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Monday, December 26, 2011
10 more teams that impressed this week

By Andy Katz

Kansas State took top honors this week after winning the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Here are 10 other teams that impressed.

1. North Carolina: The Tar Heels crushed Texas in Chapel Hill and finally looked like the dominant No. 1 team it was projected to be at the start of the season.

2. Providence: Yes, the Friars made the grade this week. They won easily at rival Rhode Island, which might not mean much considering the Rams have only one win, but it was a strong statement for first-year coach Ed Cooley, who has his program trending upward heading into Big East play.

3. UMass: The Minutemen have been erratic this season in key games, but a convincing win against Davidson at home, after the Wildcats had beaten Kansas, is proof that UMass has a shot to cause some trouble in the A-10.

4. Long Beach State: The 49ers were the runner-up at the Diamond Head Classic, falling to Kansas State on Sunday. But the 49ers enter Big West play as the clear favorites over UC Santa Barbara and have proven through their crazy nonconference schedule that they’re not afraid to play against any team.

5. UTEP: The Miners finished in third in the Diamond Head Classic and showed their athleticism and grittiness throughout the tournament. The Miners will be a tough out in Conference USA, which should be an extremely competitive league race.

6. Missouri: The Tigers outlasted Illinois in their annual game in St. Louis. The Tigers continue to look the part of a top 10 team and a potential top two seed in the NCAA tournament. Missouri got pushed as hard as it has this season by Illinois, but still prevailed late by making the right decisions.

7. Creighton: The Bluejays rebounded well from a road loss at Saint Joseph’s with a home win against Northwestern. Creighton has righted itself in time for what should be a brutal chase for the Missouri Valley Conference title.

8. Florida: The Gators didn’t have to sweat much late in the game in an 82-64 win against Florida State, as they proved yet again that they are the premier program in the state. Patric Young continues to develop into a defensive force.

9. Georgetown: The Hoyas completed a season sweep of Memphis and have made the Verizon Center one of the tougher spots to get a win this season. Georgetown has been able to beat teams playing different styles, and has a variety of players capable of contributing.

10. LSU: The Tigers followed up a home win against Marquette by beating North Texas in Denton. What that means is the Tigers are now winning the games they should if we are to take them seriously going into SEC play.