After getting absolutely trounced by Florida State on Saturday, North Carolina was looking for a redeeming performance on the road against Virginia Tech. Harrison Barnes and John Henson definitely delivered, but they also lost valuable starting guard Dexter Strickland in the process. Strickland hurt his right knee while attempting a runner and is going to get X-Rays today. He is optimistic and felt better after the game, but the prognosis on when he will return is unknown.
A short week ago, I said I believed that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the best freshman at the nation at the halfway mark. Since than, Kentucky's other player in the running for the award, Anthony Davis, has already re-taken the lead. After an incredible 27 point and 14 rebound performance against Arkansas, Davis has leapt over the freshman wall with a vengeance. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still is a fantastic freshman, but Anthony Davis has been a menace in SEC play and has rightfully moved to the top of my (and I am sure many others) rankings of the top first year guys in the nation.
After his massive showing against Baylor yesterday, it seems like Thomas Robinson has separated himself from the pack in the NCAA National Player of the Year race. Kansas lost twins Marcus and Markieff Morris to the NBA and had a number of key freshmen denied eligibility by the NCAA. Still, led by the powerful PF Robinson, they have remained one of the best teams in the nation and have gotten off to a 5-0 start to possibly win their eighth straight Big 12 title.
It was a huge contest at Allen Fieldhouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Monday as two top 10 Big 12 rivals were on display. Baylor had won their first 17 contests and wanted to make a statement that they were amongst the elite by keep a perfect record with a major road victory over Kansas. Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson both had huge performances to make sure Kansas kept the inside track for an eighth straight conference title in a 92-74 beatdown.
It is just around the mid-way point of the college basketball season, so many have started to make lists of the best players in certain categories at the half way mark. Came across this list of the best freshmen in the nation thus far and I have to say it is not too shabby. Kentucky had what many considered the nations best incoming freshman class and they have the two players atop the list.
One might think the return of Jim Calhoun would spark a resurgence in a #8 Connecticut Huskies squad filled with talent. Well, on Saturday, Rutgers made sure that did not happen with a 67-60 win at the Louis Brown Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. With this loss and a previous game loss to Seton Hall, it is the first time since 1969 that the Huskies have lost to both Jersey schools in the same season. Jim Calhoun, making his return to the sidelines after a NCAA mandated three game suspension, was clearly underwhelmed with his teams performance.
Frank Martin is certainly looking like a NCAA Coach of the Year candidate to me, as his K-State Wildcats handed the Missouri Tigers a convincing 75-59 loss. It was the Tigers first loss of the year, to a Kansas State team with fairly low expectations going into this season. The Wildcats dominated the contest defensively, with a 36-22 rebounding advantage while holding the Tigers to 32.7% FG.
Lately, I have been noticing a few people on the NBADraft.net Message Boards saying, "When will West Virginia get some love?". Well, I have tried to give them some for some solid early season play, but they earned a whole lot by ending Georgetown's 11 game win streak with a 74-62 victory. WVU senior guard Truck Bryant had a game high 25 points, upping his impressive average on the year to 18.4 ppg.
This was yet another case of a top 25 team getting upset in a road contest, but I also wanted to give some love to an Arkansas team that seems to be playing some solid basketball. Mike Anderson left Missouri to take the head coaching job for the Razorbacks and is developing a similar stable of rapid fire guards. This became omnipresent in Arkansas' 98-88 SEC opening win over Mississippi State.
So what is RPI?
Well, it is the "Ratings Percentage Index", used by the NCAA to aide in selecting teams and seedings for the NCAA Tournament. RPI is made up of a team's winning percentage (25%), its opponents' winning percentage (50%), and the winning percentage of those opponents' opponents (25%). In 2004 the RPI was modified to account for differences in home and away games. A home win counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Conversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. Thank you StatSheet.com!