Tag: Indiana Hooisers

Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker
Associated Press

Ranking College Basketball’s Top Back Courts


We’re labeling this as the nation’s top back courts, but truthfully, it’s the nation’s top perimeters. That’s why you’ll see guys like Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown, small forwards that will play the four a lot this season, listed here. 

One thing we realized making this list: There are an inordinate number of talented guards in college basketball this season, especially those that will get labeled as lead guards. So many, in fact, that the likes of Miami, Iowa State and Texas A&M didn’t even crack the top 15.

Here is our list. What did we get wrong?

1. Kentucky (Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder)

They don’t rebuild in Lexington they reload, and John Calipari has quite the perimeter rotation at his disposal despite losing three of his top four guards from a season ago. The returnee is 5-foot-9 sophomore Tyler Ulis, who has emerged as this team’s leader. But he isn’t the only guard in the group who operates will with the ball in his hands, as both Briscoe and Murray will also have ample opportunities to create offensively. The 6-foot-4 Murray was one of the standouts at the Pan-American Games in Canada this summer, as he went off to lead the hosts past the United States in the semifinals. Matthews and Mulder aren’t slouches either, giving Kentucky additional talent and depth with their presence.

2. Wichita State (Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, Conner Frankamp, Landry Shamet, Evan Wessel)

Baker and VanVleet are two of the nation’s best at their respective positions and they’re going to appear on multiple preseason (and end of season, for that matter) All-America teams as a result. Wessel gives this group added toughness, and Kanas transfer Conner Frankamp will give Wichita State another capable shooter when he becomes eligible in December. The 6-foot-4 Shamet is a Top 100 recruit who will fight for minutes now and be a key figure for the Shockers in the years to come.

3. Indiana (James Blackmon Jr., Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson, Nick Zeisloft)

This group is one of the reasons why the Hoosiers will enter the 2015-16 season ranked, with senior point guard Yogi Ferrell leading the way. Ferrell led the Hoosiers in scoring and assists a season ago, and he also led the team in made three-pointers. Blackmon should be better as a sophomore after tailing off somewhat down the stretch last year and the same goes for classmate Johnson, with Zeisloft coming off of a year in which he shot 45 percent from beyond the arc.

4. North Carolina (Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Nate Britt, Theo Pinson, Kenny Williams)

Paige enters his senior season as one of the the best guards in the country, as he’s comfortable as either a scorer or a distributor for the Tar Heels. Jackson, who was a key contributor for North Carolina as a freshman, looks poised for a breakout year as he moves into the starting spot left vacant by J.P. Tokoto, and classmate Pinson is healthy after dealing with injuries last season. Both Berry and Britt are capable contributors but they have to get better as playmakers, thus relieving some of the pressure on Paige. The one thing this group was missing a season ago was another shooter to go with Paige, and if called upon Williams has the ability to be that guy.

5. Michigan (Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr., Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Spike Albrecht, Kameron Chatman, Aubrey Dawkins, Duncan Robinson)

Irvin is working his way back to 100 percent after undergoing back surgery in early September, and his return will make Michigan’s perimeter attack one of the deepest and most talented groups in the country. LeVert was projected by some to be an All-America caliber player prior to last season, and Walton and Irvin are also players capable of earning postseason honors. Albrecht will also be a factor, with Abdur-Rahkman, Chatman and Dawkins gaining valuable experience as freshmen due to the injuries that sidelined LeVert and Walton. The “wild card” is Robinson, who sat out last season after averaging 17.1 points per game as a freshman at Division III Williams College in 2013-14.

RELATED: Top front courts in college basketball | Top 100 Players

Buddy Hield (AP Photo)
Buddy Hield (AP Photo)

6. Oklahoma (Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Jordan Woodard, Chrisyian James, Rashard Odomes, Dinjiyl Walker)

Lon Kruger’s perimeter rotation won’t lack for experience as reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Hield and Cousins are both seniors and Woodard will be a junior. Walker played 10.6 minutes per game as a junior last season and figures to be in a similar reserve role. As for the freshmen, both James and Odomes are players who will look to earn minutes but ultimately benefit down the line from competing with (and against, in practice) the veteran guards.

7. Villanova (Ryan Arcidiacono, Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo)

Big East Co-Player of the Year Arcidiacono is back for his senior season, with Big East tournament MOP Josh Hart appearing poised to take a significant step forward as a junior. And then there are the freshmen, most notably a lead guard in Brunson who enters college as one of the best at his position. DiVincenzo and Bridges, with the latter having redshirted last season, give Villanova additional skill and athleticism on the wing and Booth gives Wright another point guard to call upon.

8. Duke (Brandon Ingram, Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton Jr.)

Allen, who stepped forward in a big way in the national title game, returns for his sophomore season and Jones gives Duke an experienced wing option who’s a solid defender and capable perimeter shooter. Given the personnel losses the three freshmen will be especially important this year, with Thornton being asked to take over at the point and Ingram being a slender wing who can score from anywhere on the court. As for Kennard, he’s good enough to see time at both guard spots, and given Duke’s numbers he’ll likely have to do just that.

9. Maryland (Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Jared Nickens, Rasheed Sulaimon, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley)

The Terrapins did lose leader Dez Wells from last season’s NCAA tournament team, but most of the perimeter rotation returns led by preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Melo Trimble. Trimble’s a handful with the ball in his hands, making sound decisions in ball screen situations and getting to the foul line at a very high rate. Layman, who took a step forward as a junior, has the potential to be even better as a senior with Nickens and Wiley looking to earn more minutes as sophomores. And the newcomers, Brantley and Sulaimon, will also contribute with the latter giving Maryland another quality perimeter shooter (and he’s a good defender too).

10. California (Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Jabari Bird, Stephen Domingo, Jordan Mathews, Sam Singer)

Depth, which was an issue all over the court for the Golden Bears a season ago, won’t be a problem in 2015-16. Wallace, one of the nation’s top point guards, leads the way with a trio of juniors (Bird, Mathews and Singer) also having a wealth of experience. Add in two talented newcomers in Brown, who could see time at the four in smaller lineups, and Georgetown transfer Domingo and head coach Cuonzo Martin has a host of options at his disposal.

Tyrone Wallace (AP Photo)
Tyrone Wallace (AP Photo)

11. Virginia (Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, Marial Shayok, Devon Hall, Evan Nolte, Darius Thompson)

The Cavaliers have to account for the departure of Justin Anderson on the perimeter, but it certainly helps to have veterans Brogdon and Perrantes back on campus. Brodgon was a first team All-ACC selection a season ago, and his skill on both ends of the floor merits All-America mention this season. Perrantes is a solid floor general who can do even more from a scoring standpoint. Nolte and Shayok were rotation players last season, and Hall and Thompson (who redshirted after transferring in from Tennessee) will also compete for minutes.

12. Michigan State (Denzel Valentine, Eron Harris, Tum Tum Nairn, Bryn Forbes, Matt McQuaid, Kyle Ahrens, Alvin Ellis)

This group is led by one of the nation’s most versatile players in Valentine, who can play anywhere from the one to the three depending on match-ups. Forbes should be more consistent in his second season with the program, and Nairn looks poised to step forward as the next in a long line of high-level point guards to play for Izzo. Harris is a transfer from West Virginia who many expect to hit the ground running, and Ellis will also look to solidify his spot in the rotation. As for the freshmen, they’ll look to carve out roles in what is a deep rotation.

13. Connecticut (Daniel Hamilton, Sterling Gibbs, Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams, Omar Calhoun, Sam Cassell Jr.)

Ryan Boatright’s moved on, but UConn’s perimeter rotation is more balanced (and deeper) than it was a season ago. Part of that is due to their additions, with the explosive Adams and experienced Gibbs joining the ranks. As for holdovers, head coach Kevin Ollie has those as well with Calhoun being a senior, Cassell and Purvis (who put together some solid outings down the stretch last season) being juniors and the versatile Hamilton (AAC Rookie of the Year) being a sophomore.

14. Kansas (Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonté Graham, Brannen Greene, LaGerald Vick)

This ranking could prove to be low at season’s end, depending upon (in part) the progress made by Selden. The junior played very well at the World University Games in South Korea this summer, and if he can build on that play the Jayhawks will undoubtedly have one of the top guards in the country. Mason gives them an absolute pitbull at the point, with Graham being another player capable of running the point. And in Green, Mykhailiuk and Vick, Kansas won’t lack for depth on the wings either.

15. Florida State (Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon, Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, Terance Mann, Malik Beasley, Benji Bell, Robbie Berwick)

While he’ll once again be one of the top guards in the ACC, Rathan-Mayes will have some much-needed help on the perimeter. Bookert and Brandon give Florida State two experienced seniors, Berwick saw solid minutes as a freshman, and their newcomers arrive on campus amidst much fanfare. Bacon may be the marquee freshman, but Beasley and Mann will also compete for minutes with junior college transfer Bell looking to do the same.

Also Considered: Miami, Iowa State, UCLA, Notre Dame, LSU, Louisville, Providence, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M

Bubble Banter: Wild night in the Atlantic 10, Indiana in trouble?

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  • Davidson: The Wildcats landed a big win on Wednesday, both for their bubble hopes and for their A-10 title hopes. They went into the Ryan Center and knocked off Rhode Island, putting them in a tie — with URI — for first place in the league standings. The win also moves them a step closer to the bubble, adding a top 100 road win is not a bad thing, but they’re still a ways away from the cut line.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes avoided a disastrous loss against Florida State, but it may have been too little, too late. Miami has an RPI that’s approaching the 70’s, four sub-100 losses and just two top 50 wins. The only reason they’re still in the conversation? That win at Duke. That glorious, glorious win at Duke. Saturday’s loss at Louisville, where Miami blew a big first half lead and had a chance to win at the buzzer, is going to really, really hurt. The Hurricanes have to beat North Carolina on Saturday.
  • Dayton: The Flyers avoided a potential stumbling block in George Mason, but after getting beaten by Duquesne last weekend, Dayton has yet to lock up a bid. The good news? All of their final three games — at VCU, Rhode Island, at La Salle — are potential good wins.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs won at Ole Miss, picking up a top 50 road win they desperately needed to add to their resume. Georgia now has three top 50 wins and an 8-5 record against the top 100 to go along with their four sub-100 losses. They’re in as of today, and probably avoid the play-in game, but they’re not safe enough to be able to withstand a loss to Missouri or Auburn. The Bulldogs also get one more shot at Kentucky at home, a win that would lock up their bid.
  • Iowa: Have the Hawkeyes finally figured things out? Back-to-back blowout wins led to Wednesday’s 68-60 win over Illinois, which didn’t do all that much to solidify Iowa’s tournament standing. The important thing, however, is that their stretch of five losses in seven games is now a fairly distant memory. Iowa has three games left this season, and while they’ve got a bit of a cushion on the rest of the bubble, a remaining schedule that includes two sub-100 teams — and a reputation for inconsistency and collapses — means nothing is certain.
  • Oregon: Sunday’s win over Utah was the game-changer for the Ducks, a marquee victory that they could hang their otherwise-mediocre profile on. That win bumped them up into most bracket projections with some room to spare, but they’re hardly a lock even after winning at Cal on Wednesday. With road trips left against Stanford and Oregon State, there is still the chance to slip-up. Neither of those losses are bad losses, however, and with an 8-7 record against the top 100 — and just one bad loss, at Washington State — Oregon probably needs just two more wins, either in the regular season of the Pac-12 tournament, to assure themselves a ticket to the dance.
  • UCLA: The Bruins are in a much tougher position that the Ducks, as they whiffed on their chance to land an elite win over the weekend. Beating Washington on Wednesday gets them to 17-12 on the season, but with just two top 50 wins and a 7-11 record against the top 100 — and no top 100 opponents left — the Bruins have to win out and win in the Pac-12 tournament to have a chance.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane smacked around Tulane on Wednesday night, keeping pace with SMU atop the American standings. Avoiding that loss was almost as big as landing a win over Temple over the weekend. Tulsa’s at-large bid will be earned in their final three games, as they play at Memphis, Cincinnati and at SMU. On the season, Tulsa has just two top 50 wins (both Temple), four top 100 wins and one really bad loss at Oral Roberts. They’re going to be in the last four in or first four out of every bracket projection you see.
  • Colorado State: The Rams beat San Jose State on Wednesday. They still need to survive trips to Nevada and Utah State. They only have two top 50 wins and four top 100 wins, but a 22-5 record and good computer numbers should be enough to get them in barring a slip-up.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats avoided their second straight land mine by knocking off Central Florida on Wednesday night, and they’ll need to get past one more — at Tulane — before they’re done. The Bearcats have five top 50 wins, which puts them a cut above the rest of the bubble, but thanks to losses to East Carolina and Tulane this month, they still have work to do.


  • Indiana: The Hoosiers lost on Northwestern on Wednesday, meaning that they we are back to mentioning them in Bubble Banter. It’s the first bad loss on Indiana’s profile, and with five top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins on their resume, there is a lot to like here. Win one of their last two — home for Iowa and Michigan State — and the Hoosiers will be fine. Lose out, and lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and things will get interesting.
  • Illinois: The Illini have now lost three straight after falling at Iowa, putting them at 17-11 overall and 7-8 in the Big Ten. They need to go at least 2-1 down the stretch — Northwestern, Nebraska, at Purdue — to keep themselves in a good position, but I’m not sure that a sweep will be enough to lock them into a bid before the league tournament starts.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost to Georgia at home, a loss that hurts them less than it helps the Bulldogs. Ole Miss is pretty safe in a lot of brackets, but I think the Rebels are at more risk than some folks realize. They have just three top 50 wins and three sub-100 losses.
  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island lost to Davidson at home, a loss that really hurts their chances of making up ground on the teams in front of them in bubble standing. The good news? They still have top 100 road games at La Salle and at Dayton on their schedule. The bad news? They need to beat good teams on the road in league play to really have a chance at an at-large bid.
  • UMass: If the Minutemen weren’t finished already, they are now after losing to St. Joe’s.

POSTERIZED: Indiana’s Troy Williams makes multiple highlight-reel plays against Ohio State (VIDEOS)

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Indiana sophomore Troy Williams is a tremendous athlete capable of making highlight-reel plays. He certainly made another one to start Saturday with this hard dunk after running down the lane. Ohio State’s lack of imposing interior defenders leaves them susceptible to this type of play.

But Williams wasn’t done…

In a sequence of 10 seconds, Williams finished a double-pump, off-hand dunk in traffic, then raced to the other end of the floor to swat a shot out of bounds.

Just a couple of incredible plays from the sophomore forward.

(H/T: Jacob Rude and Ricky O’Donnell)