Entries from blogs tagged with “roll”
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:
Iowa State 5/1
Oklahoma State 5/1
Kansas State 16/1
West Virginia 16/1
Texas Tech 250/1
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.
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
- Florida (50) 29-2 1,610 1
- Wichita St. (15) 34-0 1,574 2
- Villanova 28-3 1,454 6
- Arizona 28-3 1,435 3
- Louisville 26-5 1,237 11
- Virginia 25-6 1,186 5
- Duke 24-7 1,185 4
- Michigan 23-7 1,143 12
- San Diego St. 27-3 1,143 10
- Kansas 23-8 1,087 8
- Syracuse 27-4 1,055 7
- Wisconsin 25-6 973 9
- Cincinnati 26-5 922 15
- Creighton 24-6 752 13
- North Carolina 23-8 709 14
- Iowa St. 23-7 572 16
- Oklahoma 23-8 472 23
- Saint Louis 26-5 433 17
- Memphis 23-8 367 20
- New Mexico 24-6 344 21
- UConn 24-7 330 19
- Michigan St. 23-8 318 22
- VCU 24-7 205 NR
- Ohio St. 23-8 165 NR
- 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.
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.
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
- Florida (46) 27-2 1,606 1
- Wichita St. (14) 31-0 1,555 2
- Arizona (5) 27-2 1,514 3
- Duke 23-6 1,364 6
- Virginia 25-5 1,304 12
- Villanova 26-3 1,292 8
- Syracuse 26-3 1,240 4
- Kansas 22-7 1,200 5
- Wisconsin 24-5 1,075 14
- San Diego St. 25-3 995 13
- Louisville 24-5 959 7
- Michigan 21-7 899 16
- Creighton 23-5 892 9
- North Carolina 22-7 755 19
- Cincinnati 24-5 737 11
- Iowa St. 22-6 613 15
- Saint Louis 25-4 539 10
- SMU 23-6 427 23
- UConn 23-6 423 NR
- Memphis 22-7 364 21
- New Mexico 23-5 338 25
- Michigan St. 22-7 322 18
- Oklahoma 21-8 183 NR
- Iowa 20-9 94 20
- 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.
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.
Spring football starts next week, which explains why everything I’m seeing today has a reddish hue. Could it be the rose-colored glasses I wear about this time every year? Could be, but what joy lies in squashing hope?
I think a lot about Kansas football and how Kansas elevated itself to win three bowl games last decade. I spoke with Todd Reesing about that and much more recently and will share his thoughts in coming days. For now, let’s take a position-by-position look at the 2014 defense, an easier side of the ball on which to feel solid optimism.
Defensive line: KU ranked eighth among 10 Big 12 teams in 2013 with 21 sacks and had to send the house frequently to get that many. KU has not had truly disruptive D-linemen since James McClinton (last season was 2007) pushed the pocket and before that Charlton Keith (2005) flew off the edge.
Ben Goodman has moved inside from the buck position, which creates more downs for Michael Reynolds. At times, Reynolds has looked like a star on the cusp of emerging, but those moments haven’t been consistent enough. The urgency so many seniors play with could bring out the best in the talented pass-rusher from Wichita. He led the team with 6.5 sacks a year ago. Can he double that total? If Reynolds doesn’t make a big leap, maybe juco transfer Anthony Olobia, a 6-5, 240-pound recruit who drew an offer from Oklahoma, could push him for time. Victor Simmons has moved to buck, a new view for him in teeing off on quarterbacks.
Keon Stowers was the most consistent performer in the middle of the defensive line and will receive help from underrated Tedarian Johnson and Ty McKinney. Andrew Bolton, who looks most like an NFL player in terms of body type of anyone on the roster, has a high ceiling. Before he injured his knee at junior college, which led to him red-shirting a year ago for KU, LSU was on his trail. That's L-S-U. Forgive me if that three-letter combination makes me optimistic that KU’s D-line might not need as much help in getting to the quarterback as it needed a year ago.
Linebackers: I hear complaints about middle linebacker Ben Heeney running wildly out of his assignment area at times. Maybe some of those are legitimate. Maybe some of those making the complaints aren’t in on where he’s supposed to be? This much I can see with my own eyes: When healthy, he’s really fast, really physical and really tough. Those all are great qualities for a middle linebacker.
But where is the help for Heeney? Undersized Jake Love performed well in place of an injured Heeney in the middle and was solid on the outside before that.
Kyron Watson of East St. Louis, Ill., certainly is an exciting prospect, but at 6-1, 210, he ideally could use a year in the weight room before starting his college eligibility clock. Samson Faifili, injured most of last season, returns on the outside and Schyler Miles adds depth on the inside.
Come to think of it, the Jayhawks might not have the luxury of red-shirting Watson. His speed could come in handy right away. Incoming freshman Josh Ehambe from Arlington, Texas will fight to get on the field as well. Marcus Jenkins-Moore, a juco transfer who missed last season with a serious knee injury, still is on the mend.
Concerns over the lack of depth at linebacker are eased by the reality that the base defense has a buck and a nickel back on the field, which leaves room for just two linebackers.
Secondary: Strongest, deepest unit on the roster.
Cornerbacks Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, both seniors, upgraded the position with solid junior seasons and there is no reason to believe they’ll do anything but improve. Junior safety Isaiah Johnson tied (with TCU’s Sam Carter, behind only Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert) with five interceptions and earned Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors.
Johnson definitely has a knack for picks and is a nice complement to assignment-sound Cassius Sendish, a coach’s dream of a safety in that he brings such smarts onto the field. Courtney Arnick performed well late in the season at nickel back and will be bigger and better.
Kevin Short, the highly regarded juco transfer forced to sit out last season because he was not cleared academically by the NCAA, will push all five returning starters and if he doesn’t beat out anyone will give KU excellent depth. Junior Brandon Holloman and juco recruits Anthony “Fish” Smithson and Ronnie Davis add to the depth.
I’ll be shocked if the 2014 defense isn’t KU’s best in the post-Mark Mangino era.
For more thoughts on impending spring football, check out the transcript of Matt Tait's chat.
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
- Florida (47) 25-2 1,606 2
- Wichita St. (14) 29-0 1,549 3
- Arizona (4) 25-2 1,494 4
- Syracuse 25-2 1,410 1
- Kansas 21-6 1,310 8
- Duke 22-6 1,286 5
- Louisville 23-4 1,152 11
- Villanova 24-3 1,113 9
- Creighton 23-4 1,103 11
- Saint Louis 25-2 1,047 10
- Cincinnati 24-4 921 7
- Virginia 23-5 909 14
- San Diego St. 23-3 886 6
- Wisconsin 22-5 818 16
- Iowa St. 21-5 709 17
- Michigan 19-7 653 20
- Kentucky 21-6 629 18
- Michigan St. 22-6 552 13
- North Carolina 20-7 440 NR
- Iowa 19-7 418 15
- Memphis 21-6 288 22
- Ohio St. 22-6 253 24
- SMU 22-6 155 NR
- Texas 20-7 129 19
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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
1 - Embiid: 6
2 - Ellis: 4
3t - Wiggins: 2
3t - Tharpe: 2
1 - Black: 5
2t - Embiid: 1
2t - Mason: 1
2t - Selden: 1
Kansas drops one spot to No. 8 in Associated Press basketball poll; Doug McDermott shoots Creighton up to No. 11
Kansas dropped one spot to No. 8 in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released Monday, and Creighton made the biggest upward move, bolting from 18th to 11th.
The senior star system isn’t dead after all.
Creighton walk-on Doug McDermott is running away with national player of the year honors.
In leading the Blue Jays to their second blowout victory against Villanova by an average margin of 24.5 points, McDermott matched his season high with 39 points. He passed Larry Bird and moved into 13th on the NCAA Div. I all-time scoring list.
“Imagine if he had a three-point line and stayed all four years,” McDermott said in the post-game interview on Fox1 Sports. “He’d be way ahead of me.”
Typical walk-on humility. McDermott's father, Blue Jays coach Greg McDermott, is footing the bill for his son's senior year, making that decision once Grant Gibbs was granted a sixth year of eligibility.
In honor of McDermott and in case anyone else is tired of will-he-stay-or-will-he-go-to-the-NBA talk dominating college basketball, this week’s rankings blog will highlight the top senior on each team.
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 16 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
- Syracuse (64) 25-0 1,624 1
- Florida (1) 23-2 1,543 3
- Wichita St. 27-0 1,489 4
- Arizona 23-2 1,427 2
- Duke 20-5 1,296 8
- San Diego St. 22-2 1,232 5
- Cincinnati 23-3 1,157 10
- Kansas 19-6 1,129 7
- Villanova 22-3 1,020 6
- Saint Louis 23-2 1,019 12
- Creighton 21-4 991 18
- Louisville 21-4 991 13
- Michigan St. 21-5 788 9
- Virginia 21-5 752 17
- Iowa 19-6 721 16
- Wisconsin 21-5 609 21
- Iowa St. 19-5 597 11
- Kentucky 19-6 579 14
- Texas 20-5 577 19
- Michigan 18-7 421 15
- UConn 20-5 382 24
- Memphis 19-6 204 20
- UCLA 20-5 168 NR
- Ohio St. 20-6 133 22
- Gonzaga 23-4 112 NR
Others receiving votes: North Carolina 54, Arizona St. 45, Pittsburgh 21, SMU 21, Stephen F. Austin 8, Oklahoma 7, New Mexico 3, VCU 2, Green Bay 1, Kansas St. 1, Louisiana Tech 1.
My AP ballot:
1 - Syracuse: Forward C.J. Fair, from Baltimore, leads the Orange in scoring (16.5) and rebounding (5.8).
2 - Wichita State: Cleanthony Early, from Middletown, N.Y., leads the undefeated Shockers in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (6.2).
3 - Florida: Hometown hero Scottie Wilbekin ranks second among Gators in scoring (13.5), first in assists (3.7), steals (1.6) and minutes (33.8).
4 - Arizona: Jordin Mayes of Los Angeles, the lone senior on the roster, has played just 104 minutes. He certainly made the most of his five minutes on Feb. 9 vs. Oregon State, scoring nine points.
5 - Duke: Andre Dawkins of Chesepeake, Va., had a four-game stretch a couple of weeks ago in which he made 17 of 29 three-pointers and scored 62 points in 77 minutes. Perimeter minutes are tougher to come by this season with the addition of two terrific newcomers, but Dawkins is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s averaging 9.3 points in 15.2 minutes, which computes to 24.5 points per 40 minutes.
6 - San Diego State: Potential first-team All-American Xavier Thames, from Sacramento, leads Aztecs in scoring (17.7), assists (2.8), steals (1.6), free-throw shooting (.819) and three-point shooting (.409).
7 - Creighton: Four minutes into Sunday’s game, the score was Doug McDermott 11, Villanova 6 and McDermott was just getting started. His 39 points made it nine times he has reached 30 points in a game. He ranks second in the nation (25.3) in scoring, behind only Antoine Mason (26.0) of Niagara. Nobody moves better without the ball than McDermott and teammates have so much experience playing with him they know when and where he likes the ball delivered. Plus, they shoot so well they make teams pay for paying too much attention to the star.
8 - Villanova: James Bell of Orlando leads ’Nova with a 16-point average, shoots .396 from three and is tied for the team lead with 1.3 steals a game and tied for second with 5.9 rebounds.
9 - Kansas: Reserve center Tarik Black, from Memphis, has scored 26 points in 52 minutes the past three games.
10 - Cincinnati: Sean Kilpatrick from Yonkers, N.Y., averages a team-best 20.1 points and shoots .859 from the line.
11 - Michigan State: Keith Appling of Detroit scores 15 points a game, dishes a team-high 4.9 assists and shoots .405 from three.
12 - Virginia: A four-year starter from Chelan, Wash., Joe Harris has had a double-digit scoring average all four seasons. His year-by-year three-point percentages: .418, .442, .468, .464. Underrated player.
13 - Iowa: Leading scorer Roy Devyn Marble (16.4), from Southfield, Mich., made 6 of 10 three-pointers in big victory vs. Michigan and ranks 10th Iowa’s all-time scoring list (1,544 points), a list headed by his father, Roy Marble (2,116 points).
14 - St - Louis: Dwayne Evans from Bolingbrook, Ill., leads all-senior starting lineup in points and rebounds (14.8, 6.5) for Billikens team that has won 17 in a row.
15 - Texas: Longhorns don’t have a senior on the roster.
16 - Michigan: Physical presence Jordan Morgan of Detroit, lone senior on the roster, has made more than 100 career starts.
17 - Kentucky: Jarrod Polson from Wilmore, Kent., has scored 28 points this season, which by Kentucky standards isn’t so bad for a senior.
18 - Louisville: Russ Smith, pride of Brooklyn, leads defending national champion with 18.2 points and
19 - Wisconsin: Ben Brust of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., is the Badgers’ second-leading scorer (13.2), leader in minutes (34.8) and a .396 three-point shooter.
20 - UCLA: Twins David and Travis Wear of Huntington Beach, Calif., both listed at 6-10, 230, transferred to UCLA after a year at North Carolina. As so often seems to be the case with twins, their statistics are similar to each other. They never found stardom some predicted of them, but they are solid contributors to the Bruins. In a combined 41.7 minutes, they average 12.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and shoot 90 percent from the line.
21 - Connecticut: Shabazz Napier of Roxbury, Mass., leads Huskies in points (18), rebounds (5.8), assists (5.5), steals (1.9) and free-throw shooting (.872). He’s also shooting .421 from three-point range and is coming off a 34-point effort outburst in huge vcitory against Memphis.
22 - Ohio State: Point guard Aaron Craft of Findlay, Ohio, remains a huge pain in the neck for opposing point guards and is averaging 2.5 steals a game.
23 - North Carolina: Leslie McDonald of Memphis ins one of four double-figures scorers for a rebounding Tar Heels team that hwas won six in a row.
24 - Arizona State: Jordan Bachynski, a 7-foot-2 Canadian center, averages 12.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks for the Sun Devils. He recently exploded for 26 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots in a two-point victory against Oregon.
25 - Iowa State: Fellow Canadian Melvin Ejim torched TCU for 48 points and 18 rebounds and leads Cyclones with 18.9 points and 8.6 rebounds.
No college basketball team has played better in the month of February than the one coached by a man who was 11 when Kansas won its first of three NCAA Tournament titles.
Larry Brown was 48 and coaching the Jayhawks when Kansas won its second NCAA tournament in 1988. He was in the stands in San Antonio when KU won its third title, in 2008.
Now, at the age of 73, Brown has his SMU team in the Associated Press college basketball Top 25 poll, ranked 23rd, and playing so well that it’s not out of the question he could reach a third Final Four with his third team in a span of 35 years. SMU had not been ranked for longer than that. The most recent ranking came in the second-to-last week of the 1985 poll.
By the way, Brown’s second school, Kansas, is ranked seventh.
Brown, 73, coached UCLA to the national-title game in 1980, when the Bruins lost to Denny Crum’s Louisville Cardinals, then known as the “Doctors of Dunk,” led by Dr. Dunkenstein himself, Darrell Griffith.
Brown was head coach of six different ABA teams and nine different NBA squads. And here he is now resuscitating a basketball program that had not scored a victory over a ranked opponent since 2003.
Brown’s Mustangs defeated No. 7 Cincinnati, 76-55, Saturday, their third victory in four tries against ranked opponents. They have won their three February games by an average margin of 19.7 points, the first a 15-point victory against then-No. 22 Memphis.
SMU (19-5, 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference) has won 8 of 9 and three of its losses this season (Virginia, at Cincinnati, at Louisville) have come against teams now in the top 25.
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 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
- Syracuse (65) 23-0 1,625 1
- Arizona 23-1 1,525 2
- Florida 21-2 1,477 3
- Wichita St. 25-0 1,445 4
- San Diego St. 21-1 1,373 5
- Villanova 21-2 1,288 6
- Kansas 18-5 1,234 8
- Duke 19-5 1,130 11
- Michigan St. 20-4 1,025 9
- Cincinnati 22-3 970 7
- Iowa St. 18-4 925 16
- Saint Louis 22-2 908 13
- Louisville 19-4 866 14
- Kentucky 18-5 769 18
- Michigan 17-6 702 10
- Iowa 18-6 686 17
- Virginia 19-5 608 20
- Creighton 19-4 552 12
- Texas 18-5 417 15
- Memphis 18-5 333 24
- Wisconsin 19-5 242 NR
- Ohio St. 19-5 214 NR
- SMU 19-5 205 NR
- UConn 18-5 194 22
- Pittsburgh 20-4 175 25
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 99, Gonzaga 44, UCLA 43, New Mexico 23, Oklahoma St. 10, George Washington 6, Southern Miss. 6, Stephen F. Austin 3, Arizona St. 1, Kansas St. 1, North Carolina 1.
My top 25 AP ballot:
1 - Syracuse: Teams in foul trouble often shift to zones to slow down their rate of fouls, so it’s no surprise that Syracuse, which plays a 2-3 zone, averages just 15.9 fouls per game, eighth-lowest number in the country.
2 - Arizona: Power forward Brandon Ashley (11.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds) suffered a broken foot that sidelined him for the season, a big loss, but not as big as it would be for less talented teams. Not many schools could replace Ashley with a freshman as talented as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a McDonald’s All-American averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds in two starts since the injury.
3 - Wichita State: Trivia question: What does Shockers coach Gregg Marshall have in common with Jud Heathcote, who coached Michigan State team led by Magic Johnson to 1979 national title, and Phil Jackson, coach of 11 NBA champions? They all are members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Or would calling them fraternity “brothers” be the correct terminology? Or do they have to live in same house to be considered “brothers?” It’s all Greek to me.
4 - Florida: Coach Billy Donovan bringing along slowly 6-10 freshman Chris Walker, ineligible the first 12 games for receiving impermissible benefits. Two games into his college career, he has played 11 minutes and totaled eight points, three rebounds and two blocked shots and has made 4 of 5 shots. He’s doing his best to speed up the coach’s plan.
5 - San Diego State: Point guard Xavier Thames big reason Aztecs, winners of 20 in a row, close games so well. For one thing, he makes his free throws and has made 30 of 32 of late.
6 - Villanova: Four of the top seven schools on my ballot have either an Ennis or Wiggins in the rotation. Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis and Villanova’s Dylan Ennis of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, combine to average 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists. KU’s Andrew Wiggins and Wichita State’s Nick Wiggins of the same Canadian province combine to average 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
7 - Kansas: In the 14 games since his rough performance at Florida, freshman Frank Mason has 33 assists and 11 turnovers and for the most part has played tough defense.
8 - Michigan State: Games lost to injury by top four players: Adreian Payne (seven), Branden Dawson (six), Gary Harris (three), Keith Appling (two).
9 - Duke: Quietly, Blue Devils playing terrific basketball. Only loss in past eight games came at Syracuse in overtime. Last six victories by average margin of 22.3 points.
10 - Iowa: Roy Devyn Marble made 6 of 10 three-pointers to lead rout of Michigan.
11 - Michigan: Spike Albrecht averaged 2.2 points a game last season, 3.5 this season and neither number can change his remarkable storybook moment. He played 11 minutes and scored 17 points in the first half vs. Louisville. Nobody can ever take that away from him.
12 - Cincinnati: Bearcats suffered 21-point loss to SMU, but can take comfort in knowing they won’t face coaching legend every time they lace up their sneakers.
13 - St. Louis: Once upon a time, this wasn’t such a shocking sentence: Five senior starters.
14 - Kentucky: Best victory: Louisville. Second-best: At Missouri. Needs another big victory to ensure high seed.
15 - Louisville: Best victory: At UConn. Second-best: Home game vs. SMU. Needs another big victory to ensure high seed.
16 - Creighton: No shame in losing to very talented, just-now-jelling St. John’s team that has won six of past seven games.
17 - Texas: Jonathan Holmes left Kansas State loss with knee injury after just nine minutes of action.
18 - Iowa State: UCLA’s Bill Walton in 1973 national-title game vs. Memphis: 21 of 22 field goals, 2 of 5 free throws, 44 points, 13 rebounds. . Melvin Ejim 41 years later in Big 12 game vs. TCU: 20 of 24 field goals, 6 of 6 free throws, 2 of 2 threes, 48 points, 18 rebounds.
19 - Oklahoma: Give sophomore Buddy Hield any breathing room and he’ll give you three reasons to regret that. Has made 17 of 34 threes in Sooners past five games, increasing his season accuracy rate to .399.
20 - Virginia: Two leading scorers are three-point marksmen: Malcolm Brogdon (12. 1 points, .405 from three), Joe Harris (11.3, .424). Their coach, Tony Bennett, shot .497 on 584 long-ball attempts in four years playing for his father, Dick Bennett, at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
21 - Ohio State: Toss out January and Buckeyes might be No. 1. Record by month: November: 6-0; December: 8-0; January: 2-5; February: 3-0.
22 - SMU: Nick Russell, in his second season playing for Brown after two seasons at Kansas State, scored season-high 15 points in blowout victory vs. Cincinnati.
23 - UCLA: Coach’s son Bryce Alford shoots better percentage from three (.400) than two (.393). He plays 22.3 minutes per game.
24 - New Mexico: Australian Cameron Bairstow, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound senior forward from Australia who scored 24 points in loss to KU, averages 20.2 points and 7.1 rebounds and shoots .561 from the field, .740 from the line. He never averaged double figures in scoring before this season, which makes him one of the nation’s most improved players.
25 - Wisconsin: Traevon Jackson, the junior point guard who hit a jumper with 2.1 seconds left to defeat Michigan State, is son of Ohio State two-time All-American Jim Jackson, who now does color commentary for the Big Ten Network. The elder Jackson wore the uniform of 12 different NBA organizations. Father and son would have made a good backcourt tandem since son is a pass-first guard, father a gunner.
Let's hope Marcus Smart, spiraling dangerously out of control, gets the suspension he deserves and the counseling help he clearly needs.
Something — perhaps the decision to turn down probable guaranteed millions by returning to Oklahoma State for a sophomore season back-firing with each missed three-point shot that easily could have been an assist for a better shooter — clearly is eating at the projected lottery pick of a year ago.
Smart's decision to shove a Texas Tech fan in the stands, supported by nobody in the building, maybe even the planet, will qualify as the bottom for the point guard who is hurting his team and his draft stock in a louder way every day.
The saddest aspect of Smart's night came after his unbelievable shove of a man who appeared to be in his late '50s or so. He barked at teammate Markel Brown, who tried to restrain him, yelled at the ref and his coach and everyone else in his path, hoping to hear words of support from somewhere.
He was escorted off the court by a man from the Oklahoma State bench who clearly was concerned Smart was capable of making a horrible situation worse. Smart probably feels as if he doesn't have a friend in the world right now. It's his No. 1 enemy who should concern him most. That would be himself.
Smart needs professional help. After he gets it and is allowed to return to the court at some point, his road map back to a spot in the NBA draft is not all that difficult to follow: 1. Break down the defense with drives to the hoop and pass the ball to one of three more skilled scorers on the floor with him: Brown, Le'Bryan Nash, Phil Forte; 2. Stop flopping; 3. Stay on the court.
Victor Ortiz, an orphan from Southern California who rose above hopeless circumstances to wear the WBC welterweight title belt on his waist and the Jayhawk logo on the back of his shorts, stood on top of the world three years ago.
The story Ortiz told of his youth — he and five siblings abandoned at 7 by their mother, at 11 by their father — made him such an easy guy for whom to root. He fought his way to a good life, and all along remain fascinated with the Jayhawk logo.
But he has fallen so far since in losing his last three fights that he now must fight the quitter label.
It was a tough week for athletes wearing Jayhawks on their shorts and facing a foe wearing burnt-orange. But unlike Ortiz, KU’s basketball team got off the deck and competed for the second half of an 81-69 loss at Texas.
In a WBA International welterweight title bout at Barclays in New Jersey last Monday, Ortiz didn’t make it out of the second round against underdog Luis Collazo. Ortiz got knocked to his knees and never got up. He was counted out at the 2:59 mark of the second round.
Boxing critics wonder why he didn’t get up to continue fighting, especially in light of his bizarre move vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. In the fourth round of the 2011 bout, Ortiz backed Mayweather into a corner. Instead of continuing to hit him, he head-butted him and then hugged Mayweather.
After the ref stepped in to deduct a point from Ortiz and the fighters touched gloves to signal a return to action, Ortiz dropped his gloves, a gesture of apology. That’s when Mayweather knocked him out. Ortiz received a $2 million purse.
In Ortiz’s next fight, vs. Josesito Lopez, Ortiz was competing well until Lopez broke his jaw in the ninth round, putting an end to it.
That’s three losses in a row for Ortiz, from whom the last thing a good portion of the crowd saw was the Jayhawk on the back of his shorts as he rested on his knees.
Parity was the big winner in college basketball last week, when 15 of the 25 teams ranked in the Associated Press college basketball poll lost at least once. Top 25 teams combined for a 27-20 record.
Voters didn't punish Kansas too badly for its first Big 12 loss, 81-69, at Texas. The Jayhawks moved down two spots, to eighth.
Teams that defeat Kansas usually take a big leap in the poll and the Longhorns were no exception. They moved from 25th to 15th after the KU victory, the fourth in a row against a ranked opponent.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 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
- Syracuse (65) 21-0 1,625 2
- Arizona 21-1 1,517 1
- Florida 19-2 1,482 3
- Wichita St. 23-0 1,447 4
- San Diego St. 19-1 1,370 5
- Villanova 19-2 1,252 9
- Cincinnati 21-2 1,182 13
- Kansas 16-5 1,141 6
- Michigan St. 19-3 1,136 7
- Michigan 16-5 949 10
- Duke 17-5 940 17
- Creighton 18-3 790 20
- Saint Louis 20-2 728 19
- Louisville 18-4 723 12
- Texas 17-4 719 25
- Iowa St. 16-4 717 16
- Iowa 17-5 669 15
- Kentucky 16-5 653 11
- Oklahoma St. 16-5 420 8
- Virginia 17-5 364 NR
- Oklahoma 17-5 361 23
- UConn 17-4 252 NR
- Gonzaga 20-3 237 NR
- Memphis 16-5 114 22
- Pittsburgh 18-4 110 18
Others receiving votes: Wisconsin 79, Ohio St. 45, VCU 44, SMU 15, New Mexico 12, California 9, UCLA 9, Harvard 4, George Washington 3, LSU 3, Tennessee 2, American U. 1, Southern Miss. 1.
My top 25 AP ballot:
1 - Syracuse: Orange senior C.J. Fair (28 points) was a lot better than Duke freshman Jabari Parker (15 points), but in the overtime, Syracuse Jerami Grant was the best player on the floor in a classic matchup between the game’s two winningest coaches in Division I history.
2 - Arizona: Superstar guard Nick Johnson (1 for 14, 0 for 5 from three) couldn’t get anything to drop and neither could Aaron Gordon (4 for 14), yet the Wildcats still almost remained undefeated, losing to Cal, 60-58.
3 - Wichita State: If the Shockers can win two tough road games this week, only a big upset could keep them from finishing the regular season undefeated. They play at Indiana State on Wednesday and at Northern Iowa on Saturday.
4 - Florida: Gators have won 27 in a row at home and have the same record (19-2) that they had after 21 games when they won back-to-back national titles last decade.
5 - San Diego State: Think Steve Fisher’s experience might give him an advantage late in games? The Aztecs have won 110 consecutive games when leading with five minutes remaining.
6 - Villanova: Bounced off the deck after blowout loss to Creighton by picking up three consecutive road wins.
7 - Kansas: Quick, feisty Longhorns made Jayhawks look slow by comparison. They’ll make a lot of teams look slow.
8 - Michigan State: Not the same team without injured forwards Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson.
9 - Cincinnati: Sean Kilpatrick moved to third on Bearcats career scoring list, trailing only the great Oscar Robertson and Steve Logan. UConn visits Thursday in what should be an interesting one.Parity was the big winner in college basketball last week, when top 25 teams combined for a 27-20 record. Fifteen of the 25 teams, including Kansas, lost during the week.
10 - Michigan: Nik Stauskus’ three-point shooting in five losses: 6 for 22 (.272); Stauskus’ three-point shooting in 16 victories: 44 for 87 (.506).
11 - Duke: Blue Devils had impressive week on the road, pounding Pittsburgh and then taking Syracuse to overtime in a two-point loss. With more weeks like that out of sophomore center Amile Jefferson (averaged 14 points and 8.5 boards, made 11 of 15 field goals), Duke will continue to climb back up rankings.
12 - Iowa: Eleven players average double-figures minutes in the running, pressing Fran McCaffery system.
13 - Kentucky: Young Wildcats split road games, losing to LSU and defeating Missouri. In the victory at Missouri, freshmen combined for 77 of Kentucky’s 84 points. Mizzou, by the way, started 41-1 at home under Frank Haith, but are 2-2 in the last four.
14 - Louisville: Don’t blame Russ Smith for Cardinals’ inconsistent play. He has scored in double figures every game and in nine American Athletic Conference games is shooting .548 from three.
American who, what, when, where, why?
Who: Cincinnati (10-0), Louisville (7-2), Memphis (6-3) SMU (6-3), Connecticut (5-3), Houston (3-6), South Florida (2-7), Central Florida (1-7) and Temple (1-7) form the first-year conference.
What: A geographic hodgepodge of schools seeking a temporary home. When: Formed in July 1, 2013, although its official roots reach to May 31, 1979, when the Big East was formed.
Where: It’s headquarters are in Providence, R.I., and its members come from eight states, but not Rhode Island. After this school year, Rutgers will depart for the Big Ten, Louisville for the ACC. East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane will join the conference next year.
Why: Seven catholic universities departed the old Big East to join Butler, Creighton and Xavier to form what is called the Big East.
15 - Texas: Junior Jonathan Holmes coming up huge for Longhorns. He does a little bit of everything. He leads team in scoring (13.4), is second in rebounds (7.3), is third in blocks (1.4), third in field-goal percentage (.517), first in free-throw pct. (.793) and tied for first in three-point pct. (.385). He runs the floor hard and plays unselfishly, so do his teammates.
16 - Creighton: Team’s three top scorers — Doug McDermott (25.0), Ethan Wragge (12.0) and Jahenns Manigat (8.4) — combine for stunning .469 three-point percentage. The three Blue Jays combine to average 17.5 three-point attempts per game. All but six of Wragge’s 163 field-goal attempts have come from beyond the arc.
17 - Iowa State: The loser of tonight’s game in Stillwater falls to seventh place with a losing record midway through the Big 12 season and qualifies as the biggest first-half disappointment and leading contender for most-improved team in the second half of conference play.
18 - Oklahoma: Sooners have five players averaging in double figures and center Ryan Spangler is averaging a double-double (11.1 points, 10.2 rebounds). When I lived in California (1981-89), I averaged roughly a double-double per day, frequenting various In-’N-Out Burger locations.
19 - St. Louis: Almost suffered what would have been one of the biggest upsets of this college basketball season. But the Billikens prevailed in overtime against George Mason, which is seven games behind SLU seven games into the Atlantic 10 season. Now comes the tough stretch of the schedule: At St. Joseph, at Lasalle, at home against second-place VCU.
20 - Virginia: Cavaliers woke up after getting slapped silly at Tennessee, 87-52, in final nonconference game. Only ACC loss was at Duke in a game Virginia led with 20 seconds remaining. Aside from that, Cavs are 4-0 in conference road games with an average margin of victory of 15.3 points.
21 - Oklahoma State: Efforts to trace the origin of Marcus Smart’s family name to shot selection were unsuccessful. In the Cowboys’ past four games, Smart has made 3 of 28 three-pointers. Repeat: 3 of 28 three-pointers. Wow.
22 - UConn: DeAndre Daniels, the 6-foot-9, 195-pound junior who considered Kansas, is averaging 13.4 points and shooting .478 from three.
23 - UCLA: Point forward Kyle Anderson has reached double figures in assists three times. Not many players who have a wingspan of 7-2 can say the same.
24 - New Mexico: Cameron Bairstow, the 6-9, 250-pound forward who dropped 24 points in loss to Kansas, is averaging 20 points and 6.9 rebounds for Lobos, winners of 10 of last 11.
25 - Ohio State: Buckeyes had lost 5 of 6 before winning at Wisconsin, which has lost 5 of 6.
Kansas moved up two spots to No. 6 in the Associated Press college basketball Top 25 poll, released Monday.
The Jayhawks are gunning for a remarkable fifth No. 1 seed in the past eight seasons.
They are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the flawed RPI, which puts far too much weight on schedule, At this rate, KU will have enough going for it on Selection Sunday that it will merit a top seed without even looking at the RPI, a crutch that bad selection committee members use.
It’s easy to envision a scenario in which two schools from the state of Kansas earn No. 1 seeds, Wichita State being the other.
The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 26 and total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, plus last week’s ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Arizona (63) 20-0 1,623 1
- Syracuse (2) 19-0 1,561 2
- Florida 17-2 1,436 6
- Wichita St. 21-0 1,435 5
- San Diego St. 18-1 1,337 7
- Kansas 15-4 1,272 8
- Michigan St. 18-2 1,251 3
- Oklahoma St. 16-3 1,067 11
- Villanova 17-2 1,063 4
- Michigan 15-4 1,050 21
- Kentucky 15-4 896 14
- Louisville 17-3 891 12
- Cincinnati 19-2 793 15
- Wisconsin 17-3 763 9
- Iowa 16-4 722 10
- Iowa St. 15-3 684 16
- Duke 16-4 549 18
- Pittsburgh 18-2 517 20
- Saint Louis 18-2 464 19
- Creighton 17-3 445 NR
- UMass 17-2 353 13
- Memphis 15-4 262 23
- Oklahoma 16-4 203 25
- Ohio St. 16-4 143 17
- Texas 16-4 142 NR
Others receiving votes: UConn 67, Gonzaga 51, UCLA 39, Virginia 18, George Washington 5, Green Bay 5, Kansas St. 5, Minnesota 5, SMU 3, American U. 1, Harvard 1, Louisiana Tech 1, New Mexico 1, Southern Miss. 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Arizona: Sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-footer who chose the Wildcats over Kansas, is coming along nicely. He’s averaging 9.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. If Tarczewski had gone to Kansas, that might have deterred Joel Embiid from coming a year later, so it’s worked out well for everybody.
2 - Syracuse: The stereotype of a zone defense — pack it in and make the opponent try to beat you from the outside — never has fit Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone and certainly doesn’t this season. Orange are tied for fifth in the country with 9.5 steals per game.
3 - Wichita State: I don’t believe in letting undefeated teams climb the rankings while others that play in tougher conferences knock off each other. That doesn’t apply to Wichita State. The Shockers are just that good, as they showed a year ago by their winning four NCAA tournament games by double-digits en route to Final Four, where they gave Louisville more trouble than anybody else.
4 - Florida: Whether forcing Kansas into 24 turnovers or frustrating Tennessee into 1-for-19 three-point shooting, Gators certainly know how to bring out worst in visitors in the O’Connell Center, where they have won 26 in a row.
5 - San Diego State: I’m not of the belief that the Aztecs beating Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse was all about KU playing poorly. The Aztecs know how to make teams play poorly. Were all 17 games during San Diego State’s active winning streak because they happen to catch teams on bad days?
Best illustration of how clutch and composed Steve Fisher teams are lies in 15-1 record in past 16 overtime games.
6 - Kansas: Brannen Greene in his last three games: 21 minutes, 14 points, three rebounds, 5 of 7 from the field, 3 of 4 from three. That’s very bad news for the rest of the Big 12.
7 - Michigan: An amazing 7-0 in the Big Ten with the last three victories coming against top 10 teams, Wolverines doing it all without Mitch McGary, lost for season with back injury. Nik Stauskas averaging 18.5 points, shooting .462 from three and a perfect fit for coach John Beilein’s system, strong All-American candidate.
8 - Michigan State: At the moment Spartans aren’t best team in the state, but when all the games have been played they might stand alone as the best team in the country.
9 - Kentucky: Former Olathe Northwest wide receiver/center Willie Cauley-Stein, aka Billy Idol, leads Wildcats in blocked shots and steals and ranks second to Julius Randle in rebounds. Cauley-Stein seventh in nation with 3.37 blocks a game.
10 - Villanova: Where oh where has the ’Nova defense gone? Cats surrendered average of 66 points in first five Big East games, 90.5 in past two.
11 - Iowa: Michigan State visits for a 6 p.m. Tuesday can’t-miss game on ESPN.
12 - Wisconsin: Trip to West Lafayette to beat up on Purdue was just what Badgers needed to end three-game losing streak.
13 - Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart in his past two games: 4 of 21 from the field, 0 for 10 from three-point range.
14 - Cincinnati: Bearcats make short trip to Louisville to face Cardinals on Thursday. Wonder who Pete Rose likes and by how many in that one?
15 - Louisville: Two 39-point victories (South Florida and Houston) in past three games. Talented reserve Wayne Blackshear made a combined 8 of 10 threes in the blowouts.
16 - Pittsburgh: Two losses all season, to Cincinnati and Syracuse by a combined six points and still no respect. Chance at first victory against ranked opponent comes today at 6 p.m. vs. Duke in Pittsburgh.
17 - Duke: Freshman Semi Ojeleye from Ottawa High, has played 65 minutes. His stats: 25 points, 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three, .909 from the line, 14 rebounds, two assists, four blocked shots, three steals, five turnovers.
18 - Iowa State: Georges Niang and Matt Thomas buried four three-pointers apiece vs. Kansas State to end losing streak at three games.
19 - Memphis: A Saturday trip to Dallas to play SMU won’t be an easy one because the amazing Mustangs coach Larry Brown is working his magic again. Brown’s team takes five-game losing streak to Tampa to face South Florida on Tuesday.
20 - Creighton: Ethan Wragge scored all 27 points in 96-68 drubbing of Villanova on three-pointers. He hit seven of the threes in the first 6:03 of the game.
Bobby Nightengale, the Lawrence Journal-World’s lead high school reporter, played the role of Wragge on the scout team for Jefferson HIgh in Bloomington, Minn. Nightengale never made five threes in six-plus minutes against the starters. So much for Scout Team Player of the Week honors.
21 - St. Louis: Billikens coach Jim Crews played for and coached under Bob Knight at Indiana. Crews has his team playing the sort of suffocating man-to-man defense for which Knight’s teams were noted. SLU ninth with .429 effective field goal percentage (national average .494) and 16th with .223 turnovers-per-possession percentage (.185 national average), according to kenpom.com.
22 - Oklahoma: Big Monday Bedlam in the Noble Center, 8 p.m. today, a huge game in the race for second place in the Big 12.
23 - UCLA: Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-9 point-forward, has 11 double-doubles, one of which was a triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists vs. Morehead State).
24 - Ohio State: Loss at Nebraska was fourth in a row, a streak that ended with home victory against Illinois. Wish I could credit the first person to notice amazing fact, but it went viral so quickly it’s tough to say who came up with it first: Iowa State, Ohio State, Oregon and Wisconsin started season a combined 58-0 and then went 0-14, a nice little lesson in the dangers of reading too much into anything until conference play starts.
25 - Texas: Victories against three consecutive ranked teams a school first and establishes legitimate contender in crowded race for second place in Big 12.
I box my ears and make the motor-boat sound every time someone gripes about an athlete being excluded from a Hall of Fame, mid-season watch list, etc., without first making room for him or her by citing who deserves to be removed. Don’t just say who belongs, say who doesn’t, then I’ll unbox my ears and stop motor-boating.
The Wooden Award released its 25-man mid-season watch list and in general did a nice job with it.
There were two egregious omissions, however. It’s time to take one out, put one in, take another out, put another in to call attention to the deserving dissed duo.
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, just about every announcer’s favorite point guard, hustles his way to big defensive plays, crashes into basket standards, scorer’s tables, etc. According to what teammate Lenzelle Smith Jr. once told me, Craft steals more than the basketball.
“I’ve seen him steal so many souls out there on the court,” Smith said two years ago, the day before Kansas faced Ohio State in a national semifinal.
OK, but he hasn’t been one of the 25 top players in the nation in the first half of his senior season.
Craft doesn’t keep defenders honest enough with his three-point shooting, which can lead to extra attention being paid to the Buckeyes’ big men. Unlike most college basketball players, Craft’s three-point shooting touch gets worse by the year: .377, .359, .300, .286.
Craft’s solid 2-to-1 assists/turnover ratio pales in comparison to that of Fred VanVleet, sophomore point guard for undefeated Wichita State. VanVleet has a 4.4 ratio, slightly more rebounds and assists than Craft, higher shooting percentages overall, on three-pointers and from the line. Craft has a slight edge in steals.
Ohio State has lost four in a row. VanVleet has been the Shockers’ best clutch performer.
Kansas basketball fans don’t need another reason to resent Missouri star Jordan Clarkson.
First, he plays for Missouri. Second, he didn’t give Danny Manning a chance to talk him into staying at Tulsa when Manning took his first job as a head coach. Clarkson transferred to Missouri and ranks second on the Tigers with an 18.7 scoring average. His free-throw touch (.804) made the trip from Tulsa, but his three-point shooting (.281) did not.
After a loss to Georgia, Clarkson’s coach, Frank Haith, said: “Jordan’s got to pass the ball more.”
Exit Clarkson, enter Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid. Compare what Clarkson’s coach said about him to what Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said about KU's stellar center: “I think Embiid’s the best player in the country.”
The nice thing about mid-season watch lists: It helps the folks making them correct their mistakes by the time the next one is released.
The Wooden Award watch list:
Kyle Anderson, UCLA; Keith Appling, Michigan State; Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico; Jordan Clarkson, Missouri; Aaron Craft, Ohio State; Sam Dekker, Wisconsin; Cleanthony Early, Wichita State; Tyler Ennis, Syracuse; C.J. Fair, Syracuse; Aaron Gordon, Arizona; Rodney Hood, Duke; Nick Johnson, Arizona; DeAndre Kane, Iowa State; Doug McDermott, Creighton; Shabazz Napier, Connecticut; Jabari Parker, Duke; Adreian Payne, Michigan State; Casey Prather, Florida; Julius Randle, Kentucky; Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State; Russ Smith, Louisville; T.J. Warren, North Carolina State; Andrew Wiggins, Kansas; Chaz Williams, Massachusetts; Joseph Young, Oregon.
Kansas moved up to No. 8 in the Associated Press college basketball Top 25 poll, released Monday.
The Big 12 has by far the biggest presence of any conference in the rankings, with six of its 10 teams making an appearance, a remarkable 60 percent of its members. The only other league with half as strong a penetration as that is the newly formed American Conference, which has 30 percent (Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis) of its members in the top 25.
The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 19 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
- Arizona (61) 18-0 1,621 1
- Syracuse (4) 18-0 1,559 2
- Michigan St. 17-1 1,497 4
- Villanova 16-1 1,377 6
- Wichita St. 19-0 1,368 5
- Florida 15-2 1,303 7
- San Diego St. 16-1 1,211 10
- Kansas 13-4 1,117 15
- Wisconsin 16-2 1,074 3
- Iowa 15-3 1,041 14
- Oklahoma St. 15-3 971 9
- Louisville 16-3 804 18
- UMass 16-1 781 16
- Kentucky 13-4 769 13
- Cincinnati 17-2 736 19
- Iowa St. 14-3 644 8
- Ohio St. 15-3 549 11
- Duke 14-4 447 23
- Saint Louis 17-2 421 24
- Pittsburgh 16-2 419 22
- Michigan 13-4 362 NR
- Kansas St. 14-4 221 NR
- Memphis 13-4 201 17
- Baylor 13-4 170 12
- Oklahoma 14-4 111 25
Others receiving votes: Creighton 98, UConn 62, Gonzaga 59, California 44, Colorado 26, UCLA 23, Harvard 12, George Washington 8, Missouri 6, Texas 5, Xavier 4, SMU 2, New Mexico 1, Virginia 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Arizona: Former Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics great Dennis Johnson, who died of a heart attack in 2007 while coaching a D-League practice, was known as a great defender, good scorer and terrific leaper. Just about every time his leaping ability came up during telecasts, one of the announcers would bring up stories about the jumping ability of his brother, Joey Johnson, who played at Arizona State. Joey once had his vertical leap measured at 52 inches and once dunked on an 11-foot-7 hoop to win a contest.
Nick Johnson, Joey’s son and Dennis’ nephew, leads the Wildcats in scoring, and like the rest of the team’s key players is known as an excellent defender.
2 - Syracuse: Having one of the top freshmen (point guard Tyler Ennis) and seniors (C.J. Fair) is such a nice place to start for any team. Ennis, Fair and sophomore Jerami Grant all played 40 minutes in 59-54 victory against Pittsburgh, a Big East retro game played in the ACC. The Orange bench scored just two points. Grant’s uncle, Harvey Grant, played 11 years in the NBA after playing at Clemson and then Oklahoma.
3 - Michigan State: The most interesting numbers column on the Spartans' statistics page is GP, games played. That might be the first time anyone has ever typed that sentence, but it happens to be true. Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine are the only Spartans to appear in all 18 games, thanks to injuries and illnesses. Yet, the Spartans keeping winning, their only loss coming at the hands of giant-killer North Carolina.
4- Wichita State: Indiana State entered Saturday’s road game against Wichita State unbeaten in Missouri Valley League play and Sycamores guard Dawon Cummings had a big day, scoring 19 points. Good thing Cummings made the trip because the rest of the team made 9 of 37 field goals (.243) and 2 of 13 three-pointers (.154).
5 - Villanova: Coach Jay Wright is one of the most universally well-liked college basketball coaches by alumni, students, strangers who recognize him in public, etc. Not only that, he dresses like a sportswriter.
6 - Florida: Victory against Kansas started Gators on a nine-game winning streak next put to test Thursday at Alabama.
7 - San Diego State: Legitimate national-title contenders, the Aztecs have won 15 in a row after suffering lone loss, to Arizona.
8 - Iowa: Fran McCaffery was 26 when he became head coach at Lehigh University. He left there to become an assistant to Digger Phelps at Notre Dame (1988-99) and has been a head coach ever since leaving ND. I tried interviewing him after the press conference announcing Digger’s ouster, or was it a "resignation" or "retirement"? McCaffery was too ticked to talk. Couldn't blame him. Notre Dame forced Phelps into retirement too early. As if to honor the son of an undertaker, my car died on the way back to Chicago that day.
9 - Kansas: Strangest play during a 2-0 week: Conner Frankamp, blessed with best shooting range on the team, has the ball 25 feet from hoop with shot clock dwindling and passes it to a center 22 feet from the hoop in the Oklahoma State game. He’ll have a nice career for KU and some day he’ll be able to look back on that play and laugh.
10 - Kentucky: Julius Randle, team’s leading scorer and rebounder, has not had a turnover-free game, averages 3.3 a contest and 4.8 in Wildcats’ four losses.
11 - Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart won’t miss any time with wind burn caused by the breeze of Wayne Selden’s elbows swinging close to Smart’s face.
12 - Wisconsin: Great unbeaten ride while it lasted. Losses at Indiana and at home to Michigan have the Badgers on a streak of another kind.
13 - Cincinnati: Sean Kilpatrick is one of those college basketball players who seems as if he’s been playing for his school for 10 years. Maybe that’s because Kilpatrick has hit 10 years worth of big shots. His scoring averages, starting with freshman season: 9.7, 14.3, 17.0, 18.6.
14 - Louisville: The nice thing about the name Richard is it comes with so many options. Cards coach Pitino goes by Rick. His son, distinguishing himself as a separate person and coach, goes by Richard, a nice touch. But the full name just doesn’t seem the right fit for outspoken NFL Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. He could choose from one of the many of the nicknames that stem from Richard: Dick, Rich, Richie, Rickey. Any suggestions on which might be most fitting?
15 - Pittsburgh: Throw-back Panthers play at slow pace and seldom shoot three-pointers. That might frustrate some ACC teams.
16 - Duke: As Jabari Parker hit the freshman wall, Rodney Hood continued to shoot great: .517 overall, .847 from the line, .457 from three.
17 - Michigan: Since Mitch McGary’s season-ending injury, Wolverines have gone 7-0, making John Beilein candidate for national coach of the year honors. Why should this year be any different?
18 - Ohio State: Buckeyes take three-game losing streak into Lincoln, Neb., tonight.
19 - Iowa State: Cyclones try to end three-game losing streak Saturday in Hilton Coliseum against Kansas State.
20 - Massachusetts: Year of living dangerously continues. Minutemen have average margin of victory of five points during active six-game losing streak.
21 - St. Louis: Billikens doing it all without a single player from the state of Missouri on the roster.
22 - Memphis: Ten-point home loss to UConn not the Tigers’ finest two hours.
23 - Kansas State: Since taking over for departed Frank Martin, Bruce Weber has a 20-2 record against Big 12 schools located outside the state of Kansas.
24 - Oklahoma: The only coach ever to lead five different schools to the NCAA Tournament, Kruger has Sooners on course for second consecutive tourney appearance.
25 - UCLA: Bruins lost at Utah despite monster game from 6-foot-9, 230-pound sharp-shooter Kyle Anderson (28 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, 5 for 5 three-point shooting).
In the wake of impressive victories at Oklahoma and in Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas State, Kansas moved up three spots to No. 15 in the weekly Associated Press college basketball poll, released Monday.
Still, KU is no better than fourth among five ranked Big 12 schools, standing behind No. 8 Iowa State, No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Baylor. Kansas State, ranked No. 25 last week, dropped out of the rankings and was replaced by Oklahoma, which is tied with UCLA for the last spot. So 60 percent of the Big 12 schools have been ranked in the past two weeks.
The AP top 25 , with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 12, 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 - Arizona (61) 17-0 1,621 1
2 - Syracuse (4) 16-0 1,560 2
3 - Wisconsin 16-0 1,482 4
4 - Michigan St. 15-1 1,442 5
5 - Wichita St. 17-0 1,300 6
6 - Villanova 15-1 1,289 8
7 - Florida 13-2 1,205 10
8 - Iowa St. 14-1 1,048 9
9 - Oklahoma St. 14-2 1,046 11
10 - San Diego St. 14-1 1,020 13
11 - Ohio St. 15-2 979 3
12 - Baylor 13-2 952 7
13 - Kentucky 12-3 912 14
14 - Iowa 14-3 831 20
15 - Kansas 11-4 686 18
16 - UMass 14-1 579 19
17 - Memphis 12-3 536 24
18 - Louisville 14-3 525 12
19 - Cincinnati 15-2 405 NR
20 - Creighton 14-2 329 NR
21 - Colorado 14-3 328 15
22 - Pittsburgh 15-1 299 NR
23 - Duke 12-4 193 16
24 - Saint Louis 15-2 148 NR
25t - Oklahoma 13-3 103 NR
25t - UCLA 13-3 103 NR
Others receiving votes: Missouri 42, Oregon 39, UConn 35, Kansas St. 25, Gonzaga 17, Michigan 11, California 10, Virginia 6, Louisiana Tech 5, Harvard 3, Illinois 3, New Mexico 3, Xavier 3, George Washington 2.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Arizona: Nation’s best defensive team joined in unbeaten ranks only by Syracuse, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
2 - Syracuse: Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis and his brother Dylan, a sophomore for Villanova, average a combined 20.1428 points per game, which makes them the second-leading Canandian brother tandem in Division I. Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Nick Wiggins of Wichita State combine to average 20.1875. This race will go down to the wire.
3 - Wisconsin: The Badgers have logged double-digit victories against quality competition by scoring as few as 48 (Virginia) points and as many as 95 (Illinois). So if the Badgers are hitting their shots, which they usually are, they’re very, very tough to beat, not matter what approach opposing teams take.
4 - Michigan State: Having a veteran point guard with as much talent as Keith Appling helps Spartans win close ones, but nagging injuries and inconsistent play elsewhere have resulted in too many close games. Playing both at home, Spartans needed overtime to defeat Ohio State and Minnesota.
5 - Wichita State: Fred VanVleet scored 11 in row for Shockers, a stretch that started late in regulation and ended late in overtime.
6 - Villanova: JayVaughn Pinkston not only knows how to draw fouls (108 free-throw attempts) he knows how make the shots (.778 from line).
7 - Florida: Excellent defensive team has underrated firepower. Five Gators, led by Casey Prather (17 ppg) average in double figures.
8 - San Diego State: Aztecs have three victories vs. Top 25 teams, none at home.
9 - Iowa: Fran McCaffery, suspended from Thursday’s blowout victory against Northwestern because of ref-aimed temper tantrum during loss to Wisconsin, returned to the bench Sunday for huge road victory vs. Ohio State. ESPN’s Andy Katz reported that the Northwestern game originally was supposed to be Fran McCaffery Bobblehead Doll Night. Iowa has moved the promotion to Jan. 19 vs. Minnesota. Normally a very thorough reporter, Katz had a gaping hole in sharing that news with viewers. He did not say whether the doll comes with a lid that flips.
McCaffery’s fiery style works with his players. Hawkeyes make 38 percent of three-point shots and 6-9 junior Aaron White is a threat to dunk on every play.
10 - Ohio State: Rough week for Buckeyes, one of the nation’s top defensive teams, but not equipped to win shootouts. Entered the week undefeated, lost in overtime in East Lansing, Mich. to Spartans and lost at home to Iowa.
11 - Iowa State: Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane have generated most of the buzz surrounding Cyclones quick start, but KU coach Bill Self cited 6-7, 240-pound sophomore Georges Niang, a three-point threet, as about as tough a matchup as there is in the Big 12. Niang averaged 15.7 points in three games against KU last season.
Kane, who injured his ankle late in the loss at Oklahoma, had a huge week, which started with him falling two rebounds and one assist short of triple-double vs. Baylor.
In two games, Kane averaged 26.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 6.5 turnovers and three steals.
12 - Oklahoma State: Shot-blocking sophomore Kamari Murphy, who played 39 minutes in one-point victory at West Virginia, has softened blow of Michael Cobbins as far as starting lineup. But Murphy gave Cowboys strong bench. Now that he’s playing full-time, team lacks a little in reserve up front.
13 - Kansas: Two games into their Big 12 schedule, Jayhawks are lone undefeated team.
14 - Baylor: Bench scored 52 points and Bears made all 21 free-throw attempts in 88-62 bounce-back victory against TCU after loss in Ames.
15 - Kentucky: Dakari Johnson, behind whom Joel Embiid sat their junior year in high school, averaging 3.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 9.6 minutes.
16 - Memphis: Huge week for Tigers with big victories at Louisville and Temple. Shaq Goodwin averaged 19 points and 9.5 boards.
17 - Cincinnati: Banking heavily on senior star Sean Kilpatrick (18.4 ppg), Bearcats riding eight-game winning streak, during which Justin Jackson has contributed two of his five double-doubles.
18 - Pittsburgh: Three games into their first ACC season, Panthers have thre double-digit victories.
19 - Louisville: Loss to Memphis and scare from SMU made for a nerve-wracking week for Cards. Mustangs pulled within four points with 49 seconds left. Amazing the progress Larry Brown has made already at SMU, both on the court and in recruiting.
20 - Colorado: Buffs nervously await results of MRI on Spencer Dinwiddie’s left knee, injured in Sunday’s 17-point loss at Washington. Tad Boyle told reporters after the game that his gut told him “not good.”
21 - Creighton: Giving hope to seniors everywhere who are busy taking care of their fathers, Doug McDermott (25 points per game, .902 from the line) leads player of the year race.
22 - Duke: Clemson hammered the Blue Devils on the board, 48-30, and in the second half outscored them 41-22 to win 72-59. Duke doesn’t defend well and might not have beefy enough personnel to significantly improve in that area.
23 - Massachusetts: Minutemen aren’t blowing out any Atlantic 10 foes, but keep winning.
24 - St. Louis: Only two losses came against teams ranked in the top five on this ballot, Wisconsin by six, and Wichita State by five. Coming off an eight-point victory at Dayton and riding a nine-game winning streak, Billikens playing in a way that would have made late great Rick Majerus proud.
25 - Oklahoma: Sooners tend to say later when it comes to playing rugged defense, but star Cameron Clark playing great in Lon Kruger’s new offense, based more on driving than in the past. Clark has a lethal mid-range pull-up jumper.
Reader Steve Zimmerman requested of KUsports.com this season's dunk stats for the Jayhawks. Here they are, Steve:
That’s a total of 53 dunks, 14 games into the season, an average of 3.8 slams per game. We’ll have periodic dunk updates as the season progresses.
KU also tracks floor burns:
1 - Selden (24)
2 - Embiid (20)
3 - Ellis (18)
4 - Mason (15)
5 - Wiggins (12)
6 - Traylor (10
7 - Naadir Tharpe (6)
8 - Black (5)
9t - Brannen Greene, White (3)
11t - Lucas, Justin Wesley (1)
Bob Allison, a football and baseball standout for Kansas University, earned American League Rookie of the Year honors in 1959 with the Washington Senators when he produced nine triples and 30 home runs, 83 runs and 85 RBI. He didn’t have a Baseball Hall of Fame career, but he did deserve to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. It doesn’t take much. Ray Durham, Jacque and Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexon and Mike Timlin.
Allison, a three-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 in the AL on-base plus slugging percentage five times and in the top 10 in home runs eight times in walks seven times and stolen bases twice.
This year’s Hall of Fame voting results will be released at 1 p.m. today. Ballots are tougher than ever to fill out, thanks to the guessing game involving steroids. The ballot’s not a court of law, so the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not apply. Voters use their own standards, which is appropriate since each ballot is one voter’s opinion.
Ken Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for MLB.com, said he will not vote for any players who played in what has become known as the steroid era, even Greg Maddux, never suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs. Others disregard the doping factor entirely. I disagree with both stances.
Here’s how I handle steroids: When covering baseball, I used to have off-the-record chats with players I knew best about steroids and asked them which players they thought were juicing, which they thought were clean.
“They don’t all look like Mark McGwire, you know,” one player told me. “It changes every body in a different way.”
Asked for an example of a player who didn’t look like Michelin Man that he thought was juicing, he named Rafael Palmeiro, citing his sudden increase in power and other factors. I had no doubt Palmeiro was lying when he told Congress he had never done steroids, period. You couldn’t write anything concrete about a player doing ‘roids without proof, so I at times would use euphemisms such as “modern muscles,” an inconclusive term from which the reader could infer whatever he or she chose. Not an ideal approach, but better than ignoring the corruption of baseball statistics.
Writers who cover a baseball team on a daily basis, home and away, also are good sources to tap when seeking information to make a more educated guess on a player.
If I have a strong belief that a player juiced, I deflate his numbers accordingly, but don’t remove him from contention. If I think, but am not convinced a player cheated, I deflate the numbers to a lesser degree.
Is it a perfect system? No. Perfection is impossible in this case. But it’s better than completely turning a blind eye to the whole thing and better than going the high-and-mighty route and stoning all the sinners during an era when more than half the hitters and a number of pitchers were cheating.
Voters are allowed to check anywhere from zero to 10 names. For the first time in my 19 years as a voter, I checked 10 names. My ballot:
Rather than simply trashing my choices — or after trashing mine — I'd like to hear what names you would have checked.
For the fifth year in a row, Kansas University sat out the college football bowl season, which coincides with coach hiring/firing season. However, many making headlines during the past month of festive football games and optimism-filled, introductory news conferences for coaches had ties to KU football.
Mark Mangino: Now that the former KU head coach has moved from Youngstown State to Iowa State, Oklahoma State is the only current Big 12 school that was part of the Big Eight when Mangino first worked in the conference for Kansas State that has not employed him. The Cyclones’ new offensive coordinator does have orange in his background, however, having won the 2008 Orange Bowl.
John Reagan: Offensive line coach at KU under Mangino, Reagan left his post at Rice after coordinating the Owls’ offense in a 41-24 victory against Marshall in the Conference USA championship game to return to KU. He was not on hand to try to help the overmatched Owls in a 44-7 loss to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.
Charlie Strong: Coming off a 12-1 season capped by a 36-9 demolition of Miami (Fla.), the Louisville coach takes over for ousted Mack Brown at Texas. It wasn’t the first time he interviewed for a Big 12 job. Strong, then an assistant at South Carolina, was one of three candidates to have an in-person interview with then-KU athletic director Al Bohl, according to a former KU athletic department official. The Dec. 1, 2001 interview took place in Bohl’s home, later noted for Bohl’s dramatic “crushed me like a dove” driveway press conference in which the AD fingered basketball coach Roy Williams for his tenure ending. Strong and wife Vicki flew in and out of KCI the same day the interview took place.
Mark Dantonio: The Michigan State head coach had the season of his life, leading the Spartans to a No. 3 national ranking, a 13-1 record and a Rose Bowl championship earned in a 24-20 victory against rugged Stanford. A look at Dantonio’s resume might lead most to the conclusion that after four seasons as secondary coach under Glen Mason at Kansas (1991-94), Dantonio left for Michigan State because it had a better football program. Not so, according to multiple former KU staffers who say Mason showed Dantonio the door, opening an opportunity for him to work on Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State.
J.B. Grimes: Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn took Grimes with him from Arkansas State to coach the offensive line. Auburn led the nation in rushing with Grimes, O-line coach at Kansas for Turner Gill’s two seasons, instructing the blockers.
Geneo Grissom: The former Hutch High defensive end turned teammate Eric Striker’s sack-fumble into a touchdown during No. 6 Oklahoma’s 45-31 upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Grissom, who has one season of eligibility remaining, also had two sacks of his own.
Grissom had made a verbal commitment to Kansas. After Mangino was fired, Grissom let it be known he would honor his commitment as long as linebackers coach Bill Miller was retained by the next staff. Miller was sent packing and Grissom signed with Oklahoma. Grissom started his OU career as a defensive end, was switched to tight end, then back to his original position. With the amazing hands he showed on a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Texas, it looks as if he might have been a good tight end too.
Tom Hayes: Defensive coordinator for Kansas State, winner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which is played not in Buffalo, rather in Tempe, Ariz. Hayes was KU’s defensive coordinator/secondary coach in 2001, when he took over as interim head coach for three games after Terry Allen was fired. Hayes interviewed for the head coaching job in Bohl’s home. During that interview, Bohl twice excused himself to take calls he received on his cell phone, according to former KU officials, who said they later learned those calls were from Mangino.