Burlison: UCLA is No. 1

After a week in which North Carolina and then Florida was knocked off, it meant someone else was going to be No. 1 in the Frankhoops.com Top 25 this week. With an EA Sports Maui Invitational championship trophy safely stored away back on the mainland in Westwood, the owner of that rating, for the time being, now resides in Pauley Pavilion...

The national Top 25 ratings got a thorough shaking this week, thanks to events in Las Vegas (Kansas knocking off Florida), New York City (Butler winning the NIT Season Tip-Off title), Baton Rouge (Wichita State stunning LSU), Hawaii (UCLA bagging the EA Sports Maui Invitational) and Kansas City (Marquette handling Duke in the College Basketball Experience Classic final).


The results?


UCLA (third a week ago) has moved atop the Frankhoops.com ratings while Butler (at 19), Arkansas (22) and Georgia Tech (23) made their debut in the Top 25.


The best of this week's showdowns come from games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, most notably Maryland at Illinois and Indiana at Duke (Tuesday), and Ohio State at North Carolina (Wednesday).


Bagging individual kudos for the week of Nov. 20-26

*Darren Collison (6-0, So., UCLA)

The MVP of the EA Sports Maui Invitational is compiling a nice resume for Defensive Player of the Year consideration. He averaged 13.3 points, 7.0 assists and 2.3 steals (while shooting 60 percent from the field) in the Bruins' victories in Lahaina over Chaminade, Kentucky and Georgia Tech.


*Nick Fazekas (6-11, Sr., Nevada)

There isn't a big man in the country that has gotten off to a better start: 25.0 points, 14.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 blocked shots per game for 5-0 Wolf Pack,


*A.J. Graves (6-1, Sr. Butler)

He bagged MVP honors as the Bulldogs wrapped up their unlikely NIT Season Tip-Off run with wins over Tennessee and Gonzaga in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and Friday.


*Dominic James (6-0, So., Marquette)

He scored 41 points and had eight assists as the Golden Eagles rolled to 15- and 11-point victories over Texas Tech and Duke, respectively, in Kansas City for the College Basketball Experience Classic championship.


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

He was the best player throughout and finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals during the Jayhawks 82-80 overtime victory over defending national champion and, at the time, top-ranked Florida Saturday night in Las Vegas. The night before he had nine points, 12 rebounds and three assists in his team's 64-46 victory over Ball State.


This Week's Cool Games

(A look at Saturday games will be posted later in the week)



Holy Cross at Syracuse

Frank Says: An East Coast showdown, of sorts, between teams off to 5-0 and 6-0 starts, respectively. Barring a really, really major upset, though, one squad will be 7-0 after the final horn. Freshman Paul Harris has already attempted 46 free throws for the Orange


Michigan at North Carolina State

Frank Says: The Wolverines finally venture outside of Ann Arbor after 7-0 start. The competition hasn't exactly been "Big Ten-like" so far. There aren't any wins over teams that will remind people of ACC competition during NCSU's 4-0 burst out of the chute, either.


Cal State Fullerton at Eastern Washington

Frank Says: There are two reasons there will be a spattering of NBA employees on hand to watch this one and their names are Bobby Brown and Rodney Stuckey, two likely draftees next June.



Maryland at Illinois

Frank Says: This has the potential to be the best of the ACC/Big Ten confrontations. Each squad could very well finish third in the respective conferences. The Terps have already beaten one Big Ten team (Michigan State) en route to a 7-0 start. Six players are scoring in double figures for the likewise 7-0 Illini.


Florida State at Wisconsin

Frank Says: The Seminoles flopped (a 22-point loss at Pittsburgh) in their first stab at proving their NCAA Tournament bid worthiness against top-flight competition last week. Things shouldn't be a lot easier in this ACC/Big Ten contest. An Al Thornton vs. the Badgers' Alando Tucker match-up should rock.


Indiana at Duke

Frank Says: The Hoosiers' five-point loss to Butler, in hindsight, doesn't seem so bad. The Blue Devils' 4-7 scorers are freshmen. NBA scouts will be paying strict attention every time IU's D.J. White is pitted against Josh McRoberts.


UNLV at Arizona

Frank Says: Another Mountain West Conference team takes a pop at enhancing the conference's national reputation with a game in Tucson against a squad considered to have Final Four potential. The MWC squads were a combined 36-10 going into Monday's games.



Ohio State at North Carolina

Frank Says: If only Buckeyes' freshman center Greg Oden was ready for this one . . . But Coach Thad Matta's team has been rolling in his absence, in large part because of two other freshmen, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook. The presence of Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright inside for the Tar Heels is probably a bit too much for OSU to overcome without Oden.


Oregon at Georgetown

Frank Says: Are the 5-0 Ducks legitimate threats to make a run at the top couple of spots in the Pac-10? This game against a Big East title contender should provide a pretty good indication.


Iowa at Virginia Tech

Frank Says: It could be a long season for the Hawkeyes, who've dropped three games in a row, including a 67-64 decision at Arizona State, which is expected to finish near the bottom of the Pac-10. The Hokies finished a disappointing 1-2 (especially relative to an opening loss to Western Michigan) in Orlando during the Old Spice Classic.


Kansas State at Cal

The Wildcats were projected by some as a possible NCAA Tournament at-large selection but didn't look the part while being smacked around at New Mexico (78-54). Things could be just as difficult in Berkeley against the team that won the Great Alaska Shootout title Saturday night.


Frankhoops.com Top 25

(records as of Nov. 26; includes last rating)

1. (3) UCLA (4-0)

Frank Says: Gators and Tar Heels stumbled so Bruins parlay EA Sports Maui Invitational title into spot at the top this week.

2. (4) Pittsburgh (6-0)

Frank Says: Putting the hammer to Florida State (by 22 points) helped pave the two-notch upward movement.

3. (1) Florida (6-1)

Frank Says: Well, at least the Gators won't have to deal with any "Can they go unbeaten this season?" talk.

4. (5) Alabama (5-0)

Frank Says: It wouldn't be totally outrageous to project the Crimson Tide being 14-0 when Mark Gottfried's team visits Arkansas on Jan. 6.

5. (2) North Carolina (4-1)

Frank Says: Wednesday's game with Ohio State should be played at a quick tempo . . . to say the least.

6. (7) Texas A&M (5-0)

Frank Says: Led by Josh Carter, an underrated (nationally) freshman class has gotten off to a quick start.

7. (8) Ohio State (6-0)

Frank Says: Only one win (12 over Loyola-Chicago) has come by a margin of fewer than 20 points.

8. (9) Arizona (3-1)

Frank Says: The Wildcats might be facing five or six eventual NCAA Tournament teams between now and when they open Pac-10 play.

9. (12) Kansas (5-1)

Frank Says: The Jayhawks took most of the sting out of the home loss to Oral Roberts with the win in Las Vegas over the team from Gainesville.

10. (6) Wisconsin (5-1)

Frank Says: The game at Marquette on Dec. 9 definitely falls into the "tough ticket" category.

11. (12) Georgetown (3-1)

Frank Says: The guard play has been a little bit better than anticipated.

12. (14) Washington (5-0)

Frank Says: The youthful Huskies are struggling a bit despite unbeaten start.

13. (15) Syracuse (6-0)

Frank Says: Non-conference home games with Wichita State (Saturday) and Oklahoma State (Dec. 5) could be nails.

14. (16) Nevada (5-0)

Frank Says: Dec. 3 Pete Newell Challenge game with Cal in San Jose now shapes up as a "biggie".

15. (17) Wichita State (4-0)

Frank Says: The victory at LSU will do wonders for the Shockers' NCAA Tournament seed.

16. (18) Marquette (6-0)

Frank Says: One of five Big East teams off to an unbeaten start.

17. (10) Duke (5-1)

Frank Says: The Blue Devils struggled against the Golden Eagles' perimeter quickness in Kansas City.

18. (22) Maryland (7-0)

Frank Says: After beating Michigan State in New York City, Terps get another Big Ten test (Illinois) Tuesday night.

19. (ur) Butler (7-0)

Frank Says: Not a bad Thanksgiving week in New York City for this band of Bulldogs.

20. (21) Gonzaga (6-1)

Frank Says: Two days after smacking North Carolina, they ran into a tough pack of (Bull)dogs.

21. (11) LSU (2-1)

Frank Says: The Tigers had problems generating offense (53 points) in four-point home loss to Wichita State.

22. (ur) Arkansas (5-0)

Frank Says: Another reason why the SEC could lay claim to be the toughest conference in the country.

23. (ur) Georgia Tech (5-1)

Frank Says: Paul Hewitt got solid-to-exceptional play from a lot of sources in Lahaina.

24. (19) Memphis (3-1)

Frank Says: The Tigers would have hooked up with UCLA in 2006 NCAA Tournament/EA Sports Maui Invitational rematch if they wouldn't have let a 19-point advantage slip away against Georgia Tech.

25. (20) Southern Illinois (4-1)

Frank Says: The Salukis were probably an overtime loss to Arkansas in first round in Orlando away from winning the Old Spice event.

Dropped out: Boston College, Creighton, Xavier.



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 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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