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Purdue Boilermakers (20-5)
"He looks country, very much Mayberry, but at root is as tough as the grittiest street on the meanest side of town."
That line came from a Chicago Tribune article about a surprisingly good, home-grown player in the state of Indiana. Sounds like it's describing Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, right? Nope. It was in reference to Purdue's Robbie Hummel, perhaps the most unexpected national star from the freshman class of 2007. The Valparaiso, Ind., product saved his two biggest games of the season for back-to-back victories over Big Ten powers Wisconsin and Michigan State in the past seven days. He had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Badgers at the Kohl Center, and 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting against the Spartans.
Next three: 2/16 at Northwestern, 2/19 at Indiana, 2/27 vs. Minnesota
Wisconsin Badgers (20-4)
The Badgers would be best-served by taking only three-pointers from now on in crunch-time situations, when they are 3-of-3 from beyond the arc on the season, and 0-of-1 on drives to the basket. Here's a brief chronology of UW's close-game exploits in 2007-08:
• Dec. 29 at Texas: Michael Flowers drills a long three in the final seconds to pull off a major, 67-66 upset.
• Jan. 22 vs. Michigan: Marcus Landry's three with 24 seconds left seals a 64-61 win.
• Jan. 26 at Purdue: Running the same play that beat Texas -- but driving to the hole this time rather than pulling up -- Flowers' layup attempt in the final seconds is rejected by the Boilers' Robbie Hummel, and UW loses, 60-56.
• Feb. 13 at Indiana: Brian Butch banks in a trey with five seconds left for a 68-66 win, ending a horrible day for the Hoosiers that began with the NCAA alleging major violations against Kelvin Sampson. In the locker room afterward, coach Bo Ryan told Butch that his three had been waved off "because he didn't call it and that we lost and the game was over." Said Ryan, "There was silence for two seconds and then somebody yelled 'let's get on the plane.' And that was it."
Next three: 2/16 vs. Minnesota, 2/20 at Illinois, 2/23 at Ohio State
Butler Bulldogs (22-2)
As much as it seems that no team in the nation connects on more threes than Duke, the truth is that Butler relies on the trey even more heavily than the Blue Devils do. According to kenpom.com's point distribution data, these are the five Power Rankings teams who score the biggest percentage of their points from beyond the arc:
Rk. Team %Pts: FTs %Pts: 2s %Pts: 3s
(Nat'l Rk.) (Nat'l Rk.) (Nat'l Rk.)
1. Butler 21.3 (102) 39.8 (333) 38.9 (19)
2. Tennessee 19.0 (237) 46.4 (283) 34.6 (53)
3. Duke 20.6 (147) 47.1 (273) 32.3 (90)
4. Xavier 21.0 (123) 46.8 (278) 32.2 (91)
5. Georgetown 16.7 (308) 51.2 (172) 32.0 (98)
Next three: 2/14 vs. Youngstown State, 2/16 vs. Cleveland State, 2/20 at Illinois-Chicago
Texas A&M Aggies (20-4)
Seems like there's a run on dedication days in the Lone Star State. The mayor of Lubbock, Texas, designated Wednesday as "Pat Knight Day," in honor of the rookie head coach's home debut -- a game his Red Raiders upset Kansas State. In College Station, they're calling Saturday "Acie Law Day" to coincide with the Aggies' game against Oklahoma State. Law's event does not have mayoral recognition, but a more important honor is being bestowed on A&M's former All-America point guard, who's now with the Atlanta Hawks: his No. 1 jersey is being hung in the rafters of Reed Arena. The Dallas Morning News said that the even was the idea of new coach Mark Turgeon, who arrived after Law left, but should enjoy the recruiting benefits of having an NBA floor general associated with the program.
Next three: 2/16 vs. Oklahoma State, 2/18 at Texas, 2/23 vs. Nebraska
Stanford Cardinal (19-4)
The longest Pac-10 winning streak of this season came to an end on Thursday, as the Card collapsed in the final three and a half minutes of their meeting with Arizona State. Stanford had a nine-point lead with 3:15 left in regulation, and a seven-point lead with 1:49 left, but lost in overtime. FSN's audio of the crowd wasn't great, but I'm pretty sure I could hear ASU students taunting the Lopez twins with chants of "Lopez Sisters" on many occasions during the game. These chants were either:
• A) A general attack on Brook and Robin's masculinity
• B) A reference to an obscure 1968 disco trio called the Lopez Sisters; their name was eventually changed to "Odyssey"
• C) A reference to J-Lo and her two female siblings, one of whom, Lynda, is a weekend news anchor in New York
Next three: 2/14 at Arizona State, 2/16 at Arizona, 2/24 vs. Cal
Drake Bulldogs (22-2)
In case you were looking for the flip-side of that chart from the Butler blurb, here are the teams that give up the highest percentage of their points from beyond the arc. According to kenpom.com data, no school in the Power Rankings yields a bigger chunk of its points on treys than does Keno Davis' crew:
Rk. Team %PtsA: FTs %PtsA: 2s %PtsA: 3s
(Nat'l Rk.) (Nat'l Rk.) (Nat'l Rk.)
1. Drake 14.1 (334) 50.7 (182) 35.2 (19)
2. UConn 15.9 (315) 49.0 (229) 35.1 (21)
3. Texas 16.9 (290) 48.3 (251) 34.8 (26)
4. Kansas 17.6 (269) 47.9 (262) 34.5 (28)
5. UNC 13.7 (338) 55.7 ( 38) 30.6 (113)
Next three: 2/16 at Northern Iowa, 2/19 vs. Bradley, 2/23 at Butler
ON THE CUSP, TIER 1:
Louisville (19-6): The Cards might be a better team than the one I have at No. 16 ... but I didn't have it in me to knock out a Drake club that has won 21 of its past 22 games.
Michigan State (20-4): The Spartans need to get out of their February slump with a win over Indiana on Saturday. Capitalize on the uncertainty in Hoosierland, fellas.
Washington State (18-5): Thursday's win over Oregon State was nice ... but it's gonna take more than that to re-enter the top 16. Indiana (20-4): What does it say about the Big Ten that I have two league teams with 20-4 records outside of the top 16?
Indiana (20-4): What does it say about the Big Ten that I have two league teams with 20-4 records outside of the top 16? (Ed. Note: The Hoosiers were unintentionally omitted when the PRs were posted Friday.)
Notre Dame (18-5): The Irish's absence from last week's cusp -- in response to the 80 or so e-mails I received about it -- was a mistake. I promise, I wouldn't have driven up to Storrs to see them if they hadn't been on my radar.
Kansas State (17-6): I need to see more consistency out of this team before I take them seriously as a postseason threat.
Pittsburgh (19-5): Bad stretch on the horizon for the Panthers: Marquette and Notre Dame on the road, then Louisville at home. They need to win at least one of those games.
ON THE CUSP, TIER 2: St. Mary's, Clemson, Maryland, USC, Arizona, Arkansas, Marquette, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Davidson, St. Joe's, BYU, UNLV, George Mason, VCU, Illinois State, Arizona State, Houston, Gonzaga, Baylor, Florida, Kent State, South Alabama, Rhode Island
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