With the exception of Connecticut vs. No. 4 Duke (Thursday) and No. 2 Arizona at UTEP (Friday), it’s a fairly slow week for clashes involving the Power 16 squads.

Things will accelerate on Saturday, though, when top-ranked Kentucky faces UCLA and No. 11 Ohio State takes on North Carolina in a double-dip – televised by CBS – in Chicago.

And, in another Saturday doubleheader (this one in Las Vegas), No. 13 Washington takes on Oklahoma and Utah – with only narrow losses at Kansas and San Diego State – faces UNLV.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kentucky (1)
The loss of junior Alex Poythress (torn ACL) means freshman Devin Booker will get more playing time. And that means that one of the program’s two-best jump shooters (with classmate Tyler Ulis) will get more opportunity to launch from deep for the Wildcats.
2. Arizona (2)
At one time the game in Tucson against Michigan appeared to be one of the more attractive early-season contests. That was before the Wolverines lost at home to vs N.J.I.T. and Eastern Michigan.
3. Duke (3)
And it would take another eye-catching upset for the Blue Devils to not be 14-0 when they visit Raleigh for a Jan. 11 ACC game with North Carolina State.
4. Virginia (4)
Even with home games remaining with once-beaten Harvard (Sunday) and Davidson (Dec. 30) still on tap, it would take a significant upset for the Cavaliers to not be 12-0 when they open ACC play in Miami on Jan. 3.
5. Texas (5)
Stanford (Dec. 23) figures to provide the toughest test as the Longhorns close the non-conference portion of the schedule with four games in Austin before opening Big 12 play at Texas Tech on Jan. 3.
6. Gonzaga (6)
The 2-1 record against Pac 12 competition over a recent eight-day stretch was expected. The WCC schedule (beginning with Dec. 27 in Provo) will be more challenging than most outside of the region realize.
7. Wisconsin (7)
The Badgers have nine days off for finals, holiday shopping and the such before visiting Berkeley for what should be a nice showdown with (as of now) once-beaten Cal and former Tennessee head honcho Cuonzo Martin.
8. Louisville (8)
Games with Western Kentucky and Cal State Northridge shouldn’t offer major bumps in the road to the Dec. 27 showdown in Louisville with the top-ranked team from Lexington.
9. Villanova (9)
That five-point win over Michigan in Brooklyn on Nov. 25 doesn’t seem nearly as impressive now, does it?
10. Wichita St. (10)
Games with Alabama (Tuesday) and Loyola Marymount (Dec. 22) dot the schedule before the Shocker open the Missouri Valley Conference portion of their slate at Drake on New Year’s Eve.
11. Ohio State (11)
Any early-season “Top Five” Freshmen of the Year discussions must include D’Angelo Russell. In fact, let’s just throw in Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones of Duke, Stanley Johnson of Arizona and Kevon Looney of UCLA and call it a wrap.
12. Kansas (12)
Better close than sorry: Consecutive wins over Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown and Utah have come by an average margin of 4.8 points.
13. Washington (13)
It says a lot about how good Eastern Washington is this season when I say that the Huskies, after trailing by 10 points with about 11 minutes to go, scored their most impressive victory of the season Sunday night in Seattle. The Eagles’ only previous loss was at Larry Brown-coached SMU and they beat Indiana in Bloomington on Nov. 24.
14. Miami (15)
Do you want to read a mind-boggling shooting percentage? Point guard Angel Rodriguez is shooting .298 (17 of 57) from inside the 3-point arc. That’s bizarre, indeed.
15. Maryland (16)

How many times this season will I forget that the Terps are no longer in the ACC? The answer is: A bunch.

16. Iowa State
Each Cyclones starter is shooting at least .457 from the field – yep, that’s impressive.

ON THE CUSP: Arkansas 7-2, Baylor 8-1, Boise State 8-2, Cal 9-1, Colorado State 10-0, LSU 7-2, Northern Iowa 9-1, Notre Dame 10-1, Oklahoma 6-2, Oklahoma State 8-1, San Diego State 7-2, Seton Hall 8-1, St. John’s 8-1, TCU 10-0, Utah 7-2 and West Virginia 9-1.


*Zach Auguste (Notre Dame): The Irish improved to 10-1 as the 6-foot-10 junior averaged 22.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in wins over Mount St. Mary’s and Florida State – the later an ACC season-opening affair in South Bend.

*Amida Brimah (Connecticut): The 7-foot sophomore erupted for 40 points – hitting all 13 field-goal attempts and 14 of 16 free throws – while grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking three shots while on the floor for just 28 minutes of the Huskies’ 106-85 victory over Coppin State Sunday afternoon.

*Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky) The 6-11 junior is rapidly proving to be the Wildcats’ most significant player as he continued to show while averaging 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in a struggle (56-46 over Columbia after trailing much of the way) and a blowout (84-70 over North Carolina) in Lexington last week.

*Monte Morris (Iowa State): The 6-2 sophomore – the most under-appreciated exceptional point guard in the country – averaged 14.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.0 steals while committing just two turnovers and two fouls in wins over University of Missouri-Kansas City, Iowa and Southern. On the season he is averaging 5.9 assists and 0.9 turnovers.

*Tyrone Wallace (Cal): The Golden Bears improved to a surprising 9-1 under Coach Cuonzo Martin as the 6-5 junior left hander averaged 20.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals in wins over Wyoming and Princeton in Berkeley.

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]


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