LaSalle: The Explorers have been just plain mediocre for decades, but something is different this season with superior guards Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren. The Explorers beat Butler at home and then upset Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond in a game with some wild swings.
Mississippi: The Rebs have pretty much never been really good in basketball for any extended period, but behind sweet-shooting and emotional Mitch Henderson, they have won nine in a row and are 6-0 in the SEC for the first time ever and 17-2 overall, the best start in school history. Kentucky comes to Oxford Tuesday night. Should be interesting.
Miami: The Hurricanes barely survived their trip to Conte Forum two weeks ago, but don’t judge them on that game. Instead look at the scores from last week, a 90-63 victory over Duke and a 71-47 victory over Florida State. This team is for real. The pieces fit together well and now lumpy center Reggie Johnson has returned from injury. Rumor has it fans are actually attending the games too.
Ohio: The Battling’ Bobcats, led by the fascinating D.J. Cooper, won a big one on the road against Kent State and are now 6-0 in the MAC for the first time since 1973-74 season.
Villanova: This team lost to Columbia in November, but who remembers that when you knock off Louisville and Syracuse, two top-five teams, in the same week. Jay Wright has done a great job developing this team, which looked awful in the early going.
Kansas State: I believe the Wildcats were tad overrated and I think they proved that by losing at home to Kansas and then not putting that loss behind them and losing to Iowa State in Ames.
Louisville: Being No. 1 has ruined the Cardinals, who have now lost three in a row, including two tough ones on the road to Villanova and Georgetown.
Minnesota: Not long ago the Gophers registered an impressive victory at Illinois to go to 15-1. Now they’re 15-5 after four straight losses and the Gophers had a chance to win in all four. They should have been in overtime at Wisconsin Saturday except for a missed free throw at the end.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies, who had such great success in football this season, had one of the worst games ever played when they lost to Eastern Michigan 42-25 Saturday. They scored four points in the first half, making one of 31 shots. Amazingly, they’ve won four games, but they had a five-point half against Dayton earlier this season.
TCU: The Froggies have a first-year coach in Trent Johnson, who escaped from LSU where he was on the hot seat. He obviously has a period of adjustment and he needs it in the Big 12, where the Froggies just haven’t been able to compete and have lost their first seven conference games.
This week’s George Mason (best mid-major): Belmont. As my personal favorite Murray State continues to fade, Belmont has won eight in a row and is the leader in the OVC. Last week’s favorite, Stephen F. Austin lost on the road to Northwestern State. Northeastern could be a fit here in the future The Huskies are undefeated in the CAA and looked tremendous in beating George Mason Sunday night.
This week’s Final Four: Indiana, Michigan, Duke, Kansas.
This week’s national champion: Indiana
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell