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Monday, December 30
Updated: January 6, 1:40 PM ET
 
 

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Ontario Lett
Ontario Lett and the Panthers got past Ohio State at home, but face a rough road test in Georgia on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh carries a No. 2 ranking into the game. Georgia, meanwhile, is unranked. But when the two meet Tuesday night in Athens, don't even think about calling a Georgia win an "upset." Compare their schedules and it's obvious why Georgia has three losses, while Pittsburgh is still perfect. Story

Monday
Marquette at East Carolina: The Eagles are rolling, while the Pirates have lost two of three after a terrific 7-0 start.

Tuesday
Creighton at Xavier: This is one of the best non-conference games that won't be nationally televised. Xavier has failed to knock off an elite team so far this season -- the 10-0 Bluejays qualify as an elite foe.

Thursday
Arizona at Oregon: One of the best conference games of the season that won't be nationally televised. Luke Walton is back for Arizona. Salim Stoudamire is scoring again. But Oregon wants to prove its the team to beat in the Pac-10, not Arizona.

Saturday
Missouri at Iowa (ESPN, 4 ET): Suddenly, Iowa is a real threat in the Big Ten. Missouri needs a lift after losing to Illinois.

  • More games to watch
  • Player of the Week
    Antonio Gates F, Kent State
    We're hoping everyone forgets about all the MAC preseason predictions. The love for Ohio and Brandon Hunter was premature. We, and everyone else, should have stuck with a good thing -- Gates and Kent State. Gates was sensational in scoring 32 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the 86-83 overtime win over Boston College on Saturday night in Cleveland. The Golden Flashes needed a breakout win like BC to prove to everyone in the MAC that they are still the team to beat. Kent State (7-1) has only one blemish, so far, at St. Bonaventure. Gates is averaging a team-high 21.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Golden Flashes. Gates can score from anywhere on the floor and is making himself into a potential pro through his diligence and attention to detail. Look for Gates to win the player of the year award in the MAC and Kent State to assume the favorite status once again.
  • Past players of the week

  • Supporting Cast
    ROBERT TOMASZEK, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders staff told us in October that Tomaszek could be the difference for Tech this season. They needed him to replace Andy Ellis' scoring and be another scoring option behind Kasib Powell and Andre Emmett. Tomaszek delivered Saturday at Minnesota. He scored 28 points and grabbed 16 boards to lift the Red Raiders to one of the best wins of the day -- 99-89 in overtime over the Gophers. The Red Raiders (8-1) look like they've got the third option they need to make another NCAA run.
    CHAUNCEY LESLIE, Iowa: Scored 21 points to lead the Hawkeyes to a stunning 67-63 upset at Tulsa. Leslie hit a key bucket late in the game to push the surprisingly surging Hawkeyes to the win. Leslie, averaging a team-high 17.5 points a game, is finally living up to his potential as a lead guard for Steve Alford. The Hawkeyes (8-2) are starting to mesh with no chemistry problems and could end up being a tough out for the upper tier Big Ten teams.
    WAYNE SIMIEN, Kansas: The bruising forward scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Jayhawks to a convincing 80-67 victory over Cal in Oakland at the Pete Newell Challenge. Simien is second on the team in scoring (16.8) and leads the Jayhawks in rebounding (9.4). If he plays like he did Saturday then the Jayhawks might not miss Drew Gooden as much in the Big 12.
    JUSTIN DAVIS, Stanford: Scored a team-high 24 points to lead Stanford over Gonzaga 81-71 in the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland Saturday. Davis must score (maybe not as much) consistently for the Cardinal to have a chance for a top-two finish in Pac-10. The Cardinal are desperate for an inside threat who can open up shots for the perimeter. Davis can get his points on putbacks, slashing to the basket or in the post.
    Team of Week
    Louisville
    The Cardinals (7-1) picked up the best win of the week with an 81-63 victory over archrival Kentucky at Freedom Hall. The win proved to fans in the state, to teams in Conference USA, and to everyone in the nation that the Cardinals are a legit NCAA team. Louisville did a tremendous job of adjusting within the flow of the game. Louisville got to the boards after getting beat up in the first 10 minutes. The Cardinals played tenacious defense and shut down Kentucky. If the Cardinals can continue to get the kind of balance they had from Reece Gaines (overall leadership and an 18.4 ppg average) and Bryant Northern (three huge 3s) on the perimeter, and Marvin Stone (16 points) and Ellis Myles (14 rebounds) inside, then they'll be as tough to beat as Marquette and Cincinnati in Conference USA.

  • Past teams of the week


    Freshmen Watch
    IKE
    DIOGU

    Arizona State

    Diogu scored 21 points in a victory over Nebraska on Saturday night. Diogu continues to put up monster numbers for the Sun Devils and is making a strong case to be the freshman of the year out of the Pac-10. He's leading the surging Sun Devils (9-3) with 18.3 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.
    MATT
    WALSH

    Florida

    Scored 29 points in the win over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday. He's leading the Gators with 17.2 points a game. Walsh is racking up big numbers against the weaker teams and must duplicate his efforts once he gets into the SEC. There won't be a weak game in the league.
    DANIEL HORTON
    Michigan

    The Wolverines are suddenly on a hot streak, winning five straight after dropping their first six. Horton is a large part of the turnaround. He scored 24 points and five assists in the 81-76 win over UCLA in Pauley Pavilion. He's getting a later start than his classmates, but he's still having a huge impact on the Wolverines.
    EVAN
    BURNS

    San Diego State
    Burns finally had a breakout game with 21 points and four steals in 18 minutes Saturday. Burns' outburst lead the Aztecs to a 91-75 win over Florida Atlantic. SDSU coach Steve Fisher had purposely not rushed Burns into the lineup after he became eligible last month.

    On Our Radar
    Luis Flores, Manhattan: Flores earned his second straight MVP award at the ECAC Holiday Festival in New York. He scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists for the Jaspers (7-3). Manhattan beat St. John's in the first round and then took out MAAC rival Iona in the championship game.

    Mike Ames, Delaware: He scored 27 points, including a perfect 7 for 7 from the free-throw line in an impressive 66-56 victory over Eastern Washington. The Blue Hens need the 6-3 junior guard to take over games to stay in the heat of the CAA race next month.

    Desmond Penigar, Utah State: The 6-7 senior kept the Aggies perfect (18-0) record in their in-season tournament. Peniger scored 24 points and grabbed 15 boards in the tournament title win over Idaho State. Peniger scored 18 and grabbed 13 boards in the win over Arkansas State on Friday. Utah State (9-2) continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the West.

    Matt Nelson, Colorado State: Nelson scored 29 points and grabbed 12 boards in a win over Prairie View A&M on Saturday. Nelson has led the Rams to an impressive 10-2 start. Colorado State has played an overall soft schedule but does have a home win over South Carolina. The Rams suddenly look potentially like a top-five team in a crowded Mountain West.


    Good Wins
    Temple 71, Indiana 64: The Owls desperately needed a quality win before the Atlantic 10 season. The Owls still host Wisconsin and the win over Indiana should give them confidence going into the A-10, regardless of what happens against the Badgers. Temple is a long way from being a postseason team but this helps.
    Texas Tech 99, Minnesota 89 (OT): The Red Raiders made up for their outing at Wyoming with this overtime win. Texas Tech needed to prove that it could win on the road against a quality team prior to the Big 12. This win will give Tech the confidence it needs for a rough conference schedule.
    Maryland 84, Georgia Tech 77: The Terps had to establish themselves as an ACC contender from the outset of the season. Getting 29 points from Drew Nicholas in this win Sunday will certainly push this team toward making another ACC run.
    Bad Loss
    St. John's 65, Manhattan 72: The Red Storm lost to Manhattan for the second time in as many years in the Holiday Festival. That's not going to sit well with the alumni in the city. St. John's went 0-2 in the Festival for the first time since 1955. St. John's can't afford any more bad losses this season.
    Florida State 69, Boston University 84: Florida State had been playing tremendous defense through the first six weeks of the season. But this loss in Arizona's tournament in Tucson stings the Seminoles. FSU could turn out to be a bubble team and losing to the potential America East champ isn't that bad, but the margin will jump out at the committee.
    UTEP 54, Columbia 55: UTEP coach Billy Gillespie lost Roy Smallwood (knee) for the season. He may have lost some fans with this defeat. Columbia is one of the worst teams in the Ivy League and losing this game on the Miners' homecourt won't sit well locally. UTEP lost Saturday to Air Force to go 0-2 in its tournament.

    Caught Our Eye
    Inside the Top 25: The Bulldogs continue to look like a Final Four contender after knocking out Oklahoma on Saturday. Mississippi State's defense has been tremendous this season. The Bulldogs held the Sooners to 45 points and 31-percent shooting. Oklahoma's Hollis Price said it was the best defense they have faced this season. It might be the best they will encounter the rest of the way, too. The SEC can't afford to sleep on Mississippi State or they'll awake and find the Bulldogs as the league champs.

    Outside the Top 25: The Tigers have beaten Syracuse in New York, Ole Miss and Illinois at home, and those are all potential NCAA Tournament teams. Memphis didn't have that kind of resume a year ago when it was trying to get into the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers could actually benefit by not being in the division with Louisville, Marquette and Cincinnati in Conference USA. Memphis might be able to feast on teams on its side and get its win total high enough to warrant a bid. The RPI should be stronger with games against Arkansas and Villanova still pending.

    PACIFIC: The Tigers could end up as a sleeper pick in the Big West after a convincing win over Saint Joseph's at home Saturday.

    OKLAHOMA: The Sooners failed in their second bid to beat a ranked team away from Norman. Our preseason No. 1 pick needs to beat Michigan State to re-establish itself as a national title contender.

    UNC-WILMINGTON: The win over Charleston should remind everyone that Wilmington is still a team to deal with this season. Wilmington can't be tossed aside just yet in the CAA.

    SETON HALL: The Pirates have slowly slid down to the bottom of the Big East West Division. West Virginia's non-conference rise could mean the Pirates finish last.

    VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers quietly beat Georgetown on Saturday. Couple that win with the one at Rutgers and Virginia is on a nice little run.

    VERMONT: T.J. Sorrentine, last year's America East player of the year, is out for the season with two broken wrists. The Catamounts will struggle to catch Boston University without Sorrentine.

    LSU: The Tigers had to beat Tulane to validate their win over Arizona. They did.

    GEORGIA TECH: No one expected the Yellow Jackets to beat Maryland on the road, but Tech isn't clicking at the wrong time.

    DUKE: The Blue Devils breezed past Dayton Sunday at home to stay unbeaten. Duke is still waiting to be seriously pushed in a game.

    NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels lost Sean May for two months, but picked up one of the best turnaround wins Saturday. Beating St. John's on the road was a significant win for a team that was humbled the previous night by Iona. The Tar Heels' staff and players should be proud of their determination to prevent a brutal weekend in New York.

    COLORADO: The Buffaloes beat Charlotte on the road, the kind of win they weren't able to land last season. Colorado might be ready to make a run for seventh place in the Big 12 if Texas A&M, Iowa State and Baylor don't hit a consistent stride.

    XAVIER: Xavier is winning games, but senior David West isn't pleased. He said, "I don't know how Coach is going to take this, but we're not playing together like a team. That's obvious. The village idiot can see that. We've got guys on the team who won't pass to other guys, who don't rebound or don't screen if they don't get their touches. We're just not playing together." This was following Xavier's 24-point win over Eastern Kentucky Saturday.

    SAN FRANCISCO: The Dons looked lost a few weeks ago but have rebounded to pick up a quality win over BYU at home. That win proves the WCC is deeper than it has been the past five years. Gonzaga, Pepperdine, San Diego and USF are all helping the overall RPI of the WCC with their non-conference wins.

    Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His Weekly Watch, a look back at the week and a preview of the week ahead, runs every Monday.








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