12/6 – College Hoops Week in Review: A new challenger in the Big East?

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Game of the Week: Kansas 77, UCLA 76

In all reality, the game of the week was Georgetown’s thrilling overtime win against Missouri. But we are going to be talking plenty about the Hoyas in this recap, so I went to Lawrence, KS, for the game of the week. UCLA, a team that struggled against Tennessee and VCU at the Preseason NIT finals in NYC, actually hung around with Kansas for 40 minutes. Tyler Honeycutt was unguardable, finishing with 33 points on 11-15 shooting, while the Jayhawks relatively small front line could not handle the 6’10”, 305 lb Joshua Smith in the paint, as the freshman finished with 17 points and 13 boards, 8 on the offensive end.

The two blue bloods threw haymakers throughout the second half, both making runs to seemingly grab control of the game. With three minutes left, Kansas took a 75-70 lead, but could not close out the Bruins as turnovers and missed free throws kept the Bruins alive. After Tyshawn Taylor missed one of two and Marcus Morris missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Lazeric Jones missed a free throw of his own and Kansas ended up with the ball out of bounds with 18 seconds left. Tyrell Reed was trapped on the inbounds pass and threw the ball away, and Honeycutt made the Jayhawks pay with a 25 foot three to tie the game. That’s when it got interesting.


We can argue with the NCAA about whether the foul that was called was the correct call, but it was called. Mario Little it one of the two free throws as UCLA was out of timeouts, and Honeycutt missed a prayer at the buzzer.

The other good games:

  • UNC 75, Kentucky 73: Tyler Zeller and John Henson dominated a weak Kentucky front line, fouling out all three of Kentucky’s big men and holding Terrence Jones to 9 points and 6 boards on 3-17 shooting. But Kentucky got 24 points from Doron Lamb and 13 from Darius Miller to keep things close. The game was as ugly as it was intense, and it was UNC hitting nine of their last ten free throws that kept the Tar Heels ahead. Dexter Strickland missed the last one on purpose, forcing Kentucky to take a half court prayer to try and win the game. Lamb missed, and the Heels picked up a much needed win.
  • Oklahoma State 92, La Salle 87 2OT: The Cowboys and the Explorers needed 50 minutes to decide things in Philly. After La Salle led for much of the second half, it was a short jumper from Marshall Moses that tied the game with six seconds left in regulation. Oklahoma State took the early lead in the first overtime, but Aaric Murray tied things up with eight seconds left in the first overtime. In the second overtime, the Cowboys opened up an 89-84 lead. Ruben Guillandeaux cut that lead to 89-87 with a three, but another jumper from Moses, who had 30 points and 18 boards, with 14 seconds left sealed the game.

Buzzer Beaters: Who doesn’t love a good buzzer beater. We had plenty this week:

  • Cal Poly 54, Hawaii 53: Chris O’Brien followed up a miss with a lay-in at the buzzer to beat the Rainbows. The question everyone asked, however, was whether he got the shot off in time. You decide. The game wasn’t televised, so there was no monitor available to check the replay:


  • Georgia State 64, James Madison 63: Jihad Ali followed up a missed shot with a lay-in as GSU picked up their first CAA win over the season over the Dukes.
  • Quinnipiac: The Bobcats were on both sides of a buzzer beater this week. On Saturday, James Johnson scored on a layup as time expired to give QU a win in their NEC opener against Mt. St. Mary’s 77-75. But on Thursday, it was UMass winning at the buzzer, as Justin Rutty committed a goal tend with no time left on the clock.


  • Wake Forest 76, Iowa 73: It wasn’t exactly a buzzer beater, but freshman JT Terrell hit a three with 2.7 seconds left to give Wake a 76-73 win over Iowa and cap an 18 point comeback.
  • USC Upstate 93, UNC-Asheville 91 2OT: We had two buzzer beaters in this one. Tony Dukes of USC-Upstate hit a three to tie the game at 69 and force the first overtime before JP Primm forced a second overtime with a three at the buzzer that tied it up at 84. Carter Cook’s two free throws with 6.9 seconds left won the game.

Player of the Week: Kyrie Irving, Duke

It hasn’t been difficult to select the players of the week this season, and Irving’s selection was no different. The Blue Devil’s freshman point guard showed why people were predicting he would be the best point guard in the country this season by averaging 26.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 3.0 apg while collecting three steals and two blocks in Duke’s wins over Michigan State and Butler. Should I mention that he shot 14-22 from the field on the week (including 5-9 from three) and 19-22 from the line? Against Michigan State, Irving had as dominant of a performance as we have seen this year, going for 31 points and dissecting the Spartan defense. In Saturday’s win over Butler, Irving started off the game slowly before exploding for 17 of his 21 points in the second half. He also hit arguably the two biggest shots of the game, as his back-to-back three pointers finally put Butler away for good.

The All-they-were-good-too team

  • G: Chris Wright, Georgetown: Wright was the best player for the best team this week, averaging 21.0 ppg and 6.0 apg in the Hoyas two wins.
  • G: Brandon Young, DePaul: Young averaged 24.0 ppg as the Blue Demons won two games this week, beating Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.
  • G: Jawan Carter, Delaware: Carter had 29 points in the Blue Hen’s CAA opening win over Old Dominion.
  • F: Mike Scott, Virginia: Scott averaged 19.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg as the Cavs beat both Minnesota and Virginia Tech on the road.
  • C: Tyler Zeller, UNC: Zeller wasn’t very impressive in the Heel’s loss to Illinois, but it was his 27 points, 11 boards, and 5 assists that won the game against Kentucky.
  • Bench: Reggie Jackson, Boston College; Kemba Walker, UConn; Noah Dahlman, Wofford; Jon Leuer, Wisconsin; Marshall Moses, Oklahoma State; James Nunnally, UC Santa Barbara

Team of the Week: Georgetown Hoyas

Its about time that we start to consider Georgetown as one of the favorites to win the Big East and to reach the Final Four. That’s what happens when you start the season 8-0 with wins against teams like Old Dominion, Missouri, NC State, and Utah State. Only the Utah State game was at home. This week, the Hoyas beat two completely different teams. On Tuesday, they went into Kansas City to take on the Tigers in what was the single most entertaining game of the young season. The Hoyas opened up a 35-17 lead in the first half, but Mizzou slowly chipped away at the lead. Midway through the second half, a Marcus Denmon three put the Tigers ahead, and they would eventually get up 85-80, but the poise of Austin Freeman helped lead Georgetown back, as the Big East’s preseason player of the year scored back-to-back buckets, one of which was an and-one, to tie the game. Mizzou took the lead back, but a Chris Wright three with 0.3 seconds left forced OT. In OT, Jason Clark buried three straight threes to seal the deal for Georgetown, as they won 111-102.

On Saturday, the Aggies came to town. After playing a methodical first half which saw USU’s offense execute to precision, John Thompson III threw on a press in the second half which the Aggies could not handle. Turnovers and easy baskets led to a 68-51 win over the WAC favorites despite Wright being the only player that reached double figures for the Hoyas.

Georgetown beat two very good teams this week. Those two teams played styles that are at opposite ends of the basketball spectrum. Both teams were able to execute their game plans to a degree — Missouri get the game into an uptempo shootout, forcing turnovers and scoring in transition while Utah State was able to keep Georgetown from shooting threes (the Hoyas were 2-9 from deep) and kept the pace methodical. Georgetown won both games.

Teams deserving of a shout out:

  • Boston College: The Eagles got off to a horrendous start, headlined by a loss to Yale. But after beating Texas A&M and Cal in the Old Spice, BC kept their momentum headed in the right direction by knocking off previously undefeated Indiana at home and previously undefeated UMass on the road. Reggie Jackson, the Eagle’s point guard, may be the best player in the country you’ve never seen play.
  • Miami FL: Their loss to Rutgers by 16 is ugly, but the ‘Canes may have turned a corner. This week, they beat both Mississippi and West Virginia. Against the Rebels, it was 27 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists from Durand Scott that won the game. In the win over West Virginia, it was 26 points from Malcolm Grant that led the way.
  • Virginia: I’m ACC heavy here, but just go with it. The Cavs were all but written off after they were drubbed by Washington and Wichita State out in Maui, but maybe we acted too soon. UVa won on the road at both Minnesota and Virginia Tech this week. Mike Scott wants people to start talking about him, apparently, so we will. He averaged 19.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg in the two wins.
  • Florida Atlantic: Mississippi State and South Florida are far from being considered elite teams, but for a team like FAU to sweep is, in a word, impressive. Making it all the more impressive is that the Owl’s leading scorer, Greg Gantt, averaged just 9.5 ppg on the week.
  • Drexel: Don’t look now, but the Dragons are now 5-1 on the season after opening CAA play with a win over Northeastern. Granted, Drexel still hasn’t beaten anyone, but this is a Dragons team that lost their leading scorer and a key sub in the offseason when they tried to rob a fellow Drexel student at gun point. Keep an eye on Chris Fouch. He’s averaging 21.7 ppg on the season.
  • South Carolina: USC knocked off Clemson 64-60 in their intrastate rivalry. The Gamecocks are now 6-1 on the season, with their lone blemish a nine point loss at Michigan State. Freshman Bruce Ellingotn is averaging 12.7 ppg and 4.4 apg.

Other notes from the week that was: So when does the “MWC is a top five conference” talk start to happen? Because it should be going on right now. Let’s start with the MWC-MVC Challenge, which the MWC on 8-1. The only win for the Valley? Northern Iowa knocking off TCU, the same TCU that knocked off USC this week. San Diego State, BYU, and UNLV are all undefeated and all three look like Sweet 16 teams. New Mexico is 6-1 (with a loss to Cal but wins over Arizona State and at New Mexico State) and still waiting on Drew Gordon to become eligible after transferring from UCLA. And the bottom of the league isn’t as bad as we expected. Air Force bounced back from a loss to D-III Colorado College to beat Wofford and Evansville (who knocked off Butler). Utah beat Weber State. TCU has that win over USC. Its a shame this league is breaking up.

So, uhh, what’s going on with UCLA? The Bruins nearly knocked off Kansas in Lawrence on Wednesday, then proceeded to get smacked by Montana on Sunday night? In Pauley Pavilion? That kind of loss in unacceptable. I know Ben Howland took the Bruins to three straight Final Fours, but how long is that program going to put up with this level of ineptitude?

That wasn’t the only strange thing to happen in the Pac-10 this week. USC, who had lost to Rider, Nebraska, TCU, and Bradley, beat Texas by 17? Should I mention that Oregon State lost to Colorado by 26 points?

As we always have said, anything can happen in conference play. Take, for example, Old Dominion. The Monarchs were 5-1 on the season. They had beaten Xavier, Clemson, and Richmond. They were on the verge of being ranked in the top 25. Then they hosted Delaware, a team that was expected to finish somewhere near the bottom of the CAA. What happened? Jawan Carter exploded for 29 points and the Blue Hens led for almost all of the second half in an upset win. Regardless of the league you play in, you cannot overlook a single conference opponent, not when everyone knows what your game plan. There are no secrets in conference play. ODU learned that the hard way.

We’ve hit on this point a number of times already this season, but outside of Duke, the ACC favorites have really struggled. Virginia Tech appears to be a bust after losing an ugly game to Purdue and then dropping their ACC opener to UVa. Maryland’s loss to Temple means that the Terps have dropped every meaningful game they’ve played this season. Ditto for Florida State after the ‘Noles lost to Ohio State this week. That said, there was some success. In addition to what was mentioned above, UNC’s win over Kentucky gives the Tar Heels some much needed breathing room and confidence. This is a team loaded with talent. They just needed the pieces to come together. And while there are still some underlying issues for UNC, the fact that they were able to get a dominating performance from their big men is a positive.

Matchups of the Week

  • 12/7 – 7:00 pm: Memphis vs. Kansas in NYC
  • 12/7 – 9:30 pm: Syracuse vs. Michigan State
  • 12/8 – 9:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Missouri
  • 12/8 – 9:30 pm: Notre Dame @ Kentucky
  • 12/8 – 10:30 pm: San Diego State @ Cal
  • 12/8 – 11:00 pm: Gonzaga @ Washington State
  • 12/9 – 9:00 pm: Georgetown @ Temple
  • 12/9 – 9:00 pm: Butler @ Xavier
  • 12/11 – 12:00 pm: UNLV @ Louisville
  • 12/11 – 2:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Marquette
  • 12/11 – 3:15 pm: Tennessee vs. Pitt
  • 12/11 – 4:30 pm: Washington @ Texas A&M
  • 12/11 – 6:00 pm: Arizona @ BYU
  • 12/11 – 7:00 pm: VCU @ Richmond
  • 12/11 – 7:00 pm: Dayton @ Old Dominion
  • 12/11 – 8:30 pm: Gonzaga @ Notre Dame

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: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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.