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Posts tagged with Basketball

In search of minutes for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Question: What is more difficult for a 17-year-old basketball player to achieve: Making the Ukrainian national team or cracking Kansas University’s 2014-2015 perimeter rotation? Answer: We’ll soon find out.

Former NBA coach and broadcaster Mike Fratello, head coach of Ukraine’s national team, told Kansas coach Bill Self he didn’t see how incoming KU freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk could compete well enough against “men” to make the roster for the FIBA World and expected him to play for the junior national team. Mykhailiuk exceeded Fratello’s expectations and made the roster. Good sign. Great accomplishment.

It will be quite the accomplishment if Mykhailiuk, 17, can earn playing time on KU’s loaded perimeter.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at how the perimeter minutes might get distributed had Mykhailiuk not been recruited to Kansas and then try to make time for him by subtracting minutes elsewhere.

Three perimeter positions times 40 minutes equals 120. Add 10 minutes for when one of the perimeter players slides to the power forward position, meaning 130 minutes are split among the following six players: Small guards Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp and Devonte Graham and big wings Wayne Selden, Kelly Oubre and Brannen Greene.

Obviously, these guesses are all way premature and mean nothing, which doesn’t take the fun out of the exercise. Give 25 minutes to Mason, 15 to Frankamp and 15 to Graham. That leaves 75 minutes for the three big wings. Give 30 minutes to Selden, 30 to Oubre and 15 to Greene. It’s difficult to picture Mykhailiuk cutting into the minutes of Selden or Oubre.

That leaves Greene, a skilled scorer with a big body and a reputation as an underachiever at the defensive end. Nothing motivates the way playing time does, so if Greene has the maturity to realize how much he must improve his defense in order to play and has it in his body to play much better D, he could become the team’s most improved player. And if a 17-year-old can beat him out, then that 17-year-old is one serious talent. Any way you look at it, KU has tremendous perimeter depth, regardless of how the minutes are distributed.

The question of how to pronounce Mykhailiuk's name no longer is a mystery, but the readiness of his game remains one.

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Embiid worth the risk for Cavs

Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, Yao Ming, Greg Oden. The bigger the body, the more susceptible it is to injury, particularly when put through the ringer of ridiculously long NBA seasons.

Walton won an NBA championship, one of the things that sets him apart from the others mentioned, but he also missed three entire seasons and averaged 47 games in the 10 he played.

If the Cleveland Cavaliers want to talk themselves out of selecting Joel Embiid with the first pick in the upcoming NBA draft, they have no shortage of historical data to support that decision. And they'll be cowards destined to spend most of their existence in dank, dreary cellar of the Eastern Conference's Central Division.

Passing on Embiid in the wake of a stress fracture of the back followed by a stress fracture of the right foot certainly represents the safe path for the Cavs to take, but since when is greatness achieved by letting caution overrule courage?

If Embiid falls faster on draft day than Kansas University's national-title hopes did when the smart and talented center suffered his back injury, either the Celtics (sixth) or Lakers (seventh) will do what they do best, walk away with another draft-day steal.
A junior at Indiana State, Larry Bird was chosen sixth in the 1978 draft by Red Auerbach, who paid enough attention to the rules to know that Bird was eligible for selection because he was four years out of high school. Bird originally enrolled at Indiana when Bob Knight was coach. He quickly returned home to French Lick, briefly spent time at a junior college, left and went to work at a city job, performing various duties, including driving a garbage truck. He enrolled at Indiana State and, as a senior, led the Sycamores to a national-title runner-up in 1979, the year Magic Johnson's Michigan State squad won it all.

The Lakers had the courage to think outside of prevailing NBA wisdom in directing the Charlotte Hornets to take Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick of the 1996 draft so that they could trade for him, back when high school picks were considered by most too risky.

Health concerns regarding Embiid certainly have legitimacy. But nobody is without risk. Is Jabari Parker, a very polished offensive player, quick enough to guard small forwards? Will ultra-quick, explosive Andrew Wiggins ever develop enough ball-handling and shooting skills to become a perennial All-Star? A healthy Embiid, armed with Hakeem Olajuwon footwork, stands way above the rest of the class.

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Fifteen days shy of April Fool’s Day Iowa State ranked higher than Kansas in final AP poll

Now that the NCAA tournament brackets have been released, not much attention is paid to the season’s final Associated Press college basketball top 25 poll, but it is worth noting one surprise: Iowa State shot past Kansas into ninth place, one spot ahead of KU.

An even bigger stunner: Saint Louis, with six losses, remained ranked, checking in at No. 25.

The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through March 16, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

         Record Pts Prv<

1 - Florida (50) 32-2 1,610 1
2 - Wichita St. (15) 34-0 1,571 2
3 - Virginia 28-6 1,430 6
4 - Arizona 30-4 1,422 4
5 - Louisville 29-5 1,412 5
6 - Villanova 28-4 1,231 3
7 - Michigan 25-8 1,162 8
8 - Duke 26-8 1,121 7
9 - Iowa St. 26-7 1,055 16
10 - Kansas 24-9 1,045 10
11 - Michigan St. 26-8 950 22
12 - Wisconsin 26-7 892 12
13 - San Diego St. 29-4 890 8
14 - Syracuse 27-5 757 11
15 - Cincinnati 27-6 720 13
16 - Creighton 26-7 658 14
17 - New Mexico 27-6 623 20
18 - UConn 26-8 503 21
19 - North Carolina 23-9 424 15
20 - UCLA 26-8 413 NR
21 - Oklahoma 23-9 265 17
22 - Ohio St. 25-9 167 24
23 - Baylor 24-11 148 NR
24 - VCU 26-8 140 23
25 - Saint Louis 26-6 131 18

Others receiving votes: Memphis 101, Gonzaga 83, Kentucky 77, Stephen F. Austin 46, Harvard 30, Saint Joseph’s 14, Texas 13, Oregon 8, Providence 6, UMass 3, Tennessee 2, NC Central 1, W. Michigan 1.

My AP top 25 ballot: (Kenpom.com ranks various statistical categories, including experience and offensive and defensive efficiency. All the statistical team rankings listed below in those categories are from kenpom.com.)

1 - Wichita State: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Cleanthony Early (15.8); Experience Ranking: 101; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 8; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 10.

2 - Florida: McDonald’s All-Americans: Three; Leading Scorer: Casey Prather (14.2); Experience Ranking: 93; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 17; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 5.

3 - Arizona: McDonald’s All-Americans: Three, excluding injured player; Leading Scorer: Nick Johnson (16.2); Experience Ranking: 327; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 35; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 1.

4 - Louisville: McDonald’s All-Americans: One; Leading Scorer: Russ Smith (18.3); Experience Ranking: 123; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 10; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 6.

5 - Virginia: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Malcolm Brogdon (12.6); Experience Ranking: 258; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 25; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 3.

6 - Michigan State: McDonald’s All-Americans: Three; Leading Scorer: Gary Harris (17.1); Experience Ranking: 207; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 11; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 39.

7 - Michigan: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Nik Stauskas (17.5); Experience Ranking: 332; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 3; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 104.

8 - Syracuse: McDonald’s All-Americans: One, excluding injured player; Leading Scorer: C.J. Fair (16.7); Experience Ranking: 263; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 34; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 18.

9 - Villanova: McDonald’s All-Americans: One; Leading Scorer: James Bell (14.5); Experience Ranking: 235; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 16; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 14.

10 - San Diego State: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Xavier Thames (16.8); Experience Ranking: 165; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 103; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 7.

11 - Kansas: McDonald’s All-Americans: Three; Leading Scorer: Andrew Wiggins (17.4); Experience Ranking: 348; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 6; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 45.

12 - Duke: McDonald’s All-Americans: Six; Leading Scorer: Jabari Parker (19.3); Experience Ranking: 279; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 2; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 102.

13 - Wisconsin: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Frank Kaminsky (13.6); Experience Ranking: 191; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 5; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 59.

14 - Iowa State: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Melvin Ejim (18.1); Experience Ranking: 236; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 15; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 54.

15 - North Carolina: McDonald’s All-Americans: Four; Leading Scorer: Marcus Paige (17.4); Experience Ranking: 311; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 58; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 22.

16 - Cincinnati: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Sean Kilpatrick (20.7); Experience Ranking: 112; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 109; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 9.

17 - Creighton: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Doug McDermott (26.9); Experience Ranking: 12; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 1; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 126.

18 - UCLA: McDonald’s All-Americans: Two; Leading Scorer: Kyle Anderson (14.9); Experience Ranking: 293; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 14; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 49.

19 - New Mexico: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Cameron Bairstow (20.3); Experience Ranking: 106; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 38; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 38.

20 - Oklahoma: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Buddy Hield (16.8); Experience Ranking: 305; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 13; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 81.

21 - Ohio State: McDonald’s All-Americans: Two; Leading Scorer: LaQuinton Ross (15.4); Experience Ranking: 53; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 122; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 4.

22 - Connecticut: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Shabazz Napier (17.4); Experience Ranking: 67; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 80; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 11.

23 - Kentucky: McDonald’s All-Americans: Seven; Leading Scorer: Julius Randle (15.0); Experience Ranking: 351; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 19; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 35.

24 - Memphis: McDonald’s All-Americans: Two; Leading Scorer: Joe Jackson (14.3); Experience Ranking: 62; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 66; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 53.

25 - VCU: McDonald’s All-Americans: None; Leading Scorer: Treveon Graham (15.7); Experience Ranking: 186; Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 106; Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 2.

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One sports book: Kansas still the favorite in Big 12 tournament

The website www.Bovada.lv, sent an e-mail to me and others in the media with its odds to win remaining men's basketball conference tournaments. The Big 12 basketball tournament gets under way Wednesday night at Sprint Center with two quarterfinal contests.

The odds might surprise some who have reached the conclusion that because Kansas played so poorly for much of its loss at West Virginia without Joel Embiid and will be playing without him throughout the Big 12 tournament, the Jayhawks have no shot at turning the Sprint Center home-court advantage into a conference tournament title.

Kansas has played three full games without Embiid, going 2-1, with home victories against TCU and Texas Tech, the last two finishers in the conference, and a loss at West Virginia.

Bovada.lv odds to win Big 12 tournament:

Kansas 3/2
Iowa State 5/1
Oklahoma 5/1
Oklahoma State 5/1
Baylor 7/1
Texas 9/1
Kansas State 16/1
West Virginia 16/1
Texas Tech 250/1
TCU 1000/1

Since 3/2 odds translate to a 40 percent chance, there is no "odds-on-favorite" here, but it is interesting that at least one offshore sports book believes KU to have the best shot of the 10 teams.

The only schools Bovada lists as odds-on-favorites to win remaining conference tourneys are Arizona (2/3), Louisville (2/3) and Florida (2/3), three schools that likely will be the most popular Final Four selections in office bracket pools.

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Villanova shoots to No. 3, Kansas drops to No. 10 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Parity scored another victory last week in college basketball when 17 of the top 25 teams in the Associated Press college basketball poll lost at least once and two schools lost twice.

The rash of winning teams losing games has created a mad scramble for the fourth and final No. 1 seed. At the moment, Villanova appears to have a shaky hold on it, but several remain in contention. Surprisingly, Arizona is not the top-ranked school with the Wildcats' mascot. Villanova jumped Arizona, but the guess here is Sean Miller's team has a more firm hold on a No. 1 seed.

The Kansas loss at West Virginia dropped the Jayhawks two spots in the AP poll, released Monday, which has Kansas at No. 10.

The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through March 9, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

         Record Pts Prv
  1. Florida (50) 29-2 1,610 1
  2. Wichita St. (15) 34-0 1,574 2
  3. Villanova 28-3 1,454 6
  4. Arizona 28-3 1,435 3
  5. Louisville 26-5 1,237 11
  6. Virginia 25-6 1,186 5
  7. Duke 24-7 1,185 4
  8. Michigan 23-7 1,143 12
  9. San Diego St. 27-3 1,143 10
  10. Kansas 23-8 1,087 8
  11. Syracuse 27-4 1,055 7
  12. Wisconsin 25-6 973 9
  13. Cincinnati 26-5 922 15
  14. Creighton 24-6 752 13
  15. North Carolina 23-8 709 14
  16. Iowa St. 23-7 572 16
  17. Oklahoma 23-8 472 23
  18. Saint Louis 26-5 433 17
  19. Memphis 23-8 367 20
  20. New Mexico 24-6 344 21
  21. UConn 24-7 330 19
  22. Michigan St. 23-8 318 22
  23. VCU 24-7 205 NR
  24. Ohio St. 23-8 165 NR
  25. SMU 23-8 152 18
    Others receiving votes: Gonzaga 82, Stephen F. Austin 56, Oregon 39, Texas 31, Harvard 27, Kentucky 19, Baylor 18, UCLA 14, Nebraska 8, Iowa 4, Tennessee 2, George Washington 1, NC Central 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Wichita State: First team to enter NCAA Tournament without a loss (34-0) since UNLV in 1991. Any outlandish talk of Shockers becoming first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 based on fantasy and/or wishful thinking. Shockers have been pounding teams as good or better than a No. 16 seed all season. The second-game (now confusingly called the third round) opponent is the one that will be better than any Shockers have faced since they beat Tennessee by nine points Dec. 14.

2 - Florida: Billy Donovan could join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski as only active coaches to win three national titles. (Coach K has four). Louisville’s Rick Pitino and North Carolina’s Roy Williams also have shot to win a third title.

3 - Arizona: Kenpom.com stats rank Wildcats No. 1 in nation defensively, fourth with opponents shooting 41.2 percent on two-point field goals.

4 - Villanova: Nothing short of winning Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden can land Wildcats a No. 1 seed.

5 - Louisville: Cardinals peaking at right time for another Final Four. Intense defensive pressure No. 1 attribute. Opponents turn it over on 25.1 percent of possessions, second in nation to VCU. Under former Kansas State assistant and first-year coach Brad Underwood, two-loss Stephen F. Austin ranks third in that statistical category.

6 - Virginia: ACC regular-season champions have come a long way since losing by 35 points at Tennessee, but as soon as they positioned themselves to gain serious consideration for a No. 1 seed, the Cavaliers lost at Maryland.

7 - Michigan: Regular-season Big Ten champ Wolverines play strong defense without fouling, don’t take bad shots, don’t turn it over and move the ball so well they get an unusual number of open three-pointers, all of which makes coach John Beilein’s reputation as one of the nation’s finest coaches deserved.

8 - San Diego State: Aztecs 4-1 vs. teams in AP top 25, including victory in Allen Fieldhouse. Favorite statistic in college basketball: Aztecs riding 116-game winning streak when leading with five minutes remaining. So when they took a 44-42 lead with exactly five minutes left against New Mexico, everybody headed for the parking lot, knowing game was in hand. Not really, but they might as well have done so.

9 - Syracuse: First loss started stretch of four in five games, but the way Orange hit the road and pounded Florida State, 74-58, could be indication this team back to being tournament ready.

10 - Kansas: Opponents turn it over on 16.7 percent of possessions, which ranks 283rd in nation. When Joel Embiid not playing, defending the goal also a problem.

11 - Duke: Freshman Jabari Parker saved his best for last, dropping 30 points and 11 rebounds on chief rival North Carolina in regular-season finale.

12 - Wisconsin: Not even making 9 of 20 three-pointers enough to win at Nebraska, which is coming to life so quickly under second-year coach Tim Miles.

13 - North Carolina: If guards truly are key to NCAA Tournament success, look out for UNC. Marcus Paige averaging 22.4 points and shooting .531 from three in past five games.

14 - Cincinnati: Opponents turn it over on 22.6 percent of possessions, 12th in nation, per kenpom.com.

15 - Creighton: Blue Jays bounced back from consecutive road losses to Xavier and Georgetown and Doug McDermott made sure of it. On same day Andrew Wiggins scored 41 points for Kansas, McDermott exploded for 45 on Senior Day in victory vs. Providence. He became eighth Div. I player to reach 3,000-point milestone.

16 - Oklahoma: Sooners are America’s best team that nobody ever mentions.

17 - Michigan State: Keith Appling saying all the right things about his wrist feeling better, but he’s still not scoring at anywhere near the rate he did before he injured it, so it must be bothering him.

18 - Iowa State: The magic this team has doesn’t travel well outside Hilton Coliseum. Went 3-6 on road in league play.

19 - New Mexico: Power forward Cameron Bairstow had 20 of team’s 48 points in three-point loss at New Mexico.

20 - Memphis: Former Missouri Tiger Michael Dixon leads team in three-point percentage (.393), second in scoring (12.2).

21 - Ohio State: They pressure the ball, don’t give teams space to shoot threes and still don’t get abused inside. But do the Buckeyes have enough offensive firepower to do serious damage in the tournament?

22 - Connecticut: Standout point guard Shabazz Napier shot 2 of 13, 1 of 10 from three and had six turnovers at Louisville in 81-48 loss, but that was as much about Louisville as Napier.

23 - Oregon: Will the real Ducks please waddle up. Talented bunch started regular season 13-0, finished it 7-0 and went 2-8 in between. Good luck trying to catch up to Ducks by fouling late in games. They shoot .772 from the line and .390 from three. Three-point percentages of three leading scorers: Joseph Young (.406), Mike Moser (.379), Jason Calliste (.517).

24 - Saint Louis: Billikens rebounded from three-game losing streak with two-point victory at UMass.

25 - VCU: Non-stop defensive pressure makes Rams different and different can go a long way in March.

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Many schools remain in contention for No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament

Florida, Wichita State and Arizona are pulling away from a crowded pack in the race for No. 1 seeds and it’s a tough call getting tougher by the day for the fourth one.

This is one of those years in which the difference between the No. 4-ranked team in the nation and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament is slight. The way it looks now, plenty of round of Sweet 16 games could light up the tournament with buzzer-beaters and overtime battles.

For now, let’s focus on the field in contention for the fourth No. 1 seed, ranked in order of where I would seed them at the moment, with the understanding that plenty can change during the final two weekends leading up to Selection Sunday, March 16.

1 - Virginia: The NCAA Tournament selection committee does not look at conference standings, in part because of imbalanced schedules and the Cavaliers did benefit from their ACC slate. Still, Virginia has been smoking good teams for the majority of conference play, putting a shaky nonconference season in the distance.

The Cavs have gone 16-1 in ACC play, won 11 of those games by double figures and seven by 19 points or more. The lone conference loss came at Duke by four points, which is about the margin of home-court advantage. Other losses: Virginia Commonwealth by three, Wisconsin by 10, at Wisconsin-Green By by three, at Tennessee by 35.

2 - Kansas: None of the seven losses could be characterized as bad ones. Don’t forget, the three-point loss at Colorado came when the Buffs had Spencer Dinwiddie, lost for the season five weeks later.

The most impressive nonconference victories came against Duke in Chicago by 11 points and vs. New Mexico in Sprint Center by 17. Sweeping Iowa State and Oklahoma won’t hurt.

3 - Wisconsin: No team in the country has more big-time victories, but a stretch of five losses in six games hurts the Badgers’ cause. Three of the losses — at Indiana and Minnesota, and at home vs. Northwestern — don’t look good.

Badgers won vs. Florida, at Virginia, vs. Michigan State, at Michigan and swept Iowa.

4 - Villanova: On the rare occasions Villanova loses, it gets slaughtered, but the Wildcats win all their close ones. Three losses — to Creighton twice and to Syracuse — came by a combined 65 points. Victories against Kansas and Iowa in the Bahamas remain Nova’s best lines on a shaky resume for a No. 1 seed.

5 - Syracuse: Orange have completely collapsed. Did somebody figure out how to attack the zone and everybody else copy it? More likely, Syracuse's lack of scoring depth has been the main cause of the unraveling. The Orange have lost four of last five games, including a home setback to Georgia Tech.

6 - Duke: Like Kansas, Duke has seven losses. Unlike Kansas, some bad ones are in the mix. Blue Devils have lost ACC road games to Notre Dame, Clemson and Wake Forest. They rely too heavily on perimeter shooters because Jabari Parker, a threat from anywhere on the court, is the only reliable inside scorer.

7 - Michigan: The Big Ten champion has lost seven times, but only three in a competitive conference. Lost to Charlotte early in the season. Only shot at gaining consideration for a No. 1 seed lies in winning the regular-season finale vs. Indiana and taking the conference tournament title.

8 - North Carolina: included here as much because of the opportunities in front of the Tar Heels to leapfrog schools in front of them by winning at Duke on Saturday and then winning three games to take the ACC conference tournament title. That would give UNC 16 victories in a row and seven losses on the season. The Heels already have victories vs. Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke.

If KU were to land the fourth No. 1 seed, the tournament selection committee might send Florida to Memphis, with Arizona going to Anaheim, Wichita State to Indianapolis and KU to New York. As a No. 2 seed, KU could go to Indianapolis, setting up a potential Elite Eight game with the Shockers.

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Kansas drops to No. 8 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas had plenty of elite company in losing. Six of the eight teams ranked from No. 4 through No. 11 lost Saturday.

How did that happen?

All but one of the losses happened in road games, another reminder that parity places even greater importance on a game’s location. Somewhat surprisingly given all the losing going on near the top, KU’s loss at Oklahoma State dropped the Jayhawks three spots in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through March 2 and total points, based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

        Record Pts Prv
  1. Florida (46) 27-2 1,606 1
  2. Wichita St. (14) 31-0 1,555 2
  3. Arizona (5) 27-2 1,514 3
  4. Duke 23-6 1,364 6
  5. Virginia 25-5 1,304 12
  6. Villanova 26-3 1,292 8
  7. Syracuse 26-3 1,240 4
  8. Kansas 22-7 1,200 5
  9. Wisconsin 24-5 1,075 14
  10. San Diego St. 25-3 995 13
  11. Louisville 24-5 959 7
  12. Michigan 21-7 899 16
  13. Creighton 23-5 892 9
  14. North Carolina 22-7 755 19
  15. Cincinnati 24-5 737 11
  16. Iowa St. 22-6 613 15
  17. Saint Louis 25-4 539 10
  18. SMU 23-6 427 23
  19. UConn 23-6 423 NR
  20. Memphis 22-7 364 21
  21. New Mexico 23-5 338 25
  22. Michigan St. 22-7 322 18
  23. Oklahoma 21-8 183 NR
  24. Iowa 20-9 94 20
  25. Kentucky 21-8 92 17

Others receiving votes: Texas 70, VCU 58, UCLA 45, Gonzaga 38, Stephen F. Austin 38, Kansas St. 19, Saint Joseph’s 19, Ohio St. 17, Green Bay 13, Harvard 7, Arizona St. 5, UMass 5, Colorado 2, Pittsburgh 2, Xavier 2, NC Central 1, Oklahoma St. 1, Southern Miss. 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Wichita State: In the eyes of some, not even a 31-0 regular season, nonconference victories at Saint Louis and Alabama, a home victory vs. Tennessee and attempts to schedule schools that wanted no part of the Shockers are enough to make believers out of some national college basketball analysts. Too bad. No way Wichita State doesn’t earn a No. 1 seed if it wins the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

2 - Florida: Projecting high school point guards is more difficult than any other position. For example, Florida senior Scottie Wilbekin, from Gainesville, was offered scholarships from Liberty, Nevada and his hometown university. He’s averaging 13.4 points, shooting .388 from three, .754 from the line and has nearly as many steals as turnovers.

3 - Arizona: Since starting power forward Brandon Ashley suffered a season-ending injury, Wildcats have gone 6-1 and freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has averaged 10.9 points and six rebounds.

4 - Virginia: No more operating under the radar for the Cavaliers. Not now that they have won their first outright ACC regular-season championship in 33 years, Ralph Sampson’s sophomore year.

5 - Kansas: Jayhawks clinched the Big 12 because they are only ones with winning record (5-3) on the road. Oklahoma (4-4) is next best.

6 - Duke: Freshman Jabari Parker leads Blue Devils in scoring (18.8), rebounds (8.9) and blocked shots (1.4).

7 - Syracuse: Has lost 3 of 4, including 75-56 at Virginia on Saturday when Cavaliers closed on a 33-14 run.

8 - Villanova: Three losses have come by a combined margin of 65 points, but they really know how to close close ones. Wildcats are 4-0 in overtime. Won last two games by combined 36 points.

9 - Creighton: Not even 27 points and 10 rebounds from Doug McDermott, nation’s leading scorer, could ride Blue Jays to victory Saturday at Xavier.

10 - San Diego State: Aztecs have reached 25 victories five times in past six seasons, the five highest victory totals in school history.

11 - Michigan: Wolverines clinched at least a share of Big Ten title Saturday, an amazing feat considering Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are in the NBA and Mitch McGary is sideline by back surgery.

12 - Wisconsin: More consistent teams can be found throughout country, but nobody has a more impressive six-pack of victories than Badgers: Florida, Saint Louis, at Virginia, Iowa twice, Michigan State, at Michigan.

13 - North Carolina: Another impressive list of victories: Lousiville, at Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke twice.

14 - Cincinnati: Feisty coach Mick Cronin got into ref Ted Valentine’s face, was restrained by a few players and then shoved assistant coach Larry Davis. All in all, not a great day for Cronin during loss to Connecticut.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RUDRnkdTCU

15 - Louisville: Cardinals swept in season series with Memphis. Next up: Wednesday battle of coaching legends Rick Pitino and Larry Brown at SMU. Pitino won the first one, 71-63, in Louisville.

16 - Michigan State: Banged-up Spartans on two-game losing streak, including a 53-46 loss to Illinois.

17 - Iowa State: Terrific at home, Cyclones only 3-5 on road in Big 12. Even 30 points and 16 rebounds from Melvin Ejim couldn’t get the job done in Manhattan.

18 - Oklahoma: Sooners have good shot to break from three-way tie to finish second alone, which would make Lon Kruger favorite to win Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.

19 - Texas: Three losses in past four games, which in Big 12 lingo is another way of saying three of the past four games have been on the road.

20 - SMU: Winners of 7 of 8, Mustangs staring at a tough week with home game Wednesday vs. Louisville and Saturday road trip to Memphis.

21 -New Mexico: Lobos could do wonders for their seeding with victory Saturday night at San Diego State.

22 - Connecticut: Shabazz Muhammad has appeared in 22 games for Minnesota Timberwolves and averaged seven minutes and three points. Senior Shabazz Napier averaging 17.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists for Huskies. Muhammad making more money. Napier having more fun.

23 - Memphis: Two leading scorers, Joe Jackson and Shaq Goodwin, combined for eight points on 2 of 18 shooting and Tigers still defeated Louisville. Great sign.

24 - Saint Louis: Billikens doubled season loss total in one week, losing at home to Duquesne and at Virginia Commonwealth.

25 - Harvard: Tommy Amaker has coached Harvard to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Pre-Amaker, the school had made one appearance and that was in 1946.

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Kansas bolts to No. 5 in Associated Press college basketball poll; Wichita State second to Florida

In the wake of his team's 85-54 loss to Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, Texas coach Rick Barnes accused himself of being premature while at the same time saying I told you so.

"I said at the beginning of the year that Kansas is the best team in the country," Barnes said. "What I should have said was that by the end of the year they would be the best team in the country."

KU still has to prove it can bring its best effort consistently before living up to that statement, but the Jayhawks certainly look as if they have turned the corner. Andrew Wiggins and Tarik Black, to name a couple, are playing with season-high confidence and the way they attacked the rim had a contagious effect during the Texas rout.

The entire country took note of the way Kansas manhandled the Longhorns and vaulted KU to fifth in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday. After a week in which Syracuse fell from the unbeaten ranks with two losses, Florida moved to the top, followed by Wichita State.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 23, and total points, based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

         Record Pts Prv
  1. Florida (47) 25-2 1,606 2
  2. Wichita St. (14) 29-0 1,549 3
  3. Arizona (4) 25-2 1,494 4
  4. Syracuse 25-2 1,410 1
  5. Kansas 21-6 1,310 8
  6. Duke 22-6 1,286 5
  7. Louisville 23-4 1,152 11
  8. Villanova 24-3 1,113 9
  9. Creighton 23-4 1,103 11
  10. Saint Louis 25-2 1,047 10
  11. Cincinnati 24-4 921 7
  12. Virginia 23-5 909 14
  13. San Diego St. 23-3 886 6
  14. Wisconsin 22-5 818 16
  15. Iowa St. 21-5 709 17
  16. Michigan 19-7 653 20
  17. Kentucky 21-6 629 18
  18. Michigan St. 22-6 552 13
  19. North Carolina 20-7 440 NR
  20. Iowa 19-7 418 15
  21. Memphis 21-6 288 22
  22. Ohio St. 22-6 253 24
  23. SMU 22-6 155 NR
  24. Texas 20-7 129 19
  25. New Mexico 21-5 113 NR

Others receiving votes: UConn 81, UCLA 41, Oklahoma 35, Stephen F. Austin 11, UMass 9, Gonzaga 2, Green Bay 2, NC Central 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 – Wichita State: When trying to catch up, don’t foul any of the three leading scorers because they all make their free throws. Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet combine to shoot .844 from the line.

2 – Florida: Gators didn’t have greatest week, beating two lousy SEC teams by a combined nine points, but they’ve won 19 in a row, so why complain? First victory of the streak came at home against Kansas.

3 – Arizona: Any opponent with enough fouls to put the Wildcats in the bonus should employ a hack-an-Aaron strategy. Star freshman Aaron Gordon .308 from line in last seven games, .411 for season.

4 – Syracuse: Jim Boeheim entered week undefeated, lost twice in a row and grew even way angrier than usual with zebras. Time to reflect. Here’s a suggestion: Discourage C.J. Fair (.271) from shooting three-pointers. He’s launched 70 of them.

5 – Kansas: Tarik Black and Joel Embiid looked good together on the court in Texas blowout.

6 - Duke: Freshman Jabari Parker in victory against Syracuse: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 of 8 field goals, 3 of 3 three-pointers. Guy knows how to make his shots count.

7 – Creighton: Doug McDermott’s shooting the past five games: 51 of 80 (.638) from the field, 11 of 20 (.550) from three. Foul him? Not a good idea. He’s shooting .898 from the line for the season.

8 – Villanova: Deafeating St. John’s 57-54 at home doesn’t sound so hot, unless you’ve seen the Johnnies play. Wow! One of the most athletic teams in the country.

9 – Virginia: During the same week Pat Knight, son of coaching legend Bob Knight, was fired from Lamar with a 3-22 record, Tony Bennett, son of coaching legend Dick Bennett, ascended into first place in the ACC.

10 – San Diego State: Shot just .323 and scored just 44 points in loss to New Mexico in The Pit.

11 – Louisville: Finally a big victory for the Cardinals, a come-from-behind defensive tussle at Cincinnati.

12 – Cincinnati: Bearcats play such tough defense that Sean Kilpatrick doesn’t need much help in the scoring department, but during 28-point effort in 58-57 loss to Louisville, Kilpatrick needed more than 29 points of support rest of team gave him.

13 – North Carolina: Rushing is for fraternities and sororities, not basketball crowds that support perennial powerhouses.

14 – Saint Louis: Now winners of 19 in a row, the Billikens cracked the top 10 last week for the first time since 1964 and did so on what would have been the 66th birthday of Rick Majerus, who upon becoming too ill to coach passed the job onto Jim Crews. ESPN’s Paul Biancardi posted on Twitter this quote from Majerus from March, 2012: “We’ll be a Top 10 team in about three years. I did it at Ball State, did it at Utah, and we’re going to do it here.”

15 – Michigan: Completed sweep of Spartans with 79-70 victory to move into sole possession of first place in the deep Big Ten, just as everyone thought would be the case when Mitch McGary went down for the season with a back injury. And by everyone, I mean nobody.

16 – Michigan State: Not the same team with Brandon Dawson out with broken hand and Keith Appling playing with wrist injury that keeps him from being much of a scoring threat.

17 – Kentucky: freshman Julius Randle averaging a double-double with 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds.

18– Wisconsin: Badgers have a few tough losses (Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern), but a most impressive list of victories (Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia, Iowa twice, Michigan state, Michigan).

19 – Ohio State: Has held 11 opponents to 55 points or fewer, including a 48-39 victory at Illinois.

20 – Iowa State: Looking like the leading contender to finish in second in the Big 12, having already gotten games with Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas out of the way.

21 – Iowa: Hawkeyes makeup game at Indiana rescheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday and will be carried by ESPN. The metal beam that fell and damaged seats hours before the gates were opened for the originally scheduled game was 8 feet long and more than a foot wide, which is a little scary when you think about it.

22 - Texas: Smelling salts are in order. Then a huge raw steak over each eye to contain the swelling while taking an ice bath followed by two aspirin.

23 – SMU: Larry Brown took his team into Storrs, Conn., and walked away with a 64-55 victory. Brown’s the Bill Snyder of college basketball, an ageless wonder.
Danny Manning, the best college basketball player Brown ever coached, is having a nice season himself. Manning’s Tulsa squad has won five in a row, all by double digits, and is in a four-way tie for second in Conference USA with a 10-3 record.

24 – New Mexico: Great quote from Lobos coach Craig Neal after Australian Cameron Bairstow scored 26 points in 58-44 victory against San Diego State: “I said it before and I said it on national TV, I’ve got the best power forward in the country playing for us.”

25 - Oklahoma: Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.

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Who can guard Texas guard Isaiah Taylor? How about Andrew Wiggins?

Sometimes the best way to reach a decision as to how to guard a player who presents a particularly different matchup lies in trying to put yourself in the head of the player in question.

Ask yourself: If I’m Texas freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor, who’s the last guy on the Kansas basketball team I want to see crouched in front of me, charged with keeping me out of the paint?

Not Naadir Tharpe. Not Frank Mason. Not Conner Frankamp. Not even Wayne Selden.

If I’m Taylor, who scored 23 points in UT’s 81-69 victory against KU in Austin, the last guy I’d want to be guarded by at the start of the game is Andrew Wiggins. Long enough and quick enough to frustrate Taylor, Wiggins just might be the most equipped of all KU’s players to defend him.

Self is more likely to open the game with Tharpe taking his second shot at slowing down Taylor. It’s a good litmus test for Tharpe, to see if taking pride in the rematch can motivate him to play better defense. But even a motivated Tharpe might not have the physical tools to avoid landing on the wrong side of the mismatch.

A 44-37 advantage on the boards also played a big part in Texas winning the first game. Don’t be surprised if Texas coach Rick Barnes tries to win the battle of the boards again by shifting Jonathan Holmes to small forward at times and playing center Cameron Ridley and backup Prince Ibeh together. Ridley and Ibeh combined for 40 minutes and eight blocked shots in the game in Austin.

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Updated totals for KU basketball dunks, hustle plays

Lubbock, Texas — The Kansas University basketball statistics crew tracks a number of interesting categories, such as dunks and floor burns, also known as hustle plays. Here's a look at where the Jayhawks stand heading into tonight's 7:05 Big 12 tipoff against Texas Tech in United Spirit Arena, which is expected to be close to full, if not sold out by game time.

Dunks:

1 - Joel Embiid: 28
2 - Andrew Wiggins: 21
3 - Perry Ellis: 19
4 - Tarik Black: 11
5 - Jamari Traylor: 7
6 - Wayne Selden: 6
7t - Brannen Greene: 1
7t - Landen Lucas: 1
7t - Frank Mason: 1
7t - Andrew White: 1

Floor Burns:

1 - Embiid: 40
2 - Selden: 34
3 - Ellis: 33
4 - Wiggins: 26
5t - Mason: 21
5t - Traylor: 21
7t - Black: 13
7t - Tharpe: 13
9t - Greene: 6
9t - Lucas: 6
11 - White: 3
12 - Conner Frankamp: 2
13 - Justin Wesley: 1

Double-Doubles:

1 - Embiid: 6
2 - Ellis: 4
3t - Wiggins: 2
3t - Tharpe: 2

Charges drawn: 1 - Black: 5
2t - Embiid: 1
2t - Mason: 1
2t - Selden: 1

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