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Weekly Roundball Chatter

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Roundball Chalk Talk | Jan. 20, 2006

Each Friday, I'm sharing my thoughts on the world of college basketball …

•  Look at the start of January for Tom Izzo's Spartans. Michigan State's first five games of the month came against ranked opponents: at Illinois, at Wisconsin, vs. Indiana, at Ohio State and vs. Iowa. The Spartans have been getting solid play from Paul Davis, who has been a double-double man lately. Matt Trannon, a wide receiver on the football team, has become the starting power forward and averaged 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in his first two starts.

•  Speaking of scheduling, Jim Boeheim had quite a stretch Jan. 11-23: at Notre Dame, at Cincinnati, vs. Connecticut, at Villanova and at Pittsburgh. Wow, that is probably tougher than the NCAA Tournament will be!

•  On the topic of big conferences and scheduling, I feel that a league like the Big East should have every team meeting at least once. It just seems wrong to have a school gain an advantage with a favorable schedule by not meeting a certain team even one time. The Big East, for example, should have 18 conference games, with each team meeting once and three opponents meeting twice.

•  How loaded is Connecticut? I feel the Huskies have four potential future first-round NBA draft picks on their roster.

•  Welcome to the USC-UCLA rivalry, Tim Floyd. The Bruins gave a rude welcome by racing to an 18-2 lead Wednesday night. Trojans fans, don't worry because Floyd will get the job done at USC, and new facilities will help.

•  In calling games last week, I was getting frustrated seeing some of the actions of players that show a lack of sportsmanship. Just play the game, show class, stop yapping and don't get involved in the little nonsense.

•  Congratulations to Boston College's Craig Smith for becoming the fifth player in school history to score 2,000 or more points. Smith joins Troy Bell, Dana Barros, Bill Curley and Danya Abrams to accomplish that feat.

•  UAB has been flying under the radar. Mike Anderson's squad has won nine straight games and sits at 13-3 overall, including 3-0 in Conference USA. Remember the big blowout win over Oklahoma State?

•  Wake Forest's Justin Gray has been on fire, scoring 25 or more points in each of his last three games. During that stretch, he is averaging 30 ppg.

•  In conference play, it is so important to hold serve at home. That is why road victories are so valuable and the NCAA Tournament selection committee will take them into consideration when weighing résumés.

•  Marco Killingsworth is my choice as the Marco Polo Player of the Year (top transfer). The former Auburn star has been a force inside for the Hoosiers.

•  Northern Iowa has been a solid team in the Missouri Valley Conference, and the big win over Southern Illinois last week left the Panthers at 16-2 overall, 6-2 in league play. Eric Coleman had 22 points and 15 boards in that key victory. After hosting Drake this weekend, Northern Iowa finishes January with three straight road games.

•  Wisconsin catches a break by hosting Illinois and Indiana. The Fighting Illini and Hoosiers don't get a return game with the Badgers this season.

•  Speaking of the Illini, I really miss seeing Lou Henson on the sidelines. I'm happy to hear he has been feeling better lately.

•  There are so many underrated coaches in college basketball today. Think about guys like John Beilein of West Virginia, Bo Ryan at Wisconsin, Washington's Lorenzo Romar, NC State's Herb Sendek, Thad Matta at Ohio State, Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh and George Washington's Karl Hobbs.

•  Keep an eye on the Hurricanes of Miami. Frank Haith's club has won three straight ACC games, and the defense shut down Clemson, holding the Tigers to just 38 points. That was the fewest points allowed by a Miami team since 1948.

•  Ben Braun has had some tough breaks out at California. Last season, it was Leon Powe's injury woes. The latest bad news came when Rod Benson injured his knee in practice recently. Benson is expected to miss a month.

•  Rutgers guard Quincy Douby deserves a lot more ink; he is having a super season for the Scarlet Knights. Gary Waters' team tested Pittsburgh, took Villanova to overtime and got a nice win at DePaul.

•  The NCAA will discuss sanctions against Ohio State soon. I hope the innocent Buckeyes players are not hurt by the decision. I don't think those kids should be punished for the wrongdoing of others. The ruling could affect the futures of Greg Oden and Mike Conley, who could be re-recruited if the penalties include banishment from the NCAA Tournament. That would be unfair to Thad Matta, who did a great job with the 2007 recruiting class.

•  Arizona coach Lute Olson threw guard Chris Rodgers off his team. Rodgers was a part-time starter. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury kicked off sophomore forward Walter Sharpe and freshman forward Jerrell Houston from the team. Sharpe was averaging around nine points per game, and the absence of the two players will hurt the team's depth.

•  Imagine what senior day is going to be like at Syracuse? The Orange will face Villanova on March 5, and a crowd of more than 33,000 is expected. Meanwhile, down at Duke, it should be a special senior day when J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams are honored.

•  Athletic trainers are unsung heroes. Whenever I see a player go down injured, I am amazed at the job done by the trainers. They keep the athletes going on the court. Here's a salute to the trainers who work so hard.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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