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
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
College Basketball Experience
The semifinal match-ups:
Air Force vs. Duke; Texas Tech vs.
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’
EA Sports Maui Invitational
The first-round match-ups:
Oklahoma vs. Memphis; Purdue vs.
Georgia Tech; Kentucky vs. DePaul; Chaminade vs.
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
The semifinal match-ups:
Butler vs. Tennessee; Gonzaga vs.
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
The first-round match-ups:
Southern Illinois vs. Arkansas;
Minnesota vs. Marist; Western Michigan vs. Virginia Tech; Montana vs. West Virginia.
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
OTHER GAMES TO CHECK
*Kansas State at New Mexico
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
*Florida State at
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
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.
*Wichita State at
Frank Says: How much do the
Shockers miss MVC Player of the Year and the Tigers miss Tyrus Thomas and
Darrel Mitchell? Those questions could be answered after this
Bagging kudos for last
*Jacob Burtschi (6-6, Sr.,
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.
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.,
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
*D.J. Strawberry (6-4, Sr.,
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
(records as of Nov. 19;
includes last rating)
1. (1) Florida
Frank Says: The Gators should get mild (Western Kentucky,
Friday) to severe (Kansas, Saturday) tests in Las Vegas this
2. (2) North Carolina
Competition getting tougher – Gonzaga and Butler or Tennessee in New
York this week; Ohio State at home next week.
3. (4) UCLA
Frank Says: The Bruins had a
tougher home opener (BYU) than most and pulled away down the
4. (5) Pittsburgh
Frank Says: After five games in eight days, Panthers have four
days to get ready for Florida State.
5. (7) Alabama
Frank Says: Alonzo Gee has
provided plenty of perimeter punch.
6. (8) Wisconsin
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
Frank Says: Thirty-six point
victory over Saint Louis (Sunday) – that’s impressive.
8. (11) Ohio State
Frank Says: Coasting along
without Greg Oden but things get tougher Nov. 29 (UNC).
9. (6) Arizona
Frank Says: The Wildcats
haven’t guarded anyone yet and have a loss (at Virginia) to show for
10. (12) Duke
Frank Says: Former Army
coach leads his current program against Air Force Academy Monday night in Kansas
11. (13) LSU
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
Frank Says: Saturday Vegas
match with Florida might make some forget debacle vs. Oral
13. (9) Georgetown
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
Frank Says: The Huskies will
be 7-0 before they play outside of Seattle (Dec. 9, at
15. (16) Syracuse
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
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
Frank Says: Come-from-behind
victory at George Mason Saturday not to be scoffed
18. (20) Marquette
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
19. (22) Memphis
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
Frank Says: The Salukis head
to Disney World to face Arkansas before diving into turkey and dressing
21. (25) Gonzaga
Frank Says: The Bulldogs
were clicking on both offensive and defensive cylinders in
22. (ur) Maryland
Frank Says: The Terps showed
in New York why they will be NCAA tourney worthy.
23. (ur) Xavier
Frank Says: Win over
Villanova in the Virgin Islands enables Musketeers to take Wildcats’ place in
24. (17) Boston College
Frank Says: A 14-point loss
at home to Vermont doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the first week of the
25. (15) Creighton
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
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
email@example.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at