February 18, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

One of the raging debates in our Power Rankings is who is better: Kansas or Baylor. Although Baylor, and their road win over Kansas, has the better resume, our ballots reflect a split on who we believe is the more talented team. Those debates could be put to rest when these two powerhouses, undoubtedly the class of the Big 12, square off for one more regular season match-up. For now, our rankings continue to reflect a lot of turmoil, as a tough week from Louisville sent them plummeting, but for the second straight week, four teams got first-place votes. Check out the biggest fallers, risers, and then the full Power Rankings below.

Biggest Risers: Dayton, Maryland

Biggest Faller: Louisville 

Joined the Rankings: Penn State, Kentucky, 

Dropped Out: West Virginia, Seton Hall

Honorable Mention

  • Villanova
  • Penn State
  • Kentucky 

#10 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: 4) 

  • The week before, Louisville slid from the #2 slot to #4 after a shaky home win against lowly Wake Forest. A general feeling that the Cardinals were slipping manifested itself in two ugly losses this past week, losing on the road to a bad Georgia Tech team and then being manhandled by an unranked Clemson team that is just 13-12 on the year. The enormous struggles resulted in a 6-spot slip for Louisville, who hosts Syracuse and UNC this week with a chance to regroup. 

#9 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: 9)

  • Auburn has an amazing ability to win close games, as they demonstrated with yet another overtime victory versus Alabama this week, at the time their third extra-time win in a row. However, the clutch Tigers followed it up with a miserable showing in Missouri, dropping an 85-73 decision that drops Auburn one spot this week. They’re still in second in the ACC and have just three losses, so they stay in the rankings, but they have to watch these blowout road losses. 

#8 – Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: 10)

  • Maryland was a popular pick to be upset by Michigan State last week, but they handled the Spartans en route to their eighth straight victory, leading them to be our co-biggest riser of the week. The Terrapins are cruising, and they could see themselves rising more in the future if they survive a big road test against Ohio State this weekend. 

#7 – Dayton Flyers (Last week: 9)

  • The other biggest riser of the week, Dayton locked down two more wins last week, taking down a shaky UMass team on the road as well as dismantling Rhode Island, the second-place squad in the Atlantic 10, in a game which the Flyers led by double-digits the whole way. That, combined with a couple losses from Top-10 teams boost the Flyers to #7 in this week’s rankings. 

#6 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: 7)

  • FSU beat a decent Syracuse team at home, holding off a valiant comeback from the Orange to stay unbeaten on their home court. The Seminoles are pretty much out of the running for a #1 seed, but a home game versus Louisville gives them a chance to prove themselves once more. They rise up one spot this week, largely due to Louisville’s collapse. 

#5 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: 6)

  • This team refuses to lose, and they tacked on two more impressive victories last week, turning a stiff challenge from New Mexico into a 23-point blowout, and visiting Boise State – a 12-1 team at home – and decimating the Broncos 72-55. They’re the standard in the Mountain West, and it’s not close. This team is for real. 

#4 – Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: 5) – 1 First Place Vote

  • After losing a home contest to Louisville, our podcast spent time discussing whether Duke was in trouble. Since then, Duke has won seven straight including a ranked win over Florida State, a rivalry comeback versus UNC, and two 30+ point victories. Duke had just one game since our last Power Rankings and they manhandled Notre Dame, a team whose last seven losses were by a combined 15 points, by a stunning 94-60 score. This team is looking a serious threat to go all the way. 

#3 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: 3) – 1 First Place Vote

  • As per usual, Gonzaga gets a first-place vote, but they are unable to gain ground on their Power-6 counterparts atop the rankings. The Bulldogs played just one game last week and cruised past a solid Pepperdine squad on the road. It was a good victory, but Gonzaga won’t be able to truly prove their legitimacy until the NCAA Tournament. 

#2 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: 2) – 1 First Place Vote

  • The Bears, despite their 23-1 record and 22-game winning streak, stay at #2. Our ballots were split, with two putting them above Kansas, and two placing them below. They got one first-place vote, as did their Big 12 rival, and ultimately a razor-thin 1-point margin separated the squads. The gap should be more definitive after they play each other this weekend. 

#1 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 1) -1 First Place Vote

  • Once again, the Jayhawks reign supreme in the power rankings. The rankings are based off how good we think the teams are, not necessarily our resume, and, albeit by a tiny margin, our ballots reflect that Kansas is the better team. After a big road win over West Virginia and blowouts versus Oklahoma and Iowa State, the Jayhawks have a chance to back up that belief and improve on their 23-3 record when they visit Baylor this week.
Photo credit: Ernie Anderson, via goaztecs.com

March Impact Player Profile: Malachi Flynn, San Diego State

It’s the year of the mid-major in college basketball, and nobody exemplifies that more than San Diego State, a previously mediocre Mountain West team who has exceeded all expectations this season. The Aztecs had not been ranked since the 20-14-2015 season, and they’ve made just one NCAA tournament appearance since that season. But this year, San Diego State is 26-0 and steamrolling through the conference. Win out the remainder of their schedule and the Aztecs will likely be handed a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So the question is worth asking: What makes the Aztecs tick? While there are a few different answers, one big reason is point guard Malachi Flynn, a 6’1 junior transfer from Washington State, who has delivered in big moments for San Diego State while playing efficient, low-turnover basketball. 

Watching Flynn for the first time the other day, it was evident that SDSU is far better when he is rolling. The Aztecs struggled mightily in the first half while hosting New Mexico, but as Flynn got himself going in the second half, so did San Diego State, as they steadily pulled away to a 23-point victory. 

The Aztecs can count on Flynn to score, as evidenced by his 16.2 points per game average, but the junior guard can impact the game in a variety of ways. In engineering a comeback versus Utah State, Flynn notched 15 points –  a touch below his average – but also dished out seven assists, grabbed six rebounds, and recorded three steals for the Aztecs. He also turned the ball over just once, allowing San Diego State to maximize their offensive possessions in rallying from a double-digit deficit. Even as one of San Diego State’s primary ball handlers, Flynn is averaging just 1.5 turnovers per game, a stunningly low rate that has him ranked fifth in the country in assist to turnover ratio. 

As if all these attributes aren’t enough, Flynn has been clutch all year, especially in closing out games from the free throw line. An 83% shooter from the charity stripe, Flynn has virtually single-handedly secured several victories for the Aztecs. In a tight win over a tough Iowa squad, Flynn went 9-9 at the line as his team won by 10. He went 7-8 as the Aztecs staved off UNLV by four points, and 10-10 in a 9-point victory over Utah State. He’s a 45% shooter from the field as well, meaning opponents can’t sit back and let him shoot because he will undoubtedly find his stroke, and send the Aztecs through.

In a year where we could see 2-3 mid-majors in the Elite Eight, keep an eye on the Aztecs. Thanks in large part to Malachi Flynn, they’re no feel-good story this year – they’re looking to win it all.

Andrew Degeorge Mock Draft #1

In our first released mock draft, we are publishing Andrew Degeorge’s mock draft. He’s got one stunner left out of the first round and some interesting picks for certain teams. Check out his full mock first round here.

1: Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU 

  • The general consensus first overall pick, the Bengals hope they nab their franchise quarterback here at #1.

2: Washington Redskins: Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State

  • The Redskins need a lot of help, so they get possibly the most dynamic player in the draft in the dominant edge rusher out of Ohio State. 

3: Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State

  • In our latest podcast, Degeorge declared his belief that Okudah will be a top-5 cornerback in the NFL by the end of his rookie season. If that’s the case, the Lions have a defensive cornerstone for their franchise rebuild. 

4: New York Giants: Jedrick Willis Jr, Offensive Lineman, Alabama

  • The Giants have their quarterback (Daniel Jones) and running back (Saquon Barkley) in place for the future, so now they take a step towards protecting their skill position players by snagging the best tackle in the draft. 

5: Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon

  • Although the Dolphins are widely thought to be pursuing Tua, in this mock, Miami takes Herbert, who is regarded to possibly be the most pro-ready quarterback after starting four seasons at Oregon. 

6: Los Angeles Chargers: Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia

  • The quarterback situation in Los Angeles is uncertain, but the thought process is here is that before going after their signal-caller, the Chargers ensure they have decent protection in place for their guy. It also makes a lot of sense if Herbert is off the board, who the Chargers might nab if he’s available here. 

7: Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn

  • The Panthers’ hope for a quick rebuild took a step back with Luke Keuchly’s retirement. While they can’t replace such a generational talent, they’ll take Brown, regarded by most as the best defensive tackle in the draft.

8: Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa

  • An intriguing pick. A year ago, many might have said this would be a place for the Cardinals to grab more weapons for Kyler Murray, but the emergence of Lamar Jackson has showed that dual threat quarterbacks can thrive without truly elite weapons. Rather, the Cardinals prioritize protection for Murray, grabbing a highly regarded tackle in Wirfs. 

9: Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson

  • Minus Jacksonville’s strange one-year resurgence, they’ve been stuck in a rut for a while, and it is unclear as to what they need to fix. They’ll start by working to fix an uninspired defense by drafting Clemson’s jack-of-all trades. Simmons lined up at a variety of positions and has been compared to Taysom Hill except for a defense.

10: Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville Cardinals

  • Becton has been projected to go as high as fourth, but this draft is murky when it comes to offensive tackles, as it is unclear which teams value which players the most. Becton is most certainly a top-10 talent, and the Browns hope he can protect Baker Mayfield’s blind side and help allow their offense to fulfill their potential.

11: New York Jets: Ceedee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma

  • The Jets are widely assumed to be looking to secure a top talent at wide receiver to complement Robby Anderson. Their defense is improving and Sam Darnold appeared to be coming into his own late, so this pick may come down to choosing between Lamb and ‘Bama receiver Jerry Jeudy. Jets go with Lamb, largely due to his experience both in the slot and out wide. 

12: Las Vegas Raiders: Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU

  • Delpit is almost undoubtedly the best safety in the draft, but it is unclear which team has a pressing need for such a talent. The Raiders may not necessarily need a safety, but they could use a playmaker on defense, so they may simply go with the best available pick here. 

13: Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama

  • Is Jacoby Brissett the Colts’ quarterback of the future? That is unclear, and the Colts may not be convinced they’ll find an heir at #13, so instead, they snag an elite offensive talent in Jeudy, who can line up across from T.Y. Hilton and wreak havoc on opposing defenses.

14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama

  • This may be one of the most surprising picks in this mock, as Tampa Bay doesn’t have a clear need for a safety, and McKinney hasn’t projected as a first rounder in many drafts. Yet, in this draft, it is Tampa Bay going back to their defense – a statement in Jameis Winston’s job security? – and take probably the second-best safety available to improve their pass defense, as their run defense is already among the best in the league.

15: Denver Broncos: Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU

  • The LSU championship defense boasted some elite talent in their secondary, and the Broncos grab a key piece from the Tigers’ defense here. The Broncos seem convinced that Drew Lock is their quarterback, so they’ll look at the other side of the ball. While Denver’s ferocious defenses of the past have been centered on an elite pass rush, they may try to lock down the secondary first this time around. 

16: Atlanta Falcons: Yetur Gross Matos, Defensive End, Penn State

  • The likelihood that Matos goes this high may be unlikely, but the Nittany Lions’ defensive end may be the most underrated defensive end in the draft, as most draft profiles say Matos could be a prolific defender once he fills out his frame and gains some more experience. The Falcons are looking to contend in 2020, and this pick suggests they hope Matos’ upside plays out and turns him into a productive starter. 

17: Dallas Cowboys: CJ Henderson, Defensive Back, Florida

  • Henderson has been graded as a high second round pick by multiple evaluations. But the Cowboys are desperately seeking answers after a disappointing 8-8 season, and they may look to resign some offensive stars and fix their defense through the draft. With a high number of defensive players headed for free agency, the Cowboys may jump to grab a starter out of the self-proclaimed “DBU” in Gainesville. 

18: Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh): Klavon Chaisson, Linebacker, LSU

  • Miami has already grabbed Justin Herbert as their franchise quarterback of the future, and here with their second of three first-round picks, the Dolphins attack another major need by grabbing an edge-rusher from LSU’s championship defense. Chaisson is an explosive and versatile defender who could be a fine return for Minka Fitzpatrick, the Pro-Bowler that Miami traded for this pick.

19: Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago): Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma

  • The Raiders dipped into LSU’s elite secondary with their first pick of the first round, and they head for Oklahoma’s defensive unit to snag Kenneth Murray, a very curious prospect. The Raiders will want a new wide receiver, but they figure with a deep draft of pass-catchers, they’ll have a chance to do that in later rounds. They snag Murray who some scouts are high on his natural talent, but some question his decision making and discipline.

20: Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU

  • The Jaguars feel confident their first pick in Simmons is a swiss-army-knife who can plug many of their defensive holes, so they go back to the offensive side of the ball. Is Justin Jefferson an elite wide receiver, or did he benefit from Joe Burrow’s historic senior season? The Jaguars are betting on the former, allowing Jefferson to line up across from D.J. Chark and offer quarterback Gardner Minshew another dangerous option going down the field. 

21: Philadelphia Eagles: Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson

  • The Eagles are an extremely talented team in many areas, and they remain committed to Carson Wentz who put up really good numbers with a cast of wide receivers that no average NFL fan could name. Philadelphia goes to the draft to pick up an elite receiver as they hope to become the standard in the NFC East, and maybe the NFC as a whole. 

22: Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr, Wide Receiver, Colorado

  • The Bills really want a receiver to give their young quarterback Josh Allen a weapon, and Shenault is an intriguing option at #22. Projected as a late first round pick, Shenault offers explosiveness and versatility, but he needs to sharpen up on specific skill sets. Many evaluators criticize his route-running, as Shenault has too much experience as a do-it-all guy for the Buffaloes. The Bills have the defense, they have their quarterback, and now they give him a weapon as they seek a very elusive playoff win next season. 

23: New England Patriots: Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver, Alabama

  • With the status of Tom Brady in complete limbo, this pick is highly interesting for the Patriots. They could draft a quarterback, but they either assume Brady is coming back, or trust Jarrett Stidham to lead the charge for a year. So instead of going after a signal-caller, they’ll try to give whoever is under center some more weapons. Complementing Mohamed Sanu, Julian Edelman, and last year’s first-round N’Keal Harry, Ruggs brings elite athleticism to the table for the Patriots. 

24: New Orleans Saints: Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington

  • What New Orleans really wants is a wide receiver to complement their stud in Michael Thomas, but they may feel that anyone worth a first-round pick if off the table already, so they’ll further muddle up their quarterback situation by taking Eason, the former Georgia quarterback who has tantalizingly great arm talent. The Saints have some options between Brees, ‘quarterback’ Taysom Hill, and backup Teddy Bridgewater. But depending on who they bring back in free agency, they could start grooming Eason to take over in a few years. 

25: Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State

  • This would be a surprise pick, as the Vikings aren’t known to be in the market for a quarterback, but this could be an interesting pick with an eye to the future. The Vikings have a window to win and they picked Kirk Cousins as their signal-caller to bring them to the promised land. After going 18-13-1 the past two seasons, the Vikings may be wondering if they have maxed out their potential with him and want to take Love, the most promising quarterback by arm strength and physical talent, but a work-in-progress based on his feel for the position and immature decision-making. 

26: Miami Dolphins (via Houston): Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina

  • The Dolphins have three first round picks and they’ve used the first two on a quarterback and linebacker. Regarded as a strong day-1 target, Kinlaw has absurd physical traits that allow him to make some incredible plays. With Justin Herbert or maybe veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick tossing the ball to young star Devante Parker, the Dolphins are excited to address some defensive needs and get a high-ceiling prospect in Kinlaw. 

27: Seattle Seahawks: Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU

  • Queen balled out for the Tigers in the National Championship game, a great stage to boost your draft stock on. With plenty of defensive needs, the Seahawks would do well to get Queen, a stud linebacker that many view as a Day 1 starter next season.

28: Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

  • Baltimore’s most glaring need is an edge rusher, which makes Lewis a natural fit. After being torn apart by Derrick Henry in the playoffs, the Ravens snag the Crimson Tide star, who excels in setting the edge against the run, with an excellent ability to disengage blockers and pursue the ball. Some injury history certainly raises questions, but Lewis has first-round abilities. 

29: Tennessee Titans: Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama

  • The Titans made their magical run with a dominant run game and elite defense. While working to resign Derrick Henry, they’ll turn to the draft to maintain their strong defense and take Diggs, who has only played defense exclusively for three years after coming to Alabama as a receiver recruit. Diggs has excellent athleticism and excelled in zone coverages. His man-to-man efforts are mediocre, but there’s hope for improvement. Diggs could certainly be a starting corner within a year or two. 

30: Green Bay Packers: Marlon Davidson, Defensive End, Alabama

  • This is a wildcard of a first pick as Davidson has gotten mixed reviews as a rusher at Alabama. While the physical gifts are there, Davidson’s technique has been criticized as incomplete and not maximizing his tools correctly. However, the Packers probably feel that an elite defense is the best way to compete with their semi-stagnant offense, so they snag a potentially dynamic player in Davidson. 

31: San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Gladney, Cornerback, TCU

  • The secondary is the most glaring need for the 49ers who have done well through the draft and free agency to build an offense around Jimmy Garoppolo and an elite defense led by Nick Bosa. The secondary lacks major playmakers, and Gladney brings explosive footwork and thrilling potential to the field. The taste of Patrick Mahomes’ 21-point fourth quarter is still sour in San Francisco, and they’ll look to bring some young talent to the weakest part of their roster. 

32: Kansas City Chiefs: AJ Espenza, Outside Linebacker, Iowa

  • This might be a match made in heaven for the Chiefs, who would very much like to grab a playmaker on the front seven. Epenesa is most certainly a playmaker having recorded 22 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss to go with eight forced fumbles and seven pass deflections. There’s some concerns about lateral quickness from the 6’6 Hawkeyes star, but he aboslutely has the talent the Chiefs may be searching for on draft day.

March Impact Player Profile: John Mooney, Notre Dame

Three sure things in life: Death, Taxes, and John Mooney recording a double-double. Mooney is one of five college basketball players averaging a double-double, and he’s tied for the national lead with 20 of them. On a mediocre Notre Dame basketball team, Mooney has been the spark plug for the Irish offense. While Notre Dame hasn’t gotten themselves completely sorted out, and they’ll need some help to reach bubble consideration, what chances they have run through Mooney.

Shooting 45% from the field, Mooney has already put the Irish on his back in several games. One game that comes to mind is probably Notre Dame’s best win of the year, when they visited the raucous Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse. At 0-2 in ACC play, the Irish desperately needed a win, and they turned to their star senior forward to get it done. Mooney responded with a 11-21 shooting performance from the field, piling up 28 points and 14 rebounds on the Orange. It is one of three 28-point performances. He’s put up 10 or more points in 23 of 24 games this year, while collecting at least 10 rebounds in 22 games. The consistency with which Mooney performs is remarkable, as no team has proven able to stop him. Notre Dame has taken on two top-10 teams in Louisville and at Florida State, but Mooney scored 16 versus the Seminoles and recorded a double-double against Louisville with a season-high 19 boards. 

Mooney does most of his damage in the paint, but he’s made up to three-pointers in multiple contests, proving his ability to help the Irish out from beyond the arc when he needs to. Notre Dame visits Duke tomorrow, and they host Florida State later in the year, not to mention an ACC tournament full of statement-win opportunities. The chances for the Irish to prove their worthiness for at at-large bid are there, and to get there, they’ll need John Mooney to lead their late-season charge. And if the Irish get there, regardless of what seed Notre Dame gets, nobody will want to be opposing this senior in march.

February 12, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

NOTE: Although this article was published late, these rankings reflect games played through Monday, February 10.

We’re back with this week’s power rankings and we have some major shakeup within our top-10 and honorable mention. Slotting teams into the honorable mention and high single digits slots were tough, as many of these squads took brutal losses in the past week or two. Ultimately, after combining our ballots, we came up with another list of 13 teams, so we will summarize some of the biggest movement here, and then read on for the full rankings (and to see our new #1). 

Biggest Riser: Auburn

Biggest Faller: Oregon

Dropped out: Oregon

Joined the Rankings: West Virginia

Honorable Mention

  • Seton Hall
  • West Virginia
  • Villanova

#10 – Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • Maryland has won seven straight to rejoin the Top-10, both in the AP Poll and in our Power Rankings. The Terrapins are now a 2-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology after an impressive week in which they took down Rutgers and then went on the road to defeat #22 Ilinois.

#9 – Dayton Flyers (Last Week: #8)

  • Dayton suffers from the sad fact that they are the ‘ other’ elite mid-major. With San Diego State stealing the headlines, it’s been tough for Dayton to draw attention to their remarkable season. These Power Rankings were assembled before last night’s impressive win over Rhode Island, so they could still have room to rise. But last week saw Dayton play and win just one game, which isn’t enough to keep their #8 slot. 

#8 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • Our biggest risers of the week, Auburn is once again red-hot after crashing out of our top-10 with consecutive blowout losses. Auburn isn’t dominating, but they are passing the gut-check test after a series of tight victories, including an overtime 91-90 win over #25 LSU this past weekend.

#7 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: #5)

  • The Seminoles lose to Duke, and so they slip behind them in the power rankings. Two games out of the conference lead, Florida State is virtually out of the regular season title chase, but they still can beat Louisville at home to help their chances for a top-2 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

#6 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: #6)

  • In their third straight week at #6, San Diego State continues to play excellent basketball, but it also is coming against less-than-excellent teams, so our ballots still reflect our general distrust of the Aztecs. Their only game last week was a road contest at a sub .500 squad in Air Force, making it very difficult to climb at all in this week’s rankings, even as they are 24-0. 

#5 – Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: #7)

  • Duke escaped disaster against BC, engineered an incredibly gutsy comeback at UNC, and then earned a statement victory over #8 Florida State to cap off an impressive three-game stretch. Their winning streak is at six, and the Blue Devils hope they’re not out of the hunt for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament just yet. 

#4 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: #2) – 1 First Place Vote

  • The top of our ballots differed incredibly, as all of us have different opinions on who the best team in college basketball. Louisville gets a first place vote, but they ultimately drop two spots after needing a huge comeback to beat Wake Forest at home. After escaping Georgia Tech, it was their second close-call win at home in two weeks. They’re walking a tight-rope, but they’ve also won ten straight so they slot in at #4. 

#3 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: #4) – 1 First Place Vote

  • For some people, including AP voters, Gonzaga is the best team in the country. Not all of us feel that way evidently, but they do rise a spot in this week’s rankings. Why? Well, Gonzaga travelled to St. Marys to face the consensus second-best team in the West Coast Conference and beat them by thirty points. Especially with a weak conference schedule, wins don’t get much more impressive than that for the Bulldogs. 

#2 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: #1) – 1 First Place Vote

  • It’s probably our most controversial ranking. But Baylor has won three straight games by single digits over unranked teams, and they’ve displayed some of the red flags that had us concerned about the Bears in the early going. These red flags included scoring just 52 points in a recent game at Texas and needing to go down to the wire at home to beat Oklahoma State, who are 2-9 in Big 12 play. They’re still an elite team, but these close calls aren’t inspiring confidence. 

#1 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: #3) – 1 First Place Vote

  • Each of our ballots reflected a different team that we felt was #1, but Kansas was the only team that was Top-3 in each of our ballots. They beat Oklahoma State by 15 on the road, handled Texas by double digits, and they’ve won eight straight since losing to Baylor. Yes the head-to-head loss makes this ranking difficult, but overall, the Jayhawks just feel like the closest thing to a sure thing in a year where turmoil has reigned supreme.

March Impact Player Profile: Elijah Hughes, Syracuse

In March Madness, lightning can strike at any moment. If, in 2018, UMBC played Virginia 50 times, they would probably lose 49 times. If Loyola Chicago replayed their tournament a million times, they probably rarely make it to the Final Four. Weird things happen. Shooters who rely on the 3 can carry you, but they can just as well shoot your team out of the tournament if they get cold for one game, and that’s why, when it comes time to dancing, the teams that most often make the most noise are those with experienced leaders, who usually can score consistently. And while Syracuse is still fighting for their NCAA tournament life, they’ve got just the player to do that with if they can crack the field. 

Junior forward Elijah Hughes has been the Orange’s most consistent player this year, and it’s not even close. While sophomore Buddy Boeheim can put up gaudy numbers due to the pure volume of shots he takes from beyond the arc, it’s Elijah Hughes that makes Syracuse tick. 

Hughes has scored at least ten points in every game, and he’s notched at least 15 in 19 of his 23 contests. Since December 7th, Hughes has been held under 17 points just one time, and it is his level of play that helped Syracuse rise from ACC afterthought to a potential contender for an at-large bid. 

Hughes helped Syracuse turn their season around in a pivotal game in January when the Orange, sitting at 1-3 in ACC play, visited #18 Virginia, who had beaten Syracuse by 14 in the season opener. The game went to overtime, and Hughes played every minute, knocking down four triples, grabbing nine rebounds, and gutted out 18 points on a day when his shot wasn’t falling as frequently as normal. Syracuse won in overtime and the statement victory sparked a five-game winning streak. Hughes scored 19, 17, and 26 points in the Orange’s next three wins – two on the road – as they skyrocketed up the ACC standings. Syracuse now sits at 7-5 in ACC play, good enough for a tie with Virginia for fourth and the rights to a coveted double-bye in the ACC tournament. Perhaps more impressive than his statistics is his durability. Since November 27, Hughes has come out of a game just three times, and on all three occasions, the Orange led by more than ten points. 

If Syracuse gets into the NCAA tournament, it will certainly be on the back of their junior star. And if the Orange, a team already used to making long underdog runs in the NCAA tournament, make it to March, be ready for Elijah Hughes to lift this team onto his shoulders and help Syracuse carve out a vicious warpath en route to a deep run. 

March Impact Player Profile: Will Moreton, Stonehill

When Division 2 Stonehill opened their season at Providence, a strong Big East team who could very likely be in the NCAA tournament this year, they were understandably large underdogs. And while Stonehill fell well short of the upset, there were a few noteworthy individual performances from the visitors. One of these performances belonged to senior guard Will Moreton who put up 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds against premier competition. It was a solid game to start the year for Moreton, who has continued to put up outstanding numbers in his senior year, averaging a career-high 18.7 points per game. Standing 6’6, Moreton is proficient from both inside and outside the arc, shooting a tick under 45% in both categories. Moreton has long been one of Stonehill’s stars, and he even competed for Team USA this past summer in an international competition in Greece.

 In a season full of standout performances, one particularly big day came on January 4th, when the Skyhawks hosted #15 Daemen. Having lost their last game before Christmas break, Stonehill had a chance to make a statement, and Moreton made sure they did just that, torching Daemen for 22 points and 7 rebounds, including seven free throws to help seal the deal late in the game.  Just three games later, Moreton posted a 35-point performance, paced by a blistering 14-19 shooting performance from the field. 

Moreton has been incredibly consistent, which might be his most impressive trait, and it is one that could benefit the Skyhawks greatly in the playoffs. Just once in 2020 has Moreton been held below 10 points, and he’s scored over 15 in all but two games. Beating Stonehill has virtually become synonymous with stopping Will Moreton. 

Overall, Moreton has been the leading scorer for Stonehill, which is now 10-5 in conference play. They finished last year at 8-13. Sitting in first place in the conference, the Skyhawks will look to continue to improve their record as they eye a deep run in the postseason. To do that, they’ll continue to lean on Moreton who is not slowing down as his collegiate career draws to a close.

March Impact Player Profile: Cole Anthony, UNC

One of the biggest disappointments of this basketball season may be not being able to watch future top-10 draft selection Cole Anthony in the NCAA Tournament. Because, barring a miracle, Cole Anthony’s UNC Tar Heels will not be going dancing this year. A large part of that is due to Anthony’s extended injury-related absence, as the star freshman guard missed eleven games, a span in which the Tar Heels went just 4-7. They haven’t been dynamite with Anthony, going just 6-5 in those games, but UNC’s tournament chances dipped below 1% while Anthony was gone, and barring a miraculous run at the tail-end of their conference season, the Tar Heels will be fighting for a NIT bid the rest of the year. 

Despite this, our March Impact Player Feature series will include Cole Anthony, as he is undoubtedly a star talent who can take over March, even if it’s not in the tournament we all wanted to see him in. Normally, blue bloods in the NIT have limited motivation to compete, but Cole Anthony should have plenty of personal motivation after missing the first half of the ACC season. He’s got a lot of opportunity for his draft stock to rise, and Anthony undoubtedly makes the Tar Heels a different team. He’s averaging 19.5 points per game, and, almost more impressive, he has nabbed 6.5 rebounds a game, including four games of eight or more. As a 6’3, 190-pounder, Anthony scraps for rebounds many of his size and position would not go for. Combined with his ability to get blazing hot from beyond the arc, Cole Anthony is an incredibly exciting talent.

Anthony burst onto the scene when the Tar Heels hosted Notre Dame in the opener, as he went 6-11 from 3 and 12-24 overall while pouring in 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in their win. As UNC started 5-0, he added in 28 and 20-point performances, along with a do-it-all 13-point, 7-rebound, 7-assist performance in a tight win versus Alabama. UNC started to slump, and they were 6-3 when Anthony went down with injury, and their spiral continued as they lost several games as heavy favorites, leading to coach Roy Williams calling them the ‘least talented group’ he has ever coached. 

Anthony returned for the last two games, and although rust has been evident, he is still putting UNC on his back, albeit without much success yet as the Tar Heels have lost both games since his return. That’s hardly due to Anthony, however, who scored 26 points in his first game back and 16 points in a road top-10 match-up at Florida State. 

Anthony is the type of shooter that can carry a team when he gets hot, so as he rounds back into form and UNC heads towards (hopefully) the NIT, it’ll be exciting to watch the star freshman put on his final clinic for NBA scouts as he skyrockets towards a lottery draft selection.

About Us: Andrew Degeorge

Andrew Degeorge is another college baseball player and co-founder of the College Kids Talking College Sports podcast. More information on Andrew can be found below!

Age: 19

High School: Cheverus High School Class of 2019

High School Sports: Baseball and Football

College: Ithaca Baseball, Class of 2023

Major: Business Management

Hobbies: Fishing, watching college sports

Favorite College Teams: Auburn, UNC, Oklahoma, LSU

Favorite Professional/College Sports Memory: UNC’s 2016 basketball national championship

Favorite Personal Sports Memory: Hitting a two-out, two-strike walk-off 2-run single in our playoff baseball game to erase a 1-run deficit and advance to the regional championship. 

Favorite Athlete: Marcus Paige

March Impact Player Profile: Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

In scanning lists of statistical leaders, the name Udoka Azubuike may not reach your eyes very often. His stat line isn’t gaudy, and due to a talented array of shooters in the Kansas lineup, he isn’t always the go-to guy for the Jayhawks. But Azubuike, a 7’0 center from Nigeria, can take over games in ways that go well beyond the box score. 

Take the Jayhawks’ Big 12/SEC challenge game against Tennessee. As the Volunteers repeatedly tried to make a comeback, Kansas responded with consistent feeds to Azubuike in the paint, who dunked with little effort over his defenders, spurring on the home crowd and energizing his teammates. At one point, Tennessee collapsed so hard, selling out for the pass to Azubuike, that Kansas kicked it out for an easy three. While the play doesn’t show up on the senior center’s stat sheet, it was his impact that gifted the Jayhawks the open look. Overall, Azubuike poured in 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, for one of his ten double-doubles on the season. 

Azubuike is known to get into foul trouble, picking up at least three fouls on ten different occasions, and fouling out once, so he isn’t always on the court as much as his counterpart stars, but when he is, his impact is nearly unmatchable. He creates a mass quantity of high percentage shot opportunities, leading to a 76.3% shooting rate for the year. And when he’s not getting a lot of shots, he’s impacting the game in other ways. There have been just two contests this year when Azubuike was held to under 10 points, under 10 rebounds, and less than 3 blocks. When #1 Baylor shut down his inside looks, Azubuike locked down defensively with a season-high seven blocks. In a overtime win over #6 Dayton, Azubuike only got three rebounds, but he was unstoppable near the basket en route to 29 points on 12-15 shooting. 

While Azubuike may not be a traditional star, his immense value to the Jayhawks is unquestionable. The Nigerian native has not scored more than 12 points in any of the three Kansas losses, suggesting that when they get their big man going, combined with their skilled outside shooting, the Jayhawks may be nearly impossible to stop. 

This valuable impact makes Azubuike our next March Impact Player Feature, so be sure to watch out for this guy when Kansas goes dancing. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.