Posts tagged with Basketball

Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 10

Kansas guard Sherron Collins kisses the Big 12 championship trophy after the Jayhawks' win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. In back is Kansas forward Marcus Morris.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins kisses the Big 12 championship trophy after the Jayhawks' win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. In back is Kansas forward Marcus Morris. by Nick Krug

  1. 2009-10: Freshman Xavier Henry joined a team already returning Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris and big things were expected. The Jayhawks delivered, going 15-1 in Big 12 play, losing only at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27. They also knocked off Kansas State in the Big 12 title game, but were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the second round by Northern Iowa, 69-67. The Panthers had survived UNLV, but not without struggling mightily against the Running Rebels’ full-court pressure. UNLV was a pressing time and Kansas was not. Still, given the quickness advantage, I predicted a blowout based on my belief Kansas would step out of character and apply full-court pressure after seeing how poorly Northern Iowa handled it. By the time Kansas went to the press in the second half, it was too late. It worked, but was too little too late.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 15-1
Kansas State 11-5
Baylor 11-5
Texas A&M 11-5
Missouri 10-6
Texas 9-7
Oklahoma State 9-7
Colorado 6-10
Texas Tech 4-12
Oklahoma 4-12
Iowa State 4-12
Nebraska 2-14

Check back at 2:45 for No. 9.

No. 11 — 2004-05

Complete Rankings


Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 11

Kansas University's Wayne Simien, left, takes KU's last shot over
Bucknell's Chris McNaughton. The shot bounced off the front of the
rim, ending the Jayhawks' season with a 64-63 setback Friday to
Bucknell in Oklahoma City.

Kansas University's Wayne Simien, left, takes KU's last shot over Bucknell's Chris McNaughton. The shot bounced off the front of the rim, ending the Jayhawks' season with a 64-63 setback Friday to Bucknell in Oklahoma City. by Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photo

No need to look at the calendar to check the month. Kansas University basketball fans will remind you by saying what they say annually in early March. “You know,” they start, “I think this is Bill Self’s best coaching job yet.”

Since that’s such a hot topic, I decided to take a stab at ranking Self’s most impressive coaching jobs during this run of 11 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles. Naturally, because the NCAA tournament hasn’t been played yet, the ranking for this season is subject to change. I’ll release one every 15 minutes, starting at No. 11 and working my way down to No. 1.

  1. 2004-05: Coaching players recruited by a previous coach generally isn’t an ideal circumstance, but Self, in his second season at KU, got off to a 20-1 start. As the season wore on, injuries mounted and the magic wore off. Kansas went 3-6 at the end, capping it off with an opening-round loss to Bucknell and Self was staring at a massive rebuilding job after losing seniors wayne Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles. Sophomore J.R. Giddens, stabbed in the Moon Bar incident, didn’t return either.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 12-4
Oklahoma State 11-5
Texas Tech 10-6
Iowa State 9-7
Texas 9-7
Texas A&M 8-8
Missouri 7-9
Nebraska 7-9
Kansas State 6-10
Colorado 4-12
Baylor 1-15

Check back at 2:30 for No. 10.

Complete Rankings


Kansas falls to No. 9 in nation, No. 2 in state, in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) puts up a shot over Texas center Cameron Ridley (55) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) puts up a shot over Texas center Cameron Ridley (55) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas, No. 8 in the Associated Press college basketball poll for the past four weeks, slipped to No. 9 in the poll released Monday, falling behind Wichita State, which vaulted from No. 11 to No. 8.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through March 1, 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. Kentucky (65) 29-0 1,625 1
  2. Virginia 27-1 1,547 2
  3. Duke 26-3 1,501 4
  4. Villanova 27-2 1,417 6
  5. Arizona 26-3 1,338 7
  6. Wisconsin 26-3 1,318 5
  7. Gonzaga 29-2 1,244 3
  8. Wichita St. 27-3 1,104 11
  9. Kansas 23-6 1,087 8
  10. Maryland 24-5 1,035 14
  11. N. Iowa 27-3 908 10
  12. Notre Dame 24-5 879 9
  13. Utah 22-6 823 13
  14. Baylor 22-7 801 19
  15. Oklahoma 20-8 759 16
  16. Louisville 23-6 728 17
  17. Iowa St. 20-8 536 12
  18. Arkansas 23-6 515 18
  19. North Carolina 20-9 435 15
  20. West Virginia 22-7 389 20
  21. Butler 21-8 359 23
  22. SMU 23-6 210 21
  23. Ohio St. 21-8 114 _
  24. Providence 20-9 91 25
  25. Murray St. 26-4 79 _

Others receiving votes: Dayton 61, Boise St. 53, Oregon 33, St. John’s 27, BYU 21, Texas A&M 20, Davidson 18, Georgetown 13, Colorado St. 7, San Diego St. 7, Tulsa 7, LSU 6, Rhode Island 3, VCU 3, Stephen F. Austin 2, Valparaiso 2.

My top 25 AP ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Discussions regarding what type of team can upset the undefeated Wildcats inevitably lead with strong three-point shooting teams. Here’s the problem with that: Kentucky’s post defenders are so effective, perimeter defenders can afford to stick with shooters and not drop off to help down low. Kentucky opponents shoot .273 from three, second only to Pepperdine (26 percent).

2 - Virginia: Cavs hit the road and limited Wake Forest to .242 two-point shooting and .182 three-point accuracy in 70-34 domination.

3 - Duke: Center Jahlil Okafor still hasn’t recovered 100 percent from an ankle injury, which has prevented Duke from practicing as hard defensively, according to coach Mike Krzyzewski. Okafor hasn’t shown any signs of an injury at the other end, where he scored a career-high 30 points in overtime victory at Virginia Tech. Senior guard Quinn Cook played all 45 minutes and made 6 of 11 threes on the way to 26 points.

4 - Wisconsin: First the Badgers lost at Maryland and then engine troubled caused the team plane ot make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh.

5 - Villanova: Xavier coach Chris Mack was blown away by Villanova’s shooting range after ’Cats made 13 of 29 threes in road game, including 4 of 7 from reserve forward Kris Jenkins.
“They’re as good as anybody in the country,” Mack said. “Those guys are shooting from 30 feet, from 27 feet. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

6 - Arizona: Leading scorer Stanley Johnson made 3 of 19 shots and the Wildcats still won at Utah, leaving no doubt as to the identity of best team in Pac-12.

7 - Gonzaga: Zags two leading scorers and three-point shooters, Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer and senior guard Kevin Pangos, fired blanks on same night in three-point home loss to BYU. They combined to shoot 5 of 23 overall and 2 of 9 from three.

8 - Kansas: It’s always best, it seems to have a primary scorer and two secondary ones. Kansas has developed that. In past five games, Big 12 Player of the Week Perry Ellis has averaged 22.5 points, freshman Kelly Oubre 12.3, sophomore Frank Mason 10.6. They have combined for 65.3 percent of teams points in that stretch.

9 - Notre Dame: Since defeating Duke on Jan. 28, Irish have gone 4-3 with latest loss coming at home to Syracuse.

10 - Utah: Won the first half against Arizona State, 41-9.

11 - Maryland: Senior guard Dez Wells went off for 26 points in 59-53 defeat of Wisconsin. Wells is shooting .523 from three and has hit 79 percent of his free throws.

12 - Wichita State: Shockers finished first half on 22-6 run in avenging loss to Northern Iowa and extending home winning streak to 32 games, fourth longest streak in nation.

13 - Northern Iowa: Sixteen-game winning streak died with 74-60 loss at Wichita State.

14 - Oklahoma: Sooners have won 8 of 9 heading into tonight’s game in Ames.

15 - Baylor: Taurean Prince has scored at least 20 points in four of Bears’ past six games.

16 - Iowa State: Loss to Baylor kept Cyclones from going 8-0 at home in Big 12 games and they followed it up with one-point loss at Kansas State.

17 - Louisville: Days after being suspended for threatening his girlfriend in a text, starting guard Chris Jones was charged with rape and sodomy and was dismissed from the team. Jones entered a not-guilty plea in court Thursday and was released on home incarceration.

18 - North Carolina: Loss at North Carolina State was not well received by Tar Heel nation.

19 - Arkansas: When asked about Kentucky’s McDonald’s All-Americans, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said, “We’ve got some Burger King guys.” A burger joint hasn’t been born that can match Kentucky’s dominance. It would have to be named “10 Guys.”
Hogs were coming off good victory vs. Texas A&M to push their winning streak to seven games before shooting 5 for 18 from three against Kentucky.

20 - West Virginia: Mountaineers beat Texas (17 turnovers) and lost to Baylor (eight turnovers). They don’t shoot well enough to win unless they create extra possessions with turnovers and offensive rebounds.

21 - Ohio State: D’Angelo Russell, first-team All-America candidate as a freshman, had 28 points to lead Buckeyes back from a 12-point deficit to a four-point home victory vs. a tough Purdue squad.

22 - Oregon: Don’t foul senior guard Joseph Young. He’s shooting .912 from the line and averages 19.9 points. He plays 36.2 minutes a game, but obviously doesn'’t lose his legs. Ducks have won 8 of 9.

23 - Butler: Should change mascot to Underdogs. They relish the role.

24 - Providence: FoxSports1 graphic: Friars 4-6 when Kris Dunn has five or more turnovers and 16-3 when he has fewer than five.

25 - Georgetown: Hoyas so much better when Joshua Smith stays out of foul trouble.


Kansas No. 8 in Associated Press college basketball poll for fourth week in row

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) dunks off a pass from Frank Mason III, in the second half of the Jayhawks 73-51 win over Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) dunks off a pass from Frank Mason III, in the second half of the Jayhawks 73-51 win over Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas remained No. 8 in the Associated Press college basketball poll and Iowa State moved up to No. 10. Big 12 teams Oklahoma (16), Baylor (19) and West Virginia (20) also are ranked. Oklahoma State lost twice and dropped out.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 22, 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<br>
  1. Kentucky (65) 27-0 1,625 1
  2. Virginia 25-1 1,526 2
  3. Gonzaga 28-1 1,471 3
  4. Duke 24-3 1,448 4
  5. Wisconsin 25-2 1,390 5
  6. Villanova 25-2 1,306 6
  7. Arizona 24-3 1,228 7
  8. Kansas 22-5 1,111 8
  9. Notre Dame 24-4 1,109 10
  10. N. Iowa 26-2 1,032 11
  11. Wichita St. 25-3 930 13
  12. Iowa St. 20-6 887 14
  13. Utah 21-5 876 9
  14. Maryland 22-5 695 16
  15. North Carolina 19-8 655 15
  16. Oklahoma 19-8 622 17
  17. Louisville 21-6 613 12
  18. Arkansas 22-5 564 18
  19. Baylor 20-7 473 20
  20. West Virginia 21-6 453 23
  21. SMU 22-5 357 21
  22. VCU 21-6 182 25
  23. Butler 19-8 165 19
  24. San Diego St. 22-6 117 _
  25. Providence 19-8 72 _

Others receiving votes: Georgetown 58, Michigan St. 56, Murray St. 42, Oklahoma St. 25, Ohio St. 12, Valparaiso 10, Texas A&M 8, Rhode Island 3, Stephen F. Austin 2, Oregon 1, Texas 1.

My top 25 AP ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Three future NBA centers Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson combine for 63.3 minutes per game, 26 points, 18.3 rebounds, 4.8 blocks and .564 shooting. Many NBA teams don’t have a single NBA centers, present or future.

2 - Virginia: Held Florida State without a field goal in the final 10-and-a-half minutes of game clock in 51-41 victory. Unbelievable defensive team.

3 - Gonzaga: Nobody ever will mistake him for the guy known by the first four letters of Kyle Wiltjer’s last name, but by one measure, Wiltjer is the highest-rated offensive player in the nation. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Kentucky transfer leads Zags with 17.4 points per game and shoots .543 from the field, .469 from three and .806 from line.

4 - Duke: The bigger the game, the better freshman point guard T’yus Jones plays. In leading Duke from a 10-point deficit with inside four minutes left to an overtime victory, Jones totaled 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

5 - Wisconsin: Say what you will about the Big Ten having a down year, but going in 13-1 in league games, with the one coming when two starters were sidelined, is nothing short of amazing.

6 - Villanova: Providence and Butler only teams to come within single digits of Wildcats during active eight-game winning streak.

7 - Arizona: Three top scorers, Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, combined to shoot 4 of 25 vs. UCLA and still Arizona won, 57-47. Another oddity from that game: First four minutes of game and first four of second half, UCLA outscored Arizona, 20-0.

8 - Kansas: Defensive rebounding has become such a concern it might be time to leave Cliff Alexander on the floor, except when the opponent is applying defensive pressure, and live with his spacy moments.

9 - Notre Dame: Irish don’t have a shot-blocker and 6-foot-10, 242-pound junior Zach Auguste is the only player in the starting lineup taller than 6-5. Team compensates by taking smart shots and spreading the floor with .404 three-point shooting. Four of top six in minutes played shoot .406 or better from three.

10 - Iowa State: Fred Hoiberg has breathed so much life into the Cyclones program, yet until this past weekend his teams had not won two consecutive Big 12 road games. No better indication exists of the difficulty of winning away from home in Big 12 than that. And it’s not as if the Cyclones faced a couple of stiffs in Oklahoma State and Texas.

11 - Utah: The Utes’ ability to score inside has opened up three-pointers to the extent they were shooting almost 40 percent from three. That sometimes can lead to a team settling for threes. That happened in Sunday’s 11-point loss at Oregon, where Utes attempted more threes (29) than twos (23).

12 - Louisville: In a week that featured a loss at Syracuse and victory vs. Miami, guard Terry Rozier hoisted 33 shots and made just nine, which by Cardinals standards isn’t as bad as it sounds.

13 - North Carolina: Here comes J.P. Tokoto, athletic 6-5 junior forward who does a little bit of everything. In overtime loss at Duke and one-sided victory vs. Georgia Tech, Tokoto averaged 13.5 points, seven rebounds, six assists.

14 - Maryland: Chance to improve NCAA Tournament seed comes Tuesday, when Terps play host to Wisconsin.

15 - Northern Iowa: Huge week for the Panthers. They have chance to avenge lone Missouri Valley Conference loss Wednesday when Evansville visits. If that goes well, they can win conference outright Saturday in Wichita.

16 - Oklahoma: Tell me again how this team was swept by Kansas State?

17 - Wichita State: Carrying a short list with five names on it is stuffed in every athletic director’s wallet, in the event he or she must hire a basketball coach in the offseason. Gregg Marshall’s name has to be on just about every list, every year and he stays with the Shockers because he loves his job, his players, his adopted city. How cool is that?

18 - Arkansas: Mike Anderson making mentor Nolan Richardson proud. Key to Hogs’ success: Hurry opponents into mistakes (16.5 turnovers) and don’t make many of your own (11.8).

19 - Michigan State: A victory Thursday would give Spartans a season-high, five-game winning streak.

20- West Virginia: stats: A national-best 16.4 percent of opponents’ possessions end in a steal and Mountaineers rank sixth in nation in offensive rebounding percentage.

21 - Baylor: Scott Drew’s team deserves credit for playing hard and showing toughness. How else could the Bears rank No. 1 in the nation with an offensive-rebound percentage of 42.1?

22 - Georgetown: Teams with a really good guard (D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera) and a really hard-to-guard center (Joshua Smith) and a good defense (18th in nation in defensive efficiency, per Think the Kansas team led by Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson.

23 - SMU: Larry Brown’s leading scorer is 5-9, 170-pound Nic Moore from Lake Winona, Ind. He has made 10 of 20 threes in the past four games and is shooting .429 from long range and averaging 14.5 points.

24 - Virginia Commonwealth: Rams are young, lack size and don’t get to the free-throw line very often. They compensate by forcing turnovers and not committing them.

25 - San Diego State: Aztecs steadily improving. They’re riding four-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 17.5 points.


Kansas stays at No. 8 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) turns for a shot over Oklahoma State forward Jeffrey Carroll during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) turns for a shot over Oklahoma State forward Jeffrey Carroll during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

Kansas held its No. 8 spot in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released today.

The top 25 teams in the AP college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 15, 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. Kentucky (65) 25-0 1,625 1
  2. Virginia 23-1 1,524 2
  3. Gonzaga 26-1 1,475 3
  4. Duke 22-3 1,449 4
  5. Wisconsin 23-2 1,387 5
  6. Villanova 23-2 1,302 6
  7. Arizona 22-3 1,213 7
  8. Kansas 21-4 1,195 8
  9. Utah 20-4 1,051 11
  10. Notre Dame 22-4 1,038 10
  11. N. Iowa 24-2 955 13
  12. Louisville 20-5 882 9
  13. Wichita St. 23-3 862 15
  14. Iowa St. 18-6 761 14
  15. North Carolina 18-7 658 12
  16. Maryland 21-5 640 19
  17. Oklahoma 17-8 554 17
  18. Arkansas 20-5 476 24
  19. Butler 18-7 456 18
  20. Baylor 18-7 364 16
  21. SMU 21-5 299 25
  22. Oklahoma St. 17-8 240 21
  23. West Virginia 19-6 154 21
  24. Ohio St. 19-7 139 23
  25. VCU 19-6 109 20

Others receiving votes: Texas 70, San Diego St. 64, Providence 44, Murray St. 38, Temple 28, Georgetown 23, Michigan St. 17, Dayton 10, Texas A&M 8, Valparaiso 8, Indiana 7.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Again the nation’s best team, except for most NBA squads, escaped another close one on the road, 71-69, in Baton Rouge. LSU went on a 21-2 run after Karl-Anthony Towns received a technical foul for hanging on the rim. Calipari lit up Towns, benched him and watched his team fall behind 66-60 without callinga timeout.
“I’m not worried about losing,” Calipari said afterward. “This is about us getting better.”
Upset with his team’s play, Calipari said after the game that he told his team, “I hope we lose,” after Towns hung on the rim. Never a dull moment with Calipari and his undefeated Wildcats.

2 - Virginia: On the one hand, a broken finger that will sideline Justin Anderson until some point in March could cost him a shot at the Wooden Award. On the other hand, seeing how much worse Virginia is without him could help him win the award. Without Anderson, the Cavs have shot a wretched 6 for 37 from three-point range, haven’t defended as well and have struggled to go 3-0.

3 - Gonzaga: Domantas Sabonis, the 6-foot-10, 231 pound freshman from Lithuania, averages 9.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and shoots national-best .707 from the field for the most talented Zags team ever.

4 - Duke: Blue Devils survived two tough road games (Florida State and Syracuse). When road challenges pop up, look for seniors to lead the way. Coach K didn’t see any reason to rest Quinn Cook in either game and in 80 minutes, Cook scored 43 points and made 13 of 15 free throws. Great freshman class, but it’s Cook who holds this team together.

5 - Wisconsin: Badgers pulling away from Big Ten field even faster than Kansas is from Big 12 competitors. Badgers 11-1 with a three-game lead.

6 - Villanova: When Villanova defeated Kansas, 63-59, in the Bahamas, the outcome was painted as a stunner. But the reality is ‘Nova has been a better team than Kansas the past two seasons, posting a 52-7 record. Kansas has played a tougher schedule, but also has lost twice as many games.

7 - Kansas: Perry Ellis averaging 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in past five games. “I’ve coached him for three years and I’ve said he leaves me wanting more, but I haven’t thought that of late,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I think he’s playing closer to his ceiling now than he has.”

8 - Arizona: Size doesn’t always translate to rebounding, but it certainly does with Arizona. Point guard T.J. McConnell is joined in the starting lineup by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7, 220), Stanley Johnson (6-7, 245), Brandon Ashley (6-9, 230) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 245). Opponents rebound 22.4 percent of their misses, per, which makes Wildcats the best defensive rebounding team in nation.

9 - Louisville: North Carolina State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber, recruited for a while by Kansas, has reached 20 points in three of last four games and scored 21 points to lead 74-65 upset at Louisville. Afterward, he spoke in the third person: “Coaches keep telling me, ‘Be me. Be Cat and do what Cat does best.’ I think I’ve taken that under consideration.” As a child, I had a cat that killed a cardinal. It was very sad and ranks in the top 25 reasons I like dogs better than cats.

10 - Notre Dame: On Tuesday, Irish play host to Danny Manning’s Wake Forest squad, which is coming off one-point loss at Virginia in a game that could come to be known as the Valentine’s Day non-massacre.

11 - Utah: Utes so upset about losing at UCLA that they have won the next four games by margins of 15 points or greater. They hit the road this week for a pair of games vs. the Oregon schools.

12 - North Carolina: Tar Heels head into Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday having lost three of past four games. In Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh, the Panthers shot 65 percent, the highest mark against the Tar Heels since Williams went back to his alma mater.

13 - Iowa State: Cyclones, 1-4 on the road in Big 12 play, head to Stillwater and Austin this week.

14 - Northern Iowa: Panthers riding 13-game winning streak. Freshman reserve guard Wyatt Lohaus is nine inches shorter than his father, Brad Lohaus (University of Iowa, eight NBA teams in 11 seasons), but did inherit Brad’s shooting touch. The younger Lohaus is shooting .464 from three and .889 from the line and plays 14.1 minutes per game.

15 - Oklahoma: If not for getting swept by Kansas State, Sooners would stand one-half game behind first-place Kansas. Sweeping Oklahoma was the stately thing for K-State to do.

16 - Wichita State: Shockers aren’t as talented as last season, but play with every bit as much defensive grit, limiting opponents to 55.8 points a game, eighth in nation.

17 - Butler: Bulldogs fell just short, 68-65, of adding Villanova to list of victims that already includes North Carolina, Georgetown, St. John’s twice, Xavier and Seton Hall twice.

18 - Maryland: Senior Dez Wells doesn’t shoot a ton of threes (two per game), but makes 52.6 percent of his attempts. .

19 - Michigan State: Slowly the Spartans have turned, step by step, inch by inch, on the way to playing their best basketball in the NCAA tournament. Maybe. Four of final six games on the road.

20 - Ohio State: Sharp-shooter Marc Loving played just five minutes in three-point loss at Michigan State in first game back from three-game suspension. Bench scored three points.

21 - Oklahoma State: Cowboys were on mighty three-game roll, winning at Texas, then at home vs. Kansas, then at Baylor. And then they lost by 15 points at TCU? Cowboys made 3 of 16 threes (.188) and turned it over 17 times. Maybe it was particularly windy in the Horned Frogs’ temporary home.

22 - Baylor: The fact that Baylor, an athletic team that plays so hard, is .500 in Big 12 play and tied for sixth is as good a testament to conference’s strength as any other evidence.

23 - Arkansas: Sophomore post player Bobby Portis had a stretch of nine game in which he produced a double-double eight times.

24 - Virginia Commonwealth: After losing three in four-game stretch, Rams bounced back nicely with 13-point victory at George Washington.

25 - SMU: Gifted point guard Eammanuel Mudiay suffered a season-ending ankle injury after 10 games in China. If he had played at SMU and stayed healthy, no telling how much higher Larry Brown’s team would be ranked.


Kansas remains No. 8 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) pulls up for a three from the corner during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) pulls up for a three from the corner during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas' loss at Oklahoma State, coming five days after an impressive defeat of visiting Iowa State, didn't hurt Kansas in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released today. The Jayhawks remained at No. 8. It did, however, help the Cowboys. They vaulted from toward the bottom of "others receiving votes" to No. 21.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 8, 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. Kentucky (65) 23-0 1,625 1
  2. Virginia 21-1 1,518 3
  3. Gonzaga 24-1 1,486 2
  4. Duke 20-3 1,450 4
  5. Wisconsin 21-2 1,385 5
  6. Villanova 21-2 1,294 7
  7. Arizona 20-3 1,185 6
  8. Kansas 19-4 1,171 8
  9. Louisville 19-4 1,120 9
  10. Notre Dame 21-4 948 10
  11. Utah 18-4 946 13
  12. North Carolina 18-6 871 12
  13. N. Iowa 22-2 846 14
  14. Iowa St. 17-5 842 11
  15. Wichita St. 21-3 743 16
  16. Baylor 18-5 694 19
  17. Oklahoma 16-7 565 21
  18. Butler 18-6 462 22
  19. Maryland 19-5 347 17
  20. VCU 18-5 296 18
  21. Oklahoma St. 16-7 273 _
  22. West Virginia 18-5 273 15
  23. Ohio St. 18-6 271 20
  24. Arkansas 18-5 221 _
  25. SMU 19-5 81 23

Others receiving votes: Iowa 38, Providence 26, Texas 25, Stephen F. Austin 22, Cincinnati 21, Murray St. 20, Indiana 13, Rhode Island 12, Georgetown 9, Texas A&M 7, Temple 6, Mississippi 3, Old Dominion 3, Harvard 2, San Diego St. 2, Xavier 2, Valparaiso 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Sure, the winningest program of all-time has by far the most talent in the nation, but the Wildcats are gamers too. They find different ways to win close games. Saturday night on the road against Florida, Kentucky made 21 of 22 free throws.

2 - Virginia: Justin Anderson, a terrific guard and legitimate first-team All-American candidate, suffered a fractured finger that is expected to keep him out anywhere from four to six weeks.

3 - Gonzaga: Such an enjoyable team to watch because of the wide variety of means of scoring, or as people unfortunately say these days “scoring the basketball.” Zags would have one more way to score, but college referees discourage hard drives into the lane because they have reverted to calling charges when defenders, primary and secondary, slide into position after the offensive player leaves his feet. And they get away with it.

4 - Duke: Justise Winslow wouldn’t be known as “the other freshman” in many programs. He dazzled Notre Dame in 30-point victory with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

5 - Wisconsin: Badgers only loss with Frank Kaminsky in lineup came against Duke. Kaminsky shoots threes at a .414 clip and blocks 1.6 shots a game. He’s everywhere.

6 - Louisville: Scored 13 points in first half of five-point loss to Virginia. Cards really know how to make the game ugly.

7 - Villanova: Wildcats pride themselves on not letting foes get good looks from three and certainly accomplished that goal evening score against Georgetwon with 16-point victory. Hoyas made 1 of 17 threes.

8 - Kansas: In past five games, Wayne Selden has made 15 of 24 three-point shots (.625) and 5 for 21 two-pointers (.238). On the season, he’s shooting an excellent .419 (39 for 93) from three and an abysmal .324 (36-111) from two inside the arc. Strange numbers for a guy built like a linebacker. It’s such a 180 from a year ago, when he shot .328 from three and .530 from two.

9 - Arizona: Wildcats’ three losses, all on the road, none to ranked teams, have come by combined margin of nine points. If Davidson, in sixth place in the Atlantic 10 with a 6-4 record and 15-6 overall mark, could get hot at right time, win the A-10 tournament for an automatic tournament berth and pull off a series of upsets, it could set up an all-Wildcat Final Four, joining Kentucky, Villanova and Arizona. Or maybe Kansas State could ... never mind.

10 - Notre Dame: Ten days after defeating Duke, the Irish were blasted out of Cameron Indoor Stadium, 90-60. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

11 - North Carolina: Late great coach Dean Smith not only was a member of the Kansas 1957 national-championship basketball team, he played freshman football and earned three varsity letters (1951-53) on the baseball team.

12 - Iowa State: It’s amazing how much motivational fuel teams bring against opponents that upset them earlier in the year. Cyclones, two weeks after getting knocked off by Texas Tech, slammed the Red Raiders, 75-38, in Ames. Jameel McKay, such a diference-maker for the Cyclones, made all seven field-goal attempts and had 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals in the rematch.

13 - Utah: Utes went on the road and defeated USC and Colorado, both by 28 points, and moved into a first-place tie with Arizona at 8-2 in the Pac-12. Conference title could come down to Feb. 28 showdown with Arizona in Utah on Feb. 28.

14 - Baylor: Bears aren’t just on a three-game winning streak, they’re on a three-game rout streaking, wasting Texas by 23, TCU by 20 and West Virginia by 18. Rico Gathers (12.5 rebounds per game) ranks second nationally to Delaware State senior Kendall Gray.

15 - Ohio State: Marc Loving, the nation’s leading three-point shooter (.532) and the Buckeyes only double-figures scorer other than freshman sensation D’Angelo Russell, was suspended indefinitely by the athletic department for an unspecified off-the-court incident. Without Loving, Buckeyes lost to Purdue, 60-58, and Russell (20 points) was only one in double figures.

16 - Oklahoma: Sooners avenged 21-point loss to West Virginia by blasting Mountaineers by 19 and won at TCU by a dozen. Tonight, in what should be one of the more entertaining Big 12 games of season, Sooners visit Iowa State.

17 - Northern Iowa: Three-point shooting percentages of Panthers’ top six scorers: Seth Tuttle (.433), Wes Weshpun (.450), Deon Mitchell (.390), Nate Buss (.429), Matt Bohannon (.389), Paul Jesperson (.438). Leave your man to play help defense at your own peril. UNI has won 11 in a row and only two losses came at VCU in double-overtime and at Evansville.

18 - Wichita State: Ron Baker, the junior guard from Scott City, leads Shockers with 15.9 points and is shooting .415 from three.

19 - Butler: If I see one more TV tease or internet headline that reads: “The Butler Did It,” I’m going to send the butler after whomever wrote it.

20 - Maryland: Lost by 16 at Iowa, which makes it three losses in five games for Turge’s Terps.

21 - Virginia Commonwealth: Rams lost at St. Bonaventure. Perhaps they were distracted. Olean, N.Y. is so beautiful this time of year.

22 - West Virginia: Look for Mountaineers to bounce back from rough week. Lost at Oklahoma, 71-52, and in Morgantown vs. Baylor, 87-69. Mountaineers made just 11 of 49 threes for the week and are shooting .294 from long distance for the season.

23 - Oklahoma State: Michael Cobbins suffered season-ending injury right before conference play last season. Man, does he ever make the Cowboys tougher to score on in the paint. The 6-8 senior plays a lot taller than that and averages 2.2 blocks a game. Love his game.

24 - Arkansas: Bobby Portis, a 6-11 sophomore from Little Rock, averages 17.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shoots .562 from the field, .529 from three and .739 from the line. In the past four games — three victories and a one-point loss at Florida — he has made 30 of 50 shots and 15 of 17 free throws.

25 - SMU: Recovered from second loss of season to Cincinnati by hitting the road to deal Tulsa its first American Conference loss.


NIT will use 30-second shot clock next month, a rule change Bill Self favors

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) delivers a dunk before Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) during the first half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) delivers a dunk before Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) during the first half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

College basketball fans unaware that the NIT still exists might have reason to tune in next month to the tournament that steadily has faded from prominence.

The shot clock for the 32-team men's tournament that features the best teams that come away empty on Selection Sunday will be reduced from 35 seconds to 30 in order to see what impact it has on scoring and pace of play, the NCAA announced Friday. Also, the restricted arc area under the basket will be extended from 3 feet from the center of the basket to 4 feet.

Kansas coach Bill Self consistently has spoken in favor of shaving the shot clock to 30 seconds.

“A lot of coaches are not in favor of shot-clock reduction,” Self said last month when the discuss the down-ward scoring trend in college basketball. “They think that if you have trouble scoring now try getting a shot earlier in the clock where you don’t give the defense a chance to break down. I’m not one who feels that way. I think the shot clock should be reduced because coaches will adjust and try to score earlier in the clock than if there was a 35-second clock, as opposed to 30, but a lot of coaches across America do not feel strongly about that at all.”

In announcing the NIT's participation in serving as guinea pigs for the two potential rules changes, the NCAA defined the restricted-arc, which became a rule in the 2011-12 season, thusly: "A secondary defender cannot establish initial legal guarding position in the restricted area for the purpose of drawing a charge while defending a player who is in control of the ball - either dribbling or shooting - or who has released a pass or shot. When contact occurs in the restricted area under these circumstances, a blocking foul should be called unless the contact is a flagrant foul."

I like the idea of expanding the restricted area a foot because it subtly promotes offense and should make a player less tentative when driving to the hoop and rewarded more often for blowing past his man.

The NIT holds an important place in college basketball's tradition, so it's cool that the NCAA has kept it alive and has found another reason for keeping it relevant by making it a laboratory for potential rules changes.

The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee meets May 13-15 in Indianapolis and discussing the data from the NIT games is on the agenda.

“The committee discussed both of these potential rule changes during its May 2014 meeting, knowing that the May 2015 meeting would be the committee’s next opportunity to make a change to either of these rules,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd, who chairs the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee. “Although the committee will discuss a number of potential rules changes at the meeting, having specific data on these two rules should help the committee make a decision about whether such potential rule changes might further improve the flow and competitiveness of college basketball.”

Promoting offense is the way to go, especially if done with subtle rules changes, which isn't to say low scoring can be blamed on the rules.

"I think a lot of that is bad offense," Self said. "I think it’s easier to coach defense than offense a lot of times and it’s easier to stop people than exploit people. I think a lot of coaches feel that way. But our players’ skill set I don’t think is quite as good. I think it’s just generally going down in large part because we don’t have as many great players playing in the college game as what we’ve had in the past because none of them stay past their sophomore year.”

The biggest influence on the decline in skill is one nobody ever discusses: Video games. Leisure time once spent shooting hoops now is spent slaying dragons or putting up jumpers as LeBron James.


Kansas moves up one spot to No. 8 in Associated Press college basketball poll; Iowa State No. 11

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) holds up three fingers after knocking down a three against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) holds up three fingers after knocking down a three against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas was ranked eighth in the Associated Press college basketball poll released today, a one-spot move up the rankings from a week ago.

The Jayhawks are the highest ranked among six Big 12 schools: Iowa State (11), West Virginia (15), Baylor (19), Oklahoma (21) and Texas (25) also made the cut.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 1, 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. Kentucky (65) 21-0 1,625 1
  2. Gonzaga 22-1 1,503 3
  3. Virginia 19-1 1,470 2
  4. Duke 18-3 1,416 4
  5. Wisconsin 19-2 1,381 5
  6. Arizona 20-2 1,338 6
  7. Villanova 19-2 1,209 7
  8. Kansas 18-3 1,177 9
  9. Louisville 18-3 1,114 10
  10. Notre Dame 20-3 1,072 8
  11. Iowa St. 16-4 892 15
  12. North Carolina 17-5 861 13
  13. Utah 17-4 824 11
  14. N. Iowa 20-2 792 18
  15. West Virginia 18-3 779 17
  16. Wichita St. 19-3 678 12
  17. Maryland 18-4 508 16
  18. VCU 17-4 479 14
  19. Baylor 16-5 420 20
  20. Ohio St. 17-5 358 _
  21. Oklahoma 14-7 312 24
  22. Butler 16-6 250 25
  23. SMU 18-4 221 _
  24. Georgetown 15-6 162 21
  25. Texas 14-7 106 19

Others receiving votes: Texas A&M 40, Seton Hall 22, Arkansas 21, Indiana 18, San Diego St. 18, Colorado St. 11, Dayton 9, Tulsa 8, Xavier 8, Stephen F. Austin 5, Providence 3, Stanford 3, Louisiana Tech 2, Murray St. 2, Oklahoma St. 2, Temple 2, Georgia 1, Michigan St. 1, Rhode Island 1, Valparaiso 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Nation’s best team hasn’t scored more than 70 points in any of past five games.

2 - Virginia: Cavs made just 3 of 13 three-pointers vs. Duke and didn’t score a fast-break bucket in first loss of season.

3 - Gonzaga: Best Zags team ever has one loss and it came in overtime at Arizona. Three of the five double-figures scorers are 6-foot-10 or taller and the two leading scorers are three-point marksmen: Kyle Wiltjer (.432) and Kevin Pangos (.455).

4 - Duke: Quinn Cook made three of Duke’s five three-pointers in the final 4:38. And after it was over, I saw another ridiculous online headline: “Duke stuns Virginia.” No, once upon a time, Chaminade stunned Virginia. Duke is too good to “stun” anybody. The Blue Devils lost to a really good team (Notre Dame) and defeated the No. 2 school in the nation. They were not involved in an upset.
Best shot of day from a Duke basketball player came from ESPN’s Jay Bilas. After a Virginia student made a half-court heave to win $18,000, Bilas said, “They can pay the students, but they can’t pay the players.” Bilas also was involved in the best highlight of the day. It was from early in his freshman season. Virginia’s Ralph Sampson, who didn’t appear to be all that close to the hoop, stretched out his arm and threw down a one-handed dunk. Sampson’s hand accidentally caught Bilas’ head on the way down, perhaps slapping this thought into Bilas’ head: “Maybe I should study really hard so that I can get into law school.”

5 - Wisconsin: Bo Ryan knows how to find players. Nigel Hayes, a 6-7, 250-pound sophomore forward from Toledo, keeps the heat off Frank Kaminsky with physical play and he’s plenty skilled. Hayes has five consecutive double-figures scoring games and has four double-doubles this season.

6 - Arizona: Pac-12’s dominant program having little trouble tearing through conference. Since losing by two points in Corvallis, Wildcats have won five in a row by an average margin of 23.8 points, including a 57-34 revenge job against Oregon State. Freshman forward Stanley Johnson leads team in scoring, rebounding and turnovers.

7 - Louisville: Not many teams could shoot .338 from the field, .333 from three and .614 from the line and defeat North Carolina, but the Cardinals aren’t like many teams in that they can ugly up a game like nobody else. Guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones combined for 39 points against the Heels and made 10 of 34 shots from the field. National player of the year candidate Montrezl Harrell was the best player in the game with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

8 - Notre Dame: I didn’t attend either the 77-73 victory against Duke or the 76-72 loss at PIttsburgh, but I’m guessing somebody asked the Irish coach and/or players, “Was this a statement game?” And then when PIttsburgh won at home vs. Notre Dame, I’m guessing the Pittsburgh coach and/or players were asked, “Was this is a statement game?” The only appropriate answer to that silly question is, “No, this was a basketball game.”

9 - Kansas: Good team, fun team, improving team. But No. 1 in the RPI? That tells you all you need to know about the worst computer ranking out there. Still, it’s overused by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. It’s a brilliant scam in which most selection committee members have no clue they are participating. It’s all about the records of teams you play and the record of those teams' opponents. It does not use margin of victory at all. So the key becomes scheduling schools you’re confident you can defeat and are confident they will have a good record. TV loves it because it pressures teams to schedule aggressively in the preseason because that results in quality games for our viewing pleasure and networks' advertising dollars. Anyway, Kansas has become a much tougher team to play, in part because Brannen Greene can’t miss. In his past four games, Greene is 10 for 13 from three. For the season, Greene has made 50 percent from three and 92 percent from the line.

10 - Villanova: ’Cats have chance to avenge 20-point loss when Georgetown visits Saturday.

11 - North Carolina: I don’t want to say Marcus Paige is having similar season to a year ago, but here are some statistical comparisons with his junior year ranked first, sophomore second: Three-point percentage (.390, .389), three-pointers made (2.5, 2.5), assists (4.2, 4.2), blocks (0.2, 0.2), steals (1.4, 1.5), turnovers (2.1, 2.1).

12 - Iowa State: Sophomore point guard Monte Morris has 5.14 assists-to-turnover ratio and shoots .575 from inside the arc. He and KU’s Frank Mason both palyed well in Ames, which adds juice to tonight’s matchup.

13 -Utah: This is how old I am: When I was a kid, losing to UCLA wasn’t a cause for embarrassment. Utes got well against USC, limiting Trojans to 12 first-half points.

14 - West Virginia: When Bob Huggins has a bunch of players willing to do it his way, the result is a beautiful ugliness, not unlike his wardrobe. It’s beautiful that he feels comfortable dressing down and it’s beautiful to watch his team dress down opponents by forcing turnovers on 31.2 percent of their possessions (per, No. 1 in the nation. Calling to mind his great Cincinnati teams, the Mountaineers’ best offense is a missed shot. They rebound 40.9 percent of misses, seventh best in the nation.

15 - Ohio State: Whatever owner has the second pick in the NBA draft should invite Donald Trump to the festivities in the event the owner’s general manager does not select D’Angelo Russell. Imagine the theatric value of Trump firing a GM on live TV. In his past eight games, Russell’s averaging 22.9 points and making 48 percent of his threes (28 of 58). First pick, instead of Duke's Jahlil Okafor, is not out of the question. Russell, a 6-5 freshman guard from Louisville, went for 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assissts in 24-point victory vs. Maryland, which left Marc Loving alone way too often.

16 - Maryland: Starting guards Damonte Dodd and Melo Trimble combined for three points, 0 for 9 shooting, one assist and three turnovers in 40 minutes in Columbus.

17 - Oklahoma: It gets late early with the top 25 these days. Sooners have lost seven games. They have three games in next seven days, starting Tuesday, and two of them are home games vs. ranked teams West Virginia and Iowa State. Big chance for them to show what they’ve got.

18 - Georgetown: Heard Ron Thompson, brother of Hoyas coach John Thompson III, call a game as analyst for the first time over the weekend. Exceptional. Also heard Nick Bahe, former KU walk-on/Creighton scholarship player. Also outstanding. Nothing forced and very good basketball insights from both voices.

19 - Baylor: Bears rebound own misses at nation-leading .433 clip and they start three serious three-point threats in Royce O’Neale (.424), Kenny Cherry (.405) and and Lester Medford (.388) and bring one off the bench, leading scoreer Taurean Prince (405). If they can figure out how to clean up turnovers, they could make a nice NCAA Tournament run.

20 - Virginia Commonwealth: Made just 3 of 20 three-pointers in nine-point loss to Richmond and was outscored by 15 points in second half.

21 - Northern Iowa: Panthers used a 21-3 run late in the first half to carry them to 70-54 blitzing of Wichita State in Cedar Falls. UNI has nine-game winning streak.

22 - Wichita State: When Northern Iowa visits Koch Arena on Feb. 28, might Gregg Marshall remind the Shockers of what Seth Tuttle said after producing career-high 29 points and seven rebounds on them? Marshall might. Tuttle: “We really didn’t talk about beating them by one or two. We talked about coming in here and beating them by 15. That was our mindset.” The loss ended Shockers 27-game regular-season winning streak.

23 - SMU: Larry Brown’s team has won 16 of its last 17 games. Huge week for Mustangs. Cincinnati visits Thursday and then it’s on the road to Tulsa (undefeated in American Conference play) for Saturday game.

24 - Butler: Week featured 20-point blowout of talented Seton Hall and coming back from a 10-point deficit in the final 4:21 of regulation to win in overtime at Marquette.

25 - Texas A&M: Quietly, Aggies residing in second place in SEC and riding six-game winning streak. If they had managed to win double-overtime game vs. Kentucky, they would share first place with the nation’s No. 1 team.


Kansas jumps two spots to No. 9 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas guard Brannen Greene throws up three fingers after sinking a three against Oklahoma to reclaim the lead late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene throws up three fingers after sinking a three against Oklahoma to reclaim the lead late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A turnover-free second half in Austin made enough of an impression on Associated Press college basketball voters that Kansas moved up two spots to ninth in the poll released today.

The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 25, 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. Kentucky (64) 19-0 1,624 1
  2. Virginia (1) 19-0 1,561 2
  3. Gonzaga 20-1 1,476 3
  4. Duke 17-2 1,402 5
  5. Wisconsin 18-2 1,351 6
  6. Arizona 18-2 1,300 7
  7. Villanova 18-2 1,187 4
  8. Notre Dame 19-2 1,139 8
  9. Kansas 16-3 1,120 11
  10. Louisville 16-3 1,027 10
  11. Utah 16-3 996 12
  12. Wichita St. 18-2 893 14
  13. North Carolina 16-4 878 15
  14. VCU 16-3 734 16
  15. Iowa St. 14-4 719 9
  16. Maryland 18-3 715 13
  17. West Virginia 16-3 558 18
  18. N. Iowa 18-2 440 20
  19. Texas 14-5 431 17
  20. Baylor 15-4 407 _
  21. Georgetown 14-5 334 25
  22. Indiana 15-5 165 23
  23. Miami 14-5 164 _
  24. Oklahoma 12-7 90 19
  25. Butler 15-6 70 _

Others receiving votes: Colorado St. 57, Arkansas 54, Ohio St. 43, SMU 43, Providence 29, Dayton 28, Georgia 28, Stanford 16, Wyoming 14, LSU 10, Seton Hall 10, San Diego St. 4, Texas A&M 2, Tulsa 2, Davidson 1, Green Bay 1, Saint Mary’s (Cal) 1, Stephen F. Austin 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Every time I tune in the radio or turn on the TV, it seems, somebody’s clucking about what’s wrong with the Wildcats or about how Kentucky’s going nowhere unless coach John Calipari turns over the reins to freshman point guard Tyler Ulis and plays him 30 minutes a game. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats take a 19-0 record into Columbia on Thursday night.

2 - Virginia: Smooth 6-foot-6 junior guard Justin Anderson drills three-pointers at a .526 clip and averages 14.1 points.

3 - Gonzaga: The best way to remember how to pronounce the school’s name: It’s the Zags, not the Zogs. Best way to slow down the Zags: Nobody knows.

4 - Duke: Coach 1K’s riding a three-game winning streak, bouncing back from back-to-back losses to North Carolina State and Miami.

5 - Wisconsin: Frank Kaminsky, preseason All-American, is playing up to expectations with 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.7 blocks and a steal per game. Reminds some of former Lakers multi-skilled big man Vlade Divac.

6 - Arizona: Freshman Stanley Johnson leads experienced team in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and seven boards a game.

7 - Louisville: Players steadily improve under Rick Pitino. Case in point: Sophomore guard Terry Rozier. He averaged seven points as a freshman, 12 points in the first six games of this season, 20 points in the past 12.

8 - Notre Dame: Irish are No. 1 in the nation in effective field-goal percentage, which gives 1.5 credits for three-point field goals, compared to two-pointers, and therefore is a far better indicator of shooting efficiency. ND ranks No. 1 in the nation in that category and No. 2 in ball security, turning it over on just 13.8 percent of their possessions, so it’s no surprise calculations rank ND the most efficient offense in the nation.

9 - Kansas: Brannen Greene’s shooting range gives everyone on the court with him more breathing room. Greene made 7 of 9 three-pointers in his past two games, averaging 13 points in 17.5 minutes.

10 - Villanova: Hammered 78-58 by Georgetown in D.C., a chance for revenge comes Feb. 7 in Philly, a must-watch.

11 - Utah: Utes have gone 9-1 since losing to Kansas by three points and all 10 games have been margins of 13 points or greater.

12 - North Carolina: Marcus Paige is shooting better of late, nailing 11 of 21 three-pointers in his past four games.

13 - Iowa State: Texas Tech’s 78-73 home victory vs. Iowa State proves anybody can beat anybody in the Big 12. At least any team that makes 6 of 31 three-pointers can be beaten by any other Big 12 team.

14 - Maryland: Full-court pressure enabled Mark Turgeon’s Terps to come back from an 11-point deficit in final 3:21 to edge Northwestern by a point. The Texas A&M fan base never really got into the habit of calling him Turge, so he’s better off at a school where basketball’s a bigger deal the fans call a Terp a Terp and a Turge a Turge.

15 - Wichita State: Average margin of victory in eight conference games is 16.125.

16 - Miami: Four-point victory vs. Syracuse at Carrier Dome pushed Hurricanes to 4-2 in ACC and only losses were to No. 2 Virginia in double overtime and No. 8 Notre Dame by five points on the road.

17 - Baylor: Rico Gathers played 28 minutes in game against NAIA school Hutson-Tillitson, time enough to score 25 points and gather 28 rebounds.

18 - Georgetown: Here come the Hoyas. First came a 20-point victory vs. Villanova and then 350-pound center Joshua Smith dropped 18 and 15 in overtime victory at Marquette.

19 - Virginia Commonwealth: Rams alone atop Atlantic 10 are 6-0 in league and riding an 11-game winning streak.

20 - Oklahoma: No better indicator of quality of the Big 12 exists than Oklahoma losing four of its past five games. Sooners just as easily could respond by winning four of their next five.

21 - Texas: Size matters, but can be overrated. Longhorns haven’t figure out how to translate length advantage into a lot of hootin' and hollerin' at Erwin Center.

22 - West Virginia: Not a great week for Mountaineers. Hammered 77-50 in Austin and then won by one point in overtime against visiting TCU on a controversial call. Kay Anderson was whistled four fouling Jevon Carter with one second left and Carter made them both.

23 - Ohio State: Buckeyes were eight-point favorites vs. Indiana, yet because Indiana was ranked and Ohio State was not, many called Ohio State’s 82-70 victory Sunday an upset. Absurd.

24 - Providence: Friars won’t have any issues in the quality-victories department come judgment day, aka Selection Sunday. Notre Dame, Miami and Georgetown among their victims.

25 - Northern Iowa: A six-point victory at home vs. Indiana State and a one-point survival at Illinois State made for unimpressive week.


Kansas drops two spots to No. 11 in Associated Press college basketball poll

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) loses the ball as it is stripped by Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) and guard Monte Morris (11) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) loses the ball as it is stripped by Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) and guard Monte Morris (11) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Kansas dropped from ninth to 11th in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released today. Arizona, Notre Dame and Iowa State moved ahead of the Jayhawks and Utah dropped behind them.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 18, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

  1. Kentucky (63) ‡ 17-0 1,623 1
  2. Virginia (2) ‡ 17-0 1,562 2
  3. Gonzaga ‡ 18-1 1,467 3
  4. Villanova ‡ 17-1 1,429 5
  5. Duke ‡ 15-2 1,345 4
  6. Wisconsin ‡ 16-2 1,282 7
  7. Arizona ‡ 16-2 1,228 10
  8. Notre Dame ‡ 17-2 1,055 12
  9. Iowa St. ‡ 13-3 1,004 11
  10. Louisville ‡ 15-3 1,003 6
  11. Kansas ‡ 14-3 943 9
  12. Utah ‡ 14-3 940 8
  13. Maryland ‡ 17-2 937 14
  14. Wichita St. ‡ 16-2 857 13
  15. North Carolina ‡ 14-4 803 15
  16. VCU ‡ 15-3 670 17
  17. Texas ‡ 13-4 554 20
  18. West Virginia ‡ 15-3 501 16
  19. Oklahoma ‡ 12-5 445 18
  20. N. Iowa ‡ 16-2 387 23
  21. Baylor ‡ 13-4 260 22
  22. Dayton ‡ 15-2 241 _
  23. Indiana ‡ 14-4 93 _
  24. Seton Hall ‡ 13-4 91 21
  25. Iowa ‡ 13-5 85 _

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma St. 47, Miami 41, San Diego St. 34, Georgetown 33, Stanford 31, Saint Mary's (Cal) 18, Providence 17, Colorado St. 16, Arkansas 15, Georgia 13, Butler 11, SMU 11, Michigan St. 8, LSU 6, Old Dominion 5, Wyoming 4, Ohio St. 3, Louisiana Tech 2, Tennessee 2, George Washington 1, St. John's 1, Washington 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Kentucky: Those back-to-back overtime games seem to have scared Wildcats into tuning back in. Hammered Missouri, 86-37, then a decent Alabama team on the road, 70-48.

2 - Virginia: Only 3 of 17 opponents have scored more than 57 points against Cavaliers.

3 - Gonzaga: Three of Zags five top scorers are 6-foot-10 or taller: 6-10 Kyle Wiltjer (16.6), 7-1 Przemek Karnowski (10.6), 6-10 Domantas Sabonis (9.9).

4 - Duke: Excedrin Headache No. 998 ­– back-to-back losses to Norther Carolina State and Miami after Coach K earned career victory No. 997 at Wake Forest – forced Mike Krzyzewski to reach way out of his comfort zone to use a zone vs. Louisville and it worked, producing a 63-52 victory. Actually, Louisville’s lousy outside shooting prompted the change. Coach K could win No. 1,000 as soon as Sunday at Madison Square Garden against St. John’s.

5 - Wisconsin: Badgers 7-footer returned from concussion that kept him out of loss at Rutgers by scoring 22 points and making 4 of 5 three-pointers vs. Nebraska.

6 - Villanova: It might not get any tougher for the Wildcats in the deep Big East than tonight’s game at Georgetown.

7 - Arizona: The Pac-12 had not had a conference game between top 10 teams in seven years and Arizona left no doubt as to the team to beat, abusing Utah, 69-51. Utes do-it-all guard Delon Wright scored seven points in the first 4:07. With T.J. McConnell hounding him, Wright had just three points the rest of the way.

8 - Louisville: Worst-shooting good team in America: .427 overall, .665 from the line, .294 from three.

9 - Notre Dame: Irish are best shooting team in America. They shoot .401 from three and .610 from two, a blend that adds up to them having an effective field-goal percentage of .607.

10 - Maryland: Turge’s Terps completed season sweep of Michigan State in convincing fashion. They’re ninth-tallest team in nation (per, which has helped them compensate for a lack of experience (No. 257 in nation). They get fouled a lot and make their free throws at a high rate (.755).

11 - Utah: Almost daily, I am asked how I can rank Utes ahead of Kansas when Jayhawks beat them by three points on the, ahem, “neutral” Sprint Center court. My response often results in a change of subject: How can I rate Kansas ahead of Temple?

12 - North Carolina: Heels grab 44.5 percent of their misses, second-best in nation, per, and limit opponents to 27.2 shooting from three, sixth-best.

13 - Iowa State: Sophomore point guard Monte Morris hasn’t found his three-point touch yet (.406 last season, .289 this), but he does have a 5.5-to-1 assists/turnover ratio and he did come three rebounds shy of a triple-double vs. Kansas.

14 - Kansas: In past 10 games, Landen Lucas has played 100 minutes and has more fouls (19) and turnovers (12) than points (11).

15 - Virginia Commonwealth: Coach Shaka Smart set career assists records at his high school (Oregon High in Wisconsin) and college (Kenyon College) and knows how to get his players to practice unselfish basketball. They work well together at both ends, but when they stand alone at the free-throw line, the Rams are among the worst in the nation, making just 62 percent.

16 - Oklahoma: In conference games only, Buddy Hield leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.4) and made three-pointers per game (3.4) and ranks second in three-point percentage (.486), third in field-goal percentage (.552), sixth in free-throw percentage (.840), tied for fifth in offensive rebounds (2.4), tied for seventh in rebounds (seven) and fourth in minutes (35).

17 - Wichita State: Shockers road winning percentage of .827 since 2010-11 is best in nation.

18 - Texas: Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes combined for 35 points in 20-point victory vs. West Virginia. They combined for seven points in 21-point loss to Oklahoma and four points in 11-point loss to Oklahoma State.

19 - Miami: Predictable, Hurricanes are not. Dangerous they are. In span of 25 days, they lost to Eastern Kentucky by 28 points and slammed Duke by 16, which makes Eastern Kentucky 44 points better than Blue Devils. Colonels lost to East Tennesee State by three points and ETSU lost to UNC Greensboro by one point, making UNCG 48 points better than Duke. So why do I rank Duke fourth and don’t rank UNC Greensboro at all? Because Duke beat Furman by 39 points and Furman beat UNCG by 19, which makes Duke 58 points better than UNCG.

20 - Northern Iowa: If Panthers and Wichita State both can win next three games, UNI will carry eight-game winning streak into Jan. 31 showdown in Cedar Falls, Wichita State a nine-game winning streak.

21 - Baylor: Bears are middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team. Since the difference between top and bottom teams isn’t as great as in most conferences, it stands to reason Baylor should play a lot of close games. Past four games: One-point loss, overtime victory, one-point victory, two-point loss.

22 - West Virginia: Hammered Oklahoma by 21 points, and four days later lost to Texas by 27, which makes UT 48 points better than OU, except that the Sooners beat the Longhorns by 21 points. I’m confused.

23 - Georgetown: If nice guy Joshua Smith demanded the ball more, he would score more and Georgetown would become a better team. As it is, he still has scored in double figures in seven of Hoyas’ last eight games.

24 - Dayton: Tied with VCU for first in Atlantic 10 with 5-0 record. The conference co-leaders don’t meet until Feb. 28 in Richmond.

25 - Michigan State: Just when you think Spartans have it figured out (20-point victory vs. Indiana followed by 14-point triumph at Iowa), they return to mediocrity (overtime victory vs. Northwestern, 16-point loss at Maryland).


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