We are just about halfway through the conference schedules and the true contenders are beginning to reveal themselves, while the pretenders are wallowing away after deceiving the country for so many weeks. Take a team like Central Florida, for instance. They looked like a legitimate top 25 team and a definite candidate for an at-large berth after breezing through the non-conference with an unblemished record, but their 1-5 record in Conference USA makes that great run in the non-conference all for naught. Conversely, take a gander at Duquesne. The Dukes went a modest 8-5 in the non-conference with losses to Robert Morris and George Mason, but have gone onto take the Atlantic 10 by storm. Suffice to say, it is hard to gauge just how good some teams are based solely on the non-conference. Some coaches will elect to challenge their team by scheduling a tough OOC schedule, while others will stockpile a bunch of cupcakes to pick up easy wins. The distinction between the pretenders and contenders will continue to be illuminated all the way up until the conference tournaments. Up until then, we sit and watch teams rise above expectations heading into conference play and watch others flounder.
Drexel 52, #20 Louisville 46: “I’m not sure whether to make a joke or voice how pissed I truly am. I’m not sure whether this will serve as a wake-up call or a catalyst to the disappointing season we feared and so many predicted. I’m not sure if the first eight games of the season were completely misleading or if the team that showed up out of nowhere this evening will be banished for good by the time Big East play rolls around.” (Card Chronicle)
Other Games of Interest
Michigan 64, North Carolina Central 44: “Michigan continues to push the limit of just how ugly a 20 point win can be. The Wolverines haven’t played many complete games this year and tonight was no different as Michigan crawled their way to just 23 first half points against North Carolina Central’s 2-3 zone. While the Wolverines looked hapless and befuddled versus the zone in the first half, the Eagles made the inexplicable choice to go away from the zone in the second half.” (UM Hoops
TWTW hopes everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving, gorging on turkey, stuffing and football. I truly hope you got enough football because this is a football free zone. No news about Tom Brady’s hair, Brett Favre’s retirement plans or Vince Young’s texting habits. There’s way too much hoops to discuss.
The week leading up to Thanksgiving is without a doubt one of my favorite weeks of the college basketball season. The Maui Invitational, Preseason NIT, the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic…need I say more? All of the preseason tournaments serve up must-see non-conference matchups, the likes of which you won’t see again until March. #10 Kentucky and #15 Washington staged a fine duel on Tuesday night in Maui. #1 Duke vs. #5 Kansas State might have disappointed for just over a half, but you still learned plenty about each squad.
Walker's Performance In Maui Still Has Hoopheads Buzzing
More than prime-time matchups, though, I love these tournaments because every year someone makes the leap from relative hoops obscurity to household name status. This year that player is Connecticut’sKemba Walker. Now, Walker wasn’t exactly an unknown commodity prior to this week, but no one ever viewed him as the most formidable offensive player in the nation. 90 points in three nationally televised games and back-to-back wins over top-10 squads tends to raise your profile, though.
If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top 25 Games
#2 Ohio State 64, Morehead State 45: “Entering the season, many prognosticators pegged Morehead State as one of the upper echelon mid-majors in the country. The last two games have shown that may be the case. Morehead fell, 61-55, to Florida on Sunday and hung with Ohio State for much of the game Tuesday before being dispatched, 64-45, at Value City Arena.” (Eleven Warriors)
UConn 70, #3 Michigan State: “Tonight the Huskies beat Michigan St., the No. 2 team in the country. Tomorrow they’ll play either Kentucky or Washington in the championship game of the most prestigious early-season tournament in the country. Next week they’ll be ranked. Life is good in Husky Nation.” (The UConn Blog)
#8 Purdue 87, Austin Peay 65: “Purdue used their Johnson to slap around Austin Peay, 87-65. JaJuan Johnson, that is. The big man had 21 and 11 while E’Twaun Moore added 17 points as the Boilers moved to 4-0 on the season. Austin Peay hung tough for a half, trailing by eight at the break, but DJ Byrd hit a three on the first possession of the second half to put it into a double-digit lead and Purdue never looked back.” (Boiled Sports)
#10 Kentucky 74, #15 Washington 67: “Many Washington Huskies fans had been waiting anxiously for a shot at the Kentucky Wildcats in Maui after two former Husky recruits, Terrence Jones and Enes Kanter, famously changed their pledge to the Wildcats. The old saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ comes immediately to mind. Some times, wishes come true, but the desired outcome doesn’t.” (A Sea of Blue)
#18 Illinois 73, Yale 47: “That was probably one of the least exciting blow outs I have seen in some time. Yale is not a good team, I honestly have no idea how they beat Boston College earlier this year (does BC suck that bad?) Had the Illini faced a better, perhaps more talented mid-major, this could have been a real game.” (Hail to the Orange)
#23 Gonzaga 66, Marquette 63: “Mark Few’s Bulldogs found another way to keep MU at bay by owning the backboards in the game’s crucial stages. To say that Marquette was destroyed on the glass would be an understatement; Gonzaga ripped down 15 of its 17 offensive rebounds in the second half. That is not a misprint. The Warriors were no match for the Bulldogs’ toughness. All told Gonzaga earned a 42-26 rebounding advantage and a startling 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass including the 15 they claimed in the second half alone. Despite the beat down in the paint Marquette closed the gap to just two points late in the game but failed to launch a quality shot as time expired.” (Cracked Sidewalks or The Slipper Still Fits or Anonymous Eagle)
Other Games of Interest
Maryland 72, Delaware State 54: “One shooting problem: solved. I think. Terps’ FT shooting: 14-17. Jordan Williams': 4-6. That’s good.” (Testudo Times)
Indiana 72, North Carolina Central 56: “Now 5-0, this team is starting to exude a little confidence — something we’ve yet to see in the Tom Crean era. If they keep up this kind of play during the non-conference slate, such confidence will continue to grow and should suit them well by the time Big 10 play rolls around.” (Inside the Hall)
Malcolm Lee Probable Against Villanova: UCLA is hoping to have their junior guard available for their game against Villanova tonight. (Bruins Nation)
Syracuse Basketball: Opinions Vary: “Normally, we’d look at the AP Basketball Poll, see Syracuse is ranked No. 9 and be done with it. But this season has been such a strange one and the Orange are such a weird kind of 4-0 that we need to dig deeper to find out what everyone is thinking. And what everyone is thinking is…something different.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
Rodney Purvis wraps up visit to Louisville: “Rodney Purvis, the 2012 prospect who Jerry Meyer calls ‘one of the best scoring guards I’ve scouted in the eight years I’ve been doing this,’ just wrapped up his Louisville visit and told Jody Demling that it was ‘wonderful.'” (Card Chronicle)
RTC is still seeking a MEAC correspondent. If you are interested in covering this league, email us for further information at email@example.com.
Predicted Order of Finish
Morgan State (13-3)
South Carolina State (12-4)
Norfolk State (10-6)
Delaware State (9-7)
Maryland-Eastern Shore (8-8)
North Carolina A&T (6-10)
Coppin State (4-12)
Florida A&M (2-14)
Savannah State (*provisional member — ineligible for postseason and league awards)
North Carolina Central (*provisional member — ineligible for postseason and league awards)
CJ Reed (G) — Bethune-Cookman
Hillary Haley (G) – Maryland-Eastern Shore
DeWayne Jackson (F) — Morgan State
Kyle O’Quinn (F) — Norfolk State
Kevin Thompson (F) — Morgan State
Darnell Porter (G) — South Carolina State
Dominique Sutton (F) — North Carolina Central. NCCU isn’t yet playing a complete MEAC schedule nor is it eligible for postseason play this year, but the Eagle program is already making noise on the recruiting trail with the announcement of high-major transfer Sutton returning to Durham to suit up for his hometown team. As of this writing, the 6’5 junior forward who averaged 7.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG as a full-time starter last season for Kansas State was practicing with the team and awaiting an NCAA decision on whether he can play this season. He moved back east to be closer to his girlfriend and two daughters in Durham, and the wing player who terrorizes the glass on the offensive end (especially given his size) will automatically become one of the best players in the MEAC as soon as he is eligible.
Bozeman is Building Quite the Program in Baltimore
What You Need To Know
All Morgan, All the Time. Todd Bozeman has built a powerhouse in Baltimore to the tune of three straight regular season titles, two straight NCAA bids, and a 46-6 record against MEAC teams the last three seasons. But like all consistently great programs, Morgan doesn’t re-build anymore as much as re-load. From Jamar Smith to Marquis Kately to Reggie Holmes to the next generation (Thompson and Jackson), Bozeman continually has high-mid major talent playing for him. The Bears’ strategy is clear — play a tough non-conference schedule to build up their RPI (beating DePaul, Maryland and Arkansas in recent years), dominate the MEAC, and get back to the NCAA Tournament. Morgan State earned #15 seeds the last two seasons, but they haven’t yet been matched up against the right team in order to pull off the upset — #2 seeds Oklahoma (2009) and West Virginia (2010) were simply too powerful inside for them to handle. Could it come this season?
As I write this, the North Carolina men’s basketball team just finished off their second win of the 2009-10 season against North Carolina Central. The University of Kentucky squad will play their first game this Friday, November 13th against Morehead State. That means that as of right now, the UNC program has amassed 1,986 wins in its incredible history. UK will start this season with 1,988. From this, it looks like in the Race For 2,000, we have a real barnburner on our hands.
Well, if you’re a Tar Heel supporter and you’re reading this, I have some bad news. We don’t. To Wildcat fans: you can fire up the sewing machines and start creating that banner. Call the silkscreeners and start cranking out T-shirts. I’m calling it.
The wins have occurred over time in such a way that both programs will get to the 2,000-win mark early in this season’s schedule, and we know the early part of any season is a time of the year when many teams load their schedule with a fair number of cupcakes and a few big non-conference names thrown in there for RPI/strength-of-schedule boosting. UNC and UK have both done this for this season, and this is nothing new for anyone. This season started with UK leading the race with 1,988 wins to UNC’s 1,984. UNC’s early start this week pulls them to within two wins. So let’s see how the rest of their schedules look up until December 5th, when Kentucky and North Carolina meet up for a monumental clash at Rupp Arena:
North Carolina: Valparaiso, Ohio State (in NYC), California OR Syracuse (in NYC), Gardner-Webb, Nevada, Michigan State.
Kentucky: Morehead State, Miami (OH), Sam Houston State, Rider, Cleveland State, Stanford OR Virginia, UNC-Asheville.
For the sake of argument, let’s say both teams start the season perfectly up to this point. That’s no guarantee; UNC-Ohio State, UNC-California/Syracuse, or even UNC-Nevada could be interesting. Kentucky has it a little easier up to here, so we’re actually helping the Tar Heels by assuming a perfect start to the season. But let’s say it happens — this would put the race at UK with 1,995 and UNC with 1,992 going into the head-to-head matchup.
JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the MEAC and SWAC conferences. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials..
Predicted Order of Finish:
Morgan State (22-9)
North Carolina A&T (17-14)
South Carolina State (16-12)
Coppin State (14-13)
Delaware State (10-17)
Norfolk State (9-19)
Florida A&M (9-16)
Winston-Salem State (4-26)
Tavarus Alston (G) – North Carolina A&T – Should lead the MEAC in assists this season, and could be a scoring threat as well.
Reggie Holmes(G) – Morgan State – 3rd leading scorer and leading 3pt shooter in the MEAC in 08 will expand his role in 09.
Jason Flagler (F) – South Carolina State – Dynamic scorer is SC State’s best chance at post-season success.
Neal Pitt(F) – UMES– Tenacious rebounder and defensive force under the basket will lead conference in glass cleaning for second straight season.
Kevin Thompson(C) – Morgan State – Could emerge as a secondary scoring option in the low post, and will fill role as interior stopper.
Alexander Starling(6th Man, F) – Bethune-Cookman –Versatile forward is Bethune-Cookman’s primary scoring option.
What You Need to Know. The MEAC is a mid-major conference that, while among the lowest rated in RPI, is among the more recognized brands in college basketball outside of power conference competition. The MEAC champion has won three first-round tournament games in the last 20 years, and has produced tough out of conference wins over quality competition in the last three years. (Morgan State defeating Maryland, Hampton defeating George Mason in 2008)
Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams has been down this road before.
After hoisting his first national title on that early April night in St. Louis, Williams had to endure an eerily similar task as to what faces him this upcoming season, his seventh in Chapel Hill. The 2004-05 champions lost center Sean May, swingman Marvin Williams, point guard Raymond Felton and shooting guard Rashad McCants to the riches of the NBA, yet Williams managed, in large part to a recruiting class led by Tyler Hansbrough with returnees David Noel and Reyshawn Terry, to finish 21-6 (12-4) and in the top 15 in both polls. The situation this season parallels the tremendous overload facing Williams after his first banner. Losing Hansbrough, ACC POY Ty Lawson and sharpshooters Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, a group that made up the large portion of the Heels scoring rampage a season ago, will be difficult to overcome. Luckily for Williams, he returns some decent pieces to complement a loaded recruiting class. Not to mention he’s the best coach in the nation.
North Carolina returns some high upside players that could truly emerge after playing behind the mentioned superstars of the previous few campaigns. There’s senior and experienced leadership still in the fray- notably forward Deon Thompson and defensive stopper Marcus Ginyard- that should help out all of the incoming young talent on the Heels roster. Knowing he’d lose such integral pieces, Williams loaded his 2009 class with top-50 talent such as skilled forward John Henson, guards Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald and big men David Wear and Travis Wear. Many believe sophomore Ed Davis is a surefire lottery pick and Tyler Zeller may emerge with a healthy full season. Last year’s backup to Lawson, Larry Drew II, is also back and will be the engine that controls the Heels attack.
Just because Williams has a predominantly young squad, he didn’t shy away from challenging his team early and often on this year’s schedule to go along with the rigors of the ACC. Let’s examine:
Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 10. One way to sum up the Heels schedule this season: I’ll be stunned if North Carolina isn’t at the top of the strength of schedule list when we’re starting to look at those types of numbers in February and March. Forget playing NCAA tournament teams Duke and Georgia Tech twice in conference play (along with contenders Wake Forest, Boston College, Clemson and Wake Forest on the road), the Heels scheduled three preseason top-ten teams on the slate for this non-conference season. It wasn’t exactly planned like this; who could have planned Damion James would stick around for another year or John Calipari would completely overhaul Kentucky in such a short period of time? Still, give Williams credit for setting up these huge games against prestigious programs. North Carolina will take on possible Big Ten contender Ohio State in the semifinal of the 2K Sports Classic and likely top-15 California should they emerge victorious. Also planned is a visit to Rupp Arena to battle Kentucky in one of the top non-conference games on the season and a trip to Arlington to face Texas in Jerry Jones’ new monstrosity. Both Kentucky and Texas are projected top ten teams. Not enough for you, Roy? Michigan State will visit Chapel Hill in a national title game rematch as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, another squad that could finish their season in Indianapolis.
Cupcake City: The Heels do receive a few easy warm-ups before traveling to New York in Florida International (Isiah Thomas’ college coaching debut, marred by minor controversy) and North Carolina Central. Carolina also faces Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian, Marshall, Valparaiso and Albany at home while taking a trip to Charleston to face Bobby Cremins’ Cougars in a rare instance of a ACC school visiting a SoCon opponent. Not exactly cupcakes, but Nevada and Rutgers also make appearances at the Dean Dome this season.
The regular season is flying by. Believe it or not, we’re only nine weeks away from having an official NCAA Tournament Bracket to review and obsess over. We also happen to be nine weeks removed from opening night, so yesterday marked the official midpoint – 63 days on each side – of the regular season. Which means, of course, for all you folks who have been busy with the holidays, busy with the bowl games, busy with the NFL Playoffs… let’s get you caught up.
From now until the first tip in Dayton March 17th on the Road to the F4 in Detroit (ugh), roughly 150 or so teams are realistically jostling for position to be selected as one of the Chosen 65. As we nestle into the familiarity of conference play (only the Ivies have yet to begin) and America once again wakes up to our game, weaknesses will be exposed, experienced teams will try to avoid complacency and young teams will start to figure it all out. Come Selection Sunday, many of these prospective bracketeers will have fallen by the wayside, but there will be 50 or so at-large teams holding NCAA-caliber resumes, even though only 34 will be taken. Before we jump in with both feet into the fun that the next two months will bring, let’s take a look back at the first two months to see what we’ve learned.
Carolina is Not Unbeatable, but Are the Heels Still the Favorite? A mere month ago we wrote that North Carolina was playing like a team with plans to lose no more than a couple of games (if that many) all season. Then the last eight days happened. First, UNC lost at home to an underwhelming BC team, followed by a road loss at Wake Forest last night to start 0-2 in the ACC. So what’s going on – how can this juggernaut of a team with nearly everyone returning look so… mortal? It’s easy, really. So far, UNC’s defense hasn’t been up to snuff. It’s more efficient as a whole than last year’s version, but their statistical profile is elevated on the defensive end by forcing turnovers which in turn fuels their lethal fast break. In a halfcourt set, as Wake and BC repeatedly and effectively showed, UNC can be penetrated and exposed. The key to playing with the Heels is limiting those TOs that Ty Lawson turns into the quick strikes that overwhelm teams. Is it a fatal flaw? It could be (how’s that for a hedge?). Teams that can’t consistently make stops don’t win championships, but we really don’t see why UNC’s defense shouldn’t be able to make the commitment to improve over the next two months. The 2005 title team only became legit once Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May got serious about stopping people in addition to outscoring them. Can the 2009 Heels – specifically, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Deon Thompson – do the same? Stay tuned.
These Guys Have to Commit to Better Halfcourt Defense
The Big East Should Have Its Own Region. Seriously, let’s just rename the E. Rutherford Region this year and invite every Big East team. Or at least the top 12. Of course, if we did that, it would prohibit the possibility of the conference placing four teams in the Final Four this year – a plausible scenario. Tell us that you couldn’t envision a situation where four of the following teams – Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse – would reach Detroit in April. Throw in Villanova, Marquette and West Virginia and you might just have nine of the Sweet Sixteen. The top half of this conference is really that good. So who is the best of the best? It depends on when you ask the question. Two weeks ago it was UConn. A week ago Georgetown. Now it’s Pittsburgh. Next week… probably Syracuse. The point is nobody knows. UConn has the most raw talent, but they’ve exhibited problems putting it together consistently. Georgetown, haven’t you heard, has rebounding issues. Pittsburgh isn’t reliable from behind the arc. Syracuse has a tendency to lose to teams like Cleveland St. on miracle shots. Louisville spends much of its time looking for its ass with both hands. Notre Dame has a maddening tendency to play defense with its hands. Marquette and Villanova are too guard heavy. West Virginia has Bob Huggins. And on and on. All we can say for certain is that the quality of play in the seemingly-nightly matchups between Top 25 teams is top-shelf, and it makes up for all those other nights where we’re stuck watching Auburn-Ole Miss.
The Big Ten Doesn’t Suck This Year.Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that our friendly midwestern conference is on par with the Big East, or even the ACC, but it’s a lot stronger in the middle of the pack than it has been in recent years. Not much was expected out of Minnesota (15-1), Illinois (14-2) or Michigan (13-3) this year, but each of them are playing excellent ball and have marquee wins over the likes of Louisville, Missouri, Duke and UCLA in their pockets. Combine their success with the standard good seasons expected from Michigan St. (13-2), Purdue (12-4), Ohio St. (11-3) and Wisconsin (12-4), and you have a competitive six-bid conference. Even traditional cellar dweller Penn St. (13-4) has shown signs of life this year. Heck, they even made the ACC/Big Ten Challenge competitive (losing 6-5) this year!
Our Midwestern Friends Have Been Practicing
They’re Putting It Together. Now that Tom Izzo once again has a full complement of players with Goran Suton back in the fold, Michigan St. has looked much better since their abysmal performance in the ACC/B10 Challenge against UNC. They’ve run off nine in a row with wins at Texas, at Minnesota and Ohio St. – everyone wrote this team off after that UNC game, but they’ll be heard from in March. UCLA is also quietly going about its business, also reeling off nine in a row (including a 3-0 start in road games in the Pac-10) since their loss to Texas in mid-December. Ben Howland is getting production from eleven players, and if anyone really thought the Bruins were going to have a ‘rebuilding’ season, they need to have their head checked. This team will win close to 30 games again. It’s amazing how a series of close games that go your way can make or break a team’s confidence. After Louisville had dropped tight ones to Minnesota and UNLV in late December, everyone was ready to write off the Cards. Now that they’ve won three of their lost four on the last possession, they sit at 3-0 in the Big East (with two road wins) and appear to be in relatively good shape compared to some of the other Big East contenders (UConn, ND, and Georgetown in particular). We’ll see just how good they can be when #1 Pittsburgh visits on Saturday.
Pleasant Surprises. Obviously, Wake Forest is a pretty big surprise – we expected them to be pretty good, but nobody saw a top five team coming from Dino Gaudio this year. What about Syracuse? – at 16-1 and the lone loss to Cleveland St. from 75 feet, Jim Boeheim’s crew has as much talent as just about anybody in the country. Clemson is pulling its annual ridiculous start, but there are signs that this Tiger team is legit – they have a balanced attack, they’re strong at both ends of the court, and they have good road wins at Illinois, South Carolina and Miami (FL) so far. Butler is a HUGE surprise, although we shouldn’t ever be surprised with that program. The Bulldogs sit at 14-1 and two of their top three players are freshmen, yet they once again appear to be the class of the Horizon and a top mid-major. Tubby Smith has Minnesota playing great ball, and the Gophers are on a fast track to the NCAA Tournament at least a year ahead of schedule. Coaching matters – Mike Montgomery also has California playing hard for the first time in a decade. The Bears look like a top three team in the Pac-10 at this point.
Syracuse Has the Look of a Team Built for March
Disappointments. Since the Q1 update, Gonzaga has done nothing but crap itself, losing games to Arizona, UConn, Portland St., and Utah. They did get a key OT win at Tennessee last week, and their defense is still stronger than in recent years, but for some reason or another, the Zags are having trouble putting it all together. USC is destined to become this year’s NC State (a preseason ranked team that won’t make the NCAA Tourney). The SEC – Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky – have all been various shades of disappointing. Between the cream of the SEC East, there’s what, three quality wins? On the other side of that conference, only Arkansas has even been mildly interesting, with big home wins over Oklahoma and Texas. At the mid-major level, Southern Illinois (6-8 ) and Wright St. (9-8 ) have a long way to go before they’ll turn their seasons around.
RTC Midseason All-Americans. We’ll take some heat for not putting defending NPOY Tyler Hansbrough on our first team, but his numbers, particularly his rebounding average, are off from last season. Granted, he’s still probably recovering from a stress reaction injury, so he’ll have time to recover his (rightful?) place on the 1st team, but for now, we like Griffin (obvious choice) and Harangody in our frontcourt. Curry and Harden are also easy choices in the backcourt, but we’re making a leap of faith choosing Teague – his last two games against BYU and UNC were very impressive performances (he averaged 32/5/4 assts on 59%) and we’re riding on the Wake bandwagon right now.
Jeff Teague, G – Wake Forest(21/4/4 assts on 54%/54% 3fg shooting)
Stephen Curry, G – Davidson (29/4/7 assts/3 stls on 45%/37% 3fg shooting)
James Harden, G – Arizona St. (23/6/5 assts on 56%/42% 3fg shooting)
Blake Griffin, F – Oklahoma (23/14/3 assts on 65% shooting)
Luke Harangody, F – Notre Dame (25/13 on 51% shooting)
Knocking on the Door (2d Team).
Tyler Hansbrough, F – North Carolina (22/8 on 54% shooting)
Patrick Patterson, F – Kentucky (19/9/3 assts on 71% shooting)
Dejuan Blair, F – Pittsburgh (15/13 on 61% shooting)
Manny Harris, G – Michigan (19/8/5 assts on 44%/31% 3fg shooting)
Ty Lawson, G – North Carolina (15/3/6 assts on 53%/42% 3fg shooting)
All-Freshman Team. Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Jrue Holiday (UCLA) and Gordon Hayward (Butler) were tough to leave off this list.
Greg Monroe, C – Georgetown (14/6/3 assts on 57% shooting)
Sylven Landesberg, G – Virginia (19/6/3 assts on 49%/30% 3fg shooting)
Tyreke Evans, G – Memphis (16/6/4 assts/3 stls on 45% shooting)
Seth Curry, G – Liberty (20/4 on 45%/40% 3fg shooting)
Paul George, F – Fresno St. (16/7 on 54%/46% 3fg shooting)
Big Games (Q3). Here are the top 10 games of the next month.
Syracuse @ Georgetown – 01.14.09
Pittsburgh @ Louisville – 01.17.09
Georgetown @ Duke – 01.17.09
Wake Forest @ Clemson – 01.17.09
Texas @ Baylor – 01.27.09
Duke @ Wake Forest – 01.28.09
California @ UCLA – 01.29.09
Connecticut @ Louisville – 02.02.09
Duke @ Clemson – 02.04.09
Michigan St. @ Minnesota – 02.04.09
Notre Dame @ UCLA – 02.07.09
Extremes. This won’t last much longer, as we fully expect all three of the unbeatens to have a loss by this time next week, if not sooner. That’s what conference play does to you. NC Central will get a win against a D2 squad soon, but poor little NJIT has no relief in sight. They’re sitting on 49 in a row and, according to KenPom’s projections, 60+ in a row is within reach. Memo to NJIT coach Jim Engles – take a page from the NC Central playbook and schedule some JVHigh School D2 teams.
Unbeaten (next possible loss)
Pittsburgh (Big East):15-0 (@ Louisville 1/17)
Wake Forest (ACC): 14-0 (@ BC 1/14)
Clemson (ACC):16-0 (v. Wake Forest 1/17)
Winless (next possible win)
NJIT (Ind): 0-16 (Bryant 1/21)
North Carolina Central (Ind): 0-18 (D2 Central St 1/16)