Burlison's look around the nation

North Carolina's Tar Heels lost just once in February. And, after moving into the No. 9 spot in the latest Scout.com Top 25, they will get a rematch against the Duke team that beat them when they hook up in Durham on Saturday.

The University of North Carolina parlayed its continued impressive play into its first appearance in the Scout.com Top 10 this season.


Coach Roy Williams' team, which will take a five-game winning streak into its home regular-season finale Wednesday night against Virginia, climbed two spots into No. 9 slot in the latest Top 25.


The Tar Heels, who've won eight of their past nine games behind the probable national Freshman of the Year, Tyler Hansbrough, take the 15-minute bus ride to Durham Saturday evening for the national Game of the Week: a showdown with top-ranked Duke.


Connecticut, despite its impressive 89-75 Big East Conference victory over visiting Villanova Sunday afternoon, didn't change positions in the Top 25, and for good reason: The Huskies were already No. 2 despite losing to the Wildcats in Philadelphia a few weeks ago.


A look at some of the week's better matchups:



Pittsburgh at West Virginia: The third seed in the Big East Tournament is at stake – all the better to likely bypass a hookup with Connecticut until the final in Madison Square Garden on March 11.



Illinois at Minnesota: The Illini, to maintain any hopes of catching Ohio State for at least a share of the Big Ten's regular-season title, can't afford to pull a Indiana, Michigan State or Iowa (by losing on the Gophers' home floor).

Cincinnati at Seton Hall: The loser of this one will make it a lot easier on the NCAA Tournament selection crew in Indianapolis on the March 10-12 weekend.



Duke at Florida State: An upset by the Seminoles would do much to erase the leftover bitterness from their 97-96 overtime loss in Durham on Feb. 4 – and pump a little adrenalin into the NCAA Tournament at-large hopes that took a hit with an 11-point loss at Virginia Tech Saturday.

Kentucky at Tennessee: The Wildcats couldn't nail down a great opportunity for an eye-catching win (at LSU) Saturday. They're running out of time to lock down an at-large bid. A victory in Knoxville would put them oh-so-close to doing so.

Ohio State at Northwestern: A slip-up by the Buckeyes in this one is, in reality, the last real hope of Illinois, Iowa or Wisconsin of getting at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship.

Colorado at Kansas: Hey, Buffaloes – if you want an at-large bid, show you're worthy with a solid effort in Lawrence. It doesn't necessarily have to be a victory, mind you. Just be more competitive than you were over much of your last four Big 12 road games (all losses).



Memphis at UAB: The Blazers can take a big step toward grabbing the Conference USA Tourney's No. 2 seed and jump-starting their at-large hopes by handing the Tigers their first conference loss.

UCLA at California: The Bruins can cinch no worse than a share of the Pac 10 regular-season title with a win in Berkeley. In reality, though, there is more of a sense of urgency to the game for the Golden Bears: Their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes are no where near air-tight, even with 11 conference wins.

Wisconsin at Michigan State: With four losses in their past five games, the Spartans are backpedaling to the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

Syracuse at DePaul: Here's the scoop for the Orange – win this one or face a can't afford to lose confrontation with Villanova on Sunday in the Carrier Dome.



North Carolina at Duke: The Tar Heels might be playing as well as anyone in the country right now. And it's not a stretch to think that this could be the second of what could eventually be four meetings between the rivals this season.

Houston at Memphis: If the Cougars want to add a little heft to their at-large bid argument, here's a suggestion – win this game.

Charlotte at George Washington: The 49ers were starting to make a decent at-large case for themselves . . . before they lost Saturday at home by three points to Saint Louis.

Illinois at Michigan State: This will have Big Ten title implications only if Ohio State screws up against Northwestern (Wednesday) and/or Purdue (Sunday). 

Washington at Arizona: Based on what happens in Berkeley (Thursday and Saturday) and at Stanford (the Cardinal vs. UCLA, Saturday), at least a share of the Pac 10 title could be the prize for the winner of this one.

Indiana at Michigan: The winner will feel considerably more enthused about their chances for big smiles on March 12.


Players of the Week

(based on play during Feb. 19-25 games; players whose teams played at least twice during the seven-day span get stronger consideration over those who played just once)


Glen Davis (6-8, So., LSU)

A cumulative 44 points, 26 rebounds and six steals during SEC victories over Vanderbilt and Kentucky were enough to bag him Scout.com Player of the Week honors for the second week in a row.

For the season: 18.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocked shots per game; .511 FG%


Terence Dials (6-9, Sr., Ohio State)

He helped moved the Buckeyes another couple of steps closer to a Big Ten Conference regular-season championship, with 19 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot during a 79-68 win at Michigan State, and 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots as the Buckeyes cruised past visiting Michigan, 65-54.

For the season: 15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocked shots per game; .569 FG%


Nick Fazekas (6-11, Jr., Nevada)

The Wolf Pack all but wrapped up the regular-season championship of the WAC with wins at Idaho (26 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots by Fazekas) and Utah State (23, 16 and three), thanks in large part to Fazekas' play. It's back to back POW kudos for Fazekas.

For the season: 21.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.4 blocked shots per game; .529 FG%


P.J. Tucker (6-5, Jr., Texas)

His 19-point, eight-rebound and seven-assist performance helped the Longhorns beat Kansas, 80-55, in a Big 12 showdown Saturday night, three nights after he had 14 points and 12 rebounds during his team's 65-64 victory at Kansas State. If he wasn't beforehand, he's definitely the frontrunner for Big 12 Player of the Year honors now.

For the season: 16.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 steals per game; .536 FG%


Shelden Williams (6-8, Sr., Duke)

J.J. Redick struggled with his jump shot but Williams and the rest of the Blue Devils were able to compensate during road wins at Georgia Tech and Temple. Williams had 26 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in Atlanta, and 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in Philadelphia.

For the season: 18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 3.6 blocked shots per game; .588 FG%


Scout.com's updated Top 25

(Last week's ratings in parentheses; records of Feb. 26)

1. (1) Duke (27-1) Next game: at Florida State (Wednesday)

2. (2) Connecticut (25-2) Next game: at South Florida (Wednesday)

3. (3) Memphis (26-2) Next game: at UAB (Thursday)

4. (4) Gonzaga (24-3) Next game: vs. University of San Francisco (Monday)

5. (6) Texas (24-4) Next game: at Texas A&M (Wednesday)

6. (5) Villanova (22-3) Next game: vs. St. John's (Wednesday)

7. (7) George Washington (24-1) Next game: at St. Bonaventure (Wednesday)

8. (8) Pittsburgh (21-4) Next game: at West Virginia (Monday)

9. (11) North Carolina (19-6) Next game: vs. Virginia (Wednesday)

10. (14) Ohio State (21-4) Next game: at Northwestern (Wednesday)

11. (17) LSU (20-7) Next game: at South Carolina (Tuesday)

12. (9) Boston College (22-6) Next game: vs. Wake Forest (Tuesday)

13. (12) Illinois (23-5) Next game: at Minnesota (Tuesday)

14. (15) Tennessee (20-5) Next game: vs. Kentucky (Wednesday)

15. (10) North Carolina State (21-7) Next game: at Wake Forest (Saturday)

16. (19) Georgetown (19-7) Next game: at South Florida (Saturday)

17. (20) Washington (22-5) Next game: at Arizona State (Thursday)

18. (13) West Virginia (19-8) Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (Monday)

19. (21) UCLA (22-6) Next game: at Cal (Thursday)

20. (23) Marquette (19-8) Next game: at Louisville (Wednesday)

21. (25) Nevada (22-5) Next game: vs. San Jose State (Thursday)

22. (18) Kansas (20-6) Next game: vs. Colorado (Wednesday)

23. (16) Florida (22-6) Next game: vs. Georgia (Wednesday)

24. (ur) Arkansas (19-8) Next game: vs. Mississippi State (Wednesday)

25. (24) Wisconsin (19-8) Next game: at Michigan State (Thursday)

Dropped out: Iowa (22)



Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.FrankHoops.com


Wildcat Authority Top Stories