There is a boatload of upper-tier matchups across the country this week, among them being:
Texas at No. 14 Iowa State and Syracuse at No. 15 North Carolina (Monday), No. 12 Maryland at Ohio State (Thursday) surprising Oregon State at No. 5 Arizona (Friday), as well as No. 8 Wichita State at No. 12 Northern Iowa and UNC at No. 10 Louisville (both Saturday).
But Duke hooks up in the most high-profile whoppers of the week in Atlantic Coast Conference action – both on the road.
The No. 4 Blue Devils face No. 6 Notre Dame in South Bend on Wednesday night and they tangle with unbeaten and No. 2 Virginia Saturday in Charlottesville.
Yes, indeed – this could prove a Super Week, for college hoops.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kentucky (1)
|Even as recently as a year ago we would have suggested that a Feb. 7 venture in Gainesville will provide a compelling opportunity for the Wildcats to lose in the regular season. Not now, though – not when this group of Florida Gators is 10-9.|
2. Virginia (2)
|The Cavaliers nearly got bushwhacked by Virginia Sunday before overcoming a 10-point deficit with about 11 minutes to go in the second half in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech.|
3. Gonzaga (3)
|The Bulldogs continued their dominance of the WCC with respective 21- and 31-point home victories over Saint Mary’s (the Gaels first WCC loss) and Pacific.|
4. Duke (5)
|You might have heard this but maybe you didn’t – Coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up victory No. 1000 Sunday against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden!|
5. Arizona (6)
|The Wildcats took care of Pac 12 road business with wins against Stanford and California.|
6. Notre Dame (7)
|The Irish overcame an 18-point deficit in the first half at North Carolina State Sunday evening to hang out to a spot in this week’s Top 10.|
7. Wisconsin (8)
|The Badgers were another Top 10 squad that did some nice work on the road to pull out a victory in Ann Arbor as senior Frank Kaminsky scored eight of his 22 points in OT to knock off the Michigan Wolverines.|
8. Wichita St. (9)
|The Shockers toppled two MVC foes by an average margin of 28.5 points. The competitive should be more daunting this week.|
9. Villanova (4)
|The Wildcats got whacked around Georgetown (to the tune of a margin of 20 points) before bopping winless (in the Big East) Creighton on Sunday.|
10. Louisville (11)
|Guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones went for 43 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists in the business-like 12-point victory at Pittsburgh Sunday.|
11. Utah (12)
|The Utes have won their five Pac 12 home games by an average margin of 24.8 points.|
12. Maryland (10)
|Northwestern has just one victory in the Big 10 so far this season but darn near made it a deuce in Evanston before the Terps rallied to get out of town with a 68-67 victory.|
13. Kansas (14)
|All things considered, the Jayhawks haven’t been better this season than they were in Austin on Saturday.|
14. Iowa State (13)
|Who could have seen that loss at Lubbock coming on Saturday?|
15. North Carolina (15)
|The Tar Heels have won five in a row in the ACC. But the going (Syracuse Monday night, Louisville on Saturday and Virginia on Feb 2) is getting a lot rougher immediately.|
16. Northern Iowa (16)
|This team barely got out of Normal, IL on Sunday with its MVC winning streak (now at seven) intact.|
ON THE CUSP: Arkansas 15-4, Baylor 15-4, Colorado State 18-2, Dayton 16-3, Green Bay 17-4, Indiana 15-5, Georgetown 14-5, LSU 15-4, Miami 14-5, Ohio State 16-5, SMU 16-4, Stephen F. Austin 16-3, Texas 14-5, Virginia Commonwealth 16-3, West Virginia 16-3 and Wyoming 17-3.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (Jan. 19-25)
*Cliff Alexander (Kansas): Alexander, by way of Chicago, has slowly evolved into one of the more impressive rebounders in the country – regardless of class. The 6-8, 240-pound freshman averaged 14.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game in an average of 25 minutes off the bench in Big 12 victories over Oklahoma and Texas (the latter in Austin).
*Jerian Grant (Notre Dame): The senior guard – who of the top three candidates for POY in the ACC; you can take a stab at the other two – averaged 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 blocked shots and 2.0 steals per game to lead the Irish to road victories over Virginia Tech and North Carolina State.
*Stanley Johnson (Arizona): The freshman (from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, CA) forward hit 12 of 21 shots from the floor (including a couple of 3s) and 11 of 13 free throws while averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in the Wildcats’ road Pac 12 victories against Stanford and California.
*D'Angelo Russell (Ohio State): The 6-5 freshman guard from Louisville hit 21 of 32 shots from the field (including eight of 18 behind the arc) and averaged 27.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and just 1.0 turnovers per game during the Buckeyes’ Big Ten victories against Northwestern and Indiana.
*Joshua Smith (Georgetown): The 6-10 and 350-poundish fifth-year senior averaged 13.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals as the Hoyas picked up Big East victories against Villanova and Marquette.
Frank Burlison has been covering hoops for 30+ years for a variety of publications.
Follow Frank on twitter @FrankieBur. Also make sure to follow his website at www.burlisononbasketball.com. College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]