College basketball offers up an early feast
Team of the Week: Duke
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is for games played from Sunday, Nov. 11, to Saturday, Nov. 17.
Five more that impressed us
Alabama: Bama won the 2K Sports Classic with a late-possession win over Oregon State and then a hammering of Villanova at Madison Square Garden. The Crimson Tide aren't really highly skilled in some key spots, but they are extremely athletic and play with confidence in late-game situations. Trevor Lacey is emerging as a star, and bringing Trevor Releford off the bench has proved beneficial as his productivity increases.Florida State: The Seminoles looked downright awful in a season-opening loss to South Alabama. So there was every reason to give up on Florida State. But the Noles played up to their potential and won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn with consecutive wins over BYU and Saint Joseph's. Leonard Hamilton was convinced he had an ACC title team, and now FSU is starting to play with that potential. Perhaps the opening debacle will prove to be a fluke.
Shoutout-worthy: Albany, Bucknell, Cal State Northridge, Colorado, Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Michigan State, Santa Clara, Wichita State
-- Andy Katz
The Weekly Starting Five
Five players who stood out during the week that was:
Keith Appling, Michigan State: The MSU guard led his Spartans to a 67-64 upset over No. 7 Kansas in Atlanta. He scored eight points in the last seven minutes of the game, a flurry that included a crucial layup with 16 seconds to play. The victory helped Appling (19 points, 3 assists) and the Spartans bounce back from a season-opening loss against Connecticut.Seth Curry, Duke: The senior guard gave the Blue Devils 23 points, 3 rebounds and a steal in a 75-68 upset against No. 3 Kentucky during the Champions Classic. Curry was 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final two minutes of the game. And his late buckets and free throws preserved Duke's lead.
-- Myron Medcalf
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Finals:
Oklahoma State 76, NC State 56
Charleston Classic Title Game:
Colrado 81, Murray State 74
Maryland On The Move?
Three Things That Surprised Me
The Big 12's rough startAll conferences go through transition years, and it may be the Big 12's turn. The three teams that some consider the league's best (Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia) all had rough weeks. KU lost to Michigan State and then had to rally from an eight-point halftime deficit to defeat Chattanooga at home. Baylor made a number of bad decisions down the stretch and got outhustled in a 60-58 loss to Colorado -- and the game would've been much more lopsided if the Buffs hadn't missed 14 free throws. No team looked worse than WVU, which got manhandled in a 34-point loss at Gonzaga. I didn't expect the Mountaineers to win the game, but who could've predicted that score? I realize it's early and things likely will change, but the Big 12 has been the least impressive of the power conferences thus far. Texas had to eke out a victory over Fresno State. Same with Oklahoma against UT-Arlington. The only semi-impressive win is an Oklahoma State victory over Tennessee. Wichita State's win He hasn't had as much NCAA tournament success (yet) as Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens or Mark Few. But I'm still convinced that Wichita State's Gregg Marshall should be mentioned in the same breath as those outstanding mid-major coaches. The Shockers' road win at VCU last week was mighty impressive. Wichita lost four starters from last season's 27-6 squad. VCU, meanwhile, returns seven of the top eight players from a team that came within one shot of getting to the Sweet 16. So for WSU to go on the road and defeat the experienced Rams in their home gym said as much to me about Marshall as it did his team. His players may be green, but they were prepared. Marshall may rub some people the wrong way, but the man can coach. Purdue's struggles It wasn't hard to see that Purdue may be down a bit this season following the loss of players such as Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson and Rhyne Smith. But I still never thought I'd see the day when a Boilermakers team coached by Matt Painter got off to a 1-3 start. I've always thought Painter was one of the most underrated coaches -- and one of the best defensive coaches -- in America, which is why Purdue's record is so surprising. It's not as if the Boilers are toting losses against a trio of heavyweights. They fell to Bucknell (at home, no less) to open the season and then lost to Villanova and Oregon State at MSG. Less than two weeks into the season, a seventh straight NCAA tournament berth doesn't even seem very likely. At this point I'm wondering if the Boilermakers will even make the NIT.
-- Jason King
Muhammad To Make Debut
Three Things I Learned
The Pac-12 is bound to be betterAs off as the league was last season, this wasn't a guarantee. Coming into last week, there were still too many questions to be sure this conference was officially on its way back. And, sure, there is a lot of season left to be played. Still, signs of recovery are eminent: Colorado's win over No. 16 Baylor gave the Pac-12 its first regular-season win over a ranked team in two years, while freshman Shabazz Muhammad's sudden eligibility should make UCLA the feared force everyone expected. Throw in Arizona, one of the nation's most talented teams, and it's clear this season's Pac-12 will have at least a bit of bite. (You stay out of this, Washington.)
North Carolina will be just fineThat's not to say I think the Tar Heels are again one of the best teams in the country or a guarantee to push for the national title (barring injury, that is). There is only so much excitement one can express about beating a young and revamped Long Beach State team. Even so, Dan Monson's team is legit, full of athletes and quick guards, and on Friday night UNC went to the Pyramid in a (gasp!) true road game and handled the 49ers with impressive ease. James Michael McAdoo is every bit worth the hype, Marcus Paige looks and plays like mini-Kendall Marshall and P.J. Hairston appears to have found his 3-point stroke. There's still a lot of talent in Chapel Hill. So maybe Wake Forest hasn't improved? No one was expecting Wake Forest to suddenly contend for the ACC title, but many were expecting these guys to, you know, not be terrible. Was that expectation too optimistic? The Demon Deacons looked solid in a 77-71 first-round Paradise Jam loss to UConn. But on Saturday, they allowed Iona to make 18 of its first 25 shots, including 8 of 9 3-pointers, while allowing the stripped-down Gaels to open up a -- get this -- 41-5 first-half lead. 41-5! Some freakish poor shooting helped doom Wake, to be sure, but even so, losing 94-68 to Iona on a neutral court is not exactly a sign your program is on the way out of the cellar. Yikes.
-- Eamonn Brennan
They Said It
"The first thing I think we need to do is we've got to find out who really wants to play and who doesn't. We don't compete."
-- West Virginia coach Bob Huggins after his team's 84-50 loss at Gonzaga
-- Kentucky freshman Willie Cauley-Stein when reporters asked him about former Duke star Christian Laettner's famous buzzer-beater in the 1992 Elite Eight win over Kentucky "We're just going to mark it down as a win. We know we're a team that can get better each and every day."
-- Deshaun Thomas after Ohio State's 69-58 victory over Rhode Island, which featured early struggles for the Buckeyes
-- Myron Medcalf