After a first week and a half or so that has produced a handful of upsets, some stunning (Oral Roberts over Kansas) and others at least of the "eye-opening" variety (Vermont over Boston College, Nebraska over Creighton and Old Dominion over Georgetown), it's full-tilt college hoops this week.
Tournaments in Kansas City (College Basketball Experience Classic), Lahaina (EA Sports' Maui Invitational), New York City (NIT Season Tip-Off) and Orlando
(Old Spice Classic) will garner most of the attention – at least they will in the following rundown of the week's action.
Oh, and there's a pretty nifty showdown between the defending national champion (Florida) and one of the teams with the supposed strongest opportunities to dethrone it (Kansas) Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Also in store in this package is an updated Top 25 as well as five players who turned in particularly strong efforts last week:
College Basketball Experience (Monday-Tuesday)
Frank Says: The Blue Devils' half-court defense and offense will both be tested against an Air Force team that knocked off Stanford and Colorado, on the road and by margins of 34 and 38 points. Marquette-Texas Tech features a potentially cool backcourt match-up: The Golden Eagles' Dominic James vs. the Red Raiders' Jarrius Jackson.
EA Sports Maui Invitational (Monday-Wednesday)
Frank Says: Kentucky vs. DePaul looked like the best Monday game . . . until the Blue Demons lost by 20 (at Bradley) and 10 (at Northwestern), that is. It should still be interesting. Memphis should have too much firepower for an undermanned Oklahoma team. Purdue-Georgia Tech (its three starting freshmen are averaging 40.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game) now is the toughest first-round game to call. Tubby Smith's Kentucky squad vs. Ben Howland's UCLA club in the second round would have a lot of allure, wouldn't it?
NIT Season Tip-Off (Wednesday and Friday)
Frank Says: Back-to-back upsets of Notre Dame and Indiana in Indianapolis got Butler a trip to Madison Square Garden – and provided plenty of RPI ammunition for March. A lot of newcomers have played well in the Vols' 4-0 start. The Bulldogs vs. the Tar Heels: It has a certain NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 ring to it, doesn't it?
Old Spice Classic (Thursday, Friday and Sunday)
Frank Says: Southern Illinois is the only team ranked in our Top 25 but the consensus favorite to win this inaugural event is Virginia Tech. The Salukis and Razorbacks probably provide the best first-round fare.
OTHER GAMES TO CHECK OUT
Frank Says: We'll pick up some perspective on the 3-0 starts by Bob Huggins' and Ritchie McKay's teams after this Albuquerque meeting. All of the Lobos transfers, especially J.R. Giddens (Kansas) and Aaron Johnson (Penn State) are producing right out of the chute.
*Western Kentucky vs. Florida (Las Vegas)
Frank Says: The Hilltoppers knocked off another Southeastern Conference team (Georgia) last week. But it's a whole different deal when you're hooking up with the starting lineup that won the national championship last season.
Frank Says: The Seminoles' eventual NCAA Tournament at-large hopes could ride, at least in part, on performances in games with Panthers, Wisconsin (Nov. 28) and Florida (Dec. 3). Strong efforts, even if they result in 0-for-3, will impress those making the decisions in March.
*Wisconsin vs. Missouri State (South Padre Island, Texas)
Frank Says: Another team from the Missouri Valley Conference that could get into the NCAA Tournament challenges the No. 6 Badgers.
*Florida vs. Kansas (Las Vegas)
Frank Says: Some of the luster of this game came off with the Jayhawks' loss at home to Oral Roberts last week. That being said, it's a game we probably wouldn't see a rematch of until the Elite Eight or Final Four.
Bagging kudos for last week
*Jacob Burtschi (6-6, Sr., Air Force)
He scored 46 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in College Basketball Experience Classic victories at Stanford over Long Beach State (69-68) and the Cardinal (79-45)
*Aaron Gray (7-0, Sr. Pittsburgh)
He grabbed 40 rebounds and scored 78 points as the now-No. 4 Panthers had a busy week with victories over Delaware, Northeastern, Massachusetts and Oakland.
*Torrell Martin (6-5, Sr., Winthrop)
Martin had 51 points and 17 rebounds in three games, including 25 and seven in a narrow loss to North Carolina during the NIT Season Tip-Off, and victories over Iona and Mississippi State.
*Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (6-7, So., UCLA)
Looking even more impressive than he did during a marvelous Pac-10 Freshman of the Year campaign, the Bruin had 24 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks to help his team rally past visiting BYU (82-69) in its season opener in Pauley Pavilion.
After missing consecutive NCAA Tournaments, the Terps gave pretty good indication that it's not going to be three in a row as Strawberry led them to wins over St. John's and Michigan State during the Coaches vs. Cancer semis and final in Madison Square Garden.
Frankhoops.com Top 25
(records as of Nov. 19; includes last rating)
1. (1) Florida (4-0)
Frank Says: The Gators should get mild (Western Kentucky, Friday) to severe (Kansas, Saturday) tests in Las Vegas this weekend.
2. (2) North Carolina (3-0)
Frank Says: Competition getting tougher – Gonzaga and Butler or Tennessee in New York this week; Ohio State at home next week.
3. (4) UCLA (1-0)
Frank Says: The Bruins had a tougher home opener (BYU) than most and pulled away down the stretch.
4. (5) Pittsburgh (5-0)
Frank Says: After five games in eight days, Panthers have four days to get ready for Florida State.
5. (7) Alabama (3-0)
Frank Says: Alonzo Gee has provided plenty of perimeter punch.
6. (8) Wisconsin (3-0)
Frank Says: South Padre Island (Texas) event gets Badgers a Friday toughie with Missouri State and perhaps a Saturday clash with Oklahoma State.
7. (10) Texas A&M (4-0)
Frank Says: Thirty-six point victory over Saint Louis (Sunday) – that's impressive.
8. (11) Ohio State (4-0)
Frank Says: Coasting along without Greg Oden but things get tougher Nov. 29 (UNC).
9. (6) Arizona (2-1)
Frank Says: The Wildcats haven't guarded anyone yet and have a loss (at Virginia) to show for it.
10. (12) Duke (3-0)
Frank Says: Former Army coach leads his current program against Air Force Academy Monday night in Kansas City.
11. (13) LSU (2-0)
Frank Says: After mauling a couple of in-state opponents, Tigers better be careful against Wichita State Saturday or they'll get shocked.
12. (3) Kansas (2-1)
Frank Says: Saturday Vegas match with Florida might make some forget debacle vs. Oral Roberts.
13. (9) Georgetown (2-1)
Frank Says: After playing so well in Nashville to beat Vanderbilt the Hoyas are tripped up at home by Old Dominion. Go figure.
14. (14) Washington (4-0)
Frank Says: The Huskies will be 7-0 before they play outside of Seattle (Dec. 9, at Gonzaga).
15. (16) Syracuse (4-0)
Frank Says: The answer is "January 7, at Marquette". The question is "When will the Orange finally leave New York to play a game?"
16. (18) Nevada (3-0)
Frank Says: Nick Fazekas (22.7 points and 15.0 rebounds per game) and Marcelus Kemp (20.3 ppg) are racking up big numbers, not surprisingly.
17. (19) Wichita State (3-0)
Frank Says: Come-from-behind victory at George Mason Saturday not to be scoffed at.
18. (20) Marquette (4-0)
Frank Says: Anyone else notice how (relatively) mediocre the Golden Eagles' non-conference schedule is (excepting tournament in Kansas City and Dec. 9 game with Wisconsin)?
19. (22) Memphis (1-0)
Frank Says: Unless you want to count the 42-point smacking of Jackson State last week, season begins in EA Sports Maui Invitational (vs. Oklahoma) Monday.
20. (24) Southern Illinois (2-0)
Frank Says: The Salukis head to Disney World to face Arkansas before diving into turkey and dressing Thursday.
21. (25) Gonzaga (4-0)
Frank Says: The Bulldogs were clicking on both offensive and defensive cylinders in Spokane.
22. (ur) Maryland (5-0)
Frank Says: The Terps showed in New York why they will be NCAA tourney worthy.
23. (ur) Xavier (3-0)
Frank Says: Win over Villanova in the Virgin Islands enables Musketeers to take Wildcats' place in Top 25.
24. (17) Boston College (1-1)
Frank Says: A 14-point loss at home to Vermont doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the first week of the season.
25. (15) Creighton (1-1)
Frank Says: Dana Altman said it best after his team lost by 12 at Nebraska Saturday night: "Fortunately, for us, it's only Nov. 18 and we have some time."
Dropped out: Hofstra and Villanova.
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the