3-point shot: Crean, Thompson in front

1. The coach of the year race will be one of the most intriguing of any of the national awards. The candidates are starting to emerge, led by Indiana’s Tom Crean and Georgetown’s John Thompson III. Indiana was supposed to be improving but more of an NIT squad than one bound for the NCAA tournament. But it’s going to be hard to keep the Hooisers out of The Dance with two wins over Kentucky and Ohio State. Georgetown was picked for the lower half of the Big East but is a legit title contender after winning at Louisville. Others to consider now: Frank Haith (Missouri), Scott Drew (Baylor), Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Steve Prohm (Murray State), Steve Fisher (San Diego State), Dave Rice (UNLV).

2. Michigan State started with games against North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson and against Duke in New York. The Spartans lost both. They’ve won 13-straight since, including at Gonzaga. The Spartans are getting productive play out of perhaps the deepest frontcourt in the Big Ten in Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix. Keith Appling and Brandon Wood are getting along as guards better than the previous perimeters the previous two seasons. MSU could be tabbed as the new favorite in the Big Ten if OSU slips again.

3. Polls are snapshots and if you were to take one of the last week in college basketball, Gonzaga and New Mexico must be included in Monday’s two polls. Watch both teams against Xavier and Saint Louis, respectively, and it was clear that these are two of the best teams in the West and, of course, potential title contenders in the WCC and MWC, respectively.