actually has the guts to pay a visit to Koch Arena.

As of today, I’m not sure if the Shockers deserve a No. 1 seed. They’re going to need to hope that some of the top teams in the country — Kansas, Arizona, etc. — lose enough games to open up a spot.


1. Syracuse (23-0, LW: No. 1): The Orange will hold this spot in the rankings until they lose. They still have road games against Pitt, Duke, Florida State, Maryland and Virginia. That may happen sooner than you think.

2. Arizona (23-1, LW: No. 2): The Wildcats survived their first two games without Brandon Ashley, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. It will be interesting to see what Sean Miller does with this team now that his front line depth is cooked.

3. Florida (21-2, LW: No. 3): The addition of Chris Walker has more or less gone as expected, as he adds front court depth and the ability for Billy Donovan to give different looks thanks to his athleticism.

4. San Diego State (21-1, LW: No. 4): The Aztecs just keep on winning games, but they won’t really be tested until Feb. 22nd at New Mexico.

5. Kansas (18-5, LW: No. 5): Kansas bounced back from last Saturday’s loss at Texas by easily dispatching Baylor and West Virginia this week.

6. Wichita State (25-0, LW: No. 6): The Shockers got through the most difficult portion of their schedule, picking up wins at Indiana State and Northern Iowa.

7. Michigan State (20-4, LW: No. 7): Michigan State lost at Wisconsin, but they did it without Branden Dawson or Keith Appling in the lineup.

8. Villanova (21-2, LW: No. 9): Two easy wins over Xavier and DePaul this week. The Wildcats will head to Omaha for a rematch with Creighton on Sunday.

9. Cincinnati (22-3, LW: No. 8): Cincinnati handled UConn at home, but they got drubbed by SMU in Dallas on Saturday night.

10. Duke (19-5, LW: No. 11): The Blue Devils are back in the top 10. They head to North Carolina on Wednesday.

11. Kentucky (18-5, LW: No. 12)
12. Iowa State (18-4, LW: No. 16)
13. Saint Louis (22-2, LW: No. 17)
14. Virginia (19-5, LW: No. 18)
15. Louisville (19-4, LW: No. 19)
16. Iowa (18-6, LW: No. 15)
17. Michigan (17-6, LW: No. 10)
18. Texas (18-5, LW: No. 12)
19. Creighton (19-4, LW: No. 13)
20. Oklahoma (18-6, LW: No. 20)
21. Memphis (18-5, LW: No. 22)
22. UConn (18-5, LW: No. 21)
23. New Mexico (18-4, LW: No. 24)
24. SMU (19-5, LW: UR)
25. Ohio State (18-5, LW: UR)

Arkansas returns to underdog role after offseason arrests

Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson (AP Photo)
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas coach Mike Anderson says he was “blindsided” by a tumultuous offseason for the Razorbacks, one that included the arrests of three players on allegations of using counterfeit money.

Still, entering his fifth season at Arkansas – his 22nd overall at the school, including 17 as an assistant – Anderson remains optimistic the program can build on last year’s second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference.

Led by SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis, the Razorbacks finished 27-9 last season and reached their NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

The excitement-filled season was the culmination of four years of rebuilding for Anderson, though the school took a step back afterward following the early departures for the NBA of Portis and second-leading scorer Michael Qualls.

That was only the first step in a difficult offseason for the Razorbacks.

Starting point guard Anton Beard, forward Jacorey Williams and transfer Dustin Thomas were arrested by Fayetteville police in July, accused of using counterfeit $20 bills and exchanging counterfeit $50 bills for $100 bills.

Williams was dismissed in August, while Beard and Thomas have been suspended from the team and remain enrolled in school awaiting trial.

“I think if you’re in it long enough, you’re going to have some of those things take place,” Anderson said. “I was kind of blindsided by some of it, I’ll say that. … When it happens, I think the measure of, not only the person but the program, is how you deal with it. And I think we’re dealing with it in the right way.”

With Portis and Qualls’ departures, as well as the graduation of Ky Madden and Alandise Harris, Arkansas enters this season without four of its top five scorers from a year ago.

The lone returner in that mix is senior shooting guard Anthlon Bell, who averaged 7.9 points per game last season while shooting 35.1 percent on 3-pointers.

Bell’s outside ability is something the Razorbacks expect to use often this season without the interior scoring touch of Portis, and because the revamped roster features several top shooters – including Texas Tech transfer Dusty Hannahs and heralded freshman guard Jimmy Whitt.

Anderson said they’re also likely to run more this season in order to try and manufacture easy offense through defensive pressure.

“We’re still going to play Hog basketball, 40 minutes of Hell,” Bell said.

Anderson wouldn’t comment in detail on the arrests of Beard or Thomas, but he did say he talks with the two while they’re on suspension. He also said they are continuing to work out on their own, with the hope of being reinstated after the legal process plays out.

In the meantime, Anderson is embracing a return to the underdog role after last season’s breakout – calling the reversal a “challenge” and insisting “We’re not going backward.”

“It’s unfortunate that we had some individuals that, No. 1, they (did) some things that hurt the team,” Anderson said. “But at the end of the day, let’s see how these other guys respond.”

Big South Preview: Can John Brown take down Coastal Carolina?

High Point v Ohio State
John Brown, Getty Images
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Big South Conference.

A month before the Big South Tournament started, seven teams were tied for first place in the conference standings. Once the tournament began, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds were bounced in the quarterfinals. Despite all the parity and chaos in the league, the tournament champion remained the same.

Coastal Carolina is eyeing a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament in its final season in the Big South before moving to the Sun Belt Conference.

The Chanticleers bring back Elijah Wilson, the Big South Tournament MVP, point guard Shivaughn Wiggins and power forward Badou Diagne. That trio could make a three-peat possible. Coastal Carolina boasted one of the conference’s most efficient offenses and defenses, and tops in both offensive and defensive rebounding 2014-15. The production of graduating guards Warren Gillis and Josh Cameron won’t be easily replaced, but if they defend and crash the boards like they’ve done in the past, the Chanticleers will be in a good position when they host the Big South Tournament again in March.

Like the Chanticleers, many of the teams across the Big South have lost start players. Of the 15 players named to the all-conference teams last March, only two of them return this season.

One of them is High Point senior John Brown, the ultra-athletic and physically imposing forward. Through his first three years he’s averaged 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He’s helped the Panthers win at least a share of the last three regular season titles, but has no NCAA tournament appearances to show for it. Click here and check out some of the dunks he’s thrown down over the years. Now imagine him playing on the first Thursday or Friday of the NCAA tournament. Fun, right? Surrounded by a cast of upperclassmen, Brown could finally get that shot this spring.

Winthrop graduated two double-digit scorers, including first-team selection Keon Moore. Keon Johnson will be the key holder over in a new-look perimeter that could feature not one, but two Division II transfers. Jimmy Gavin’s amazing journey was chronicled back in May. Roderick Perkins, a 6-foot-5 wing, was the second-leading scorer in all of D2 in 2013-14. Winthrop’s defense, rated as the most efficient in the Big South, returns a pair of shot-blockers — Xavier Cooks and Duby Okeke — the frontline. Zach Price, the former Louisville and Missouri big man, is eligible this season, as well.

Longwood could be a dangerous team, especially if the Lancers can get quality play from the back court. The Lancers have one conference’s best front courts. Shaquille Johnson is one of the league’s top athletes. Lotanna Nwogbo, the 6-foot-8 forward, is back after missing the last 17 games of conference play with a thumb ligament tear. In three full Big South contest, he was averaging 19.3 points and 12.0 boards per game. Gardner-Webb is dealing with the loss of Jerome Hill and Tyler Strange, but returns six of its top nine scorers, including Tyrell Nelson. Radford should be another potential sleeper. YaYa Anderson is joined by senior Rashun Davis and Cameron Jones, the potential breakout star of the league.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “In my mind, it would probably be High Point. There will be several teams that have really good players back, but High Point has several really good players back and John Brown has been one of the top players in the league for the last three years. Probably the team with the most experience, top to bottom, coming back is Coastal. I think they have four starters back, but I think they lose two really good players. On paper, as you look at it, Coastal makes sense to pick first.”
  • Sleeper: “I think a lot of people would say Longwood. I think they have a talented roster and they have a player on their team (Lotanna Nwogbo) I think a lot of people would talk about having a chance to be one of the better players in the league. He got hurt the second or third game in the conference season.”
  • Star to watch: “I’d say John Brown should be the favorite for preseason player of the year. There are a lot of good ones, but he’s definitely been really good for a long period of time. I think it starts with his motor and how hard he competes and how physical he is. He just stays after it every possession. He really plays so hard on both ends. He’s great at working at working on catching the ball at the rim and using his size and athleticism to score in the paint. Then he’ll get stuff in transition and on the offensive glass. He’s a monster.”


Brown, maybe the best dunker in all of college basketball, returns for his senior season after averaging 19.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 2014-15. The 6-foot-8 nightmare matchup plays with a consistent motor. He understands angles and where to position himself on the floor in order to get easy buckets. Brown also creates opportunities for himself in the open floor and offensive glass.


  • Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb: The 6-foot-7 center was top-10 in the Big South in both scoring and rebounding at 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a night.
  • Elijah Wilson, Coastal Carolina: Had a strong finish to last season, earning Big South Tournament MVP honors. The 6-foot-4 guard is the top returning scorer at 11.3 points per game.
  • Shaquille Johnson, Longwood: The best athlete in the conference not named John Brown, Johnson averaged 13.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game last season.
  • DeSean Murray, Presbyterian: The Blue Hose will rely heavily on the 6-foot-5 sophomore, who recorded five double-doubles during conference play last season.



1. Coastal Carolina
2. High Point
3. Winthrop
4. Longwood
5. Gardner-Webb
6. Radford
7. Charleston Southern
8. UNC Asheville
9. Campbell
10. Presbyterian
11. Liberty