Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

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by Bryan Harvey

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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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Around the Power 6, plus 1

January 21, 2011

ACC
Ascending: Clemson
Descending: N.C. State
Player of the Week: Nolan Smith, Duke
Biggest Games of the Week: VT at Maryland (Thurs.), BC at Florida St. (Sat.)

Clemson took a loss earlier this week to Carolina, but had a big win against a decent Miami team and a Georgia Tech team that murdered UNC. Jerai Grant leads the way averaging 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game. N.C. State beat an awful Wake team, but lost on the road to both BC and FSU. They need to win games like this if they want to make the tourney, as the conference might only get 3 or 4 bids. Nolan Smith has been nothing sort of sensational since Kyrie Irving went out. He's averaging 25.4 points and 5.8 assists since 2011 has started. As I mentioned, UNC beat Clemson tonight, with VT at Maryland and BC at FSU highlighting the rest of the week, as these types of match ups become bigger and bigger as the season progresses for tourney resumes.

Big East
Ascending: West Virginia
Descending: Notre Dame and Cincinnati
Player of the Week: Rick Jackson, Syracuse
Biggest Games of the Week: Cincinnati at Notre Dame (Wed.), Villanova at Syracuse (Sat.)

West Virginia is number 21 in the consensus poll after disposing of Purdue at home on Sunday. Notre Dame and Cincinnati look to be the first casualties of the monstrous schedule Big East teams get to deal with on a weekly basis. Look for my descending and ascending to be extremely fluid throughout the country with parity all over the place, but especially here. Rick Jackson has been amazing for the Orange, but as the game against Pitt proved last night, he can't do it all by himself if Syracuse wants to be Final Four contenders. The winner of the Cincy-ND game on Wednesday will hopefully be to parlay it into some momentum. ND needs Carleton Scott to come back, while Cincy needs to develop a dependable shooter or two. Nova at Syracuse should be one of the highlights of the whole season.

Big 10
Ascending: Ohio St.
Descending: Illinois
Player of the Week: Draymond Green, Michigan St.
Biggest Games of the Week: Michigan St. at Illinois (Tues.), Ohio St. at Illinois (Sat.), Mich St. at Purdue (Sat.)

Ohio St. gets the nod, as they have now risen to number one in the land. Aaron Craft's emergence at point guard has keyed their impressive start. Illinois shook off my negative marks with a win at the “Champaign Room” (stolen from Scott Van Pelt, but I liked it) over Michigan St. tonight. Draymond Green has been a do-it-all type all season, averaging 15 and 8 in conference play so far. Illinois beat Sparty tonight, and both teams get tested further on Saturday with Ohio St. coming to Illinois and Michigan State traveling to West Lafayette to take on Purdue as part of the College Gameday festivities.

 Big 12
Ascending: Colorado
Descending: Oklahoma St.
Player of the Week: Marcus Morris, Kansas
Biggest Games of the Week: Texas A&M at Texas (Wed.), Texas at Kansas (Sat.)

Further proof that I shouldn't have let Angry Birds dominate my life the last two days. If I would have finished this on Monday like I planned, my pick of Colorado would have looked a lot better since they took a loss at Nebraska tonight. Regardless, they're 4-1 in the league, and Alec Burks is the real deal. Oklahoma St. looked good in beating Kansas State, but it's debatable as to whether or not this is even a quality win anymore with Frank Martin's boys looking so shaky. They got blown out by A&M, and then lost to Colorado on Saturday. Marcus Morris scored 33 against Iowa St, and is the best player on the second best team in the country. Sorry for ripping you, and your skills in the podcast bud. The A&M -Texas game on Wednesday puts Sophomores Jordan Hamilton and Khris Middleton on display. Texas gets to run the gauntlet and try to knock off the undefeated Jayhawks in Lawrence on Saturday.

SEC
Ascending: Mississippi St.
Descending: Vanderbilt
Player of the Week: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Big Games of the Week: Tennessee at UCONN (Sat.), St. Mary's at Vandy (Sat.)

I keep thinking Mississippi State will get on a roll, and I still believe they will, despite my saying they were a disappointment last week. Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney being in the lineup on a regular basis make this a tournament team, despite they're shoddy record. Vandy cracked the top 25 for “a minute,” as the kids say, but sandwiched a win against a pretty good Georgia team with losses to South Carolina and Tennessee. With apologies to Sam Muldrow and his triple double with 10 blocks against the aforementioned Commodores, Freshman Bruce Ellington hit 4 clutch three's in the last 7 minutes keying their comeback in the overtime win. He's averaging 18 points and 4 helpers in league play so far. Non-conference clashes highlight the rest of the week, with UT getting Bruce Pearl back to take on Kemba and the Walkerette's. Vandy gets a chance to get back in my good graces with a tough home game against a 16-2 St. Mary's team.

Mountain West
Ascending: BYU
Descending: New Mexico
Player of the Week: Jimmer Fredette
Biggest Games of the Week: New Mexico at UNLV (Sat.)

I can sum this up relatively easily. Jimmer Fredette is a really good shooter. He can shoot from half court and make the ball go in the basket. I think he might also be able to cure cancer. San Diego State kills people on the boards, and might not lose all year unless Jimmer chooses to destroy them. TCU is good at football. Utah used to have Keith Van Horn and Andre Miller, but now they don't have anybody. New Mexico would have been good if Darrington Hobson came back. UNLV needs Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon back.

 Pac 10
Ascending: Arizona
Descending: Arizona St.
Player of the Week: Klay Thompson
Biggest Games of the Week: Arizona at Washington (Thurs.), Arizona at Washington St.(Sat.)

Arizona has been sneaking their way back into national relevance, with Derrick Williams the best “no one has seen him play” future NBA star outside of Alec Burks. Arizona St. has fallen off since being really good two years ago. Klay Thompson is another under the radar star, but losing point guard Reggie Moore will hurt them. Arizona will be 17-3 and in tremendous shape if they can get a sweep in the Evergreen state.

Pop-A-Shot
Taking a shot at breaking down the consensus top 25 in stream of consciousness fashion, much like when shooting at a pop o shot machine, trying to make as many as possible without regard for shooting form or follow through. I'm giving myself two minutes to write whatever comes into my brain:

The Big East now has 9 teams in the top 25, with West Virginia jumping in at 21 following their win against Purdue on Sunday. The ACC, SEC, and Pac 10 have a combined three, making me think that the college basketball talking heads might need to rethink the whole “power 6” thing. San Diego St. and BYU are both in the top 10, making their upcoming showdown potentially one of the best games on the landscape in the next couple of weeks. Last year's Cinderella St. Mary's makes their first appearance of the year, coming in at 22. Australian's everywhere may now rejoice. The Big 10 and Big 12 continue to be well-represented, with 6 and 4 teams in the rankings respectively.

MLK Day Analysis
I watched all or parts of all the games on Monday. Instead of just giving game recaps I've picked out a player from each of the teams involved that, even though they aren't the headliners per se, may be the most important part of each squad's March hopes. That is, if Baylor and Kansas State even get there:

Villanova: Maalik Wayns- The “Two Corey's” get most of the ink, but Wayns has emerged as a capable third option in the backcourt for Nova. He's averaging 5 assists a game, and does a good job pressuring the ball on defense. That being said, he was awfully quiet yesterday against Kemba Walker and UCONN, and he needs to shoot better than 40% from the field and 20% from 3 for this to be a Final Four contender.

UCONN: Alex Oriahki- I said this last week, but UCONN absolutely has to have someone else step up for them to go anywhere. Team's will do everything they can to stop Walker. But with Oriahki bringing double-doubles in 3 of his last 4 (including 11 points and 21 rebounds against Texas) and providing an inside threat, the Huskies could be much more than the team “that would lose to their Women's team” like two idiots on the season preview mentioned on this here website.

Kansas St: Rodney McGruder- Jacob Pullen doesn't look the same without Denis Clemente, Curtis Kelly looks nothing like the beast of last year's NCAA run, and Kansas St. just looks like they collectively are scared that their coach is going to punch them in the face. McGruder has had some nice games however, and this sophomore who's averaging 7 boards a game and shooting 43% from deep needs to play a bigger role for things to get back on track.

Missouri: Phil Pressey- Pressey is the one player from yesterday's games that stood out in terms of “dudes I knew nothing about but impressed the hell out of me.” He's quick, can shoot, and just seems to be the catalyst off the bench for the Tigers. With Pressey and Michael Dixon leading their press, Mizzou has two good points to run at people. Their stock just went up a lot after yesterday in my eyes, and Pressey's impact has a lot to do with it.

Syracuse: Brandon Triche/James Southerland- Playing the best 2-3 zone in the country is nice and all, but last time I checked, you have to put the ball in the basket from time to time to be successful in March, and right now I'm still not sold on Cuse because they cannot shoot consistently. Either Triche or Southerland, or both, need to emerge on the perimeter for the Orange. If they do, this could be a championship-level team. Rick Jackson is an elite rebounder, and Scoop Jardine is more than capable running the offense. If they get more from these two, watch out.

Pittsburgh: Gilbert Brown- I could have went with Nasir Robinson here, but I think Brown is more important in the long haul. He's a freakish athlete who can do a little bit of everything, but doesn't always do it all the time. If Brown takes a couple of steps forward, Pitt also would have to be in my top 5 in terms of team's who have a legitimate chance to cut down the nets in Houston.

Kansas: Markieff Morris- Markieff is the less-heralded of the Morris boys, kind of like Geoff is to Russ (Just kidding Geoff, if you read this). Inside jokes that 3 or 4 people get aside, last night showed that if Kansas has both of these guys going in the same game, they're unstoppable. They combined for 44 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 79% from the field. Marcus has been more reliable offensively, but if they get these type of numbers on a nightly basis, and with Josh Selby emerging to become the star he was thought to be, then Kansas won't be losing to a Northern Iowa type team early on this year.


Baylor: Anthony Jones- I still think Baylor can be a force, even though they aren't ranked and lost by 20 at home last evening. They really impressed me early on and that's with LaceDarius Dunn only scoring 13 points and taking just three 3's, which won't become a common occurrence. Last night, Jones scored 17 on 3-3 shooting from deep. He's 6'11, can hit the boards, and if he can do more of what he did last night, Baylor has four scoring options in him, Perry Jones, Quincy Acy, and Dunn that are better than what most have.

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