1. If Wichita State is going to challenge Creighton in the Valley this season, it will have to survive a couple weeks in league play without its best player. Center Carl Hall, the Shockers' leading scorer and rebounder, will miss about a month with a broken right thumb suffered when he fell in practice on Saturday. "You just hate the timing for Carl," Gregg Marshall told the Wichita Eagle. "He worked so hard and was playing so well."
2. Since ex-Duke and current Syracuse forward Michael Gbinije is the only player to play for two 900-game winners, the Syracuse Post-Standard had him compare Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. Gbinije described Krzyzewski as an expert motivator and tactician, adding that the Duke coach "approaches the game in a very serious business manner." And Boeheim? "He's somebody you can be around and just have normal conversations with," Gbinije said. "But at the same time, he gives us freedom to grow as a player."
3. After remaining largely silent regarding conference realignment during the past year, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin let loose Sunday in response to the demise of the Big East. "It's a shame that football, one sport, has dictated all this and the money that one sport apparently is swinging around and swaying universities to make the decisions," Cronin told the Cincinnati Enquirer. We're sitting here in a state where the state school is 800 miles from its closest road game. It's ridiculous. Don't tell me that people care about student-athletes."
4. Had Ben Howland not given Larry Drew II a week to accept or reject a scholarship offer from UCLA back in 2008, the Los Angeles native says he probably would have signed with the Bruins instead of North Carolina. Howland gave that ultimatum to Drew because he had another highly rated point guard, Jerime Anderson, ready to commit if Drew wasn't on board. The UCLA coach called issuing the ultimatum a mistake this week, though in truth the Bruins may not have fared much better with four years of Drew instead of Anderson.
5. Former top recruit Khem Birch's UNLV debut was largely uneventful. The Pittsburgh transfer finished with four points and three rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench in the Rebels' closer-than-necessary two-point win at UTEP. Shaking the rust off Birch will be important for UNLV, especially with Mike Moser sidelined by a dislocated elbow for the next few weeks.
None of the Illinois-Chicago players singing in the above video will be mistaken for Frank Sinatra anytime soon, but don't question the sincerity of the Flames. With UIC off to a surprising 9-1 start after pounding Eastern Michigan on Saturday, it really is "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" for a team that has lost 20 or more games the previous three seasons.
"I think it could be the best basketball conference in the country. If you look at, top to bottom, who had got the best teams top to bottom, it could be the best." -- Villanova coach Jay Wright sharing his overly sunny outlook on the Catholic 7. The new basketball-centric league will certainly be good, but unless the breakaway schools add the Knicks and Celtics instead of Dayton and Xavier, it probably isn't touching the ACC or Big Ten. (CSN Philly)
• Richmond at Kansas, 7 p.m. EST
• Miami at UCF, 8 p.m. EST
• Oral Roberts at Arizona, 9 p.m. EST
• Stanford at NC State, 9 p.m. EST