<span class="vcard">Rob Dauster</span>

Providence’s Kris Dunn reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Massachusetts, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

WEEKLY AWARDS: Kris Dunn’s big week overshadowed by Iowa?

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kris Dunn, Providence

Kris Dunn was the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year, but ever since Denzel Valentine went for 29 points, 12 boards and 12 assists, the Michigan State Spartan has found himself atop out Player of the Year rankings. That may end up changing on Tuesday, as Dunn kicked off Big East play in impressive fashion.

On New Year’s Eve, Dunn had 15 of his 20 points and seven of his nine assists in the second half as No. 12 Providence went into Hinkle Fieldhouse and erased a 13-point deficit in a win over No. 9 Butler. Dunn was totally unstoppable, just like he was two days later when St. John’s paid a visit to The Dunk, when he totaled 26 points, nine boards and six assists, the third time this season Dunn has gone for 25-5-5 in a single game.

Right now, Ben Simmons is the best player in college basketball and I’m not sure that anyone in their right mind would argue that fact. But Dunn, when he’s playing like this and given what he can do on the defensive side of the ball, is not all that far behind. There’s a reason that Providence is a top ten team. He is it.


  • Diamond Stone, Maryland: Stone was solid in a win at Northwestern, finishing with 10 points, but it was his 39-point, 12-rebound performance in a come-from-behind win over Penn State — when he scored 32 points in the second half — that got him on this list.
  • Mark Donnal, Michigan: Donnal came up huge for the Wolverines in a 2-0 week to kick off Big Ten play, averaging 21.0 points and 8.5 boards while shooting 72.0 percent from the floor. Michigan needs consistency from the front court, a fact that is all the more important with Caris LeVert’s injury.
  • Jordan Mathews, Cal: The Golden Bears had a statement week, beating Davidson, Colorado and No. 21 Utah in Berkeley. Mathews was the most consistent player for them, averaging 19.3 points while shooting 13-for-24 from three.
  • Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: The Pirates kicked off Big East play with a pair of wins as Whitehead led the way, averaging 17.0 points and 8.0 assists.
  • Rob Gray Jr., Houston: The most underrated player in the American? Kelvin Sampson has a talented Cougar team and Gray is their best player. He averaged 21.0 points in a pair of road wins to kick off league play.
Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Iowa Hawkeyes

If you had doubts about the Hawkeyes this season, you weren’t alone. The reputation that Iowa has built for themselves is of a program with the talent to compete with anyone in the country and the inability to close out games. That was only reinforced when Iowa blew a 20-point second half at Iowa State earlier this year.

But it may be time to change that scouting report.

Iowa kicked off the week by handing then-No. 1 Michigan State their first loss of the season, the kind of win where the NCAA tournament Selection Committee won’t factor in that it came with Denzel Valentine injured. They followed that up by going into West Lafayette and knocking off No. 14 Purdue despite the fact that they trailed by 19 points late in the first half. And here’s the best part: The Hawkeyes won the Michigan State game despite a pedestrian (relatively, by his standards) effort from Jarrod Uthoff and completed their comeback against Purdue without having to rely on their star to do the heavy lifting.

All of those things are great signs for a team that suddenly looks like they’re the elusive fourth-best team in the Big Ten.


  • Washington Huskies: The Huskies sit atop the Pac-12 standings right now. How about that? After a double-overtime win over No. 25 UCLA on Friday night, U-Dub followed that up by erasing a 22-point deficit in the final 14 minutes against USC. Andrew Andrews has been awesome awesomes.
  • Kansas Jayhawks: After cruising to a win over UC Irvine mid-week, the Jayhawks absolutely beat down No. 23 Baylor in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, winning by 28 points in a game that was really never in doubt. Kansas should be the AP’s No. 1 team in the country on Monday.
  • Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners matched Kansas, setting up a potential No. 1 vs. No. 1 game thanks to a win over No. 11 Iowa State on Saturday. Oklahoma is currently No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, one spot behind Michigan State.
  • Villanova Wildcats: Like Iowa, there are quite a few people who have had their doubts about Villanova. After beating Xavier by 31 points, those people may now have an answer.
  • San Diego State Aztecs: SDSU has not looked like the program that has become a powerhouse atop the Mountain West under Steve Fisher. They kicked off league play this week and went 2-0. Does that say more about SDSU or the MWC?


No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 2 Kansas, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
No. 10 Kentucky at LSU, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
No. 8 Arizona at No. 25 UCLA, Thu. 9:00 p.m.
No. 23 Baylor at No. 11 Iowa State, Sat. 3:00 p.m.
No. 16 Villanova at No. 9 Butler, Sun. 7:30 p.m.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TALK’S TOP 25: Kansas-Oklahoma turns into No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. steals the ball from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, night at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. (Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images)
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With Kansas dispatching Baylor and Oklahoma coming from behind to knock off Iowa State, college basketball will be greeted on Monday with a matchup between the top two teams in the country.

And it couldn’t come at a better time.

College football’s bowl season is basically over — we’re just waiting on our Clemson-Alabama national title game to cap what has been a miserable month of exhibition games — which means that, on the first Big Monday of the season, we’ll get what could very well end up being the best game of the year. The on-court product should match the pregame hype as well. Oklahoma is 52nd nationally in tempo, according to KenPom, and the second-best three-point shooting team in the country.


Kansas? They’re 51st and third, respectively.

And should I mention this game will take place in Phog Allen Fieldhouse?

This is just the 23rd time that the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country will face off during the regular season and only the fifth time that it has happened since 2000. So yeah, this is kind of thing is rare.

But there’s more to it than that. You see, Kansas was No. 2 in the AP Poll this week, one spot behind No. 1 Michigan State and one place above No. 3 Oklahoma. Since Michigan State lost and is still without Denzel Valentine, it’s pretty safe to assume that the Spartans are going to fall, at least past the undefeated Sooners. But in the Coaches Poll, Oklahoma was No. 2 this week and Kansas was No. 3, meaning that, barring something weird happening, we’re looking at a situation where the No. 1 team in the AP Poll will be facing off with the No. 1 team in the Coaches Poll.


That hasn’t happened since Feb. 2007, when AP No. 1 Wisconsin lost to Coaches No. 1 Ohio State by one point.

So that’s a cool storyline.

As is the fact that, in March of 1990, No. 1 Oklahoma beat No. 2 Kansas in Kansas City.

But there’s so much more to this game than a couple of nuggets for sportswriters to reference when previewing the matchup.

Because Oklahoma is this year’s strongest contender to end the Kansas streak of 11 straight Big 12 regular season titles. A win in Phog Allen would be a huge step towards accomplishing that feat. Remember, the Big 12 is one of just two high-major conferences that play a true round-robin in league play. Everyone in the conference is getting a game at Kansas, which may very well be the toughest place in college basketball to get a win. This isn’t the kind of game that can make or break a season, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the impact of a Sooner win will be felt in March.

So yeah. I’m fired up for this game.

Kansas is currently favored by five.

You can probably guess who the top two teams in our top 25 are going to be. Here’s the other 23:

1. Kansas (12-1, LW: No. 3): I’m going with Kansas over the Sooners here simply because I think they’re the more complete team at this point in the season.

2. Oklahoma (12-0, LW: No. 4): If there’s a knock on the Sooners right now, it’s that they can be overly-reliant on the three-ball and they are not yet getting consistent play out of the four-spot.

3. Maryland (13-1, LW: No. 2): I don’t usually like dropping teams that win, but at this point I think it’s fair to say that Kansas and Oklahoma are more complete than the Terps. Depth in the back court, inconsistency from their big men and a habit of failing to show up for against lesser competition. Not an ideal combination.

4. Michigan State (14-1, LW: No. 1): With a loss under their belt, it’s now time to wait and see when — if? — Denzel Valentine can get himself back to 100 percent. If anything, we now know just how valuable of a player he is.

5. North Carolina (13-2, LW: No. 5): Joel Berry is starting to hit his stride, Brice Johnson is still playing like an all-ACC center, Marcus Paige still hasn’t really gotten into a rhythm yet and Kennedy Meeks is still dealing with an ailing knee. In other words, there’s reason to be bullish on a team that’s been less-than-dominant.

6. Virginia (12-1, LW: No. 7): The ‘Hoos continue to hum along, picking up wins over Oakland and Notre Dame last week, two teams that, in theory, should give the Pack-Line defense some trouble. I think it’s fair to say they’re flying a bit under the radar at this point.

7. Providence (14-1, LW: No. 12): Kris Dunn is healthy again, meaning that the Friars will enter Big East player with their National Player of the Year candidate playing like, well, the NPOY. Their come-from-behind win to beat Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse spoke volumes about this team.

8. Miami (12-1, LW: No. 8): I’m not ready to drop this team just yet, but the inconsistency is getting to be a bit frustrating. The good news? They’ve only dropped one game this season despite the fact that some of their best players don’t always show up every night. Good teams win games when they don’t play well.

9. Villanova (12-2, LW: No. 16): Villanova’s regression to the three-point mean began on New Year’s Eve, when they hit seven of their first nine threes in a 31-point win over Xavier. That said …

10. Xavier (13-1, LW: No. 6): … I think that the scoreline in that loss at Villanova said quite a bit more about Edmond Sumner’s importance than anything. His injury not only forced Xavier to play without their most irreplaceable player, but seeing their teammate get stretchered off the floor sapped them of any energy. Remember, they beat Butler by nearly 20 points 48 hours later.

11. Arizona (13-1, LW: No. 11)
12. SMU (13-0, LW: No. 13)
13. Kentucky (10-2, LW: No. 14)
14. Iowa State (11-2, LW: No. 15)
15. Duke (12-2, LW: No. 17)
16. Butler (11-3, LW: No. 9)
17. Purdue (13-2, LW: No. 10)
18. Texas A&M (11-2, LW: No. 18)
19. West Virginia (12-1, LW: No. 19)
20. Louisville (11-2, LW: No. 20)
21. Iowa (11-3, LW: UR)
22. South Carolina (13-0, LW: No. 23)
23. George Washington (12-2, LW: No. 25)
24. Cal (12-3, LW: UR)
25. Baylor (10-3, LW: No. 23)

DROPPED OUT: No. 21 Cincinnati, No. 24 UCLA
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 21 Iowa, No. 24 Cal

POSTERIZED: Obinna Oleka catches Ryan Anderson

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Arizona State lost to No. 8 Arizona at home on Sunday afternoon in a game where the highlight was Bobby Hurley getting himself ejected with a pair of technical fouls in the final two minutes.

But that wasn’t the only play that should find its way onto Sportscenter.

Obinna Oleka dunked all over Arizona’s Ryan Anderson.

This is just straight poster material: