50 Things We Learned from Week 2 of the College Basketball Season
Week 2 of the college basketball season is in the books, and what a week it was. From the NCAA's investigation of Shabazz Muhammad to the action on the court, it was a telling week, and these are the 50 things we learned from the first full week of the season.
From some great individual performances, to stunning upsets and some NCAA intervention, this week had more drama than the first two seasons of Jersey Shore combined.
Fine, maybe not that much drama...but it was pretty close.
Indiana Is Even Deeper Than Expected
Tom Crean is using all of his weapons right now. His No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers are blowing everyone out, allowing him to play his bench guys.
Indiana started the week off with an 87-61 win over North Dakota State, in a game in which 12 guys played for the Hoosiers and the bench scored 37 points. Against Sam Houston State, the Hoosiers played 13 guys who combined for 41 points off the bench.
After returning all five starters from last year's Sweet 16 team and bringing in five freshmen we knew that this team would be deep, but it's bottom-of-the-ocean-deep.
IU's bench averaged 39.0 points per game this week, and combining those numbers with one of the nation's best starting fives makes this team deadly.
Cody Zeller Is an Animal
He's the front-runner for National Player of the Year honors, and Cody Zeller proved why once again this week.
Against North Dakota State he played just 26 minutes but scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
He played about half the game against Sam Houston State, but still put up 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
This week Zeller scored 45 points in 58 minutes, which is an average of more than 30 points per 40 minutes.
Zeller is a man among boys, and once he starts playing more, he will continue to impress.
Trey Burke Isn't Letting Cody Zeller Win NPoY Without a Fight
Trey Burke is one of the best point guards in the country, and the Michigan sophomore is trying to steal the National Player of the Year award from Zeller.
Burke started off the week with 22 points and nine assists in an NIT Tip-Off game against IUPUI. He continues to impress in his second year with the Wolverines, now averaging 18.3 points and 8.0 assists per game.
Burke has developed into an elite leader, and he will surely be a lottery pick at the end of the year. Look for him to be a finalist in the NPoY race if he keeps this up.
Nik Stauskas Should Start for the Wolverines
He's only a freshman, but Nik Stauskas is already good enough to start for Michigan.
Entering the season, we expected Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary to be the freshmen who stepped up, but Stauskas has been more impressive than McGary and almost as good as GR3.
Stauskas is currently coming off the bench, but he should start over Matt Vogrich. Vogrich is averaging just 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this season, including a pathetic performance this week during which he scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Stauskas, on the other hand, averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game this week, and is up to 11.0 points per game this season.
Stauskas has been incredible, and he truly deserves a starting spot for the Wolverines.
Don't Let Michigan Shoot Threes
IUPUI learned not to let Michigan shoot threes this week, but the team learned the hard way.
The Wolverines shot an impressive 13-of-21 from behind the arc against the Jaguars. To put it another way, Michigan shot an incredible 61.9 percent from three, which is 16.4 percent higher than the team shot from the field last season.
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation in three-point percentage this season at 53.1 percent, which makes it pretty clear that you shouldn't let this team take open threes.
Michigan Has More Weapons Than It Needs
Michigan looks even better than advertised this season, and the No. 5 ranking may even be too low.
The Wolverines have an incredible amount of weapons, starting with their backcourt of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
What really makes the team special, however, is the fact that freshmen Glenn Robinson III and the aforementioned Nik Stauskas are stepping up, along with big man Jordan Morgan.
This week the team relied on different players every night, with Burke and GR3 stepping up against IUPUI, and Hardaway Jr. and Stauskas leading the way against Cleveland State.
The team has a ton of weapons that is can rely on, which makes it so dangerous.
Memphis Is Very Balanced
Josh Pastner's Memphis Tigers looked balanced in their season opener against North Florida. The team did not rely on a single player to carry the load, but instead were able to spread the wealth.
Seven players scored at least eight points for the Tigers, and only one player (Tarik Black) scored more than 15.
This team has a lot of players who can score, and it proved it this week.
Anthony Bennett Is Just as Good as Advertised
Anthony Bennett was ranked as the No. 7 recruit in the country by ESPN, and so far he has met expectations—if not exceeded them.
The big power forward was incredible in his collegiate debut, scoring 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting in 20 minutes of action and grabbing seven rebounds.
He led UNLV in scoring, despite playing the least amount of time among starters, and proved that he can be a leader of this team.
Then on Saturday he went for 12 points and nine rebounds, coming within a single rebound of his first-ever collegiate double-double.
Mike Moser Won't Play as Big a Role for the Rebels This Season
As expected, Mike Moser probably won't put up the numbers he did last season this year due to his competition on the frontline.
With Anthony Bennett stealing rebounds and points from him, and Khem Birch likely to do the same once he becomes eligible, Moser doesn't have to do it all for UNLV this season, and we will see a decline in his numbers due to that.
While he did go for 19 points and 10 boards on Saturday, I expect the big men to constantly have good games and bad games, changing which one steps up on different nights.
Gary Bell Jr. Is Gonzaga's Go-To Guy
Gary Bell Jr. proved that he will be the guy that Gonzaga relies on this year against West Virginia.
In the team's second game, Bell Jr. took 13 shots, which is five more than anyone else on the team, and eight more than backcourt-mate Kevin Pangos, who was expected to put up similar numbers to Bell Jr.
He took the most shots and scored the most points for the team, and it looks like he may take on the biggest offensive role for the team.
On Sunday, he again led all starters in scoring alongside Elias Harris, with both players dropping 16 on South Dakota.
Gonzaga Plays Great Defense
Gonzaga completely shut down West Virginia during college basketball's tipoff marathon, holding the Mountaineers to just 50 points.
WVU actually took more shots than the Bulldogs did, but the difference was that Gonzaga never gave the team an easy shot, which is why the Mountaineers shot a pathetic 27.3 percent from the floor.
The Bulldogs play a disruptive defense and are always in their opponents' faces, which is why West Virginia shot so poorly in this game.
The team also held South Dakota to just 58 points, while forcing 20 turnovers, including 13 steals. The team also boxed out, not allowing second-chance points, as South Dakota had just three offensive rebounds. A big part of that was Elias Harri's 18 boards, as Gonzaga out-rebounded the Coyotes, 57-19.
Notre Dame Will Rely on Its Frontcourt
Forget about Scott Martin's sixth year of eligibility and the return of Jerian Grant, Notre Dame will rely on its big men this season.
Against Monmouth, the team's bigs were featured, with the team's top four scorers all being forwards and centers, and on Saturday against BYU, Jack Cooley's double-double led the team.
Cooley, Garrick Sherman, Pat Connaughton and Cameron Biedscheid combined for 60 of the team's 84 points, proving just how good this team's big men are, and that the Irish will rely on their frontcourt this season.
Kentucky Needs to Rebound Better
Kentucky's rebounding has been absolutely atrocious this season.
In the team's first game against Maryland, the Wildcats surrendered an absurd 23 offensive rebounds, and another nine against a Duke squad that also struggles to crash the boards.
No one on the team has reached double-digit rebounds in a single game this season, and the only game in which the Wildcats out-rebounded their opponents was against Lafayette.
While the team escaped Maryland, it lost to Duke and has a few big games against teams with good frontcourts, including Notre Dame, Baylor and Louisville.
This is a problem that needs to be corrected immediately.
Kentucky Relies on Freshmen More Than Expected
We knew that the Wildcats would need their recruiting class to step up for the team, but Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Harrow were expected to play big roles for the team, with Wiltjer being the leader.
It hasn't worked out like that.
Wiltjer has developed into a three-point specialist, and Harrow has only played in one game this season. It's been the freshmen who are doing it all for the team.
Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein scored just 36 points against Maryland, but then went for 56 against Duke and 64 against Lafayette.
These guys are doing it all for Kentucky, and that could be a big problem for the team down the stretch.
Coach K Is Relying on His Starters
We learned in Week 1 that Duke isn't as deep as expected, and this week we learned just how much Mike Krzyzewski is going to rely on his starters and sixth man.
Only seven players played more than five minutes in Duke's game against Kentucky this week. In the team's first game against a formidable opponent, starters played a combined 150 minutes, and the sixth man, Quinn Cook, played 30.
This is a problem for Duke. The bench players aren't being developed, as Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson played a combined six minutes against Kentucky. The talents of the No. 41 player in the Class of 2011 and the No. 25 recruit in the Class of 2012 are being wasted.
Foul trouble could really hurt Duke this year, which could lead to another early exit in March.
Seniors Beat Freshmen
The biggest takeaway from Duke's game against Kentucky was that senior leadership tops freshman talent.
Duke's seniors, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, led the way for the Blue Devils, scoring 50 of the team's 75 points. They were clutch when it mattered most, and took advantage of an inexperienced Kentucky team at the end of the game.
In another battle between freshmen and seniors, the seniors won once again.
Michigan State Is Still Dangerous
After losing its opener against UConn, Michigan State rebounded against No. 7 Kansas just four days later.
The trip from Germany back to America undoubtedly took a toll on the Spartans, but the team battled back to beat the Jayhawks and proved that the team is still dangerous.
Led by Keith Appling, the Spartans are going to be a great team this season and will be a Top 25 team all year.
Kansas Needs a Go-To Scorer
Pretend that you're Bill Self and you're down one with 15 seconds left on the clock. You have the ball and are drawing up a play, but who do you turn to?
The freshman who has been leading your team in scoring recently? The big man who has finally emerged as an offensive threat but who hasn't taken a big shot yet? The guard who played second fiddle his entire career?
Kansas lacks a go-to scorer this season, with Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson all being options, but none of them having the experience and skill necessary to be a true star.
Kansas needs one of these guys to step up and lead the team at the end of games.
Phil Pressey Is Inconsistent
While his scoring has been incredible, Phil Pressey's assist numbers have been inconsistent.
After starting the season off with nine dimes, he only dished out five in two games this week and is a big reason why Mizzou ranks just No. 142 in the nation in assists per game.
While he is still an elite point guard, Pressey needs to keep working on creating for others.
UConn's Backcourt Is Deep
UConn's backcourt is more than just Shabazz Napier, who led the team to an upset of Michigan State. With Ryan Boatright playing well and Omar Calhoun showing signs of rebounding from a slow start, this team is dangerous.
Averaging 37.0 points per game, these three make up a good deal of the team's scoring. They are the backbone of this team and will carry the Huskies as far as they can this season.
Jamaal Franklin Is a National Player of the Year Contender
Jamaal Franklin started the season off with a bad game against a tough Syracuse defense, but since then he has averaged 25.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
Franklin is still the leader of San Diego State, and this week he proved why.
He's still struggling from three (2-of-16 shooting from behind the arc this season), but once he finds his stroke, the college basketball world needs to watch out.
Creighton Doesn't Need Doug McDermott
The common myth in college basketball is that Creighton relies almost entirely on Doug McDermott, who was a finalist for National Player of the Year honors last season.
However, the team proved that it is still a dangerous opponent when McDermott struggles, beating UAB by 17 points despite McDermott scoring just five points (the lowest of his career when he plays at least 20 minutes).
McDermott struggled to do anything all night, but his teammates picked up the slack, and the Bluejays won the game handily.
Jared Berggren Needs Help on Offense
Wisconsin's offense is one of the worst among top college basketball teams, ranking No. 145 in the country in points per game (via Statsheet.com).
While the Badgers defense is impeccable, the team needs more weapons on offense to help big man Jared Berggren.
Berggren is the only player averaging 13 or more points per game for the team this season, which simply is not enough to beat teams like Florida.
While the Badgers trounced Cornell, Berggren needs help against elite schools—especially in a tough Big Ten.
Sam Dekker Deserves to Start
One of those weapons that Wisconsin needs to use is Sam Dekker.
The team's highly touted freshman is spending too much time on the bench, but when he comes in he is effective.
Against Florida this week he scored 11 points in 20 minutes of action, which was tied with Jared Berggren for the most on the team. Dekker has been good enough to warrant a start, and I expect him to get one soon.
Balance Is Power
Florida's game has been to rely on a talented backcourt in recent years, but now the team has a good enough frontcourt to play well inside as well.
Florida has earned its No. 10 ranking in the country, and proved it once again by beating No. 22 Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Surprisingly, Florida's frontcourt actually outscored its backcourt, which would have been unthinkable last season. However, Billy Donovan's crew has finally become a balanced squad and has a lot of potential this season.
Louisville Can Still Rebound
Last week I said that Louisville needed to rebound better than it did in the first week.
Well, look at that.
The Cardinals came out this week and crashed the boards. Against Samford the team was led by Chane Behanan's 18 boards and Gorgui Dieng's 13, as the team out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 52-25.
The team then came out and dominated Miami (OH) on the glass, winning the battle of the boards, 42-22, and allowing just three offensive rebounds.
Looks like it was just one bad game for the Cards last week.
Russ Smith Is the James Harden of College Basketball
Russ Smith may come off the bench for Louisville, but he could start for any team in the nation (including the Cardinals) if he wanted.
Smith leads the team in scoring by a mile, averaging 21.3 points per game through three contests, which is more than double the next closest player.
Smith is a pure scorer, and he is a huge part of the team's offense, just like James Harden was for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While he did start for Louisville on Sunday, he only played 19 minutes but still racked up 23 points. Instant offense.
Murray State Is Still Dangerous
One misconception of college basketball today is that Murray State was a one-and-done program, meaning that after last year's success the team will disappear for a while.
Led by the return of Isaiah Canaan, this is still a talented team that gave Colorado all it could handle.
Canaan, Stacy Wilson and the rest of the Racers are among the nation's top mid-majors, and we could see the team enter the Top 25 sometime this year, or at least make a Cinderella run in March.
NC State Isn't Deep but Is Supremely Talented
North Carolina State is among the nation's best teams, but the Wolfpack doesn't play many different players.
Against Penn State, only seven players played double-digit minutes, but those seven would start on just about any team in the country.
While the team isn't deep, it is one of the most talented groups in the country, and Mark Gottfried knows how to make it work.
While the team struggled against Oklahoma State because C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown were shut down and the team wasn't deep enough to compensate, this is still an elite team.
T.J. Warren Is a Dangerous Player
T.J. Warren is only a freshman, but the McDonald's All-American impressed this week, and he averaged 21.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the team's first two games this week on 17-of-23 shooting.
Warren is coming off the bench, but he is earning his playing time and had an incredible week.
Kansas Has Some Problems
Kansas did not impress at all this week. After losing to Michigan State, the Jayhawks came out slowly against Chattanooga and were down by eight points at halftime.
While Kansas eventually came back to win by double digits, the slow start against a horrible team shows that this team has a lot of work to do.
Arizona Lacks Discipline
The Wildcats struggled to hang onto the ball as a team against UTEP this week, turning the ball over a pitiful 19 times.
While the team still won the game, 14 assists compared to just 19 TOs and 19 fouls show that this team needs to work on fundamentals and protect the ball.
Cincinnati's Offense Is Unreal
Led by Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright, Cincinnati has the best offense in the country right now.
The Bearcats scored 102 and 93 points in their two games this week, and are now averaging 91.0 points per game (sixth in the nation). The team is also among the nation's leaders in rebounds (No. 2), assists (No. 16) and field-goal percentage (No. 23).
Cincy is lighting it up right now, and they look tough to beat—especially for a team that lacks a true big man.
Baylor Has Some Work to Do
Baylor looked like an elite team early on, but after a loss to Colorado, the Bears look weak.
The team escaped St. John's on Sunday, despite the final score making it look like it was a blowout. The Bears were up just five with three-and-a-half minutes left but finished the game on a 16-1 run to make it look like they won handily.
The Bears rely too heavily on Pierre Jackson and are too inconsistent to be elite. Right now it looks like the team needs to get some work done before it can be feared once again.
Don't Judge North Carolina State on One Game
North Carolina State suffered its first lost on Sunday to a talented Oklahoma State bunch. The game was never in doubt, as the Cowboys won by a final score of 76-56.
NC State looked bad on Sunday, but the truth is that the Cowboys just played incredibly well on both ends of the floor and the Wolfpack got unlucky.
While this is a setback for the team, don't freak out and think that it doesn't deserve to be ranked so highly. This is still a very talented team, and it will prove it in due course.
Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash Can Lead OK State to the Promise Land
Oklahoma State's talented duo of underclassmen has brought the Cowboys to a 4-0 start with impressive blowouts of Tennessee and No. 6 North Carolina State.
These two guys are both supremely talented athletes who work well together and have this team clicking.
The team is on fire, and thanks to these guys' combined 43 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, six steals and five blocks, the team destroyed the Wolfpack.
Look for this bunch to go far in March.
Colorado Is for Real
Colorado looks like a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 this year, and I have the Buffaloes ranked No. 24 in my ballot for Bleacher Report's College Basketball Top 25.
Led by big men Andre Roberson and Josh Scott, and guards Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie, this team looks dangerous.
It was a great week for the team, winning the Charleston Classic by knocking off No. 16 Baylor and a dangerous Murray State team led by National Player of the Year candidate Isaiah Canaan.
Colorado is for real. Watch out.
Florida State Is Back
After losing its first game of the season to Southern Alabama, Florida State played three games this week, winning all three.
With an average margin of victory of 17.3 points this week, the Seminoles look to bounce back from the early loss and start making some noise.
Unfortunately, the team is still struggling on the glass, being out-rebounded twice and currently ranking No. 255 in rebounds per game. While the team started winning, it also needs to start rebounding better.
Marcus Paige Finally Looks Like He Should
Marcus Paige was considered the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2012 according to ESPN, but he has hardly lived up to the hype.
However, this week he started showing signs of improvement, and it looks like he could soon become as good as advertised.
In North Carolina's only game this week he went for 15 points and four assists. While he still needs to improve as a facilitator, it looks like he is starting to figure out the college game.
Missouri Is Starting to Mesh
Frank Haith has a tough job of bringing together a team that returns just two players that played for the team last season, two players who didn't play, four transfers and five freshmen.
This Frankenstein-like combination of players didn't appear to have great chemistry in the first week, but now we are seeing the team starting to get comfortable with one another, and the team is being more productive because of it.
Notre Dame Struggles from the Field
Notre Dame failed to shoot well this week, especially in a loss to St. Joseph's.
The Irish were ice cold, shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and 35.7 from three. The team even struggled from the line, too, shooting just 66.7 percent.
The Irish have a good frontcourt, as previously mentioned, but the team as a whole struggled to put the ball in the hoop on Friday. In fact, the Irish are now ranked No. 110 in the country in field-goal percentage.
Aaron Craft and DeShaun Thomas Are Everything for Ohio State
Aaron Craft and DeShaun Thomas have become the focus of Ohio State basketball, and the Buckeyes might be relying on them a little too heavily.
Against an 0-3 Rhode Island team the two played all 40 minutes in a game that the team won by 11 points. If Thad Matta keeps pushing his guys this hard, they may burn out over the course of the season.
Michael Carter-Williams Is a Great Facilitator
The emerging Michael Carter-Williams is becoming one of the top point guards in the country, and his improvement has been incredibly fast.
Against Wagner this week, he dished out 11 assists, while scoring six points, grabbing six boards and stealing the ball three times.
He only played once, but MCW looks like he could become a star this year.
Brandon Triche Is a Star
This week Brandon Triche showed that he will certainly be the leader for Syracuse on offense. He scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Orange against Wagner, and is now averaging 18.0 points per game this season.
Triche was not given the chance to be a true star in his first three seasons, but this year he will be the go-to guy for Cuse.
Syracuse Is Deep
Against Wagner, Syracuse played a total of 14 players, and no starter played 30 minutes in the game.
This week we saw just how deep Jim Boeheim's team is, with the bench scoring 43 of the team's 88 points. The Orange have a great starting five, but they go much, much deeper than that.
Jordan Adams Is Special
Jordan Adams was considered to be the worst of UCLA's four recruits, but so far he has been the best player on the team, let alone in the recruiting classes.
His 24.0 points per game lead the team by a mile, despite coming off the bench. He has proved that he is a very talented player, and he has a bright future in Westwood.
UCLA Needs to Rebound Better
UCLA might have a talented bunch, but the team is pathetic on the glass.
Kyle Anderson is currently leading the team, and the point-forward should not have such a firm grasp on the lead in rebounds over the Wear twins and Joshua Smith.
The Bruins were out-rebounded by UC Irvine, 51-39, which is why the team only won by a single point in overtime.
If the bigs don't start stepping up soon, UCLA could be in a bit of trouble.
Tony Parker Has a Lot of Potential
Tony Parker hasn't gotten a lot of playing time behind the Wear twins and Joshua Smith, but on Thursday he finally got into the game for 18 minutes, and he went for 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and five rebounds.
Parker showed that he is ready for the college game, and hopefully, we will see him playing more in a few weeks.
UCLA Is Getting Shabazz Muhammad Back
Well, that was fast.
I'm sure UCLA isn't too happy with how the NCAA handled it, but having its best player being allowed to play has to be music to the team's ears. Once he is healthy, he will be a star.
The NCAA Botched Muhammad's Case
Let me preface this slide by saying that I am typically an advocate of the NCAA. However, this case was completely botched.
Apparently Muhammad's case may have been predetermined, and the NCAA knew that he would be ruled ineligible. This, if true, is a huge blemish on the NCAA's reputation, and is just a crappy thing to do.
Once the report came out, UCLA quickly filed an appeal, and the NCAA reinstated Muhammad just nine days after ruling him ineligible.
This begs the question of what exactly was the point of declaring a player who is already injured ineligible for a time period during which he couldn't have played if he were cleared.
This entire case is just a poor representation of the NCAA, and the case was a joke. It's too bad to see the organization be thrown into such a bad light, and this was just a disappointing scenario.
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