Record: 8-1, AP Ranking: 8, Coaches Poll: 5
It’s taken a little while, but the reigning champs are finally starting to look like the reigning champs. In other words, the freshman are here. Luke Kennard is 8-of-19 from three-point land after opening the season 2-of-18 and Duke’s highest-rated freshman Brandon Ingram seems to have also found his offensive stride. He scored 47 points in the Blue Devils’ victories over Indiana and Buffalo, in addition to hauling in 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Next Game: Tuesday, December 15. vs. Georgia Southern
4. North Carolina
Record: 7-1, AP Ranking: 3, Coaches Poll: 3
Marcus Paige is a good basketball player. The fully-healthy Paige went for 20 points with five assists and a pair of steals to lead North Carolina to an 89-81 victory over Maryland last week. But while Paige’s return to the roster is heartening for Tar Heels fans, here’s another even more fun and interesting factoid. UNC’s last four wins came against squads who are currently 25-0 against teams that are not North Carolina. That’s a very fun fact.
Next Game: Saturday, December 12 at Texas
Record: 7-1, AP Ranking: 5, Coaches Poll: 4
It seems strange to think that a UCLA victory (at home) over Kentucky warrants an upset moniker, but this is the world we live in now. Of course, injuries to Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulies, as well as foul trouble, for Alex Poythress all contributed to the Wildcats’ 87-77 loss. Still, the performance opened up some questions about Kentucky’s frontcourt and its presence on the boards.
Next Game: Wednesday vs. Eastern Kentucky
2. Iowa State
Record: 6-0, AP Ranking: 4, Coaches Poll: 2
Although the Cyclones schedule hasn’t been anything to really write home about – even last week’s 84-64 victory over North Dakota State was fairly expected – Iowa State has been consistently consistent. Watch out for Monte Morris, in particular. He’s averaging 14 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. That could be enough to lift the Cyclones down the stretch.
Next Game: Tonight vs. Buffalo
1. Michigan State
Record: 9-0, AP Ranking: 1, Coaches Poll: 1
Welcome to the top, Michigan State. It’s not entirely unexpected and neither is the early-season play of Denzel Valentine, but the one pleasant surprise? Bryn Forbes. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 49 percent from three-point range and averaging 12.7 points per game. His best game came on a big-time stage, with the Spartans 71-67 victory over the Spartans and even earned praise from Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. That’s a pretty good surprise.
Next Game: Wednesday vs. Mid-Eastern Shore