The magic of college basketball is building up again as we slowly approach March.
p. The 2008 season, much like the 2007 season, is being taken over by talented freshman, thanks to the new NBA age limit. Last year, Kevin Durant was the first freshman ever to win player of the year honors. 2008 will likely see another freshman take the award as Kansas State University freshman forward Michael Beasley has emerged as the early front runner. Beasley has been an absolute monster, leading the nation in rebounds per game (12.6), and is ranking fourth in points per game (24.6).
p. This past week has been the most eventful thus far this season. The University of North Carolina saw its 17-game winning streak and no. 1 ranking fall at home to an unranked Maryland Terrapins squad Saturday. Maryland is a team that struggled early but could find a place in the rankings if it avoids getting beat up in the tough ACC. The Terrapins are third in the country in field goal defense and has a potential star in forward James Gist (22 points, 13 rebounds vs. UNC). North Carolina, the highest scoring team in the nation, rebounded after the Maryland loss with a 98-82 thumping of the University of Miami (Fla).
p. Fourth-ranked UCLA also lost Saturday, at home to unranked USC in a game that featured three extremely talented freshmen, as the Trojans’ O.J. Mayo and David Jefferson got the best of Bruins’ 6’10” center Kevin Love. The three freshmen have been leading their teams and combined for 59 points and 22 rebounds in the game.
p. Tuesday, fifth-ranked Tennessee had its 11-game winning streak snapped at the hands of mediocre and unranked Kentucky. Preseason All-American Chris Lofton (13.8 ppg) is leading a Volunteers team that ranks first in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. Kentucky, a perennial powerhouse, is having a tough time adjusting to playing without long-time coach Tubby Smith. Meanwhile, Smith is experiencing immediate success with his new team, starting out 12-5 at the University of Minnesota, a team that won only nine games last year.
p. Amidst the usual chaos stand two undefeated teams: Memphis (17-0) and Kansas (18-0). Memphis is ranked no. 1 for the first time since 1983, boasting five wins against teams in the RPI top 50. Meanwhile, Kansas is a deep, experienced team finding success through their unselfish play (Kansas ranks third in the NCAA in assists per game). In addition, the Jayhawks have the second-best field goal percentage in the country and lead the nation in scoring margin (24.3 ppg).
p. With regular season games like the Tennessee-Memphis matchup set for Feb. 23 and two Duke–UNC games on the schedule, there will be much excitement left for the regular season. One thing is for sure, however: the teams at the top will have a few more bumps in the road before the madness starts in March.
p. **Andy’s top 5 teams**
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