Conference Countdown: No. 1 Big Ten


1. Big Ten
2. Big XII
3. Big East
4. ACC
5. SEC
6. Mountain West
7. Pac-10
8. Atlantic 10
9. Conference USA
10. West Coast Conference

Pre-season Awards

Player of the Year: Jon Leuer, Wisconsin

Big Ten will have one of the most exciting player of the year races.
Even with Robbie Hummel’s season over, there is a ton of talent at the
top of the league. Included in that group is Jon Leuer, one of the most
underrated players in the country. He was the Badgers leading scorer
and rebounder last season despite missing nine games with a broken
wrist. He’s got a good finesse game in the post, using a variety of
jump hooks and turnarounds. He also has a soft touch on his jump shot
and is a capable ball handler, which makes him a difficult matchup at
times. He impressed people quite a bit at the Team USA workouts over
the summer, and with Trevon Hughes gone to graduation, expect a big
season out of Leuer.

And a close second goes to: Kalin Lucas, Michigan State

is a great player as well. In fact, he’s already won a Big Ten player
of the year award, taking home the hardware in 2009. When he’s healthy,
he’s as quick as anyone in the league with the ball, a pain to keep out
of the paint, and a very good shooter with a knack for hitting some
big-time shots. I have two concerns about Lucas. He’s still working his
way back from the achilles injury that ended his 2010 NCAA Tournament,
so only time will tell if he is actually back to 100%. I also was
concerned by his lack of development last season. Lucas was benched
because of a lack of leadership and didn’t really improve all that much
as a junior. But this is Lucas’ team. He’s the star, and when he
embraces that, he has the talent to carry this team to another Final

Breakout Star: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

tough to pick out a breakout star from the Big Ten because, well, we
already know who most of the best players are. One guy stands out for
me, however. Taylor moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore and
had a very successful season (10 points, 3.5 assists) playing alongside
Trevon Hughes. Taylor is a better distributor than Hughes was, and
Hughes also had a tendency to dominate the ball. This season, as the
sole ball-handler, Taylor is going to be relied upon much more as a
playmaker, especially considering the lack of offensive firepower on
this Wisconsin roster. I don’t think its out of the question for him to
develop into a second- or third-team all-conference performer.

All-Conference First Team

  • POY – Jon Leuer, Wisconsin, Sr.
  • G – Kalin Lucas, Michigan State, Sr.
  • G – E’Twaun Moore, Purdue, Sr.
  • G – Demetri McCamey, Illinois, Sr.
  • F – Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, Fr.
  • F – JaJuan Johnson, Purdue, Sr.

All-Conference Second Team

  • G – Maurice Creek, Indiana, So.
  • G – Durrell Summers, Michigan State, Sr.
  • G – Talor Battle, Penn State, Sr.
  • F – John Shurna, Northwestern, Jr.
  • F – Mike Davis, Illinois, Sr.

Freshman of the Year: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

is universely regarded as the best big man in the class. At 6’8″, 250+
lb, he’s got the size and the strength to play immediately in the Big
Ten. He’s not just big, either. He’s skilled. He can score on the
low-block, he can get to the rim facing up, and he has range out to 18
feet. He is also a very cerebral player. Sullinger understands angles
— sealing his man when the ball gets reversed, holding position
defensively and offensively, boxing out — which lets him get a lot of
easy baskets and a ton of rebounds. He’s a producer on the block, and
should complement the shot-blocking presence of Dallas Lauderdale well.
The Buckeyes are going to need someone to be a go-to presence for them
with Evan Turner gone, and Sullinger could be that guy.

All-Freshman Team

  • G – Keith Appling, Michigan State
  • G – Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan
  • G – Taran Buie, Penn State
  • F – Jereme Richmond, Illinois
  • F – DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State

What Happened?:

  • Expansion: Everybody welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten! Well, next year anyway. And despite the rumors to the contrary, that is all the Big Ten added. For now.
  • Robbie Hummel: Breaks your heart.
  • Tom Izzo and his rumor mill: First it was the Cavs. He was staying, then he was going, and now he’s staying. Good decision, thanks to The Decision.

    there was Chris Allen. He was suspended for the Big Ten tournament last
    season, then throughout the summer his name was coming up in rumors. He
    would play. He wasn’t going to play. Finally last month, Izzo ended the
    drama, saying that Allen failed to live up to his obligations.

    Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, two Michigan State players were accused of a sexual assault on the same night that Korie Lucious got a DUI.

  • It wasn’t just Chris Allen:
    Allen isn’t the only player that won’t be returning next season. Laval
    Lucas-Perry was dismissed from Michigan for the dreaded “violation of team rules.”

    Northwestern got a blow when Kevin Coble, a second-team all-conference performer in 2009, decided he was not going to return to the basketball team, instead focusing his efforts on his last semester of classes.

    And then there is Zisis Sarikopoulos, who has scored all of 48 points in his collegiate career, who signed a three-year contract in Greece.

    Iowa not only lost Anthony Tucker, who was suspended for an arrest and then transferred to D-II Winona State, they lost head coach Todd Lickliter. He was replaced by Siena’s Fran McCaffery.

  • Trevor Mbakwe is cleared, legally: Well, not exactly.
    He agreed to skip trial in exchange for completing a six-month
    intervention program. Everything will be erased from his record when he
    pays $100 fine and does 100 hours of community service. It also means
    that Minnesota has cleared him to play, which is great news for Tubby
    Smith and the Golden Gophers.

What’s Next?:

  • Is this the year for Northwestern?:
    The Wildcats are the only major conference team that has never played
    in the NCAA Tournament. Ever. And this season may just be their best
    shot. I know we have said that over and over the last two years, but
    with the players they have returning, a good non-conference season and
    a couple of wins over the top of the Big Ten, and they are dancing.
  • Three in a row?:
    Everyone knows that Michigan State has been to back-to-back Final
    Fours. This year? They are one of the favorites to win the national
    title. Can they make it three straight Final Fours? Do they end up
    winning a title during that stretch?
  • Is expansion over?:
    Most believed that the Big Ten wanted to get to 16 teams this summer,
    and there are some that still believe that is the case. Does it happen
    next summer? Will the Big East and the Big XII survive it?

Power Rankings

  1. Purdue:
    Purdue was originally considered the favorite to win the Big Ten title.
    That was before Robbie Hummel blew out his knee. Quite a few people
    have dropped the Boilermakers in their preseason polls, which isn’t
    necessarily fair. This is still the same basic team that made the Sweet
    16 last season. This Purdue team still has two all-americans in E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. The
    Boilermakers still have role players. Lewis Jackson is a quick point
    guard who was dealing with a foot injury last season but is back
    healthy. Kelsey Barlow was the guy that played the point guard role in
    his stead and did an admirable job. He’s a big, strong kid that can
    defend and get to the rim. Jon Hart, Ryne Smith, DJ Byrd, and Patrick
    Bade also return, and Croatian big man Sandi Marcius should finally be
    ready to play. Throw in the mix four talented freshmen, particularly
    four-star guards Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson, and you got
    yourself a very good basketball team. Don’t count this team out.
  2. Michigan State:
    The Spartans once again looks like a team capable of making a run to,
    and through, the Final Four. While Raymar Morgan, and now Chris Allen,
    are both gone, the core of this team returns. Kalin Lucas, the 2009 Big
    Ten player of the year, should be back to 100% after blowing out his
    achilles in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Who knows how quickly he can
    return to his peak, but there is the talent on this roster to allow him
    to ease into being a star again. Durrell Summers has loads of talent —
    6’4″, athletic, range on his jumper — and had a coming out party in
    the tournament last season. Korie Lucious has been inconsistent
    throughout his first two seasons but definitely has shown flashes of
    being an impact player in the back court. Many also believe that Keith
    Appling has the ability to make Spartan fans forget about Allen. Up
    front is a bit of a question mark. Draymond Green, the versatile 6’6″
    power forward, is back, as is Delvon Roe, a super-talented but
    oft-injured 6’8″ power forward. Hefty sophomore Derrick Nix returns,
    and Adreian Payne, a top 20 forward, will also be in the mix. Expect
    the Spartans to contend for both the Big Ten and national titles.
  3. Illinois:
    The Fighting Illini have a shot at being very, very good this year. It
    starts with Demetri McCamey, a stocky point guard that averaged 15
    points and 7 assists last season. McCamey is one of the better
    playmakers in the country, and while he still turns the ball over a bit
    much and has a tendency to dominate possession, his ability to create
    open looks for his teammates is crucial. Also returning are DJ
    Richardson and Brandon Paul, two talented freshman that had up and down
    seasons. The front line of Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis is back, as
    well. The roster, which loses some key role players like Jeffery Jordan
    and Dominque Keller, will be bolstered by another excellent recruiting
    class. Shooting guard Crandall Head, forward Jereme Richmond, and
    seven-footer Meyers Leonard are all four-star recruits that will be
    able to contribute immediately. As I see it, the issue with this Illini
    team isn’t necessarily talent. There are a lot of very good basketball
    players on this roster, and with a guy like McCamey on the floor —
    especially when there are four guys around him that can shoot —
    getting good shots probably won’t be the issue. The problem is interior
    toughness. Neither Tisdale or Davis are real bruisers or physical
    rebounders/defenders. Leonard is all of 225lb. That could spell trouble
    playing in a Big Ten with the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State.
  4. Ohio State:
    The Buckeyes lost Evan Turner to the draft, but as Thad Matta is wont
    to do, he simply reloaded. Again. The talk about this team is going to
    be the freshman class. Headlined by 6’8″ bruiser Jared Sullinger and
    6’6″ scoring forward DeShaun Thomas, this group is six deep, with all
    six receiving at least three stars from Rivals. The front court isn’t
    just freshmen, as Dallas Lauderdale returns to protect the rim and
    Nikola Kecman is back to provide a little bit of depth. In the back
    court, David Lighty, William Buford, and Jon Diebler all return. The
    question, obviously, is at the point. Turner wasn’t valuable just
    because he could score and get rebounds and play the point at 6’7″, it
    was because he made everyone on the floor that much better. Will
    Diebler and Buford get as many open looks without Turner? Does Lighty
    get the same amount of space to operate? Obviously, having a big man on
    the block like Sullinger will help space things, but without a
    facilitator stepping up (Aaron Creft is the only PG recruit, but
    Lenzelle Smith and Jordan Sibert are talented back court players) I
    have concerns about how well this team will run offensively. The
    Buckeyes are going to be a different product on the court this season,
    but they will still be at the top of the Big Ten when it is all said
    and done.
  5. Wisconsin:
    It doesn’t seem to ever matter who the Badgers lose. They always come
    back the exact same team the next season. Bo Ryan’s back court of Jason
    Bohannon and Trevon Hughes has graduated, but don’t expect the Badgers
    to be down this season. Junior Jordan Taylor, who looked quite
    impressive in his minutes playing behind Hughes, is back, as is
    sophomore Ryan Evans, who isn’t the shooter that Bohannon was, but who
    is bigger, stronger, and a better defender. Returning up front will be
    Jon Leuer, who could very well be the best big man in the Big Ten this
    year, and Keaton Nankivil, who showed flashes of brilliance last
    season. Both are big and both are dangerous in the post and on the
    perimeter. Take those four, and fill in the blanks with Ryan’s
    never-ending string of tough, defensive-minded kids, and the Badgers
    will once again compete atop this conference. Because Ryan is one of
    the few coaches that always recruits for his system, not based on top
    100 lists, his teams are always underrated. A warning to all those in
    the Big Ten — Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, and Ohio State are all
    loaded this season, but sleep on Wisconsin at your own risk.
  6. Northwestern:
    The Wildcats caught a bad break when Kevin Coble decided he wasn’t
    going to return for his final season with Northwestern. But that
    doesn’t mean that the Wildcats are dead in the water. Northwestern
    brings back five of their top six scorers from a team that won 20 games
    and was in bubble consideration until the end of February. One of those
    five is John Shurna, a combo-forward that averaged 18 and 6 in Coble’s
    stead. They also bring back Michael Thompson, one of the most
    underrated guards in the conference. Drew Crawford was selected as the
    Big Ten freshman of the year. Luka Mirkovic and Alex Marcotullio also
    return, while freshman JerShon Cobb, a top 100 recruit, should be able
    to fill in Jeremy Nash’s shoes. This is the same Northwestern team,
    just a year older. Why can’t they compete this year? Northwestern has
    never made an NCAA Tournament. Could that change this season?
  7. Minnesota:
    I like the squad Minnesota has this season. True, they lose Damian
    Johnson, Lawrence Westbrook, Paul Carter, and the chance to use Royce
    White. But the Gophers were deep last season, which means that they are
    going to be able to handle some of that loss. Their strength is going
    to be up front, where Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson both return at
    the center. While those two could, feasibly, play alongside one
    another, the addition of Trevor Mbakwe will be key. A physical, 6’7″
    forward, Mbakwe would be a nice complement to Smith’s other bigs.
    Shooter Blake Hoffarber also returns, as does Rodney Williams, an
    athletic 6’7″ slasher that has the potential to be a weapon in this
    league. Al Nolen and Devoe Joseph will once again be handling the back
    court duties. And with six newcomers, Tubby Smith has a lot of pieces
    here. Minnesota isn’t going to win the Big Ten, but a tournament berth
    isn’t out of the question.
  8. Indiana:
    Tom Crean brought in a very good recruiting class in 2009, and while it
    didn’t do much for the Hoosiers last season, the dividends will begin
    to be paid this season. Maurice Creek, a guard that dislocated his knee
    back in December, and big man Christian Watford were as good as any two
    freshmen in the conference last season. Throw in rising juniors Verdell
    Jones and Tom Pritchard and senior-to-be Jeremiah Rivers, and the
    Hoosiers have themselves a pretty solid core to build around. An NCAA
    Tournament berth would be a borderline miracle, and even a .500 record
    in this conference this season would be impressive, but this team isn’t
    going to be a pushover. The Hoosiers are going to win some games and
    they are going to put a scare into some of the better teams. They
    aren’t there yet, but Crean is getting this team close.
  9. Penn State:
    Looking strictly at their record, the Nittany Lions were not a good
    basketball team last season. In fact, they were down right bad. Going
    11-20 on the season and 3-15 in Big Ten play (they lost their first 12)
    is not ideal. That said, this club lost some close games. By three at
    Temple; two against Virginia Tech; OT at Wisconsin; one at Illinois,
    two at Michigan State; four against Purdue. The list goes on from
    there. Ed Dechellis’ team didn’t win many games, but they weren’t blown
    out that often either. In other words, last year’s club was probably
    tougher than their record indicates, and they bring back essentially
    the same roster, headlined by all-Big Ten point guard Talor Battle.
    Battle is a stat sheet stuffer, at times by necessity as much as
    talent, but he certainly can put points on the board, whether scoring
    or finding assists. With solid players like David Jackson, Andrew
    Jones, and Jeff Brooks returning along the front line, Tim Frazier back
    for his sophomore campaign, and two solid freshmen — point guard Taran
    Buie (Battle’s half-brother) and big man Jonathon Graham — the Nittany
    Lions have a team that should be competitive. Given how strong the Big
    Ten is this year, a .500 finish would be quite impressive. That said,
    Penn State won’t be a pushover, and could very well spring a few upsets.
  10. Michigan:
    When John Beilein was hired at Michigan, many expected him to
    orchestrate a turnaround like he did at West Virginia previously. After
    reaching the 2009 NCAA Tournament, most thought the Wolverines to be a
    top 25 club last year. But that fell apart, and then so did Beilein’s
    roster. Manny Harris, DeShawn Sims, and Laval Lucas-Perry are all gone.
    So where is Michigan headed. There are just four returners that saw
    playing time — Stu Douglass, Zak Novak, Darius Morris, and Matt
    Vogrich. They aren’t bringing in much, either. Evan Smotrycz, a 6’8″
    small forward from New Hampshire, is a top 100 recruit. Jordan Morgan
    is a three-star center, but he is undergoing surgery on his left knee.
    None of Blake McLimans, Tim Hardaway, and Jon Horford cracked Rivals
    top 150. On paper, this looks like a team destined for a rebuilding
    year. But keep in mind, this is the kind of team that Beilein succeeds
    with. A bunch of scrappy underachievers willing to buy into Beilein’s
    system. I’m not saying that Michigan fans should be penciling in a Big
    Ten title. Far from it. All I’m saying is that maybe the loss of Sims,
    Harris, and Lucas-Perry will be addition by subtraction. While a .500
    season would probably be considered an overachievement in 2010-11,
    don’t write this group off just yet. Remember, Beilein has a tendency
    for turning teams around.
  11. Iowa:
    It is going to be another long season for Hawkeye fans. Todd Lickliter
    was fired after a 10-22 season, and with only six players returning,
    Fran McCaffery is going to have his work cut out for him. He gets back
    a solid trio of guards with Cully Payne, Matt Gaetens, and Eric May,
    and with four three-star recruits (according to Rivals) coming in, this
    isn’t a bare cupboard. But it certainly isn’t full, and with the amount
    of quality basketball teams in this conference next season, matching
    last year’s total of four Big Ten wins would probably be considered a
    good season, comparatively.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit

Three Things To Know: Shaka’s seat heats up, Baylor survives, Virginia doesn’t

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It was a slow night for college hoops on Monday, but there is still plenty to talk about after some weird results.

Here are the three things you need to know:


The Shaka Smart era at Texas feels like it has hit an inflection point.

On Monday night, the Longhorns went into Morgantown, W.V., and found themselves wishing Country Roads would take them home before the first half came to a close. No. 14 West Virginia, coming off of blowout loss at Kansas State on Saturday, used a 28-2 run over a 10 minute stretch in the first half to turn a 15-13 lead into a 43-15 blowout. They would go on to win 97-59.

The loss dropped Texas to 12-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Big 12. The Longhorns certainly are not out of it just yet — three of their four Big 12 losses came against teams that currently rank in the top six at KenPom — but it’s getting harder and harder to defend the situation that’s brewing in Austin. Texas has now lost four of their last six and five of their last eight. They are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

But perhaps the biggest concern is that the Longhorns just don’t seem to be growing as a program. Last year, while Texas ended up missing the tournament, they finished as a top 25 team on KenPom and made a run all the way to the NIT title. It’s worth noting that before the tournament started, they were already a top 30 team on KenPom; their ranking wasn’t skewed by getting hot for three weeks in a tournament no one cares about.

The problem this season is that there has been no progression. Texas has been a program under Shaka that has hung their hat on defense, but this is the worst defensive team he has had in his tenure. That becomes even more of an issue when you factor in that they cannot score. They’re 111th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is what happens when your offense is, essentially, a spread ball-screen into a contested three.

KenPom has Texas favored to win just three more games the rest of the season. They’re projected to finish 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12.

That’s not good.


It looked like Baylor was going to cruise to a pretty easy win at home against Oklahoma, but the Sooners had other ideas. They hung around long enough in the second half to make things interesting late. Oklahoma hit back-to-back threes in a 40 second span to cut a 59-51 lead to 59-57 with 41 seconds left, and after Baylor couldn’t find a way to score on their next possession, Austin Reaves cut off a 3-on-1 break to flare to the corner and fire up a wide-open, go-ahead three with less than five seconds left.

He missed.

Baylor won.

And No. 1 lived to fight another day.


The reigning national champions lost for the fourth time in their last five games on Monday night, this time falling at home against N.C. State, 53-51.

Like Oklahoma, Virginia had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, as N.C. State fouled up three and then missed free throws of their own at the other end. But Virginia is the 346th-best three-point shooting team in the country for a reason, and Casey Morsell missed the game-winner as time expired.

At this point, it’s getting harder to see how Virginia is going to find a way to play their way into the NCAA tournament.

Chris Mack: David Johnson’s shoulder ‘is fine’

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The biggest concern coming out of Louisville’s win at Duke on Saturday evening was the status of David Johnson’s shoulder.

Johnson was the best player on the floor for Louisville, finishing with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks as the Cardinals landed a much-needed win in Cameron. But with three minutes left in the game, he landed on his surgically-repaired left shoulder and had to leave the game. He returned to the bench, but he did not return to the game.

Head coach Chris Mack did not seem overly concerned about the injury after the game, and he confirmed as much in a conference call on Monday.

“The shoulder is fine,” Mack said. “He’s just a little sore, but he’ll practice the next couple of days and we fully expect him to play on Wednesday.”

Bracketology: Welcome to the top line, San Diego State

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Welcome to the top line, San Diego State.  The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update.  SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.

The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East.  As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them.  Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall.  And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed.  The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 20, 2020

EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown

SOUTH Houston                           WEST – Los Angeles
Omaha Spokane
8) Arkansas 8) Illinois
9) Memphis 9) HOUSTON
Tampa Sacramento
5) Colorado 5) Arizona
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
St. Louis Greensboro
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Saint Mary’s
Albany Spokane
7) Wisconsin 7) LSU
10) USC 10) Oklahoma
2) SETON HALL 2) Oregon
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
8) Rutgers 8) Indiana
9) STANFORD 9) Florida
Albany Cleveland
5) Kentucky 5) Creighton
4) Villanova 4) DAYTON
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Penn State 6) Auburn
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown 11) BYU
3) West Virginia 3) Butler
Tampa Cleveland
7) Ohio State 7) Wichita State
10) DePaul 10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State 2) MICHIGAN STATE

Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Virginia Tech Purdue Washington
DePaul NC State Minnesota Saint Louis
Saint Mary’s Georgetown Arizona State St. John’s
BYU VCU Xavier Richmond

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

AP Poll: Baylor leapfrogs Gonzaga, seventh No. 1 team this season

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Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor and Gonzaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too.

The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bulldogs and into the No. 1 spot in college basketball AP poll on Monday, using wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. That matches the record set in 1983 for the most No. 1s in the history of the poll, which dates to the 1948-49 season.

Gonzaga (20-1) was merely a victim of its conference schedule. The Bulldogs blew out Santa Clara and BYU, but just enough voters considered those wins to be less impressive than the Bears’ perfect Big 12 start. Baylor received 33 first-place votes and had 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel while Gonzaga received 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.

“It takes a team to win,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team also reached the top of the poll two years ago. “As a coach, you’re just really proud when different people step up, especially guys that have been working hard.”

The rest of the top five looks a whole lot different after Duke, Auburn and Butler all lost both of their games last week.

Kansas (14-3) rose three spots to No. 3 in the college basketball AP poll after victories over Oklahoma and Texas, the latter requiring a big comeback in Austin. San Diego State (19-0) remained perfect with wins over Fresno State and Nevada, and Florida State (16-2) barged into the fifth spot after it beat reigning national champion Virginia and survived overtime to best Miami.

The Seminoles haven’t lost since playing Indiana in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge the first week of December.

Louisville, which tasted the top spot earlier this season, jumped five spots to sixth after beating Pittsburgh in overtime and handling the Blue Devils. Dayton was next, followed by Duke, Villanova and Seton Hall to round out the top 10.

Duke also lost to Clemson earlier in the week, sending coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team tumbling five spots.

“We just have to get older,” he said after the Blue Devils’ 79-73 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I’m really up on my team. It’s a long journey. I’ve never told you that we’re great. It’s a process for us, playing these two teams. Getting beat, we have to learn from it and move on. It’s a long journey.”

Krzyzewski’s team wasn’t alone in getting a tough lesson last week. Fourth-ranked Auburn fell all the way to No. 16 after losing a pair of blowouts to Alabama and Florida, and fifth-ranked Butler was bounced all the way to 13th after the Bulldogs followed up a loss to Seton Hall by getting soundly beaten by DePaul.

“It’s the time of the year when we should be trying to elevate our play, and we’re not,” said Tigers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team had won its first 15 games. “Obviously, there’s a pretty big price on our head being ranked fourth in the country. And so I think we have to respond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

Here is the full college basketball AP poll:

1. Baylor (33 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (31)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Duke
9. Villanova
10. Seton Hall
11. Michigan State
12. Oregon
13. Butler
14. West Virginia
15. Kentucky
16. Auburn
17. Maryland
18. Texas Tech
19. Iowa
20. Memphis
21. Illinois
22. Arizona
23. Colorado
24. Rutgers
25. Houston

Others receiving votes: Wichita St. 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, N Iowa 42, Ohio St. 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn St. 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, ETSU 6, Indiana 6, Southern Cal 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1.

Here’s a closer look at the other big news in another fresh Top 25:


The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.


Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.


The Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.


No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.


More AP college basketball: and

Monday’s Overreaction: Myles Powell, Payton Pritchard, David Johnson and the two worst chokes of the year

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Myles Powell, Seton Hall

Seton Hall improved to 6-0 in Big East play this season with wins over Butler and St. John’s, but that doesn’t come anywhere close to telling the whose story here.

The Pirates trailed by double-figures at halftime of both of those games. Both of those games were on the road. They were down 40-30 at the break at No. 5 Butler, but Myles Powell came to the rescue, scoring 19 of his 29 points after the break to lead the Pirates to a 78-70 win.

Then on Saturday, Seton Hall trailed St. John’s 43-30 at the Garden at halftime, but Powell — again — took over, scoring 23 of his 29 points in the second half as Seton Hall remained perfect in the Big East.

It took him a while to get fully healthy, but now that he is, Powell is showing everyone why he is a favorite to win National Player of the Year.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

What Steve Pikiell has done with this Rutgers program should never, ever be overlooked.

After a week in which the Scarlet Knights beat both Indiana and Minnesota at the RAC, They are now sitting at 14-4 over and 5-2 in the Big Ten, good for second in the toughest conference in college basketball. They are 24th in KenPom, which is the highest that this program has ever ranked in the metric we all use the most when evaluating teams. They are 18th in the NET with a 2-3 mark against Quad 1 opponents and five Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins combined.

Put another way, Rutgers is very much in a position where missing the NCAA tournament this season would be something of a disappointment.

Now, it should be noted that this is when their schedule gets tough. They play at Iowa on Wednesday and still face off with Michigan twice, Maryland twice, Purdue twice and play at Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. A home game against No. 24 Illinois is about their sixth-toughest game left on the schedule.

It won’t be easy.

But getting to 14-4 wasn’t easy in the first place.



Louisville may have finally found an answer to their point guard problems.

David Johnson, a freshman from Louisville that has spent the season to date trying to get back up to speed after offseason shoulder surgery, had his coming out party in a big way on Saturday, going for 19 points and seven assists as Louisville went into Cameron and knocked off Duke.

That is incredibly important news for a Louisville team that has desperately been searching for a guy to do all of the things that Johnson did on Saturday night.

The way he scored those points is the most significant part of the equation. He broke down defenses. He dribbled right past Jordan Goldwire and drove the lane for a dunk. He created out of ball-screens. He handled Duke’s ball-pressure like he was playing against high school opponents.

And then there was the passing (see below):


This is what the Cardinals have been waiting for. It’s been a talking point all season long, and every time I have mentioned it, I have also mentioned that Louisville was just waiting to see if Johnson would ever get healthy. That staff believed he was a pro after getting him on campus, and anyone that watched him play on Saturday night would be inclined to agree.

If he can remain healthy and play somewhere close to this level for the rest of the season, then this Louisville team is much, much more dangerous.


The reason Payton Pritchard is one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year is the fact that he is putting up terrific numbers this season for a top ten team and doing so while putting together some incredibly impressive performances in crunchtime.

Saturday might have been his statement game.

Oregon erased a 13-point second half deficit thanks in large part to Pritchard, who hit a huge three with a minute left to tie the game. In overtime, he hit a floater to give the Ducks the lead before burying this insane three to win the game with 3.2 seconds left:

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Payton Pritchard called game!!!!!!

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No. 8 Oregon avoided going 0-2 on the Washington road trip with a 64-61 win. Pritchard finished with 22 points. The Ducks are now 3-0 in overtime games this season largely due to the fact that Pritchard is arguably the most clutch player in college basketball.

Is there anyone that you would want taking a big shot in a big game more than him?


I talked about this in depth at the 19:00 mark of the podcast, but with the exception of an early season loss against Washington — I’ll get to that — the Bears have been arguably the best team in college basketball down the stretch of close games.

Whether it’s wins at Texas Tech, or Kansas, or Oklahoma State, Baylor has consistently been able to execute in situations where teams like Duke have not been able to execute. That is why they are sitting at No. 1 in the country right now and Duke has three losses to their name.

And as far as the Washington game is concerned, the Huskies play zone. Baylor was totally lost against that zone down the stretch. Oklahoma State played zone as well, and Baylor discovered the answer in the second half: Matthew Mayer. They plugged him in at the high post, and it launched a comeback.

So now they have an answer for that, too.


Auburn entered this seek as one of just two undefeated teams left in college basketball, but there were question marks.

The Tigers don’t have a single win over a team ranked in the top 40 on KenPom. They have only played three Quad 1 games this season. Their only Quad 1 win is barely a Quad 1 win: It came at Mississippi State, who currently ranks 70th in the NET; the cutoff for Quad 1 road wins is top 75.

The other two Quad 1 games that Auburn has played this season?

They were both this week.

And they were both ugly losses.

On Tuesday, it was Alabama that ran over Auburn in the basketball version of the Iron Bowl, 83-64. On Saturday, it was Florida doing the damage, as they held Auburn to 25.5 percent shooting from the field, 4-for-23 shooting from three (17.4%) and to just a single point during an eight-minute stretch late in the second half that saw the Gators push their lead from 47-43 to 69-44. They won 69-47.

Suddenly, those concerns look prescient.

The truth is this: Auburn is dangerous. They are a team that can make a lot of threes, that can force turnovers and play in transition and has the ability to play big (with Austin Wiley) or small (without Austin Wiley). They have a lottery pick in Isaac Okoro and they have a couple of guards on their roster capable of taking games over in J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty.

But they haven’t consistently played up to the level of a top five team, and their 15-0 record was inflated by feasting on teams that are just good enough to make us believe.

Auburn is still good.

They’re just not a top five team.


Stanford was up 46-25 in the second half of their loss at USC on Saturday evening. They led by 15 points with less than 10 minutes left. They were up by five points with 15 seconds left and the ball out of bounds underneath USC’s basket, and not only did they find a way to lose that game in overtime, but they got lucky to actually get to OT. USC missed a free throw that could have won the game in regulation.

According to KenPom, USC had a 3.8% chance to win this game at the half, a 3.6% chance to win the game with 10 minutes left and just a 0.7% chance to win with 15 seconds left.

But that’s not as bad as what happened to Utah State.

The Aggies led 66-48 with less than 4:10 remaining. Boise State had a 0.3% chance of winning this game with five minutes left. Turnovers, fouls, missed threes. Utah State did it all, but they still led 73-67 with 15 seconds left, 75-70 with eight seconds left and 75-73 with three seconds left and the ball.

And they lost.

That just does not seem possible.