UConn's Ryan Boatright worth the wait; more Hoop Thoughts (Cont.)
Hate seeing Notre Dame's fifth-year senior guard, Tim Abromaitis, go down with a torn ACL. Abromaitis, who was voted preseason all-Big East, can petition the NCAA for a sixth year, but it's not clear if he would get it. It's also not clear if he even wants to play another year.
Weber State junior guard Scott Bamforth has made 14 of his 17 three-pointer attempts through his first three games. Many of his makes have come from well behind the arc. Just making sure you knew.
Speaking of exciting mid-major players, did you know that ESPN's Doug Gottlieb says Iona's Scott Machado is the best point guard in America? I don't agree -- my list starts with Kendall Marhsall, Jordan Taylor and Aaron Craft -- but the kid is definitely worth checking out. He's averaging 19.8 points and 12.8 assists through his first four games.
I admit it: I always get Heisman envy this time of year. College hoops has so many national player of the year awards, it's hard to tell which one is really important. College football never has that problem.
The Kentucky point guard's first name may be spelled Marquis, but it's pronounced "Marcus." He's gonna be talked about a lot, so we might as well say his name right.
Memphis forward Wesley Witherspoon has had quite a comedown since hanging 22 points on Belmont in the season opener. Not only has he failed to reach double digits in the three games since, but Witherspoon had one of the more boneheaded turnovers you'll see at the end of overtime against Tennessee in Maui. Witherspoon grabbed what should have been a game-clinching rebound, but he celebrated too soon and was called for traveling. Tennessee missed its chance at a game-winning shot, but when you're a senior playing for a young team, you've got to have better composure than that.
Oregon's Jabari Brown is the poster child for the instant gratification problem that plagues our basketball culture (and our culture at large, for that matter). A six-foot-five guard from Oakland, Brown was ranked 18th overall in the Class of 2011 by Scout.com, but he quit the team after two games and intends to transfer. Way to stick it out, kid.
(Last week's rank on my ballot in parentheses)
1. Kentucky (2)
2. Ohio State (3)
3. Duke (4)
4. Syracuse (6)
5. Baylor (7)
6. Florida (8)
7. North Carolina (1)
8. Louisville (9)
9. Alabama (11)
10. Xavier (13)
11. Missouri (NR)
12. Kansas (12)
13. UConn (4)
14. Michigan (24)
15. Gonzaga (14)
16. Vanderbilt (15)
17. Wisconsin (16)
18. Mississippi State (17)
19. UNLV (NR)
20. Michigan State (21)
21. Georgetown (NR)
22. California (19)
23. Creighton (22)
24. St. Louis (NR)
25. Harvard (NR)
Dropped out: Memphis (10), Arizona (18), Belmont (20), Florida State (23), Saint Mary's (25)
I promised a couple of weeks ago that there would be some shakeups during Thanksgiving week, but I didn't realize it would be this seismic. Eight of the teams ranked in the AP's top 25 went down to defeat, including two of the top four, North Carolina and UConn. So my first order of business was deciding how far to drop those two.
My decision to drop UConn nine spots and UNC just six was largely based on how those teams lost and to whom. I think UCF is not as good as UNLV, and I didn't like that UConn blew that huge lead. And UConn could have easily lost to Florida State the next day. There's no science involved in making these decisions, so I just kept going down my ballot until I found a team I thought was worse. If you think I was too harsh -- and you probably have a case regarding North Carolina -- then those teams will have plenty of chances to redeem themselves soon.
Allow me to offer a big, hearty welcome to the Missouri Tigers. I was actually surprised to look over last week's ballot and see I hadn't ranked them at all. (Shows you how much effort I put into this.) I ranked the Tigers this week based on not just what they've done but how they looked while doing it. And if you saw them mutilate Notre Dame and California -- not great teams, but two pretty good ones -- then you couldn't help but be impressed.
I felt like UNLV deserved to be rewarded for knocking off the nation's top-ranked team, but we'll find out a lot more about the Runnin' Rebs in the next three weeks. Four of their next six games are on the road, and they're against pretty good teams: UCSB, Wichita State, Wisconsin and Illinois. Something tells me the Rebels are not going to run that table. I also liked what I saw out of Georgetown in Maui, where they played Kansas tough before squeaking by Memphis in overtime.
Speaking of Memphis, as you can see the Tigers were last week's biggest casualty, going from tenth to unranked. Do I believe Memphis is one of the best 25 teams in the country? Probably. But based on their results (they also lost to Michigan and needed overtime to get by Tennessee), I can't put them there. That decision prompted me to take out Belmont as well, because Memphis crushed them in the season opener. The transitive property doesn't always apply, but I'm trying to be fair. I'm still driving the Belmont bandwagon, but for the time being I'm obeying the speed limit.
I readily concede that I favor mid-majors when I go hunting for my last few teams. It's a crap shoot anyway, and these teams never get enough recognition. I had Saint Mary's at No. 25 last week, but after the Gaels lost to Denver they got bumped out. So the last two spots went to teams that won Thanksgiving week tournaments by beating power conference teams, St. Louis and Harvard. I hope they enjoy their stay.
Besides Memphis, my two most notable omissions are Pitt and Marquette. I actually had Pitt in my top ten the first week, but I dropped them out after they lost to Long Beach State at home. Marquette is 5-0 but they haven't played anybody good. The Warriors play in Madison this Saturday. If they win that one, they're a shoo-in to make my ballot next week.