50 Things We Learned from Week 4 of the College Basketball Season
Week 4 of the college basketball season is in the books, and what a week it was.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Big East/SEC Challenge and yet another Top Five matchup headlined the week, and it was the Duke Blue Devils who came away as the week's biggest winners once again.
With such an action-packed week, we learned 50 more things, and these are those takeaways from Week 4.
50. Jeff Withey Is a Beast
Jeff Withey had a whale of a week, starting with a demolition of San Jose State.
Withey went for a triple-double against the Spartans, going for 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.
He absolutely owned San Jose State, proving once against that he is becoming one of the nation's premier centers.
49. North Carolina Can't Stop Big Men
Cody Zeller is the first great big man that North Carolina has had to face this season, and the Tar Heels simply did not have an answer for the Hoosiers' center.
Zeller tore UNC apart, going for 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, not to mention his eight boards and four blocks.
North Carolina doesn't have the firepower to stop true big men, which could really hurt the team down the stretch.
48. Indiana Is for Real
The Hoosiers faced their first test of the season this week, playing against No. 14 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Indiana dominated, winning 83-59 and killing the Tar Heels in field goal percentage, rebounds and assists.
Indiana looked good in this game, and now the Hoosiers have proven that they deserve the No. 1 rank.
47. Minnesota Is Dangerous
Minnesota has been very impressive, excluding an 18-point blowout loss to Duke during the Battle 4 Atlantis. The team has won against quality opponents like No. 18 Memphis and Stanford.
This week the Gophers took down a tough Florida State team on the road, winning by nine in a convincing victory that proved this team is dangerous.
It's also worth noting that the team beat FSU with star Trevor Mbakwe coming off the bench and only playing 19 minutes.
46. Trey Burke Steps Up When It Matters Most
Trey Burke and Michigan had a tough test against No. 18 North Carolina State this week, playing the Wolfpack on Tuesday.
Who stepped up for the Wolverines? Of course, it was the team's talented point guard who led the way with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including three big threes and 11 assists.
Burke led the team, but he wasn't alone.
45. Nik Stauskas Is Michigan's Top Freshman
Nik Stauskas has been having one heck of a season, and he had another whale of a game on Tuesday against the Wolfpack.
Stauskas was the team's leading scorer with 20 points off the bench. He hit four threes in the game and went made all four of his free throws, once again providing instant offense.
He also started his first game this season, leading the team with 22 points against Bradley.
It looks like Stauskas is the team's best freshman right now, topping Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary for that honor, and is playing a big role for Michigan.
44. Michigan Is a National Title Contender
If there was any doubt in your mind that Michigan can compete for a national title, there shouldn't be anymore.
With a victory over No. 18 North Carolina State after absolutely owning the preseason NIT, the Wolverines improve to 6-0 and continue to impress.
With the nation's best backcourt, solid big men and some impact freshmen, this team could win it all this year.
43. North Carolina State Is Inconsistent
North Carolina State had another rough week, falling by seven to Michigan.
The Wolfpack should have won this game if it weren't for silly mistakes.
Despite shooting seven percent better from the floor, taking more shots, out-rebounding, out-blocking and creating more assists than Michigan, the team's 13 turnovers and 18 fouls cost it the game, losing in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The team has a lot of talent but can't always put it all together.
42. Colorado Is Far from Perfect
Colorado was on fire to start the season, going 5-0 with big wins against No. 16 Baylor and Murray State.
However, the team struggled mightily against Texas Southern, needing two overtimes to win a game that should have been a blowout by just five points.
It then followed that game up with its first loss of the season, coming at the hands of Wyoming.
The team is still one of the best in the nation, in my opinion, but even the best stumble at times.
41. It's Going to Be a Rough Year for Wisconsin
It's been a tough start to the season for Wisconsin, and it's not going to get any easier.
The Badgers lost to Virginia this week, dropping to 4-3 on the season.
If this team can't even beat Virginia, it is in for a long season in a tough Big Ten.
40. Arizona Is Very Inconsistent
It's been an interesting season for Arizona. The team is still undefeated at 5-0, but it has been incredibly streaky.
Just about every guy on the team is inconsistent, including point guard Mark Lyons and elite scorer Brandon Ashley.
Seemingly the only consistent scorer for the team is Solomon Hill, but the team needs to have set roles for each player if it is going to be successful.
39. New Mexico Is on Fire
New Mexico has been killing it this season, starting off hot and going 8-0, including a win against No. 21 UConn.
The Lobos might not be flashy, but they get the job done night after night and are a joy to watch.
38. John Groce Deserves Coach of the Year
John Groce is in his first year with Illinois, but he has taken a depleted team and turned it into a Top 25 program in no time.
At 8-0 this season, the Fighting Illini are among the biggest surprises in college hoops and are poised to become a Top 15 team with a win against No. 12 Gonzaga this week.
It's all thanks to Groce.
37. Anthony Marshall Is the Unsung Hero of UNLV
Only true college hoops fans know of Anthony Marshall, but he is the one who is leading UNLV to its success this season.
While the frontcourt of Anthony Bennett, Mike Moser and eventually Khem Birch is the team's backbone, Marshall is the unsung hero.
His 10.8 points and 6.0 assists per game are what drive the team, and he is the one who needs to control the tempo and run the offense for the Rebels.
36. Reggie Johnson Is Spectacular
Reggie Johnson is the reason why Miami upset No. 15 Michigan State.
Talk all you want about how the backcourt scored the most points, but there is no denying that without Johnson inside the team would have lost.
He held centers Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne to a combined seven points and just 10 boards, compared to 10 points and 11 boards for Johnson.
The 6'10" 295-pound beast on the block owned MSU.
35. Creighton Still Has Problems on Defense
Greg McDermott's Creighton team put up 70 points against Boise State, but it wasn't enough. The team's defense was horrendous, allowing 83 points in a huge loss.
The Bluejays allowed the Broncos to shoot a ridiculous 60.4 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from three.
The team was giving up good shots all night, and Boise State capitalized.
34. Florida Could Go the Distance
Florida was incredible against Marquette this week.
The Gators took on a team that could have been in the Top 25 and won by a ridiculous 33 points.
By holding Marquette to just 41.2 percent shooting from the floor while shooting 50.9 percent themselves, the Gators were able to go up early and never look back. The team also shot 17-of-20 from the stripe, compared to just 4-of-9 by Marquette.
With six players scoring in double figures, Florida completely outclassed a talented Marquette team.
33. Anyone Can Step Up for Gonzaga on Any Given Night
Gonzaga looked good once against his week, beating Lewis Clark State 104-57.
The team won by 47 points in a game in which Gary Bell Jr. did not play, and one in which Kevin Pangos scored just two points.
The team's two best players didn't do much, but six players scored in double digits, led by Kyle Dranginis' 30 points.
This game proved that anyone can be a star for the Bulldogs...even an unknown freshman who had never scored more than six points in his career before the game.
32. LSU Is One of the Teams to Watch in December
Believe it or not, LSU is still undefeated. At 5-0, the Tigers are one of 28 teams still undefeated this season.
LSU has yet to play a good team, but the Tigers have been impressive. As the team enters December, we will have to keep an eye on it.
31. Omar Calhoun Is Starting to Turn It on
Omar Calhoun looked like he would be a star in college after averaging 22.0 points per game in the team's two exhibition games and shooting 61 percent from the field.
However, Calhoun struggled in the beginning of the season, averaging 6.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in the team's first three games.
Since then, Calhoun is averaging 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. It looks like he is finally starting to adjust to college basketball against D-I schools.
If he can give UConn another weapon, this team is going to be dangerous.
30. Isaiah Canaan Is Back
Isaiah Canaan was one of the best scorers in the country last year, averaging 19.0 points per game.
Entering his senior season, we expected big things from Canaan, and he has not disappointed.
After scoring 32 points against Lipscomb, including six three-pointers, Canaan has scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games and seems to be getting in a groove, shooting 54.5 percent from three during those games.
29. C.J. McCollum Is Still Magical
C.J. McCollum became famous for his performance in knocking off the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament. He'd been a great player all season, but stepped up when it mattered most.
McCollum is also in his senior season, and in his last four games he has been on fire.
This week he dropped 30 on Quinnipiac and is now averaging 28.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in his last four games.
If McCollum gets going, Lehigh can challenge any team in the country.
28. James Southerland Is Scary Good
James Southerland played lights-out in Syracuse's only game this week, showing off his smooth shot.
Southerland shot 12-of-17 from the floor, including 9-of-13 from three as he scored 35 points in a 91-82 win over Arkansas.
He is having an amazing senior season, averaging 19.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. In the last three games, he is averaging 25.0 points while shooting 65 percent from the floor, including 17-of-28 from three.
The 6'8" shooting guard/wing is on fire, leading Syracuse in scoring with 19.2 points per game despite coming off the bench. If he continues to play like this, he could play in the NBA next season, which was nearly unthinkable after his junior year.
27. Brandon Triche Is Still Syracuse's Leader
Syracuse had a tough road test this week against Arkansas in the Big East/SEC Challenge, as the Razorbacks had a white-out and were playing with tons of emotion.
However, as the Razorbacks kept clawing their way back into the game, senior Brandon Triche provided the leadership necessary to keep the Orange ahead and win the game.
There was a two-minute stretch from 12 minutes left in the second half until 10 minutes left when Triche did it all for the team, scoring 10 points, creating a steal and snagging a rebound as he went on a 10-2 run of his own. The team was up just five before that run, and it helped clinch a victory for the Orange.
26. Michael Carter-Williams Is Still One of the Nation's Best Point Guard
If you can't tell from the fact that he is often on this list, I have a bit of a man-crush on Michael Carter-Williams.
The 6'5" Syracuse point guard is having an incredible season, leading the nation in assists with 9.2 per game.
Against Arkansas he had another great game, coming just one assist short of a triple-double. MCW went for 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, along with three steals on defense.
He's making his case to be a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA draft. If he declares, he very well might be.
25. Tennessee and Georgetown Need to Work on Shooting
It was a rough game for Georgetown and Tennessee when the two met as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge.
If I told you the score of the game would be 37-36 at some point, you'd probably expect it to be the halftime score. In fact, when I told one of my friends that that was the score, he asked me when the second half would start.
That was the final score.
The teams combined to shoot 31-of-90 from the floor and 7-of-20 from the line in a game that had just 73 points scored. The Hoyas won this ugly game, but neither team had a player score in double figures.
24. Ben McLemore Continues to Raise His Draft Stock
Ben McLemore continued his impressive freshman campaign this week, dropping 21 points on Oregon State on 8-of-14 shooting.
McLemore is now averaging 14.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, and his draft stock just keeps rising.
23. No Freshmen? No Problem
Providence had some bad luck with its two highly touted freshmen.
However, Kadeem Batts stepped up this week with one of the best individual performances in college basketball this season, dropping 32 points on Mississippi State in an upset of the Bulldogs.
22. Louisville Is Going to Struggle Without Gorgui Dieng
Louisville played against Illinois State in its only game of the week and won by only three points.
The Cardinals got a lot of help from their backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, who combined for 44 of the team's 69 points. However, the frontcourt struggled.
Starters Wayne Blackshear and Zach Price both failed to score, and Chane Behanan can't score for the both of them.
Part of what made Dieng special was his ability to make free throws and block shots. He was always a difficult man to foul at the end of games because he shot 64.7 percent from the line, and he kicked in two blocks per game. However, against Illinois State, Behanan shot 1-of-7 from the line, and the team blocked just three shots.
21. Pittsburgh Will Make Some Noise Soon
Pittsburgh has been underrated all season, and the team played well once again this week.
At 7-1, the Panthers have been doing extremely well, and that single loss came to No. 4 Michigan by just five points.
Pitt is playing well and will be getting some national recognition soon.
20. Michael Dixon Jr. Wanted out of Missouri
Michael Dixon Jr. finally decided that enough was enough, and he has decided to transfer from Missouri after being suspended indefinitely and not playing yet this season.
Dixon Jr. is going to be among the top transfers this season. Now Missouri must move on without him.
19. But Missouri Can Win Without Him
Dixon Jr. was a big loss, but the team can still win without its leading returning scorer.
Mizzou has played without Dixon Jr. all season and is more than capable of winning without him. The team is 6-1 with its only loss coming to Louisville.
Behind Phil Pressey this team will be fine.
18. Virginia Tech Is Top 25-Worthy
Virginia Tech is off to a roaring start, going 7-0 and capping that streak with a 10-point victory over No. 15 Oklahoma State on Saturday.
The Hokies are one of the nation's hottest teams, and it looks like they will be tough to beat this season behind Erick Green's 24.5 points per game.
17. Cashmere Wright Is Clutch
Cashmere Wright wasn't having the best of games against Alabama on Saturday in the closing seconds. He was 3-of-8 from the floor and had just six points.
But he finished strong.
Tied at 56, Wright was the player Cincy went to in the closing seconds, and his buzzer-beating fadeaway was true, giving the Bearcats a huge victory.
16. The Big East Owns the SEC
The Big East/SEC Challenge wasn't even close this season.
After the two conferences tied on the first day at 2-2, the Big East swept the second day and won the third day 3-1, winning the Challenge 9-3.
This should be a better event next season once many Big East teams depart. But this season the Big East demolished the SEC behind Notre Dame's upset of No. 8 Kentucky.
15. UCLA Needs Another Weapon
We thought that UCLA had enough weapons, but it turns out the Bruins need one more.
With Kyle Anderson struggling mightily, the team has essentially become a dynamic duo of Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad, with Larry Drew II running the offense.
The team lost yet again this week, falling to San Diego State and dropping to 2-3 when Muhammad plays.
14. Jamaal Franklin Is Hot
Jamaal Franklin continued his success this week, dropping 28 points and grabbing seven boards against UCLA as San Diego State improved to 5-1.
Since the Aztecs lost the first game of the season, they are 5-0, and Franklin is leading the way with 22.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
Yeah, he's hot.
13. Ole Miss Is Hot
Ole Miss is another team that is doing well to start the season, starting 6-0.
The Rebels are on fire and rank third in the nation in scoring (88.4 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (45.0 rebounds per game).
The team has been dominant, but December will be a telling month for the Rebels.
12. UCLA Had One Too Many Big Men
Former McDonald's All-American Joshua Smith simply didn't get enough playing time in Westwood, so this week he decided to transfer from UCLA.
The official release says that Smith transferred due to personal reasons, but it could well have been that he was not enjoying enough success with the Bruins to play in the pros one day. He said:
I have made the decision to leave the program for personal reasons. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLA and am grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to me here.
I believe that Smith left due to a lack of playing time alongside the Wear twins and Tony Parker.
The 305-pound junior center was averaging 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in a career-low 13.5 minutes per game. He will be arguably the biggest prize among transfers this season.
11. Ryan Harrow Is Struggling to Get Back into the Mix
Ryan Harrow rejoined Kentucky this week after missing several games, but he has struggled to find his footing.
After scoring just two points against Notre Dame on 1-of-4 shooting, he went ice-cold against Baylor, shooting 1-of-9 from the floor.
Harrow was supposed to be an elite point guard for this team, but he has struggled to do anything all season.
10. Kentucky's Offense Is Cold
Kentucky simply could not shoot this week. The Wildcats struggled in losses to Notre Dame and Baylor, combining to shoot 40-of-118 from the floor.
The Wildcats' failure to capitalize on shots was seen most prominently in Kyle Wiltjer, the team's most experienced returning player. He shot a combined 3-of-18 from the floor this week, including 1-of-13 from three.
Kentucky's offensive woes were seen this week. Now the team needs to regroup quickly.
9. Kentucky Is Vulnerable
It was a rough week for Big Blue Nation.
Kentucky had two difficult matchups this week, first playing Notre Dame on the road in the Big East/SEC Challenge before heading home to take on Baylor.
The team's shooting woes sunk it against the Fighting Irish and were even worse against Baylor, snapping UK's 55-game home winning streak.
This week proved that Kentucky is not nearly as good as last season. At 4-3, the Wildcats are vulnerable.
8. Duke Is the Nation's Best Team
Duke completed one of the most difficult November schedules in college basketball history this week, beating No. 4 Ohio State for its third victory against top-five opponents in the season's first month.
Duke is now 7-0 with wins against Minnesota, VCU, No. 3 Kentucky, No. 2 Louisville and No. 4 Ohio State.
The Blue Devils are playing extremely good basketball and deserve the No. 1 ranking.
7. Quinn Cook Got the Better of Aaron Craft
Aaron Craft is arguably the best point guard in the nation, and this week he took on Duke sophomore Quinn Cook, who is arguably the hottest point guard.
In the marquee matchup of the week, No. 2 Duke and No. 4 Ohio State did battle, with Cook and Craft at the center of it.
Cook actually outplayed Craft, going for 12 points and eight assists with just three turnovers compared to Craft's 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting and one assist, along with three turnovers and five fouls.
Cook showed just how good he is against Craft. He will be key for Duke down the stretch.
6. Mason Plumlee Is a National Player of the Year Contender
Mason Plumlee had another great performance against Ohio State this week, going for 21 points and 17 boards as he helped lift the Blue Devils to victory.
Plumlee has been doing well all season, averaging 19.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. This week he went for two more double-doubles, giving him five in seven games.
What's even better for Plumlee is that he has greatly improved his free throw shooting, shooting 9-of-12 against Ohio State and 76.1 percent on the year after making just 52.8 percent of his freebies a year ago.
He is now a complete player and is one of the many candidates for National Player of the Year honors.
5. Duke Can Play Well Without Seth Curry
Seth Curry had a rough week, scoring just four points against Ohio State and not even playing against Delaware. However, the team played well without him, winning both games.
One of Duke's seniors, Curry is averaging 15.1 points per game this season, but failed to do much in either game.
Curry injured his ankle against Ohio State, which is why he sat out against Delaware, but Duke kept winning without him.
4. Ohio State Is a Three-Man Team
Aaron Craft, DeShaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr.
That pretty much sums up Ohio State basketball.
Against Duke, these three were the most important players, being the only ones to play 30-plus minutes, taking 41 of the team's 68 shots and scoring 41 of 68 points.
This game proved that the Buckeyes are relying heavily on these three guys, with everyone else in a supporting role.
3. Duke's Bench Is Capable of Big Things
Led by Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy, Duke's bench apparently can help the team when it plays.
A few bench players got in against Delaware since Seth Curry was hurt and the game was a blowout, and each bench player took advantage.
Tyler Thornton started with Curry out and went for 10 assists and six boards as a facilitator. Jefferson and Murphy both went for double-digit points and combined for 13 rebounds in 21 minutes of action each.
The bench actually got to play in this game, and these guys proved that they should get more time in the coming weeks.
2. The Big Ten Is the Best Conference This Season
The Big Ten is college basketball's premier conference this season.
With three teams ranked in the Top Five entering the week and six teams in the Top 25, the conference in stacked.
While the conference did tie the ACC in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the B1G is simply the best in the country.
1. The ACC Will Be Best Next Year
While the Big Ten reigns supreme by the thinnest of margins this year, that will all change next season.
With Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville all joining, the ACC is going to become the best conference by far over the next two years. The Orange and Panthers join next year and will already be making the ACC the best conference before Notre Dame and Louisville join.
Be sure to keep an eye on the basketball powerhouse that is the ACC over the next two years.