Week in Review

Montrezl Harrell (Getty Images)

College Hoops Week in Review: Montrezl Harrell shines in a slow weekend

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source: Getty Images
Montrezl Harrell (Getty Images)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

There were a lot of games during the first weekend of the college basketball season. There weren’t a lot of meaningful games, however, as the most important matchup of the first three days of college hoops was relevant more for the coaching matchup than the game itself. Minnesota took on Louisville — and lost — and Richard Pitino couldn’t knock off his dad, Rick.

That said, there was a bright spot for the Cardinals, as Montrezl Harrell looked every bit the part of an all-american. He finished with 30 points and seven boards, but that’s not the whole story. Harrell, who spent the offseason trying to develop his perimeter skills, went 3-for-4 from three and knocked down 9-of-10 from the foul line. If he turns into a player that has to be covered out to the three-point line, he’ll be borderline unstoppable.


  • Stefan Nastic, Stanford: The senior big man was terrific in two wins for the Cardinal this weekend. He was an unstoppable force as Stanford knocked off a good Wofford team, finishing with 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting. On Sunday, he added a double-double — 14 points and 11 boards — in a win over South Dakota. On the season, Nastic is now averaging 20.0 points, 8.0 boards, 4.0 assists and 2.0 blocks.
  • Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse: The Orange won both their games this weekend, but they didn’t come without concern. Syracuse has issues on the offensive end of the floor, which makes the week Christmas had all that much more important. He averaged 18.0 points and 12.5 boards.
  • Cullen Neal, New Mexico: One of the big questions for the Lobos this season was where they were going to get their offense from. Neal seems to be the answer, as he had a total of 49 points and eight assists in a pair of wins this weekend.
  • L.J Peak, Georgetown: How about this for the start of a career: Peak scored 23 points and went 9-for-9 from the floor in Georgetown’s win over St. Francis (NY). If only he shot better than 4-for-8 from the foul line.

College Hoops Week in Review: McBuckets and Nebrasketball

Indiana v Nebraska
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Doug McDermott, Creighton How good was McDermott this week? Here are the numbers for you:

  • He averaged 32.5 points and 6.0 boards in wins over Butler and No. 6 Villanova.
  • McDermott had 39 points in that win over the Wildcats, scoring 22 in the first half and passing Larry Bird on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list.
  • He had “just” 26 points against Butler, but the three he hit with 47.8 seconds left would prove to be the game-winner.
  • He was 24-for-36 from the floor in the two games, hitting 7-for-11 from three and all ten of his free throws.

That’s impressive and all, but you really want to get a feel for how good McBuckets was this week? This is how Villanova had to guard him:

Screen-grab via Fox Sports 1

They were good, too:

  • Billy Baron, Canisius: In two games last week, Baron averaged 37.0 points, 8.0 boards and 5.0 assists. Solid numbers, right? If he goes for 35 points and eight assists the next time out, he’ll be averaging 25.0 points, 5.0 assists and 5.0 boards.
  • Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s big man had 25 points and 11 boards in Wisconsin’s 13 point win at Michigan on Sunday. He also went for 17 points and six boards in a win over Minnesota.
  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Ennis hit the game-winning three from 35 feet to give Syracuse a win at Pitt on Wednesday and followd that up with the game-winning assist in a win against N.C. State on Saturday.
  • Scottie Wilbekin, Florida:
  • Jermaine Marshall, Arizona State: Marshall finished with 29 points in Arizona State 69-66, double-overtime win over No. 2 Arizona on Friday night.
  • Kyle Anderson, UCLA: In wins over Utah and Colorado, Anderson averaged 19.0 points, 8.0 assists and 8.5 boards while shooting 14-for-24 from the floor

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Nebraska Cornhuskers Want to talk about a big win? Prior to going into East Lansing and knocking off Michigan State on Sunday, Nebraska wasn’t even involved in the bubble conversation. They weren’t even an afterthought. They have wins over Ohio State, Indiana and Minnesota at home, but that’s not much to write home about when the best thing you did in the non-conference was to knock off Georgia.

But Tim Miles and company pulled off what many believed to be impossible, beating Tom Izzo in his building and, in the process, turning themselves into a team that could very well hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Granted, they still have a lot of work to do, but look at it like this: Nebraska has three top 50 wins, one of which came on the road, and three more top 100 wins. Their RPI is currently 52nd and their KenPom ranking is 62nd. That’s enough to get them onto the bubble.

But there’s more. Here’s their remaining schedule: Penn State, Purdue, at Illinois, Northwestern, at Indiana, Wisconsin. Those are all very winnable games. A tournament berth is well within reach.

They were good, too:

  • Baylor: The Bears seem to have righted their ship, blowing out TCU on the road before picking up a crucial win over Kansas State at home in double-overtime on Saturday.
  • Arizona State: The Sun Devils vaulted themselves onto the right side of the bubble by knocking off in-state rival and No. 2 Arizona at home on Friday evening.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels didn’t get a chance to play Duke last week thanks to a massive storm that hit the mid-Atlantic, but they did beat Pitt at home. James Michael McAdoo has been terrific over the course of the last two months.
  • Middle Tennessee State: MTSU went 2-0 this week and climbed into first place of Conference USA with a blowout win over Southern Miss.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles are doing everything they can to work their way back onto the bubble. They won at Seton Hall and knocked off Xavier at home this week. They get Creighton in Milwaukee next. That’s a big one.

College Hoops Week in Review: Melvin Ejim and SMU burst onto national radar

Melvin Ejim, Hudson Price
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Melvin Ejim, Iowa State

Melvin Ejim put on one of the single most impressive individual performances that you’ll see on Saturday afternoon. He scored 48 points on 20-for-24 shooting from the floor and added 18 rebounds in Iowa State’s 84-69 win over TCU. That just doesn’t happen. People just don’t put up numbers like that. You want proof? The last time that anyone had 48 points and 18 boards in a basketball game at the NBA or Division I level was in 2003 when Shaq did it. That same year, David West had 47 points and 18 boards in a game for Xavier, which is the closest that any college player has come to those numbers since 1996.

Here’s the other thing about Ejim: this isn’t necessarily a fluke. What you may not realize is that Ejim led the Big 12 in rebounding last season and that he’s leading the Big 12 in scoring this season. There’s a chance that he ends up being the Conference Player of the Year by the time that it is all said and done. He’s been awesome this season, but it took 48 points and 18 boards for us to realize it.

They were good, too:

  • Davon Usher, Delaware: Usher averaged 33.5 points in two wins this week, which included arguably the best individual performance of the season. He scored 27 of his 42 points on Wednesday against Charleston in the last nine minutes, helping the Blue Hens erase a 20 point deficit.
  • Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State: The Sun Devils swept Oregon this past week, and Bachynski was the biggest reason why, averaging 21.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 8.0 blocks while shooting 75% from the floor.
  • Jaye Crockett, Texas Tech: Lost in the Marcus Smart debacle was the performance from Texas Tech and Crockett, who had 21 points and 12 boards, following up 15 points, six boards, five assists, two blocks and two steals he had against TCU.
  • Xavier Thames, San Diego State: Thames averaged 20.0 points in two wins this week, which included taking over down the stretch in a come-from-behind win against Boise State.
  • Bobby Portis, Arkansas: Portis had 35 points, nine boards and six blocks in a win against Alabama, and followed that up by helping Arkansas pick up their first SEC road win against someone other than Auburn in Mike Anderson’s tenure.


The Mustangs moved into the AP top 25 for the first time in nearly three decades on Monday morning after Larry Brown’s squad rolled knocked off No. 7 Cincinnati by 21 points on Saturday evening. It’s the latest example of just how far ahead of schedule SMU is in their development as a program. They were expected to be a potential bubble team this season. Instead, they have looked just as good, if not better, than they other four AAC contenders this season.

The key now for SMU is to prove that they can win a game on the road. Blasting Cincinnati, Memphis and UConn in a suddenly-raucous Moody Coliseum is one thing. Going into Storrs or Louisville and coming away with a win is an entirely different story.

They were good, too:

  • Wisconsin: The Badgers ended their skid of five losses in six games by winning at Illinois and then knocking off Michigan State at home this week.
  • St. John’s: The Johnnies have now won six of their last seven games after winning at Providence and knocking off Creighton in the Garden on Sunday night. All of a sudden, this looks like a bubble team.
  • Ohio State: The Buckeyes are back. After winning at Wisconsin two weeks ago, Ohio State won at Iowa and knocked off Purdue over the weekend.
  • Yale: The Elis are now swept the weekend, winning at Dartmouth and Harvard to put themselves into a tie for first place in the conference.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels are back. They’ve won five straight games after knocking off Maryland and Notre Dame this week.

College Basketball Week in Review: C.J. Fair, Northwestern, highlight great week

Duke v Syracuse
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source: Getty Images

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: C.J. Fair, Syracuse

C.J. Fair played his best game of the season in the biggest game of the year. The 6-foot-8 senior went for 28 points and five boards as Syracuse knocked off Duke in overtime at the Carrier Dome, a win that gave them a three-game lead in the ACC over the Blue Devils and catapulted the still-undefeated Orange to the top spot in the top 25.

What made Fair’s performance all the more important is that it came in a game where Syracuse absolutely needed him to come up huge. If there has been a knock of Fair this season, it’s that he hasn’t made the jump from super-productive to superstar. He puts up numbers, but the guy that has seemingly made all the big plays for Syracuse this season has been star freshman Tyler Ennis. On Saturday, it was Fair that made the biggest shots and that took advantage of the fact that the smaller Blue Devils simply had no one that was going to be able to matchup with him.

Syracuse is somewhat overlooked when it comes to national title contenders. The trendy picks have been Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas with a little bit of Florida added in. If Fair continues to play the way he did on Saturday, that won’t be the case much longer.

They were good, too:

  • Juwan Staten, West Virginia: The Mountaineers had a 2-0 week, knocking off Baylor and Baylor and Kansas State in Morgantown. Staten starred in both, going for 15 points and nine assists against Baylor and 35 points and five assists in the win over KSU.
  • Johnny O’Bryant, LSU: O’Bryant was the star as the Tigers won two games this week, going for 29 points and nine boards in a win over Kentucky and 23 points, nine boards and four assists as LSU beat Arkansas.
  • Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: Kilpatrick had 28 points in Cincinnati’s win at Louisville on Thursday, following that up with 18 points as the Bearcats remained undefeated in the AAC with a win over South Florida
  • Tyler Haws, BYU: Haws scored 71 points in two wins this week. He’s now averaging 35.5 points in his last four games. That’s not too shabby.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott scored 39 points and hit the game-winning three-pointer as the Bluejays beat St. John’s 63-60 in Omaha on Tuesday night.

source:  TEAM OF THE WEEK: Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern is in fourth place in the Big Ten.


The Wildcats, undermanned under first-year coach Chris Collins, are currently sitting at 5-5 in Big Ten play, which slots them ahead of Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota. If you try to tell me you predicted that, you’re a liar.

This week, it was a pair of road wins in tough environments that got Northwestern all the attention, as the Wildcats knocked off Wisconsin at the Kohl Center and Minnesota at The Barn extending their road-winning streak to three games; they also beat Indiana at Assembly Hall.

Northwestern has won four of their last five and five of their last seven games. Since giving up 93 points to Iowa on January 9th, the Wildcats have allowed more than 56 points just twice, with one of those games being a 63-60 double-overtime win against Purdue. Winning with defense? I’d think so: Northwestern scores 0.003 PPP more than Grambling, good for 316th nationally. They’re improving, at least. A week ago they were 320th nationally.

They were good, too:

  • Texas Longhorns: Texas became the first team to knock off Kansas in the Big 12 this season, laying the wood to the Jayhawks on Saturday thanks to 23 points from Isaiah Taylor. The Longhorns are now just a game behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings.
  • Tennessee Volunteers: If Tennessee makes sense to you, please explain them to me. After getting embarrassed by Florida last weekend, the Vols beat Ole Miss and Alabama this week. Jordan McRae bounced back from a 1-for-15 performance against Florida to average 26.0 points and 4.0 assists this week while Jarnell Stokes posted 35 points and 30 boards in the two wins.
  • Davidson Wildcats: Davidson beat Chattanooga, who had been undefeated in SoCon play, by 43 points on Thursday, following that up with a win over The Citadel on Saturday. The SoCon title still runs through Steph Curry’s school.
  • St. Joseph’s Hawks: There isn’t a hotter team in the Atlantic 10 right now. St. Joe’s has won six of their last seven and 11 of their last 13 games. They are 5-2 in the A-10 and the only two losses came on the road. This week will be huge: they host both Saint Louis and VCU, the two teams currently ahead of them in the league standings.
  • UNLV Runnin’ Rebels: UNLV has won four in a row after a disastrous start to the season. They erased an 11-point deficit in the final 3:29 to beat Boise State at home on Saturday.

College Basketball Week in Review: Bryce Cotton’s a star, Texas and Michigan surge

Bryce Cotton
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Bryce Cotton, Providence

Bryce Cotton has been a really good player for the Friars for a long time, but since Providence has spent the entirety of his tenure on campus mired in national irrelevance, he hasn’t gotten near the amount of attention that he deserves. This week that changed. Cotton averaged 21.5 points and 6.5 assists while playing all 80 minutes and committing no turnovers in wins over Xavier and Butler. Providence has now won five straight games, moving them into a tie for the second-best record in the Big East and right back into NCAA tournament contention.

But looking at Cotton’s season as a whole, it’s tough not to wonder whether he should be getting quite a bit more all-american hype. His numbers are impressive: 20.5 points, 5.9 assists, 2.0 turnovers and countless big shots in big moments. He’s doing all that despite playing a ridiculous number of minutes as the primary ball-handler in a season where he was expected to see more time off the ball. But with Kris Dunn out and Brandon Austin gone, this is what Cotton is forced to do:

  • In his last 12 games, he’s averaging 41.8 minutes.
  • On the season, he’s played 94.9% of the available minutes. In Big East play, the number jumps to 99.3%.
  • The only time he’s sat out in Big East play was the final two minutes of a 30 point blowout at Villanova. He’s played all 50 minutes in a pair of overtime games.
  • His efficiency numbers haven’t taken too big of a hit in the process, as his offensive rating is “down” to 119.3.

They were good, too:

  • Nik Stauskas, Michigan: Stauskas has been awesome all season long, but in the last nine games, he’s played his way into the National Player of the Year discussion. This week, he averaged 22.5 points, 5.0 boards and 4.5 assists in wins over Iowa and at Michigan State.
  • Ethan Wragge, Creighton: Wragge averaged 19.5 points this week in wins at Villanova and over Georgetown. 21 of those points came when he hit his first seven threes in six minutes against Villanova.
  • Alex Poythress, Kentucky: Poythress is finally starting to turn a corner, it seems. He averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 boards in a pair of wins this week.
  • Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: Nash kept Oklahoma State afloat on Marcus Smart’s off-night as he went for 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting and nine boards in a win over West Virginia on Saturday.
  • Billy Baron, Canisius: Baron might be the Mid-Major Player of the Year right now. He averaged 34.5 points in a pair of wins this week.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Texas Longhorns

source:  Believe it or not, Texas is currently sitting tied with Oklahoma for second place in the Big 12. They’ve won five straight games, the last three of which came against ranked teams. This week, they beat Kansas State at home and knocked off Baylor in Waco. Safe to say, at this point in the season, there isn’t a more surprising team in the country than the Longhorns.

Is it sustainable?

Well, it appears to be. The Longhorns have a vastly underrated front court in Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes and Prince Ibeh. Their back court is young, but there are enough pieces there that they have survived some youthful inconsistency. Isaiah Taylor had 27 points against Baylor, making up for Javan Felix’s off-night. Felix, on the other hand, had been terrific in Big 12 play prior to Saturday. Demarcus Holland has struggled of late, but he’s been known to pop off for 20 points and is one of the better back court rebounders in the country.

I still think Texas is closer to fourth or fifth in the Big 12 than they are second, but the fact that we’re having that conversation is a testament to how well Rick Barnes has done this year.

They were good, too:

  • Michigan: They beat Iowa and won at Michigan State. That about says it all.
  • UCLA: It is now UCLA’s turn to be considered the second-best team in the Pac-12 after they beat both Stanford and Cal at home this week.
  • VCU: The Rams bounced back from a loss at VCU by winning at Dayton and La Salle this week.
  • American: The Eagles blew out Boston University at home and then whipped up on Army on the road this week. Those teams are sitting in second and third behind American in the Patriot League.
  • Richmond: The Spiders closed out a key three-game homestand with wins over UMass and St. Joe’s this week.

College Basketball Week in Review: Joel Embiid, Nik Stauskas shine

Oklahoma State v Kansas
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source: Getty Images

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Joel Embiid, Kansas

Joel Embiid is doing his best to mimic the growth of Anthony Davis back in 2012. Davis was a no-name on the AAU circuit heading into the summer after his junior season, but he shot up the rankings, becoming the top player in the class. And as he began to develop and dominate defensively, with Kentucky’s team growing around him, the Wildcats went on to become national champions.

Could the same be happening to Embiid? It sure looks like it. In two games last week, Bill Self’s seven-footer averaged 14.5 points, 10.0 boards and 6.5 blocks while shooting 12-for-14 from the floor. He absolutely controlled the paint in wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State, helping Kansas reach 4-0 in the Big 12, good enough for sole possession of first place. It will be interesting to see how he develops the rest of the season, but the way that he is playing right now, he’s the most dominant interior presence in college basketball.

They were good, too:

  • Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke: The Blue Devils bounced back from an ugly start to ACC play by knocking off Virginia and N.C. State this week. Sulaimon was the hero in a game Duke struggled against UVA, finishing with 21 points (and the game-winning three). He chipped in with 13 points and six assists in the blowout of the Wolfpack.
  • Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley, Texas: Holmes and Ridley combined for 39 points, 18 boards and seven blocks in a huge win over Iowa State on Saturday. That came after they went for 21 points and 24 boards in a win at West Virginia.
  • Delon Wright, Utah: Is there a better player in the country that no one is talking about than Wright? In wins over USC and UCLA this week, he averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 boards, 5.5 assists, 4.5 steals and 2.0 blocks. He’s a 6-foot-5 guard.
  • Nik Stauskas, Michigan: The Wolverines went into Wisconsin on Saturday and knocked off the Badgers. Stauskas had 23 points, including the last 11. He’s become the centerpiece of John Beilein’s offense.
  • Kevin Larsen, George Washington: Larsen averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 boards this week in wins over VCU at home and at St. Bonaventure.

source: Getty ImagesTEAM OF THE WEEK: Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines were written off when Mitch McGary put his season on hold to get his ailing back surgically repaired. Not by me, mind you. It would be silly to write off a team that still had Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert as the centerpieces of a team with a point guard that’s only going to get better and a pair of big men that, at worst, are serviceable top-of-the-rotation Big Ten bigs.

Michigan proved that on Saturday. The Wolverines won their seventh straight game, starting off Big Ten play 5-0, and they did it with a statement win over Wisconsin in Madison. And once again, it was Stauskas making all the big plays down the stretch of a close game. If Robinson stays aggressive, Stauskas and LeVert continue to manufacture open looks for their teammates and Derrick Walton can avoid turning the ball over, this can be a top three team in the Big Ten.

They were good, too:

  • Kansas: It’s hard to argue with wins over Oklahoma State and at Iowa State in the same week, especially when Naadir Tharpe shoots 14-for-17 from the floor and hands out ten assists. But here’s my concern: Kansas had 43 turnovers in the two games. Tharpe committed ten of them. Joel Embiid had 11.
  • Kansas State: It was a big week for the Wildcats, as they not only notched a win over Oklahoma at home, they went into West Virginia and just pounded the Mountaineers. Believe it or not, the Wildcats are in sole possession of second place in the Big 12.
  • Syracuse: The Orange can now claim sole possession of first place in the ACC after beating Pitt this week at the Carrier Dome.
  • Texas Tech: All of a sudden, it may be time to pay a bit of mind to the Red Raiders. After knocking off Baylor at home this week, Jaye Crockett and company went into TCU and beat the Horned Frogs.
  • Providence: Ed Cooley’s club has not had an easy go of it this season, but they picked up a pair of huge wins this week, going into NYC and knocking off St. John’s before they blew out Creighton at home.