Team of the Week: Missouri
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Jan. 16, to Sunday, Jan. 22.
More teams that impressed us
Dayton: The Flyers easily knocked off rival Xavier to move into first place by themselves in the A-10. That followed up a four-point win over surprising league contender La Salle. The A-10 coach of the year award is Archie Miller's to lose.Florida State: The Seminoles had one of their best weeks ever under Leonard Hamilton, beating Maryland at home and then stunning Duke on the road on a last-second 3-pointer by Michael Snaer. FSU is in the race for the ACC title. Get used to it.
Kansas: The Jayhawks dominated Baylor and then withstood a big rally at Texas. Tyshawn Taylor has emerged as a legitimate scoring partner to Thomas Robinson. Mizzou is the team of the week, but the Big 12 still goes through KU. Can't say it enough.LIU Brooklyn: The Blackbirds were the preseason favorite in the Northeast Conference, but didn't take advantage of several nonconference opportunities. They didn't have the signature win like Wagner did at Pitt. But this team is now 8-0 in the NEC after beating Wagner on the road. Long Beach State: The 49ers played a brutal nonconference schedule. The point was to be in position for a possible at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, but more importantly set themselves up for a run in the Big West. Well, it's working. LBSU took out two of its top competitors by sweeping a road trip to Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara to go to 7-0 in the conference. Loyola Marymount: LMU had one game last week but it was a big one, winning at BYU's vaunted Marriott Center. The Lions have had a strange season, beating UCLA, Saint Louis and now BYU, but losing to Columbia, North Texas and Morgan State. This week's home game with 8-0 Saint Mary's is now huge. This team could be dangerous in the WCC tournament. Marquette: The Golden Eagles quietly rallied from consecutive road losses at Georgetown and Syracuse by winning four in a row, the latest being an 11-point win over Louisville and a road win at Providence. They have to be taken seriously again as a top-four Big East team. Murray State: The world is watching the Racers and they are still winning. The nation's last unbeaten had a struggle at rival Morehead State but came back for the win and then took care of SIU-Edwardsville rather easily on the road. Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy should get plenty of credit for holding this team together after Dundrecous Nelson was dismissed. The Rebels beat rival Mississippi State at home and then won at Georgia. Suddenly, Ole Miss is 3-2 in the SEC with Florida arriving in Oxford on Thursday. San Diego State: The Aztecs followed up an impressive two-point win over UNLV the previous week with a gritty five-point win at the Pit in Albuquerque and a home win over Air Force. With victories over UNLV and UNM, it's hard not to dub SDSU at the very least a co-favorite with UNLV at this juncture. UCF: The Knights didn't wilt after losing to Marshall the previous week. UCF beat league-favorite Memphis for the first time ever in a one-point thriller and then survived an ugly game and won by seven at UAB. These guys are a serious threat to win Conference USA. Washington State: Who saw this coming? The rebuilding Cougars started Pac-12 Conference play 1-4, but then came home and swept the Bay Area schools (Stanford and Cal), both of whom have conference title aspirations. Faisal Aden was a beast off the bench for Wazzu. Shoutout-worthy: Creighton, Davidson, Kentucky, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn, Southern Miss, UNLV, Valparaiso, Villanova, Wisconsin, Wyoming
-- Andy Katz
Player of the week: Kevin Jones, West Virginia
The senior forward helped beat Cincinnati in overtime on Saturday with 26 points on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting performance. He also had 13 boards and no turnovers. Earlier in the week, Jones scored 25 points with seven boards in 40 minutes in a win over in-state rival Marshall in Charleston. Jones was expected to star last season for the Mountaineers after the team took some hits following a Final Four run, but he struggled finding consistency. That's not the case this season. Jones has been a star from the outset, averaging 20.7 points and 11.5 rebounds overall. His numbers continue to climb in Big East play and he's a virtual double-double lock it seems. Quite simply, Jones is playing as well as any player in the country right now.
-- Andy Katz
More performances that wowed us
Blake Allen, Youngstown State: 27 pts (8-10 FG, 7-8 3-pt FG) in win over Milwaukee
Faisal Aden, Washington State: 57 pts (19-29 FG) in wins over Stanford, Cal
Aaron Broussard, Seattle: 51 pts (19-30 FG) in wins over E. Washington, Utah State
Mark Cisco, Columbia: 18 pts, 20 rebs in win over Cornell
Jason Clark, Georgetown: 31 pts (11-14 FG, 5-7 3-pt FG), 4 stls in win at DePaul
Jake Cohen, Davidson: 29 pts, 14 rebs in win over Charleston
Robert Covington, Tennessee State: 30 pts, 15 rebs in loss at Austin Peay
Anthony Davis, Kentucky: 27 pts (10-12 FG), 14 rebs, 7 blks in win over Arkansas
Anthony Marshall, UNLV: 40 pts, 18 assists in wins over TCU, New Mexico
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State: 33 pts (11-17 FG), 8 rebs in win over Texas
Tony Mitchell, North Texas: 30 pts, 17 rebs in win over Denver
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: 21 pts, 14 rebs, 4 stls in win at Vanderbilt
Kyle O'Quinn, Norfolk State: 46 pts (19-26 FG), 30 rebs in wins at Coppin St., Hampton
Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri: 27 pts (11-14 FG), 8 rebs in win at Baylor
Thomas Robinson, Kansas: 27 pts (11-18 FG), 14 rebs in win over Baylor
Colt Ryan, Evansville: 39 pts (8-14 3-pt FG), 9 rebs in win over Bradley
Jesse Sanders, Liberty: Triple-double (14 pts, 10 rebs, 13 asts) in win at Hight Point
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: 16 pts, 12 rebs in win over Connecticut
Charlie Westbrook, South Dakota: 32 pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts, 4 stls in win over IUPUI
Leonard Washington, Wyoming: 32 pts (12-16 FG), 14 rebs in win over Colorado State Darren White, Campbell: 22 pts (10-12 FG), 16 rebs, 8 asts in win over VMI
-- Brett Edgerton
Upset pick of the week: Cincinnati over Syracuse
-- Andy Katz
King's observations from the week that was
1. UNLV is the best team in the Mountain West Conference. And, yes, I realize there will be plenty of folks who disagree with me in the wake of the Runnin' Rebels' 69-67 loss at San Diego State on Jan. 14. But UNLV bounced back from that defeat with convincing victories over TCU (101-78) and New Mexico (80-63). I'd pick Dave Rice's squad to beat anyone in the league on a neutral court. As it stands, the Feb. 11 rematch between UNLV and San Diego State in Sin City could be one of the more anticipated games of the season.
For Myron Medcalf's five observations of the week, visit the Nation blog.
They said it (or tweeted it)
"Up early watching film. Had 6 turnovers yesterday. Gotta find out what I was doing wrong to prevent that from happening again
-- Tweet from Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe after he scored 27 points in his team's 89-88 victory over Baylor on Saturday.
-- Notre Dame's Scott Martin following the Fighting Irish's 67-58 win over No. 1 Syracuse on Saturday. Players watched a video of Notre Dame's previous upsets against No. 1 teams prior to the game. "It's so frustrating because we prepare so well and work so hard. Everybody fought. I don't think anybody was lazy. We were blow-for-blow and they got that last blow in, the last shot at the last second."
-- Duke's Austin Rivers after his team lost to Florida State, 76-73, at home Saturday on Michael Snaer's buzzer-beater. "I think that's an excuse, in my opinion."
-- Purdue's Matt Painter after his team's 83-58 loss at Michigan State on Saturday. The Boilermakers were stuck on a runway for three hours and reached East Lansing, Mich., two hours before tipoff due to travel issues. "I remember one time he just told his guys, 'Just bring him in here, I'm going to block everything.'"
-- Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade quoting Anthony Davis during his team's 86-63 loss to Kentucky on Tuesday.
-- Myron Medcalf
What's On Tap
7 p.m.: Syracuse at Cincinnati (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Texas A&M at Kansas (ESPN) Tuesday
7 p.m.: Michigan at Purdue (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Tennessee at Vanderbilt (ESPNU)
8:30 p.m.: SDSU at Wyoming (The Mtn.)
9 p.m.: Kentucky at Georgia (ESPN) Wednesday
7 p.m.: Saint Louis at Xavier (FS MW/Ohio)
7:30 p.m.: Missouri at Oklahoma St. (ESPN2)
8 p.m.: Notre Dame at Seton Hall (ESPN3)
9 p.m.: Duke at Maryland (ESPN) Thursday
7 p.m.: NC State at North Carolina (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Indiana at Wisconsin (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: Nevada at New Mexico St. (ESPN3)
10 p.m.: Saint Mary's at Loyola Marymount Saturday
Noon: St. John's at Duke (ESPN)
1 p.m.: West Virginia at Syracuse (ESPNU)
1 p.m.: Texas at Baylor (CBS)
1:30 p.m.: Mississippi St. at Florida (ESPN3)
2 p.m.: Kansas at Iowa State (ESPN)
2 p.m.: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt
6 p.m.: Cincinnati at Rutgers (ESPN3)
7 p.m.: Washington at Arizona (ESPN)
8 p.m.: Virginia at NC State (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: Saint Mary's at BYU (ESPNU)
9 p.m.: Marshall at Memphis (CSS) Sunday
Noon: Notre Dame at UConn (ESPN3)
1 p.m.: Michigan at Ohio State (CBS)
8:30 p.m.: Stanford at Cal (FSN)
Brennan on Syracuse-Cincinnati
Places to be this week
Cincinnati (Syracuse at Cincinnati): Syracuse has no respite this week after suffering its first loss of the season at Notre Dame. Just two days later, the Orange are in action at Cincinnati, which for much of the past month has looked like the second- or third-best team in the Big East. The Bearcats will be eager to add to Syracuse's loss column. With Cuse center Fab Melo still sidelined thanks to an academic issue, Mick Cronin's team has a major opportunity here. Tuesday
Laramie, Wyo. (San Diego State at Wyoming): How good has first-year coach Larry Shyatt been? Last season, Wyoming finished 10-21 and ranked No. 191 in the country in per-possession defense. Thus far this season, the 16-3 Cowboys rank No. 24. Now that's a turnaround. But can Wyoming turn this sudden and unexpected success into an NCAA tournament bid? If that's part of the plan, a win over the ranked Aztecs at home must be, too. Wednesday
College Park, Md. (Duke at Maryland): It's always fun (and a little bit profane) when Duke travels to Maryland. But can the Terps put up a fight on the night former coach Gary Williams gets the court named after him? Freshman center Alex Len left Saturday's loss to Temple with an ankle injury; if he can return by Wednesday, he'd be a big boost to Terrell Stoglin and Co.'s chances of upsetting the Blue Devils. Meanwhile, Duke will look to rebound from Saturday's brutal home loss to Florida State, and College Park is surely not their preferred environment in which to do that. This one could be fascinating. Thursday
Chapel Hill, N.C. (NC State at North Carolina): If the program continues to progress under new coach Mark Gottfried, some day soon those hungry NC State fans won't have to approach games like Thursday's trip to Chapel Hill with trepidation. As it currently stands, the young, developing Wolfpack will have to put together a near-perfect performance if they hope to spring a shocker on the Tar Heels this week. Madison, Wis. (Indiana at Wisconsin): Slowly but surely, Wisconsin seems to be getting its offensive mojo back. The Badgers got an excellent road win at Illinois on Sunday. Strangely enough, though, Bo Ryan's team hasn't been the guaranteed home-win entity we've come to expect. Indiana, on the other hand, has (with a few exceptions) been excellent at home and questionable on the road. Saturday
Syracuse, N.Y. (West Virginia at Syracuse): In case you need another reminder of how difficult this week is for Syracuse, after it faces Cincinnati on Monday, the Orange will have an almost equally difficult task shutting down West Virginia forward Kevin Jones on Saturday. Jones has emerged as a legitimate player of the year candidate. His season averages (20.7 points, 11.5 rebounds) have made him one of the steadier players in the country, and he's coming off a 26-point, 13-rebound, 11-of-15 shooting day in Saturday's win over the Bearcats. He's a beast. But is he enough to upset the Cuse in the Carrier Dome? Gainesville, Fla. (Mississippi State at Florida): The Bulldogs bounced back from last week's thoroughly bad loss at Ole Miss with a truly impressive OT road win at Vanderbilt on Saturday. A week later, MSU is back on the road again, but this time the task -- cooling off this sizzling Florida offense -- is even tougher. MSU's frontcourt will have to be stellar and the defense will have to be great, as Kenny Boynton and the rest of Florida's guard-oriented attack have a habit of lighting up visitors to the O'Connell Center early and often. Provo, Utah (Saint Mary's at BYU): Saint Mary's emerged as the West Coast Conference title favorite when it spanked BYU and rival Gonzaga on its own floor, and the Gaels haven't slowed down in their three league wins since. But if Randy Bennett's team is going to unseat the Zags at the top of the conference, it will have to win games like this one: on the road against fellow contender BYU in the Marriott Center, a bigger, noisier environment than anything the WCC has ever seen. Then again, BYU lost to Loyola Marymount at home last week; it's not like the Cougars are invulnerable. Sunday
Hartford, Conn. (Notre Dame at UConn): Connecticut has plenty of issues. Chief among them is leadership. Until the Huskies get that quality from someone, they could struggle with the kind of confident, self-assured, error-averse performance we saw in Notre Dame during the Irish's upset of Syracuse on Saturday. We keep waiting for these Huskies to figure it out and unleash its torrent of talent on the Big East. But they aren't there yet, and the season offers fewer and fewer opportunities to right the ship. Columbus, Ohio (Michigan at Ohio State): More rivalry fun awaits us here. Michigan freshman point guard Trey Burke leads a well-rounded team that fits perfectly into John Beilein's system. The Wolverines are capable of giving Ohio State a challenge. That said, the Buckeyes are still the most talented team in the Big Ten by far, despite their occasional struggles on the road to date. And anytime an opponent beats the Buckeyes in Columbus -- whether it's Michigan or anyone else, frankly -- it should be seen as a massive upset. -- Eamonn Brennan
King on Mississippi State-Florida
Medcalf on Indiana-Wisconsin
O'Neil: Three questions
•When will people stop talking about what Mizzou isn't instead of who the Tigers are?No, Missouri isn't big. We've covered that. Since Laurence Bowers went down with a torn ACL, the Tigers' roster more closely resembles Munchkin Land than basketball power. And therefore, the theory has gone, Mizzou would struggle when faced with bigger, powerful teams. Like, you know, Baylor. Here's the fact: Missouri is good because Missouri is unique. The Tigers play fast and furious, but not wild and crazy. Mizzou committed 18 turnovers against the Bears, but they shot 54 percent and forced 19 to compensate. The Tigers play bigger than they are and they play hard, outrebounding Baylor by three despite being undersized. They have one guy taller than 6-foot-8, Ricardo Ratliffe, and he's having a career season. Look, unless Frank Haith gives his team platform sneakers sometime soon, Missouri is never going to look like your prototypical basketball team. That doesn't mean they aren't good. They might even be great.
• Can Florida State win the ACC?Even uttering such a question would be considered nothing shy of blasphemous before the past few games. North Carolina wasn't just the prohibitive favorite in the league but in the nation, and Duke was not far behind. But here we are in January and the answer is absolutely. While Duke and North Carolina have to tussle with another in Chapel Hill and Durham, the Seminoles only have to see the Blue Devils again, and that will be in Tallahassee. Now the caveat, of course, is that Florida State is still the team that lost to Princeton and to Clemson by 20. The Seminoles are not exactly a sure bet. But in a league in which the gap between fist, second and everyone else always stood wider than the Atlantic Ocean, there is at least intrigue. • What's wrong with Connecticut? Simple answer: The Huskies miss Kemba Walker. But the reasons are complicated. It's not just Walker's scoring UConn misses, but his leadership. The truth is, the Huskies didn't look good long before this recent skid of four losses in six games. Certainly, not having Ryan Boatright hurts. Without him, Connecticut is shy a third legit scorer, putting an awful lot of pressure on Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier. But the troubles go deeper than that. UConn was one of the most enjoyable teams to watch a season ago, a group that genuinely seemed to be having fun on the court and thrived because it played as a team. That's missing right now. This is a bunch of loose parts failing to come together as a whole. The Huskies keep looking to Jim Calhoun to solve their problems, but a coach can only do so much. What ails UConn is easily fixable, but it's up to the players to fix it.
-- Dana O'Neil