Player of the Week

Zach Norvell – G – Gonzaga

The 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman guard is beginning to see increased minutes and production. The Chicago product began his week by getting 28 minutes in a convincing win against Incarnate Word, scoring 17 on 7-10 shooting and adding 4 rebounds and 5 assists.

Against Creighton, he did more of the same, scoring 21 points on 7-13 shooting in a big 91-74 win over a ranked team. It was impressive to see him do so well against a good team and not just the Incarnate Words of college basketball.

This is why the Villanova game was so key for Norvell. Despite losing 88-72 to what some consider the best team in the nation at the moment, Norvell was once again hot, this time scoring 22 on 8-12 shooting under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

In addition to his hot shooting, he was able to get 5 steals over the three games and a few rebounds each time. If he can continue to earn playing time by scoring the ball, hopefully he will be able to develop other skills that will make him an elite prospect.

Who’s Hot

Chandler Hutchison – G – Boise State

The 6’7 senior guard has led the Broncos to an 8-1 start. Their biggest win of the season, a 73-70 win against Oregon, was spearheaded by Hutchison. He had 20 points on 6-16 shooting and 7-10 from the line. He also made one of two three-point attempts. Adding 10 rebounds and 3 assists certainly did not hurt his cause.

One of the better performances of the year came against Portland in a 77-54 victory. On 9-16 shooting, Hutchison recorded a triple double. 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He also added two steals.

One thing he should look out for is his turnovers. With 8 against Portland, he was almost looking at the rare turnover quadruple double.

Devontae Cacok – F – UNC Wilmington

The 2-4 Seahawks played only one game this past week, and it was a 93-88 OT loss to ECU, but Cacok had what is very likely his best collegiate performance to date. In 37 minutes, he shot 16-19 from the field and 3-5 from the line on the way to scoring 35 points.

The 6’7 junior who is leading the nation in rebounds per game added 12 of them to go with 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 0 turnovers. That level of performance will always get looks from scouts, and if he can continue to dominate, he will be on teams’ radars despite being an undersized forward.

Who’s Not

Terry Larrier – G – UConn

The junior guard’s shooting has been somewhat inconsistent this season, and he has not been on the mark as of late. He shot 3-11 against Columbia, good for 8 points to go with 4 turnovers in the 77-73 OT victory. It is worth noting that he reeled in 14 rebounds, however.

He contributed a solid performance in yet another OT game, an 84-81 win over Monmouth. He shot 5-14 to score 16 points, adding 8 rebounds and 4 steals to only one turnover.

Last night, in a losing effort against Syracuse, he shot 4-11 for 14 points and 4 turnovers. If UConn wants to be a good team, they will need more efficient and consistent scoring from Larrier.

Saint Louis Billikens (3-4, 0-0)

After a promising 3-0 start, the Billikens have really struggled lately. They were easily handled by Providence in a 90-63 defeat. They then lost by two to a very average Detroit Mercy team. Western Mich beat them 65-51, and Butler won 75-45.

Saint Louis has one player, Javon Bess, averaging in double figures at 15 a game. Jordan Goodwin still cannot figure out how to score the ball, and Hasahn French has been fine, but not impressive enough to make significant contributions to what appears to be one of the worst offenses in the country.

Mid Major Power Rankings

1) Wichita State Shockers (7-1, 0-0)

The Shockers have been impressive ever since their loss to Notre Dame. A 69-62 road win against Baylor, ranked 16 at the time, will certainly reflect well on them come March. They beat an underrated South Dakota State team by a score of 95-85.

Conner Frankamp has finally found his stroke, which was much needed for this offense that was lacking perimeter production. Against Baylor, Frankamp was 5-8 from deep and scored 17 points. He followed that up by scoring 16 points on 5-10 shooting, 3-6 from deep. He had 0 turnovers in both games. He has also yet to miss a free throw on the season, albeit a very low sample size.

Landry Shamet was big against South Dakota State, scoring 21 points on 8-13, including 4-8 from three. He added 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals. If the backcourt of Shamet and Frankamp are playing well with the deep frontcourt, this is one of the best teams in all of college basketball.

2) Gonzaga Bulldogs (7-2, 0-0)

Gonzaga has had one of the tougher schedules thus far, as they followed up games against Florida and Texas last week with a 91-74 win over ranked Creighton, and an 88-72 loss to Villanova, one of the best teams nationwide.

Josh Perkins has cooled off after a fantastic week, taking only two shots against Creighton and missing both. Against Villanova, he was 4-13, including 1-7 from deep. With that said, he still found a way to score 16 points to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Bulldogs are still determining their identity, as they lost many key players from last year. This a very talented roster, that should be making a deep run come March.

3) Cincinnati Bearcats (7-1, 0-0)

Cincinnati finally played a good team, and they did not appear to be ready for it. On the road against Xavier, they lost 89-76. Their vaunted defense had a difficult time stopping a team with a legitimate offense.

Xavier shot an unsustainable clip from three, 10-21, but regardless, there are concerns for this team. Who scores the ball outside of Gary Clark, Jarron Cumberland and Jacob Evans? If they cannot find bench production, this is exactly the type of team that looks good all season beating up on bad teams and will lose in the first round of the tournament.

Hosting Florida this Saturday will be another good test for this team, and one that they will need to do well on to keep spirits high amongst the team.

4) Nevada Wolfpack (8-1, 0-0)

The Wolfpack have continued to impress, earning the #22 ranking in the country. An overtime loss on the road to Texas Tech will likely lose their spot, but regardless, the team should be feeling very optimistic about this season.

They are still waiting for double digit scoring outside of their big three of the Martin twins (Caleb Martin and Cody Martin) and Jordan Caroline, but the team looks very good. A Friday meeting with ranked TCU will be a great test.

5) Saint Mary’s Gaels (7-2, 0-0)

Saint Mary’s was able to get back on track behind the performances of Jock Landale. He recorded career highs of 37 points and 18 rebounds against Sacramento State. The Gaels are still looking for depth, like many of these mid majors, but seem to be back on track.

Their schedule appears to be relatively easy for the foreseeable future, so they will hopefully continue to gel as a team and be ready for conference play.

6) SMU Mustangs (7-3, 0-0)

SMU is coming off a big week, in which they were able to defeat #14 USC by a score of 72-55. They followed that up with a 94-83 road loss to TCU. Freshman Ethan Chargois has been very consistent, including a 21-point game against TCU.

One of the tougher schedules to this point, SMU has been tested early. They have responded well, however, with some very impressive wins that will look good in the eyes of the selection committee. Now that they have boosted their resume, it is time for them to continue beating teams that they should, and play well in conference.

7) Valparaiso Crusaders (8-0, 0-0)

The Crusaders have not played since last power rankings, but remain here due to their undefeated record. Not much can be said until they play #21 Purdue tomorrow, in their first true test of the season.

8) Boise State Broncos (8-1, 0-0)

The Broncos have looked impressive thus far, with an impressive win against Oregon to get them into the rankings. Chandler Hutchison has been great, averaging 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4.5 assists. If not for him getting injured against Iowa State after playing 8 minutes, we could be looking at an undefeated team here.

Boise State’s schedule remains relatively easy until a December 18 matchup with SMU. I am very interested to see that game, as it will be a great test for two mid majors that are off to great starts.

9) Rhode Island Rams (5-2, 0-0)

The best team in the A-10 got yet another big win, with a 75-68 win over Providence. A big game against Alabama tonight will help place this team a little better in the rankings. If they can continue to beat tournament-caliber teams, they will find themselves seeded well come March.

The Rams have yet to win on the road (excluding neutral site), so a win tonight against Collin Sexton and the Crimson Tide would be a fantastic morale booster.

10) UNLV Running Rebels (7-2, 0-0)

UNLV finally played some real teams, and paid the price for it. They lost by a score of 77-68 to UNI, and 91-88 to Arizona. With that being said, their top players have still been performing at a high level.

In the overtime loss against Arizona, Brandon McCoy had his best game yet as a collegiate player. On 13-17 shooting, the 7’1 Center scored 33 points to go with 10 rebounds. I was very impressed with how he matched up against top prospect [DeAndre Ayton]. UNLV can easily win their conference if they continue to play at this high of a level.

The Top Five Upcoming Tests

1)    Cincinnati vs #5 Florida 12/9

Cincinnati did not play well on the road against Xavier, leading to questions about how good they truly are. A game against Florida at home will provide them with a chance to prove they are good.

2)    Nevada @ #20 TCU 12/8

This would give the Wolf Pack a huge chance to get a big out-of-conference road win against a ranked team. I am excited to see how they play.

3)    Valparaiso @ #21 Purdue 12/7

The undefeated Crusaders will get a real test against the Boilermakers, and hopefully they come prepared off a week of rest.

4)    VCU @ #19 Seton Hall 12/9

VCU can match their conference rivals, Rhode Island, with a win over Seton Hall. This would be great for the A-10 and very bad for Seton Hall. Should be an interesting game.

5)    Illinois @ UNLV 12/9

While neither team is ranked, both have tournament aspirations. This would be a big win for both teams. I expect both to play hard and for the fans to see a close one.

Freshman Spotlight

Ethan Chargois – F – SMU

The 6’9 freshman forward from Tulsa, OK has been off to a fantastic start for the 7-3 Mustangs. In just over 20 minutes a game, he is shooting 56% from the field to score 13 points a game. He also adds 5 rebounds. On 3.5 3PA a game, he is at 43%, which is very impressive and good to see. He is able to score from a number of places on the floor.

It is never easy for a freshman to step into a good team, but he has made the transition look relatively smooth. His minutes and production have increased as of late, and it appears as though he will continue to put up good numbers for the team.