Previewing your college hoops weekend

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Game of the weekend: Sat. 3:15 pm: No. 2 Ohio State @ No. 13 Kansas:

(All times ET)

There isn’t going to be a much more intriguing individual matchup this season than seeing Jared Sullinger go up against Thomas Robinson. Both are potential lottery picks, but they do it in such different ways. Sully is a space-eater and a positional expert, using his massive rear-end to carve out space and create angles to score on the block. He also has the footwork of a ballerina, which allows him to execute pretty post moves against quality competition. T-Rob, on the other hand, is a physical specimen whose ability centers on the fact that he can jumper higher and go through the players that he is guarding. He’s a perfect example of what effort will get you if you have some god-given ability.

And that, more than anything, is why we should all be hoping that Jared Sullinger’s back spasms have gone away by Saturday afternoon. Because seeing those two go head-to-head for 40 minutes would be a treat for all involved.

The other key matchup here is going to be Aaron Craft guarding Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor has some serious turnover issues this season (he had 11 against Duke in the Maui finals) but he has the ability to flat-out take over a game at times. He will be guarded by arguably the best on-ball defender in the country in Aaron Craft. If Craft is up to his pesky ways, than Taylor is going to have a very difficult time getting Kansas into their offensive sets.

Five more games you can’t miss

Sat. 12:00 pm: Washington vs. No. 5 Duke: This is such an important game for Wahsington. That cannot be emphasized enough. With three losses already on the season and without another team ranked in the top 25 on their schedule this season, the Huskies need to earn that marquee win for their tournament resume. But I’m not sure this team is going to be capable of beating Duke. They certainly have the talent on their roster to do so, but as they have done for the last couple of years, Washington seems to be a different team every time they take the floor.

Sat. 12:30 pm: Cincinnati @ No. 8 Xavier: This may be the most interesting game of the day. These two teams genuinely dislike each other, and this game always seems to devolve into the kind of physical affair that results in a fight and a couple of ejections. The question I am looking to get answered here involves Cincy. In other words, what are you doing, fellas? The Bearcats have enough talent to be a top five team in the Big East, but they have looked, well, bad early in the year Big East contenders don’t lose at home to Prebysterian.

Sat. 2:00 pm: UNLV @ No. 16 Wisconsin: So is UNLV for real? We all thought so after they knocked off UNC two weeks ago. But after getting worked by Wichita State on the road, the people voting on the top 25 were no longer convinced and dropped the Rebels out of the top 25. Wisconsin is in a similar boat. Are the Badgers really a top ten caliber team and a group that can compete for the Big Ten title? UNLV matches up well and has enough quality on-ball defenders that Jordan Taylor should be in for a long day, but the Kohl Center is one of the toughest places to win a basketball game.

Sat. 5:15 pm: No. 1 Kentucky @ Indiana: Contrary to what Dan Dakich has been telling people, if Indiana wins this game it will be a massive upset. But I think what he meant is that the Hoosiers have a very real chance of winning this game. They have some size and skill in their front court and some scorers on the perimeter. I love what I’ve seen out of Cody Zeller early in the season, but he is going to be overwhelmed by Kentucky’s size and athleticism. As concerned as I am about Jordy Hulls going up against that Wildcat pressure, I’m equally worried about whether or not the Hoosiers will be able to get stops. Kentucky has a lot of weapons and IU isn’t great defensively. The great equalizer here? The road. Kentucky hasn’t experienced the kind of hostile environment they will face yet.

Sat. 9:00 pm: Michigan State @ No. 22 Gonzaga: There are so many questions still to be answered about both of these teams. Michigan State has been getting better play out of their perimeter attack, but its still unclear whether Brandon Wood, Keith Appling and Travis Trice are going to be able to produce the way the Spartans need them to if they want to become a top 25 team again. MSU’s strength, however, is their front court strength, a skill that matches up well with a Gonzaga team that doesn’t exactly have a front line training for the pro-wrestling circuit. Robert Sacre and Elias Harris aren’t exactly known for their physicality, but Draymond Green certainly is. It will also be interesting to see if Gonzaga’s back court is going to be able to defend MSU.

Who’s getting upset?: Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 19 Michigan @ Oakland: The Grizzlies are no joke. They can claim Tennessee as one of their victims for the second straight season and have gotten some absolutely sensational play out of the dynamic Reggie Hamilton early in the season. As any Wolverine opponent will find out, the key when playing Michigan is being able to defend the offensive sets that John Beilein runs. They are so crisp and so well-coached and have this style so thoroughly ingrained that its a feat to knock them out of a rhythm.

Five more teams on upset alert

Sat. 5:00 pm: Villanova @ Temple: Frankly, I’m not sure exactly who would be the team getting upset here, but I wanted a space to write about this matchup. Both Villanova and Temple are struggling to find a rhythm this season. The Nova, that seems to stem from issues this team has with youth and a lack of playmakers. For the Owls, however, their biggest issue is the patella injury suffered by Michael Eric that cripples their interior presence Look for Mouph Yarou to have a big game.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Long Beach State @ No. 6 North Carolina: After their win over Pitt earlier this season, the 49ers are not going to be sneaking up on anybody for the rest of the year. That shouldn’t necessarily matter, however, as LBSU has the kind of talent on their roster to pull off another upset somewhere along the way. The big men of Kansas has a field day against LBSU on Wednesday. Will the 49ers be able to guard inside on Saturday evening?

Sat. 7:00 pm: Penn @ UCLA: I know, I know, this isn’t technically going to be considered an upset. UCLA is way down this season as they have had to fight just to get to the point they are in right now. Penn, however, has been claiming that they are good to make some nothing through out the season. But Quakers have Anthony James, one of the biggest scorers in the county right now.

Sun. 6:00 pm: Detroit @ No. 15 Alabama: Detroit looks like they are finally hitting their stride offensively. Coming off of a nice win over St. John’s at home, the Crimson Tide went ahead and lost to Dayton on the road. Detroit’s sophomore Ray McCallum is probably the most talented back court player that the Crimson Tide will take on this season, but the Titans also have Eli Holman back. He has 21 points and seven boards in his first action of the season.

Sun. 6:00 pm: Murray State @ No. 20 Memphis: Its tough to trust this Memphis team this season. They make poor decisions with the ball and have, in now way, looked like a team that is going to be considered among the nation’s elite. The Racers are now 9-0 on the season, but the Tigers are by far the toughest team that they will face this year.

Mid-major matchup of the weekend: Fri. 8:00 pm: Richmond @ VCU: The battle of Richmond. The game may not get this kind of national attention that other city rivals get when they play, but there is some bad blood between the two schools. VCU is finally starting to play like the team that made the run to the Final Four last season. Brad Burgess has solved his early season shooting issues while guys like Troy Daniels and Darius Theus have thrived is more significant roles this year. Richmond is in a similar boat — they lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, but their back court of Cedric Lindsay and Kendall Anthony has been impressive in the early going.

The thing that is the most interesting about this game is that neither of these teams look like they will have a chance to be in consideration for an at-large bid come March. But that shouldn’t change the fact that this is a rivalry game, and it will be played that way for 40 minutes.

Six more mid-major matchups to watch

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 17 Creighton @ St. Joseph’s: The Bluejays are for real. If their come-from-behind win at San Diego State didn’t confirm the hype they had coming into the season, than their win against a tough Nebraska team should have done the trick. St. Joe’s is going to sneak up on a lot of people this season, however. They have a couple of studs in their back court in Langston Galloway and Carl Jones would could end up giving Creighton fits.

Sat. 2:00 pm: Akron @ Cleveland State: The win that the Zips have over Mississippi State continues to look better while Cleveland State’s performance against Vanderbilt gets less impressive with each lackluster Commodore performance. But while the Vikings have continued to play well since their win over an SEC opponent, Akron has struggled. They’ve lost four games on the year and have yet to put together another performance quite as impressive as the game they played in Starkville.

Sat. 2:00 pm: Milwaukee @ Northern Iowa: Northern Iowa has been very impressive early on this season. Anthony James is blossoming into a star as the Panthers have rolled through their competition, including a 20 point win over Iowa their last time out. Milwaukee, however, is 8-1 on the season and just blew out DePaul at DePaul.

Sat. 8:05 pm: Utah State @ Wichita State: Utah State is battling injuries to their front line right now, and that could end up being their undoing against a Wichita State team that is playing very well right now. The Shockers have an excellent perimeter attack and enough of a presence in the paint to hang with the likes of Tulsa and UNLV. What happens when that group goes up against the Aggie’s diminished front court.

Sat. 9:00 pm: Nevada @ Montana: Deonte Burton has finally started to play like we’ve expected him to over the past two seasons. He’s scored 59 points the past two games as the Wolfpack have knocked off both Washington and Arizona State. But the Grizzlies can play. They may have four losses on the season already, but this is a team that is going to be in the mix for the Big Sky title by the end of the season.

Sun. 2:30 pm: Iona @ Marshall: Many people were expecting a big season out of the Gaels, but they have outlived most expectations. This is a team that can really get out and run the floor, and much of that is due to the terrific play they are getting out of one of the most underrated point guards in the country in Scott Machado. But Marshall has some talent in their own right. The Thundering Herd has an excellent back court in Deandre Kane and Damier Pitts and enough capable big men to give Iona fits inside.

The rest of the top 25


7:00 pm: Rider @ No. 12 Florida: Florida needs to learn to get the ball inside to Patric Young. Can it start this weekend?


7:00 pm: George Washington @ No. 3 Syracuse: I was expecting a lot out of George Washington this season, but they have struggled early in the season. Lasan Kromah doesn’t look like the same player he was before he was injured.

4:00 pm: Fairleigh Dickinson @ No. 4 Louisville: As good as Louisville as been defensively this season, they’ve been just as bad offensively. They are going to have to find their rhythm before heading into Big East play.

5:00 pm: Navy @ No. 10 Missouri: Missouri has been shredding their opponents, but it all starts with a 5’8″ point guard that can dominate a game without taking a shot. I doubt Navy is going to be able to slow him down.

9:00 pm: Green Bay @ No. 11 Marquette: Like Missouri, Marquette has been as impressive as any team in the country early in the season and is coming off of their two biggest wins back-to-back. Will they avoid a let down game?

2:30 pm: Oklahoma State @ No. 14 Pitt: LeBryan Nash has been inconsistent early in the season, but against Missouri State, he scored 19 points while coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see how he matches up with Pitt’s bigger — and significantly less mobile — front line.

4:00 pm: Troy @ No. 18 Mississippi State: Arnett Moultrie has been playing some terrific basketball early this season. Renardo Sidney, on the other hand, is still the same Renardo Sidney, but with the way Moultrie has been playing, are folks noticing?

12:00 pm: Howard @ No. 21 Georgetown: Henry Sims has been playing some terrific basketball. As in, he may be the best big man in the Big East right now. Seriously.

4:00 pm: No. 24 Harvard @ Boston U: How will Harvard respond after losing to UConn? It will have to start with the Crimson slowing down Darryl Partin, who is averaging 23.9 ppg.

LA-Monroe @ No. 25 Texas A&M: Khris Middleton will be back, but the Turners — both Elston and Ray — have been pretty good in him absence.


8:00 pm: Coppin State @ No. 22 Illinios: Illinois is coming off of an impressive win over St. Bonaventure. It wasn’t impressive because they played well. Rather, it was impressive because they managed to be a pretty solid team despite playing fairly terribly. That’s good sign … if they start to play better.

Other notable games


– 8:00 pm: Iowa @ Iowa State
– 9:00 pm: Old Dominion @ Fairfield


– 1:00 pm: St. Peter’s @ Minnesota
– 1:00 pm: Austin Peay @ Tennessee
– 2:00 pm: BYU @ Utah
– 2:00 pm: Butler @ Ball State
– 2:00 pm: Kent State @ Western Carolina
– 2:00 pm: Arkansas @ Oklahoma
– 4:00 pm: Clemson @ Arizona
– 4:00 pm: Eastern Michigan @ Purdue
– 5:30 pm: Missouri State @ Arkansas-Little Rock
– 7:00 pm: New Mexico @ USC
– 7:00 pm: Miami FL @ West Virginia
– 7:30 pm: Dartmouth @ Notre Dame
– 8:00 pm: Bpise State @ LSU
– 8:00 pm: Wake Forest @ Seton Hall
– 10:00 pm: Ohio @ Portland


– 1:00 pm: UNC-Greensboro @ Florida State
– 2:00 pm: North Florida @ Kansas State
– 3:00 pm: North Carolina Central @ NC State
– 4:00 pm: Norfolk State @ Virginia Tech
– 4:00 pm: Santa Clara @ Washington State
– 5:00 pm: Jackson State @ Cal

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.