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Afternoon Links: Moving too fast

What we're reading while we basically agree with this list. Submit links via Twitter.

  • Why, besides the bump in quality competition, do things tighten up in conference play? Mark Titus has some thoughts: "So how is it possible that all of a sudden Ole Miss and Texas A&M are taking the Cats to overtime? Or that Purdue can hang close with the Buzzcuts in Madison? Or that the Sooners can lose at home to Kansas State five days after embarrassing a potential Final Four team on the road? The answer: familiarity. When Oklahoma played Wisconsin in December, Lon Kruger probably called his coaching friends in the Big Ten and asked for tips on stopping the Buzzcuts, and then did the best he could with that and some video from recent Wisconsin games. But when Purdue played Wisconsin, Matt Painter probably went into the cellar of Mackey Arena and sifted through 20 bookcases of Buzzcut material, not to mention all the years’ worth of film Purdue has of Bo Ryan’s system. During the conference season, the players know each other really well, the coaches know each other even better, and some intangible magic — 'Let’s get revenge for last time!' insane crowds, rivalry games, 'We’ve got nothing to lose!' — gets sprinkled on everything. Add it all up and it’s easy to see how vastly inferior teams can hang with national title contenders."

  • Kentucky coach John Calipari just doesn't understand why everyone made such a big deal of his platoon system, which is roughly akin to Tim Cook asking why everyone is making such a big deal about the Apple Watch.

  • Luke Winn's power rankings remain as must-read as ever, packed as they are with insightful tidbits. This week's edition involves a potentially surprising inclusion in the top five: Kansas. Why? "The Jayhawks have the best defense in Big 12 play thus far, and much of that is due to controlling the defensive glass and altering close-range shots -- and Alexander just happens to be the best defensive rebounder and shot-blocker in their rotation. He has yet to supplant Jamari Traylor in the starting lineup, but from a production standpoint, Alexander is KU's best option at the 5."

  • Did the clock freeze at NC State?

  • And while we're on the topic of time: We're still weeks away from regular Bracketology and Bubble Watch updates, but we're rapidly barreling toward March, and the season is flying by, and we kind of wish we could control time like a podcast app's playback function. We don't need the full NC State stop here. Just, like, three quarters speed. At this rate, we'll soon look up and it will be April 15 and somehow the season will be over. It happens every year. If you needed a reminder of time's fleeting nature, ESPN.com bracket projection maestro Joe Lunardi published his latest Bracketology update today.