Mailbag: Super Saturday

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On Saturday I'll be attending North Carolina's game against Texas at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. After that it's on to Austin for Tuesday's Michigan State-Texas showdown. The only bad part about covering those games is that I won't get to watch some of the other great college basketball action.

On Saturday alone there are several interesting matchups:

Michigan at Kansas: The Jayhawks haven't been tested since beating Memphis on Nov. 17.

Stanford at Northwestern: Somehow, the Wildcats are 8-1 without Kevin Coble.

Mississippi State at Houston: The Bulldogs are on a roll as of late, but they also have two ugly losses against Rider and Richmond. Houston is capable of winning this game.

Xavier at Butler: Beating Xavier less than a week after the Musketeers topped Cincinnati would be huge for the Bulldogs.

Western Kentucky at Louisville: The Cardinals have already lost to Charlotte and Western Carolina at home.

Gonzaga vs. Duke at Madison Square Garden: At times, the Blue Devils have looked as good as any team in the country.

Temple at Seton Hall: Fresh off a win against Villanova, the Owls are hoping to hand the Pirates their first loss.

Texas Tech at Wichita State: The Red Raiders (9-0) are off to their best start in 80 years but the Shockers have just one loss.

Kansas State at Alabama: The Wildcats have defeated Xavier and UNLV. Now they'll face a Crimson Tide squad that led Purdue by 16 points in the second half before falling.

Creighton at New Mexico: It's a bit of a down year for Creighton, but the Bluejays are always well-coached, although it might not matter against the undefeated Lobos.

Now, on to this week's mailbag.

UConn's big addition

Ater Majok makes his Connecticut debut on Dec. 20. At 6-foot-10 and 233 pounds, he should surely make the Huskies competitive in the Big East.

Mark Denman
Newtown, Conn.

I agree – although I think Connecticut would be competitive in the Big East even without Majok. I couldn't have been more impressed with the grit and toughness the Huskies displayed in their loss to Kentucky at Madison Square Garden. Everyone knew that Stanley Robinson, Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker were big-time players. But the X-factor was forward Gavin Edwards, who has an excellent shooting touch and an uncanny ability to reel in tough passes and finish on fast breaks. Add Majok to a frontline that includes Edwards and an improving Alex Oriakhi, and suddenly Jim Calhoun has a team capable of beating anyone in the league. Assuming, of course, that Majok is all he's been billed to be.


NBA picks to click

Can you make a list of who you think will be the top five or 10 picks in next summer's NBA draft? Everyone enjoys lists.

Aaron Turner
Kansas City, Mo.

It's no secret that Kentucky's John Wall will be the first player selected in the draft. Other players who have a strong chance of going in the Top 10 include: Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech), Cole Aldrich (Kansas), Willie Warren (Oklahoma), Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Evan Turner (Ohio State), Ed Davis (North Carolina), Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) and Patrick Patterson (Kentucky).

New Mexico for real?

I want your take on the New Mexico Lobos' 11-0 start this season. They beat both Cal and Texas A&M, but I'm not hearing much hype about this team. Are they for real? And can they keep this up over the long haul?

David
No location given

The Lobos – who are ranked for the first time since 1999 – are definitely for real. Just ask Cal, Texas A&M and San Diego. Former Iowa coach Steve Alford has done a masterful job of elevating New Mexico's program and guard Darington Hobson (16.3 points per game) is one of the top junior college transfers in America. The next few weeks are huge for the Lobos, who play host to Creighton (Saturday), Texas Tech (Dec. 29) and Dayton (Jan. 1) before kicking off Mountain West play against San Diego State.


Giving Purdue its due

Why no love for the Boilermakers? They are 9-0 this season without their starting point guard and backup center. They play the best "D" in the country and have three guys that can score at will in (Robbie) Hummel, (E'Twaun) Moore and (JaJuan) Johnson. You recently stated that Purdue was in your second level of elite teams. Call me biased, but I honestly believe this is the best team in the country. They will get even better as the season goes on.

Trent Griswold
Fishers, Ind.

It's hard not to be impressed with the Boilermakers, who are among the most well-coached teams in the country. Defensively, I'm not sure anyone gets after it as hard as Purdue. That was my opinion last year, too. That being said, I certainly didn't mean any disrespect when I said that Purdue was in my second level of elite teams. I definitely think they're a Top 10 squad. From a talent standpoint, though, I'm not sure Purdue is on the same level as Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and Texas. And by talent I mean guys who are going to play in the NBA. Is there a future NBA player on Purdue's roster? Maybe a few who are on the fringe. That’s a huge factor when you get to the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight, as we found out last year when the Boilermakers lost to Connecticut. I'm also playing wait-and-see with Purdue, which has played a relatively weak non-conference schedule. It's only head-turning win thus far was against Tennessee – and that was a great win. Beating a rebuilding Wake Forest team at home doesn't do much for me. I think Purdue wins the Big Ten this season and gets a well-deserved No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.


Roy vs. the fan

I understand your rant about Roy Williams and at first I agreed with you. However, after examining the situation more closely, the fan was in the North Carolina student section. The North Carolina student section is for NORTH CAROLINA STUDENTS. To sit in the student section at Purdue you need to be wearing a student section shirt or a black Purdue jersey and have a student ID. Heck, if you're even wearing red (the color of our rival, Indiana), you won't be allowed in. It's grounds to kick someone out of the stadium for not sitting in their assigned seat or section.

Anil Rao
West Lafayette, Ind.

The fan who was ejected wasn't in the student section. He was sitting in the section behind the Tar Heels' bench, in an area that is often occupied by people who received complimentary tickets through the athletic department. That's why Williams said he didn't think people who gained admittance to the game on "our tickets" should be yelling negative things at his players. Williams has also told people that he didn't instruct the security guard to eject the fan. He wanted him to check the man's ticket to see if he was indeed sitting in the right section, because if he was, Williams was going to check into who gave an opposing fan a free ticket. Now that I've heard the story, I can actually see why Williams was upset. Still, he handled the situation completely wrong and made himself look terrible in the process. That he would turn the situation into such a spectacle made him seem petty. He could've easily leaned over to a team manager and said, "Hey, go find out how that guy got his ticket" and then handled the situation behind closed doors on Monday morning. Instead he turned off a lot of people with what he did – even some of his own fans. Still, everyone makes mistakes, and Williams is no different. He's one of the best coaches in the game. That just wasn't his day, I guess.


On Heel's foot

What is the status of Marcus Ginyard? He was lost last season to foot problems and sat out North Carolina's last game with a sore foot.

Kendall Hayes
Woodbridge, Va.

Ginyard has a bruise on his left foot that forced him to miss Saturday's win over Presbyterian. He returned to practice on Tuesday and is expected to play against Texas on Saturday.


Big 12 bash

Why did you list the Big 12 in your "In a Funk" section of this week's King of the Court? They are the best conference besides the Big East, and you didn't talk about the bad losses in other conferences like the ACC or the Big Ten or even the SEC. You need to look at some of the other power conferences. Compare them to the Big 12 and then tell me the Big 12 is "In a Funk. "

Adam Porter
Oklahoma City, Okla.

I didn't mean to insinuate that the Big 12 wasn't a good conference. In fact, with the nation's No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams, it may be the best league in America this season (although most people would probably still pick the Big East). I just meant that the Big 12 was "In a Funk" during the last week. Missouri lost to Oral Roberts, Colorado got beat by Oregon and Texas A&M was defeated by New Mexico in Houston. Those are bad losses. All conferences have them. I promise to pick on someone else next week.


After further review

You should take a look at the video of Gonzaga's Elias Harris giving Chas McFarland a forearm shiver to the neck. If you think the resulting expulsion was "questionable" you should probably stop reporting on basketball.

Jon Waters
No Location Given

My e-mail box was flooded with angry letters regarding my comment about Harris' ejection for elbowing Wake Forest's McFarland. Initially I thought the decision to kick Harris out of the game was a little extreme. At the time I thought the 7-foot McFarland flopped. Now that I've gone back and watched the replay in slow motion – which I should've done earlier – I think the official made the right call.