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It's still too early in the season to worry much about the intricacies of various Ken Pomeroy adjusted efficiency rankings. Small sample size, and all that. Still, this is noteworthy: Monday morning, KenPom's No. 1 spot changed for the first time since Duke won the national title last season. The new No. 1, Kansas, leapfrogged Duke by a minuscule margin after the team's difficult neutral-court win against Arizona -- which, perhaps surprisingly, ranks fifth on KenPom's list -- Saturday. Through six games, Kansas has the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the nation; the Jayhawks are scoring nearly 1.209 adjusted points per possession and allowing just .836. Duke comes in No. 2 overall and on both sides of the ball, but just barely (1.205 adjusted points per trip on offense, .843 on defense). In non-tempo-free terms, both teams are dominating their opponents, and both teams are likely to hover near the top of this list -- and plenty of others -- throughout the 2010-11 season.
Speaking of KenPom, what do the adjusted efficiency numbers say about this week's ACC-Big Ten Challenge? That the most likely outcome is a 6-5 Big Ten win. Three of the contests -- Iowa-Wake Forest, Purdue-Virginia Tech, and Maryland-Penn State -- are essentially toss-ups, which means the overall challenge outcome could swing either direction. Compared to what we've seen on the court from those teams thus far, that makes perfect sense.
The Mikan Drill offers a nice step-by-step breakdown of how Texas's staggered screen action caused Rice to give up a crucial layup late in Texas' three-point win against the Owls on Saturday.
Butler coach Brad Stevens says his team needs to "right our own ship;" the Bulldogs are reeling after an upset home loss to Evansville on Saturday. As the Indy Star's David Woods writes, things won't get any easier in the next few fixtures.
Cal hoops fans were plenty pleased with the team's 3-0 start, but once the Bears played solid opponents, Mike Montgomery's team received a harsh dose of reality. Against Notre Dame, Cal had a five-point (!!) first-half scoring effort, before losing by 22 to a mediocre Boston College squad. California Golden Blogs says the Bears just need to "take their lumps."
Ballin' Is A Habit details just how offensively gross the Old Spice Classic really was: "The Old Spice Classic managed to set records on back-to-back days for offensive futility. On Thursday, Wisconsin and Manhattan slogged their way to a 17-10 score at the half. The 27 points were the fewest ever scored in the first half since the advent of the shot clock. The previous record came on January 8th, 2003, when Ole Miss took a 15-13 lead into the break against South Carolina. It got worse the next night, as Notre Dame took a 21-5 lead into the half against Cal. The Bears, who came one point away from the record for the worst half in the shot-clock era (Savannah State scored four points in the second half against Kansas State), were 2-25 from the field and didn't score a point for the last 10:44 of the half. They had twice as many turnovers (11) as points (5), and more than four times as many fouls (9) as field goals (2)."
Meanwhile, Arizona fans seem plenty encouraged by the team's hard-fought loss to Kansas.
Michigan State is turning the ball over already, even at home against bad opponents like Tennessee Tech, and, given the turnover problems of Spartans teams in recent years, that's already causing some measure of consternation.
There has been no shortage of what Kyle Whelliston years ago dubbed "Red Line Upsets" -- when a team from a conference below the mid-major athletics revenues Red Line tops one above it -- this season. Documenting each, in Whelliston's words, has "become an impossible job."
And, finally, no Afternoon Links would be complete if I didn't shamelessly direct you to all the good hoops stuff this here site has been producing in recent days, too. In particular: John Gasaway's (Insider) look at North Carolina's offensive issues to date; Diamond Leung's coverage of the 76 Classic; Andy Katz's look at Tennessee's impressive NIT tip-off win against Villanova; some late-Saturday stuff from Purdue-Richmond you might have missed; and our complete coverage of the early season tournaments here.