Rank (Last Week)
1. Ohio State (1)
One of two “Final Four-like” matchups this week takes place Tuesday night when the Duke Blue Devils are in Columbus. Keys to the outcome: 1. How well the Plumlees (Miles and Mason) and Ryan Kelly can contain Jared Sullinger; 2. How well the Buckeyes can check the Blue Devils’ plethora of perimeter threats.
2. Kentucky (3)
It’s safe to assume that the visiting North Carolina Tar Heels are not going to be focused on trying to “slow down the Wildcats” when the teams meet in Lexington on Saturday in a rematch, of sorts (Kentucky returns three players who totaled 30 points in the game, UNC five who scored 61), of the East Regional Final in New Jersey last spring, 76-69. Why? Because they want to play every bit as fast on offensive as do the Wildcats. John Calipari’s Wildcats play host to Saint John’s Thursday, as well, while the Tar Heels face unbeaten Wisconsin Wednesday in the Dean Smith Center.
3. Duke (5)
The Blue Devils demonstrated plenty of grit and just as much depth during their stay in Lahaina last week, especially in the victories over Michigan and Kansas in the Maui Invitational. It was quite the three-game stretch for junior posts Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly.
4. Syracuse (6)
The Orange plays host to Eastern Michigan (coached by former Syracuse assistant Rob Murphy) and No. 10 Florida on Friday. How does the team stay focused in the face of the storm that is the Bernie Fine controversy?
5. North Carolina (2)
Was that 80-70 loss in Las Vegas Saturday night an “early-season aberration” for what many believe is the most gifted team in the country? Games against unbeatens Wisconsin (Wednesday night in Chapel Hill) and Kentucky (Saturday in Lexington) offer the Tar Heels the opportunity to prove that to be the case.
6. Connecticut (4)
The team suffered a stunning loss to Central Florida on Friday before the Huskies wrapped up their stay in the Bahamas with an overtime win over Florida State. Freshman Andre Drummond had 34 points, 24 rebounds and 12 blocked shots over the three games.
7. Michigan (7)
The Wolverines demonstrated in Lahaina that they are Top 10-worthy with wins over Memphis and UCLA sandwiched around a seven-point loss to Duke. The game at Virginia Tuesday should be among best of ACC/Big Ten matchups.
8. Baylor (9)
Prairie View A&M is the team that will have to face Perry Jones III in his sophomore season debut Monday.
9. Gonzaga (11)
More reasons why the Bulldogs’ RPI is going to be so impressive – Mark Few’s team has games with Notre Dame (Wednesday in Spokane) and Illinois (Saturday in Champaign).
10. Florida (12)
The Gators’ guards should present an interesting challenge for Syracuse’s zone defense Saturday.
11. Louisville (13)
Monday night the Cardinals will attempt to avoid being the second Big East Conference upset victim of Long Beach State (which won at Pittsburgh on Nov. 16).
12. Vanderbilt (14)
Monday’s night’s best matchup – No. 13 at No. 12 Vanderbilt.
13. Xavier (15)
With what Saint Louis has been doing, the Musketeers can remind everyone why they – and not the Billikens – were projected to be the best team in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
14.Creighton (16)
The Blue Jays are at San Diego State (7-1 with wins over Long Beach State, Arizona and UC Santa Barbara) Wednesday night in what will definitely be their most significant challenge of the season so far.
15. UNLV (NR)

Just in case you think Coach Dave Rice’s team will be “flat” after its win over North Carolina when it plays at UC Santa Barbara Wednesday, consider this: The Gauchos won at UNLV a year ago.

16. Kansas (NR)
During Maui games with Kentucky and Duke, the Jayhawks demonstrated that any “slippage” isn’t as significant as many assumed it would be.

On the cusp: Missouri (6-0), Saint Louis (6-0), Harvard (6-0), Marquette (5-0), Alabama (7-0), Georgetown (4-1), California (5-1), Mississippi State (7-1), San Diego State (7-1), Wisconsin (6-0) and Memphis (2-2).

Top performances of Nov. 21-27

TEAMS: UNLV (shocked North Carolina), Duke (won the Maui Invitational), Syracuse (beat Virginia Tech and Stanford during the NIT Season Tipoff in Madison Square Garden), Harvard (won the Battle for Atlantis championship in the Bahamas), Saint Louis (won the 76 Classic in Anaheim) and Dayton (captured the Old Spice Classic in Orlando).

PLAYERS: Chace Stanback and Mike Moser (UNLV), Ryan Kelly (Duke), Kris Joseph (Syracuse), Brian Conklin (Saint Louis), Keith Wright (Harvard) and Kevin Dillard (Dayton).

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 College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]


1 Comment

  1. Brian Conklin

    I met some members of his family on my trip to Oregon, and word is that the Ducks had a definite chance that we blew with a coach who shall remain nameless not offering him. He has been absolutely fantastic for St. Louis this year, definitely one of the better early seasons in college basketball. Plus, fellow Oregonian Mike Moser (another one the Ducks let get away) has been killing it at UNLV. Think Ben Howland wouldn’t love to have that guy right now? 

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