|This story originally published on FrankHoops.com|
The Big East and the Big Ten are considered the strongest and deepest conferences in the country this season.
Obviously, based on the Mid-Season Top 30 candidates list I'm submitting to the John R. Wooden Award administrators, I share that perspective.
Those conferences split 12 of my 30 nominations, with Connecticut (Hilton Armstrong and Rudy Gay) and West Virginia (Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey) of the Big East and Michigan State (Maurice Ager and Paul Davis) of the Big Ten among the six teams that have two nominations apiece.
My entire Top 30 John R. Wooden Award nomination list:
GUARDS: Arron Afflalo (6-5, So., UCLA),
Dee Brown (5-11, Sr.,
FORWARDS: Hassan Adams (6-4, Sr.,
POSTS: LaMarcus Aldridge (6-10, So.,
Texas), Hilton Armstrong (6-10, Sr.,
Connecticut), Paul Davis (6-10, Sr.,
Michigan State), Terence Dials (6-9,
Sr., Ohio State), Nick Fazekas
(6-11, Jr., Nevada), Eric Hicks
THE TEN FINAL CUTS: Corey Brewer (6-8,
TOP 30/BY CONFERENCE: Big East (6), Big
10 (6), ACC (3), Big 12 (3), Pac 10 (3), SEC (3), Conference
BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY:
The Bruins, for the most part, have played exceptional man-to-man defense of late (especially during a 66-45 win over USC Wednesday night in Pauley Pavilion). And the Mountaineers are as dangerous, offensively, as any team in the country right now.
Individual matchup to check out: the Bruins' Arron Afflalo vs. Mike Gansey.
*Although Duke pulled away down the
stretch and won by 13 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday night, the game
just served to reinforce the belief that
Herb Sendek's Wolfpack look fully capable of another run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. And you might be able to tack on another round to that projection if sophomore post Cedric Simmons (28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots and three steals against the Blue Devils) continues his rapid rate of improvement.
The unbeaten and No. 2-ranked
Gators will face easily their toughest game of the season Saturday afternoon in
If Billy Donovan's team is able to escape Thompson-Boling Arena (where a standing room-only-gathering of 24,500-plus is expected), then the ``Can the Gators go through the regular season unbeaten?" debate can begin in earnest.
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