A couple of games that could prove to have significant impact on the races in the ACC (No. 4 Virginia at No. 15 North Carolina) and Big 12 (No. 10 Kansas playing host to No. 12 Iowa State) make up a pretty sweet TV double-header Monday night.
And Tuesday marks a home SEC contest game against the University of Georgia that is top-ranked Kentucky’s first contest since becoming the sole unbeaten in college hoops.
What? Did you expect the cheesy “And there was one (unbeaten) . . .” reference when writing about Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats? Naaaaah.
And Saturday will be tagged, no doubt, as “Super Saturday” by those shameless enough to fail to dig for something snappier about a day’s schedule that includes Kentucky at Florida; No. 9 Louisville at Virginia; and a quick rematch between No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 3 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kentucky (1)
|The Wildcats continued to play the role of the college basketball shredding machine, grinding up a couple more SEC opponents (Missouri and Alabama) by margins of 16 and 15 points, respectively.|
2. Gonzaga (3)
|The Bulldogs continued to build on their best-ever start while extending their winning streak to 15 by knocking off Portland and Memphis (outside of conference).|
3. Duke (4)
|The Blue Devils saw a second-half lead of 10 points dissipate into an ACC loss at Notre Dame before rallying from nine points down late to hand the host Virginia Cavaliers their first loss of the season.|
4. Virginia (2)
|How safe did a nine-point, second-half edge against Duke appear Saturday? Whatever degree of “safe” it might have been, it wasn’t enough to keep the Blue Devils from stunning the Cavaliers. And there’s no let up over the next 10 days or so, either: At UNC Monday night; home to Louisville on Saturday and at North Carolina State on Feb. 11.|
5. Arizona (5)
|The Wildcats appear to have bounced back nicely from whatever ailed them in mind-altering losses in Las Vegas and Corvallis.|
6. Wisconsin (7)
|Barring the unforeseen – tough to do, I know, in sports or life in general – the Badgers seem destined to win the Big 10 regular-season crown by three or four, or more, games.|
7. Villanova (9)
|The Wildcats have the opportunity to give Georgetown some comeuppance in return from the 20-point loss the Hoyas tagged on them.|
8. Notre Dame (6)
|There isn’t a lot of time – or reason – to celebrate “big wins” in the ACC as the Irish can attest. They rallied from 10 down to beat Duke in South Bend last week before falling to a Pittsburgh team that was 3-5 in conference beforehand.|
9. Louisville (10)
|Rallying from 18 down to defeat a team the caliber of UNC is a pretty good indication that this is still a team capable of pushing Virginia hard in pursuit of an ACC regular-season crown.|
10. Kansas (13)
|How “safe” is a one-game lead in a Big 12 championship race when it comes to hoops? Not very, as Bill Self will quickly acknowledge.|
11. Maryland (12)
|The “D’Angelo Russell, and not Mo Trimble, is the best freshman in the Big Ten” argument picked up a lot of heft in Columbus Thursday night.|
12. Iowa State (14)
|The Cyclones’ three losses in the 2015 portion of the 2014-15 season were suffered by a cumulative margin of 10 points.|
|Any “advantage” the Utes held over Arizona in the run for an “outright” Pac 12 regular-season title evaporated with their upset loss in Pauley Pavilion Thursday night.|
14. Northern Iowa (16) 20-2
|I’m already eagerly awaiting the rematch with the Shockers at Wichita State on Feb. 28 – and their likely MVC tournament title match the following week.|
15. North Carolina (15)
|The Tar Heels didn’t have much of a change to be dazed and confused about the one they let get away in Louisville – not with the Virginia Cavaliers in Chapel Hill Monday night.|
16. West Virginia (NR)
|Considering their first two losses (to LSU and Iowa State) were by margins of one and two points, respectively, the 27-point banger Texas hung on the Mountaineers in Austin on Jan. 17 is nearly as hard to figure as was the passing call by Seattle near the goal line Sunday night.|
ON THE CUSP: Arkansas 16-5, Butler 16-6, Dayton 17-4, Georgetown 15-6, Louisiana Tech 17-5, Ohio State 17-5, Oklahoma 14-7, Providence 16-6, San Diego State 17-5, SMU 18-4, Stephan F. Austin 18-3, Texas A&M 15-5, Tulsa 16-5, VCU 17-4, Wichita State 19-3 and Wyoming 18-4.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (Jan. 6-Feb. 1)
*Andrew Chrabascz (Butler): The sophomore forward had a career-best performance of 30 points and eight rebounds as the Bulldogs improve 6-3 in the Big East Conference with an overtime win at Marquette.
*Montrezl Harrell (Louisville): Three days after scoring 12 points with five rebounds and couple of blocked shots in a road ACC win against Boston College, the 6-8 junior post player went for 22 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals as the Cardinals rallied from 18 points in the hole in the second half to top visiting North Carolina in overtime.
*Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin): The 7-foot senior – a leading candidate to bag John R. Wooden Award hardware in April – averaged 23.0 points and 9.0 rebounds as the Badgers bagged road Big Ten wins against Michigan and Iowa.
*Monte Morris (Iowa State): The sophomore point guard rung up averages of 14.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and just 1.0 turnovers in Big 12 victories against Texas and TCU in Ames.
*Norman Powell (UCLA): Powell led the Bruins to their biggest weekend sweep of the season via Pac 12 wins in Pauley Pavilion over Utah and Colorado while averaging 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals.
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]