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Posted on: March 8, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 6:15 pm
 

Gates plays to potential and Cincy looks sharp

Henry Sims, left, and Yancy Gates went toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow Thursday afternoon. (US Presswire)
By Matt Norlander

After two days of yawn-inducing basketball -- some of it even eye-gouging -- the afternoon session of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden Thursday delivered the goods.

First it was Syracuse coming back to beat UConn 58-55 to advance to the semis, and then Cincinnati and Georgetown needed 50 minutes to decide who gets the Orange Friday night. It's Cincinnati by way of a 72-70 double-overtime victory. The Bearcats: holding seed, winning again and getting production from all over the floor. They're starting to look like they did in January, when the team was rolling, beating good teams on the road and looking like a top-two or -three team in the Big East.

“To go 2 for 21 from 3 and win the game against Georgetown is unthinkable, it’s just unthinkable,” Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin said.

The Bearcats outscored Georgetown 13-4 in the last 6:02 of regulation, and then the Hoyas had a span of nearly seven minutes when they only put up five points, three of which came off of free-throws. It came to bea game of runs. Had Otto Porter and Henry Sims not hit game-tying shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime, Cincinnati wins -- maybe a little too easily.

One win in a game on a neutral floor doesn't complete the return to form, but it's a really good sign. Cincy trailed for most of the game, but it stayed in it thanks to Yancy Gates' play. And how often have we been able to say that in the past? Gates has been improved ever since the brawl (I hate to mention it, but it is the only frame of reference for his turnaround in this case) and become a guy who isn't a black hole when he's on the floor.

“It’s like a proud parent,” Cronin said. “We’ve been working on this guy a long time. Yancy, and Dion Dixon, they’re traditional guys. They’re young seniors. … His best basketball is still way ahead of him. He’s been called upon to do a lot — too much — to rebuild our program. … For me, two things, I’m happy for him, but also as a coach, it’s great when you know you have a horse, and you get him the ball and he’s delivering. It gives you options.”

Used to be in past seasons, and even in this one, that Cincy wasn't functional when Gates was in the game. He took the wrong shots at the wrong times. Made dumb fouls. Killed on-court chemistry. But that's not the case anymore. Gates had a skilled big man go at him all day -- and the Cincy senior responded beautifully. The final tally:

Gates: 23 points and eight rebounds, three steals on 10-of-19 shooting. Turnovers: none.

Sims: 22 points and 15 boards.

Both played 46 minutes. It was awesome. The Big East is almost assuredly never going to be the conference of big men that it was for 15 years, but this was a fine fight to see. Gates spoke about not wanting to just be one-and-done in the Big East in his final season. He wanted to see Friday night -- badly.

“Henry Sims, he’s a great player, so I was trying to guard him as tough as I can, and we try to call upon us. It was a good battle between two big men, two seniors, too,” Gates said.

The maturity in Gates is easy to see. His head just seems clearer. The taunts still exist, but he lifts up his teammates now. After a lot of made baskets and big rebounds Thursday afternoon, Gates was talking with teammates. Encouraging. Reaffirming communication on what went right on the previous play, or where he was going to be on the defensive one upcoming. It's a great thing to see, this big man playing like a big man and a most valuable one at that.

As a team, we don't know if Cincinnati is reliable. As a man, with less than 10 games remaining in his career, it seems Gates is.

Posted on: March 8, 2012 4:41 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 4:55 pm
 

Crean on Verdell Jones' injury: 'It's not good'

The extent of Verdell Jones III's knee injury isn't known, but Tom Crean didn't sound optimistic. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The final week before Selection Sunday has not been kind to the Big Ten. On Sunday, Michigan State freshman Branden Dawson went down with a torn ACL. There was more bad news on Thursday.

Indiana senior guard Verdell Jones suffered a knee injury in the Hoosiers’ win over Penn State. The extent of the injury is unknown right now, but it didn’t look good. Jones went to jump stop on a fast break, and immediately went down. It didn’t sound good, and he was grimacing in pain.

Shana Daniels, an assistant media relations director at Indiana, tweeted that it was a sprained knee and he would be evaluated further.

In the postgame, head coach Tom Crean didn’t sound nearly as optimistic when discussing the injury on his postgame radio show.

“It’s not good,” he said, nearing tears. “It’s not good. Just got to hope of the best.”

Jones, a 6-foot-5 senior, has played an integral part in Indiana’s revival this season. His scoring numbers are down since earlier in his career, but he’s still distributing fairly well. Moreover, his leadership has been a key with the younger players. Jones averaged 7.8 points and 3.2 assists this season.

We’ll have more on this as more information is released.

Posted on: March 8, 2012 4:24 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 10:37 am
 

Boeheim may be right: Players just don't care

Despite the off-court distractions, Brandon Triche and Syracuse continue to win. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

NEW YORK -- We've been waiting for Syracuse to slip-up throughout the season, free-fall and spiral downward with all the off-court turmoil that has surrounded the program. 

The Bernie Fine allegations, Fab Melo's suspension and the latest an NCAA investigation into the alleged cover-up of failed drug tests. 

"These kids care about two things," Boeheim said after his team pulled out a 58-55 win over UConn to advance to the Big East semifinals. "How they play and where their girlfriend's are." 

Maybe he's right. 

This Syracuse team improved to 31-1 after the victory against an enigmatic, yet talented Huskies group. 

Let's face it: This Orange group doesn't rank second when it comes to pure talent. In fact, it might not even crack the top five. But these guys have depth, chemistry and most importantly, tunnel vision.

"I don't pay it no mind," Orange sophomore guard Dion Waiters said. "I wasn't here for the drug stuff, the Fine stuff is out of our hands." 

"We don't know anything about it," teammate Scoop Jardine added about the latest news. 

I never gave the 'Cuse much of a chance to win the title. Not when this team goes up against Kentucky or North Carolina. But there's enough talent -- and these guys truly enjoy playing with one another. All you have to do is look at Jardine, spending most of his time on the bench in the second half against UConn, to become witness.

Jardine was busy smiling, laughing and cheering on his teammates, a far cry from the old Scoop - who would have been pouting and complaining about sitting on the bench. 

"He's come a long way," Syracuse coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins said. "He's become a great leader." 

"The chemistry isn't even close to what it was here," Jardine said. "And I think I was a part of the problem in the past." 

James Southerland, the team's ninth man in what's arguably the deepest rotation in the country, came through on Thursday with a couple of huge second-half shots to made sure the 'Cuse didn't leave New York City early in the Big East tourney. The team's leading scorer, Kris Joseph, struggled -- but there's enough overall talent that this team won't go down due to the issues of one guy. 

These guys have come closer, Syracuse athletic director Darryl Gross, told me -- with all of the off-court issues that have surrounded the program. 

Boeheim addressed Yahoo! Sports  recent story that multiple former Syracuse players tested positive for drugs and the team still allowed them to play. 

"This was reported it five years ago," he said. "We're waiting for them to finish the process." 

Then Boeheim declined to be specific, moments later in the hallways of Madison Square Garden saying only that it's "been a long time." Later Thursday, ESPN reported that the NCAA issued a statement that said it "received a self-report from Syracuse University on October 27, 2010."

"None of this bothers our players, our team or me," he said. "None of this. If things were bothering us, we wouldn't be 31-1. Nothing bothers us." 

Then Boeheim became Boeheim, jovial and sarcasm seeping through while talking to the media on Thursday afternoon in the post-game news conference. He made fun of Kris Joseph for his 1-for-8 performance with an injury to his non-shooting hand. Then he joked that Peyton Manning should come to the New York Jets. 

"How Coach (Boeheim) has handled it all has made it a lot easier for all of us," Jardine said. "He's doing a good job and we're just going up and racking up wins." 

"You don't get many opportunities to be on a team like this," Waiters added. 

Not a 31-win team that has received more attention off the court than it has on it. 


Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:53 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 1:50 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Separation day for bubblers

Texas might have locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament with its quarterfinal win over Iowa State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The Thursday of conference tournament week is always a big day for separation when it comes to bubble teams. Nearly every power-conference bubbler is in action across the country, with most of them facing must-win opportunities or one last chance at a marquee victory. This season is no different, as the docket is filled with teams looking to punch their ticket or simply keep their at-large hopes alive. The bubble picture should look very different tomorrow than it does today.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Southern Miss avoided a bad loss to East Carolina and locked up a bid. (US Presswire)

Locking things up:

Southern Miss: Had the Golden Eagles lost their opener in the Conference-USA tournament, things might have been a little troublesome on Selection Sunday. While it took an extra five minutes, Southern Miss got it done – and now should be fine for the NCAA tournament. They finished second in the league and have a top-20 RPI, along with wins over Memphis, Colorado State and South Florida. 9-4 against the top 100 is great compared to some of the other bubble teams.

Cincinnati: 
If there were any questions about the Bearcats' at-large status, they were answered on Thursday afternoon. Cincinnati faced Georgetown in a tournament quarterfinal, and made plays down the stretch en route to a double-overtime win. The absolutely awful non-conference schedule and mediocre overall computer profile could potentially only affect seeding at this point; the Bearcats are in. They are now 6-3 against the top-50 and are 9-5 away from home. They could wear home jerseys in the round of 64. 

Alabama: The Crimson Tide were in good shape heading into the SEC tournament, but a loss in the first round would have made it a long couple of days for them. However, that won't be a problem, as Alabama pulled out a win against South Carolina. The Crimson Tide were around a No. 9 seed earlier in the week, so they seem pretty safe there. They are 3-5 against the top 50, and 9-9 against the top 100, but they also bounced back nicely from the personnel situation they had in February. 'Bama could jump to a No. 8 with another win. 

Purdue: The Boilermakers were in the field of 68 no matter what happened in the Big Ten conference tournament, but it's nice to avoid a bad loss and stay in good position for a solid seed. Heading into the week, Purdue was arguably the last No. 8 seed in the S-Curve, and beating Nebraska keeps them on track to wear a home jersey in the round of 64. The Boilermakers are 5-8 against the top 50, although they only beat two definite NCAA tournament teams in Michigan and Temple. Ohio State is next.

Still safe:

Connecticut: The Huskies are fine despite their late loss to Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals. A win over the Orange would have skyrocketed Connecticut up in terms of seeding, but the Huskies are still in the mix for an 8-9 game in the NCAA tournament. The No. 3 strength of schedule and 10 top-100 wins make them a lock to hear their name called in three days. 

Kansas State: The Wildcats are still very comfortable heading into the weekend. A win over Baylor would have really solidified their resume, but the Wildcats already have victories over Missouri – twice – Baylor, Alabama and Long Beach State. The sweep at the hands of Oklahoma and a 6-8 top-100 record could bring down their seeding somewhat, but a No. 8 or No. 9 seed seems very likely.

It's tough to imagine Colorado State missing the NCAA tournament at this point. (US Presswire)

Winners:

Colorado State:
I really don't see how Colorado State can miss out on an at-large berth this season, after thoroughly handling TCU in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West. The Rams have a terrific computer profile, with a top-25 RPI and top-10 SOS. They have three wins over top-50 teams in UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico, and they are now 3-0 on neutral courts. The two sub-100 losses and 3-9 record on the road gives cause for a closer look, but compared to other bubble teams, Colorado State should be safe. A loss to San Diego State in the semifinals likely wouldn't drop them several spots. 

California: It wasn't clear if the Golden Bears could survive a quarterfinals loss to Stanford, but we don't need to worry about that just yet. They move on to face the winner of Oregon/Colorado, in a game that could clinch California's bid if it gets to the title game. The at-large resume isn't all that impressive, with the best non-conference win coming against Weber State. The Golden Bears did sweep Oregon, but those are the best victories on the resume, along with Washington. Cal could really cement things with at least one more win.

Texas: The Longhorns took advantage of their chance at a big win on Thursday, coming back in the second half to beat Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. Given Texas' resume and the way things are shaking out across the bubble landscape, that might have been a win-and-in situation for the Longhorns. They improve to 4-9 against the top 50, although it's only 5-10 against the top 100. They have wins over Temple, Kansas State and two over Iowa State. They face Missouri in the Big 12 semis; a win there would lock things up completely. They might be able to survive a loss, though.

North Carolina State
: The Wolfpack needed to beat Boston College in order to get a chance at Virginia in the quarterfinals. That one is the must-win for NC State. As it stands, the Wolfpack still don't have a top-50 win on their resume, going 0-8 against teams in that category. They do have two wins over Miami (Fl.) and one over Texas, which could help in bubble comparisons. They are also now 8-5 away from home, but the lack of good wins and two sub-100 losses complicate things.

Miami (Fl.): The first half wasn't pretty whatsoever for the Hurricanes, but they actually scored some points in the second stanza and also locked down on the defensive end, cruising to an easy win over Georgia Tech. They're still just 3-10 against the top 100, but two of the wins did come over Duke and Florida State. Miami will need to do more damage in the ACC tournament, starting with Florida State on Friday. A win there, and the Hurricanes could be in OK shape. A loss, and they will be sweating it out.

Arizona: I don't see how the Wildcats will get a bid, but the door is now open for the Wildcats to at least get to the Pac-12 title game after they beat UCLA in the quarterfinals and No. 1 seed Washington was upset by Oregon State. The computer profile is still terrible, and they have only defeated one NCAA tournament team (California). A win over Oregon State won't put them in the Dance, and it's unlikely a close loss in the championship game would do it either. Because of the Arizona State loss to end the season, I think Arizona needs to win the tournament.

Ole Miss: The Rebels still likely have to get to the SEC title game to have a chance at an at-large bid due to their 1-6 top-50 record, but beating Auburn easily was a good start. They have one good win over Alabama, but they also beat a couple of bubble teams in Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. Ole Miss only has one sub-100 loss, and the Rebels did play 17 games against teams in the top 100; they only went 6-11 in those games, though. If they beat fellow bubbler Tennessee in the quarterfinals, a semifinal contest against Vanderbilt could be a huge chance.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack have a mediocre at-large profile, but they will have a shot if they can get to the WAC title game. After a lackluster first half against San Jose State, they rolled to a double-digit win. The strength of schedule is terrible, and they don't have a single top-50 win, but they did lose just one game in conference play and are above .500 against the top 100.

Long Beach State: With the way things are going, the 49ers could certainly get an at-large bid if they lose in the Big West tournament. However, they need to get to at least the title game in order to have hopes. They didn't waste any time dispatching of UC-Davis in the quarterfinals, winning by 34. Moreover, No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton was knocked out, which means an easier path for LBSU to the automatic bid. We'll take a closer look at their resume should they lose.

Washington will have a long three days to wait until Selection Sunday. (US Presswire)

Losers:

Washington: Wow, what a weird game for the Huskies. In the first half, the Huskies looked like they were headed to the NIT, going into halftime with a 13-point deficit against Oregon State. However, they came back to take the lead -- before Tony Wroten missed four free throws and the Beavers came out with a win. Will Washington's regular-season title be enough for an at-large bid? That's doubtful. The Huskies simply have a very mediocre at-large profile. They beat zero NCAA tournament teams and were just 1-7 against the top-50, 4-8 against the top 100. They also now have two sub-100 losses. Washington's only potential saving grace will be its regular-season title and the eye test. There's nothing else to like in their resume.

South Florida: The Bulls were so close to locking up a bid to the NCAA tournament, but Notre Dame pulled out an overtime win in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. That leaves South Florida in precarious position. It is just 1-9 against the top 50, although it does have a 5-1 record against teams in the 50-100 range. They have one really good win, over Louisville, but they also have victories over Seton Hall and Cincinnati. One thing that could be tough to pass up is the 12 Big East wins that Stan Heath's club came away with in conference play; that trumps many of the middling league records that some of the power-conference bubblers have. South Florida also has three sub-100 losses. It will be close, but the Bulls are probably in for now. 

Northwestern: Another year, another disappointment for Northwestern. The Wildcats came into the Big Ten tournament needing at least one -- more likely two -- win in order to keep their at-large hopes alive. Unfortunately, Minnesota came back in the final minutes to snatch away a victory in overtime. This is a devastating loss for Northwestern, which now has an excruciatingly long three days until Selection Sunday. Right now, I highly doubt they will hear their name called. The Wildcats are just 1-10 against the top 50, and 5-13 against the top 100. They have no bad losses, but that won't save them this season with an 8-11 overall Big Ten record. Although the door hasn't completely shut yet, it's going to be tough for Northwestern to get an at-large bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will have one of the worst finishes to the season in terms of bubble teams, going just 2-6 in their final eight games. The latest defeat was at the hands of Georgia in the first round of the SEC tournament, their second loss to the Bulldogs in the last month. A loss to Auburn was also included in that recent stretch. Mississippi State is now in serious trouble. It has a bad computer profile, with an RPI that will likely drop to the 70s after tonight. There are three sub-100 losses. On the plus side, they are 8-8 against the top 100, with wins over bubblers West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arizona, as well as top-35 wins against Vanderbilt and Alabama. A 3-6 road record isn't doing them any favors, though. The talent is there, but the resume might not be. It will be a long few days for Rick Stansbury.

Oregon: It's looking more and more like the Pac-12 could be a one-bid league if California wins the regular-season title. The Ducks saw a door open when Washington went down in the quarterfinals -- two wins might have done it for the Ducks. Instead, they couldn't make plays in the final minute and lost to No. 6-seed Colorado. Oregon's at-large hopes are basically done at this point. They have 0 top-50 wins and the best non-conference victories are over UTEP and Nebraska. The computer profile looked OK heading into the week, but now the RPI and SOS will drop. Assuming the committee doesn't value sub-100 record over everything else, I'm not sure Oregon can get a bid.

Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:07 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 3:16 pm
 

Report: Auburn G investigated for point-shaving

By Jeff Borzello

Auburn guard Varez Ward is being investigated by federal authorities for alleged point-shaving incidents, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports.

Charles Robinson reported on Thursday afternoon that Ward and teammate Chris Denson were suspended in late February and questioned as part of the investigation. Denson was cleared and returned to the team after sitting out one game. Ward has not returned since being suspended on February 25.

The two games in question were Feb. 7 against Alabama and Jan. 25 against Arkansas. Some of the questionable moments during the games:

  • Feb. 7 vs. Alabama: Ward had six turnovers, two assists and shot 1-of-5 from the field. Two of his shots were blocked, one was an air ball and he also missed a free throw. Alabama was favored by five and won by 18.
  • Jan. 25 vs. Arkansas: Ward turned the ball over 19 seconds into his first possession and left the game with an apparent quadriceps injury. He didn’t return to the game. Arkansas was favored by 9.5, but won by only three.

Ward is a former Texas transfer who left the Longhorns in the summer of 2010. He started 17 games this season for Auburn, averaging 8.9 points, 3.8 assists and 2.7 turnovers.

Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:29 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 1:37 pm
 

ACC refs wear "KH" tape to honor Karl Hess

By Jeff Borzello

We’ve seen players write initials on their shoes all the time, whether it’s for a family member they’re praying for, for a fallen soldier, for a whole host of things.

Well, now we have a new reason to add to that list: for a referee who is not officiating the ACC tournament.

The referees for the Wake Forest vs. Maryland first-round ACC tournament game came out wearing white tape with the letters “KH” attached to their sneakers. Those initials are for fellow referee Karl Hess, who “declined to participate” in the conference tournament.

If you remember, Hess is the same referee who ejected Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from the stands during North Carolina State’s game against Florida State on February 18.

To be honest, this is completely ridiculous. Initials are usually reserved for someone who needs remembrance or something along those lines. In this case, it’s for a referee who is not officiating a conference tournament. That’s it. There’s nothing wrong with Hess; he’s just sitting out four days of ACC basketball. Fans already think that refs make the game too much about them -- this probably won't dissaude those people.

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the North Carolina State quarterfinal game; it seems the referees are in a pro-Karl Hess solidarity mood today.

Below is a good picture of the sneakers and tape, from Stephen Schramm of The Fayetteville Observer. Here's a closer look from Andrew Carter from The News & Observer (N.C.).



 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 8, 2012 12:25 pm
 

Pac-12 quarterfinals preview

After a dismal day to start the Pac-12 tournament (it was sparsely attended and featured bad, bad basketball), can we see a better Day Two now that most of the top seeds advanced? The Staples Center is officially played out as a realistic destination for this league's tournament. It's unfortunate, but a proper reflection of the league's basketball this year that the conference tournament has reached the point where it could be played at any of these teams' tinier home gyms and still not necessarily fill to capacity.

Let's look at the matchups for Thursday.

Washington (1) vs. Oregon State (9)
. You never fully trust Washington, but I want to trust Washington to win this game Thursday afternoon. The Huskies have a lot more talent that Oregon State and swept the Beavers this season. Jared Cunningham is OSU's counter to UW's athleticism, as he's the best athlete on the floor, but the Huskies have a lot more size and collective offense than the Beavers. Expect the game to be close throughout, until about five minutes remain, when I think Washington pulls away.

Arizona (4) vs. UCLA (5). Arizona's got some drama now, since Josiah Turner was suspended for the rset of the season Wednesday. CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman tweeted that Turner is not only out for the year, U of A fans shouldn't be surprised if the talented but troubled freshman point guard opts to transfer once the season is done. If that happens, it will be the second straight season Sean Miller has had a point guard leave; MoMo Jones transferred to Iona in 2011.

As for the game, it's the best one the Pac-12 has to offer. Both teams can beat Washington and get to the league championship game. UCLA is playing well ever since the Sports Illustrated article came out and undressed the program. It's the reverse jinx! The thing to watch here: UCLA likes going to the 3, but Arizona's one of the best 3-point defensive teams in the country.

California (2) vs. Stanford (7). Calling the upset now. Stanford's not a great team but it just beat Cal last week. The Cardinal match up well to the Golden Bears, who will officially be quaking if they cannot win one Pac-12 tournament game. The sense of urgency is just as high for Cal as it is Stanford, because the top seven seeds in this bracket feel like they're realistically capable of winning the whole thing.

Oregon (3) vs. Colorado (6). It's been a great year for Colorado, and Tad Boyle's gotten a lot of love for the job he's done with a thin roster. But what about Dana Altman? Getting Oregon to a three seed after the season started with talented recruit Jabari Brown promptly transferring about 15 minutes in is an accomplishment that I haven't seen receive enough love. Oregon's 22-8 and has a reliable offense. It should beat Colorado Thursday (the teams split the series, but Colorado's win came by one), but then again, this is the Pac-12. Kyle Singler, the former Duke star, his younger brother E.J. plays for the Ducks and is getting better by the hour.

-- Matt Norlander
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 8, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 12:22 pm
 

Freshman of the Year: Anthony Davis is No. 1

Unlike the close Player of the Year race, Kentucky's Anthony Davis is clearly the best freshman in the country. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

This will be the last Freshman of the Year rankings of the season, as we don’t plan on releasing one on the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament and there’s not much left to be decided. Unlike the Player of the Year race, which is still neck-and-neck heading into the conference tournaments, Anthony Davis has had this thing wrapped up since January. There was only one week where he didn’t hold the top spot, and that was after teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a monster game in early December. Davis was simply dominant throughout the season, especially on the defensive end, and he got better and better on offense as the campaign progressed. In closing, congrats to Davis.

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (Last Week: 1): 14.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.7 bpg, 66.3 FG%
His offensive improvement down the stretch of the season has been extremely impressive. Davis is efficient inside and is now becoming a matchup problem with his face-up game. 

2. Cody Zeller, Indiana (Last Week: 2): 15.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 63.5 FG%
Despite getting plenty of defensive attention throughout the season, Zeller rebounded from a pseudo-slump during the middle of the season to be a huge factor in a recent four-game winning streak. 

3. Trey Burke, Michigan (Last Week: 3): 14.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.6 apg
Burke played extremely well late in the year, cutting down on turnovers and becoming more efficient from the floor. Has been extremely valuable all season for the Wolverines.

4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (Last Week: 4): 11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Kidd-Gilchrist has struggled offensively in the last month, but he’s still the freshman leader for the Wildcats. His activity on the defensive end and his transition game are eye opening. 

5. Moe Harkless, St. John’s (Last Week: 5): 15.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg
Although the question of whether he will enter the NBA draft has dominated his headlines recently, he finished with a typically dominant game: 25 points, nine rebounds in a loss. 

6. Austin Rivers, Duke (Last Week: 7): 15.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 38.3 3PT%
Rivers really woke up in the final two months of the season, after not starting one game early in conference play. His game – and game-winner – against North Carolina was a defining moment. 

7. Brad Beal, Florida (Last Week: 6): 14.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg
Beal didn’t finish with a bang, going 1-of-10 in a 15-point loss to Kentucky. However, he stepped up his aggressiveness in the final six weeks, and started becoming a go-to-guy for the Gators.

8. Tony Mitchell, North Texas (Last Week: 8): 14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 56.7 FG%
Mitchell and North Texas fell just short of the NCAA tournament, but he was clearly the best non-BCS frosh this season. Only newcomer in the country to average a double-double, and he blocked shots too.

9. Tony Wroten, Washington (Last Week: 9): 16.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg
Wroten is one of the most productive all-around freshmen in the country, and he’s tremendously fun to watch. However, he needs to be more efficient and not force as many shots. 

10. B.J. Young, Arkansas (Last Week: NR): 15.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 50.6 FG%, 42.0 3PT%
It took him until the final week, but Young is back in the rankings despite his team having a rough final stretch. Young is ultra-efficient and can score in multiple ways. Going to be a star.

Notes:

  • The one player to fall out of the rankings in the final week was St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison. He had a tremendous season and was in the rankings for most of the final two months. Leading freshman scorer in BCS-affiliated leagues.
  • Freshman leaders – Points: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State (17.9); Rebounds: Tony Mitchell, North Texas (10.3); Assists: Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State (6.9)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com