Team of the Week: Florida State
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Jan. 9, to Sunday, Jan. 15.
More teams that impressed us
Akron: The Zips disposed of fellow MAC contender Ohio after a one-point win at Bowling Green and now are likely the league favorite. This is a team that won at Mississippi State and Marshall and has only one bad loss.Baylor: The Bears won at Kansas State, a place where Missouri fell hard. Then Baylor hit the century mark and obliterated Oklahoma State. This team goes to Kansas on Monday night in a titanic matchup. Regardless of what happens, the Bears have established themselves as one of the best teams in the country. Boston College: Steve Donahue deserves credit for persevering through a major rebuilding situation. There is complete apathy at the Heights, and the talent pool is as weak as it has been in years. Yet the Eagles are 2-1 in the ACC after home wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech. Cincinnati: The Bearcats proved their last-second home loss to St. John's was more of a fluke than indicative of how much this team has changed since the Dec. 10 brawl with Xavier. Cincinnati won at Georgetown by four, then held off Villanova by the same margin to put itself at 4-1 in the Big East. Drexel: The Dragons were the preseason pick to win the CAA, but were short-handed and struggled mightily early on. But beating George Mason and UNC Wilmington gave Drexel a four-game winning streak within the league and put it right in the mix.
-- Andy Katz
Player of the week: Brandon Paul, Illinois
The Illini played only one game last week, but it will last them a season because of Brandon Paul. The junior guard had the game of his life in a 79-74 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday in Champaign. Paul scored 43 points in 36 minutes, making 11 of 15 shots, 8 of 10 3-pointers and 13 of 15 free throws. He also had eight rebounds and four blocks.
-- Andy Katz
More performances that wowed us
Matthew Dellavedova, SMC: 53 pts (19-29 FG, 11-20 3-pt FG) in wins over USF, Gonzaga
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: 27 pts (10-16 FG), 4 stls in win at Georgetown
Kadeem Batts, Providence: 27 pts (9-13 FG), 10 rebs in win over Louisville
Vincent Council, Providence: 15 pts, 14 asts, 8 rebs in win over Louisville
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure: 30 pts, 13 rebs, 6 blks in win over Dayton
Langston Galloway, Saint Joseph's: 30 pts (10-14 FG, 7-9 3-pt FG) in win over Fordham
Phil Martin, UC Riverside: 33 pts (8-8 FT), 11 rebs in win over UC Santa Barbara
Maalik Wayns, Villanova: 39 pts (6-13 3-pt FG), 13 rebs, 6 asts in loss at Cincinnati
Deividas Dulkys, Florida State: 32 pts (12-14 FG, 8-10 3-pt FG), 4 stls in win over UNC
Kevin Olekaibe, Fresno State: 32 pts (6-11 3-pt FG) in win over San Jose State
Antonio Williams, Coppin State: 12 pts, 21 rebs in win over Hampton
T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State: 14 pts, 19 rebs in win over Pacific
Royce White, Iowa State: 18 pts, 17 rebs in loss at Kansas
Kevin Jones, West Virginia: 24 pts, 14 rebs in win over Rutgers
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: 25 pts (10-14 FG), 13 rebs in win over Alabama
Davante Gardner, Marquette: 22 pts (8-13 FG), 15 rebs in win over St. John's
Phil Pressey, Missouri: 18 pts, 10 asts, 0 TOs in win over Texas
Alec Brown, Green Bay: Horizon-record 11 blks in win over Wright State
Keith Wright, Harvard: 18 pts (8-11 FG), 15 rebs, 6 blks in win over Monmouth
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: 24 pts, 10 rebs, GW shot in win over UNLV
Lenzelle Smith Jr., Ohio State: 28 pts (10-12 FG, 4-5 3-pt FG), 7 rebs in win over Indiana
Terrence Ross, Washington: 30 pts (6-12 3-pt FG), 14 rebs in win over Washington State
-- Brett Edgerton
They said it (or tweeted it)
"Is there a song that says "I got a feeling that tonights gonna be a good night.... #wondering #gophers #wholetthedogsout"
-- Tweet from Minnesota assistant Joe Esposito (@Coach_JEsposito) hours before his squad's 77-74 upset of host No. 8 Indiana.
"S/o to Volnation and my teammates for helping me perservere! We will continue building chemistry and getting better! Those are my guys."
-- Tweets from Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes (@JarnellStokes), who scored nine points in a 65-62 home loss to No. 2 Kentucky. It was his first collegiate game. "We're a family. If my ankle's broke, if they want me out there, I'm out there. It was a big tweak, but it didn't really hurt. The adrenaline was going. Chase [Tapley] was the first person there; James [Rahon], my other teammates were there pushing me, telling me to get up. When you hear words of encouragement like that, you have to get up."
-- San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin after hitting the game-winning basket in his squad's 69-67 victory over No. 12 UNLV. "Every little kid has a dream when you're playing on a big stage like I did today. I guess today was my day."
-- Florida State's Deividas Dulkys after scoring a career-high 32 points in his team's 90-57 win over No. 3 North Carolina. "I was laughing a couple times. After the first couple 3s, I just said I was going to keep shooting. That's the mindset that I've got to have."
-- Illinois' Brandon Paul after his 43-point performance (8-for-10 from 3-point line) in a 79-74 upset over No. 5 Ohio State.
-- Myron Medcalf
King's observations from the week that was
1. North Carolina got complacent. Before Saturday's debacle at Florida State, the Tar Heels had won their previous nine games by an average of 27.8 points. And they hadn't played outside of Chapel Hill since Dec. 3. It's easy to lose fire and energy when you spend six weeks beating inferior opponents in front of a fawning fan base. Playing good teams -- or even mediocre ones -- on the road requires a different level of intensity and focus. The Heels didn't have it Saturday in the worst loss of Williams' UNC career.
Katz's observations from the week that was
1. Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie could be the SEC Player of the Year. Kentucky's Anthony Davis and/or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have done enough so far to warrant serious consideration for the award. They're also leaders for freshman of the year. If there is a split vote for POY, the beneficiary will be Moultrie. The UTEP transfer has been special this season. He scored 25 points and put up 13 rebounds in a four-point win over Alabama and was impressive in a win over Tennessee, as well.2. The woofing and taunting by players after big buckets has to stop. Oregon State's Jared Cunningham was wrong when he shoved Arizona's Kyle Fogg. Cunningham and Fogg should have been ejected. Fogg had every right to celebrate when his bucket helped ice the overtime win for Arizona. He should celebrate. But there is no need to get in someone's face. That's not sportsmanship, and there has been a serious decline of that quality for too long. Officials need to do a better job of policing, but coaches and athletic directors also need to let players know it won't be tolerated.
What's On Tap
3:30 p.m.: Louisville at Marquette (ESPN)
7:30 p.m.: Pitt at Syracuse (ESPN)
9:30 p.m.: Baylor at Kansas (ESPN) Tuesday
7 p.m.: Michigan State at Michigan (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Arkansas at Kentucky (ESPN) Wednesday
7 p.m.: Cincinnati at Connecticut (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: Saint Joseph's at Xavier (Comcast)
7:30 p.m.: Marshall vs. West Virginia (ESPN3)
8 p.m.: Creighton at Missouri State
9 p.m.: Texas at Kansas State (ESPN2)
10 p.m.: San Diego State at New Mexico (CBS Sports Net.) Thursday
7 p.m.: Vanderbilt at Alabama (ESPN3)
7 p.m.: Charleston at Davidson (ESPN3)
8:30 p.m.: Cal at Washington (FSN) Saturday
Noon: Alabama at Kentucky (CBS)
1 p.m.: Xavier at Dayton (ESPN2)
2 p.m.: Missouri at Baylor (ESPN)
2 p.m.: Michigan at Arkansas (CBS)
3 p.m.: Cincinnati at West Virginia (ESPNU)
4 p.m.: Florida State at Duke (ESPN)
4 p.m.: UConn at Tennessee (CBS)
4 p.m.: Kansas at Texas (CBS)
4 p.m.: UCLA at Oregon (FSN)
6 p.m.: Syracuse at Notre Dame (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt (ESPN2)
10 p.m.: New Mexico at UNLV (CBS Sports Net.) Sunday
2 p.m.: Wisconsin at Illinois (BTN)
King on Baylor-Kansas
Medcalf on SDSU-New Mexico
O'Neil: Three questions
• Do road losses matter?The statistics say no. The past four national champions lost 21 games combined, 15 of them on the road. The NCAA tournament, after all, is never played on someone's home court. But to totally discount the abysmal and the shaky road performances by some of the nation's top teams would be foolish. Great teams have a sort of built-in swagger, an arrogance that allows them to come into a visiting gym like they own it. UNLV had it in a losing effort, giving San Diego State all it and The Show could handle before losing a taut and entertaining game. There was no such swagger from the Tar Heels on Saturday. Instead there was a collective fetal position from a team that is long on talent but always seems a bit short on the chutzpah. Who is the firebrand guy for North Carolina, the one who is going to be so insulted and angry at losing that he'll fire up the troops? How critical is such a guy? Ask Kentucky. The ridiculously talented Wildcats twice allowed lower-level SEC teams (Auburn and Tennessee) to make things interesting. It is a dangerous line to walk for a team that has a light-up bull's-eye on its back, no matter what gym it's in. But here's what the Wildcats have -- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a player who takes offense at losing and isn't afraid to light a fire under his teammates. It was Kidd-Gilchrist, a freshman who plays with the maturity of a senior, who lit in to his teammates at halftime and put his play where his mouth was, with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals.
• What do we make of the Atlantic 10?Is the league really good or truly average? The jury is still out. Xavier lost to La Salle, which lost to Dayton, which lost to St. Bonaventure, which lost to Duquesne, which lost to Saint Joseph's, which lost to Charlotte, which lost to Saint Louis, which lost to Temple, which lost to Richmond. Who's on first? I don't know, third base? OK, actually it's a three-way tie atop the standings with UMass, Dayton and Xavier all at 3-1. The Musketeers, who have reeled off three in a row after their gigantic skid, seem to be finding their footing. But the question for the league is what to make of everyone else. Perennial tourney entrant Temple is all over the map. Saint Louis, which appeared to be making strides under Rick Majerus, has lost three of its past five. And UMass, winner of eight of nine, is finally turning things around under Derek Kellogg but doesn't have much to hang a nonconference résumé on. • Is this the season for Northwestern? An entire campus just yelled "Jinx!" simply because the question was posed. Yet the annual query of whether Northwestern will get off its program-long NCAA tournament schneid is definitely worth asking today, on the heels of the Wildcats' win against streaking Michigan State. Northwestern is in the best league in the country, which will afford the Wildcats bonus points for any victory. Of course, it could make for some punishing losses, too. And that is the curse of Northwestern fans everywhere. The opportunity is there for the taking for the Cats. A few more good wins and Northwestern can make its own case. A few tough losses and it's NIT all over again.
-- Dana O'Neil
O'Neil on Cincinnati-Connecticut
Places to be this week
Lawrence, Kan. (Baylor at Kansas): Your early favorite for game of the week. Baylor appears to be the best and most talented team in the Big 12, but, to take the conference title, it'll have to unseat the league's longtime big boys, the Kansas Jayhawks. There's nothing to dislike about this game, which features fantastic, talent-rich matchups, huge stakes and a chance to see arguably this season's best road team play in one of the nation's most treacherous venues. In every way, this is must-see stuff. Tuesday
Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan State at Michigan): In the unlikely event Baylor-KU disappoints, don't fret: We get another really good one Tuesday night. Michigan State suffered its first loss since mid-November this weekend at Northwestern, and the Spartans' tough, physical frontcourt -- led by star forward Draymond Green -- will be eager to go to work against its hated rivals, who also are coming off an upset loss. Wednesday
Storrs, Conn. (Cincinnati at UConn): Cincinnati has quietly played some of the better basketball in the Big East since its Dec. 10 brawl with rival Xavier, culminating in a strong 68-64 win at Georgetown last week. Meanwhile, Connecticut is one of the nation's most talented but frustrating teams; Jim Calhoun is desperately searching for someone to fill the massive leadership void left behind by Kemba Walker. Will the Bearcats' brand of solid, methodical hoops be enough to make him extend that search? Charleston, W.Va. (Marshall vs. WVU): The Thundering Herd have been sneaky good for most of the season, and lately they've shown a specific talent for winning close games. Their past three wins (over Rice, UAB and UCF) came by a combined margin of five points. But Mountain State headliner West Virginia is one of the more improved teams of the past month, and forward Kevin Jones has begun earning national POY chatter thanks to some massive performances. This is a tough task for Marshall, but rest assured Tom Herrion's team won't be backing down. Springfield, Mo. (Creighton at Missouri State): On Dec. 28, when these two teams clashed at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., Missouri State forward and 2011 MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems posted 31 points and 7 rebounds in a 12-point road win for the underdogs. Greg McDermott and son -- national POY candidate Doug McDermott -- will be out for revenge in Springfield on Wednesday night. Albuquerque, N.M. (SDSU at New Mexico): San Diego State got the win of its season this weekend, a thrilling 69-67 victory over fellow Mountain West contender UNLV. The Aztecs' surprising MWC title candidacy appears to be very real. But there's another test on deck this week, a road trip to play a very solid New Mexico team (13 straight wins) in its brutal home venue, The Pit. Saturday
Dayton, Ohio (Xavier at Dayton): Xavier is slowly righting the ship. Meanwhile, first-year Dayton coach Archie Miller is seeking to maintain his team's solid but occasionally inconsistent start in the hopes of waging an upstart A-10 title campaign. If the Musketeers have begun to figure things out and are ready to assert their authority in the league they so often dominate, Saturday is a great time to showcase as much. Waco, Texas (Missouri at Baylor): Baylor and Kansas appear to be the Big 12 favorites, but the Tigers will hardly accept that state of affairs lying down. The only problem? Missouri's all-guards-plus-Ricardo Ratliffe formulation struggled in its only loss this season, which came on the road (like this game) against a Kansas State team that specializes in length and physicality. Baylor has those qualities in spades. Durham, N.C. (Florida State at Duke): For all 40 minutes of their shocking blowout of North Carolina on Saturday, the Seminoles looked like the team -- OK, they looked way, way better than the team -- many predicted would finish third behind UNC and Duke in the ACC this season. But was it a fluke? Can FSU's hot-shooting Deividas Dulkys take his show on the road? Nashville, Tenn. (Mississippi State at Vandy): Perhaps neither of these teams has what it takes to unseat Kentucky at the top of the league, but both have displayed plenty of upside as solid SEC contenders. We'll learn much about Vanderbilt's recent run of success this week: The Commodores travel to Alabama on Thursday before returning home for this Saturday matchup. -- Eamonn Brennan
Brennan on Michigan St.-Michigan
Upset pick of the week
Arkansas over Michigan, Saturday: The definition of an upset is different for everyone. You can go with rankings if you'd like. Going strictly with the Las Vegas point spread is another option. Missouri State might knock off ranked Creighton at home; New Mexico certainly can take down ranked San Diego State at The Pit; and Tennessee has a legit shot to beat ranked Connecticut at home. But my pick for the week is Arkansas over Michigan. The Wolverines lost at Iowa and have to host Michigan State on Tuesday. Arkansas has been understandably erratic in Mike Anderson's first season, especially without Marshawn Powell. The Hogs ran up Mississippi State to start the SEC, lost at Ole Miss but then came home and beat a solid LSU team this past weekend. Arkansas should have Bud Walton Arena rocking for Michigan. This is a dangerous game for John Beilein's crew. One I believe it'll lose.
-- Andy Katz