Kentucky’s freshmen are going to be a heck of a lot better, collectively, come March than they’ve been so far.
But after what happened to the Wildcats last week (losses to Notre Dame and Baylor), and what Florida did to Marquette on Thursday night, we can go ahead and agree that the Gators looked every bit like the best team in the Southeastern Conference – for the time being, at least.
And does anyone want to hazard a guess as to the collective number of NCAA Tournament at-large bids that will be doled out to the Big Ten, Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences?
I’d think 18 to 20ish is a reasonable projection. And that might prove to be on the low side, actually.
Rank (Last Week)
1. Indiana (1)
|“Point guard-types” Kevin Farrell and Jordan Hulls are combining for nearly nine assists sand not quite three turnovers per game.|
2. Michigan (2)
|The likely Saturday matchup of Trey Burke vs. B.J. Young of Arkansas should be a dandy.|
3. Syracuse (3)
|The Orange has held up quite well away from the Carrier Dome (wins in San Diego and Arkansas).|
4. Duke (4)
|If he plays the rest of the season like he has the first month, Mason Plumlee will have a first-team spot snugly secured on every All-American squad in March.|
5. Louisville (6)
|It’s never too early to eagerly anticipate another Kentucky-Louisville hook up (Dec. 29 in Louisville).|
6. Florida (9)
|The Gators play somewhere other than Gainesville for the first time on Wednesday (in Tallahassee, vs. Florida State).|
7. Ohio State (5)
|Let’s see how much the Buckeyes improve between now and their next toughie (vs. Kansas in Columbus three days before Christmas).|
|8. Gonzaga (10)|
|The last time a Gonzaga has been this impressive this early in a season was . . . never.|
9. Arizona (11)
|So much for the Wildcats getting a serious challenge during their first venture outside of Tucson (they toyed with Texas Tech in Lubbock Saturday, 85-57).|
10. Illinois (12)
|If the Illini pull out a Saturday victory over Gonzaga, can we start the “the Final Four could be all-Big Ten” conversation?|
11. Georgetown (15)
|One of these days I might lose control of myself and refer to Otto Porter as “the next Scottie Pippen”.|
12. Kansas (NR)
|One wonders – could the Jayhawks have had enough firepower to knock off Kentucky in the final last April in New Orleans if Ben McLemore had been eligible?|
13. Cincinnati (NR)
|Win over Alabama all the more impressive when you consider Bearcats hit just 39 percent from field and had four more turnovers than assists.|
14. Oklahoma State (NR)
|Is Marcus Smart playing himself out of a likely sophomore season in Stillwater?|
15. Virginia Tech (NR)
James Johnson in early contention for “Rookie Coach of the Year”.
16. New Mexico (NR)
|Kendall Williams and Tony Snell are two of the better players you may not have heard much about yet.|
On the cusp: Connecticut 6-1, Wichita State 8-0, Creighton 7-1, San Diego State 5-1, Notre Dame 7-1, North Carolina State 4-2, Pittsburgh 7-1, Minnesota 8-1, Oregon 7-1, Boise State 6-1, Colorado 6-1, Baylor 5-2, Michigan State 6-2, North Carolina 6-2, UNLV 5-1, Missouri 6-1 and Kentucky 4-3.
TOP PERFORMANCES OF NOV. 26-DEC. 2
TEAMS: Indiana (beat two opponents by a combined margin of 60 points – with one of those foes being the North Carolina Tar Heels); Duke (rallied from a double-digit deficit to knock off previously unbeaten Ohio State in Durham); Boise State (stunned Creighton by 13 points in Omaha); Florida (rolled Marquette by 33 points in Gainesville); Baylor (snapped Kentucky’s 55-game winning streak in Lexington on the first CBS national broadcast of the season Saturday, 64-55).
PLAYERS: Pierre Jackson/Baylor (the senior point guard had 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals during the upset in Lexington); Derrick Marks/Boise State (the sophomore guard from Chicago had 35 points, four rebounds and four steals to lead the toppling of Creighton); Erick Green/Virginia Tech (the senior guard had 28 points and seven rebounds as the Hokies rallied to stay unbeaten with the win over Oklahoma State); Jamaal Franklin/San Diego State (the 2011-12 Mountain West Player of the Year had 28 points and seven rebounds in the Aztecs’ victory over UCLA Saturday night in Anaheim); Mason Plumlee/Duke (the 6-11 senior scored 21 points and grabbed 17 rebounds during the victory over the Buckeyes).
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]