Monday's showdown between #3 Baylor and #7 Kansas gave the visiting Bears a great chance to make the statement that they were ready to dethrone a program that's won at least a share of the last seven Big 12 titles. Well while there's still plenty of basketball to be played before the regular season champion is determined, it's safe to say that Bill Self's team has no plans to simply hand over the top spot.
To understand the funk that Pittsburgh and Villanova are currently mired in, it may take this fact about the two teams they lost to on Thursday night. This is the first time as members of the Big East (since 2005-06 for both) that DePaul and USF have won conference games on the same night. Yes, allowing that to sink in underlines the gravity of the situation for both the Panthers and Wildcats, as both teams are in need of some answers at this point in time.
With conference play beginning for many leagues this week (a few conferences began their league slate in early December) it's a good time to look back on some of the top performers. Enter CHN writer Jon Teitel, who put together his all-conference teams for each of the leagues.
In each of North Carolina's last two games sophomore forward Harrison Barnes shot 4-for-12 from the field and scored nine points. Some may have been concerned given the fact that those performances came against Appalachian State and Nicholls State, ignoring the fact that the Tar Heels still managed to win both games by comfortable margins. Barnes is fine, as he showed in North Carolina's 82-63 win over Texas by scoring a season-high 26 points and grabbing ten rebounds in just 25 minutes of action.
Going into Sunday's game at Wichita State, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels were on the tail end of an eight-day stretch that began with a win over then-#1 North Carolina followed by a double-overtime win at UCSB. To say the least this wasn't the easiest way to end that stretch, and Joe Ragland and the Shockers made sure that was the case. Ragland made eight of nine from beyond the arc in scoring a game-high 31 points, and as a team Wichita State shot 12-for-23 from distance in the 89-70 win.
The game that many college basketball fans have been anticipating for quite some time is finally here, as #5 North Carolina (6-1) visits #1 Kentucky (7-0) in Lexington. While both teams are coming off of wins in their last games, the way in which the results were achieved differ greatly. North Carolina had to deal with the challenge of play Wisconsin, given the Badgers' preference for a slow tempo, while Kentucky blew out a St. John's team that was severely overmatched from a depth standpoint.
With the first month of the college basketball season concluded, this is a good time to recognize some of the top players throughout the country. With that in mind, CHN writer Jon Teitel gave his all-conference selections for each conference (and independents, which includes the Great West in this piece).
G Darryl Partin Boston University
G Justin Edwards Maine
G Gerardo Suero Albany
F Ben Dickinson Binghamton
F Chase Plummer UMBC
The game between #3 Duke and #2 Ohio State was a matchup expected to be a barnburner throughout. But in runs to begin and end the first half, the Buckeyes made a case to their fans and a national television audience that they should be mentioned in the same breath as Kentucky and North Carolina when talking about early favorites to win the national title. Thad Matta's team opened the game on an 11-0 run and finished the half with an 11-2 run on their way to the 85-63 win at Value City Arena, and four of their five starters finished in double figures.
The game between Duke and Kansas more than lived up to the pregame expectations on Wednesday night, but it was an unsung hero who stepped to the forefront late. Tyler Thornton, essentially a defensive substitute when Austin Rivers picked up his fourth foul, knocked down a pair of critical three pointers late to catapult the Blue Devils to the 68-61 win. Duke earned their fifth Maui Invitational title and moved to 15-0 all-time in the prestigious early season event.
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