3-point shot: Hall, Cincy are contenders

1. Seton Hall and Cincinnati have as legitimate a shot to finish second in the Big East as any other teams. Both are veteran squads and are making winning plays late in games. The schedule is also kind. Nothing is a given, but the Hall doesn’t play Syracuse again (lost at Carrier Dome), won’t go to West Virginia (won at home) or Georgetown (Feb. 21 at home). A trip to UConn on Feb. 4 still remains. Cincinnati gets Syracuse once – at home (as well as the Hall). A trip to UConn and West Virginia Jan. 18-21 looms large. The rise is a credit to both the Hall and UC, but it also shows how the Big East is sagging with key programs (Louisville, Pitt, Villanova) suddenly down.

2. Michigan State has had so much drama the past few seasons that’s eerily quiet now with the Spartans. The only issue was in the offseason when Delvon Roe had to retire due to injuries. Tom Izzo has a leader in top big man Draymond Green, guards that get along in Brandon Wood and Keith Appling, freshmen who contribute without a problem and more frontcourt depth than any other Big Ten team. The Spartans are now winning handily the games they should and have the karma going in their favor for a run at the Big Ten title.

3. Frank Martin’s honesty is so refreshing whether Kansas State is winning or losing, if it’s an off day, game day or in the aftermath of a tough loss. He is a tremendous character who is great for the game and of course for those of us in the media. There is nothing vanilla about Martin. He wasn’t pleased with the defense in the loss to Baylor on Tuesday and he didn’t hold back. Kansas State went 1-2 against the toughest three-game stretch of any team in a major conference (losing at Kansas, beating Missouri and losing to Baylor).