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Bracketology: The top seeds remain in place

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

It’s been a while since we could say this:  All four No. 1 seeds remained in place between bracket updates: Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State.

Elsewhere, more than a handful of teams still have significant resume questions.  And several current bubble teams have important showdowns this weekend – including key matchups in the Big 12 / SEC Challenge.

On a closing note … remember that the Selection Committee evaluates a team’s entire profile, from beginning to end.  How a team performed in its last ten games is no longer an official criteria (although each Committee member may have his or her own perspective on its importance).  So while Ohio State and Michigan, as examples, have both struggled of late, each team’s early wins remain relevant considerations with regard to team sheet evaluation.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 24, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Oklahoma vs. VCU
MIDWEST REGION Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW AM vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. ROBERT MORRIS

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

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Saint Mary’s Oklahoma Xavier Arizona State
DePaul Minnesota Richmond Alabama
Virginia Tech Texas Tech Georgetown Mississippi State
NC State VCU Rhode Island Tennessee

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (11)
Big East (6)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

College Basketball Top 25 Power Rankings: Baylor and Gonzaga lead the way

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A new college basketball top 25 is now live.

Baylor is not the No. 1 team in my poll, and I suspect that they are going to be the No. 1 team in the country when the AP poll is released on Monday morning. The only reason they weren’t No. 1 last week is because four people (like me) had Duke at No. 1, stealing votes from the Bears. That … did not go well, so here we are.

I also want to talk through something else: Last week, I wrote extensively about why I think that it’s foolish to allow the result of one possession games to have a significant impact on the way that you view a team. One shot in a 70 possession game that is just one of more than 30 games that will be played this season is insignificant when determining the quality of a team, and I truly believe that.

But I also think it is important to consider how and why teams are winning close games, not just games that are one-possession games.

So let’s use Duke and Baylor for this example once again.

One thing that the Bears have proven over and over this season — at Texas Tech, at Kansas, at Oklahoma State — is the ability to close out a tough game, particularly on the road. That’s because they have a number of players on the roster that are capable of taking and making clutch shots. Against Tech, it was Jared Butler. Against Oklahoma State, it was Devonte Bandoo. The Bears may not look as good in the metrics because they haven’t obliterated the mediocre teams they have played, but they are 15-1 because they come through in the clutch.

Now, some of that may eventually regress. I believe in the clutch gene because I think life — not just sports, but everything every human being does — is confidence. Baylor has confidence in clutch situations, as much as anyone in the country. They do not get rattled by the moment, and they have a number of different options they can go to down the stretch.

Duke, on the other hand, does not. Their three losses this season have all been close games where the Blue Devils have struggled to find an outlet for offense in the final minutes. Maybe that will come with more experience — Duke is loaded with freshmen, Baylor is as old as anyone in the country — but as it stands, that’s the difference between these two teams.

Baylor won their close games.

Duke did not.

And I don’t think that’s a fluke.


The other thing that I want to discuss in this space is where I have San Diego State and Dayton ranked in the college basketball top 25. They are currently sitting and eighth and ninth in my poll, exactly where they have been for a couple of weeks now. And that is where they are going to stay for the foreseeable future.

The reasoning for me is simple: I don’t want to fall into the trap where I’m bumping a team up in the rankings simply because they keep winning in a league that is not as tough as the leagues where the rest of the teams in consideration for the top ten are playing, and losing.

I’m sure there are going to be people in San Diego and Dayton that call me a hater for this, and that’s fine. Maybe I am being a hater.

But the truth is this: I love both of these teams. SDSU is so tough defensively and Malachi Flynn has proven himself to be a flat-out winner at the point, while Dayton runs a pro-style, aesthetically-pleasing offense heavy on three-balls and Obi Toppin.

I just don’t believe they are one of the top six or seven teams in the country, and beating the likes of Nevada and Saint Louis is not going to change my mind.

Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.



1. BAYLOR (15-1, Last Week: 2)
2. GONZAGA (20-1, 3)
3. KANSAS (14-3, 6)
4. FLORIDA STATE (16-2, 12)
5. LOUISVILLE (15-3, 13)
6. SETON HALL (14-4, 15)
7. DUKE (15-3, 1)
8. SAN DIEGO STATE (19-0, 8)
9. DAYTON (16-2, 9)
10. MICHIGAN STATE (14-4, 7)
11. BUTLER (15-3, 4)
12. AUBURN (15-2, 5)
13. OREGON (15-4, 10)
14. KENTUCKY (13-4, 11)
15. WEST VIRGINIA (14-3, 14)
16. TEXAS TECH (12-5, 17)
17. VILLANOVA (14-3, 18)
18. IOWA (13-5, 22)
19. ARIZONA (13-5, NR)
20. HOUSTON (14-4, NR)
21. MEMPHIS (14-3, 25)
22. MICHIGAN (11-6, 20)
23. MARYLAND (14-4, 21)
24. ILLINOIS (13-5, 24)
25. CREIGHTON (14-5, 23)

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 19 Arizona, No. 20 Houston
DROPPED OUT: No. 16 Ohio State, No. 19 Wichita State

No. 5 Auburn overwhelms Georgia 82-60 to remain perfect

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AUBURN, Ala. — Samir Doughty had 17 points and No. 5 Auburn shot 53 percent in an 82-60 victory Saturday over Georgia to preserve the Tigers’ perfect record.

The Tigers (15-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) surged with a 40-13 run after falling behind early to the Bulldogs (10-5, 0-2), a stretch that extended into the second half.

Auburn got hot and the Bulldogs, who shot 38 percent, cooled down.

Anfernee McLemore and freshman Allen Flanigan both scored 12 points for the Tigers. It was a career-high for Flanigan. Doughty added six rebounds and four assists.

Georgia star freshman Anthony Edwards struggled much of the game but still finished with 18 points, nearly his season average. He was 6-of-15 shooting and made just 4 of 11 from the free throw line.

Rayshaun Hammonds added 12 points for the Bulldogs, who were coming off a 78-69 loss to No. 14 Kentucky in a tough stretch.

The Bulldogs had an early eight-point lead swallowed up by Auburn runs of 12-2 and 17-1. The Tigers held Georgia without a field goal for the final 6:31 during the second surge, building a 35-24 halftime lead.

Christian Brown scored the final four points on free throws to cut Georgia’s deficit a bit. The Bulldogs couldn’t come closer after that.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: The Bulldogs played their third straight ranked opponent, having beaten No. 21 Memphis and lost to the Wildcats. They shot 32 percent (8 of 25) in the first half and finished making just 17 of 33 free throws (51.5 percent).

Auburn: Has won five straight against Georgia for the first time since winning 12 in a row from 1976-80. The Tigers are off to the third-best start in program history, behind the 1998-99 (17-0) and 1958-59 (19-0) teams.

FLANIGAN’S GAME

The Auburn freshman helped spark the Tigers in the first half when he topped his previous season high of eight points.

RESCHEDULED On Friday, the game was moved up six hours in an attempt to beat storms coming into the area. The game was completed under a tornado watch.

UP NEXT

Georgia hosts Tennessee Wednesday night.

Auburn visits state rival Alabama Wednesday night.

No. 14 Kentucky takes control late, beats Georgia 78-69

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ATHENS, Ga. — Immanuel Quickley’s 3-pointer gave No. 14 Kentucky its first lead of the second half and the Wildcats overcame Anthony Edwards’ 23 points to beat Georgia 78-69 on Tuesday night and continue their domination of the Southeastern Conference rivalry.

Kentucky (11-3, 2-0) trailed 37-31 at halftime before finally taking the lead on Quickley’s 3 with 8:06 remaining. Georgia (10-4, 0-1) never regained the lead.

Tyrese Maxey and Nick Richards each had 17 points and seven rebounds for Kentucky. Quickley added 15 points.

The Bulldogs hoped to gain momentum from last Saturday’s win at then-No. 9 Memphis. It was Georgia’s first road win over a top-10 team since 2004. The Bulldogs were in position to beat another ranked opponent before the Wildcats took control.

Finally, in the final minute, Kentucky fans in the sellout crowd chanted “Go Big Blue!” as the Wildcats completed their 13th consecutive win over Georgia.

Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans returned from a left ankle injury to start and score 13 points. The injury forced Hagans, from Cartersville, Georgia, to sit out Saturday’s 71-59 win over Missouri in the Wildcats’ SEC opener. He started against the Bulldogs after moving with no difficulty in pregame warmups.

Hagans had a slow start, missing a 3-pointer and a layup in the opening minute. The sophomore was 0 for 5 from the field before breaking his drought with a layup to start a three-point play midway through the half. He made 4 of 12 shots.

Edwards had the fans in the sellout crowd on their feet when he made his first two shots, including a 3, for a 5-0 lead. Kentucky answered with 10 straight points.

The Bulldogs closed the half with an 11-5 run. Edwards closed Georgia’s scoring in the half with a powerful baseline jam before Hagans answered with a 3.

Quickley’s 3-pointer from the corner gave the Wildcats their first advantage of the second half, 58-57. Following a timeout, Maxey blew past the Georgia defense to score on a windmill layup, and Nick Richards’ three-point play capped a 10-0 run that pushed Kentucky’s lead to 63-57.

INTEREST FROM THE PROS

There was good representation from the Atlanta Hawks in the stands. General manager Travis Schlenk had a seat but was one-upped by point guard Trae Young, who sat on the front row beside rapper Quavo. Young’s presence caught the attention of Edwards, who gestured toward the Hawks star after his big jam late in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats finally began taking advantage of their size advantage inside with E.J. Montgomery (6-foot-10, 228 pounds) and Richards (6-11, 247) in the second half. Georgia had a 24-17 advantage in rebounds in the first half, but Kentucky finished with a 40-36 edge.

Georgia: The Bulldogs continue to improve in coach Tom Crean’s second season, but they couldn’t pull off their first win over Kentucky since March 7, 2013. Rayshaun Hammonds had only nine points and four rebounds before fouling out with 1:09 remaining. There was too little help from Georgia’s other inside players.

UP NEXT

Kentucky: The Wildcats return home to play Alabama on Saturday.

Georgia: The Bulldogs play at No. 5 Auburn, which joins Kentucky as the SEC’s only ranked teams, on Saturday night.

Saturday’s Things To Know: Memphis’ validation, Gonzaga’s statement, Payton Pritchard’s dominance

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1. MEMPHIS MADE ME CHANGE MY MIND ON THEM

I think it’s probably hyperbolic to say that Memphis had the most impressive win of the season on Saturday.

Stephen F. Austin won in Cameron Indoor. Evansville won in Rupp. Ohio State won in the Dean Dome by 25 points. There have been some absolutely bonkers things happening in college basketball this season, and included among them have been some truly terrific wins.

What I will say is that there has not been a result that has changed my opinion more about the winning team than the win that No. 13 Memphis just landed in Knoxville on Saturday against No. 19 Tennessee.

The reason I say that is because of everything that went wrong leading up to and during this game.

Let’s start with the obvious. Not only were the Tigers playing without James Wiseman, who might be the best player in the country this year, but they were without another starter – and their best shooter – in Lester Quinones. They started four freshmen playing in a rivalry game on the road for the first time against a top 20 team, and they got sucked into play that team’s pace. They missed 13 of their first 14 shots, trailed by 12 points in the first half and, with nine minutes left before the break, had managed to score all of five points.

Everything about the way this game played out makes me think Memphis should have lost by 20.

And they won.

Maybe these freshmen are better than we thought they would be?

2. PAYTON PRITCHARD IS HAVING A SEASON DESERVING OF FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICA

The most impressive performance by a player on Saturday was quite possibly the first game of the night. Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard scored 15 in the final 4:14 of regulation and overtime as the No. 10 Ducks found a way to survive a thrilling comeback by No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor, 71-70.

He finished with 23 points and four assists. He had 15 of Oregon’s final 17 points. He did all of that while being defended by one of the best on-ball defenders in college basketball in Zavier Simpson. It’s not the first time that he has taken a game over down the stretch to lead Oregon to a win.

Entering Saturday, Pritchard was averaging 18.8 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 boards for a team that now has wins over Memphis, Seton Hall, Houston and at Michigan. This is not the first time that he’s made big plays late to win a game (Memphis) or to get his team to overtime (Gonzaga). He’s going to be the guy that carries this Oregon team as far as they go, and given what he’s proven that he can do, I think that’ll be pretty far.

I’m not sure who the Player of the Year favorite would be as of today, but I know for a fact that there is no way to talk about who it should be without including Pritchard in that conversation.

3. FRANZ WAGNER AND BRANDON JOHNS WAKING UP MATTERS

On a night where Zavier Simpson struggled, Jon Teske forgot to show up and Isaiah Livers was non-existent outside of a six-minute heater at the start of the second half, the Wolverines got massive production from a couple of guys that haven’t shown the ability to do it just yet.

Wagner was Michigan’s leading scorer on Saturday. He finished with 21 points, he hit four threes and he made a number of plays down the stretch that kept Michigan from getting run. This was the guy that the Wolverines thought they were getting when Wagner committed. He was terrific.

Johns’ numbers are not as impressive, but his impact was just as important. He finished with eight points, nine boards, two assists and two blocks – solid production from a five coming off the bench – but it was the fact that he allowed Michigan to play small without losing any of their defensive mettle. Johns is a former top 50 recruit, a burly, 6-foot-8 forward with tantalizing athleticism, but he has struggled finding the confidence to allow him to tap into that potential.

We’ve seen it in flashes. This was more than that.

4. GONZAGA SHOULD BE A TOP THREE TEAM COME MONDAY

The Zags made a statement on Saturday night.

I don’t know how many of you stayed up to watch a game that tipped off after 10 p.m. on the east coast, but if you did, you saw the Zags put a whooping on the Wildcats. Arizona jumped out to a 19-10 lead, but Gonzaga slowly chipped away, take the lead into halftime and them pulled away in the second half. It was a slow, methodical dismantling — one that probably should have ended with the Zags winning by significantly more than the 84-80 final that we saw.

You might not realize this, but Gonzaga probably has the best resume in college basketball outside of Columbus, Ohio. They beat Oregon on a neutral floor. They won at Washington. They won at Arizona. They won at Texas A&M by 30. Their only loss came against Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis. And they’re doing all of this while dealing with a banged up Killian Tillie.

Don’t take for granted just how good and consistent this program has become. On Monday, they should be the No. 3 team in college basketball, if the AP pollsters get this right. That’s despite the fact that they lost their top four players from last season – three of whom were early entries, two of which were unexpected – and they haven’t skipped a beat.

That program is a machine.

5. THE TALKING POINT SHOULD BE RUTGERS, BUT IT’S GOING TO BE MYLES POWELL

No. 22 Seton Hall went into the RAC on Saturday and got absolutely manhandled. Rutgers jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back. Seton Hall never cut the lead back to single digits, and coming just a few days after the Scarlet Knights beat up on Wisconsin in that same building, what we should be talking about is that this team looks to be pretty good, that Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker can really play, that Steve Pikiell can really coach and that they would be a tournament team if they still had Eugene Omoruyi.

But that’s not what anyone is going to be talking about.

Because Myles Powell, Seton Hall’s All-American scoring guard, played just 15 minutes after suffering a nasty concussion. He didn’t see the floor after halftime and asked head coach Kevin Willard “why are we practicing at Rutgers?” during the game. Not only is that a scary injury, but it’s one that could end up having ramifications for the Big East as a whole.

Seton Hall played No. 5 Maryland at home on Thursday. There is no word on whether or not Powell will suit up.

6. XAVIER’S LOSS CAPPED AN UNDERWHELMING DAY FOR THE BIG EAST

It was hardly a banner day for No. 23 Xavier. They went on the road to Winston-Salem and lost to a Wake Forest team that just about everyone has given up on. Chaundree Brown had 26 points and Brandon Childress chipped in with 22 as the Musketeers nearly stole the came at the end. Paul Scruggs finished with 30 points in the loss, and Quentin Goodin missed a pretty good look at a three at the buzzer that would have given Xavier a win. Instead, they lost 80-78.

And head coach Travis Steele was not happy about it.

“We lost because of the first 20 minutes,” he said after the game. “The first 20 minutes we were complete bull-crap,” adding that, “We need an alpha dog to emerge. A leader. We need a guy to step up when we’re at a low point, when we need to come together. Not just from a scoring perspective, but on both ends. I believe we have that guy, but I’ve got to find him.”

7. JARRON CUMBERLAND MIGHT HAVE GIVEN UP ON THE SEASON

Cumberland entered the season as an All-American candidate and the biggest reason why Cincinnati fans were bullish this year.

Since then, a pair of mysterious injuries and a feud with head coach John Brannen has torpedoed the year. It came to a head on Saturday night. Colgate tied the game at Cincinnati with less than ten seconds left. Cumberland took the in-bounds pass and fired up a shot from the other side of half court with more than five seconds left on the clock. Colgate drew a foul on the rebound, hit a free throw and won.

This is incredible:

I would love to know what Cumberland was thinking in this situation. Did he hear someone yelling shoot from the bench? Did he hear the Colgate bench counting down the clock? Did he forget to put his contacts in so that a five on the clock above the basketball looked like a zero?

We might never know.

But at this point, does it even matter?

8. KENTUCKY SHOULD CONSIDER STARTING KEION BROOKS

At what point do we start asking whether or not E.J. Montgomery is the answer for No. 8 Kentucky at the four?

In theory, he makes the most sense. He’s the best option offensively. He’s probably the most skilled big that the Wildcats have on the roster. He’s big enough to provide some rim protection and he’s enough of a threat on the perimeter tp force defenses to have to make a decision when he’s beyond the arc.

But it just hasn’t worked against good teams, and his scoreless performance against Georgia Tech stood out.

Freshman Keion Brooks played 26 minutes on Saturday. He had 10 points, four boards, a block and a steal. He looked more energetic. He looked like a better fit defensively. And this was on the heels of scoring 15 points in 16 minutes against Fairleigh Dickinson.

I don’t think there’s an easy answer here, but I do think that Coach Cal has a decision he’s going to need to make with games coming up against Utah, Ohio State and Louisville.

9. BYU IS DANGEROUS

I know that they lost, 68-64, on Saturday, but I still think Utah State is probably a better team than BYU, especially once Neemias Queta gets back up to full speed.

That said, I think that BYU is just as, if not more dangerous, than the Aggies, especially in the month of March.

The Cougars have now won at Houston and beaten UCLA and Virginia Tech in Maui in addition to this win over Utah State. They beat both UNLV and Nevada by 33 points. They shooting better than 40 percent from three, and that’s while taking more than 44 percent of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc. Oh, and they happen to have an NBA player at the five in Yoeli Childs.

The Cougars are going to need to land a win or two against Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga if they want to be in the mix for an at-large bid, but I do think that they have put themselves in a position where that is very much a possibility.

10. HOW MANY GAMES WILL ANTHONY EDWARDS PLAY THAT MATTER?

Anthony Edwards is an unbelievable talent and, as he showed when he dropped 33 points on Michigan State in one half out in Maui, one of the most entertaining players in the country to watch.

But how many games is he going to play this season that actually matter?

Did you know that the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft was playing on Saturday night? Did you know that he had 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting in a sleepy performance as his Georgia team lost by 20 at Arizona State?

Because they did.

Three Things to Know: Stephen F. Austin stuns Duke at buzzer; Michigan State outlasts Anthony Edwards

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A full day of college basketball continued on Tuesday night with the Maui Invitational and Legends Classic among the marquee attractions.

But it was a massive upset in dramatic fashion that had the sports world talking as No. 1 Duke was stunned with its first home loss to a non-conference team since 2000.

1. Stephen F. Austin stuns No. 1 Duke on buzzer-beating layup

The play, the upset, the loss we’ll all be talking about for quite some time. The Lumberjacks stunned the No. 1 Blue Devils with an overtime win on Tuesday night as Nathan Bain raced down Cameron Indoor Stadium and released his uncontested layup just before time expired.

This is the third time the No. 1 team has lost this season — the second time that No. 1 has fallen to an unranked mid-major at home. More on this one here as Bain’s moment and Stephen F. Austin’s win is one of the biggest upsets in college basketball in the past 20 years.

2. No. 3 Michigan State outlasts Anthony Edwards, Georgia

Afternoon consolation hoops at the Maui Invitational saw No. 3 Michigan State build a 28 point lead before Anthony Edwards nearly single-handedly brought Georgia back with his second-half performance. Edwards scored 33 of his 37 points in the second half, putting on one of the more memorable stretches of play at the Maui Invitational.

Despite all of that, the Spartans held on for the win as Cassius Winston had another outstanding game. I have more on this game, with some of Edwards’ ridiculous highlights.

3. No. 4 Kansas, Dayton advance to Maui Invitational finals with wins

The championship of the Maui Invitational is set for Wednesday night as No. 4 Kansas and Dayton both won in the semifinals to set up the unexpected clash.

Continuing their impressive national showcase, the Flyers ousted Virginia Tech with an impressive 89-62 win. Sophomore forward Obi Toppin paced Dayton with 24 points as he continues to draw national attention.

Toppin and the Flyers get a major test in the No. 4 Jayhawks after they took down BYU. Kansas and Dayton is the unlikely Maui final that could deliver some interesting subplots.

Toppin is drawing considerable NBA buzz this week. Seeing him battle the Jayhawks’ massive frontline of Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack should be a lot of fun.