25 Things We Learned from Week 8 in College Basketball
It was another informative week in college basketball. It may have been shortened a bit by the holidays, but we learned oh so much in the games we watched.
Highlighted by a Top 25 matchup, an upset of a Top 10 team and one of college basketball's biggest rivalries, the week had just as much action as you would ask for in a normal week.
These are the 25 things we learned from the week in college hoops.
Statistics accurate as of Dec. 31, 2012.
Michigan Can Play Without Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. missed Michigan's only game this week with an ankle injury, but the team proved that it can play without him.
Sure, the Wolverines' opponent was a Central Michigan team that they could have beaten without three or four starters, but we still saw how the team will play without its shooting guard.
Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas stepped up in Hardaway Jr.'s absence, scoring 20 and 19 points, respectively. They trailed only Trey Burke, who dropped 22.
With Hardaway Jr. out, we will see Michigan's other weapons step up, including GR3, Stauskas, Burke and anyone who is feeling hot that night.
Ohio State Can Still Make Shots
Ohio State looked pathetic when it played against No. 8 Kansas last week, shooting 30.8 percent from the floor despite taking a lot of good shots.
However, this week the team rebounded, shooting 56.9 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from the three.
The improvement was seen most in Lenzelle Smith Jr., who went from shooting 3-of-13 and 0-of-7 from three against Kansas to 6-of-12 and 1-of-3, respectively, against Chicago State.
The Buckeyes proved that they are still a good shooting team and that the Kansas game was probably just a fluke.
Illinois Has a Lot of Weaknesses
Illinois played Auburn this week in what was supposed to be a laugher, but the Tigers challenged and nearly beat the Illini, as Illinois won 81-79.
Rebounding was a big reason why the team almost lost, as the starting big men grabbed just six boards compared to 16 by the starting guards. The team also let Auburn grab 11 offensive rebounds.
Another issue was that Brandon Paul shot very poorly, going 3-of-12 from the floor and 0-of-5 from the three. However, he still scored 13 points, and Tracy Abrams' 27 points on 6-of-11 shooting bailed him out.
Finally, the team let Auburn make too many shots, as the Tigers shot 48.3 percent from the field with their starting frontcourt shooting 11-of-18.
Illinois has some work to do before it can be elite, and Auburn exploited every weakness in this game.
Florida's Frontcourt Might Be Better Than Its Backcourt
Entering the season, I said that Florida would be balanced but that the best players were still in the backcourt.
I take that back.
Kenny Boynton has been a bit of a disappointment as a scorer, but Florida has been a great team (other than a rocky two weeks), and the credit is due to the frontcourt of Erik Murphy, Will Yeguete and Patric Young.
Young has been a beast, averaging 11.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season. Murphy has emerged as an elite big man as well, averaging 12.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and going for 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks against Air Force this week.
The team is relying heavily on its big men, and they might be even better than the guards who made this team good for the past few years.
Anthony Marshall Is an Elite Point Guard
The No. 20 UNLV Rebels went on the road and fell to North Carolina this week, but it was by no fault of point guard Anthony Marshall.
Marshall has been having a great season as the unsung hero of this team. While freshman Anthony Bennett steals the headlines, Marshall averages 10.6 points, 5.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Against the Tar Heels, he went for 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and eight assists. He was the only reason why the team wasn't done at the half, and he kept the Rebels in the game by making some clutch shots.
However, the team's frontcourt struggled, and the team lost a nail-biter in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina Has More Than Just James Michael McAdoo
There is a notion among fans that North Carolina's offense revolves completely around forward James Michael McAdoo.
This week, the team proved that it is deeper than just one man, as it raced out to an early 15-point first-half lead and finished the half up nine despite McAdoo scoring just three points.
McAdoo did end the game with 13 points and nine rebounds, but there were four other players on the team who also scored in double digits, and the team relied on Dexter Strickland and P.J. Hairston down the stretch—not McAdoo.
North Carolina upset No. 20 UNLV because of the balance shown by the team, and the Tar Heels proved that McAdoo isn't everything.
C.J. Leslie Is Turning It On
C.J. Leslie struggled in the season's early going, but he has turned it on as of late.
North Carolina State's talented forward went for 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals against Western Michigan.
In his past three games, Leslie is averaging 22.7 points and seven rebounds per game. He is looking like the player we expected him to be, and that's great news for the Wolfpack.
Jordan Hulls Is Dangerous
Jordan Hulls went off this week against Jacksonville, proving once more that he is a dangerous player.
Hulls shot 6-of-9 from the field, and all nine shots were threes. He scored 20 points in the game and is now shooting 54.5 percent from three.
Hulls is a dangerous weapon for Indiana, as he provides an outside threat to complement Cody Zeller and Christian Watford.
Gonzaga Has a Ton of Weapons
It seems like every week I'm talking about some new weapons that Gonzaga has.
This week the go-to guy was Kevin Pangos, who we knew would be a stud at the beginning of the season. He went for a ridiculous 31 points on 10-of-13 shooting against Baylor, while Kelly Olynyk chipped in 21.
These two are far from the only weapons the team has, however, as it can also rely on Elias Harris, Gary Bell Jr. and a couple of other great players.
This team is deep, and it has a ton of weapons on which to to rely.
New Mexico Is Legit
New Mexico went on the road to knock off No. 8 Cincinnati and hand the Bearcats their first loss of the season this week.
The Lobos held Cincinnati to just 31.3 percent shooting from the floor as the team stifled Cincy's incredible offense.
Tony Snell, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams combined for 41 of the team's points in the 55-54 victory, and the Lobos found a way to beat one of the best teams in the country.
Doug McDermott Is Trying To Get Back into the National Player of the Year Hunt
Doug McDermott had a great game this week against Evansville.
He went for 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting and finished with a double-double, racking up 10 rebounds.
McDermott is averaging 27.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his past five games, and he is quietly pushing his name as that of a front-runner for National Player of the Year once again.
Kansas State Is Going To Run into Trouble Soon
Rodney McGruder and Kansas State are in trouble.
The Wildcats played UMKC this week, and the team's offense struggled mightily, shooting just 32.1 percent from the floor.
The team has not been as good as expected on offense, and McGruder's personal struggles are a big reason why. If the team doesn't pick it up soon, it will be in trouble in Big 12 play.
Maryland Needs To Enter the Top 25 Soon
Maryland started the season off with a narrow loss to then-No. 3 Kentucky, but since then it has rattled off 11 consecutive victories.
Winning by an average of 18.9 points per game, the team has been on fire. It ranks fourth in the nation in both rebounds and assists per game as well and deserves to be in the Top 25.
Look for Maryland to close out the nonconference schedule against IUPUI on Jan. 1 to go 12-1 before entering ACC play.
Syracuse's Offense Struggles at Times
This was the first time we've really seen Syracuse's offense struggle, and this week the team only scored 57 points against Alcorn State.
Shooting just 37.5 percent from the floor, the team had two players score in double digits, but just about everybody struggled.
This was the first weak outing we've seen by the team, and we learned that there are times when Michael Carter-Williams and the offense are not at their best.
Tony Mitchell Is Overrated
I've been trying to hold off on this for a while now, but it's time to admit that Tony Mitchell is overrated.
North Texas' star has been having a serious sophomore slump, falling in most major statistical categories from his performance as a freshman last year.
He is scoring less, rebounding less, shooting nearly 10 percent worse from the floor and 13 percent worse from the three, and his team is losing games because of it.
It's been a tough year for Mitchell, but hopefully he will find a way to turn it around as a junior next season.
Wichita State Is Still Top 25-Caliber
Wichita State lasted just two weeks in the Top 25 before losing its first game and falling out.
However, the team is still playing well, and it proved this week against Northern Iowa that it deserves to be in Top 25 contention.
Northern Iowa was a talented team that pulled off a huge upset in the NCAA tournament two years ago. However, Wichita State dominated throughout the game, winning by 25 and running the Panthers out of the gym.
UConn Really Likes Kevin Ollie
It was a good week for Kevin Ollie.
The UConn head coach had the tough task of replacing Jim Calhoun, but he has done so admirably. He got a new contract this week, signing for five years and $7 million, and will be with the Huskies for the next few years.
Just hours after signing the contract, he also went out and beat Washington.
Not a bad way to close out 2012.
Jamaal Franklin Can Impact the Game in Ways Other Than Scoring
We knew that Jamaal Franklin was an elite scorer and great rebounder coming into the season, but this week he proved that he can find ways to change the game without scoring.
Against a tough Arizona squad, Franklin took just six shots and scored only nine points. However, he also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists to become the team's leader in both categories.
Franklin's Aztecs lost, but San Diego State challenged the No. 3 team in the country.
Arizona Relies on Its Experienced Players in Big Games
Arizona played another big game this week, facing No. 17 San Diego State. We saw once again that when the team plays against a Top 25 opponent, it will go away from its freshmen.
Despite having arguably the best recruiting class in the nation, Arizona's leading shot-takers against the Aztecs were all players who have played in college before.
Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson, Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom were the leading shot-takers and scorers, while the team's many talented freshmen didn't do much, combining for just 10 points in the game.
Phil Pressey Still Needs Help
Phil Pressey did everything he could to help No. 7 Missouri against UCLA this week, going for 19 points and 19 assists.
However, Pressey had to do it all himself, and he didn't get enough help for the team to win.
While four other players scored in double digits, the team didn't do enough on defense to win the game, giving up 97 points in 45 minutes and losing by three.
It was no fault of Pressey's, however, as he needs his teammates to help him crack down on defense.
The Wear Twins Have the Potential To Be Good
Travis and David Wear have been playing poorly all season, proving to be big disappointments for UCLA.
However, against No. 7 Missouri, we saw just how good these two can be as they combined for 38 points on 18-of-27 shooting and 15 rebounds in the game.
The Wear twins stepped it up in the biggest game of the season, and they were key in the Bruins beating the Tigers.
Shabazz Muhammad Is a Man
Shabazz Muhammad showed just how good he is against Missouri this week, dropping 27 points on the Tigers.
Muhammad got off to a bit of a slow start in college, but he has been steadily improving and finally showed NBA scouts exactly what they're going to get if they draft him.
Muhammad has the potential to be the No. 1 overall pick, and performances like this greatly help his chances.
UCLA Might Be Starting To Click
UCLA was once the No. 4 team in the country, but the Bruins struggled early and never really found their rhythm.
However, this week the team took down the No. 7 team in the country behind an incredible scoring effort, and that may be a sign of things to come.
The Bruins may be getting to the point where they are starting to mesh, and it couldn't come at a better time for Ben Howland's crew. As the team enters Pac-12 play, we will see if it can keep this momentum going.
Chane Behanan Gives Louisville Its Own Big Three
Chane Behanan has been playing incredibly well for Louisville, and now he adds an inside presence to the team's stellar backcourt.
Peyton Siva and Russ Smith make up arguably the best backcourt in the country, and adding in Behanan gives the team a big three that any team would be jealous of.
This week they combined for 60 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for the team as the Cardinals beat Kentucky in their rivalry matchup.
Louisville Got Revenge on Kentucky
Last year, Kentucky dominated Louisville, not only winning the regular-season game, but also beating the Cardinals in the Final Four as well.
The Wildcats owned Louisville, but this year it was the Cardinals who won the rivalry game, beating Kentucky 80-77.
Led by their big three, the Cards won a very close game to gain bragging rights for the next year and control of the state of Kentucky when it comes to basketball.