College Basketball Talk’s Top 25: How far does North Carolina fall?

AP Photo/Al Goldis

We’re now a month into the college basketball season, which means that it is time to really take a look at the top 25. That’s why there are some pretty drastic changes to the top 25 here:

[MORE: Coaches Poll | AP Poll]

1. Michigan State (11-0, LW: No. 2): There’s no fighting it now. Michigan State has to be ranked No. 1 this week. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a consensus in both the AP and Coaches Polls.

2. Maryland (9-1, LW: No. 4): We know how good Melo Trimble is and we know how well Rasheed Sulaimon complements him. Robert Carter hasn’t quite lived up to the hype he had this offseason but he’s been consistently solid this month. The good sign this week: Diamond Stone finally looked like a kid that was a top ten prospect in the Class of 2015. The bad sign this week: Jake Layman still looks overwhelmed by big games.

[MORE: Is Xavier for real? | What about UCLA?]

3. Kansas (8-1, LW: No. 5): It took a while for Kansas to wake up against Oregon State, but once they decided to start playing, they ran the Beavers off the floor. Wayne Selden is shooting 60 percent from three, has multiple threes in every games this season and has hit at least three in all but two games. And there’s an argument to be made that he isn’t even their best guard.

4. Oklahoma (7-0, LW: No. 8): I’m still not totally convinced that Oklahoma is truly a title contender, but after their beatdown of Villanova, we can’t ignore this team anymore. I’m not sure there is a better back court in the country than Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins and Buddy Hield.

5. North Carolina (7-2, LW: No. 1): Maybe I’m just not yet ready to admit that I was wrong about North Carolina being the best team in the country — because I still think they will be come March — but I’m not ready to drop this team outside the top five when they lost a game on the road to an improving Texas team on a shot that may or may have actually come before the final buzzer sounded. Sorry not sorry.

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6. Kentucky (9-1, LW: No. 3): I’m still not sure what to make of this group. They looked so, so, so dominant against Duke, particularly in the back court, but that was really the only time this season they’ve looked really good. I get that we have to be patient with Skal Labissiere, but it’s now mid-December and he just went for zero points, zero boards and five fouls in 13 minutes against Arizona State. Yikes.

7. Xavier (10-0, LW: No. 11): Xavier was totally dominant in a ten point win over intra-city rival Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon, and that was not the first time this season that they’ve played like that. I’m not sure what the weakness is in this team outside of front court depth. Trevon Blueitt has been sensational, James Farr and Edmond Sumner have been much improved and Jalen Reynolds hasn’t yet hit his stride. Is this the best team Chris Mack has ever had at Xavier?

[MORE: Player of the Week: Javan Felix | Team of the Week: Wichita State]

8. Purdue (11-0, LW: No. 12): Purdue has the most overpowering front line in the country. Isaac Haas deserves all-american consideration at this point for the way that he has played this season and the scary part is that A.J. Hammons is better than him. Caleb Swanigan has fit in perfectly at the four and the Boilermaker guards are hitting jumpers, getting the ball to their bigs in a position to score and defending. This is a really, really good team, and it will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday when they face off with Butler.

9. Iowa State (9-0, LW: No. 7): The concerns that I had for this Iowa State team manifested themselves in the win over Iowa: They couldn’t stop Jarrod Uthoff when he got rolling and they don’t have the depth in the front court to keep Jameel McKay rested. If that 20 point deficit came against anyone other than Iowa, the Cyclones currently have a loss on their résumé.

10. Duke (8-1, LW: No. 9): Duke dropped a spot despite the fact that they didn’t even have a game this week. Virginia dropped a spot after beating West Virginia, a top 20 team in their own right. My opinion of those two ACC powers has not changed. In fact, I actually think more of Virginia after watching them in the Jimmy V Classic. But at this point in the season, I believe both Xavier and Purdue are better basketball teams, so it makes no sense to rank them lower than a pair of one loss team because of how I felt about them in the preseason.

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11. Virginia (8-1, LW: No. 10)
12. Baylor (7-1, LW: No. 13)
13. Miami (8-1, LW: No. 15)
14. Villanova (8-1, LW: No. 6)
15. Butler (8-1, LW: No. 16)
16. Providence (10-1, LW: No. 17)
17. Arizona (9-1, LW: No. 18)
18. SMU (7-0, LW: No. 23)
19. West Virginia (8-1, LW: No. 19)
20. Louisville (7-1, LW: No. 21)
21. Cincinnati (8-2, LW: No. 22)
22. Texas A&M (8-2, LW: UR)
23. George Washington (9-1, LW: UR)
24. UCLA (7-3, LW: UR)
25. Wichita State (5-4, LW: UR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 20 Gonzaga, No. 21 Oregon, No. 25 UConn
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Texas A&M, No. 23 George Washington, No. 24 UCLA No. 25 Wichita State

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.