College Basketball's Top 5 Players of Week 14
It was a great week of college basketball, and it culminated in a fantastic showdown between No. 1 Michigan and No. 3 Indiana.
While there were some great performances in that Big Ten showdown, there were equally impressive performances throughout the nation.
As more and more people begin to shift their attention to college basketball, look for these five standouts to continue to shine.
5. Keith Appling
Keith Appling is turning into a star in front of our eyes.
In a game that saw injuries and foul trouble plague the Spartans, Appling was called upon to close out the surging Illini.
Appling more than filled his role last Thursday. He finished with 24 points, seven assists and eight rebounds.
Most importantly, Appling hit the deciding shot, a spinning layup through the lane, that clinched the important victory for the Spartans.
Appling appears to be more and more comfortable with his role as the captain of this team, and Michigan State will continue to rely on him for his leadership as the season progresses.
4. Trey Burke
While Burke and Michigan did not come out on top at Indiana this past weekend, nobody can blame the loss on the stellar Wolverines point guard.
Burke finished the game with 25 points and eight assists.
Some will argue that Burke shot more than his fair share of jump shots, but when you consider the cold shooting that his teammates were experiencing, it is easy to see how Burke, a Player of the Year candidate, was within his rights to try carrying his team to victory.
Earlier in the week, Burke also registered 18 points, eight assists and two steals against Northwestern.
Burke has his work cut out for him in his rematch with stellar defender Aaron Craft this Tuesday.
3. Victor Oladipo
More and more it seems people ask whether Victor Oladipo is a more valuable player than Cody Zeller.
The junior guard out of Maryland certainly made his case last week.
Oladipo was the difference maker in Indiana’s win over Michigan as he made his presence known at both ends of the floor.
What is most amazing about Victor Oladipo is that he does so many different things for the Hoosiers.
Yes, Oladipo’s 15 points were crucial to Indiana’s victory. However, when you factor in his ability to defend the perimeter and cause grief with his athleticism, you have a very versatile player indeed.
Oladipo’s ability to get into the lane at will led to a very fluid Indiana offense that seemed to take much better shots than the Wolverines.
Beyond the numbers, there is just a fire that Oladipo plays with that is just infectious. The passionate dunks and celebrations are what make college basketball great.
Hopefully his teammates can look to him as a beacon of energy throughout the remainder of the season.
2. Nerlens Noel
Before the season began, many unfairly compared Nerlens Noel to last year’s shot-blocking fiend Anthony Davis.
While this comparison has not been equitable to start this season, Noel did his best Anthony Davis impression this past week.
In Kentucky’s win over the surging Ole Miss Rebels, Noel registered 12 blocks. What is most impressive about this is that Noel played the final stretch with four fouls.
His ability to get clean blocks to protect the rim while avoiding a final foul showed great maturity as a defender and leader.
While that was a truly great defensive performance, it was not until Kentucky beat Texas A&M in overtime that the nation saw all that Noel was capable of.
Noel finished that game with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Kentucky looked for an edge against the scrappy Aggies, and they found it in Noel, whose ability to rule the paint clearly helped them win.
1. Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart hit shots to beat the buzzer in Oklahoma State’s win over Iowa State.
One gave the Cowboys momentum. The other gave them a much-needed victory.
Smart finished that game with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
As if that was not enough, Smart followed up this breakthrough performance with a 25 point scoring performance that helped down Kansas at home for the first time in 33 games.
Smart demanded the defense's attention, and was able to abuse Kansas with his size, strength and ability.
The surging freshman also did it with his defense. His steal with seconds remaining in the game clinched the much needed win for the Cowboys.
Many believe that Marcus Smart has a bright future in front of him, and it is no wonder why.
As a dynamic scorer, with good court vision and excellent leadership, Smart might be a once in a draft class player and is this week's player of the week.