Boston College, Georgetown On The Rise

Two former Big East rivals are among the hottest teams in the country right now. Of course, one of those, Boston College, is now in the Atlantic Coast Conference and is currently in first place in its new conference. But Georgetown is closing in on first place in the Big East as conference plays rolls into the stretch drive.

There was a bit of a shakeup in this week’s Top 25, which shouldn’t come as a surprise after a seven-day stretch in which 14 of those in last week’s rankings lost at least once.


Among the four teams moving into the Top 25 are Boston College and Georgetown, still in strong contention for Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East championships, respectively.


That Boston College continues to play so well after the departure of center Sean Williams lends pretty good heft to any argument that Al Skinner should be in the thick of the mix for any Coach of the Year (ACC or national) discussions.


And Georgetown appears to be rounding into “the Hoyas are a Final Four sleeper”-mode, as they demonstrated with a dominant performance in beating Marquette Saturday afternoon.


Bagging Individual Kudos for the Week of Feb. 4-10

*Corey Brewer (6-7, Jr., Florida)

The top-ranked Gators came out on top in two Southeastern Conference road ventures, in large part because of the play of Brewer. He had 18 points, four assists and two steals in the 71-61 win at Georgia on Wednesday night and 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals three nights later when they edged Kentucky, 64-61.


*Jaycee Carroll (6-, Jr., Utah State)

What the native son of Evanston, Wyoming, turned in against New Mexico State (75-63 on Monday) and at Idaho (75-66 on Saturday) can duly be referred to as “sharp-shooting performances”. He was 12 of 16 from the field (including five on seven on 3’s) and 15 of 15 at the free-throw line for 44 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in the first game. And in Moscow, Idaho, he cooled off only slightly (11 of 19 from the field, including two of eight behind the arc, with four of five from the line) while dropping 28 points and collecting eight rebounds against the Vandals.


*Roy Hibbert (7-2, Jr., Georgetown)

He helped the Hoyas extend their winning streak to seven with strong performances at Louisville (73-65) on Wednesday night and at home against Marquette (76-58) on Saturday afternoon. He hit nine of 10 shots from the floor while scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds with an assist and a blocked shot against the Cardinals. Three days later he was seven of 12 from the field (and nine of 10 from the free-throw line) with 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against the Golden Eagles.


*Dashaun Wood (5-11, Sr., Wright State)

The Raiders moved atop the Horizon League standings over Butler Saturday night with a 77-65 victory over the Bulldogs in Dayton. And Wood was the catalyst, scoring 30 points (with seven rebounds and six assists) while helping hold All-American candidate A.J. Graves to nine points. In earlier games in the week, he had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists on Feb. 5 during the 76-50 win against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 24, seven and nine two days later during the 74-64 victory at Illinois-Chicago.


*Julian Wright (6-8, So., Kansas)

The McDonald’s All-American alum from Chicago helped the Jayhawks bounce back nicely from their Feb. 3 home Big 12 Conference loss to Texas A&M. In only 19 minutes of action, he went for nine points, 11 rebounds and three assists in the 97-70 victory over Kansas State in Lawrence. Three days later he scored a career-high 33 points (14 of 21 from the field and five of seven from the free-throw line) with 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.


This Week’s Cool Games

(A look at the weekend games will be posted Friday)


Louisville at No. 6 Pittsburgh

Frank Says: The Cardinals are 17-8 overall and 7-4 in the Big East but are still far from being NCAA Tournament at-large bid “locks”. This game and a trip to Milwaukee on Saturday to face Marquette could alter that status considerably, however.


No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 19 Texas

Frank Says: The Cowboys are 19-5 (and 5-4 in the Big 12) but none of those W’s has come on an opponent’s home court. I hate to keep harping on that point but, believe me, the folks who will be doing the seeding for the NCAA Tournament bracket have noticed, too. Classmate D.J. Augustin (54 points and 11 assists) stole a little of freshman Kevin Durant’s thunder in two games for the Longhorns last week.


West Virginia at No. 17 Georgetown

Frank Says: Both clubs are coming off of huge victories, the Mountaineers over then-No. 2 UCLA and the Hoyas over then-No. 14 Marquette. But a West Virginia victory in this one (against a team that has won seven Big East games in a row) would be a much more significant achievement that was knocking off the Bruins, who were without point guard Darren Collison (on the bench with a sore shoulder) Saturday.


Santa Clara at Gonzaga

Frank Says: The visiting Broncos (18-7 overall and 8-2 in conference) are playing exceptional basketball, anyway. And now dynamics of this game among the West Coast Conference co-leaders have changed dynamically with the suspension of Gonzaga’s 6-10 Josh Heytvelt (15.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game) following a drugs-related arrest last week.



Virginia Tech at No. 2 North Carolina

Frank Says: The Tar Heels suffered one of their two Atlantic Coast Conference losses in Blacksburg (94-88 on Jan. 13). It’s a big week for Roy Williams’ crew: they visit current ACC leader Boston College on Saturday. The Hokies bounced back, in a very big way, from consecutive conference losses by pounding a hot Virginia squad Saturday, 84-57.


Texas Tech at No. 7 Texas A&M

Frank Says: A&M needs this to control its own Big 12 Conference regular-season title destiny; the visitors need it to revive their now-sluggish NCAA Tournament at-large bid hopes. The Red Raiders have dropped five consecutive games, the last two of those by two points each, since their back-to-back wins in Lubbock over Kansas and Texas A&M.


No. 22 Kentucky at Tennessee

Frank Says: The Wildcats handled the Volunteers (76-57) in Lexington on Jan. 28. But Coach Bruce Pearl’s team was minus its best player (sideline with an ankle injury). But junior guard Chris Lofton (16 points in his team’s 84-57 victory over Vanderbilt Saturday) in back in uniform for Tennessee and his presence will definitely impact Kentucky’s defensive scheme and effectiveness.


No. 14 Southern Illinois at Missouri State

Frank Says: The Salukis dropped Creighton into second place with their 64-61 Missouri Valley Conference victory in Carbondale Saturday and now visit the conference’s third-place squad. They’ve won seven in a row and nine of their past 10 games. One of those victories came at home against Missouri State (76-56 on Jan. 13). The Bears have won five games in a row, three those on the road.


Georgia Tech at Florida State

Frank Says: The Yellow Jackets have won three in a row (including a 13-point, non-conference decision against Connecticut Saturday). But they have yet to win in an opponents’ home facility and are going to need to do it at least once or twice to get an at-large bid. The Seminoles are 5-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and play three of their final conference games (after this one) away from Tallahassee.



Alabama at No. 1 Florida

Frank Says: While the top-ranked Gators keep cruising along (the winning streak is now at 16), Alabama shares the Southeastern Conference West lead with Mississippi – at 5-5. With games at Kentucky Saturday and Tennessee next week, some sub-.500 (in conference) slippage seems inevitable.


No. 10 Washington State at Washington

Frank Says: The Cougars smashed the Huskies (75-47) when they played in Pullman on Jan. 20. Since then Lorenzo Romar’s team has won five of six games but, at 6-7 in the Pac-10 (with its only road victory coming against Arizona State), still has much work to do to put itself in striking distance of an at-large bid. The Huskies can hit the at-large bid lottery with wins in this one and Saturday at No. 6 Pittsburgh.


No. 13 Indiana at Purdue

Frank Says: The Hoosiers had little difficulty with their in-state foe, winning 85-58 in Bloomington on Jan. 10. But the Boilermakers have played well of late, winning three of five games with the two losses coming to Ohio State. There would seem to be no viable at-large bid scenario for Purdue that doesn’t include a win in this game.


No. 16 Marquette at DePaul

Frank Says: The Golden Eagles got a Big East Conference jolt (via an 18-point loss at Georgetown) Saturday. If they are going to avoid a second consecutive road defeat, they’re going to have to find a better way of defending forward Wilson Chandler than Notre Dame did Saturday (25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots) in its 67-66 loss to the Blue Demons in Chicago.


Duke at No. 20 Boston College

Frank Says: The Blue Devils have dropped four ACC games in a row and they will have to play as well as they have at any time this season, in all likelihood, to keep that streak from hitting five since the competition is the conference leader right now. Duke just can’t get consistent scoring from anyone but Josh McRoberts and DeMarcus Nelson.


Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton

Frank Says: With the visiting 49ers sitting at 8-2 in conference (with a pair of victories over third-place UC Santa Barbara and a 10-point win over Fullerton in Long Beach on Jan. 18) and the host Titans at 8-3, the winner of this one will be in relatively solid position to capture the Big West’s regular-season title. The 1-2 finishers have byes into the conference tournament semifinals in Anaheim, Calif., on March 9. Long Beach has five consecutive wins over Fullerton spread across three seasons. But the Titans haven’t lost at home this season.



No. 23 USC at No. 25 Arizona

Frank Says: The slim hopes each of these teams has of overtaking UCLA and Washington State for a possible regular-season Pac-10 championship will be snatched away from the loser of this one. The Wildcats have become a better rebounding and defensive team since 6-9 freshman Jordan Hill was inserted into the starting lineup by Coach Lute Olson on Feb. 1. Since then they’ve won three of four games, including three in a row in which he has averaged 11.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.


Providence at Notre Dame

Frank Says: Both the Friars (5-5 in the Big East Conference) and the Irish (6-5) have reasonably solid NCAA Tournament bid hopes. The winner’s hopes get a bit more solid after this one, though. Notre Dame has dropped two in a row, while Providence has lost two of three – albeit, at Marquette and Pittsburgh, by margins of seven and six points. Top 25

(Includes last rating and record as of Feb. 11)

1. (1) Florida 23-2

Frank Says: Alabama (in Gainesville) and Vanderbilt (in Nashville) take their pokes at No. 1 this week.


2. (3) North Carolina 22-3

Frank Says: The Tar Heels’ second-half performance in Cameron Indoor Stadium last week illustrated why so many think UNC will be playing in Atlanta on the final weekend of the season.


3. (2) UCLA 21-3

Frank Says: If you wondered how important sophomore point guard Darren Collison is to the Bruins’ success, you got an illustration of it Saturday.


4. (4) Wisconsin 24-2

Frank Says: Badgers get No. 9 (Minnesota) and 11 (Penn State) teams in the Big 10 this week.


5. (5) Ohio State 22-3

Frank Says: Refer to above Wisconsin comments.


6. (6) Pittsburgh 22-3

Frank Says: The Panthers are 12-1 in 2007.


7. (7) Texas A&M 21-3

Frank Says: Tuesday the Aggies play host to the only Big 12 team to beat them (Texas Tech).


8. (10) Kansas 21-4

Frank Says: The week (at Colorado and at home to Nebraska) shouldn’t be too stressful.


9. Nevada (11) 22-2

Frank Says: Wolf Pack step out of WAC play with home game vs. Northern Iowa Saturday.


10. (12) Washington State 21-4

Frank Says: Things should be considerably more difficult Wednesday night in Seattle than they were for the Cougars on Jan. 20 in Pullman


11. (8) Butler 23-3

Frank Says: The loss in Dayton to Wright State means the Bulldogs, for the time being, at least, no longer Top Dogs in the Horizon League.


12. (13) Memphis 21-3

Frank Says: The least likely team to lose between now and the NCAA Tournament? I nominate the Tigers.


13. (16) Indiana 17-6

Frank Says: The down-to-the wire win over Illinois in Bloomington Saturday helped the Hoosiers put a decent headlock on third place in the Big Ten.


14. (21) Southern Illinois 21-5

Frank Says: The Salukis are 8-2 in games decided by five or fewer points – just in case you were wondering.


15. (9) Oregon 20-5

Frank Says: The Ducks have dropped four of their past six games and are pretty much out of Pac-10 title contention.


16. (14) Marquette 21-5

Frank Says: The jumpers weren’t falling Saturday against Georgetown (four of 21 on 3’s, 21 of 62 overall from the field).


17. (ur) Georgetown 18-5

Frank Says: Rematch with Pittsburgh is on tap for Feb. 24 in Washington, D.C.


18. (17) Air Force 21-4

Frank Says: Home games with Utah and Colorado State should help them stay with striking distance of Mountain West Conference-leading BYU.


19. (19) Texas 17-7

Frank Says: The Longhorns close regular season with Kansas and Texas A&M but have four games to concern themselves with beforehand.


20. (ur) Boston College 18-6

Frank Says: Raise your hands if you expected the Eagles to be atop the ACC standings in February.


21. (ur) BYU 19-6

Frank Says: The Cougars have won six MWC games in a row by an average margin of 14 points.


22. (ur) Kentucky 18-6

Frank Says: The Cats lost by only three points to Florida Saturday but the folks in Lexington aren’t real big on moral victories.


23. (25) USC 18-7

Frank Says: Three of the Trojans’ four Pac-10 losses were by an average margin of three points.


24. (22) Oklahoma State 19-5

Frank Says: Mario Boggan (21.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game) continues to have a season that should keep him in national and Big 12 Player of the Year conversation.


25. (ur) Arizona 17-7

Frank Says: Chase Budinger (30 points and 10 rebounds) asserted himself in Eugene Saturday and the Wildcats rallied from 10 points down at half to knock off Oregon and extend their winning streak to three.


Dropped out: Duke (15), Stanford (18), Vanderbilt (20), Virginia (23), Gonzaga (24).


Just missed: Creighton, Duke, Clemson, Tennessee, Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

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