Duke, Connecticut, Texas: As Easy As 1-2-3

Duke, Connecticut and Texas captured championships of very tough tournaments last week. But Indiana, Vanderbilt and Creighton also impressed, which is why they're the newest members of the Scout.com Top 25 on a week that figures to be highlighted by some nifty matchups in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge series.


Duke and Connecticut remained 1-2 in the Scout.com Top 25 ratings after bagging championships in tournament finals wrapped around Thanksgiving.

 

And Texas – thanks to back-to-back wins against West Virginia and Iowa during the Guardians' Classic in Kansas City – moved into the No. 3 slot.

 

The 1-3 ranked teams were each represented on the Scout.com Player of the Week list.

 

And the competition for that five-player list that will be unveiled next week should be heated this week, with a plethora of attractive games, several of those taking place during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge series.

 

Here is a look at some of the week's best matchups, as well as Scout.com's updated Top 25 and the Scout.com National Players of the Week:

 

MONDAY

Virginia Tech at Ohio State: The first of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge games has the Hokies (after a 5-1 start) playing their first road contest and the Buckeyes getting the closest thing to a "test" they've had yet.

Auburn at Colorado State: The Tigers are 2-0 (against Lipscomb and Gardner-Webb) while the Rams are 4-0, including a one-point decision over Colorado, with 7-foot sophomore Jason Smith averaging 21.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.8 blocked shots per game.

TUESDAY

Wisconsin at Wake Forest: The Badgers are 4-0 and the Demon Deacons 5-1 . . . and here's the matchup to watch – Alando Tucker (18.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game) vs. Wake Forest's Trent Strickland (17.8 and 8.8)

Illinois at North Carolina: A rematch of the 2005 national championship game – minus six players who were chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft, along with two other starters. But it's still must-viewing TV.

Miami at Michigan: The Hurricanes were tagged by 17 points at Temple while the Wolverines' most impressive victory in their 3-0 start was by five points against Boston University.

Northern Iowa at Iowa State: The first part of the Panthers' two-prong opportunity (they face Iowa on Dec. 6) to demonstrate who is the best in-Iowa team this season.

Louisiana Tech at Alabama: The Bulldogs' Paul Millsap (16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game) gets to flex his muscles against one of college basketball's best frontcourts.

Houston at LSU: The Tigers are coming off an eye-catching win at West Virginia while the Cougars are one of the teams that will claw for second place behind Memphis in Conference USA.

WEDNESDAY

Duke at Indiana: It's the most intriguing of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge games and not strictly because the Blue Devils are ranked No. 1. Five Hoosiers have averaged double-figure scoring during the team's 3-0 start. Matchup to watch: Shelden Williams vs. IU's Marco Killingsworth.

North Carolina State at Iowa: The biggest reason the Wolfpack's 5-0 start isn't yawn-worthy – a 13-point win over Notre Dame in Indianapolis Saturday.

Georgia Tech at Michigan State: The Yellow Jackets' first loss came by 22 points against Illinois-Chicago Friday night – in Atlanta!

Minnesota at Maryland: The Gophers are without their best player, wing Vince Grier, who could miss up to two months with a broken left wrist.

Oregon at Vanderbilt: Here's a game that could be overlooked, nationally. The Ducks won their first four games (all in Eugene) by an average margin of 33 points. But the competition isn't going to be as passive in Nashville. The Commodores are also 4-0 but the most recent of those W's came in Washington, D.C. (68-61 over Georgetown).

THURSDAY

Nevada at Kansas: The Wolf Pack improved to 3-0 Saturday with an eight-point win at UNLV. Being 4-0 after leaving Phog Allen Fieldhouse should be even tougher.

SATURDAY

Oklahoma at Villanova: We can call this matchup a ``Big 12/Big East Challenge'' showdown.

North Carolina at Kentucky: Roy Williams will have a pretty good notion of how his freshman class performs under fire after games with Illinois and the Wildcats this week.

Memphis at Cincinnati: It's no longer a "Conference USA showdown" but shapes up as one of the week's best regardless.

Winthrop at Alabama: The Eagles handed Marquette a seven-point loss in Milwaukee. And then Marquette promptly won the Great Alaska Shootout, which is a pretty good testament to how good Winthrop is, right?

 

Players of the Week

(Games of Nov. 20-26)

*Shelden Williams (6-9, Sr., Duke): He scored 50 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the 2005 NIT Season Tip-Off games with Drexel and Memphis in Madison Square Garden.

*LaMarcus Aldridge (6-10, So., Texas): Aldridge makes the cut for the second week in a row after averaging 18.0 points and 12.3 rebounds in three games, including wins over West Virginia and Iowa in the Guardians' Classic in Kansas City.

*Adam Morrison (6-8, Jr., Gonzaga): It was a pretty productive three days in the EA Sports/Maui Invitational for him – 86 points and 21 rebounds in games against Maryland, Michigan State and Connecticut.

*Denham Brown (6-6, Sr., Connecticut): After scoring 21 and 17 points in Lahaina during victories over Arkansas and Arizona, he was held to nine in the championship victory over Gonzaga. But two of those came on the game-winning shot with a second to play.

*Glen Davis (6-8, So., LSU): He had 19 points and 13 rebounds during a 47-point victory over Nicholls State. Ho-hum. Five days later he went for 23 and 14 in a 71-68 win at West Virginia. And that elicits a bit more than a "ho-hum" response.

 

Scout.com Updated Top 25

(with previous rating; records include results thru Nov. 27):

1. (1) Duke (5-0)

Next game: at Indiana (Wednesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

2. (2) Connecticut (4-0)

Next game: vs. Army (Tuesday)

3. (4) Texas (5-0)

Next game: vs. Texas-Pan American (Tuesday)

4. (3) Gonzaga (3-1)

Next game: vs. Portland State (Wednesday)

5. (5) Oklahoma (3-0)

Next game: at Tulsa (Wednesday)

6. (8) Louisville (1-0)

Next game: vs. Prairie View A&M (Saturday)

7. (9) Boston College (5-0)

Next game: vs. Sacred Heart (Saturday)

8. (10) Wisconsin (4-0)

Next game: at Wake Forest (Tuesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

9. (12) Villanova (2-0)

Next game: at Rider (Wednesday)

10. (13) North Carolina State (5-0)

Next game: at Iowa (Wednesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

11. (14) Ohio State (2-0)
Next game: vs. Virginia Tech (Monday)

12. (6) Iowa (4-1)

Next game: vs. North Carolina State (Wednesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

13. (11) Kentucky (4-1)

Next game: vs. High Point (Tuesday)

14. (17) Nevada (3-0)

Next game: at Kansas (Thursday)

15. (20) Illinois (5-0)

Next game: at North Carolina (Tuesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

16. (21) Washington (6-0)

Next game: vs. Gonzaga (Sunday)

17. (23) Memphis (3-1)

Next game: vs. Lamar (Monday)

18. (24) Florida (5-0)

Next game: vs. Alabama State (Monday)

19. (16) Michigan State (3-2)

Next game: vs. Georgia Tech (Wednesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

20. (7) Arizona (2-2)

Next game: at Houston (Saturday)

21. (19) Old Dominion (3-1)

Next game: at VMI (Wednesday)

22. (25) Alabama (2-1)

Next game: vs. Louisiana Tech (Tuesday)

23. (ur) Indiana (3-0)

Next game: vs. Duke (Wednesday, Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

24. (ur) Vanderbilt (4-0)

Next game: vs. Oregon (Wednesday)

25. (ur) Creighton (3-0)

Next game: at DePaul (Wednesday)

 

An April inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame, 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



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