The Game of the Week – even for those who don’t reside in Gainesville, FL, or Tucson, AZ – takes place out west Saturday night.

The unbeaten Florida Gators and Arizona Wildcats, who have clearly established themselves as the favorites to bag the Southeastern and Pac 12 conferences, respectively, hook up in Tucson.

It could be the most watched/DVR’d game of November and December . . . although Kentucky at Louisville two weeks later will give it a run for its ratings, of course.

As for any remaining doubt about the deepest conference in America: Does anyone else think there could be as many as six (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota) Big 10 representatives still alive in the NCAA Tournament during the Sweet?

Rank (Last Week)
1. Indiana (1)
The Hoosiers hit the “road” (sort of, the game will be in Indianapolis) when they take on Butler Saturday in a battle between the top-two finishers in the Cody Zeller derby two years ago.
2. Michigan (2)
This projection could be a bit hasty, of course, but here’s saying that the Wolverines will be 15-0 when they visit Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 13.
3. Syracuse (3)
I feel even more confidence suggesting that the Orange will take a 17-0 record into its Jan. 19 Big East game at Louisville.
4. Duke (4)
The Blue Devils have already beaten six teams with reasonable to very good chances of being in the NCAA Tournament field of 68.
5. Louisville (5)
In a game played in Memphis on Saturday the host Tigers can regain some of their national pizzazz while the Cardinals can prove they can beat talented squads on the road while center Gurgui Dieng heals.
6. Florida (6)
Erik Murphy defining what “skill” means in terms of “skilled 4 man”.
7. Ohio State (7)
Three more “tune-ups”, of sort, before playing host to Kansas on Dec. 22.
8. Arizona (9)
Wildcats can get into serious “possible Final Four teams” discussions with a strong performance vs. Florida Saturday in Tucson.
9. Illinois (10)
OK, anyone still doubt how good the Illini are right now?
10. Georgetown (11)
Last four opponents have averaged 41.8 points per game . . . of course, the Hoyas have averaged just 54.8 ppg in that stretch.
11. Kansas (12)
The Jayhawks had the weekend’s most impressive victory before Illinois did some serious work in Spokane later Saturday evening.
12. Cincinnati (13)
Who imagined that the Dec. 27 game between Bearcats and New Mexico could involve a couple of unbeatens?
13. Gonzaga (8)
The Bulldogs aren’t going to be the last very good team beaten on its home court this season by Illinois.
14. Oklahoma State (14)
The Cowboys’ New Years’ Eve tilt with Gonzaga will have a lot of NBA decision makers keenly interested.
15. New Mexico (16)

Repeat after me: “The MWC (a combined 61-16) is nails right now!”

16. Wichita State (NR)
Shockers’ unbeaten mark gets its toughest test Thursday night in Knoxville.

On the cusp: (listed in random order) Minnesota 10-1, Virginia Tech 7-1, Connecticut 7-2, Pittsburgh 9-1, Creighton 9-1, San Diego State 7-1, Notre Dame 8-1, North Carolina State 6-2, Marquette 6-2, North Carolina 7-2, UNLV 7-1, Murray State 7-1, Michigan State 8-2, Wyoming 10-0, Colorado 7-2 and Missouri 8-1.


TEAMS: Illinois (went 2-0, with the second of those victories – by 11 points over previously undefeated Gonzaga in Spokane – the eye catcher); Florida (set stage for this week’s game at unbeaten Arizona with 25-point shellacking of Florida State in Tallahassee); Kansas (whipped former Big 12 member Colorado by 36 points Saturday in Lawrence); Duke (knocked off previously unbeaten Temple by 23 points in Durham Saturday) and Wyoming (remained unbeaten by coming from down 14 points at intermission to win by 14 at Illinois State).

PLAYERS: Brandon Paul (Illinois). The senior guard scored 35 points in the Illini victory at Gonzaga, hitting 10 of 16 from the field (including five of nine behind the arc), 10 of 11 from the free-throw line to go with four rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots. Jordan Bachynski (Arizona State). The 7-foot-2, 23-year-old junior center had a triple double – 13 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocked shots – during a Saturday win over Cal State Northridge that improved the Sun Devils to 8-1. Richard Howell (North Carolina State). The senior post averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game in wins over Connecticut and Cleveland State. Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse). The sophomore point guard averaged 13.7 points, 12.3 assists and 3.7 steals during three lopsided victories. Ben McLemore (Kansas). The sophomore wing, ineligible as a freshman, scored 24 points with four rebounds and three assists in the impressive win over Colorado.

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]



  1. No love?
    The fact that Kansas is a joke they demolished a pretty solid Colorado team over the weekend…they have the best shot blocker in the country as well as quite possibility this best 2 guard. This team will make it to the final four an win their 9th big 12 title along the way. Just a joke to put them this low

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