1. Villanova (5-0, Last Week: No. 2): The Wildcats went 4-0 this week. Not only did they go on the road and beat Purdue but they also went down to the Charleston Classic and swept through that tournament with relative ease. I’m not sure they’re the best team in the country but it’s hard to argue against their résumé.
2. Kentucky (4-0, 4): The win over Michigan State sounds good, but the Spartans aren’t actually all that good this season, at least not right now. A 21-point win over the Spartans isn’t a season-defining win this year.
3. Indiana (3-0, 5): The Hoosiers smoked two more hapless opponents this week. I’m not totally sold that this team is a top five team just yet, but they did beat Kansas on a neutral court and Kansas beat Duke on a neutral court. So here we are.
4. Kansas (2-1, 6): They’re still my pick to win the national title, even if I came away more impressed with Duke after Kansas beat them.
5. Duke (4-1, 1): All I need to say about the Blue Devils is right here.
6. North Carolina (4-0, 7): They’ve steam-rolled a bunch of teams they should steam-roll. With the Maui Invitational starting this week, we should know enough about the Tar Heels come Thanksgiving.
7. Oregon (2-1, 3): Ditto for the Ducks, who lost at Baylor by 17 points but who are still playing without their all-american Dillon Brooks. He’s expected to be in the lineup Monday for their Maui opener.
8. Gonzaga (3-0, 9): Gonzaga’s win over San Diego State is going to look a lot better on paper in March than it actually was, as the Aztecs are banged up.
9. Louisville (3-0, 10): Undefeated. Untested.
10. Virginia (3-0, 8): I dropped UVA two spots with the news of Austin Nichols’ dismissal. I’m not ready to drop them farther than that yet, not until I see what Tony Bennett can do with these guys.
Through the first two weeks of the season, I think it’s safe to say that Kansas point guard Frank Mason III is college basketball’s early favorite as National Player of the Year. This week along, he went for 18 points and three assists in a win over Siena just three days after he had 21 points and five assists, burying the game-winning jumper, as the No. 7 Jayhawks picked off No. 1 Duke at Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic.
And that doesn’t even include the 30 points that Mason had in a season-opening loss to Indiana, or mention the fact that the Jayhawks have already flown from Lawrence to Honolulu to New York back to Lawrence this season.
This is not going to be the last time that Mason wins this award this season, you can bet on that.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
Melo Trimble, Maryland: Maryland has played three games against Division I foes and Trimble is averaging 23.7 points in those three games. He made the game-winning plays in all three, including the free throws that beat DC rival Georgetown.
J.P. Macura, Xavier: Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner are the big names for the Musketeers, but it was Macura that averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 boards, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals in the Tire Pros Invitational title.
Deandre Burnett, Ole Miss: Burnett went for 41 points in an overtime win over Oral Roberts in the opening round of the Paradise Jam, following that up with 20 points and four assists in a win over Saint Joseph’s.
Malik Monk, Kentucky: Monk went for 23 points and hit seven threes as the Wildcats picked off No. 13 Michigan State in the Champions Classic.
Tacko Fall, UCF: In four games this week, the 7-foot-6 Fall averaged 17.8 points, 12.5 boards and 2.7 blocks as the Knights pushed No. 3 Villanova in the Charleston Classic finals.
Did anyone see this coming from the Wolverines? They went into Madison Square Garden and worked over a Marquette team coming off of dominating win over their own and followed that up with a blowout win of a pretty good SMU team. I’ll have some more thoughts on Michigan in the #taeks below.
1. Luke Kennard has been the beneficiary of Duke’s injury woes: No one on Duke’s roster had better taken advantage of the opportunity created by injuries to Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden than Luke Kennard has. With Grayson Allen also banged up – he’s reportedly dealing with a toe issue – Kennard has emerged as Duke’s go-to guy on the offensive end of the floor, and he’s thriving in the role. He was the best Duke player in the loss to Kansas, finishing with 22 points, five boards and five assists, and led the team with 24 points in Sunday’s win over No. 21 Rhode Island. On the season, he’s averaging 18.2 points while shooting 55.2 percent from the floor and 13-for-25 from three.
That’s massive for Duke for a couple of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that Kennard – and, frankly, Coach K – has learned that he is capable of carrying this team against some of the best opponents in the country. But it’s also evidence that the Blue Devils have more quality pieces that we may have realized, if that’s possible. Think about it like this: If Duke has everyone available to them, Jayson Tatum and Grayson Allen are the first two options offensively. Then it’s probably Harry Giles III. And then you get to the guy that’s leading them in scoring and was the best player on the floor the two times Duke played a ranked team.
2. Michigan is better than Michigan State, at least right now: I don’t know if they’ll be better than the Spartans come March but I do know that right now, as of November 21st, the Wolverines are the best team in the state of Michigan. Their back court is about doing what we expected them to do. Zak Irvin has been scoring the rock and Derrick Walton has been doing the things we want senior point guards to do. The key, however, is that Michigan’s bigs look better than anyone realized they would be. Moritz Wagner and Mark Donnal have been somewhere between effective and above average while D.J. Wilson has been catching lobs, hitting threes and blocking shots, anchoring a defense that looks far better than it was a year ago.
Will it last? We’ll find out soon enough.
3. Is Baylor the second-best team in the Big 12?: We didn’t know who it was going to be, but entering the season, we knew that someone was going to set themselves apart from the pack as the second-best team in the Big 12. The early returns are in, and it looks like the Bears are Kansas’ biggest contender after they blew out Oregon at home. Johnathan Motley has been everything we expected him to be while Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil have outperformed all expectations early on.
4. We underestimated just how good Creighton is: We knew about Mo Watson and Marcus Foster coming into this season. And we knew that Cole Huff had the talent to be better than his production last season. What we didn’t realize was just how talented Justin Patton is or how good Khyri Thomas is. Patton is an athletic, versatile 6-foot-11 center that makes plays on both ends of the floor – and adds a dimension that the Jays were previously lacking – while Thomas is a perfect compliment in the back court to Watson’s playmaking and Foster’s shot-hunting. If their win over Wisconsin didn’t convince, did a shellacking of N.C. State do the trick?
5. Is Northern Iowa the best team in the Missouri Valley?: At this point, I think it’s fair to wonder if they are. Wichita State is still in the midst of figuring out how they’re going to replace Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker while Illinois State doesn’t have the same kind of discipline that UNI does. They don’t make mistakes defensively, they execute their sets offensively and they make the open threes their offense creates. Throw in the fact that Klint Carlson is a terrific player and Jeremy Morgan is a future NBA player, and you’ve got a team that is going to make a run at the MVC title.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Trevon Bluiett scored 20 points and Edmond Sumner got 11 of his 17 points in the second half, helping 11th-ranked Xavier hold off Northern Iowa 67-59 to win the Tire Pros Invitational on Sunday night.
After leading by 16 points in the second half, the Musketeers needed three free throws from Bluiett in the final 19.7 seconds to seal it. The Panthers (3-1) came on late and pulled within five before Xavier (5-0) stretched it back out.
Northern Iowa, which overcame an 18-point deficit to stun Oklahoma in the second round Friday, was led by Jeremy Morgan with 20 points. Bennett Koch added 11 points.
The Musketeers used a 12-0 run early in the second half to open up their most commanding lead of the game at 47-34. Bluiett and Sumner both had big shots before Malcolm Bernard buried a 3-pointer in building the 13-point lead.
The first half was defined by big shots and long scoring lulls by both teams as they went into halftime tied 30-30.
UNI, which started out hot behind Morgan’s shooting, led by nine with 10:52 remaining the first half. Bluiett led a rally by the Musketeers, though, tying it 22-22 on a 3-pointer with 6:05 left in the half. Xavier later took a four-point lead on Quetin Goodin’s driving basket.
Morgan led the Panthers with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range in the first half. Bluiett had 12 points in that time for Xavier.
The Panthers were 6 of 9 from 3-point range and converted 48 percent of their shots from the field during the first 20 minutes. Xavier didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well but made it up with hustle plays, outscoring Northern Iowa 6-0 on second-chance points in the half.
N. Iowa: The Panthers are great 3-point shooters, but their shots were not falling consistently against Xavier. Morgan was the only shooter to show up on Sunday.
Xavier: The Musketeers showed a variety of defenses to keep the Panthers off balance, switching from a 1-1-3 zone to man-to-man. Xavier has plenty of fire power on offense with J.P Macura and Goodin hitting big shots throughout the game.
Xavier: A win over previously unbeaten Northern Iowa could help the Musketeers standing.
Bluiett, Morgan and Macura made the all-tournament team along with Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard and Davidson’s Jack Gibbs. Bluiett was the tournament MVP after scoring 56 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and getting seven assists over the three games.
N. Iowa: The Panthers travel to Cincinnati to face Xavier again on Saturday.
Xavier: The Musketeers host Northern Iowa on Saturday.
No. 2 Kentucky has no trouble with Duquesne in 93-59 rout
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) De’Aaron Fox scored 16 points, Malik Monk added 14 and No. 2 Kentucky took a step toward the nation’s top ranking by rolling past Duquesne 93-59 on Sunday night.
Five days after beating No. 13 Michigan State in New York, the Wildcats (4-0) made their case toward supplanting Duke for No. 1 when The Associated Press’ Top 25 is announced Monday. The first of several scheduled late-evening starts didn’t affect Kentucky as it won by its biggest margin this season.
The Wildcats controlled Duquesne (2-3) on both ends, holding the Dukes to a season-low 30 percent shooting while making 35 of 76 attempts (46 percent).
Isaiah Briscoe and Mychal Mulder each had 13 points and Bam Adebayo had 12 with eight rebounds for Kentucky, which outrebounded Duquesne 49-32 to win its second game of the Bluegrass Showcase.
Emile Blackman’s 13 points led the Dukes, who lost their third in four games.
Duquesne: Coming off a one-point loss Friday against Canisius, the Dukes were close at the start but quickly fell behind due to cold shooting. They made just 6 of 29 in the first half (21 percent) and committed 11 turnovers as they struggled against the Wildcats’ disruptive defense and length. They were near even on the boards for a while but eventually beaten there as well.
Kentucky: Seeking to pick up where they left off in an impressive defensive showing against Michigan State, the Wildcats constantly contested the Dukes’ passes and shots to build a 50-23 lead at the break. They controlled the paint offensively (44-20).
Top-ranked Duke’s loss to Kansas at Madison Square Garden opened the door for Kentucky to assume the top spot, and the Wildcats made it a foregone conclusion with their easy victory over the Dukes.
Duquesne: The Dukes host UT Martin on Wednesday night as they continue play in the Bluegrass Showcase.
Kentucky: Hosts Cleveland State in a Wednesday matinee before Thanksgiving.
AP College Basketball: collegebasketball.ap.org
VIDEO: No. 13 Michigan State survives FGCU thanks to clock operator error
No. 13 Michigan State escaped the Breslin Center with a 78-77 win over FGCU on Sunday night thanks in large part to an error made by the person running the clock in the arena.
With 1.6 seconds left, the Eagles had the ball under their own basket, needing to go 94 feet to get a bucket to win the game. Christian Terrell launched an 80-foot inbounds pass that ended up in the hands of Antravious Simmons, but as he caught the ball, the final buzzer sounded.
Instead of starting the clock on the catch, the clock started on the pass. Check it out:
The referees went to the monitor and ruled that the game was over. FGCU head coach Joe Dooley was, rightly, livid, letting the referees and the clock operator have a piece of his mind before he left the floor.
“Miles Bridges didn’t touch the ball,” FGCU head coach Joe Dooley said. “Officials said they can only review it if the shot goes in. We threw the ball in at 1.6 and caught it at 0. The refs said they didn’t start the clock. The table said they didn’t start the clock. The refs said they could only review if the shot goes in. My guy (Antravious Simmons) heard the buzzer and shot it.”
A source told NBCSports that it was NOT the clock operator at the Breslin Center that made the mistake. The “ref had the clock,” the source said.
The question is whether or not the buzzer affected Antravious Simmons’ shot. It looked like he rushed the shot once he heard the buzzer going off, but he knew there was only 1.6 seconds left on the clock. Wouldn’t that be what his shot looked like anyway?
Regardless, many believed that FGCU should have gotten a do-over, but that’s not how the rules work in this situation. The referees don’t have the authority to give FGCU a do-over. What they are allowed to do on a clock-keeper error is to determine whether or not the shot was actually released in the amount of time that was left on the clock. Since Simmons missed the shot, it was a moot point. If he had made the shot that had clearly come after the buzzer sounds, they would have been able to determine that he got the shot off in time. Or, if it was the other way around and the clock started late, the refs would have been able to check to see if Simmons got the shot off in 1.6 seconds.
We told you that last week, but there were some promising signs on Sunday night. The most important? Eron Harris looked like he could end up being a go-to guy. He finished with 31 points and hit six threes, although his two missed throws late set up the ending. The Spartans need someone they can run offense through, among other things. If Harris can be that guy, it’s a big step for them.
UPDATE: Here’s what the officials had to say about the ending:
Marquette announced that junior wing Sandy Cohen has left the program “effective immediately”.
Cohen was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school. A 6-foot-6 wing, Cohen averaged 5.9 points as a sophomore last season.
This year, however, Cohen hasn’t been able to find a spot in Steve Wojciechowski’s rotation. He’s yet to score in four games this year, has played a total of just 20 minutes and was a DNP-CD in Marquette’s loss to SMU on Friday night.