4 GAMES I WISH YOU WATCHED
Kentucky 73, Louisville 66: Julius Randle was on his way to another dominant outing, scoring 17 points in the first half on Saturday at Rupp Arena, before leg cramps took him out for most of the second half. That left it up to one (or two) of UK's other five-star recruits to finish the job, and twin brothers Andrew (18 points) and Aaron Harrison (10 pts) answered the call. The freshman guards shined during a 17-7 run in the second half that put the Wildcats ahead for good, and outplayed Louisville's veteran backcourt of Russ Smith (19 pts) and Chris Jones (18 pts) in the game's biggest moments. "I thought we grew up," Kentucky coach John Calipari said of his young team afterward. "We looked like a basketball team today."
Syracuse 78, Villanova 62: It could have been billed as the loaded Villanova backcourt versus the loaded Syracuse frontcourt, and something had to give. The only snag in that storyline? Syracuse has a pretty good backcourt, too. While 'Nova guards James Bell (25 pts), Darrun Hilliard and Josh Hart helped push the Wildcats out to a 25-7 lead in the first half of Saturday's matchup between undefeated top-10 teams, it was 'Cuse guards Trevor Cooney (21 pts) and Tyler Ennis (20 pts) that helped keep the Orange's record unblemished.
DePaul 57, Northwestern 56: College hoops supremacy in the Chicago area is still up for grabs, and the Blue Demons made their case Friday night. With under five seconds to go, Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski hit a three to put his team up by one, and given DePaul's luck over the last decade or so, that seemed like enough to kill their will to win. But the Blue Demons executed coach Oliver Purnell's diagram perfectly, breaking Northwestern's pressure and getting the ball to Billy Garrett under the rim for a layup that rolled around the rim and fell in just as time expired.
UMass 69, Providence 67 (OT): Not only did this game feature a head-to-head matchup of perhaps the two most underrated point guards in the nation -- and with none other than God Shammgod looking on from the crowd -- it was a thriller that needed extra time to be decided. After UMass star PG Chaz Williams (10 pts, 10 asts) fouled out late in the second half, Providence star PG Bryce Cotton (24 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts) forced overtime when he weaved through traffic for a finger roll with 10 seconds left. Cotton tied the score again with a three late in overtime. The Minutemen milked the clock to get the last shot, and yet could only manage an off-balance leaner by Trey Davis. That was no good, but the rebound fell to Derrick Gordon, whose putback with 1.1 seconds on the clock proved to be the game-winner. It was the first sellout at UMass' Mullins Center since 2006.
4 FUTURE PROS YOU KNOW
Glenn Robinson, Michigan: In the Wolverines' first game since learning star big man Mitch McGary could be out for the season following back surgery, Robinson finally played like the future Lottery pick he seems destined to be. The 6-6 sophomore wing scored a season-high 23 points in Saturday's win over Holy Cross, taking a season high 14 shots from the field.
Patric Young, Florida: If the NBA thing doesn't work out, Young could have a future in pro wrestling. (Bigger E. Langston?) But it's looking more and more like WWE won't get their hands on the Gators' 6-9 strongman until he's done playing pro ball. Young scored 15 points in Sunday's rout of Savannah State, putting him over 1,000 for his career, and anchored a defense that held the Tigers to 34 points on 24 percent shooting from the field while forcing 20 turnovers.
Andre Dawkins, Duke: After sitting out last season while he received treatment for depression, Dawkins has returned to the Blue Devils and rediscovered the shooting stroke that once had him looking like a guy who could challenge J.J. Redick's shooting records at Duke. The 6-5 senior is hitting 48 percent of his threes, and knocked down six of them on his way to 20 points in Saturday's rout of Eastern Michigan. Dawkins added two steals and two blocks, just in case you though all he could do is shoot.
Siyani Chambers, Harvard: The next Jeremy Lin? After QB'ing the Crimson's surprise NCAA tournament run as a freshman last season, Chambers not only fought off returning senior Brandyn Curry for his starting PG job this season, he's hot Harvard at 11-1 and looking like a legit threat to any team in the Big Dance. Chambers went for 19 points, nine assists and three steals in Saturday's win over Fordham.
4 FUTURE PROS YOU MAY NOT KNOW
Lenzelle Smith Jr., Ohio State: Patience has paid off for Smith, who spent three years as a role player and is now the Buckeyes' leading scorer (13.4 ppg) in his senior year. The 6-4 guard put up 17 points and seven rebounds in Friday's win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Maurice Creek, George Washington: Back in 2009, Creek was a freshman rising star at Indiana, memorably dropping 31 points in a game against Kentucky when the Wildcats had John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Then he hurt his knee. Then he hurt his knee again. Then he ruptured his Achilles. He went from the future to almost forgotten at IU, and now as s fifth-year graduate student at GW he's averaging over 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 47 percent from three-point range. Creek scored 17 in Saturday's win over Hofstra.
Chasson Randle, Stanford: The 6-2 junior fits the Russell Westbrook mold; athletic as anybody on the court and undeniably productive, but often under scrutiny for his decision-making. Randle did his assist-to-turnover ratio some good when he handed out four dimes to just one turnover in Sunday's win over Cal Poly, and added 20 points for good measure.
Gene Teague, Seton Hall: The 6-9, 270-pounder won't impress a lot of scouts in pre-draft workouts and conditioning drills, but he'll likely find his way on an NBA roster because he provides a few things every team needs with his size, touch around the rim (62% FG) and high rebounding rate. Teague has had a double-double in five of the Pirates' last six games, and was one rebound away from making it six straight games with a double-double. He posted 18 points and 11 boards in Friday's win over Lafayette before leaving with what appeared to be a concussion.
4 FAB FRESHMEN
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Want proof that Ennis has handled the starting point guard job at Syracuse with the poise of a veteran? Check his minutes. Ennis is averaging 32 minutes a night, he played the whole 40 in a win over nationally-ranked Baylor, and coach Jim Boeheim has had the freshman on the court for almost the full 40 in high-profile wins against Indiana, St. John's and, most recently, Villanova this past Saturday. Ennis had 20 points with zero turnovers in that game.
Reggie Cameron, Georgetown: The Cleveland Browns have had an easier time finding a decent quarterback in recent years than the Hoyas have had finding a consistent and clutch outside shooter. Cameron could be the man they've been waiting for. The 6-7 forward has a smooth stroke out to the NBA arc, but he's only been able to show it in flashes, like when he buried a pair of threes off the bench in Saturday's rout of Florida International.
Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine: In his first really big test, the 7-6 phenom was matched up against Arizona State's 7-2 senior Jordan Bachynski and arguably scored a split-decision victory. Although the Anteaters lost the game, Ndiaye had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, while Bachynski had nine points, 10 boards and six blocks.
Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington: The Pac-12 schedule is going to be tough on the Huskies -- they've already been beaten by UC Irvine and got all they could handle from Hartford and Long Beach State -- but one of the bright spots will be watching Williams-Goss respond to and develop under adversity. The 6-3 point guard, a high school All-American, has been up and down since being given the starting job. He filled the stat sheet with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in Friday's win over Mississippi Valley State, then had a noticeably less-impressive 11 points and five assists in Sunday's close win over Hartford.
4 TEAMS RUNNING TOWARD THE FINAL FOUR
Oregon: The Ducks are undefeated and have the nation's top-ranked offense, putting up 90.8 points per game. They've cracked triple digits four times, and almost did it again in Sunday's 97-76 rout of Morgan State. Junior guard Joseph Young is leading the way with 20 points a night, but Oregon seems to have a different player or two step into the spotlight with each win.
Ohio State: Usually in a mismatch, the good team blasts the bad team in the first half, then takes their foot off the pedal and lets them kinda-sorta-not-really get back in the game during the second half before eventually putting them away with a short burst. In Ohio State'S Friday night smackdown of Louisiana-Monroe, their last nonconference game between the Big Ten slate begins, the Buckeyes (13-0) killed the Warhawks with consistently. Ohio State opened the first half with a 12-0 run, then opened the second half with a 15-0 run while holding ULM to just 11 points after halftime.
Memphis: One thing the Tigers have that almost always bodes well in March is a group of seniors in the backcourt -- headlined by a four-year starter at point guard in Joe Jackson. The veteran backcourt (Jackson, Michael Dixon, Chris Crawford, Geron Johnson) has so far done a good job of managing Memphis' ever-present athleticism without letting the team get reckless, as has been their reputation in recent years. That experience and talent was on display in Saturday's win over Jackson State that improved Memphis' record to 9-2.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini head into the Big Ten schedule at 11-2, with one close loss at Georgia Tech and another at Oregon in which Illinois held the high-powered Ducks to their second-lowest point total of the season in a 71-64 decision. They also handed Missouri their only loss in the annual Braggin' Rights rivalry game. Junior guard Rayvonte Rice leads Illinois with 18.2 points, and dropped 28 on Illinois-Chicago on Saturday.
4 TEAMS RUNNING SUICIDES THIS WEEK
Virginia Tech: The ACC has only gotten deeper and more difficult with the additions of Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt, and the Hokies aren't doing themselves any favors by losing to mid-major teams at home. In Saturday's loss to UNC Greensboro -- a program that had only beaten one other ACC team in its history -- Virginia Tech blew an 11-point lead with 10 minutes remaining. They also shot 36 percent from the field, 20 percent from three and 56 percent from the free-throw line, and had more turnovers than assists.
Tennessee State: Looking to put a horrible nonconference run (1-12) behind them, the Tigers were ahead by 10 points with four minutes left against Eastern Illinois in their Ohio Valley Conference opener. Then it all fell apart, and Tennessee State was on the losers' side again.
Louisville: C'mon now. National championship grace period or not, you can't play for Louisville and lose to Kentucky and not have to pay for it the next week. Especially when your head coach used to coach at the in-state rival school.
Lamar: C'mon now. You're 1-11 after Saturday's loss to Colorado State, and your coach is Pat Knight. Fun will be hard to find around the Cardinals' practice facility until there's another 'W' on the board.
4 QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS
Is there a better three-point shooter in the country than Oakland's Travis Bader? The 6-5 senior guard hit seven triples in Friday’s win over Defiance, after canning 17 in two games last weekend against Eastern Michigan and Robert Morris. He's shooting 24 of 37 (64 percent) beyond the arc in his last three games. You’ll see him in Texas during Final Four weekend for the college three-point shootout.
San Diego State beat Saint Katherine -- a school that is fielding a basketball team for the first time this season -- by 83 points on Friday. Said Firebirds coach Scott Mitchell after, "Well, I can thank God nobody got decapitated." On Saturday, Saint Katherine was destroyed by 73 points by Utah. Do you have a problem with such lopsided matchups being scheduled on the D-I level?
Which of the nation's top 10 teams has the toughest conference schedule?
Which point guard can impact a game more without scoring at all: Ohio State's Aaron Craft or Duke's Quinn Cook?
4 NAMES OF THE WEEK
Hershey Robinson, Prairie View A&M
Hobie Hughes, Troy
Perrion Callendret, Idaho
Datodrick Pinkston, Belhaven