Alabama 42, Auburn 14

Trent Richardson and No. 2 Alabama have convinced Nick Saban that they’re worthy of competing for college football’s top prize. They’ll have to wait a while before for the final decision is rendered.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass &#38; Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.</p><p>These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.</p><p>So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.</p><h3>Best breakfast</h3><p>The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/09/04/week-1-deondre-francois-florida-state-texas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!</a>, but the winner was <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/11/20/week-13-chip-kelly-jon-gruden-auburn-alabama" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November</a>.</p><p>The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.</p><h3>Most weirdly wonderful dish</h3><p>The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.</p><h3>Spiciest moment</h3><p>While researching my <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/07/17/hot-chicken-power-rankings-nashville" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hot Chicken Power Rankings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hot Chicken Power Rankings</a> in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.</p><h3>Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.</p><h3>Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)</h3><p>Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare. </p><h3>Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”</h3><p>That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at <a href="https://www.si.com/eats/2017/09/11/best-restaurants-pittsburgh-recommendations-food-steelers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina</a> said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.</p><h3>Best hidden gem</h3><p>I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/08/28/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-nick-harris" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.</a></p><h3>Best Burger</h3><p>Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/08/ed-orgeron-lsu-florida-joe-alleva" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger.</a> Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed</h3><p>The winner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/10/16/coaching-hot-seat-week-7-results" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif.</a> Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.</p><h3>Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review</h3><p>That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.</p><h3>Best wings</h3><p>This was a difficult choice between the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/31/clemson-alabama-playoff-trilogy-sugar-bowl-history" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans</a> and the <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/03/alabama-ohio-state-playoff-rankings-format-rules" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero</a>. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/07/georgia-alabama-national-championship-game-preview-punters" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter</a>.</p><h3>Best example of truth in advertising</h3><p>On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/11/heisman-trophy-2018-favorites-lamar-jackson" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BarBacon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">BarBacon</a> succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.</p><h3>Best dessert that can get you drunk</h3><p>The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.</p><p>• <strong><a href="https://www.si.com/eats" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide</a></strong></p><h3>A Random Ranking</h3><p>In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.</p><p><strong>1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)</strong></p><p>Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of <em>Perfect Strangers</em> spinoff <em>Family Matters</em>. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.</p><p><strong>2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)</strong></p><p><em>Cheers</em> could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.</p><p><strong>3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)</strong></p><p>These two helped a flagging <em>Parks and Recreation</em> find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84nfWkLsYU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this classic Ron Swanson scene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this classic Ron Swanson scene</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)</strong></p><p>David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of <em>Married…With Children</em>. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.</p><p><strong>5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)</strong></p><p><em>Star Trek: Voyager</em> needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.</p><h3>Three And Out</h3><p><strong>1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football.</strong> The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)</p><p>Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.</p><p>Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.</p><p><strong>2. Speaking of the Tide</strong>, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/09/nick-saban-tua-tagovailoa-alabama-national-championship" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game</a>.</p><p><strong>3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media.</strong> (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)</p><h3>What’s Eating Andy?</h3><p>Rest in peace to <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/13/keith-jackson-catchphrases-obit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the man whose voice was college football" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the man whose voice <em>was </em>college football</a>.</p><h3>What’s Andy Eating?</h3><p>You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.</p>
The Piggies: The Best Things I Ate During the 2017 College Football Season

I considered writing an end-of-season awards column that looked back on the finest moments of the football season that just ended. But everyone does that. What I haven’t done yet is taken a look back at all the calories I consumed over a football season. That needs to be rectified, so today in Punt, Pass & Pork we’re going to hand out the Piggies.

These awards will honor the best things I ate all season. For official purposes, we’re going to define the college football season as “anything between the day I left the house for the trip that included SEC Media Days and the national title game.” Why not stretch back into the spring so we can encompass the entire year? Because the Offseason Piggies sure sounds like a column I could write in July. I’m franchise building here.

So without further ado, let’s hand out the Piggies for the 2017 college football season.

Best breakfast

The breakfast options should be excellent in America’s Brunchingest State, but Georgia came stronger than usual this season. I considered the challah souffle from Atlanta’s Oy!, but the winner was the breakfast (for lunch) that I ate at Mama’s Boy in Athens in November.

The pulled pork hash features pulled pork over home fries with a drizzle of mustard-based barbecue sauce and two poached eggs on top. Break those yolks, mix it all together and dig in. I also had a short stack of the fig and rosemary pancakes. I didn’t have room for a football-sized cinnamon roll, but I’m getting one next time.

Most weirdly wonderful dish

The Chili Cheese Takoyaki at Austin’s Kemuri Tatsuya is, essentially, Frito Pie with octopus fritters instead of brisket. Whereas the brisket has a similar flavor profile to the chili in the original dish, the octopus adds a lighter, brighter element to a gut-busting Texas staple. Besides, at Kemuri Tatsuya, you should get your brisket with your ramen.

Spiciest moment

While researching my Hot Chicken Power Rankings in Nashville, I resolved to try the hottest version available at each restaurant. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—which finished No. 1 in the rankings—does not lie about the heat of its Extra Extra Extra Hot.

Best meal I haven’t written about yet (but will)

What Atlanta’s Superica considers a mixed fajita plate is so far beyond the sizzling platters served everywhere else that it needs a better name. Perfectly cooked steak, juicy chicken and a giant hunk of grilled pork belly form a meat mountain and await their trip to the tortilla. I’m ruined for every other fajita plate from this point forward.

Best giant piece of meat I haven’t written about yet (but will)

Galliano in New Orleans serves a “prime rib for two” that I decided to eat myself (twice in a week). This 32- to 40-ounce, bone-in beast is best served rare.

Best dish that made someone say “We need to take a picture of your meat”

That’s exactly what the lady at the table next to me at Pittsburgh’s Gaucho Parrilla Argentina said when my asado platter arrived. She took photos, and so did I. Then I feasted on a glorious selection of cuts at this unpretentious Argentinian steakhouse.

Best hidden gem

I’ve never been cool enough to be told about the hip, unmarked-door spots. But I did luck into one in Seattle. If you can find it, and if you can get in, Tsukushinbo is the sushi secret you’ll happily tell everyone.

Best Burger

Everyone has a bacon burger. Quite a few places now have an avocado burger. But Madison Social in Tallahassee, Fla., combines thick-cut bacon with fried avocado on its MadSo Burger. Frying the avocado makes the burger even richer, yet it somehow tastes lighter and fresher at the same time. It’s a marvel of fryer engineering.

Most delightfully named restaurant I reviewed

The winner is Curry Up Now in Palo Alto, Calif. Aside from having a wonderfully punny name, this place marries the Indian/British gravy-based concept of tikka masala with the Canadian gravy-based concept of poutine. The result? Lamb tikka masala fries.

Most delightfully named restaurant I didn’t review

That honor goes to Pho Shizzle, a bargain-priced joint in Renton, Wash., that—judging by the numerous photos on the walls—is a favorite of Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. The place was good but not spectacular. I asked the lady behind the counter if they’d ever considered making T-shirts—which would be spectacular—and she looked at me like I’d just landed from another planet.

Best wings

This was a difficult choice between the Sticky Wings at Mint in New Orleans and the charcoal-grilled wings at Atlanta’s Minero. The Minero wings are the winner for two reasons. First, the grilling process has a higher degree of difficulty than frying. Second, Minero’s location at Ponce City Market means I can walk across the hall and eat raw cookie dough by the scoop from Batter.

Best example of truth in advertising

On the surface, the idea of a bacon-themed bar in New York seems too schticky and concept-y to actually be good. But BarBacon succeeds by going all in. The menu opens with an appetizer that includes samples of four different kinds of bacon, and it only gets better from there.

Best dessert that can get you drunk

The fine bartenders at Frank in Austin mix a mean Old Fashioned, but they also mix a sweet one. It’s the same bourbon and bitters from your favorite cocktail, but mixed with ice cream and served in shake form. When you’ve eaten everything above this, you need something special to wash it down.

Want to read more of Andy’s culinary adventures? SI Eats covers every moment where food, sports and culture collide

A Random Ranking

In honor of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s incredible work replacing starter Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national title game, we’re going to rank the top five television cast additions who either saved their shows or made them even better.

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)

Urkel was supposed to be an occasionally recurring character during season one of Perfect Strangers spinoff Family Matters. By the start of season two, he was the show’s biggest star. In fact, he got so much attention that no one noticed when Judy Winslow disappeared in season four.

2. Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)

Cheers could have withered and died without Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, but Alley combined with Ted Danson to drive plot lines that ultimately were better than the early Diane stories.

3. Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe)

These two helped a flagging Parks and Recreation find its voice. And Lowe’s Traeger allowed us to see this classic Ron Swanson scene.

4. Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley)

David Garrison’s Steve Rhoades was Al and Peg Bundy’s obnoxious yuppie neighbor for the first four seasons of Married…With Children. But when Garrison left to pursue more stage work, his character’s wife Marcy divorced Rhoades and married Jefferson D’Arcy, who was played by McGinley—aka The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping. But McGinley didn’t ruin this show. Rhoades was too obvious a foil for Al. McGinley’s D’Arcy wound up settling into the show as the occasional dimwitted accomplice for the Bundy patriarch.

5. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)

Star Trek: Voyager needed a spark, and it got it thanks to a reformed Borg.

Three And Out

1. At its annual convention last week, the American Football Coaches Association put forth its proposal for a change to the redshirt rule in football. The coaches would like to change the rule to allow any player who played four or fewer games to receive a redshirt. (Players still would only be able to redshirt once in a career unless they receive an injury waiver.)

Three conferences have backed this proposal, so it has a good chance of getting through the NCAA legislative process intact. And as AFCA president Todd Berry points out, it’s difficult to find a problem with it. Rosters get depleted because of injuries and other factors as the season goes on, so it would make sense for coaches to have the option to play freshmen toward the end of the season without burning an entire season of eligibility. And since bowl games represent a jump start on the next season for the teams outside the playoff, those teams could begin to see where those redshirted players fit. Plus, if a star sits out a bowl game, it might be a nice consolation to get a first look at a four- or five-star recruit who has been on the bench all season.

Berry said he imagines coaches in other sports might object to this proposal applying only to football, but that shouldn’t be a problem, either. Why not let every sport use the same system and the same number (one-third of the regular season)? Basketball coaches, who rarely redshirt players, probably wouldn’t do it much more because it’s less practical than in football. And football coaches who need to play freshmen extensively would still do it. A prime example? National champion Alabama, which used a true freshman quarterback, left tackle, tailback and receivers in crunch time of the national title game.

2. Speaking of the Tide, here’s the SI cover story on their win in the title game.

3. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has no time for the doubters in the media. (Which is good. Because if the Tigers don’t score in bunches next season, he’s going to have plenty of doubters.)

What’s Eating Andy?

Rest in peace to the man whose voice was college football.

What’s Andy Eating?

You can’t possibly still be hungry after reading about all that decadence at the top of this column, can you? To snap you out of that mindset, here’s a look at what I should be eating exclusively for the next few weeks.

<p>With <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2017/12/28/season-review-saquon-barkley-khalil-tate" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:another season" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">another season</a> and <a href="https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/10/tua-tagovailoa-jalen-hurts-alabama-quarterback-transfer" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:another Alabama title in the books" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>another</em> Alabama title in the books</a>, it’s time to shift the focus from that epic title game to the epic games to come.</p><p>It’s impossible to accurately predict which games will be most impactful a whole year in advance, because way too much can happen between now and the fall of 2018. Heck, it’s often not clear which games mean the most until weeks <em>after </em>the game itself.</p><p>Take last year’s Week 1 matchup between Alabama and Florida State. The Tide and Seminoles came to Atlanta ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, and pundits debated whether this was the best opening weekend matchup in college football history. The game itself was a dud: Alabama won 24–7 in nondescript fashion, and Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending leg injury late in the fourth quarter. Fast forward three months, and Florida State needed a win over Louisiana-Monroe to become bowl eligible one day after coach Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&#38;M. What was supposed to be Alabama’s signature win lost all its thunder as FSU’s 2017 unraveled completely by mid-October.</p><p>On the flip side, matchups are sometimes way, way better and more important than they appear at the time. When UCF and Memphis faced off in late September, not much attention was paid to a game between two unranked AAC teams. UCF, of course, is now claiming a national championship, while Memphis finished the season in the Top 25, with two regular season losses to UCF and a Liberty Bowl loss to Iowa State.</p><p>The point of all this is that things change in a hurry in the world of college football. Still, there’s no harm in letting the eyes wander to next year’s schedule to try to pinpoint the best games. Some of these will indeed turn out to be everything we expect and more, while some will be rendered virtually meaningless, whether we know it at the time or not.</p><p>Next year’s slate of games features the usual bevy of impactful in-conference gems, but there are some marquee matchups between big-names sprinkled throughout the season that have us hyped. (And the ACC has not released its conference schedule yet, so expect more key games to fill in the gaps within the lighter weeks on this list.) Without further ado:</p><h3>Week 1: Michigan at Notre Dame</h3><p>Jim Harbaugh’s seat isn’t warm, but it certainly is not as cool as he’d like it to be. There’s a growing sense of dissatisfaction in Ann Arbor as Harbaugh’s first three teams have struggled to pick up signature wins. Harbaugh gets a chance right off the bat to quiet some of his naysayers with a win over an iconic program like Notre Dame, a proposition that becomes much more likely if Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson is indeed ruled eligible to play quarterback in 2018. Notre Dame finished the ’17 season with a hard-fought 21–17 victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl but will have to replace stud running back Josh Adams, who decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.</p><p><em>Honorable mention</em>: <strong>Auburn vs. Washington</strong>?—A season-opening clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta should tell us a lot about both teams. <strong>Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma</strong>—Lane Kiffin gets a shot at the big boys. <strong>Virginia Tech at Florida State—</strong>Willie Taggart’s opener in Tallahassee comes on Labor Day. <strong>LSU at Miami</strong>—Is Miami here to stay? An early test against a upper-tier SEC foe is a good way to find out. <strong>Alabama at Louisville</strong>—This one would have been a lot more fun with Lamar Jackson.</p><h3>Week 2: Clemson at Texas A&#38;M</h3><p>Jimbo Fisher doesn’t have to wait long for his first serious test as Texas A&#38;M’s head coach. Kyle Field will be rocking when the new-look Aggies host Clemson, who should be loaded once again and return starting quarterback Kelly Bryant. This game presents an opportunity for Fisher to start off his tenure with a momentum-building victory over a team that’s certain to enter the season ranked in the top three.</p><p><em>Honorable mention: </em><strong>UCLA at Oklahoma</strong>—Chip Kelly’s first big test with the Bruins. <strong>Colorado at Nebraska</strong>—One of the old Big 12’s best rivalries is rekindled, with Scott Frost leading the Cornhuskers. <strong>Michigan State at Arizona State</strong>—An early look at how Herm Edwards’s Sun Devils measure up to a Top 25 team.</p><h3>Week 3: TCU vs. Ohio State (at AT&#38;T Stadium)</h3><p>After a Week 2 loss to Oklahoma at home last season, Ohio State will be looking for a measure of September revenge against the Big 12. That opportunity awaits in Arlington as both the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs break in new quarterbacks. For TCU, it’ll almost certainly be Shawn Robinson, a dual-threat who was the 2016-17 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year. Ohio State’s situation is a little less clear, as Urban Meyer has a few candidates to guide his team through life after J.T. Barrett. The favorite to start for the Buckeyes is Dwayne Haskins, who filled in for an injured Barrett against Michigan, but keep an eye on Tate Martell, a mercurial playmaker who has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel.</p><p><em>Honorable mention</em>: <strong>USC at Texas</strong>—Last year’s double-overtime thriller at the Coliseum was almost as epic as that national championship game in 2006 without any of the stakes. <strong>Boise State at Oklahoma State</strong>—Hey Broncos, want some respect? A win in Stillwater should do it. <strong>Colorado State at Florida</strong>—This game was part of the package Florida gave to Colorado State in exchange for Jim McElwain’s services, but McElwain didn’t last long enough to coach in it.</p><h3>Week 4: Florida Atlantic at UCF</h3><p>This is as enticing as a non-Power 5 matchup gets. On one side there’s Lane Kiffin, everyone’s favorite least-favorite coach, and an FAU team that finished ninth in total offense en route to an 11–3 season. This year’s Owls could be even better, as Devin Singletary (1,920 rushing yards, 33 total TDs) is back and Kiffin welcomes the first class of players he recruited to #thefaU. Then there’s UCF, the sort-of defending national champions, who will be looking to prove that their relevance isn’t tied to former head coach Scott Frost. Star quarterback McKenzie Milton returns to power the Knights’ offense, and he should be one of the top passers in the country under the direction of first-year head coach Josh Heupel, who was lured to Orlando after serving as Missouri’s offensive coordinator for two seasons. The points should flow freely.</p><p><em>Honorable mention: </em><strong>Texas A&#38;M at Alabama</strong>—Fisher vs. Saban will dominate the midweek headlines. <strong>Florida at Tennessee</strong>—Another SEC battle, this one between two new coaches in the East in Dan Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt. <strong>TCU at Texas</strong>—Can Tom Herman’s Longhorns make some headway in the quest to reestablish their place as the state’s premier program?</p><h3>Week 5: Ohio State at Penn State</h3><p>The last two matchups between these Big Ten powers have been classics. Back in October, the Buckeyes came back from a 35–20 deficit to eke out a 39–38 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive and crushed Penn State’s. In 2016, the then-unranked Nittany Lions returned a blocked field goal 60 yards in the fourth quarter for a game-winning touchdown on their way to an unlikely Big Ten title. There are few better venues for a huge game than State College, and you can be certain that 100,000-plus dressed in all-white will be packed into Beaver Stadium. This will also be the first real challenge for Penn State’s offense in the post-Saquon Barkley era.</p><p><em>Honorable mention: </em><strong>Tennessee at Georgia</strong>—The Bulldogs are very familiar with Pruitt from his short stay in Athens. <strong>Stanford at Notre Dame</strong>—This is around the time of year the Cardinal typically round into form. <strong>Florida at Mississippi State</strong>—Mullen’s return to Starkville should be an emotional measuring stick game for both teams.</p><h3>Week 6: Texas vs. Oklahoma (at the Cotton Bowl)</h3><p>Tom Herman’s second season at Texas should be marked by the growing influence of players he brought to Austin have on the on-field product. That’s great news for Texas, because Herman’s first recruiting class was a consensus top-five haul, and this year’s could land in the top three. This game will also feature two of the country’s best young quarterbacks in Texas’s Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, the five-star transfer from Texas A&#38;M who faces the unenviable task of replacing Baker Mayfield. Herman’s presence should breathe new life into the Red River Rivalry for years to come.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Nebraska at Wisconsin</strong>—Could this be the first of many Big Ten West title bouts between these two programs in the years ahead? <strong>Notre Dame at Virginia Tech</strong>—Keep an eye on the Hokies as a potential ACC sleeper this year.</p><h3>Week 7: Georgia at LSU</h3><p>This will be the first matchup between these SEC elites since 2013, and it should be a doozy. The Bulldogs will enter the season as one of the nation’s top teams, fresh off an appearance in the national championship game. Sure, they will miss the graduating running back tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, and yes, they’ll also lose their leading receiver (Javon Wims) and best defensive player (Roquan Smith), but they get quarterback Jake Fromm back and welcome the best recruiting class in the country to campus. This offseason has been notable for the LSU coordinator positions, but for different reasons— defensive coordinator Dave Aranda signed a new deal that will make him the highest-paid assistant in the country ($2.5 million annual salary), while former offensive coordinator Matt Canada was replaced by tight ends coach Steve Ensminger. The Tigers’ defense has been championship-quality for years, and if Ensminger can revitalize a sleepy offensive attack, LSU could challenge for the SEC title.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Michigan State at Penn State</strong>—Michigan State won a seven-hour marathon in East Lansing last season, otherwise Penn State could well have made the playoff. <strong>Wisconsin at Michigan</strong>—Another huge test for the Wolverines, who have one of the toughest schedules in the country.</p><h3>Week 8: Michigan at Michigan State</h3><p>Harbaugh will be under mountains of pressure to get a win over a rival, as his teams are a combined 1–5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans return 10 starters on offense, including Brian Lewerke, who could become the next in a long line of NFL quarterbacks from Michigan State, and leading rusher L.J. Scott. They also get nine starters back on defense. The 2017 bowl selection process added another level of tension to this game: Spartans fans fumed when Michigan was selected for the Outback Bowl over Michigan State despite the fact that Michigan State had a better regular season record <em>and</em> beat Michigan. State will be out to reassert their supremacy.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Alabama at Tennessee</strong>—Saban vs. his defensive coordinator from 2017. <strong>Oklahoma at TCU</strong>—The Sooners beat TCU twice last season, so the Horned Frogs will be set on revenge.</p><h3>Week 9: Texas at Oklahoma State</h3><p>For now, this looks to be the best game in a light Week 9 slate. Last season, Texas held Oklahoma State to a season-low point total in an eventual 13–10 overtime loss. The Cowboys will head into the 2018 season with a bunch of question marks, the most salient of which at quarterback after losing three-year starter Mason Rudolph. This is one of those games that could go a long way in shaping the Big 12 title race, but it also could be far less impactful if Oklahoma distinguishes itself as the class of the conference in the first half.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Florida at Georgia</strong>—The 2017 game was the death knell for the Jim McElwain era in Gainesville. Can Mullen change the conversation? <strong>Wisconsin at Northwestern</strong>—These were the top two teams from the Big Ten West last year, though Northwestern will be without quarterback Clayton Thorson. <strong>Iowa at Penn State</strong>—The Hawkeyes spoiled Ohio State’s playoff hopes last season. Can they ruin Penn State’s in 2018??</p><h3>Week 10: Stanford at Washington</h3><p>Stanford has lost Bryce Love to the NFL, but coach David Shaw finds a way to keep his team near the top of the Pac-12 every season. Quarterback K.J. Costello played pretty well when he took over the starting job midway through the season, and he should improve with another year of development. Jake Browning should be one of the nation’s most productive passers in his senior season, but we’ll know a lot more about Washington as a whole after that season opener against Auburn in Atlanta. No matter what happens in Week 1, this game could be a de facto Pac-12 North championship game.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Texas A&#38;M at Auburn</strong>—The Aggies have to deal with both Bama and Auburn on the road. <strong>Alabama at LSU</strong>—Can the Tigers end a seven-game losing streak to the Tide? <strong>Penn State at Michigan</strong>—The Big Ten East is the gift that keeps on giving.</p><h3>Week 11: Wisconsin at Penn State</h3><p>Wisconsin doesn’t draw the same national attention as some of its Big Ten foes, but the Badgers will once again be the heavy favorite to win the West. Jonathan Taylor rushed for a mind-boggling 1,977 yards as an 18-year-old freshman, and lefty quarterback Alex Hornibrook also returns. But the Badgers might once again have to go undefeated to get into the playoff, as their non-conference schedule (home games against Western Kentucky, New Mexico and BYU) is about as weak as you’ll see from a big-time program with national title aspirations. That makes every game of the utmost importance, and this trip to Happy Valley might carry the most risk and the most reward.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Auburn at Georgia</strong>—A rematch of last year’s SEC title game. <strong>Florida State at Notre Dame</strong>—These last time these two golden helmet–wearers met, in 2014, both teams were ranked in the top five, and Jameis Winston guided the Seminoles to a 31-27 victory. <strong>Oklahoma State at Oklahoma</strong>—Bedlam, minus Mayfield and Rudolph. <strong>Ohio State at Michigan State</strong>—Ohio State won this matchup by 45 in 2017, but something tells me that won’t happen in East Lansing.?</p><h3>Week 12: USC at UCLA</h3><p>Will Chip Kelly’s presence tip the scales in a rivalry that’s been rather one-sided in recent years? USC has won the last three meetings and 15 of the last 19, but Sam Darnold’s departure leaves a little uncertainty about how good the 2018 team will be. UCLA coaches often talk about wanting to “rule the city,” and there’s no better way to do that than to beat USC. Kelly will need some time to implement his system and get his players to Westwood, but a win here would jump-start the rebuilding process.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>West Virginia at Oklahoma State</strong>—West Virginia should be much improved in 2018, the final go-around for Will Grier and David Sills V. <strong>Michigan State at Nebraska</strong>—The importance of this game largely depends on how good Frost’s team will be.?</p><h3>Week 13: Auburn at Alabama</h3><p>It’s always tough to identify the best game from rivalry weekend, which is always filled with classics like Ohio State–Michigan, South Carolina–Clemson and Florida–Florida State. But the Iron Bowl is electric every single year, and 2018 will be no different, with both teams projecting to be among the country’s best. Whether it’s quarterbacked by Jalen Hurts or title game hero Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama loses a ton of offensive talent to the draft. Meanwhile, Auburn loses its top rushers from 2017 but keeps quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Both offenses should reload without issue. The winner of this game will probably represent the West in the SEC title game, and the Tide’s national title won’t curb their desire for revenge after Auburn handled them 26–14 last season.</p><p><em>Honorable mentions: </em><strong>Florida at Florida State</strong>—Mullen vs. Taggart, Volume I. <strong>South Carolina at Clemson</strong>—The Tigers are looking for their fifth straight victory in this rivalry. <strong>Notre Dame at USC</strong>—There’s always something special about watching these two programs face off in Southern California. <strong>Oklahoma State at TCU</strong>—Again, the Cowboys control how much drama this one holds. <strong>Michigan at Ohio State</strong>—Is this the year Harbaugh finally beats the rivals to the south?</p>
The Best Games of Every Week of the 2018 Season

With another season and another Alabama title in the books, it’s time to shift the focus from that epic title game to the epic games to come.

It’s impossible to accurately predict which games will be most impactful a whole year in advance, because way too much can happen between now and the fall of 2018. Heck, it’s often not clear which games mean the most until weeks after the game itself.

Take last year’s Week 1 matchup between Alabama and Florida State. The Tide and Seminoles came to Atlanta ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, and pundits debated whether this was the best opening weekend matchup in college football history. The game itself was a dud: Alabama won 24–7 in nondescript fashion, and Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending leg injury late in the fourth quarter. Fast forward three months, and Florida State needed a win over Louisiana-Monroe to become bowl eligible one day after coach Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M. What was supposed to be Alabama’s signature win lost all its thunder as FSU’s 2017 unraveled completely by mid-October.

On the flip side, matchups are sometimes way, way better and more important than they appear at the time. When UCF and Memphis faced off in late September, not much attention was paid to a game between two unranked AAC teams. UCF, of course, is now claiming a national championship, while Memphis finished the season in the Top 25, with two regular season losses to UCF and a Liberty Bowl loss to Iowa State.

The point of all this is that things change in a hurry in the world of college football. Still, there’s no harm in letting the eyes wander to next year’s schedule to try to pinpoint the best games. Some of these will indeed turn out to be everything we expect and more, while some will be rendered virtually meaningless, whether we know it at the time or not.

Next year’s slate of games features the usual bevy of impactful in-conference gems, but there are some marquee matchups between big-names sprinkled throughout the season that have us hyped. (And the ACC has not released its conference schedule yet, so expect more key games to fill in the gaps within the lighter weeks on this list.) Without further ado:

Week 1: Michigan at Notre Dame

Jim Harbaugh’s seat isn’t warm, but it certainly is not as cool as he’d like it to be. There’s a growing sense of dissatisfaction in Ann Arbor as Harbaugh’s first three teams have struggled to pick up signature wins. Harbaugh gets a chance right off the bat to quiet some of his naysayers with a win over an iconic program like Notre Dame, a proposition that becomes much more likely if Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson is indeed ruled eligible to play quarterback in 2018. Notre Dame finished the ’17 season with a hard-fought 21–17 victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl but will have to replace stud running back Josh Adams, who decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Honorable mention: Auburn vs. Washington?—A season-opening clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta should tell us a lot about both teams. Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma—Lane Kiffin gets a shot at the big boys. Virginia Tech at Florida State—Willie Taggart’s opener in Tallahassee comes on Labor Day. LSU at Miami—Is Miami here to stay? An early test against a upper-tier SEC foe is a good way to find out. Alabama at Louisville—This one would have been a lot more fun with Lamar Jackson.

Week 2: Clemson at Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher doesn’t have to wait long for his first serious test as Texas A&M’s head coach. Kyle Field will be rocking when the new-look Aggies host Clemson, who should be loaded once again and return starting quarterback Kelly Bryant. This game presents an opportunity for Fisher to start off his tenure with a momentum-building victory over a team that’s certain to enter the season ranked in the top three.

Honorable mention: UCLA at Oklahoma—Chip Kelly’s first big test with the Bruins. Colorado at Nebraska—One of the old Big 12’s best rivalries is rekindled, with Scott Frost leading the Cornhuskers. Michigan State at Arizona State—An early look at how Herm Edwards’s Sun Devils measure up to a Top 25 team.

Week 3: TCU vs. Ohio State (at AT&T Stadium)

After a Week 2 loss to Oklahoma at home last season, Ohio State will be looking for a measure of September revenge against the Big 12. That opportunity awaits in Arlington as both the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs break in new quarterbacks. For TCU, it’ll almost certainly be Shawn Robinson, a dual-threat who was the 2016-17 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year. Ohio State’s situation is a little less clear, as Urban Meyer has a few candidates to guide his team through life after J.T. Barrett. The favorite to start for the Buckeyes is Dwayne Haskins, who filled in for an injured Barrett against Michigan, but keep an eye on Tate Martell, a mercurial playmaker who has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel.

Honorable mention: USC at Texas—Last year’s double-overtime thriller at the Coliseum was almost as epic as that national championship game in 2006 without any of the stakes. Boise State at Oklahoma State—Hey Broncos, want some respect? A win in Stillwater should do it. Colorado State at Florida—This game was part of the package Florida gave to Colorado State in exchange for Jim McElwain’s services, but McElwain didn’t last long enough to coach in it.

Week 4: Florida Atlantic at UCF

This is as enticing as a non-Power 5 matchup gets. On one side there’s Lane Kiffin, everyone’s favorite least-favorite coach, and an FAU team that finished ninth in total offense en route to an 11–3 season. This year’s Owls could be even better, as Devin Singletary (1,920 rushing yards, 33 total TDs) is back and Kiffin welcomes the first class of players he recruited to #thefaU. Then there’s UCF, the sort-of defending national champions, who will be looking to prove that their relevance isn’t tied to former head coach Scott Frost. Star quarterback McKenzie Milton returns to power the Knights’ offense, and he should be one of the top passers in the country under the direction of first-year head coach Josh Heupel, who was lured to Orlando after serving as Missouri’s offensive coordinator for two seasons. The points should flow freely.

Honorable mention: Texas A&M at Alabama—Fisher vs. Saban will dominate the midweek headlines. Florida at Tennessee—Another SEC battle, this one between two new coaches in the East in Dan Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt. TCU at Texas—Can Tom Herman’s Longhorns make some headway in the quest to reestablish their place as the state’s premier program?

Week 5: Ohio State at Penn State

The last two matchups between these Big Ten powers have been classics. Back in October, the Buckeyes came back from a 35–20 deficit to eke out a 39–38 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive and crushed Penn State’s. In 2016, the then-unranked Nittany Lions returned a blocked field goal 60 yards in the fourth quarter for a game-winning touchdown on their way to an unlikely Big Ten title. There are few better venues for a huge game than State College, and you can be certain that 100,000-plus dressed in all-white will be packed into Beaver Stadium. This will also be the first real challenge for Penn State’s offense in the post-Saquon Barkley era.

Honorable mention: Tennessee at Georgia—The Bulldogs are very familiar with Pruitt from his short stay in Athens. Stanford at Notre Dame—This is around the time of year the Cardinal typically round into form. Florida at Mississippi State—Mullen’s return to Starkville should be an emotional measuring stick game for both teams.

Week 6: Texas vs. Oklahoma (at the Cotton Bowl)

Tom Herman’s second season at Texas should be marked by the growing influence of players he brought to Austin have on the on-field product. That’s great news for Texas, because Herman’s first recruiting class was a consensus top-five haul, and this year’s could land in the top three. This game will also feature two of the country’s best young quarterbacks in Texas’s Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, the five-star transfer from Texas A&M who faces the unenviable task of replacing Baker Mayfield. Herman’s presence should breathe new life into the Red River Rivalry for years to come.

Honorable mentions: Nebraska at Wisconsin—Could this be the first of many Big Ten West title bouts between these two programs in the years ahead? Notre Dame at Virginia Tech—Keep an eye on the Hokies as a potential ACC sleeper this year.

Week 7: Georgia at LSU

This will be the first matchup between these SEC elites since 2013, and it should be a doozy. The Bulldogs will enter the season as one of the nation’s top teams, fresh off an appearance in the national championship game. Sure, they will miss the graduating running back tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, and yes, they’ll also lose their leading receiver (Javon Wims) and best defensive player (Roquan Smith), but they get quarterback Jake Fromm back and welcome the best recruiting class in the country to campus. This offseason has been notable for the LSU coordinator positions, but for different reasons— defensive coordinator Dave Aranda signed a new deal that will make him the highest-paid assistant in the country ($2.5 million annual salary), while former offensive coordinator Matt Canada was replaced by tight ends coach Steve Ensminger. The Tigers’ defense has been championship-quality for years, and if Ensminger can revitalize a sleepy offensive attack, LSU could challenge for the SEC title.

Honorable mentions: Michigan State at Penn State—Michigan State won a seven-hour marathon in East Lansing last season, otherwise Penn State could well have made the playoff. Wisconsin at Michigan—Another huge test for the Wolverines, who have one of the toughest schedules in the country.

Week 8: Michigan at Michigan State

Harbaugh will be under mountains of pressure to get a win over a rival, as his teams are a combined 1–5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans return 10 starters on offense, including Brian Lewerke, who could become the next in a long line of NFL quarterbacks from Michigan State, and leading rusher L.J. Scott. They also get nine starters back on defense. The 2017 bowl selection process added another level of tension to this game: Spartans fans fumed when Michigan was selected for the Outback Bowl over Michigan State despite the fact that Michigan State had a better regular season record and beat Michigan. State will be out to reassert their supremacy.

Honorable mentions: Alabama at Tennessee—Saban vs. his defensive coordinator from 2017. Oklahoma at TCU—The Sooners beat TCU twice last season, so the Horned Frogs will be set on revenge.

Week 9: Texas at Oklahoma State

For now, this looks to be the best game in a light Week 9 slate. Last season, Texas held Oklahoma State to a season-low point total in an eventual 13–10 overtime loss. The Cowboys will head into the 2018 season with a bunch of question marks, the most salient of which at quarterback after losing three-year starter Mason Rudolph. This is one of those games that could go a long way in shaping the Big 12 title race, but it also could be far less impactful if Oklahoma distinguishes itself as the class of the conference in the first half.

Honorable mentions: Florida at Georgia—The 2017 game was the death knell for the Jim McElwain era in Gainesville. Can Mullen change the conversation? Wisconsin at Northwestern—These were the top two teams from the Big Ten West last year, though Northwestern will be without quarterback Clayton Thorson. Iowa at Penn State—The Hawkeyes spoiled Ohio State’s playoff hopes last season. Can they ruin Penn State’s in 2018??

Week 10: Stanford at Washington

Stanford has lost Bryce Love to the NFL, but coach David Shaw finds a way to keep his team near the top of the Pac-12 every season. Quarterback K.J. Costello played pretty well when he took over the starting job midway through the season, and he should improve with another year of development. Jake Browning should be one of the nation’s most productive passers in his senior season, but we’ll know a lot more about Washington as a whole after that season opener against Auburn in Atlanta. No matter what happens in Week 1, this game could be a de facto Pac-12 North championship game.

Honorable mentions: Texas A&M at Auburn—The Aggies have to deal with both Bama and Auburn on the road. Alabama at LSU—Can the Tigers end a seven-game losing streak to the Tide? Penn State at Michigan—The Big Ten East is the gift that keeps on giving.

Week 11: Wisconsin at Penn State

Wisconsin doesn’t draw the same national attention as some of its Big Ten foes, but the Badgers will once again be the heavy favorite to win the West. Jonathan Taylor rushed for a mind-boggling 1,977 yards as an 18-year-old freshman, and lefty quarterback Alex Hornibrook also returns. But the Badgers might once again have to go undefeated to get into the playoff, as their non-conference schedule (home games against Western Kentucky, New Mexico and BYU) is about as weak as you’ll see from a big-time program with national title aspirations. That makes every game of the utmost importance, and this trip to Happy Valley might carry the most risk and the most reward.

Honorable mentions: Auburn at Georgia—A rematch of last year’s SEC title game. Florida State at Notre Dame—These last time these two golden helmet–wearers met, in 2014, both teams were ranked in the top five, and Jameis Winston guided the Seminoles to a 31-27 victory. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma—Bedlam, minus Mayfield and Rudolph. Ohio State at Michigan State—Ohio State won this matchup by 45 in 2017, but something tells me that won’t happen in East Lansing.?

Week 12: USC at UCLA

Will Chip Kelly’s presence tip the scales in a rivalry that’s been rather one-sided in recent years? USC has won the last three meetings and 15 of the last 19, but Sam Darnold’s departure leaves a little uncertainty about how good the 2018 team will be. UCLA coaches often talk about wanting to “rule the city,” and there’s no better way to do that than to beat USC. Kelly will need some time to implement his system and get his players to Westwood, but a win here would jump-start the rebuilding process.

Honorable mentions: West Virginia at Oklahoma State—West Virginia should be much improved in 2018, the final go-around for Will Grier and David Sills V. Michigan State at Nebraska—The importance of this game largely depends on how good Frost’s team will be.?

Week 13: Auburn at Alabama

It’s always tough to identify the best game from rivalry weekend, which is always filled with classics like Ohio State–Michigan, South Carolina–Clemson and Florida–Florida State. But the Iron Bowl is electric every single year, and 2018 will be no different, with both teams projecting to be among the country’s best. Whether it’s quarterbacked by Jalen Hurts or title game hero Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama loses a ton of offensive talent to the draft. Meanwhile, Auburn loses its top rushers from 2017 but keeps quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Both offenses should reload without issue. The winner of this game will probably represent the West in the SEC title game, and the Tide’s national title won’t curb their desire for revenge after Auburn handled them 26–14 last season.

Honorable mentions: Florida at Florida State—Mullen vs. Taggart, Volume I. South Carolina at Clemson—The Tigers are looking for their fifth straight victory in this rivalry. Notre Dame at USC—There’s always something special about watching these two programs face off in Southern California. Oklahoma State at TCU—Again, the Cowboys control how much drama this one holds. Michigan at Ohio State—Is this the year Harbaugh finally beats the rivals to the south?

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.

Minnesota

Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.

TCU

A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Alabama

Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.

Syracuse

The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.

Notre Dame

You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

ICYMI

There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional celebration from coach Shaka Smart and Jones’s teammates holding his jersey aloft during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

"It's incredibly heartbreaking news," Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. "You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it's out of your control." The school has set up a fund for donors to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.

High Five

1. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.

3. Ohio State: This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.

4. Villanova: The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.

5. Rhode Island: The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.

Top of the Classes

Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard

Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.

Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward

The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.

Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard

The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.

Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard

At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Bests of the Best

Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...

...sports movie. “I would say He Got Game, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”

...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”

...player to impersonate growing up. “Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”

...condiment for a hot dog. “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”

As the scandal turns...

Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.

This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that's who I am. That's why that kid is in school right now. I'm not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That's what education is about.”

Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Social Media Post of the Week

Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Stadium via Facebook Live

If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot Big Red.

Before You’re Dismissed...

• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, compared the current climate of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can be read here, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.

• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is suing former friend Ron Bell and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.

This story from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.

• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at the best Wooden Award candidates besides Trae Young.

• I saw this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.

• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, here’s my column from September arguing why that is a fair and logical move.

• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.

• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis told Adam Zagoria, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.

• But seriously, that Mike Hopkins clip.

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.

Minnesota

Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.

TCU

A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Alabama

Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.

Syracuse

The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.

Notre Dame

You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

ICYMI

There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional celebration from coach Shaka Smart and Jones’s teammates holding his jersey aloft during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

"It's incredibly heartbreaking news," Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. "You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it's out of your control." The school has set up a fund for donors to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.

High Five

1. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.

3. Ohio State: This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.

4. Villanova: The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.

5. Rhode Island: The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.

Top of the Classes

Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard

Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.

Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward

The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.

Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard

The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.

Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard

At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Bests of the Best

Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...

...sports movie. “I would say He Got Game, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”

...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”

...player to impersonate growing up. “Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”

...condiment for a hot dog. “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”

As the scandal turns...

Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.

This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that's who I am. That's why that kid is in school right now. I'm not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That's what education is about.”

Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Social Media Post of the Week

Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Stadium via Facebook Live

If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot Big Red.

Before You’re Dismissed...

• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, compared the current climate of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can be read here, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.

• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is suing former friend Ron Bell and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.

This story from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.

• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at the best Wooden Award candidates besides Trae Young.

• I saw this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.

• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, here’s my column from September arguing why that is a fair and logical move.

• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.

• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis told Adam Zagoria, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.

• But seriously, that Mike Hopkins clip.

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.

Minnesota

Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.

TCU

A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Alabama

Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.

Syracuse

The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.

Notre Dame

You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

ICYMI

There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional celebration from coach Shaka Smart and Jones’s teammates holding his jersey aloft during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

"It's incredibly heartbreaking news," Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. "You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it's out of your control." The school has set up a fund for donors to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.

High Five

1. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.

3. Ohio State: This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.

4. Villanova: The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.

5. Rhode Island: The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.

Top of the Classes

Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard

Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.

Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward

The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.

Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard

The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.

Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard

At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Bests of the Best

Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...

...sports movie. “I would say He Got Game, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”

...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”

...player to impersonate growing up. “Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”

...condiment for a hot dog. “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”

As the scandal turns...

Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.

This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that's who I am. That's why that kid is in school right now. I'm not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That's what education is about.”

Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Social Media Post of the Week

Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Stadium via Facebook Live

If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot Big Red.

Before You’re Dismissed...

• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, compared the current climate of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can be read here, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.

• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is suing former friend Ron Bell and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.

This story from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.

• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at the best Wooden Award candidates besides Trae Young.

• I saw this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.

• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, here’s my column from September arguing why that is a fair and logical move.

• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.

• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis told Adam Zagoria, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.

• But seriously, that Mike Hopkins clip.

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.

Minnesota

Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.

TCU

A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Alabama

Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.

Syracuse

The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.

Notre Dame

You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

ICYMI

There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional celebration from coach Shaka Smart and Jones’s teammates holding his jersey aloft during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

"It's incredibly heartbreaking news," Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. "You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it's out of your control." The school has set up a fund for donors to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.

High Five

1. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.

3. Ohio State: This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.

4. Villanova: The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.

5. Rhode Island: The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.

Top of the Classes

Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard

Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.

Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward

The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.

Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard

The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.

Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard

At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Bests of the Best

Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...

...sports movie. “I would say He Got Game, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”

...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”

...player to impersonate growing up. “Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”

...condiment for a hot dog. “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”

As the scandal turns...

Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.

This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that's who I am. That's why that kid is in school right now. I'm not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That's what education is about.”

Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Social Media Post of the Week

Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Stadium via Facebook Live

If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot Big Red.

Before You’re Dismissed...

• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, compared the current climate of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can be read here, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.

• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is suing former friend Ron Bell and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.

This story from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.

• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at the best Wooden Award candidates besides Trae Young.

• I saw this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.

• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, here’s my column from September arguing why that is a fair and logical move.

• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.

• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis told Adam Zagoria, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.

• But seriously, that Mike Hopkins clip.

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.

Minnesota

Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.

TCU

A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Alabama

Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.

Syracuse

The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.

Notre Dame

You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

ICYMI

There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional celebration from coach Shaka Smart and Jones’s teammates holding his jersey aloft during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

"It's incredibly heartbreaking news," Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. "You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it's out of your control." The school has set up a fund for donors to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.

High Five

1. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.

3. Ohio State: This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.

4. Villanova: The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.

5. Rhode Island: The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.

Top of the Classes

Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard

Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.

Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward

The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.

Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard

The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.

Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard

At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Bests of the Best

Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...

...sports movie. “I would say He Got Game, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”

...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”

...player to impersonate growing up. “Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”

...condiment for a hot dog. “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”

As the scandal turns...

Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.

This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that's who I am. That's why that kid is in school right now. I'm not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That's what education is about.”

Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Social Media Post of the Week

Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Stadium via Facebook Live

If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot Big Red.

Before You’re Dismissed...

• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, compared the current climate of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can be read here, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.

• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is suing former friend Ron Bell and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.

This story from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.

• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at the best Wooden Award candidates besides Trae Young.

• I saw this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.

• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, here’s my column from September arguing why that is a fair and logical move.

• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.

• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis told Adam Zagoria, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.

• But seriously, that Mike Hopkins clip.

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.

Minnesota

Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.

TCU

A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Alabama

Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.

Syracuse

The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.

Notre Dame

You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

ICYMI

There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional celebration from coach Shaka Smart and Jones’s teammates holding his jersey aloft during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

"It's incredibly heartbreaking news," Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. "You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it's out of your control." The school has set up a fund for donors to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.

High Five

1. Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.

3. Ohio State: This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.

4. Villanova: The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.

5. Rhode Island: The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.

Top of the Classes

Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard

Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.

Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward

The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.

Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard

The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.

Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard

At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Bests of the Best

Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...

...sports movie. “I would say He Got Game, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”

...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”

...player to impersonate growing up. “Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”

...condiment for a hot dog. “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”

As the scandal turns...

Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.

This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that's who I am. That's why that kid is in school right now. I'm not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That's what education is about.”

Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Social Media Post of the Week

Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Stadium via Facebook Live

If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot Big Red.

Before You’re Dismissed...

• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, compared the current climate of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can be read here, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.

• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is suing former friend Ron Bell and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.

This story from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.

• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at the best Wooden Award candidates besides Trae Young.

• I saw this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.

• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, here’s my column from September arguing why that is a fair and logical move.

• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.

• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis told Adam Zagoria, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.

• But seriously, that Mike Hopkins clip.

<p>The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.</p><p>But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.</p><p>On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.</p><p>With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckLGdrRrzO0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.</p><h3>Michigan State</h3><p>After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.</p><h3>Kansas</h3><p>Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.</p><h3>Arizona State</h3><p>The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense has become lax: after allowing more than one point per possession just four times in their first 12 games, they’ve done so against all five of their Pac-12 opponents. I’d imagine before the season any Sun Devils fan would have taken simply being in the Top 25 on Jan. 15 with wins over Kansas and Xavier, but getting back toward the top of the polls will take some cleaning up, as well as getting guard Tra Holder back on track.</p><h3>North Carolina</h3><p>The Tar Heels are hard to peg. They lost at home to Wofford, nearly lost there to Wake Forest, lost twice on the road, then barely scraped by a very shorthanded Notre Dame team back in Chapel Hill. But there’s no real glaring weakness aside from allowing teams to take way too many threes (they make up 42.7% of UNC’s points allowed, second most in the country)—and those weren’t necessarily what caused their losses. Getting to the line and finding some more outside shooting would help, but North Carolina looks like it will settle in as a pretty good team who could be prone to an upset.</p><h3>Minnesota</h3><p>Things are getting ugly for the Golden Gophers, losers of three in a row, two of which came to Northwestern (by 23!) and Indiana before a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue this weekend. Minnesota simply haven’t been able to shoot the ball, ranking 12th in the Big Ten in two-point field goal percentage during conference play and 13th from three-point range, and are getting dominated on the glass on both ends. With Jordan Murphy looking more mortal these days, this suddenly looks like it could be an uphill battle to even make the tourney.</p><h3>TCU</h3><p>A team that started 12-0 now being 13-4 looks pretty alarming on the surface, but the Horned Frogs are being graded on a pair of curves: the quality of the Big 12 and the history of the program. It seemed obvious Jamie Dixon’s team would come down to earth a bit in league play, as its early-season schedule was set up for success, but TCU is actually incredibly close to looking like it hardly as any cause for concern at all, as its four losses are by a combined 13 points. The next two months will be a battle as they try to elbow their way into the middle of the conference, but if they continue to play at this level and a break or two goes their way, they should be fine and headed to their first NCAA berth in 20 years.</p><h3>Alabama</h3><p>Yes, the Tide won both of their games last week, but that was the first time they’d won consecutive games since Thanksgiving week. With Collin Sexton and John Petty arriving, there were big expectations for Avery Johnson’s third season, which began with Alabama on the fringe of the Top 25. Now it’s looking like a mid-level SEC team who will have to pull off a surprise or two to even secure an NCAA invite. A win over in-state rival Auburn at home this week could go a long way toward doing so.</p><h3>Syracuse</h3><p>The good news is that the Orange’s four-game slide leads them right into the softest part of their ACC schedule, which closes out January with two games against Pittsburgh, a home date with B.C., and a trip to Georgia Tech. The bad news is that they just don’t look like much of a tournament team, struggling to score in general (109th in offensive efficiency, 294th in effective field goal percentage) and lacking shooting specifically. The zone will help them pull out a win or two that they otherwise shouldn’t, and that may score them an at-large bid, but first they need to stop their skid before it becomes a tailspin.</p><h3>Notre Dame</h3><p>You could make the case that the Irish are a five-warthog team, as they’ve likely lost do-everything star forward Bonzie Colson for the season and have been without point guard Matt Farrell due to an ankle injury. But Notre Dame has played admirably since the injuries, going 2-2 and nearly beating North Carolina this weekend. And really, when you lose your two high-usage stars like that, there’s only so much you can do. At this point the Irish are, in an unfortunate way, practically playing with house money. As long as they stay competitive, why worry?</p><p>If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to <a href="https://twitter.com/allan_cheapshot/status/952572478282452992" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">discuss your favorite La Parka GIFs</a>, you can find me <a href="https://twitter.com/thedangreene" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Twitter @thedangreene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Twitter @thedangreene</a>. Thanks for reading.</p><h3>ICYMI</h3><p>There was some terrible news out of Texas this week that had nothing to do with basketball. On Wednesday the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones, the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer, is undergoing treatment for leukemia. That night there was, at the very least, a bit of a temporary feel-good reprieve for the program, as Texas beat No. 16 TCU in double overtime, capped with an emotional <a href="https://twitter.com/Kil889/status/951315948346265600" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:celebration from coach Shaka Smart" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">celebration from coach Shaka Smart</a> and Jones’s teammates <a href="https://twitter.com/mshap2/status/951314351864066049" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding his jersey aloft" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding his jersey aloft</a> during a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s incredibly heartbreaking news,&quot; Smart said on the Big 12 coaches’ <a href="https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/01/11/reality-right-now-shaka-smart-reflects-emotional-day-after-andrew-jones-leukemia-diagnosis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:conference call" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">conference call</a>. &quot;You feel a helpless feeling because you want to do things to make it better. But a lot of times, it&#39;s out of your control.&quot; The school has set up <a href="https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/9014" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a fund for donors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a fund for donors</a> to help support Jones and his family with expenses as he battles the disease. As of this writing 1,174 people had contributed more than $87,000.</p><h3>High Five</h3><p><strong>1. Purdue:</strong> The Boilermakers haven’t lost since dropping back-to-back games in the Bahamas to Tennessee and Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend, and this week eked out a road win over a quality Michigan team and decimated Minnesota in Minneapolis. A year after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year, Purdue is looking like the class of the conference.</p><p><strong>2. Oklahoma: </strong>The Sooners picked up two high-quality home wins, grinding one out against No. 8 Texas Tech and coming back late to top No. 16 TCU in overtime. Trae Young was, again, out of this world, scoring 22 in the second half against the Red Raiders and totaling 43 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Horned Frogs. Classmate Brady Manek added 22 against TCU, including six threes on nine tries.</p><p><strong>3. Ohio State:</strong> This should be the week that gets the Buckeyes into the rankings. They beat Maryland and Rutgers this week by 22 points apiece and big man Keita Bates-Diop continued to build his All-America case by averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over the two games.</p><p><strong>4. Villanova:</strong> The win at St. John’s was probably closer than the Wildcats would have liked, but the 24-point win over Xavier was their second most impressive of the season (after their 16-point beating of Gonzaga in early December). Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo each had 20-plus-point games last week, showing off the secondary scoring power that can make Villanova so hard to contain.</p><p><strong>5. Rhode Island:</strong> The Rams are the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated team, with the closest of their five wins being last Tuesday’s 72-65 win at Saint Louis. Their 14-point home win over a talented St. Bonaventure squad should affirm them as the clear alpha in an A-10 down year. Dan Hurley’s team is small—there’s almost never more than one player on the floor taller than 6’5”—but mighty.</p><h3>Top of the Classes</h3><p><strong>Senior: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State guard</strong></p><p>Hutchison’s shot wasn’t falling in Wednesday’s win at Fresno State (he shot 3-for-12) but he sank 15-of-18 free throws to finish with 21 points (and 10 rebounds). On Saturday he regained his stroke, making seven of 10 threes and 15 of 21 field goals overall in a 44-point effort against San Diego State.</p><p><strong>Junior: Luke Maye, North Carolina forward</strong></p><p>The Tar Heels got back on track with two wins this week thanks in large part to Maye, who set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18) against Boston College and then contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame.</p><p><strong>Sophomore: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts guard</strong></p><p>The 5’11” Chicagoan followed a 44-point, five-assist explosion in Wednesday’s win over La Salle with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Minutemen’s defeat of Saint Joseph’s.</p><p><strong>Freshman: Trae Young, Oklahoma guard</strong></p><p>At a certain point—maybe after a third 40-point game?—perhaps Young shouldn’t be considered a freshman anymore. Over the Sooners’ two wins this week, the country’s leading scorer and assist-giver averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.</p><h3>Bests of the Best</h3><p><em>Each week, we’ll get to know a standout player a little better by asking them about some of the best things in the world. This week we welcome Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, who is averaging 15.8 points and 5.0 assists and whose 135.9 offensive rating ranks ninth in the country. So, Landry, tell us about the best...</em></p><p><strong>...sports movie. </strong>“I would say <em>He Got Game</em>, with Jesus Shuttlesworth—just the fact that it’s actually Ray Allen, and Denzel has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s just been kind of one of my favorite movies growing up. Whenever it’s on TV, I watch it, then I’ve got the DVD of it at my house too.”</p><p><strong>...you’ve ever felt on a basketball court. “</strong>Even though I didn’t play well, my first NCAA tournament win, against Dayton last year. Even just touching the court for the first time and seeing my mom there, it was pretty cool. Just looking up and seeing her and being in an NCAA tournament, it was a dream come true. It was surreal and cool to briefly soak in that moment.”</p><p><strong>...player to impersonate growing up. </strong>“Derrick Rose, his like 2010 to 2014, when he was healthy and kind of changing the NBA. If people ask me who my favorite player is, I always say 2010-11 Derrick Rose, the MVP season. I just loved watching how athletic he was. Obviously, I wasn’t as athletic as he was when I was younger, but I would try to vary my finishes and get creative protecting the ball from the defense.”</p><p><strong>...condiment for a hot dog.</strong> “I don’t know how common this is, but I’d say barbecue sauce. I’m a big barbecue sauce guy. Mustard is a close second. I eat brats more than hot dogs, but those are about the same thing, or close to it. I’m from Kansas City and that’s a big barbecue spot. That’s kind of my thing. So one time I just figured why not and put barbecue sauce on there. It just kind of stuck.”</p><h3>As the scandal turns...</h3><p>Among the various transactions uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, perhaps the most consequential thus far has been Louisville’s funneling of $100,000 to the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen, which led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich and opposing lawsuits between Pitino and the school. (Prison time, should any of those arrested come to serve it, would obviously be of greater consequence than any of this, but whether the charges lead to any remains to be seen.) But while Pitino and Jurich remain out of work, Bowen has found a landing place: this week he was admitted to South Carolina, where he will seek reinstatement from the NCAA.</p><p>This new home raised many an eyebrow. After all, South Carolina was the previous employer of former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans—indicted on charges in the probe—who worked under Gamecocks coach Frank Martin both at that school and at Kansas State. Martin’s computer was also searched by the FBI as part of its investigation, though he has not been named at all in connection to the scandal. Martin spoke to CBS Sports about his choice to take Bowen, explaining: “I chose to be in education; that&#39;s who I am. That&#39;s why that kid is in school right now. I&#39;m not into the phoniness of this business. You give him a chance. That&#39;s what education is about.”</p><p>Bowen’s reinstatement application should be an interesting one, and the NCAA’s ruling will almost certainly carry a penalty, should he be reinstated at all. It’s yet another case to keep an eye on in the coming months.</p><h3>Social Media Post of the Week</h3><h3>Assigned Viewing: Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watchstadium/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stadium via Facebook Live" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stadium via Facebook Live</a></h3><p>If you’re looking to get an early jump on your Cinderella studies, it will be a good idea to get yourself familiar with these teams. Both 5-0 in Conference USA, if one or both winds up in the tournament, they will be strong candidates to pull off an early upset. Middle Tennessee has done so for the past two seasons, stunning Michigan State (as a 15 seed) in 2016 and beating Minnesota last March. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, can boast high-major talent (wing Darius Thompson transferred from Virginia, big man Dwight Coleby from Kansas) and wins over Purdue and SMU. Plus you’ll get to see two of the most enjoyable characters in college hoops: Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts and WKU mascot <a href="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Big Red" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Big Red</a>.</p><h3>Before You’re Dismissed...</h3><p>• As referenced above, Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch was found “responsible” by the university for two incidents of sexual misconduct. The handling of the situation has been lacking in several ways—Lynch was permitted to play while under investigation, which coach Richard Pitino has explained as being consistent with university policy—but it got even worse when Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, <a href="https://deadspin.com/reggie-lynchs-lawyer-warns-of-sexual-assault-hysteria-1821967691" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:compared the current climate" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">compared the current climate</a> of sexual assault allegations to “the hysteria when World War II started, and we had the Japanese internment camps.” The woman from one of the cases released a statement, which can <a href="https://twitter.com/abbyhonold/status/951243588498796547/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&#38;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadspin.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-951243588498796547%26autosize%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:be read here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">be read here</a>, criticizing Pacyga for cavalierly discussing details of her attack.</p><p>• The latest in the strange case of a soured friendship turned NCAA violations case at Georgia Tech: coach Josh Pastner is <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/12/georgia-tech-josh-pastner-defamation-lawsuit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suing former friend Ron Bell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suing former friend Ron Bell</a> and Bell’s girlfriend for defamation and claiming they planned to blackmail and extort him. It’s been a strange, disappointing season in Atlanta.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/03/feature/american-indian-high-school-basketball-star-mya-fourstar-pursues-dream-of-playing-college-basketball/?utm_term=.235806c181f8&#38;wpisrc=al_sports__alert-sports--alert-national--alert-local&#38;wpmk=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:This story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">This story</a> from Jesse Dougherty on Mya Fourstar, a high school basketball star trying to make the rare jump from Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Division I, is really worth your time.</p><p>• If you didn’t catch it last week, here’s a good look from SI’s Chris Johnson at <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best Wooden Award candidates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best Wooden Award candidates </a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:besides" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">besides</a><a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/10/national-player-year-candidates-young-brunson-bagley-ayton-graham?utm_campaign=si-ncaabb&#38;utm_source=twitter.com&#38;utm_medium=social&#38;xid=socialflow_twitter_si" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Trae Young" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Trae Young</a>.</p><p>• I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this clip of Washington coach Mike Hopkins</a> without any context and enjoyed it so much I refuse to find any.</p><p>• With new reports that the NCAA is considering allowing transfers to play immediately, <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/08/ncaa-transfer-rule-immediate-eligibility-scott-drew-archie-miller" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here’s my column from September" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here’s my column from September</a> arguing why that is a fair and logical move.</p><p>• As of this writing, the Big 12 was investigating what <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/01/14/west-virginia-player-punches-texas-tech-fan-court-storming-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">appeared to be a punch thrown at a Texas Tech fan by West Virginia forward Wesley Harris</a> after the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers. This will yet again rouse the usual arguments about rushing the court, which is a fun thing I love to see, but absolutely cannot result in incidents like this. And while yes, if court-storming were banned this wouldn’t have happened, the onus is on the wrongdoer. Better policies should be put into place to better establish separation between opposing players and fans before we stop the practice entirely.</p><p>• How’s this for ambition: in discussing what he’s looking for in a college, five-star recruit Scottie Lewis <a href="http://www.zagsblog.com/2018/01/14/scottie-lewis-planning-cut-list-add-notre-dame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Adam Zagoria" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told Adam Zagoria</a>, “When I put the ball down, I want to be able to own [an NBA] team, so from an academic standpoint, how can you help me do that?” That’s one of the best recruiting quotes you’ll see all year.</p><p>• But seriously, <a href="https://twitter.com/1nceagain2zelda/status/951728485919211520" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Mike Hopkins clip" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Mike Hopkins clip</a>.</p>
As We Approach Tournament Time, Should Your Team Be Worried About its March Fate?

The odds are pretty good that wherever you are is pretty cold right now. Mid-January will do that. I traveled from my home in New York to the middle of the country last week and thought maybe that would mean not returning from every trip outside feeling like I should thaw myself inside of a fire. It did not. It might have been even worse there because it was horribly windy. Spring seems very, very far away.

But March—March is a little bit closer than that. We’re less than seven weeks from the month itself and almost two months exactly from the beginning of the NCAA tournament (which incidentally is one full week before the first day of spring). Teams’ resumes are building into at-large shape, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who might be real contenders for the national title.

On the flip side, we’re also getting into the time period where, if things aren’t going your way, the steady march toward, um, March is cause for concern, that much closer are you to whatever final form you make take. And if you’re a fan stuck inside during the bitter heart of winter, it’s an easy time to sit around getting stir-crazy and freak out about stuff.

With those things in mind, it’s time to debut a new and potentially short-lived SI.com feature: the Worry Warthogs, in which various teams’ causes for concern are graded on a scale of one to five wild boar emojis, because wild boars and warthogs are basically the same thing. (This column’s theme song can be found here.) The concern levels are relative to expectations; some teams may be finding their legitimate title hopes in jeopardy, while others are trying to simply make the tournament at all. What they all have in common is a spate of troubling recent performances and, now, some pictures of warthogs next to their names.

Michigan State

After entering the New Year ranked No. 1, two decisive losses in three games—with an overtime trip at home against Rutgers sandwiched between them—have the Spartans trending downward. Tom Izzo’s young team is struggling with its opponents’ physicality, but the timing of this rough patch is fortunate. The Spartans do not play again until hosting Indiana on Friday, then travel to Illinois and host Wisconsin the following week. That’s about as good a get-right Big Ten stretch as they could ask for right now. Between the schedule’s leeway and Izzo at the reins, things should be looking up soon.

Kansas

Standards are higher in Lawrence, where there are sixth graders who’ve never lived in a world where the Jayhawks did not claim at least part of a Big 12 title. That streak looks more jeopardized than ever in a season where the rest of the league is so strong and Kansas has lost twice at home—and came close to losing twice more there this past week, to Iowa State and Kansas State. The arrival of Silvio de Sousa may help once he gets more acclimated and up to speed, but this is still a team reliant on jump shots and lacking in scorers who can create their own offense. The Jayhawks still look like a potential second-weekend team, but the way things stand now, they won’t enter as likely Final Four contenders for the first time in years.

Arizona State

The country’s nonconference darlings are having a rough go of Pac-12 play, beginning in 2-3 with both victories being nail-biters against also-rans (Utah and Oregon State). What’s gone wrong? The Sun Devils are shooting significantly worse (41.4% in conference play vs. 50.8% in nonconference) and their defense