The 68 things we can’t wait to see this season

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

1. Remember the Marshall Henderson vs. Auburn fans GIF in 2013? How about Jim Boeheim and his flailing jacket against Duke? I can’t wait for college basketball’s next great Internet meme. (Terrence Payne)

2. Please, please, please: more interviews and great anecdotes from new Ohio head coach Saul Phillips. (Scott Phillips)

3. Cody Doolin at UNLV. If he proves to be the answer many believe him to be, the Runnin’ Rebels can get back to the NCAA tournament. (Raphielle Johnson)

4. Every year, there’s a freshman that enters the season with the hype of being “the next great one”. This year, it’s Jahlil Okafor. Is he the all-american everyone expects him to be? (Rob Dauster)

5. Ryan Boatright’s leadership. He doesn’t need to be exactly what Shabazz or Kemba were, just do it in his own way. Will he successfully do so? (RJ)

6. More Dickie V concert reviews on Twitter. Maybe branch out into live-tweeting films? (SP)

7. Wichita State followed up a run to the Final Four by winning 35 straight games to start a season. So … what’s next? (RD)

8. The academic jokes the Cameron Crazies are coming up with for Feb. 18’s game against North Carolina. (TP)

9. I want TaShawn Thomas eligible at Oklahoma so we have another Final Four contender. (SP)

10. What will Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes do for an encore? Things will be a little different without the help of Alec Brown. (RJ)

MORE: X-Factors | Breakout Stars | Impact TransfersPreseason All-Americans

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Kevin Pangos (AP Photo)

11. How will Kaleb Joseph handle playing the Tyler Ennis role at Syracuse, being the only point guard on the roster as a freshman? Can he lead them to the NCAA tournament? (RD)

12. Can Gonzaga please stay healthy? I want to know if this team is truly talented enough to see Final Four weekend. (SP)

13. Can Utah reverse its fortunes in close games? And if so, are they Arizona’s strongest challenger in the Pac-12? (RJ)

14. The guard play in the ACC: Marcus Paige, Tyus Jones, Jerian Grant, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Angel Rodriguez, Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, Rasheed Suliamon, Olivier Hanlan. Should I keep going? (TP)

15. The return of the Stanford cowbell player. (SP)

16. Jerian Grant was having an all-american caliber season before he was suspended from the Notre Dame program last December. After sitting out the second semester, will he be the same player as a senior? (RD)

17. Here’s a rundown of Tim Miles on Twitter last season: The Nebraska coach played Ndamukong Suh one-on-one, had lunch with fans because they asked him and took a selfie after beating Ohio State. What’s next? (TP)

18. I’m interested in the national reaction to Cliff Alexander’s dunks. (SP)

19. The Aaron Thomas/Xavier Rathan-Mayes tandem at Florida State. (RJ)

20. VCU’s Havoc. Do I really need to explain why? (TP)

POSITION RANKINGS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wing Forwards | Big Men

21. Which mid-major stars become nationally known this season? High Point’s John Brown and UCSB’s Alan Williams seem like the most likely candidates. (RD)

22. Mike Davis reviving the career of Chris Thomas at Texas Southern. (SP)

23. Who replaces Grant Gibbs as the best college basketball player to follow on Twitter? (TP)

24. National acclaim for Ole Miss’ Jarvis Summers. He was a fixture on our “Chase for 180” list last year andpeople in the SEC knew how good he was, but was criminally underrated nationally. (RJ)

25. It would be nice to see this current North Carolina roster play well because the 2014-15 team has nothing to do with the latest academic scandal. And make some free throws. (SP)

26. We know who the top four in the ACC is this season. Who rises from that second tier to compete with them? Syracuse? Pitt? N.C. State? Florida State? (RD)

27. Chris Holtmann is the third Butler head coach in as many seasons. How does this affect the Bulldogs, who are still adjusting to the Big East? (TP)

28. How long can John Calipari keep brainwashing people — and his own team — into thinking the hockey-shift, platoon system is: A. His idea. B. The right idea? (SP)

29. Romelo Trimble running the show at Maryland. He’s the point guard they so desperately needed last season. (RJ)

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Caris LeVert (AP Photo)

30. D’angelo Russell is a talented, dynamic scorer and playmaker. How long will it take for him to become Ohio State’s go-to guy? (RD)

31. R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow, Kevin Ware and Georgia State giving some team a heart attack in the first game of the NCAA Tournament. (SP)

32. Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas thrived in John Beilein’s offense. Is Caris LeVert the next guy to be turned into an All American? (TP)

33. Whether or not Texas has something in common with Public Enemy … Don’t Believe The Hype. If they remain hungry, the Longhorns can get to Indy. (RJ)

34. Speaking of not believing the hype: I want to see how SMU deals with being the hunted, particularly now that Emmanual Mudiay is in China. Can Nic Moore make us forget about him? (RJ)

35. The SEC is wide-open and Arkansas has as much talent as they’re had since Mike Anderson took over. If they’re ever going to climb out of the muck in the middle of that league, this is the season to do it. (RD)

36. I want to see Pittsburgh’s (once again) soft non-conference schedule hurt them enough to make Jaime Dixon change his scheduling ways. (SP)

37. Memphis vs. Wichita State on Tuesday, Nov. 18 in … uh … South Dakota. (TP)

38. LSU’s front court. Johnny O’Bryant III was a notable loss, but I think these pieces — Elbert Robertson, Jordan Mickey, Jarrell Martin — may fit together better than last season’s did. (RJ)

39. Despite the loss of Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, this should be the year Sean Miller finally reaches the Final Four. (TP)

40. Bruce Pearl’s impact at Auburn. Not expecting much this season from a wins standpoint, but the early excitement is definitely there. (RJ)

41. Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin are studs. But Michigan’s season rides on the shoulders of Mark Donnal. Can he make the Wolverines a Big Ten contender? (RD)

42. The continued local hype surrounding Nebrasketball. (SP)

43. Louisville’s impact on the ACC. The conference averaged the fewest possessions per game of any conference last season. One team can’t change that by itself, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals’ defense impacts their new conference foes. (RJ)

44. Is this the best team that Bo Ryan has ever had at Wisconsin? (RD)

45. To some Rhode Island is considered to be “one year away” from contending in the Atlantic 10. Maybe so, but the Rams are still going to be a scary team. (TP)

46. Is Bryce Dejean-Jones the next transfer that Fred Hoiberg works his magic on? (RD)

47. Can someone threaten Wichita State in the Missouri Valley? I lean Northern Iowa right now, but that race needs to be competitive no matter who the Shockers’ biggest threat is. (RJ)

48. Will Iowa figure out how to get stops this season, or will they continue to play matador defense? (RD)

source:
Kasey Hill (AP Photo)

49. The relaunch of the Big East is in Year 2. Is there a new rivalry on the horizon? (TP)

50. I want the SEC’s bottom half to be watchable. (SP)

51. Stephen F. Austin in year two under Brad Underwood. Not expecting a 29-game win streak, but they’ll once again be a major factor in the Southland. (RJ)

52. Kasey Hill and Chris Walker are both top ten recruits that played nothing like top ten recruits as freshmen. I can’t wait to see if they make the jump as sophomores. (RD)

53. It’s a really exciting time to be at Louisiana Tech. Michael White’s Bulldogs are the favorites to win Conference USA, which would be the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991. On the women’s side, Pat Summitt’s son, Tyler, is in his first season as a head coach … at 24! (TP)

54. The “unfinished business” trend. So many programs whose seasons ended in disappointment are using it, so who will win out in the end? (RJ)

55. Arizona is the favorite in the Pac-12, and that’s indisputable. The race for the second spot in the league standings will be a fun one to follow. (RD)

56. A close finish to the regular season in the Ivy League. Harvard needs some serious competition from multiple contenders. (SP)

57. Branden Dawson’s senior season is his chance to prove how special he is as a player. (RD)

58. The always exciting Florida Gulf Coast has a highly-entertaining non-conference schedule. Dunk City takes on UC Santa Barbara and Alan Williams. They have a potential matchup against Green Bay and what is sure to be a high-scoring affair against UMass. (TP)

59. The Mountain West race. Seven teams have a chance at winning the regular season title, even with San Diego State being seen by many as the preseason favorites. (RJ)

60. The Peppas. (RD)

61. With Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers back in Cambridge, can Harvard fend off Yale and pull off another NCAA tournament upset? Better yet, would it even be considered an upset at this point? (TP)

62. Shaquille Johnson highlight-reel dunks. (SP)

63. Juwan Staten went from being “just a guy” to becoming an all-american during his junior season. Who makes that jump this year? (RD)

64. Whether or not Villanova can win a second consecutive Big East title. They’ve got the pieces to do it, and stick around longer in the NCAA tournament. (RJ)

65. The Battle 4 Atlantis and its LOADED field. (TP)

66. Was the end of Dwayne Polee’s 2013-2014 season a sign of things to come? (RD)

67. Jimmy Patsos at Siena. The Saints will be right in the mix with Iona and Manhattan in the MAAC, and the conference tournament is back in Albany. (RJ)

68. Friday, November 14th. (RD)

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:

1. SHAKA’S SEAT IS HEATING UP

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.

2. NO. 1 BAYLOR SURVIVES

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.

3. VIRGINIA LOSES AGAIN

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

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown
WEST REGION NC State vs. VCU
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW-AM vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. ST. FRANCIS (PA)

SOUTH Houston                           WEST – Los Angeles
Omaha Spokane
1) BAYLOR 1) GONZAGA
16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST 16) MONMOUTH / ST. FRANCIS (PA)
8) Arkansas 8) Illinois
9) Memphis 9) HOUSTON
Tampa Sacramento
5) Colorado 5) Arizona
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST 12) NC State / VCU
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
13) S.F. AUSTIN 13) NEW MEXICO ST
St. Louis Greensboro
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Saint Mary’s
3) LOUISVILLE 3) Duke
14) NORTH TEXAS 14) LITTLE ROCK
Albany Spokane
7) Wisconsin 7) LSU
10) USC 10) Oklahoma
2) SETON HALL 2) Oregon
15) WILLIAM-MARY 15) UC-IRVINE
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
16) RADFORD 16) MONTANA
8) Rutgers 8) Indiana
9) STANFORD 9) Florida
Albany Cleveland
5) Kentucky 5) Creighton
12) LIBERTY 12) YALE
4) Villanova 4) DAYTON
13) AKRON 13) VERMONT
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Penn State 6) Auburn
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown 11) BYU
3) West Virginia 3) Butler
14) COLGATE 14) WRIGHT STATE
Tampa Cleveland
7) Ohio State 7) Wichita State
10) DePaul 10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State 2) MICHIGAN STATE
15) AUSTIN PEAY 15) NORTH DAKOTA ST

BUBBLE NOTES
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:

RUTGERS ON THE RISE

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.

OTHER NEWCOMERS

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.

ON THE WAY OUT

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.

BUCKEYES BUMMER

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.

MONDAY’S OVERREACTIONS

1. DAVID JOHNSON MAKES LOUISVILLE GREAT AGAIN

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.

2. PAYTON PRITCHARD IS A KILLER

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?

3. BAYLOR IS A KILLER, TOO

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.

4. WE ALL SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS WEEK COMING FOR AUBURN

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.

5. STANFORD AND UTAH STATE, WHO CHOKED WORSE?

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.