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Monday is a “Big Night” in the overall scheme of things, Big 12 Conference basketball-wise, with Oklahoma State at Baylor and Iowa State at Oklahoma.

On tonight, that nightly (or daily) game of “Is this the game Kentucky stumbles and suffers its first loss?” resumes when the Wildcats of Coach John Calipari are in Baton Rouge to face LSU.

The Tigers have a pair of posts (in sophomores Jordan Mickey and Jarrell Martin) who probably the most equipped with their Kentucky counterparts better than anyone in the country.

There are a couple of nifty ACC games on Wednesday (No. 4 Virginia at North Carolina State; and, No. 3 Duke at home against Pittsburgh) and a Big Ten clash (Indiana at Maryland) of note, too.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
Record
Comment
1. Kentucky (1)
23-0
The Wildcats’ depth has taken a couple of major hits (via the loss of Alex Poythress, for the season due to knee injury, and Trey Lyles, for the past three games due to undisclosed illness). But they keep right on ticking, don’t they?
2. Gonzaga (2)
24-1
Kyle Wiltjer (25.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in WCC wins at Santa Clara and the University of San Francisco last week) is likely the most offensively skilled “4 man” in college basketball.
3. Duke (3)
20-3
The Blue Devils’ freshman center — and yeah, best player, too – Jahlil Okafor may force defenses to change their game plan to stop him than does any other player in the country.
4. Virginia (4)
21-1
The loss of junior wing Justin Anderson could impact the team in both on-court performance and tournament seeding if his availability is in doubt when the NCAA brackets are unveiled on March 15.
5. Wisconsin (6)
21-2
The Badgers are “run, run, run, running away” from the Big Ten Conference field.
6. Villanova (7)
21-2
The Wildcats have some serious Big East Conference road work to handle this week.
7. Louisville (9)
19-4
Rick Pitino and his players are quite equipped to speak on the topic of “the two best defenses in the country”.
8. Arizona (5)
20-3
The Wildcats’ defense got sliced up pretty good (81 points and 50 percent shooting from the field) in Tempe Saturday.
9. Notre Dame (8)
21-4
Yeah, I guess it was quite obvious that Duke was focused on “sealing the deal” in Durham after the fate that befell the Blue Devils in South Bend.
10. Utah (13)
18-4
The Utes are back into a tie for first place in the Pac 12 Conference, courtesy of Arizona State’s topping of Arizona in Tempe Saturday.
11. Kansas (10)
19-4
Just when you’re beginning to be convinced that the Jayhawks have “turned the corner” to clear “best team in the Big 12 status” they see an 11-point advantage at intermission in Stillwater dissipate into a loss.
12. Iowa State (12)
17-5
The Cyclones hit .500 for their Big 12 week in expected fashion – a loss in Lawrence and a win in Ames against Texas Tech.
13. Northern Iowa (14)
22-2
The Panthers have allowed as much as 60 points just once during their 11-game winning streak.
14. North Carolina (15)
18-6
This program – and the world as a whole – lost one of the sport’s truly great coaches Sunday. And Dean Smith’s magnitude of greatness extended well beyond gymnasiums.
15. Wichita State (NR)
21-3
There are only five Missouri Valley Conference games to play for the Shockers before Northern Iowa is in town on Feb. 28.
16. Arkansas (NR)
18-5
The Razorbacks are as worthy as any to carry the tag “the second best team in the Southeastern Conference”.

ON THE CUSP: Baylor 18-5, Butler 18-6, Indiana 17-7, Iowa 15-8, Maryland 19-6, Murray State 21-4, Ohio State 18-6, Oklahoma 16-7, Providence 17-7, Purdue 15-9, SMU 19-5, Stephen F. Austin 19-3, Valparaiso 22-4, Virginia Commonwealth 18-5, West Virginia 18-5 and Wyoming 19-5.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (Feb. 2-8)

Rico Gathers (Baylor): The 280-pound junior averaged 15.5 points 16.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in the Bears’ Big 12 wins over TCU and West Virginia.

London Perrantes (Virginia): The sophomore point guard averaged 9.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.0 steals and only 1.5 turnovers as the Cavaliers knocked off Power 16 ranked ACC foes North Carolina and Louisville.

D'Angelo Russell (Ohio State): A leading candidate for National Freshman and Player of the Year kept up his scintillating play while averaging 21.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.5 steals and only 2.5 turnovers as the Buckeyes split a pair of Big Ten Conference road affairs.

James Webb III (Boise State): the 6-9 sophomore averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds as the Broncos bagged MWC wins against Utah State (in Logan) and San Diego State (at home).

Joseph Young (Oregon): The senior guard (who landed in Eugene via a transfer from his hometown University of Houston) sizzled in Pac 12 victories over Washington and Washington State, averaging 30.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists – with just two turnovers in a cumulative 74 minutes as well.

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]

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