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What's real, what's fake and what you've missed in college hoops

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Texas Tech, Kansas trade alley-oop dunks (0:33)

Tariq Owens dunks an alley-oop pass for Texas Tech, then Ochai Agbaji slams down the lob pass at the other end for Kansas. (0:33)

It's another edition of What's Real/What's Fake in college basketball, and if it's your first time with us here, this is where we separate the real from the hype in the college hoops landscape. So, let's get to it ...

What's real: If you're just tuning in after the Super Bowl, you've missed a lot

At this point in most seasons, with the Super Bowl in the books, a multitude of casual fans prepping for their office pools will usually wander over to college basketball. If you're in that category, you should know you've missed an abundance of developments in the first three months of the season.

But we'll do our best to help you get caught up:

1. The Big 12 title streak might end for Kansas .... or not. Kansas has endured every possible problem. Udoka Azubuike is out for the season and now Silvio De Sousa has been ruled ineligible, a byproduct of the FBI's bribery investigation. And the Jayhawks, who have lost three of their past five games, have been a middle-of-the-pack offensive and defensive team in Big 12 play. Plus, they lost Marcus Garrett (7.2 PPG) to an ankle injury before Saturday's game against Texas Tech.

With a collection of teams -- Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas Tech -- in the mix at the top of the league, Kansas hasn't looked this vulnerable in years. But Saturday's 16-point win over Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse highlighted KU's potential, especially when Dedric Lawson (25 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) is dominant. The Jayhawks still have road games against Kansas State and Texas Tech ahead. But don't put your money on another team winning the Big 12 title and stopping KU from extending its run to 15 consecutive titles just yet. With four home games remaining on its conference schedule and Lawson playing like an All-American, it's still too early to make any assumptions in the Big 12 race.

2. If you thought Pac-12 football was bad, check out basketball in that league. The conference sent three teams to the NCAA tournament last year, and with a month to go in the regular season, it does not have any guaranteed invites beyond its automatic berth.

3. Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke (16.4 PPG, 3.0 BPG) is an athletic marvel.

4. Tennessee will be the king of the SEC again ... unless a Kentucky squad that hasn't lost since Jan. 5 and has risen into the top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency after a stint in the 60s earlier this season catches the Vols.

5. The only way we're going to see Ja Morant (24.1 PPG, 10.3 APG) and his viral dunks, passes and layups in the NCAA tournament will be if Murray State wins the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, so you should root for that outcome. Trust us.

6. Zion Williamson. Google him.

7. Memphis Tigers coach Penny Hardaway said other coaches have some "jealousy" of him and his staff, which includes former NBA players Mike Miller and Sam Mitchell, before losing to Tulsa by 16 points and entering halftime of a road loss at South Florida on Saturday down 38-13. Hardaway has signed a top-10 recruiting class that's anchored by James Wiseman, the No. 1 recruit in the country. Hardaway is already taking steps toward reviving this program. But the timing of these comments wasn't good.

8. The Big Ten might not have a great team, but it has a bunch of good ones. And that's why the conference could send up to 10 teams -- no joke -- to the NCAA tournament.

9. After a hot and cold November and December, North Carolina, which has won its past five games by an average of 13.8 PPG, is shaping up to be a handful for any opponent in the postseason. And freshman Coby White (14.8 PPG, 4.2 APG) has matured into a young leader for a Tar Heels squad that has two matchups against Duke and a home game against Virginia remaining on their schedule.

10. Villanova lost three first-round picks and the Wooden Award winner after winning the national title last year, but the Wildcats are 9-0 atop the Big East with Phil Booth (18.7 PPG) and Eric Paschall (17.0 PPG) leading the way.


What's fake: The Super Bowl was the worst game of the week

If you believe what's above, you clearly didn't watch Virginia Tech at NC State. The Wolfpack scored 24 points during a 23-point home loss to the Hokies. Per ESPN Stats & Information, 92 players scored at least 24 points on Saturday. NC State had 14 points at halftime. The over/under for the game was 152. They only missed it by 81 points.


Real: Kelvin Sampson is one of America's most underrated coaches

Houston's head coach has won 21 or more games in four consecutive seasons. His current Houston squad is his second consecutive top-20 defensive team, too.

He's underrated even within the American Athletic Conference, where Gregg Marshall and Mick Cronin have been deservedly praised for their achievements in recent years. But Sampson's team has one loss this season and it's in a tie with Cincinnati for first place in the conference.

Corey Davis Jr. and Armoni Brooks are two of the most talented players in the country.

Sampson belongs in the national coach of the year convos.


Fake: The critics were wrong about the NET

The immediate reaction to the initial unveiling of the NET rankings was an emotional one. The NCAA had dropped this new barometer on us without really explaining the nuances of its formula. But the current rankings don't stray too far from what most believe about the hierarchy of college basketball. Still, until we fully understand how the NCAA came up with this formula and how it will be used on Selection Sunday, we cannot say that all is well with the NET.

Let's see what happens in February, when more teams might be searching for blowout wins because the NET caps credit for margin of victory at 10 points but heavily rewards teams according to efficiency margin. That part doesn't make sense, but coaches are clearly aware of the latter's impact on their NET standing. It'll be interesting to see what the NET looks like in March.

But don't give the NCAA too much credit yet.


Real: More teams shooting 3-pointers is proof of game evolving in real time

Entering this week, a KenPom-record 136 teams have taken at least 40 percent of their shots this season from beyond the 3-point line. Two years ago, 84 teams had hit that 40 percent mark. Ten years ago, 38 teams hit that mark.

These numbers matter because the positionless basketball wave has impacted college basketball at a rapid rate. And more teams than ever have diversified their strategies to include more shots from beyond the arc.