One of the game’s best players is injured. Maryland’s schedule should provide some definition soon. The Big East standings are already messed up. Michigan is running a high-octane offense and Arizona is playing with fire.
Here are five things we learned this weekend:
McCollum to miss 8-10 weeks
C.J. McCollum is the nation’s second-leading scorer. He’s also going to miss the next 8-10 weeks with a broken bone in his left foot. What a shame.
Lehigh’s senior All-American guard suffered the injury Saturday during the first half of a loss to VCU. It didn’t look good when it happened and an X-ray revealed that McCollum has a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot.
You may remember McCollum for his 30-point outburst last March that led Lehigh to an upset of No. 2 seed Duke in the NCAA tournament. He was averaging 23.9 points this season and he is the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year. Lehigh is 9-4 and was considered the favorite to win the Patriot League with McCollum on the floor.
If Lehigh has to go the remainder of the regular season without McCollum, Bucknell may be the team to beat in that conference. Bucknell pushed Missouri on Saturday until the Tigers pulled out a 66-64 victory in Columbia, Mo. Bucknell’s Mike Muscala is a big-time NBA prospect.
Maryland has our attention
Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins are 13-1 overall after opening ACC play with an impressive 94-71 win over Virginia Tech. Maryland hasn’t lost since Nov. 9 when Kentucky edged the Terps 72-69 in their season opener.
Consider that the Terps have some impressive national rankings: fifth in assists per game, seventh in rebounds per game, and tied for ninth in field goal percentage. They are efficient and defend well. Why aren’t the Terps nationally ranked?
Mark Turgeon has Maryland pointed in the right direction.
It’s simply too hard to gauge how good Maryland is at this point, given the weak schedule the Terps have played. That will start to change as Maryland gets deeper into the ACC. In fact, the next four games -- vs. Florida State, at Miami, vs. North Carolina State, and at North Carolina -- should provide lots of data for the pollsters. If the Terps can make it through that run without much damage, the Jan. 26 game at Duke will shape up as a big one.
One thing is for sure: sophomore center Alex Len (13.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg) isn’t getting enough national attention.
The Big East is already crazy
Unranked Marquette is 2-0 and has a share of first place in the Big East. Pittsburgh, ranked 24th in last week’s Associated Press poll, is 0-2 and shares the basement spot with Providence. Pitt apparently is paying the price for an extremely weak non-conference schedule.
Then-No. 14 Cincinnati, which opened conference play with a road win at Pittsburgh (never an easy task), lost to St. John’s (9-5) Saturday 53-52 -- at Cincinnati.
Of the nine teams that have played two Big East games so far, only Marquette and Syracuse are 2-0. Three of 12 conference games have been decided by one point. Two others were decided in overtime. Syracuse, averaging 81.7 points this season, beat Rutgers 78-53 in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday but struggled to a 55-44 win at South Florida on Sunday.
"If you can’t score on a 4-on-1 fast break, there’s something wrong with what we’re doing," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after the win. "We came off probably 20, 25 minutes of the best basketball we played all year against Rutgers the other day. There’s just no possible explanation for the way we played today."
Rutgers, one of five 1-1 teams, is the other team to beat Pitt. Are we having fun yet?
Michigan’s offense looks unstoppable
From his days at Canisius and Richmond, on to West Virginia and now Michigan, coach John Beilein has been praised for his offensive system.
Check out Ken Davis' latest college basketball power rankings at FOXSports.com.
Beilein’s teams have always run a controlled and disciplined style with the emphasis on teamwork. Opponents typically are frustrated by the constant motion and passing. Beilein’s teams could catch you napping on back-door cuts or drill you with three-point shooting.
Let’s face it, Beilein was often trying to make up for a lack of elite talent, and opposing coaches would marvel at his success. But there is no lack of talent on No. 2 Michigan this season. With Trey Burke (18.2 ppg), Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.4), Nik Stauskas (13.5), Glenn Robinson III (12.5) and Jordan Morgan (7.2), Beilein has weapons and more, so he has adjusted his style to fit all this talent.
Through 15 games, it certainly is working. Michigan is averaging 1.26 points per possession and that’s tops in the nation, according to Statsheet.com. The Wolverines are averaging 82 points a game -- and Michigan has never averaged more than 67 since Beilein became coach.
If you thought that average might drop off with the start of Big Ten play, think again. Michigan averaged 94.5 points in wins over Northwestern and Iowa. With Sunday’s 95-67 rout of Iowa, the Wolverines have scored at least 90 points in three of their last four games.
"We’ve always run wherever I’ve been, but we run a little faster now, jump a little higher," Beilein said Sunday.
Kevin Parrom and the undefeated Wildcats have had several close calls already this season.
Arizona is playing with fire
The Wildcats are undefeated and highly ranked. That’s got to be a surprise, even for Arizona fans.
And who has had more drama this season than the Wildcats? There was the upset win over Florida on the final shot, the last second win over San Diego State, and then the fortuitous call that waved off a would-be game-winning three-pointer by Colorado, ultimately leading to an overtime victory. Those were three of the most exciting games of the season so far. Don’t walk away from the TV or go to bed if the Wildcats are playing -- you might miss something stunning.
But what about that 60-57 win over Utah in Tucson om Saturday? The Utes dictated the pace of the game and Arizona escaped a last-second shot by Utes guard Jarred DuBois that bounced off the rim twice and once off the backboard before falling to the floor. This time it was a matter of hanging on to win over an 8-6 team with a 0-2 Pac-12 record.
"We pulled out another lucky one," Arizona’s Kevin Parrom said. "We’ve had a lot of lucky ones the past couple of weeks."
The Wildcats are 14-0 and 2-0 in the Pac-12. But those who play with fire, usually get burned. Is that first loss coming soon for Arizona?
The Associated Press contributed to this report.