Category archive: Wichita State Shockers

Nine days after collapsing during a workout, Wichita State's D.J. Bowles had surgery to install an internal defibrillator Thursday at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

WSU coach Gregg Marshall told USA Today that the incoming freshman experienced a "cardiac arrest event" 30 minutes into the workout and "scared the heck out of all of us."

They know the feeling in Logan, Utah.

On Dec. 4, 2012, in preparation for a rivalry game against BYU, Utah State forward Danny Berger found himself moments from death. He went into full cardiac arrest. The heroism of Utah State trainer Mike Williams revived him with the aid of an automated external defibrillator.

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Danny Berger
Tommy LaPorte/Icon SMIAfter a near-death experience last year, Danny Berger is ready to start a new season with Utah State.

Less than a year later, Berger is back on the court. He has an implanted defibrillator, put in while he was at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, within a week of collapsing. Berger is cleared to play for the Aggies without any restrictions. He is the product of modern medicine and cheating death, and he is embracing the second chance.

"Basketball is an enormous part of my life," Berger said. "I'm sure it is to a lot of people too. I want to be that guy that is an example to a lot of people. I want to give them hope."

Berger, a 6-foot-6 wing, is expected to be a full contributor for the Aggies in their first season in the Mountain West. He is in competition for a starting position.

Utah State coach Stew Morrill witnessed Berger's collapse during practice. So too did his teammates. Same goes for Bowles' teammates at WSU. And like Williams at Utah State, Wichita State trainer Todd Fagan is being hailed as a hero for his "quick and professional response," according to a statement from Shockers' athletic director Eric Sexton.

The perspective gained over the past year isn't lost on Morrill. The Aggies, a perennial power in the WAC, had a rare down season a year ago. Berger had transferred from a community college and was expected to contribute. Injuries took out Sean Harris, Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed along with Berger. That's four scorers gone from an Aggies team that still mustered 21 wins and 11 in the WAC.

"I gathered the team together in summer workouts and told them that they've got to take care of themselves because last year killed me," Morrill said. "Danny then spoke up and said, 'Me too.' It was a great line. He has a great sense of humor. But seriously, he is an unbelievable kid."

Berger took his new life and wanted to do something more. He found out the AED used by Utah State was put in by a fund from Hoops for Heart Health, created by former Providence and current Oklahoma City Thunder wing Ryan Gomes.

Earlier this summer, Berger went to Connecticut to meet with Gomes and play in the foundation's golf tournament.

"He donated the AED that saved my life," Berger said. "I wanted to understand the education of these and how to get more of them out there. A lot of them need to be updated and need maintenance. We need to get people to understand how to use them too."

Gomes said his foundation initially put them in recreational centers, but eventually some universities came on board.

Twelve schools got AEDs -- and Utah State was one of them.

"To know Danny was saved by one of them means a lot," Gomes said, "but the credit goes to staff and trainer [Williams] to know what to do."

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Ryan Gomes
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty ImagesRyan Gomes' foundation Hoops for Heart Health emphasizes the need for AEDs.

Gomes, who said the death of Stanley Myers in his home state of Connecticut got him interested in this project, spoke with Berger via Skype last winter when Gomes was playing in Germany.

"These aren't just for the well-trained athletes on campus but for everyone," Gomes said of the AEDs, which cost about $1,500 per unit. "You can see how when it saves one person's life, it changes the approach to them all over campus."

Berger said he and his father raised money to get one donated in his hometown of Medford, Ore.

"So when I hear about this happening to other people, I want to get the word out even more," Berger said.

"Danny has had a great summer," Morrill said. "He has worked hard in the weight room to get muscle definition. He nearly lost his life. He didn't think he'd play basketball again. He'll be a junior for us since he got his redshirt year back. He's ready to go."

Morrill said he will use Berger at both forward positions. He's more of a stretch 4 than a power player. Spencer Butterfield plays a big guard/wing for the Aggies, who will likely be somewhere in the middle of the pack in the MWC this season, behind favorites New Mexico and Boise State.

"When I met with Danny this summer, he said he'd be fine coming off the bench," Morrill said. "I said, 'Don't give that up already.' We've had lots of conversations, and nobody feels like he would be playing with restrictions. He wouldn't be out here if he had any. Knowing that he has that chest monitor in there is a big relief to me. I'm sure for him as well. I'm sure everything crosses his mind out there. The mental thing will be what he has to deal with the most.

"But it's business as usual here for us. Our trainer [Williams] is always right there. He saved Danny's life. But he gives us all confidence that he's there. If I felt there were any restrictions on him, then it would be tough, but there aren't."

Berger was cleared in the spring once he was healed from the surgery. He has been lifting weights, playing in open gym and gaining his strength.

"I'd like to think I've gotten stronger," Berger said. "I've started conditioning, and I'm running my guts out. I hope I'm even better than I was before."

He said there were periods of apprehension on the court at first, but they are gone. He said he needs to work on his shooting and ensure he's taking care of the ball to keep his assist-to-turnover ratio down. Rebounding, especially with his slight build if he plays the 4, will be critical too.

Wichita State isn't discussing Bowles' prognosis. The word from the Shockers is coaches, players and staff are still shaken up over what they witnessed.

Once they're ready, Berger can answer questions and show them recovery can safely occur.

Berger made it to the other side and not only lived to talk about it but is back playing the same game on the exact court on which he collapsed.

He can't wait for the season opener against USC on Nov. 8 in Logan.

"I've probably daydreamed about that moment at least once a day," Berger said. "It makes me think about how much I'm thankful to God for what he's done for me and the miracles he has performed in the past year. It could have gone the other way. I may not have been playing basketball right now, but I am. It's such a blessing and a special feeling to get out there and start playing again."

At this time last year, Ben Hansbrough's name didn't appear on the Wooden Award preseason watch list.

Five months later, he edged out Connecticut's Kemba Walker for Big East Player of the Year.

Using that as a backdrop, let's remember that the list of 50 Wooden nominees is flawed, much like any of the award lists. The Wooden Award does not allow its voters to nominate any freshmen or transfers (either four-year or junior college) on their ballots.

And with college basketball as loaded with talent as any year since 2007-08, narrowing it down to 50 is not easy. So below I've attempted to come up with the names that didn't make it, either as "just missed the cut" omissions or just because they're freshmen or transfers. These guys aren't on the list (which can be found here), but might show up when it's updated during the season.

This group is by no means definitive, either. There's no telling who else might emerge nationally as the games get under way.

Let's take a look …

The omissions (in alphabetical order):

Julian Boyd, Long Island: The Blackbirds are the favorite again in the Northeast Conference and the main reason is because Boyd is back and ready to dominate the stat sheet.

D.J. Cooper, Ohio: The diminutive point guard does a little bit of everything; he averaged 15.8 ppg, 7.5 apg and 5.0 rpg for the Bobcats last season.

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Duke's Seth Curry
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesSeth Curry hasn't done enough to warrant a mention on a preseason watch list, but he might end up being a Wooden addition.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State: Cunningham has some of the best hops in the sport and a chance to be a Pac-12 star, allowing the Beavers to finally move up in the standings this season.

Seth Curry, Duke: Curry was a standout shooter for the Blue Devils on their trip to China and could be one of the top scorers on the team.

Brandon Davies, BYU: Davies was recently reinstated to the Cougars, and the offense is expected to flow through him inside and out as BYU mounts a campaign to win the WCC in its first year in the league.

Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's: SMC coach Randy Bennett envisions this as one of the best teams he's ever had, but a lot of that will have to do with whether Dellavedova can shoot like Mickey McConnell did last season.

Greg Echenique, Creighton: Echenique was a rebounding force for Venezuela this summer and should do even more for the Bluejays with a full season to work with.

TyShwan Edmondson, Austin Peay: The Governors should be the favorite in the Ohio Valley with a legit scorer like Edmondson, who has a strong man, Will Triggs, to take pressure off him.

Kyle Fogg, Arizona: Fogg is next in line to assume a leadership position for the Wildcats, who are in a position to compete for Pac-12 titles for years to come.

Kevin Foster, Santa Clara: As a sophomore, Foster sort of came out of nowhere to average 20.2 ppg and become one of the nation's top 3-point shooters.

Chris Gaston, Fordham: The Rams aren't any good, but the nation's leading returning rebounder (11.3 rpg) at least deserves a shout-out in this space.

Yancy Gates, Cincinnati: UC coach Mick Cronin said he'd be surprised if Gates wasn't one of the 10 names on the Big East preseason first team.

Malcolm Grant, Miami (Fla.): The Hurricanes have to play most of the season without big man Reggie Johnson, so Grant will have more opportunities to shine.

Rob Jones, Saint Mary's: Jones could be a double-double regular for the Gaels, and for Saint Mary's to win the WCC, Jones will have to be a star.

Doron Lamb, Kentucky: John Calipari says Lamb will be the Wildcats' best player. Just Coach Cal mind games, or the truth?

Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard didn't contribute a whole lot as a freshman, but he was a hidden gem on the U.S. U-19 team in Latvia this summer. The Illini are expecting big things out of him.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum is the nation's leading returning scorer (21.8 ppg) and is in the top five in steals (2.5 spg). Oh, and he did that as a freshman. What more do you need to know?

Cameron Moore, UAB: The Blazers have been consistently good under Mike Davis and have had unheralded C-USA stars. Moore is the latest.

Toure' Murry, Wichita State: If the Shockers win the Missouri Valley over Creighton, a lot of the credit will end up going to the veteran Murry.

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Ryan Pearson
Rafael Suanes/US PresswireRyan Pearson looks to lead Mason to another run to the NCAAs.

Brandon Paul, Illinois: Illini coach Bruce Weber was a bit surprised Paul didn't crack the top 50 on the Wooden list, given his overall importance to this team.

Ryan Pearson, George Mason: The Patriots are a trendy pick for the Top 25 and a lot of that has to do with the versatility of Pearson.

Damier Pitts, Marshall: The Thundering Herd are a real sleeper to gain an NCAA tourney berth out of Conference USA in large part because of Pitts.

Herb Pope, Seton Hall: Pope has come back from multiple life-threatening situations and has a real shot as a senior to put it all together and finally shine.

Terrence Ross, Washington: The Huskies can't be dismissed as a major player for the Pac-12 title, and if they win it, Ross will be a significant reason why.

Robert Sacre, Gonzaga: Sacre has matured into a solid post player, and that progress shows no signs of stopping as the Zags once again compete for the West Coast title.

Mike Scott, Virginia: If the sleeper Cavs mount a run to the NCAA tournament, the oft-injured Scott will be the reason why.

Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State: If Sidney is in shape and plays up to his potential, he has SEC Player of the Year potential and could be the difference between the Bulldogs making the NCAAs or NIT.

Andrew Smith, Butler: The Bulldogs will have fewer stars this season, but Smith has a chance to outshine Khyle Marshall and newcomer Roosevelt Jones with his scoring prowess in the post.

Chace Stanback, UNLV: Stanback's suspension to start the season is only one game, so that won't diminish his ability to lead the Rebels in their hunt for a Mountain West title.

Raymond Taylor, Florida Atlantic: FAU quietly won the Sun Belt East Division last season and Mike Jarvis' diminutive point guard was the catalyst behind the regular-season championship.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: If the Hoyas are to make the NCAA tournament again and be a pest in the upper half of the Big East, then Thompson needs a breakout season.

Kyle Weems, Missouri State: Doug McDermott is the one everyone is talking about in the Valley, but let's not forget that Weems is the reigning MVC Player of the Year. Too bad for the Bears he's their only returning starter.

Kendall Williams, New Mexico: The sophomore guard was the leading scorer in four postseason NIT games for the Lobos and should only get better with the addition of Australian Hugh Greenwood.

The transfers

Dewayne Dedmon, USC: Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill firmly believes this JC transfer is an NBA talent who could dominate the post and average a double-double for SC.

Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: The former UTEP big man is ready to have a bust-out season for a team that has serious bounce-back potential after a disappointing 2010-11 campaign.

Mike Rosario, Florida: The former Rutgers scoring guard finally has plenty of support around him and will put up numbers for a winner.

Rakim Sanders, Fairfield: The Boston College transfer should flourish after dropping down a level, and he should get coach Sydney Johnson another trip to the NCAA tourney. Johnson is beginning his first year at Fairfield after leading Princeton to the 2011 tourney.

Royce White, Iowa State: White is finally ready to be a star on the college scene after multiple transgressions at Minnesota.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State: The Spartans picked up a rare senior transfer (taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule) from Valparaiso who could be one of the best shooters in the Big Ten.

Tony Woods, Oregon: The embattled Woods arrived from Wake Forest after legal issues and has a chance to really shine as a double-double player for the first time in his career.

The freshmen

Bradley Beal, Florida: Beal has a chance to be a productive player in a frontcourt that has a vacuum after multiple seniors departed.

Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga: Coach Mark Few has been anticipating Bell's arrival for over a year now. He's expected to step in and deliver right away.

Wayne Blackshear, Louisville: The Cardinals fancy themselves a Big East title contender, and that's partly because they consider Blackshear a star in the making.

Jabari Brown, Oregon: Brown was the star of the Ducks' trip to Italy with his scoring prowess, and expect that to continue in the Pac-12.

Jahii Carson, Arizona State: There is some question right now as to Carson's eligibility, but if he's good to go, the Sun Devils might become relevant in the Pac-12 again.

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Anthony Davis
Brendan NolanThere seems to be little doubt that freshman Anthony Davis will have a major impact for UK.

Erik Copes, George Mason: Copes was bound for George Washington before Karl Hobbs was fired; now he'll be a headline performer for the Patriots and first-year coach Paul Hewitt.

Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Davis has a chance to be the SEC Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, so expect him to be on the midseason list when freshmen are allowed.

Andre Drummond, Connecticut: He will be an immediate star and help lift the Huskies into the national title chase again. He's more than likely a future top-five pick in the NBA.

Myck Kabongo, Texas: Coach Rick Barnes has had quite a bit of success with big-time freshmen guards, and Kabongo is next in line.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: Gilchrist will be another star on what will be a headline team throughout the season.

Johnny O'Bryant, LSU: Coach Trent Johnson needs the Tigers to start trending upward again, and he has a shot with the arrival of the big man from Mississippi.

LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State: OSU is a bit of a mystery team in the Big 12, but the All-American from Dallas could push the Cowboys into contention.

Austin Rivers, Duke: Rivers will have the ball in his hands quite a bit and appears to be the next Duke star in a lengthy list of recognizable names.

Josiah Turner, Arizona: The Wildcats will win the Pac-12 regular-season title if Turner is as good as advertised.

Cody Zeller, Indiana: If coach Tom Crean is going to turn the Hoosiers into a relevant team this season, it will be because of Zeller and his impact in the Big Ten.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The pained expression Mark Turgeon sometimes had during his first two years at Texas A&M wasn't just related to a tight game, a bad call or some anxious moment en route to the NCAA tournament.

Turgeon wasn't at peace in College Station.

He arrived from Wichita State to replace Billy Gillispie, and for the first time in 10 years he was back at a major-conference school after playing at Kansas and coaching at KU and Oregon as an assistant.

Turgeon didn't handle the transition well.

"I was miserable the first two years," Turgeon said.

He arrived from the Missouri Valley knowing that if he was going to keep heralded star recruit DeAndre Jordan, he had to retain his one-time AAU coach Byron Smith on the A&M staff. He did, but reluctantly. There were apparently other situations that Turgeon was never comfortable with as well.

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Mark Turgeon
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireMark Turgeon never won fewer than 24 games in any of his four seasons at Texas A&M.

"The most important person is me and I've got to be happy and I tried to make everybody happy when I took the job," Turgeon said. "The fan support was great. The administration was great. The young men coaching for the most part were great. But there were a lot of agendas that I inherited."

A number of college coaches that have ties to the state of Texas told ESPN.com that high school and AAU coaches in the Lone Star State are famously provincial. If the staff isn't Texas-based, if there isn't a tendency to really cultivate the in-state coaches, there can be a backlash.

Turgeon, a Kansas native, still coached the Aggies to four straight NCAA tournament appearances despite not feeling totally at home. Things had gotten better the last couple of years and he wasn't considering leaving College Station when the season ended.

But then a call came in from a source close to Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson, two days before longtime Terps coach Gary Williams was set to announce his retirement.

"I got the phone call and the person said Gary was going to retire and that your name is on the list," Turgeon said. "The person asked if I were interested. I said I would be. I had been offered a few jobs in the last four years but never told my wife. But I told her that this is one we have to think about it. I said, 'Maryland might open and we might have a shot."'

But when Turgeon left on May 6 for a family camping trip in Pennsylvania, he was convinced Arizona coach Sean Miller would take the job. Turgeon's cell phone went dead in the mountains.

"I told her don't worry about it, Sean's an East Coast guy and he'll go," Turgeon said. Miller did meet with Anderson in Las Vegas the next day, but later that night Arizona announced he had agreed to an extension. By Sunday, when Turgeon regained cell service, his phone was filled with messages.

"That's when I knew I was probably their guy," Turgeon said. "I don't care what choice I am. I just know that I'm the coach at Maryland right now and it's a great opportunity for me. Roy Williams wasn't the first choice at Kansas. I'm not saying I'm Roy, but that didn't bother him and he's done pretty well."

Judging by how he handled his first week in College Park, Turgeon isn't doing so bad himself.

His first two assistant coaching moves were to keep Maryland assistant Orlando "Bino" Ranson and then reach out to Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill, who was once the head coach of AAU powerhouse DC Assault and created a pipeline to K-State with Michael Beasley, Rodney McGruder and Wally Judge, who recently transferred to Rutgers.

Hill, who at KSU was one of the highest-paid assistants in the country at $420,000, is expected to take a pay cut in his return to the Beltway. Turgeon made it official Tuesday when he said Hill had accepted the job with the details to come on the agreement. Landing Hill and keeping Ranson was key in establishing firm recruiting roots in the D.C.-Baltimore area -- fertile ground for recruiting and a sticking point for Gary Williams in the past, when elite players like Beasley, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony departed.

Turgeon firmed up the staff when he brought with him Scott Spinelli from Texas A&M after Spinelli lost out to Murray State's Billy Kennedy for the Aggies' head-coaching job. The Massachusetts native has strong ties in the East and has been a longtime assistant to Turgeon at Texas A&M and Wichita State. Spinelli had been recruiting Virginia-area guard Seth Allen for the Aggies and ended up locking him up as Turgeon's first Terrapins recruit.

Turgeon also brought along Dustin Clark from College Station and was going to bring Bill Walker too, but the salary structure didn't work out. So Walker will stay in College Station to finish out his one year remaining on his contract as an assistant coach.

"I've learned a lot from the Texas A&M situation," Turgeon said. "I was out of the BCS for a long time. Everything had changed tremendously. I'm going to be a much better person this time around. I'm hiring the right staff and I'm going to be a much better communicator. I know in this area you have to be to be successful. Everyone here in the area has welcomed me with open arms -- every prominent high school, AAU coach, everyone."

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Mark Turgeon and Kevin Anderson
AP Photo/Nick WassWhile it's clear Mark Turgeon wasn't the first choice of Maryland AD Kevin Anderson, that doesn't seem to matter much now.

Soon after his retirement, Gary Williams told ESPN.com that Turgeon was a name on the list and that he was a quality coach. Having Williams' blessing is and will be key in this process. The 66-year-old Williams didn't have a succession plan upon his sudden announcement to move on with his life, so Turgeon will need the support of Williams, who does plan on being around the program as a special assistant to Anderson.

"Gary is supportive and that's a must," Turgeon said.

And like Williams, the new Maryland coach still will seek out the hard-nosed, defensive-minded players. Turgeon will covet the elite players to compete with Duke and North Carolina, but he has had a history of going after the undervalued recruit who emerges as a star, the latest being Khris Middleton at Texas A&M.

"We're going to get the player that really wants to be here," he said.

Leaving a power-six school for a power-six school is becoming increasingly rare. Salaries are higher across the board and coaches don't want to leave Top 25 teams for rebuilding projects.

Well, Texas A&M is poised to be a Big 12 title contender. The Aggies should be in the thick of the race with Baylor, Missouri and Kansas.

As for the Terps, they should be somewhere near the bottom of the ACC with limited bodies and no star power after sophomore forward Jordan Williams declared for the NBA draft. But long-term, the comparison between the two jobs isn't close.

"Sunday [May 8] was one of the best days we had at Texas A&M in my four years," Turgeon said. "All three Texas kids went pro [Jordan Hamilton, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson], David Loubeau returned from the draft to us, Kansas lost a lot of guys, too. And then the next day I take the Maryland job.

"I don't want to put a lot of pressure on the next coach [Billy Kennedy], but I know what we had there and we were confident we were going to win," Turgeon said. "We'll have nine bodies here. But you can turn it around quickly. We're not panicking."

Turgeon walked through the concourse of the Comcast Center on Monday, acknowledging the history and marveling at the potential of his new program.

Turgeon agreed to a seven-year contract and said he might get another year added on soon after a couple of signed players decommitted from Maryland. (Although Ranson and the Terps were able to retain Baltimore guard Nick Faust after he flirted with leaving.)

"I'm not about one year," Turgeon said. "It's what we're going to do 15 to 20 years. We're going to do this the right way. We have a lot of work to do, but we're going to win. We're going to win a lot of games. I have more energy now than I've had in a long time. I haven't felt this passionate about something in a long time. My energy level is at an all-time high. Everyone here made me feel like I'm their guy from day one and that meant a lot to me."

Turgeon is well aware Maryland fans expect the Terps to be in the mix with Duke and North Carolina, and ahead of every other ACC program.

Williams, who led the program to its only national championship (2002), is beloved here. The students wanted him to speak at graduation Thursday, so he will. And don't be surprised if they end up naming the Comcast floor for him. University president Dr. Wallace D. Loh already got the ball rolling by saying he will work with the athletic department to make it happen.

"Gary had a great run and I expect to have a great run, too," Turgeon said. "This is a destination. I'd be divorced if I had to do this again."

Turgeon's one-time dream job was Kansas, his home state and alma mater. But Bill Self isn't going anywhere, and if he did, Turgeon swears it wouldn't matter.

"This is the destination for me now," Turgeon said. "I want them to be talking about naming the floor after me in 20 years, too."

Wichita State's loss to Connecticut in the Maui Invitational put the Shockers in the losers' bracket against teams that won't be in the NCAA tournament.

The Shockers have one more nonconference game against a team that is likely bound for the NCAAs -- at San Diego State on Dec. 4.

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Blaine Taylor
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireBlaine Taylor knows that his Monarchs will be tough to beat.

That's why there is incredible pressure on teams outside the power six conferences to win the first game in these tournaments in order to ensure they'll play NCAA-bound teams on a neutral court.

Unless, of course, the nonconference schedule has more opportunities.

That's why Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor wasn't sweating it as his team was heading off to the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, this past week. He knew that even if the Monarchs didn't win the event, they would have more opportunities to enhance a possible at-large bid in March.

The Monarchs did end up winning the event -- beating Saint Peter's, Clemson and then Xavier Monday night -- and now are in an even better situation going forward toward a possible bid. Granted, of those three teams, Xavier is probably the only one that will be in the NCAA tournament, but that's more than Wichita State can say at this moment.

The Monarchs lost to Georgetown to open the season on Nov. 12. Old Dominion hosts Richmond (Dec. 1) and -- assuming the Spiders will still be an A-10 title contender and NCAA team despite losing at Iona -- this game will help ODU. The Monarchs also play another possible NCAA team in Dayton (the Flyers won at Ole Miss to show their strength) and visit Missouri, a Big 12 title contender, on Dec. 30.

And it will only help Old Dominion's strength of schedule in the Colonial Athletic Association if VCU does well in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals against Tennessee and then either UCLA or Villanova on Wednesday and Friday in New York.

Old Dominion didn't put as much pressure on itself prior to the St. Thomas trip -- and still won. "We don't have to win all of these games to position ourselves for at-large,'' said Taylor by phone from St. Thomas on Tuesday. "But we're going to be hard to beat. If you gave me a choice of beating Georgetown and winning this tournament, I'd take winning this tournament. I think if you'd talk to John [Thompson III of Georgetown], he would say the same thing that playing that game helped pay dividends for us winning here and them winning in Charleston [at the Classic].''

The Monarchs were in control for most of the Georgetown game but failed to close out the Hoyas at home. ODU won three close games, all with victory margins under nine points, in St. Thomas. "We were able to get a barometer in that Georgetown game,'' Taylor said. "We just didn't get it done late. We've got a resilient bunch. In the three games down there, we were physical and resilient. We believe we can play with anybody.''

But unlike ODU, VCU didn't fill its schedule with more quality games. The Rams also play at Richmond and go to South Florida, which is one of the worst teams in the Big East. Playing at UAB may not pay dividends either since the Blazers aren't projected to be an NCAA team. That's why getting to New York with the win against Wake Forest was critical in helping the Rams to a possible at-large situation. VCU needed to play higher-level teams for its strength of schedule and potential NCAA résumé.

Taylor said having VCU in the NIT semifinals is a huge get for the CAA. Obviously, VCU has a harder road to winning the NIT than ODU did at its tournament in St. Thomas. But there is an expectation for the Monarchs to win titles.

Taylor said that it has rubbed off on his veteran players. When the Monarchs were on the verge of winning the game, senior Ben Finney wanted to make sure the players weren't getting too excited.

"Some of the younger guys were celebrating and cheering, and Ben runs down there and tells them that it was too much. He said 'This is what we do,'" Taylor said. "What these tournaments continue to prove is that there is parity with a lot of schools out there, not just with the favored BCS sons. I know we will be hard to beat.''

Quick hitters

• Alabama left the Paradise Jam with an 0-3 mark after losing to Saint Peter's on Monday. The Crimson Tide were quick to say at SEC media day last month that they were a potential NCAA team and SEC West champ.

• Since beating Georgia Tech at home on Nov. 15, Kennesaw State has lost three straight games to Chattanooga, Alabama State and Northern Arizona.

• San Diego State concluded its season-opening five-game road trip undefeated. I'm not sure another ranked team or possible conference champ of a top-10 league will have something similar to claim prior to New Year's -- three true road wins and two neutral-site wins. The Aztecs are already on the board in March as a possible NCAA team.

• Kentucky coach John Calipari said Monday night that he expects Enes Kanter's appeal to be heard sometime next week. Kanter was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA staff for receiving excessive benefits beyond what was allowed while he played for a Turkish club team prior to coming to the United States for his senior year in high school. Kentucky is hoping that the appeals committee, made up of the membership and not the Indianapolis NCAA staff, will look at Kanter's desire to play college basketball and conclude that the benefits were for educational expenses. Kanter has remained in Lexington while waiting for a final decision.

• Wake Forest lost at home to Winthrop. The Demon Deacons have already fallen at home to Stetson and VCU. Pencil in Wake Forest for a last-place battle in the ACC.

• You can see why the WAC wanted Montana. The Grizzlies look to be a title contender along with Utah State after beating Idaho, 75-33, on Monday.

Editor's Note: Andy Katz's revised top 25 was published on Friday with Purdue at No. 2. With Saturday's news of Robbie Hummel's devastating retorn ACL, Katz has issued an updated version:

1. Duke: No reason to move the Blue Devils. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith had tremendous summers working out with the USA Basketball select team. The buzz around newcomer Kyrie Irving is just as high. The karma is all good in Durham with Mike Krzyzewski winning a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey and the Blue Devils getting a commitment from one of the best players in the 2011 class in Austin Rivers.

2. Michigan State: The Spartans did dump Chris Allen, an indication that the differences between Allen and Tom Izzo were too wide to overcome. But Izzo is feeling quite good about the continued recovery of Kalin Lucas from an Achilles injury. Lucas will be treated carefully in practice over the next month as the Spartans see how much he can push himself. But Izzo is confident Delvon Roe is as healthy as he's been at MSU and fully expects Durrell Summers to be a star and Draymond Green to be a vocal leader.

3. Pittsburgh: The Panthers don't have the star power of the aforementioned top three. But this Panthers team is like an old-school Big East team that has experienced players who have been together and found roles. The summer trip to Ireland provided more positive bonding time for Jamie Dixon's crew as it takes on the role of Big East favorite. There were no flaws this summer, making it more palatable to move the Panthers up a few spots.

4. Kansas State: The Wildcats continue to have a positive vibe from their near brush with a Final Four berth. Kansas State returns Jacob Pullen and an expectation that returnees like Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels will continue to blossom. Clearly the rest of the Big 12 believes in the Wildcats, as well, since they were picked to win the league for the first time.

5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have one of the top freshmen in the country in big man Jared Sullinger. Sure, they lost Evan Turner, but the rest of the wings return and the buzz on the Buckeyes remains that this team was more than Turner a year ago. If players like William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler can handle the responsibility, the Bucks should be a national contender.

6. Kansas: Moving the Jayhawks up to No. 7 is clearly predicated on Josh Selby being eligible for the majority of the season. KU is waiting for Selby to get his academic clearance from the Eligibility Center. He can practice while this is pending, but Kansas needs him out on the court during the real stuff. There is still plenty of talent in Lawrence -- led by Marcus Morris, who coach Bill Self is convinced will be a star -- but Selby is the key for the Jayhawks to be top-10 good.

7. Villanova: The Wildcats didn't rely on Scottie Reynolds in his last few games as much and they survived. Reynolds' eligibility expired and Corey Fisher is the next one to pick up the mantel. Jay Wright had another solid offseason, coaching the USA Basketball select team. There is an expectation now that Wright's teams won't dip. Like Pitt, Villanova is considered a regular near the top of the league on a yearly basis.

8. Gonzaga: The Zags had quite a summer with Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre all playing for their respective national teams. Gonzaga put together arguably the toughest nonconference schedule in the country, too. If Demetri Goodson and Steven Gray can elevate their game as lead guards after the departure of Matt Bouldin, the Zags will be deserving of a top-10 ranking.

9. Florida: The Gators return all five starters from last season's No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. But the addition of Patric Young is surely going to bolster this squad. Young won gold for the USA junior national team this summer and proved to be an invaluable member of that squad. His tenacity, hustle plays and overall team focus means he could be a difference-maker for Florida this season.

10. Syracuse: The Orange move up six spots from the May poll in large part because coach Jim Boeheim is almost never wrong about evaluating and projecting his team's talent. Most of the time he hits on the major contributors and Boeheim said Kris Joseph is ready to be a star. He also expects big man Fab Melo to have a monster season, notably on the defensive end where he can block shots and grab rebounds. While it's hard to see yet where and how much C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters will play, they have already impressed, meaning the freshman class will make this team even deeper.

11. Kentucky: If Enes Kanter's eligibility was a certainty, the Wildcats would move up into the top 10. His amateurism eligibility decision is still to be determined. But what can be stated is Kentucky showed on a trip to Canada that the returning players are up for the challenge of a new role. Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins should flourish as John Calipari plays more of his dribble-drive-motion offense. Newcomers like point guard Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Stacey Poole are all ready to make major contributions.

12. Missouri: The Tigers move up a notch, even without newcomer Tony Mitchell, whose eligibility is in question and in a best-case scenario wouldn't be available until the Big 12 schedule starts. But Mike Anderson can't play the role of being underappreciated anymore. Missouri returns Kim English, a healthy Justin Safford, Marcus Denmon and adds a recruiting class that needs to get more love. Anderson is pushing the significance of point guard Phil Pressey and power forward Ricardo Ratliffe. If both are as impactful as projected, Mizzou may be a league title contender.

13. Illinois: My colleague Doug Gottlieb tabbed the Illini to win the Big Ten. I'm not going that far with Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State to contend with. But Illinois has no excuse if this is not an NCAA season at the very least. Bruce Weber can't say enough about how much incoming freshman Jereme Richmond will mean to this team. Add him to an already talented roster that includes Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, D.J. Richardson and returning lead guard Demetri McCamey and the Illini have their best chance since 2005 to challenge for a conference title.

14. North Carolina: Losing the Wear twins and senior Will Graves, the team's top 3-point threat, meant the Tar Heels had to drop a few slots. The talent is in place up front with the return of John Henson and Tyler Zeller and the addition of the top freshman in the country in Harrison Barnes. But the guard play is still a work in progress and an unknown with erratic Larry Drew II and the still-inexperienced Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald being joined by newcomers Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall.

15. Memphis: The Tigers did get Will Barton eligible after there were questions earlier in the summer once he missed the team's trip to the Bahamas. But all is good now. The Tigers certainly have the talent to be projected higher, but remember they didn't make the NCAAs last season and are leaning heavily on newcomers like Barton, Joe Jackson and Tarik Black. If the Tigers are to be worthy of the top 10, then returnees like Wesley Witherspoon and Will Coleman will have to continue their improvement.

16. Baylor: This is by far the biggest drop in my poll from May to October. The Bears were probably too high in that original poll. Losing Ekpe Udoh and Tweety Carter was significant and maybe I was putting too much emphasis on newcomer Perry Jones. But the reason for this drop is LaceDarius Dunn. He is currently suspended from game competition, but was just reinstated to the team to practice and attend class after allegations that he broke his girlfriend's jaw. But the uncertainty of Dunn's availability casts major doubt on whether the Bears can be a serious contender in the Big 12.

17. Washington: Like Jay Wright, there was positive karma with Lorenzo Romar sharing the coaching duties in Las Vegas for the USA Basketball select team. And the guard play is extremely solid with the return of Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy, wings Justin Holiday and newcomers led by Terrence Ross. Losing Quincy Pondexter shouldn't be underplayed, though. We'll know early enough about the Huskies when they go to the Maui Invitational with a possible semifinal matchup against Kentucky.

18. Butler: Shelvin Mack had a sensational summer and the buzz continues to build that he's one of the top guards in the country. Mack played on the USA select team and the more confident he becomes, the better chance Butler has of being back in the mix for a deep March run again. Sure, losing Gordon Hayward early to the NBA is hard to take for this group, but if Ronald Nored is healthy enough to be as much of a scorer as he was a defender and Matt Howard adds even more productivity and stays out of foul trouble, the Bulldogs won't disappoint.

19. Georgetown: The Hoyas return one of the best backcourts in the Big East with Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark. If Julian Vaughn, Hollis Thompson and newcomers Nate Lubick and Moses Abraham can help offset the loss of Greg Monroe, Georgetown will be in the chase in the Big East. The Hoyas put themselves in position early with another tough slate of nonconference games (going to Old Dominion, Temple and Memphis, to Kansas City to play Missouri, and adding a home game against always-tough Utah State) to gauge where this team will be in January.

20. Tennessee: I probably had the Vols slightly too high in May and the NCAA investigation swirling around the program doesn't help, let alone the self-imposed sanctions against the entire coaching staff that have left a cloud over the season. It shouldn't affect the on-court performance of the players, but it will certainly be a distraction for the coaches as they have to deal with questions throughout the fall. Tennessee still has one of the top newcomers in guard Tobias Harris, and if Scotty Hopson can make shots in bunches, the Vols should still finish in the top three in the loaded SEC East.

21. San Diego State: The Aztecs have quietly gone through the summer with their roster intact, led by one of the more underrated forwards in the country in Kawhi Leonard. Malcolm Thomas is another stud for coach Steve Fisher. If the point guard situation gets settled, the Aztecs should be a top-25 squad. San Diego State challenged itself with five straight games away from home to open the season, including going to Gonzaga before heading off to three games in Oxford, Ohio, as part of the CBE Classic. If the Aztecs survive that stretch, they'll be in a solid position to enter the MWC season as the favorite, fending off BYU, New Mexico and UNLV.

22. Minnesota: The Gophers got two players back that would have certainly helped in March. Lead guard Al Nolen, who became academically ineligible in February last season, is good to go, as is forward Trevor Mbakwe, who sat out last season pending an assault case. Mbakwe is back in the good graces at the school, which stood by him during the case. The Gophers went to Canada in August and returned an even more determined lot. Don't sleep on this squad, especially in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic. Nolen, Mbakwe, Devoe Joseph, Blake Hoffarber, Ralph Sampson III and Rodney Williams are all capable of leading the Gophers to a tournament win and into the top 25.

23. Purdue: On Friday, I ranked Purdue No. 2 and wrote that "the Boilermakers haven't had a single hiccup during the offseason." Less than 24 hours later, Robbie Hummel retore his right ACL during the team's first full practice. The loss can't be overstated. The Boilers still have a pair of All-Big Ten players in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore and are still very much an NCAA tournament team, but it's hard to foresee this being a Final Four contender without Hummel.

24. Temple: The Owls got pushed down a peg by my newfound belief in Minnesota. Temple is still my pick to win the A-10 with the return of Lavoy Allen and guard Juan Fernandez. The Owls once again have a monster schedule that should tell us plenty by January, with an opener against Seton Hall, quality games in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, playing Maryland in D.C., hosting Georgetown and going to Villanova. The Owls go to Duke, too, but that's not until late February. Oh, and of course, this team has one of the top coaches in the game in Fran Dunphy.

25. Georgia: I was bullish on the Bulldogs in May and I haven't dropped off in October with the return of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, two of the top talents in the SEC. Georgia also adds Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson, who should open up some scoring on the perimeter. UGA will certainly be pushed in an SEC East that could produce up to five NCAA tourney teams, but the Bulldogs have some summer buzz and momentum heading into that Old Spice Classic tournament in Orlando, especially with an opener against Notre Dame.

Who got pushed out of the poll?
Virginia Tech: The Hokies were No. 22 in my May poll, but they lost one of their key rotation players in J.T. Thompson to a knee injury. Of course, the return of Malcolm Delaney means they will be in the hunt for a top-two finish in the ACC and an NCAA berth. But the Hokies weren't an NCAA team last season and losing a key player pushed them down a few spots for now.

A dozen more to watch (in alphabetical order): BYU, Florida State, New Mexico, Texas, UNLV, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wichita State, Wisconsin, Xavier

With the official start of practice Friday night, it feels like a good time to revisit my preseason top 25, which hasn't been touched since the final underclassman decisions were made in mid-May.

Not much has changed near the top. Duke is still No. 1, and will be in the majority of long-standing polls in the mainstream media and fledgling ones across the blogosphere.

But these Blue Devils aren't the 2009 Tar Heels. Duke is unquestionably the national favorite, but it's hardly an intimidating force. The schedule will favor the Devils in every game they play, but if they were to get beat by Kansas State or Gonzaga in Kansas City or by Michigan State at Cameron, or by Butler in New Jersey, no one would stop and consider it a tectonic shift in the season.

As for the rest of the poll, the pair of Big Ten teams at No. 2 (Purdue) and No. 3 (Michigan State) has not moved. But eligibility issues and suspensions over the past five months have forced some changes elsewhere in my top 25. Summer success, injuries and a re-evaluation of some teams has also caused some alterations.

So here is my new poll in advance of the season:

1. Duke: No reason to move the Blue Devils. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith had tremendous summers working out with the USA Basketball select team. The buzz around newcomer Kyrie Irving is just as high. The karma is all good in Durham with Mike Krzyzewski winning a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey and the Blue Devils getting a commitment from one of the best players in the 2011 class in Austin Rivers.

2. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven't had a single hiccup during the offseason. They have been quiet, which is just fine for a team that could be Duke's toughest challenge. Robbie Hummel continues to be on schedule to play this season after suffering an ACL tear in February. JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore join Hummel and offer Purdue the treat of three seniors who are all-Big Ten players. This team is a prime candidate for a spot in Houston.

3. Michigan State: The Spartans did dump Chris Allen, an indication that the differences between Allen and Tom Izzo were too wide to overcome. But Izzo is feeling quite good about the continued recovery of Kalin Lucas from an Achilles injury. Lucas will be treated carefully in practice over the next month as the Spartans see how much he can push himself. But Izzo is confident Delvon Roe is as healthy as he's been at MSU and fully expects Durrell Summers to be a star and Draymond Green to be a vocal leader.

4. Pittsburgh: The Panthers don't have the star power of the aforementioned top three. But this Panthers team is like an old-school Big East team that has experienced players who have been together and found roles. The summer trip to Ireland provided more positive bonding time for Jamie Dixon's crew as it takes on the role of Big East favorite. There were no flaws this summer, making it more palatable to move the Panthers up a few spots.

5. Kansas State: The Wildcats continue to have a positive vibe from their near brush with a Final Four berth. Kansas State returns Jacob Pullen and an expectation that returnees like Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels will continue to blossom. Clearly the rest of the Big 12 believes in the Wildcats, as well, since they were picked to win the league for the first time.

6. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have one of the top freshmen in the country in big man Jared Sullinger. Sure, they lost Evan Turner, but the rest of the wings return and the buzz on the Buckeyes remains that this team was more than Turner a year ago. If players like William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler can handle the responsibility, the Bucks should be a national contender.

7. Kansas: Moving the Jayhawks up to No. 7 is clearly predicated on Josh Selby being eligible for the majority of the season. KU is waiting for Selby to get his academic clearance from the Eligibility Center. He can practice while this is pending, but Kansas needs him out on the court during the real stuff. There is still plenty of talent in Lawrence -- led by Marcus Morris, who coach Bill Self is convinced will be a star -- but Selby is the key for the Jayhawks to be top-10 good.

8. Villanova: The Wildcats didn't rely on Scottie Reynolds in his last few games as much and they survived. Reynolds' eligibility expired and Corey Fisher is the next one to pick up the mantel. Jay Wright had another solid offseason, coaching the USA Basketball select team. There is an expectation now that Wright's teams won't dip. Like Pitt, Villanova is considered a regular near the top of the league on a yearly basis.

9. Gonzaga: The Zags had quite a summer with Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre all playing for their respective national teams. Gonzaga put together arguably the toughest nonconference schedule in the country, too. If Demetri Goodson and Steven Gray can elevate their game as lead guards after the departure of Matt Bouldin, the Zags will be deserving of a top-10 ranking.

10. Florida: The Gators return all five starters from last season's No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. But the addition of Patric Young is surely going to bolster this squad. Young won gold for the USA junior national team this summer and proved to be an invaluable member of that squad. His tenacity, hustle plays and overall team focus means he could be a difference-maker for Florida this season.

11. Syracuse: The Orange move up six spots from the May poll in large part because coach Jim Boeheim is almost never wrong about evaluating and projecting his team's talent. Most of the time he hits on the major contributors and Boeheim said Kris Joseph is ready to be a star. He also expects big man Fab Melo to have a monster season, notably on the defensive end where he can block shots and grab rebounds. While it's hard to see yet where and how much C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters will play, they have already impressed, meaning the freshman class will make this team even deeper.

12. Kentucky: If Enes Kanter's eligibility was a certainty, the Wildcats would move up into the top 10. His amateurism eligibility decision is still to be determined. But what can be stated is Kentucky showed on a trip to Canada that the returning players are up for the challenge of a new role. Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins should flourish as John Calipari plays more of his dribble-drive-motion offense. Newcomers like point guard Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Stacey Poole are all ready to make major contributions.

13. Missouri: The Tigers move up a notch, even without newcomer Tony Mitchell, whose eligibility is in question and in a best-case scenario wouldn't be available until the Big 12 schedule starts. But Mike Anderson can't play the role of being underappreciated anymore. Missouri returns Kim English, a healthy Justin Safford, Marcus Denmon and adds a recruiting class that needs to get more love. Anderson is pushing the significance of point guard Phil Pressey and power forward Ricardo Ratliffe. If both are as impactful as projected, Mizzou may be a league title contender.

14. Illinois: My colleague Doug Gottlieb tabbed the Illini to win the Big Ten. I'm not going that far with Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State to contend with. But Illinois has no excuse if this is not an NCAA season at the very least. Bruce Weber can't say enough about how much incoming freshman Jereme Richmond will mean to this team. Add him to an already talented roster that includes Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, D.J. Richardson and returning lead guard Demetri McCamey and the Illini have their best chance since 2005 to challenge for a conference title.

15. North Carolina: Losing the Wear twins and senior Will Graves, the team's top 3-point threat, meant the Tar Heels had to drop a few slots. The talent is in place up front with the return of John Henson and Tyler Zeller and the addition of the top freshman in the country in Harrison Barnes. But the guard play is still a work in progress and an unknown with erratic Larry Drew II and the still-inexperienced Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald being joined by newcomers Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall.

16. Memphis: The Tigers did get Will Barton eligible after there were questions earlier in the summer once he missed the team's trip to the Bahamas. But all is good now. The Tigers certainly have the talent to be projected higher, but remember they didn't make the NCAAs last season and are leaning heavily on newcomers like Barton, Joe Jackson and Tarik Black. If the Tigers are to be worthy of the top 10, then returnees like Wesley Witherspoon and Will Coleman will have to continue their improvement.

17. Baylor: This is by far the biggest drop in my poll from May to October. The Bears were probably too high in that original poll. Losing Ekpe Udoh and Tweety Carter was significant and maybe I was putting too much emphasis on newcomer Perry Jones. But the reason for this drop is LaceDarius Dunn. He is currently suspended from game competition, but was just reinstated to the team to practice and attend class after allegations that he broke his girlfriend's jaw. But the uncertainty of Dunn's availability casts major doubt on whether the Bears can be a serious contender in the Big 12.

18. Washington: Like Jay Wright, there was positive karma with Lorenzo Romar sharing the coaching duties in Las Vegas for the USA Basketball select team. And the guard play is extremely solid with the return of Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy, wings Justin Holiday and newcomers led by Terrence Ross. Losing Quincy Pondexter shouldn't be underplayed, though. We'll know early enough about the Huskies when they go to the Maui Invitational with a possible semifinal matchup against Kentucky.

19. Butler: Shelvin Mack had a sensational summer and the buzz continues to build that he's one of the top guards in the country. Mack played on the USA select team and the more confident he becomes, the better chance Butler has of being back in the mix for a deep March run again. Sure, losing Gordon Hayward early to the NBA is hard to take for this group, but if Ronald Nored is healthy enough to be as much of a scorer as he was a defender and Matt Howard adds even more productivity and stays out of foul trouble, the Bulldogs won't disappoint.

20. Georgetown: The Hoyas return one of the best backcourts in the Big East with Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark. If Julian Vaughn, Hollis Thompson and newcomers Nate Lubick and Moses Abraham can help offset the loss of Greg Monroe, Georgetown will be in the chase in the Big East. The Hoyas put themselves in position early with another tough slate of nonconference games (going to Old Dominion, Temple and Memphis, to Kansas City to play Missouri, and adding a home game against always-tough Utah State) to gauge where this team will be in January.

21. Tennessee: I probably had the Vols slightly too high in May and the NCAA investigation swirling around the program doesn't help, let alone the self-imposed sanctions against the entire coaching staff that have left a cloud over the season. It shouldn't affect the on-court performance of the players, but it will certainly be a distraction for the coaches as they have to deal with questions throughout the fall. Tennessee still has one of the top newcomers in guard Tobias Harris, and if Scotty Hopson can make shots in bunches, the Vols should still finish in the top three in the loaded SEC East.

22. San Diego State: The Aztecs have quietly gone through the summer with their roster intact, led by one of the more underrated forwards in the country in Kawhi Leonard. Malcolm Thomas is another stud for coach Steve Fisher. If the point guard situation gets settled, the Aztecs should be a top-25 squad. San Diego State challenged itself with five straight games away from home to open the season, including going to Gonzaga before heading off to three games in Oxford, Ohio, as part of the CBE Classic. If the Aztecs survive that stretch, they'll be in a solid position to enter the MWC season as the favorite, fending off BYU, New Mexico and UNLV.

23. Minnesota: The Gophers got two players back that would have certainly helped in March. Lead guard Al Nolen, who became academically ineligible in February last season, is good to go, as is forward Trevor Mbakwe, who sat out last season pending an assault case. Mbakwe is back in the good graces at the school, which stood by him during the case. The Gophers went to Canada in August and returned an even more determined lot. Don't sleep on this squad, especially in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic. Nolen, Mbakwe, Devoe Joseph, Blake Hoffarber, Ralph Sampson III and Rodney Williams are all capable of leading the Gophers to a tournament win and into the top 25.

24. Temple: The Owls got pushed down a peg by my newfound belief in Minnesota. Temple is still my pick to win the A-10 with the return of Lavoy Allen and guard Juan Fernandez. The Owls once again have a monster schedule that should tell us plenty by January, with an opener against Seton Hall, quality games in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, playing Maryland in D.C., hosting Georgetown and going to Villanova. The Owls go to Duke, too, but that's not until late February. Oh, and of course, this team has one of the top coaches in the game in Fran Dunphy.

25. Georgia: I was bullish on the Bulldogs in May and I haven't dropped off in October with the return of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, two of the top talents in the SEC. Georgia also adds Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson, who should open up some scoring on the perimeter. UGA will certainly be pushed in an SEC East that could produce up to five NCAA tourney teams, but the Bulldogs have some summer buzz and momentum heading into that Old Spice Classic tournament in Orlando, especially with an opener against Notre Dame.

Who got pushed out of the poll?
Virginia Tech: The Hokies were No. 22 in my May poll, but they lost one of their key rotation players in J.T. Thompson to a knee injury. Of course, the return of Malcolm Delaney means they will be in the hunt for a top-two finish in the ACC and an NCAA berth. But the Hokies weren't an NCAA team last season and losing a key player pushed them down a few spots for now.

A dozen more to watch (in alphabetical order): BYU, Florida State, New Mexico, Texas, UNLV, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wichita State, Wisconsin, Xavier

Creighton's Dana Altman understood his situation. In 2007, he accepted the Arkansas job but had a change of heart and backed out of the deal, staying in Omaha, Neb., where he was more comfortable.

Ben Jacobson/Ali FarokhmaneshNelson Chenault/US PresswireBen Jacobson was happy to commit his future to Northern Iowa.

Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery has sniffed at other jobs at times, but has yet to leave and still feels at peace with his place in Carbondale, Ill., despite rumblings about being considered for the DePaul opening.

In years past, the Missouri Valley has churned out coaches to higher-profile positions as soon as they won. Iowa State's Greg McDermott won at Northern Iowa before arriving in Ames, Iowa, but has since had a rocky road dealing with injuries, transfers and attrition at Iowa State. Keno Davis was picked up by Providence after a remarkable season at Drake, but is now out of the honeymoon phase and needs to show improvement in his third season.

No one could question Mark Turgeon's move from Wichita State to Texas A&M. That was the ultimate high-major jump that couldn't be turned down -- a program that was already winning, loaded with resources, quality talent and a passionate fan base.

This season is no different, as the coaches of the league's top two teams are highly sought after. The difference is that they are not jumping at the chance to leave and have made prudent decisions to stay -- one for the long term, the other for the short term (at the very least before he might receive a can't-miss offer).

Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson and Wichita State's Gregg Marshall decided against being wooed by a higher-profile position. The moves will pay off for the schools and for the coaches simply because they have a tremendous grasp of their careers at this juncture.

In the midst of a magical run to the Sweet 16, Jacobson signed a 10-year extension, bumping up his salary from just under $300,000 to $450,000. Jacobson could have been in play for the Iowa vacancy, following McDermott's example of a big state school looking locally in Cedar Falls for its next coach. He could have angled for the DePaul job. If Tubby Smith were ever to leave Minnesota during this season's coaching carousel, he would be a slam-dunk choice for the Gophers. But Jacobson didn't take a turn on that ride.

"The fit, that's what it comes down to," Jacobson said as he made his way to St. Louis on Thursday for the Panthers' Sweet 16 game against Michigan State. "It's all about the right fit. This is a great fit for my wife and our two boys."

Jacobson, much like Butler's Brad Stevens, didn't want to make a mistake by chasing the cash and the higher-profile position. What has changed for Jacobson is the commitment from the UNI administration.

Jacobson credits former athletic director Rick Hartzell for improvements such as ensuring the Panthers charter flights to games as well as altering the scheduling of nonconference games.

"The financial commitment to play in some of these exempt tournaments has helped us," Jacobson said. "There's more of a financial commitment now as compared to when Mac [McDermott] had the job."

That shouldn't come as a surprise. Administrators at schools like these in the Valley realize how much more they have to do to maintain their status as well as keep quality coaches.

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Gregg Marshall
Tim Vizer/Icon SMIGregg Marshall is in no rush to leave Wichita State.

The work-life balance that Stevens has found in Indianapolis is similar to what Mark Few has at Gonzaga and Bob McKillop has at Davidson. Gonzaga has distinguished itself from the aforementioned programs with a major financial commitment to Few, paying him a salary that is similar to Pac-10 coaches' and would make it hard for him to ever leave. But for all of these coaches, not having as many off-court demands allows them to spend more time with their families, a major factor in their decisions to stay put.

"That played a huge role in the decision for me and my wife," Jacobson said. "My boys are 6 and 4, and I want to spend time with them. We're settled in now. We're going to continue to work and continue to commit to a solid basketball team. Kids want to be here. I feel fortunate and feel really great about the new deal."

Meanwhile, Marshall was on Iowa's list but declined to interview. Marshall, a regular in the NCAA tournament during his time at Winthrop, has been extremely cautious in his moves. He could have pushed hard to be the South Carolina coach when that job opened up, though perhaps it would have been a stretch to think the Gamecocks would look to Winthrop for their new coach. But Marshall didn't wait for it to be open, and when Dave Odom left, the Gamecocks turned to Darrin Horn, a hot name and easy sell at the news conference after he guided Western Kentucky to a Sweet 16 run.

Marshall, who replaced Turgeon at Wichita State, has arguably the best job in the Valley next to Creighton, with its facilities, fan base and financial commitment. To leave Wichita for a lower-level Big Ten job might not be the smartest move. The Shockers, who will likely be picked as the favorite in 2011 after losing to UNI in the Valley tournament title game, should be more of a national story next season.

The Shockers lose just one key player in point guard and leading scorer Clevin Hannah, whom Marshall is out recruiting to replace.

And he's doing it with the help of a recruiting budget that would have been unheard of in the Valley in recent years.

Marshall went to recruit in Huntsville, Ala., on Wednesday and was home by dinner. That's because, according to Marshall, he has $80,000 a year for flights, with each roundtrip costing $3,000 to $6,000. His assistant coaches have used small private jets to see a player. That kind of access to air travel for a program like Wichita is immeasurable.

"What people don't understand is how much this is a good job," Marshall said.

Marshall makes an estimated $925,000 at Wichita State. That's money you can't dismiss.

"You can't make mistakes," Marshall said of just bouncing around. "We've got arguably the best support: Creighton, us, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois and Bradley, too. This league should get two bids."

And that might be the only reason that drives him or someone like him in this league to leave -- NCAA tournament access. But if Marshall wins and does decide to leave then why couldn't he land a job similar to his predecessor Turgeon at a school ready-made for success? In Jacobson's case, it's not as though he isn't a potential climber in the business. He is, but he's not looking for stepping-stone jobs. He's realized, like Stevens, that you can reach heights where you're most comfortable, live life at a quality level and still get paid quite well.

• Spoke with a high-level NBA personnel director who broke down the Sweet 16 prospects if they were to come out early or if they were seniors:

Cornell: Ryan Wittman (second-round potential)
Kentucky: John Wall (top two); DeMarcus Cousins (top five); Eric Bledsoe (early second); Daniel Orton (second); Patrick Patterson (first round).
Butler: Gordon Hayward (lottery).
Syracuse: Wesley Johnson (top five); Andy Rautins (second round); Arinze Onuaku (second-round potential).
Washington: Quincy Pondexter (early second).
West Virginia: Da'Sean Butler (second round); Devin Ebanks (15-25 first round).
Xavier: Jordan Crawford (mid-to-late first round).
Kansas State: Denis Clemente (second-round potential).
Purdue: JaJuan Johnson (early second); E'Twaun Moore (second round).
Duke: Kyle Singler (mid-to-late first round); Jon Scheyer (second-round potential).
Tennessee: Wayne Chism (second round); Scotty Hopson (second-round potential).
Ohio State: Evan Turner (top two).
Saint Mary's: Omar Samhan (second-round potential).
Baylor: Ekpe Udoh (mid-to-late first round); LaceDarius Dunn (second round).

Siena is in the midst of a three-game road swing and is currently without its best player, Edwin Ubiles, who is out with a shoulder injury.

If the Saints, who are cruising in the MAAC with a 10-0 record, can survive this stretch -- let alone another five-game string against upstart Iona and Fairfield at home and Niagara, Canisius and Rider on the road -- still unbeaten in the league, then the BracketBusters opponent on either Feb. 19 or 20 will be even more important to the Saints' NCAA at-large hopes.

It's essentially Butler or bust.

If the Saints can win this week (at St. Peter's Thursday and at Marist on Saturday), there's a very good chance the Saints will be Butler's opponent in the highest-profile BracketBusters game. Matchups will be made this weekend so teams have a few weeks to deal with travel and scouting.

The concept has done wonders for some and been irrelevant for others, but one thing is certain: Teams that have an outside shot at an NCAA tourney at-large or are looking for a seed boost once they qualify as an automatic can't go wrong with another quality nonconference game in late February.

Some teams won't get that chance. The West Coast Conference isn't participating in the event and there are some omissions from other conferences like the Summit (only Oral Roberts and not Oakland), the America East (no Maine), the Big Sky (served up only Montana State and not Northern Colorado or Weber State).

There are 98 teams involved in 49 games during BracketBusters. The 11 games that will air on the ESPN family of networks are determined first and then the conference commissioners will pair up the remaining 76 teams.

Home and road teams are already set for the event, so it's a bit difficult to maneuver who can go where. But the most important aspect of matching teams should be done based on who has a shot to be in the field. Not all of the 22 set teams are in that group. Actually, maybe only six could have an outside shot at an at-large.

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Fran McCaffery
AP Photo/Mike CarlsonFran McCaffery is hoping BracketBusters provides a way to boost his team's NCAA at-large chances.

Siena is one of them.

"It's going to mean something and I would say if we could have a phenomenal league record and beat Butler and then not lose until the finals of the [MAAC] then we'd have a shot," said Siena coach Fran McCaffery. "We'll be right there in that discussion, but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves and assume the next five or six games."

McCaffery would actually be in favor of holding off on announcing the BracketBusters matchups until a few more weeks. But nevertheless, he still wants that Butler game. From a storyline perspective, it makes sense. Those are two of the better-known programs in the field and each has had some NCAA tournament success (Siena has won its last two first-round games).

"We're hoping we can put ourselves in position to get an at-large bid," McCaffery said. The problem for the Saints will be the six games prior to a possible showdown with Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Ubiles didn't play against Manhattan on Jan. 18, played 33 minutes in a win over Loyola (Md.) on Jan. 21, but then missed the road game at Manhattan on Sunday. Meanwhile, guard Kyle Downey, who scored 16 points in Ubiles' absence in the first Manhattan game, broke his foot and is now out, possibly for the season.

"We're short-handed for this tough stretch, but I know we have to keep winning," said McCaffery.

Siena did beat Northeastern early in the season for what might turn out to be a solid win. It was a game McCaffery said was scheduled because "nobody wanted to play us and nobody wanted to play them and we're two hours away." But losses to Temple, St. John's, Georgia Tech and Northern Iowa were the supposed "up" games that the Saints failed to win.

Meanwhile, Butler has been rolling in the Horizon at 9-0 with a 16-4 record overall. That mark includes a win at Northwestern and home victories against Ohio State (without Evan Turner) and Xavier. Playing Clemson on a neutral court and UAB on the road (both losses) will help the power rating.

A year ago, Butler coach Brad Stevens said beating Davidson on the road was a key win for helping the Bulldogs get an at-large bid after losing to eventual champ Cleveland State in the conference tournament.

"We were coming off two losses that week before the Davidson game," Stevens said. "And you don't want to be on a losing streak at that time of the year. Doubt starts to creep in. That was a good win that got us going in the right direction."

Stevens knows the Bulldogs will get a quality BracketBusters opponent as the premier home team. There was a time when the staff was anticipating Wichita State as a possible opponent, but two losses last week for the Shockers have led to a belief that it could be Siena. Louisiana Tech, which tops the WAC, is also a possibility, but the name value of a Siena-Butler matchup may have more cachet.

The Bulldogs are handling their business in the Horizon as they become the top draw in every opposing building. That won't change as the Bulldogs go to Green Bay on Friday (ESPNU, 9 ET) and then to Milwaukee, two places the Bulldogs lost last season.

With Matt Howard staying out of foul trouble in the league after being in it throughout the nonconference, the Bulldogs are getting more of a complete effort. Gordon Hayward has been a Horizon MVP and barring a complete collapse, the Bulldogs are in good shape as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned.

Joining Butler as a BracketBusters home squad is Northern Iowa (8-1, 17-2), which leads the Missouri Valley. But Siena has already played Northern Iowa (the Panthers won 82-65) and that's why it makes more sense to send Siena to Butler and Louisiana Tech to Northern Iowa. The latter matchup may not seem headline-worthy to the mainstream fan, but these are the leaders in the WAC and MVC and both teams are talented enough to win a first-round NCAA tournament game.

If you were to pit Siena-Butler and Louisiana Tech-Northern Iowa, you'd likely have four teams that are going to be in the field of 65 matching up a few weeks before Selection Sunday.

The other hot teams are in the Colonial, but they obviously can't go up against each other. Northeastern, Old Dominion, George Mason and William & Mary all could be in play for the CAA's automatic bid with the Tribe the most likely at-large candidate because of nonconference wins over Wake Forest and Maryland on the road and Richmond at home.

That's why the question of who will play at GMU and Northeastern and where ODU and William & Mary will play during BracketBusters will be a fluid process this week.

I'd like to see the following: Wichita State at Northeastern as two of the top teams in the MVC and CAA; William & Mary hitting the road to play the best team in the Ohio Valley (Murray State); ODU traveling to Green Bay, pitting one of the top teams in the CAA against the second-best in the Horizon; and Charleston, which took out North Carolina, makes sense at George Mason in a matchup of two of the best from the Southern and CAA.

"We need a good game," said Northeastern coach Bill Coen, whose Huskies have won 11 games in a row, the third-longest streak in the country. "We've used all our mulligans and probably need to stay perfect the rest of the way to get an at-large berth. But in the spirit of the BracketBusters, we'd like to play our way into the conversation."

Northeastern failed to win games in the nonconference against potential NCAA teams Siena, Rhode Island and Saint Mary's before a humbling loss to Western Michigan in Honolulu on Dec. 23 -- its last loss -- set the team straight.

"It was good for us to be on the road because we had to take a hard look at ourselves," Coen said. "It was like a foreign tour. We were together all the time and had to go eat together breakfast, lunch and dinner and figure it out."

What happened was Northeastern got back to defending and Chaisson Allen started to play the point like Coen expected, teaming up with potential CAA Player of the Year Matt Janning.

Now Coen says the Huskies are cheering for a BracketBusters game "that will help us the most."

They're not alone.

Assuming his grades are reported as expected, UTEP will add enigmatic center Derrick Caracter to its lineup Sunday against New Mexico State. (Update: As announced Saturday, Caracter will indeed make his debut with the Miners this weekend.)

UTEP coach Tony Barbee doesn't expect a hitch in getting Caracter into the Miners' rotation. He backloaded their nonconference schedule knowing the team would be without Caracter early in the season.

The Miners, a trendy pick to push Tulsa and Memphis and win Conference USA, are 5-0 with a glut of nonconference games remaining against Ole Miss in Southaven, Miss. (Dec. 16), Oklahoma in Oklahoma City (Dec. 21), at Texas Tech (Jan. 3) and against BYU (Jan. 9). Their C-USA schedule begins SMU on Jan. 6.

"I tried to play the fewest amount of games I could prior to Dec. 13," Barbee said. "If I could have played two games, I would have, but there weren't enough dates after it. I had to play some home games."

According to Barbee, Caracter has been a model citizen since his arrival in El Paso after transferring from Louisville because of differences with Cardinals coach Rick Pitino about weight and work. Barbee said Caracter, who was hyped as the "next great thing" since he was 14 years old and attending school in New Jersey, has been a loyal foot soldier on the scout team.

But don't for a second think that Caracter is the only reason UTEP should be watched throughout the season.

The Miners, who lost to Oregon State in a decisive third game of the College Basketball Invitational in April, have one of the better-balanced scoring rosters.

UTEP has five players averaging double figures -- guards Randy Culpepper, Julyan Stone and Christian Polk and forwards Arnett Moultrie and Jeremy Williams.

"I told Derrick that he wasn't coming here to be the savior or that this would be a one-man show," Barbee said. "This is a team that we've built here. This is our fourth year, and we're where we want to be. We talked about being balanced, and we are. Derrick will make us better, but he doesn't become our team."

The Miners relied heavily on Stefon Jackson early in Barbee's tenure. But although Culpepper and Stone don't have similar star power, they're much more of a complementary pair. Moultrie is a developing talent who will thrive even more with Caracter next to him. The Miners should have the best shot-blocking tandem in the league with this pair, even more so than true center Jerome Jordan of Tulsa, who wouldn't have as meaty a mate next to him as Moultrie will with Caracter.

Barbee talked about how high this team can go once he has everyone eligible. Still, the Miners may not have as much room for error in Conference USA, which should be extremely competitive. Building a résumé with wins now will only help, and unlike a lot of other potential NCAA teams, the Miners have purposely gotten off to a quiet start. Once Caracter is eligible, the higher-profile games will start rolling in, and we'll have a more accurate picture of the possibility of UTEP being a true team to watch for the next three months.

• Florida's loss meant there were 15 remaining unbeaten teams this season. It's still so early and it doesn't mean that much -- yet.

But still, which is the most surprising unblemished team?

Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders' overtime win over Washington is still one of the more surprising results this season.

New Mexico probably would finish second in this group. The Lobos play Texas A&M on Saturday in Houston.

Which of the one-loss teams has been one of the most overlooked?

Saint Mary's.

If the Gaels had beaten Vanderbilt instead of losing by a deuce, they might've been one of the more-talked-about teams. Omar Samhan has been stellar so far, and so has the guard play. The Gaels got overshadowed by Gonzaga and Portland in November, but check who is atop the West Coast Conference standings in overall record in mid-December.

Of schools outside the power six leagues, which one-loss teams should you keep tabs on? Northern Colorado at 8-1 is now a favorite to win the Big Sky, and a battle is brewing in the Missouri Valley among undefeated Missouri State (8-0), Illinois State (7-0), Wichita State (8-1) and preseason favorite Northern Iowa (6-1).
Maybe no team needed a summer trip more than Davidson, as the Wildcats attempt to get through a season without Stephen Curry.

Taking the trip to Italy and Slovenia in August allowed the Wildcats to learn to play without their former All-American. So when Davidson convened for the first team practice last week, there was no reason for introductions of new roles.

"We got a taste of what it was going to be like," coach Bob McKillop said. "We needed that then, rather than find that out in November. The timing of having to understand how to play without Stephen was good."

In Europe, Will Archambault led the Wildcats with 18.5 points a game, with Bryant Barr scoring 15, Aaron Bond 14.3 and Brendan McKillop 12.1.

"We learned we're going to have to have an equal opportunity offense," McKillop said. "We can't have guys stand around waiting for Steph to shoot it. They all have to swing the bat."

McKillop originally was slated to coach the Under-19 USA Basketball team in the FIBA World Championship in New Zealand. He coached the U.S. to a silver medal in Argentina the previous summer. But McKillop opted to stay home once Curry declared for the NBA draft. He needed to figure out how his team was going to respond without its superstar.

Steve Rossiter, who will be the team captain, averaged 7.8 points and nine rebounds a game on the trip, and his leadership was noted by McKillop. Rossiter was a classic role player to Curry a year ago and didn't hesitate to take over the more vocal aspects of being a team captain this summer.

"He was a valuable role player on the [2008] Elite Eight team and has experience winning games," McKillop said.

A number of players on this squad were a part of the Elite Eight team and have been consistent winners in the program. That shouldn't change, although Davidson won't be picked to win the league with College of Charleston being the likely favorite.

McKillop, who is a proponent of taking a foreign trip every four seasons and has the full backing of the administration on these trips, said the Wildcats might never have another star like Curry.

"But we never had that in my 20 years at Davidson outside of Stephen," McKillop said. "We have tremendous balance and we will have experience and now we have six games under our belt [the Wildcats went 4-2]. We have an understanding of what it takes."

McKillop isn't slinking back into things with the schedule, either. Davidson isn't a marquee squad without Curry, but there is still interest. Davidson is in the Charleston Classic with teams such as Miami and Penn State, is in the Holiday Festival with St. John's, is playing Gonzaga in Seattle, travels to Butler, and plays host to UMass and Rhode Island.

"It's an aggressive schedule," McKillop said.

The hope is that Frank Ben-Eze, who played in 22 games and averaged 7.6 minutes and 1.3 points, will be cleared for practice on Oct. 16. He didn't make the trip to Europe because of a knee injury. The Wildcats need Ben-Eze to be a vital part of the board work inside.

Easing the pain of losing Curry for McKillop is how much the team has become his family, with son Brendan expected to be a major player for the Wildcats in his junior season, and son Matt on the bench as a full-time assistant coach.

"I've got one on the bench, one on the court," McKillop said of his sons. "I'm pretty lucky to have this opportunity to share it with my boys."

• North Dakota State will unfurl its NCAA tournament banner and hand out its NCAA rings at its Midnight Madness ceremony Oct. 16. The Bison were a classic March Madness story last season, earning their bid in the first season they were eligible. NDSU coach Saul Phillips and former coach Tim Miles had the plan to redshirt a class, knowing that in the seniors' fifth season of eligibility they would be primed for a Summit League title run. Senior Ben Woodside was the key member of this class, averaging 23.2 points a game.

"We graduated the No. 1, 2 and 7 all-time scorers, but we've still got four seniors left on the roster and we're still thinking of redshirting players again," Phillips said.

Oakland will be picked as the favorite to win the league, but the Grizzlies and Bison have different approaches to scheduling. Oakland plays a crazy slate of games at Wisconsin, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan State, Oregon and Syracuse in a 30-day period. Meanwhile, the Bison play a much more manageable slate with road games at Utah Valley, UC Davis, Fresno State, Wichita State and Iowa State. They might not win more than two of those, but this team shouldn't lose any confidence. Phillips is doing a solid job of getting some home games, too, with improving Idaho of the WAC and Horizon League teams Green Bay and Milwaukee making the trip to Fargo, N.D.

• The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., put out the good word from Gonzaga and the Zags' staff confirmed Tuesday that Canadian Bol Kong is enrolled on campus and eligible for this season. The Zags have anxiously awaited Kong's arrival since the former Sudanese national had visa issues going from Canada to the United States. Kong, a 6-7 forward, is expected to be a talent for the Zags, but his role will be a complementary one. Meanwhile, the bigger get is that German Elias Harris, who is expected on campus this week, is eligible, as well. Harris, who was playing with the German national team, could be a starter this season. Harris, a 6-7 forward, is the talk among the staff. He is a scorer who won't steal the headlines from Matt Bouldin or Steven Gray but is expected to be a major contributor from the opening tip. Kong had to be on campus and enrolled in class by this past Friday to make the deadline to be eligible this semester (12 class days after the semester starts). Harris received an exemption because he was playing on his national team.

• Blue Ribbon put out its Missouri Valley predictions, and if Wichita State is the seventh-best team in the Valley, it could be another banner season for the league. The rankings were hard to argue against at the top with Northern Iowa, Illinois State, Creighton and Southern Illinois as the top four. Indiana State and Bradley were five and six before the Shockers at No. 7. Drake, Evansville and Missouri State wrapped up the bottom three. WSU coach Gregg Marshall has the Shockers on the verge of being quite a pest this season, and they could cause some havoc in the CBE Classic when they play Pitt in the semifinals in Kansas City, Mo. Don't be surprised if Iowa, not Wichita State, is the team that leaves the event winless. Texas plays the Hawkeyes in the other semifinal.