Dec 30, 2012, 5:15 PM EDT
Conference play is right around the corner, so to help you get out of that post-holiday haze, we’ll be catching you up on all the happenings in the country’s top 12 conferences. Here’s our Missouri Valley Conference Catchup:
Favorite: No. 3 Louisville
Russ Smith has matured his game and is turning into a go-to scorer. Yes, he still takes a lot of shots and it wouldn’t hurt to shoot better than 43 percent from the field, but he is beginning to take better shots and, along with Peyton Siva, makes up one of the nation’s toughest backcourts.
The Orange suffered their first loss of the season to Temple, due in large part to the Owls’ ability to force Michael Carter-Williams away from distributing and into scoring the ball. Once he gets back to facilitating the offense, Syracuse will keep running like a well-oiled machine.
They climbed as high as 8th in the national polls before a loss to New Mexico. That will likely be as high as they get all season, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a legitimate Sweet 16 contender. Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright are dangerous.
The backcourt duo of James Robinson and Tray Woodall is proving to be a good one. Talib Zanna’s development has helped to solidify the Panthers’ inside presence. They don’t turn the ball over much, which will help in Big East play.
Jack Cooley picked up where he left off last season and is averaging a double-double of 15.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Combine that with consistent guard play from Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins and the Irish are in business.
Yes, we saw an abysmal offensive performance in the Hoyas’ ugly win over Tennessee early in the year, but we should see the Georgetown team we saw in Brooklyn as the year progresses. Otto Porter continues to be the do-everything guy who makes it all work.
Biggest Surprise: Connecticut
A mass exodus of talent from Storrs, a new coach, and a postseason ban should have been enough to sink the Huskies, but Kevin Ollie has gotten his team on the same page and off to a 10-2 start. Ollie was rewarded with a five-year deal worth close to $7 million, which can only help his comfort within the program, giving him some job security.
Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright have proven to be a formidable combo in the backcourt, averaging 16.8 and 16.1 points per game, respectively. DeAndre Daniels has doubled his minutes this season and responded with production, putting up 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.
The true test of Connecticut’s resolve might come as early as mid-January, when the Huskies face No. 21 Notre Dame, then No. 4 Louisville, then No. 24 Pittsburgh in the span of a week.
Biggest Disappointment: Providence
Let me say first that it’s not Providence’s fault. They lost Ricky Ledo to an NCAA ruling at the beginning of the season. Kris Dunn and Vincent Council just recently got into the rotation after working through injury. They’re still 8-4, despite those road blocks, in a conference that has done well overall in the non-conference. Ed Cooley is building a contender at Providence, though. With his presence on the recruiting trail and what he has been able to do with the assets he already has, the Friars are on the upswing in the long-term.
Player of the Year: Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
Cooley is averaging a double-double of 15.2 points and 11.3 rebounds. He’s been comparable to Mason Plumlee of Duke so far, which is saying something. If Notre Dame wants to make a run in March, he’s going to be the guy who gets them there.
Also of Note: Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse), Russ Smith (Louisville), Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati), Otto Porter (Georgetown)
Best Freshman: Chris Obekpa, St. John’s
Obekpa leads not only freshman but the entire nation in blocks with 5.3 per game. He has changed the complexion of Steve Lavin’s defense, allowing the Red Storm to take more chances on the perimeter because Obekpa is around the rim to block shots. He adds a solid 4.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, as well.
Also of note: James Robinson (Pittsburgh), Omar Calhoun (Connecticut), Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova)
1. Notre Dame will end up as the conference’s fourth best team. Cincinnati and Georgetown are ahead of the Irish right now, but Cooley, Grant, and Atkins shouldn’t be discounted.
2. Connecticut will finish as an NCAA tournament-worthy team, though they can’t qualify. Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier make up one of the strongest backcourts in the conference and Omar Calhoun is emerging as a legitimate option in only his freshman season.
3. Otto Porter will make himself a lottery pick by the end of the year. The same Michael Kidd-Gilchrist worked his way to the top of the draft by being a lot of different things well, Porter will do the same to a lesser extent.
Power Rankings (* = tourney team):
1. No. 4 Louisville *
2. No. 7 Syracuse *
3. No. 8 Cincinnati *
4. No. 21 Notre Dame *
5. No. 18 Georgetown *
6. No. 24 Pittsburgh *
8. Marquette *
9. South Florida
11. Seton Hall
13. St. John’s
May 3, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Maia led the Ivy League in rebounding in each of his three seasons playing at Brown.
May 3, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
Notre Dame’s first commitment in the 2016 class is an important one.
May 3, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
The Aggies are on the board in 2016, and they’ve landed one of the top distributors in the class.
May 3, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
Nigel Hayes believes that each individual school should be allowed to decide how much they give an athlete should they be allowed to pay them in the future.
May 3, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
The Texans will hold its rookie minicamp next weekend.
May 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Jones hasn’t played a college game yet, but when he arrives on campus at UNLV he’ll be one of the best dunkers in college basketball.
May 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Former Colorado guard Dustin Thomas is heading to Arkansas.
May 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan will be around for at least a few more years, it seems.
May 3, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT
Gonzaga landed a huge transfer in former Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss.
May 3, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino’s charter jet use is examined in a new report.
May 3, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
Former Old Dominion forward Richard Ross is continuing to pursue the NFL and has been invited to a mini-camp.
May 3, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
North Carolina commit Jalek Felton is fun to watch.
May 2, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
After being dismissed from Oregon, Dominic Artis spent a year at Diablo Valley CC in California but did not play basketball.
May 2, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT
Nwamu averaged 15.1 points per game and shot 37.4 percent from three at Mercer last season.
May 2, 2015, 7:41 PM EDT
Dakota Slaughter didn’t see much playing time at Alabama, but that could change at UTPA.
May 2, 2015, 5:36 PM EDT
A high-level perimeter shooter, Williams can help a team that was lacking in that area in 2014-15.
May 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
ECU scholarship athletes in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball will receive an extra $4,025 in scholarship money beginning August 1.
May 2, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Florida has four Class of 2015 recruits signed for next season.
May 2, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
De’Aaron Fox is one of the elite players in the Class of 2016 and he’s spending the spring focusing on defense and being a leader.
May 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Jaylen Brown’s commitment shook up the college basketball world on Friday night.
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- Five-star wing Jaylen Brown commits to California 0
- With Billy Donovan headed to Oklahoma City, where does this leave Florida? 5
- Derek Anderson could not have been more wrong in his Calipari critique 12
- Report: Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City ‘nearing an agreement’ on coaching vacancy 2
- CBT Roundtable: What rule would you change in college basketball? 11
- 2015 College Basketball Early Entry List (14)
- Derek Anderson could not have been more wrong in his Calipari critique (12)
- How concerned should North Carolina fans be that Brandon Ingram passed on the Tar Heels? (11)
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- Report: Five-star small forward Jaylen Brown cuts list to four (6)