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Player Of The Year Power Rankings: Jalen Brunson is having a season that we’ve never seen before

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When it comes down to the nitty gritty, there are two things that have to happen for a player to be named the National Player of the Year: They either need to be the best player that happens to play for a national title contender, or they need to put up outlandish numbers on a team that finishes, at worst, as a No. 4 seed.

We’ve gone through this in detail before.

In the last 12 years, just four of the players that won the consensus National Player of the Year award — college basketball is stupid in that there are six recognized Player of the Year awards, but there is almost always a majority winner — have been a member of the team that wasn’t a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Doug McDermott in 2014, Trey Burke in 2013, Jimmer Fredette in 2011 and Kevin Durant in 2007. Adam Morrison was just beaten out by J.J. Redick in 2006.

McDermott, Fredette and Morrison were No. 3 seeds in the NCAA tournament in the year they won the award. Burke and Durant were No. 4 seeds. All five players — with the potential exception of Burke — had seasons that were statistical oddities.

That’s where Young is right now.

He’s doing something we’ve never seen before — leading the nation in scoring and assists — because Oklahoma is allowing him to play in a way that we’ve never seen someone play before: At the fourth-fastest pace in the country with the entire offense revolving around what he does with the ball in his hands.

The question that I have at this point is whether or not Oklahoma is going to end up being good enough to put Young into that category.

Personally, I would no longer slot the Sooners in as a national title contender. They don’t defend well enough, and the more that opponents throw bodies at Young, the more difficult it is going to be for his supporting cast to help carry the water. They’ve now lost five of their last seven games, and the two wins were a two-point home win against Baylor and a home win over Kansas that was heavily-aided by intentionally fouling Udoka Azubuike.

As it stands, Oklahoma is currently projected as the top No. 4 seed, according to Bracket Matrix, a site that compiles all of the relevant bracket projections in one place. If they go 4-3 down the stretch, as KenPom projects, it’s hard to imagine them finishing that much lower, and at that point, Young almost has to be the Player of the Year.

But let me paint a picture here for you:

Villanova is currently the No. 1 team in the country both on KenPom and in the AP and Coaches polls. Jalen Brunson, as we detailed last week, is on another planet in terms of how efficient he has been this season given the level of usage and importance he has in Villanova’s offense.

That Villanova offense, it should be noted, is historically good. Their adjusted offensive efficiency metric is higher than any in the KenPom era — Villanova is at 131.0, higher than 2015 Wisconsin’s 129.0 — while their raw points-per-possession numbers are even more of an outlier.

Heading into this season, no team had ever posted more than 1.211 PPP for an entire season. That record was set by both 2015 Wisconsin and 2017 UCLA. This year, Villanova is scoring 1.253 PPP, and while 0.042 PPP doesn’t seem like all that much, I promise you: it is.

Let me put this another way. Jalen Brunson is currently having a season that, in many ways, is as incredible as Young’s, only he is doing it for the best team in the country as the centerpiece of what may be the best offense we’ve seen in college basketball.

Trae Young is still the Player of the Year as of today.

But Jalen Brunson can still win this thing, too.

And it is a lot closer than anyone is willing to admit.

1. TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma
2. JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova
3. MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke
4. DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona
5. JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s
6. KEITA BATES-DIOP, Ohio State
7. KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech
8. DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas
9. CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue
10. TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier

ALSO CONSIDERED: MIKAL BRIDGES, Villanova; MILES BRIDGES, Michigan State; JEVON CARTER, West Virginia; GARY CLARK, Cincinnati; CHANDLER HUTCHISON, Boise State; CALEB MARTIN, Nevada; YANTE MATEN, Georgia; LUKE MAYE, North Carolina; SHAKE MILTON, SMU; ALLONZO TRIER, Arizona

Nevada faces challenging non-conference schedule

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Nevada will likely be a preseason top 10 team as the Wolf Pack have major expectations following last year’s Sweet 16 appearance.

With head coach Eric Musselman returning most of last season’s roster, while adding some key new pieces, Nevada has huge expectations entering the 2018-19 season. That means a proper non-conference schedule to challenge this team, which was released on Wednesday.

A Sweet 16 rematch with Loyola is one of the key games on the schedule as the Wolf Pack will head to Chicago for a game on Nov. 27. Nevada will also play some Pac-12 opponents with road games at USC and Utah and a neutral court game against Arizona State. BYU, South Dakota State and Grand Canyon are a few of the challenging opponents from mid-major leagues while the team also had neutral court games against Tulsa and either UMass or Southern Illinois.

It seems as though Nevada will only have a few cracks at top-25 caliber opponents during non-conference play, but this schedule doesn’t have a lot of bad games while also including a healthy amount of neutral games. Since Nevada won’t get as many challenges playing in the Mountain West as a typical top-25 team, they’ll have a lot of eyeballs on them during some of these games — particularly the USC and Arizona State matchups.

The rematch with Loyola should be another fun road test as the crowd should be rocking in Chicago for that one.

Former Mizzou tutor plans to reveal ‘full list’ of participants in academic fraud case

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A former Missouri tutor that admitted in 2016 to providing improper academic benefits to multiple Tiger athletes on Monday said that she has been named in a new Notice of Allegations and intends to expose more people attached to the investigation.

Yolanda Kumar tweeted that she is planning on releasing “the full list of students, classes and coordinators on twitter” at 6:39 p.m. on Wednesday, adding that she was dropped from the original NOA but was added back into the latest version after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Missouri responded on Monday by acknowledging they had met with the Committee on Infractions and that the result of the investigation will prove that they acted with “integrity.”

“On June 13, 2018, the University appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to review its investigative findings, and the Committee has since added a previously unnamed involved party and given notice of the Committee’s allegation to that individual,” a statement Missouri released to ESPN said. “While the University may not disclose the names of any involved student due to FERPA, we remain confident that this review will reveal that the University, as well as its student-athletes and staff, have shown great integrity in responding to the allegations raised. In order to protect the investigation’s integrity and in accordance with NCAA rules relative to ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further any part of the process until it is completed.”

In 2016, Kumar told the Kansas City Star that she had been asked to offer special assistance to football and men’s basketball players, and confirmed to compliance officials that she had acquiesced, helping a dozen athletes. That led to the NCAA’s investigation, and as a result, a defensive tackle named A.J. Logan was suspended for six games.

Kumar also tweeted in 2017 that she was willing to sell the information she had involving the case for the $3,000 fee she needed to pay Missouri to get her transcripts from the school. On Monday, she tweeted that her debt was cleared by a couple from Kansas City.

All of this allegedly occurred during the tenure of former Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.

Michigan, John Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch, Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.