With all the attention on Notre Dame football this past weekend, a little get-together down in the Bahamas might have been overlooked a bit. Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski faced off for just the second time ever. You may remember the first. Some guy name Christian Laettner hit a buzzer-beater for Duke. The Blue Devils won again this weekend. And that tops our list of important things you should know.
1. Duke is better than advertised
Remember all the preseason talk about how North Carolina State would replace Duke and North Carolina atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings this season?
Maybe it will still happen. But right now, the only sure thing at the top of the ACC is that Duke was undervalued in the preseason polls. Sure, Duke was in the top 10 or not far behind. But Duke is off to a 6-0 start and who else has victories over Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU and Louisville at this stage of the season? Right now, Duke is No. 2 in the latest AP poll, but it could claim the No. 1 spot and have a good argument. Duke beat then-No. 2 Louisville 76-71 in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game in the Bahamas. Now Duke plays No. 4 Ohio State on Wednesday.
The Blue Devils have the personnel to handle this tough schedule. As usual, they are versatile and talented. Mason Plumlee leads the Blue Devils in scoring (19.7) and rebounding (10.0). Starters Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon, Ryan Kelly and Quinn Cook are all averaging more than 10 points a game. Cook, a sophomore from Bowie, Md., got the nation’s attention with 15 points in the championship win over Louisville. Remember that name. The Blue Devils have been impressive so far.
Jabari Parker, a forward from Chicago, Ill., is the No. 2 basketball recruit in the nation according to Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels. In case you haven’t heard of Parker, you need to catch up with the people in Provo, Utah.
Parker was in Provo on Saturday night at the Marriott Center on an official recruiting visit to BYU and watched Brigham Young defeat Cal State Northridge 87-75. Parker has named BYU, Duke, Stanford, Florida and Michigan State as the final five schools he is considering and eventually he will sign with one as part of the Class of 2013.
There has been speculation that Parker, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound small forward, will ultimately choose between Duke and Michigan State. But the fans at BYU went out of their way to greet him over the weekend. It’s hard to believe Parker wasn’t a little impressed. Two BYU fans had 6,300 T-shirts printed and handed out before the game and those shirts had a message for the senior from Chicago Simeon Career Academy. The phrase on the shirt was “Chicago to Provo” and included images of Chicago’s skyline and Provo’s Mount Timpanogos. The shirts were made possible by a funding drive with donations on the website, CougarBoard.com.
Super recruit Jabari Parker could bring back the national spotlight to BYU.
If that wasn’t enough, another group of fans put together a spoof of Psy’s popular “Gangnam Style” video and dedicated it to Parker. Called “Jabari Parker Style,” the video was posted to YouTube. The video had 5,000 views by Saturday afternoon and was over 16,000 by Sunday night. Some other fans went up on Y Mountain and started writing Jabari in white paper -- until the police stopped them.
Don’t forget, Parker is a Mormon. Provo was good enough for Jimmer Fredette, so why not Jabari Parker?
3. The Big Ten looks rugged and tough
At this early stage of the season, the Big Ten is building a strong argument as the best conference in college basketball. This week’s Associated Press poll has Indiana at No. 1, followed by Michigan at No. 3 and Ohio State at No. 4. Beyond that, the Big Ten also offers No. 13 Michigan State, and No. 22 Illinois, which won the Maui Invitational -- something of a surprise at this stage of the Illini rebuilding project.
The Big Ten can reinforce all of this with victories in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge this week. Indiana gets a home game Tuesday night against North Carolina. The Tar Heels are still reeling from that loss to Butler in Maui, so Roy Williams and Co. would love to gain some credibility with a win over the No. 1 Hoosiers. Ohio State is at Duke on Wednesday. Michigan, with impressive wins against Pittsburgh and Kansas State, plays North Carolina State on Tuesday. And Illinois, off to a roaring start at 7-0, draws Georgia Tech. Senior guard Brandon Paul is averaging 19.7 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Illini. He went off for 51 points in the final two Maui victories.
Check out Ken Davis' latest college basketball power rankings at FOXSports.com.
4. Baylor is struggling
When a team starts talking about not being focused, not being prepared or not being ready for a game, that raises a flag.
That’s what they were saying in Waco, Texas, on Saturday night after College of Charleston upset Baylor on its own court, 63-59. Baylor is one of those teams that received quite a bit of preseason hype. But the Bears have lost two of their last three and the Charleston loss was their first home loss against a non-conference opponent in nearly four years. What’s up, Bears?
"We knew it was going to be a good game. We were hoping we would pull it out, obviously, but I think we'll learn from it, we'll be a better team because of it," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "It just hurts you the rest of the year because a lot of people coin it as a bad loss even though they're a good team."
A.J. Walton of the Bears blamed it on focus. “We’ve got to be better prepared,” Walton said. And that means immediately. The Bears play Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Saturday.
5. UCLA is definitely headed in the wrong direction
A loss to Cal Poly isn't what Shabazz Muhammad and UCLA had in mind.
This just in: UCLA is 1-2 since the reinstatement of highly touted recruit Shabazz Muhammad.
Losing to Georgetown on a neutral court is one thing. Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins fell to Cal Poly 70-68. This wasn’t just a loss, it was a disaster of about an 8.5 magnitude. Cal Poly rallied from 18 down in the second half to beat UCLA for the first time in six tries and win only its second game at UCLA since 1955. Honestly, how many of you knew Cal Poly is located in San Luis Obispo, home of those imaginative restrooms at the Madonna Inn resort hotel?
Then-No. 11 UCLA (4-2) is the highest-ranked team ever defeated by Cal Poly. The Mustangs were picked to finish seventh ... in the Big West. The loss sent the Bruins tumbling out of the latest AP poll. Panic is setting in already around UCLA.
“Obviously it’s concerning,” junior forward Travis Wear said. “We realize we have a long ways to go. It’s scary to think about because we’re coming up to conference (play) in a little while and we need to buckle down.”
UCLA also announced that junior guard Tyler Lamb was granted his release so that he may transfer. Lamb, who started 32 games last season, had knee surgery in October and wasn’t playing. Coach Ben Howland said Lamb told him he wanted to transfer because he “just didn’t feel like he could get the minutes that he wants.”
With all these issues, UCLA is starting to sound like this year’s version of the 2011-12 UConn Huskies. That’s not a good thing.
Associated Press reports contributed to this story.