There are just a couple of weeks of regular-season play remaining in the “Power Conferences” before conference tournament action gets underway.

And there are some scintillating conference showdowns on tap this week.

The most notable of those is Wednesday in Cincinnati, when Villanova – still top-ranked in the Power 16 – takes on No. 4 Xavier in a Big East showdown.

When the teams met in Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve the only “show” was the  one the host Wildcats provided in handing Xavier its first loss by a 31-point margin.

Virginia (up to No. 5 from 9 last week) has two spotlight ACC clashes, going into Miami Monday and then playing host to the No. 7 (down from 3 last week) North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday.

No. 2 Kansas will try to maintain its Big 12 lead when it travels to Waco for a Tuesday night game against a Baylor club that trails the Jayhawks by two games for the conference lead.

Arizona and Oregon share the Pac 12 lead (at 10-4) and both face crucial games this week. The No. 6 Wildcats are at Colorado on Wednesday night and then in Salt Lake City on Saturday to take on No. 14 Utah (a half-game behind Arizona and Oregon). Oregon is home in Eugene for games with Washington State (Wednesday) and Washington (Sunday).

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Villanova (1)
The Wildcats haven’t defeated anyone by less than double figures during their seven-game winning streak.
2. Kansas (2)
Two-game lead for Big 12 top spot with four to go.
3. Michigan St. (4)
Spartans need sweep of final four regular-season games to stay in Big Ten title hunt.
4. Xavier (5)
A whole lot of potentially nice things are on the line for the Musketeers Wednesday night in Cincinnati.
5. Virginia (9)
They are all “big”, of course, but with games at Miami (Monday) and home to North Carolina (Saturday), this is a big week relative to the Cavaliers’ ACC title hopes.
6. Arizona (10)
Six in a row for the Wildcats as they go into Colorado and Utah this week.
7. North Carolina (3)
If the Tar Heels lose the ACC regular-season crown there is a logical loss to point to as the probable culprit.
8. Maryland (6)
The Terps need Melo Trimble to shake out of his slump.
9. Iowa (7)
The loss at Penn State put a jolt in Hawkeyes’ Big Ten title aspirations.
10. Oklahoma (8)
That win in Morgantown was “much needed” – and then some.
11. Kentucky (11)
OK, we can all agree now that the Wildcats will go as deep into the NCAA Tournament as their terrific group of guards can carry them.
12. Indiana (NR)
Folks were calling for Tom Crean’s head not so long ago, right? Now the Hoosiers are atop the Big Ten standings.
13. Louisville (NR)
The Cardinals are not going to be in the NCAA tournament but they are knocking off teams that will be.
14. Utah (NR)
That was a huge sweep in SoCal and now the Utes control their own “Pac 12 championship destiny”.
15. Duke (16)
Is it possible for a Blue Devils’ game to not go down to the wire this season?
16. Texas A&M (NR)
With wins over Mississippi and Kentucky the Aggies snapped a four-game SEC losing streak in much-needed fashion.

ON THE CUSP: Alabama-Birmingham 22-5, Arkansas-Little Rock 24-3, Baylor 20-7, Cal 19-8, Cincinnati 20-8, Dayton 21-5, Miami-Fla. 21-5, Monmouth 23-6, Oregon 21-6, San Diego State 20-7, SMU 22-4, St. Joseph’s 22-5, Saint Mary’s 22-4, SMU 22-4, VCU 20-7, West Virginia 20-7 and Wichita State 21-7.


*Josh Adams (Wyoming): Adams hit nine 3s while scoring 37 points in a MWC win at Colorado State on Saturday. For the week (including a home loss to Fresno State) he averaged 26.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 4.0 steals.

*Damion Lee (Louisville): The 6-6 transfer from Drexel averaged 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals as the Cardinals scored ACC wins over Syracuse and Duke.

*Johnathan Motley (Baylor): The 6-9 sophomore hit 22 of 30 shots from the floor in Big 12 wins over Texas and Iowa State while averaging 25.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots.

*Jakob Poeltl (Utah): The best center in the country hit 18 of 28 shots from the field in Southern California while averaging 22.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals in Pac 12 wins over UCLA and USC.

*Troy Williams (Indiana): The 6-7 junior forward hit 15 of 20 shots from the field while averaging 18.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals in Big Ten wins over Nebraska and Purdue.

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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