What would you donate for a private charity dinner with the Power Rankings' author? I'm guessing it would be a
good deal less than $16,350 per plate. Ranking Kentucky No. 1 doesn't have the same cachet as coaching
Kentucky to No. 1 ...
NCAA Basketball Power Rankings
Last Week: 2
|On Wednesday night, while watching the Georgetown-Pitt and Baylor-Kansas games, I kept a few Web-browser
windows open to follow the eBay charity auctions for UK's amazing "Hoops For Haiti" fundraiser, which had already
brought in more than $1 million in donations from a Sunday telethon. "How much do you think someone in Kentucky
would donate for a private dinner for six at
John Calipari's house, with Cal and Ashley Judd?" I asked a friend. "Ten grand?" was the answer. I
laughed. The bidding was already at $37,500 by tipoff of Hoyas-Panthers. It was up to $80,000 by the time the
Jayhawks were on TV, and at around 9:30 p.m., it closed at an unbelievable
$98,100 -- yet another measure of the current star power of the Cal/Judd combo.* Judd's personal chef is
preparing the meal, but at that price, they should consider flying in the staff of Aragawa.
(*One of the other items offered was a trip -- by
private plane -- to a Cavaliers playoff game and a chance to "meet Coach Calipari's friend and NBA MVP, LeBron
James." This went for $10,099 -- just one-tenth of the price of the dinner, and only 2.5 times the price of a framed photo from UK's win over North Carolina, signed by
We should talk some actual hoops here, given that the Wildcats are No. 1 for the first time
this season, so here goes: I came across this article in which Eric Bledsoe's high school coach said he initially hadn't
believed that Bledsoe and John Wall could coexist in UK's backcourt. Plenty of people had questioned
Bledsoe's sanity for committing to UK in the same class as Wall, rather than choosing a team he could run on his own
-- but Bledsoe has flourished playing off of next year's No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and has averaged 16.7 points
in three SEC games.
I took some freeze-frames from UK's win over Auburn on Saturday that show two simple ways
Wall and Bledsoe attack defenses in tandem: In the first set, Wall drives from right to left across the top (1),
drawing both his and Bledsoe's defenders (shown in halos), while Bledsoe rotates behind him to the weak side (2),
receives the kick-out on the right wing (3), and blows by the help defender's close-out for a layup (4).
In the second set, Wall starts up
top while Bledsoe drives toward the free-throw line from the left wing, drawing both defenders (1). Wall curls
behind Bledsoe at a high speed, receives a drop-off pass (2), and then charges toward the basket (3), with the
option to score (4) or kick the ball out to a shooter in the left corner, depending on how the defense
stuff, but it doesn't work without two strong, penetrating guards on the floor at the same time.
three: 1/23 vs. Arkansas, 1/26 at South Carolina, 1/30 vs. Vanderbilt
Last Week: 4
watching Orange two-guard Andy Rautins destroy Notre Dame from three-point land on Monday, I had the thought
that Rautins rarely appears to be bothered by road rims. He finished Syracuse's three-game road trip 11-for-26 (42.3
percent) from long range, right in line with his season percentage, and acted as if he'd been shooting at the
Irish's Joyce Center for his whole life. I was curious to see how his home/road+neutral shooting splits stacked up
against other gunners, so I made a chart comparing Rautins to the volume three-point shooters from teams in this
week's Power Rankings:
Player, Team Home 3s(%) Road/Ntl 3s(%) Diff.
Jacob Pullen, KSU 24-65 (36.9) 28-58 (48.3) +11.4
Jackson Emery, BYU 24-56 (42.9) 24-56 (42.9) 0.0
Ashton Gibbs, Pitt 24-56 (42.9) 20-49 (40.8) -2.1
Andy Rautins, Cuse 28-64 (43.8) 20-51 (39.2) -4.6
Jon Scheyer, Duke 34-79 (43.0) 15-48 (31.3) -11.7
John Diebler, OSU 44-83 (53.0) 15-48 (31.3) -21.7
Rautins, it turns out, falls right in the middle, with a 4.6-percentage drop in games away from home.
Kansas State's Jacob Pullen is the country's most dangerous road gunner, while Ohio State's John Diebler has been
ice-cold outside of Columbus. We'll call that minus-21.7-percent split the Diebler Effect.
three: 1/23 vs. Marquette, 1/25 vs. Georgetown, 1/30 at DePaul
Last Week: 3
dream college hoops scenario would be a Kansas-Villanova game* that goes into the final three minutes tied, and then
Sherron Collins and Scottie Reynolds try to match each other's clutch buckets up until the buzzer. I
got to watch Reynolds work his magic on Sunday against Georgetown, and then saw Collins (on ESPN) singlehandedly take
down Baylor in the second half on Wednesday, scoring 21 of his 28 points. Both players are already famous for
clutch NCAA tournament plays (Reynolds' layup against Pitt last season, and Collins' late steal and assist in the
'08 national title game), and their offensive numbers this year have been remarkably similar: This Statsheet.com comparison has Collins' efficiency rating at 124.4 and Reynolds' at 122.1. There
are only two major real differences between the star guards:
• Collins is better at creating and
protecting the ball; his assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.2-to-1 compared to Reynolds' 1.2-to-1.
gets to the free-throw line far more often, with 114 free-throw attempts against 207 field-goal attempts in 18
games. Collins has 64 free-throw attempts against 210 field-goal attempts in 18 games.
(* I know they met in the '08 Sweet 16, but Collins was a
bench player at the time, and 'Nova was so overmatched that it lost by 15, so there weren't any real clutch
Next three: 1/23 at Iowa State, 1/25 vs. Missouri, 1/30 at Kansas
Last Week: 1
someone please bring the old Dexter Pittman back? Sexy Dexy was among the most dominant players of the
nonconference season, averaging 14.6 points in just 19.9 minutes and shooting 74.1 percent from the field (mostly
because he was a dunking machine). His Big 12 averages after four games, however, aren't sexy at all: 5.0 points in
20.3 minutes, on 35.0 percent shooting. Pittman told the Austin American-Statesman that the problem has been
packed-in defenses. "It's very clogged up down there [in the paint]," he said. "I don't
have any room to work."
I made light of one Iowa State defensive lapse against Pittman in last
week's Power Rankings, but should've noted that the Cyclones limited him to just 2-of-4 shooting in 26 minutes;
three days after that, Texas A&M's bruisers held him to 0-of-5 shooting in 28 minutes. The Statesman story
also pointed out that in addition to the lane-clogging, defenders have been heavily shading Pittman's left-shoulder
and bothering his go-to non-dunk move, the right-handed baby hook. Until he develops an adequate counter, that's how
he'll be guarded on nearly every post feed.
Next three: 1/23 at UConn, 1/27 vs. Texas Tech,
1/30 vs. Baylor
Last Week: 5
Maalik Wayns looks like the heir-apparent to the Wildcats backcourt throne. We were all talking about
Reynolds' 27-point game against Georgetown on Sunday, but an interesting side-plot was just how confident coach
Jay Wright was in leaving Wayns on the floor late in a tight game. It's not as if Villanova is short on
guards who can shoot, but in the final 15 seconds of a three-point game, the 'Cats twice inbounded the ball to Wayns
in press-break situations where he'd be fouled and go to the free-throw line. The kid knocked down four straight
from the stripe and showed no jitters. He told me Reynolds had given him advice about clutch situations. "He just
said that nothing changes," Wayns explained. "Be confident -- that's the biggest thing."
Wayns, a McDonald's
All-American from Philly, said he'd come to 'Nova with the idea of being mentored by its elder guards, and that the
practice battles he has against Reynolds and Corey Fisher are sometimes more difficult than game situations.
"Going against them," he said, "is like going against the best of the Big East."
1/23 at St. John's, 1/27 vs. Notre Dame, 2/2 vs. Seton Hall
Last Week: 13
were so many goodies from the Manhattan postgame scene after Monday's win (not upset!) over top-ranked Texas, I
don't know where to start. I guess seeing Frank Martin don a Pullen/Lincoln beard* (from the
team's Beard-Out promotion) for his radio recap was the most visually shocking, given that he'd been so
intense during the game that his eyeballs had nearly popped out of his head on 10-15 occasions. That the guy manages
to make so many quality coaching decisions while in that state always amazes me. ... Next, we have a random iPhone
ringing on the K-State players' press conference table ... and it turns out to be ESPN
color man Bobby Knight's. Had that happened during one of Knight's classic pressers at IU, would he have
smashed it? ... Then there's Knight stopping Martin in the tunnel not to congratulate him, but instead to tell him,
"We need to get you to run a better
offense." The General, who did ESPN's color analysis, was killing the Wildcats for their lack of motion; they
tend to put up a lot of jumpers and then attack the offensive glass, which isn't always pretty, but it works because
they're the best offensive rebounding team in the nation. ... Oh, and Martin's car also went missing in the Bramlage
Coliseum parking lot after the game -- someone had towed it all the way across the lot. Maybe he was
parked in Knight's space?
Next three: 1/23 vs. Oklahoma State, 1/26 at Baylor, 1/30 vs.
Last Week: 14
Vols have done more than just survive after the suspension (and subsequent dismissal) of senior star Tyler
Smith -- they've thrived, going 5-0 with an upset of No. 1 Kansas and an overtime home win over a ranked
Ole Miss team. Now that we know Tennessee is legit, should we peg them as the team most likely to end Kentucky's
undefeated season? Kenpom.com only gives the Wildcats a 0.70 percent chance of running the table in the regular season, because they rank 14th overall
in efficiency despite being first in the Power Rankings. The Vols get their first crack at the Wildcats in Lexington
on Feb. 13, but UK's three games with the lowest win probabilities are:
Feb. 16 at Mississippi State:
Feb. 20 at Vanderbilt: 41%
Feb. 27 at Tennessee: 33%
So while the Vols are the team
statistically most likely to beat the Wildcats, the odds of UK surviving back-to-back road games in
Starkville and Nashville are thin. I'd expect John Wall & Co. to arrive in Knoxville with a record of 27-1,
Next three: 1/23 at Georgia, 1/27 vs. Vanderbilt, 1/31 vs. Florida
Last Week: 9
Wednesday, the Spartans received a home scare from Iowa -- alarming given that the Hawkeyes are projected to finish
2-14 or 3-15 in the Big Ten, and don't have a single player who could crack State's starting lineup. I guess the
visitors weren't bothered enough by the Izzone's resident Green Man, who was profiled in the Kalamazoo Gazette this week. Jack
Cogswell, the student who wears the skin-tight, neon-green suit, bought it in '08 as an It's Always Sunny In
Philadelphia-themed Halloween costume, and then started making regular appearances with it at the Breslin
Center. He took it to China during a study abroad program and wore it to clubs, where the patrons, he said, "were
all pretty freaked out." Cogswell also apparently puts "Green Man" on his resume under extracurricular activities.
The article did not say whether or not he does job interviews in the suit.
Next three: 1/23
at Minnesota, 1/26 at Michigan, 1/30 vs. Northwestern
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