Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

<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 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>Zach LaVine will finally take the floor on Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons, but the past of Derrick Rose looms over him.</p>
Derrick Rose’s past looms over Zach LaVine’s return

Zach LaVine will finally take the floor on Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons, but the past of Derrick Rose looms over him.

<p><strong>UPDATE</strong> <em>(1:40 p.m. ET): Updated to include reports and images of coastal flooding in Massachusetts</em></p> <hr> <p>Well, we were warned.</p> <p>A giant swath of the east coast is getting a heaping dose of winter <a href="http://mashable.com/2018/01/03/bomb-cyclone-to-hit-east-coast-polar-vortex-to-follow/?utm_campaign&#38;utm_context=textlink&#38;utm_medium=rss&#38;utm_source" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:thanks to a powerful, fast-moving &quot;bomb cyclone&quot; winter storm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">thanks to a powerful, fast-moving &quot;bomb cyclone&quot; winter storm</a> that whipped straight along the coast, having already dumped snow <a href="http://mashable.com/2018/01/03/snow-in-florida-georgia-carolinas-reactions-videos/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:across parts of the South" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">across parts of the South</a> not accustomed to such winter weather.</p> <p>Now, it&#39;s your turn, North Atlantic. Parts of Virginia and New Jersey have already been hit with near white-out conditions and the bulk of the storm is now moving on to New York, Connecticut, and other parts of New England.&#160;</p> <p><a href="http://mashable.com/2018/01/03/bomb-cyclone-to-hit-east-coast-polar-vortex-to-follow/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:From Mashable&#39;s Andrew Freedman" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">From <em>Mashable</em>&#39;s Andrew Freedman</a>:</p> <p>The snow is already piling up Thursday morning and will continue to bury the area throughout the day.&#160;</p> <p>Images and video of the storm poured in from up and down the eastern seaboard.</p> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Astonishing scenes on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront as <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WinterStormGrayson?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#WinterStormGrayson" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#WinterStormGrayson</a> continued to bomb off the coast. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/vawx?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#vawx" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#vawx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/stormhour?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#stormhour" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#stormhour</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/spann?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@spann" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@spann</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCantore?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JimCantore" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JimCantore</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ReedTimmerAccu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@ReedTimmerAccu" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@ReedTimmerAccu</a> <a href="https://t.co/MmhsftdJDH" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/MmhsftdJDH" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/MmhsftdJDH</a></p> <p>&#8212; Mark Overbeck (@Mrk_WX) <a href="https://twitter.com/Mrk_WX/status/948880031455109120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Snowy Atlantic City, NJ. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://t.co/fgcPpRMdtm" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/fgcPpRMdtm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/fgcPpRMdtm</a></p> <p>&#8212; StormForce_1 (@StormForce_1) <a href="https://twitter.com/StormForce_1/status/948794345787940864?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>EWR, JFK, and LGA all with blizzard conditions now. The city is getting CRUSHED.</p> <p>&#8212; Ryan Hanrahan (@ryanhanrahan) <a href="https://twitter.com/ryanhanrahan/status/948960913691901954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>RT VictorOquendo: Brutal wind and snow right now in Asbury Park, New Jersey: <a href="https://t.co/dfaREkOBID" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/dfaREkOBID" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/dfaREkOBID</a></p> <p>&#8212; Derrick Rose WHAS11 (@WHAS11DRose) <a href="https://twitter.com/WHAS11DRose/status/948920829777268736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Plenty of snow falling now - and plenty of wind to accompany it. Here&#39;s the view from Inwood. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NY1Snow?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#NY1Snow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#NY1Snow</a> <a href="https://t.co/2FpV6U53uT" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/2FpV6U53uT" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/2FpV6U53uT</a></p> <p>&#8212; Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) <a href="https://twitter.com/NY1/status/948928591349387265?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Coinc&#233; &#224; New York <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Snow?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Snow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Snow</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/storm?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#storm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#storm</a> <a href="https://t.co/DvTAmU7g0L" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/DvTAmU7g0L" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/DvTAmU7g0L</a></p> <p>&#8212; OGKerri (@OG_Kerri) <a href="https://twitter.com/OG_Kerri/status/948925748777246720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Making my way downtown, waking slow, faces low, and I&#8217;m work bound <a href="https://t.co/6VxXfZdB7U" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/6VxXfZdB7U" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/6VxXfZdB7U</a></p> <p>&#8212; Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) <a href="https://twitter.com/JasonAbbruzzese/status/948906074484158464?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Snow morning Jersey@GarySzatkowski <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCantore?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JimCantore" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JimCantore</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/jimcramer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jimcramer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@jimcramer</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ReporterJim?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@ReporterJim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@ReporterJim</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/nynjpaweather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@nynjpaweather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@nynjpaweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/tom_arnone?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@tom_arnone" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@tom_arnone</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/brian4NY?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@brian4NY" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@brian4NY</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WildFlowersNJ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@WildFlowersNJ" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@WildFlowersNJ</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/beachhausbeer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@beachhausbeer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@beachhausbeer</a> <a href="https://t.co/sBoQHZODWU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/sBoQHZODWU" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/sBoQHZODWU</a></p> <p>&#8212; Bill Mckim (@belmardays) <a href="https://twitter.com/belmardays/status/948908657600757761?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Visibility is about 100-150 yards on ocean Ave <a href="https://twitter.com/brian4NY?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@brian4NY" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@brian4NY</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JamesGWeather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JamesGWeather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JamesGWeather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DinaLongSB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@DinaLongSB" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@DinaLongSB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AmyFreeze7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@AmyFreeze7" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@AmyFreeze7</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCantore?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JimCantore" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JimCantore</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/nynjpaweather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@nynjpaweather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@nynjpaweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DanaPerino?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@DanaPerino" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@DanaPerino</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jersey?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Jersey" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Jersey</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://t.co/ntObXuUZih" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/ntObXuUZih" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/ntObXuUZih</a></p> <p>&#8212; Bill Mckim (@belmardays) <a href="https://twitter.com/belmardays/status/948920884500234240?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div>  <p>By early afternoon, there were reports of coastal flooding caused by the storm in Boston and along the Massachusetts coast.&#160;</p> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Perfect storm of ingredients for a major coastal flood<br><br>1) Supermoon Monday (high astro tides)<br>2) Worst of the storm hitting *at* high tide<br>3) Ice hunks chucked ashore from recent arctic cold<br>4) Some sea level rise since 1978 also &#39;helps&#39;</p> <p>&#8212; Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) <a href="https://twitter.com/ericfisher/status/948987377057456130?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SevereCoastalFlood?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#SevereCoastalFlood" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#SevereCoastalFlood</a> worst ever in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Gloucester?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Gloucester" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Gloucester</a> ma.. pics of highschool , Commercial st , Washington St , Harbor road all under FEET of Ocean!!! <a href="https://t.co/gkPjACFLkq" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/gkPjACFLkq" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/gkPjACFLkq</a></p> <p>&#8212; NEMAStormWatch (@PeterLovasco) <a href="https://twitter.com/PeterLovasco/status/948987506359455745?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MBTA?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MBTA" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MBTA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueLine?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#BlueLine" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#BlueLine</a>: The Harbor side entrance at Aquarium Station is temporarily closed. Please use the State Street entrance/exit: <a href="https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi</a> <a href="https://t.co/yCcprm0Mwj" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/yCcprm0Mwj" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/yCcprm0Mwj</a></p> <p>&#8212; MBTA (@MBTA) <a href="https://twitter.com/MBTA/status/948977593281404928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAflood?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MAflood" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MAflood</a> View from Seaport Lane <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Boston?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Boston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Boston</a> looking east down Seaport Blvd. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAwx?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MAwx" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MAwx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wx?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Wx" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Wx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAtraffic?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MAtraffic" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MAtraffic</a> <br><br>Road closures are in place. <a href="https://t.co/WWNaik2aJC" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/WWNaik2aJC" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/WWNaik2aJC</a></p> <p>&#8212; Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) <a href="https://twitter.com/MassStatePolice/status/948982040761917440?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Look at this video outside our window of flooding in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Boston?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Boston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Boston</a> historic <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FortPoint?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#FortPoint" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#FortPoint</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Seaport?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Seaport" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Seaport</a> neighborhood that is causing big dumpsters to float down the street. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CNN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@CNN" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@CNN</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WCVB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@WCVB" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@WCVB</a> <a href="https://t.co/mjfrZJYnKr" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/mjfrZJYnKr" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/mjfrZJYnKr</a></p> <p>&#8212; kelkelly (@kelkelly) <a href="https://twitter.com/kelkelly/status/948982158533824512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/universalhub?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@universalhub" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@universalhub</a> check out Seaport Blvd right now, disaster and its getting worse by the min..... <a href="https://t.co/6schC67H9l" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/6schC67H9l" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/6schC67H9l</a></p> <p>&#8212; Miss Lippy (@Libjammin) <a href="https://twitter.com/Libjammin/status/948974684862902273?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>BLIZZARD conditions from pier at Salem MA with coastal flood threat rising # Blizzard2018 <a href="https://twitter.com/breakingweather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@breakingweather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@breakingweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AccuRayno?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@AccuRayno" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@AccuRayno</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/lauravelasquez?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@lauravelasquez" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@lauravelasquez</a> <a href="https://t.co/uQw2jR5L5L" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/uQw2jR5L5L" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/uQw2jR5L5L</a></p> <p>&#8212; Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) <a href="https://twitter.com/ReedTimmerAccu/status/948953251885576194?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <p><em>This is a developing story...</em></p>
Images and video pour in as 'bomb cyclone' buries U.S. northeast

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. ET): Updated to include reports and images of coastal flooding in Massachusetts


Well, we were warned.

A giant swath of the east coast is getting a heaping dose of winter thanks to a powerful, fast-moving "bomb cyclone" winter storm that whipped straight along the coast, having already dumped snow across parts of the South not accustomed to such winter weather.

Now, it's your turn, North Atlantic. Parts of Virginia and New Jersey have already been hit with near white-out conditions and the bulk of the storm is now moving on to New York, Connecticut, and other parts of New England. 

From Mashable's Andrew Freedman:

The snow is already piling up Thursday morning and will continue to bury the area throughout the day. 

Images and video of the storm poured in from up and down the eastern seaboard.

Astonishing scenes on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront as #WinterStormGrayson continued to bomb off the coast. #vawx #blizzard2018 #stormhour @spann @JimCantore @ReedTimmerAccu pic.twitter.com/MmhsftdJDH

— Mark Overbeck (@Mrk_WX) January 4, 2018

Snowy Atlantic City, NJ. #Blizzard2018 pic.twitter.com/fgcPpRMdtm

— StormForce_1 (@StormForce_1) January 4, 2018

EWR, JFK, and LGA all with blizzard conditions now. The city is getting CRUSHED.

— Ryan Hanrahan (@ryanhanrahan) January 4, 2018

RT VictorOquendo: Brutal wind and snow right now in Asbury Park, New Jersey: pic.twitter.com/dfaREkOBID

— Derrick Rose WHAS11 (@WHAS11DRose) January 4, 2018

Plenty of snow falling now - and plenty of wind to accompany it. Here's the view from Inwood. #NY1Snow pic.twitter.com/2FpV6U53uT

— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) January 4, 2018

Coincé à New York #Snow #storm pic.twitter.com/DvTAmU7g0L

— OGKerri (@OG_Kerri) January 4, 2018

Making my way downtown, waking slow, faces low, and I’m work bound pic.twitter.com/6VxXfZdB7U

— Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) January 4, 2018

By early afternoon, there were reports of coastal flooding caused by the storm in Boston and along the Massachusetts coast. 

Perfect storm of ingredients for a major coastal flood

1) Supermoon Monday (high astro tides)
2) Worst of the storm hitting *at* high tide
3) Ice hunks chucked ashore from recent arctic cold
4) Some sea level rise since 1978 also 'helps'

— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) January 4, 2018

#SevereCoastalFlood worst ever in #Gloucester ma.. pics of highschool , Commercial st , Washington St , Harbor road all under FEET of Ocean!!! pic.twitter.com/gkPjACFLkq

— NEMAStormWatch (@PeterLovasco) January 4, 2018

#MBTA #BlueLine: The Harbor side entrance at Aquarium Station is temporarily closed. Please use the State Street entrance/exit: https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi pic.twitter.com/yCcprm0Mwj

— MBTA (@MBTA) January 4, 2018

#MAflood View from Seaport Lane #Boston looking east down Seaport Blvd. #MAwx #Wx #MAtraffic

Road closures are in place. pic.twitter.com/WWNaik2aJC

— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) January 4, 2018

Look at this video outside our window of flooding in #Boston historic #FortPoint #Seaport neighborhood that is causing big dumpsters to float down the street. #blizzard2018 @CNN @WCVB pic.twitter.com/mjfrZJYnKr

— kelkelly (@kelkelly) January 4, 2018

@universalhub check out Seaport Blvd right now, disaster and its getting worse by the min..... pic.twitter.com/6schC67H9l

— Miss Lippy (@Libjammin) January 4, 2018

BLIZZARD conditions from pier at Salem MA with coastal flood threat rising # Blizzard2018 @breakingweather @AccuRayno @lauravelasquez pic.twitter.com/uQw2jR5L5L

— Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) January 4, 2018

This is a developing story...

<p><strong>UPDATE</strong> <em>(1:40 p.m. ET): Updated to include reports and images of coastal flooding in Massachusetts</em></p> <hr> <p>Well, we were warned.</p> <p>A giant swath of the east coast is getting a heaping dose of winter <a href="http://mashable.com/2018/01/03/bomb-cyclone-to-hit-east-coast-polar-vortex-to-follow/?utm_campaign&#38;utm_context=textlink&#38;utm_medium=rss&#38;utm_source" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:thanks to a powerful, fast-moving &quot;bomb cyclone&quot; winter storm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">thanks to a powerful, fast-moving &quot;bomb cyclone&quot; winter storm</a> that whipped straight along the coast, having already dumped snow <a href="http://mashable.com/2018/01/03/snow-in-florida-georgia-carolinas-reactions-videos/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:across parts of the South" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">across parts of the South</a> not accustomed to such winter weather.</p> <p>Now, it&#39;s your turn, North Atlantic. Parts of Virginia and New Jersey have already been hit with near white-out conditions and the bulk of the storm is now moving on to New York, Connecticut, and other parts of New England.&#160;</p> <p><a href="http://mashable.com/2018/01/03/bomb-cyclone-to-hit-east-coast-polar-vortex-to-follow/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:From Mashable&#39;s Andrew Freedman" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">From <em>Mashable</em>&#39;s Andrew Freedman</a>:</p> <p>The snow is already piling up Thursday morning and will continue to bury the area throughout the day.&#160;</p> <p>Images and video of the storm poured in from up and down the eastern seaboard.</p> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Astonishing scenes on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront as <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WinterStormGrayson?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#WinterStormGrayson" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#WinterStormGrayson</a> continued to bomb off the coast. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/vawx?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#vawx" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#vawx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/stormhour?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#stormhour" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#stormhour</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/spann?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@spann" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@spann</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCantore?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JimCantore" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JimCantore</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ReedTimmerAccu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@ReedTimmerAccu" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@ReedTimmerAccu</a> <a href="https://t.co/MmhsftdJDH" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/MmhsftdJDH" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/MmhsftdJDH</a></p> <p>&#8212; Mark Overbeck (@Mrk_WX) <a href="https://twitter.com/Mrk_WX/status/948880031455109120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Snowy Atlantic City, NJ. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://t.co/fgcPpRMdtm" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/fgcPpRMdtm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/fgcPpRMdtm</a></p> <p>&#8212; StormForce_1 (@StormForce_1) <a href="https://twitter.com/StormForce_1/status/948794345787940864?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>EWR, JFK, and LGA all with blizzard conditions now. The city is getting CRUSHED.</p> <p>&#8212; Ryan Hanrahan (@ryanhanrahan) <a href="https://twitter.com/ryanhanrahan/status/948960913691901954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>RT VictorOquendo: Brutal wind and snow right now in Asbury Park, New Jersey: <a href="https://t.co/dfaREkOBID" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/dfaREkOBID" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/dfaREkOBID</a></p> <p>&#8212; Derrick Rose WHAS11 (@WHAS11DRose) <a href="https://twitter.com/WHAS11DRose/status/948920829777268736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Plenty of snow falling now - and plenty of wind to accompany it. Here&#39;s the view from Inwood. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NY1Snow?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#NY1Snow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#NY1Snow</a> <a href="https://t.co/2FpV6U53uT" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/2FpV6U53uT" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/2FpV6U53uT</a></p> <p>&#8212; Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) <a href="https://twitter.com/NY1/status/948928591349387265?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Coinc&#233; &#224; New York <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Snow?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Snow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Snow</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/storm?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#storm" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#storm</a> <a href="https://t.co/DvTAmU7g0L" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/DvTAmU7g0L" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/DvTAmU7g0L</a></p> <p>&#8212; OGKerri (@OG_Kerri) <a href="https://twitter.com/OG_Kerri/status/948925748777246720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Making my way downtown, waking slow, faces low, and I&#8217;m work bound <a href="https://t.co/6VxXfZdB7U" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/6VxXfZdB7U" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/6VxXfZdB7U</a></p> <p>&#8212; Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) <a href="https://twitter.com/JasonAbbruzzese/status/948906074484158464?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Snow morning Jersey@GarySzatkowski <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCantore?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JimCantore" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JimCantore</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/jimcramer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jimcramer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@jimcramer</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ReporterJim?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@ReporterJim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@ReporterJim</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/nynjpaweather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@nynjpaweather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@nynjpaweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/tom_arnone?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@tom_arnone" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@tom_arnone</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/brian4NY?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@brian4NY" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@brian4NY</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WildFlowersNJ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@WildFlowersNJ" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@WildFlowersNJ</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/beachhausbeer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@beachhausbeer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@beachhausbeer</a> <a href="https://t.co/sBoQHZODWU" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/sBoQHZODWU" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/sBoQHZODWU</a></p> <p>&#8212; Bill Mckim (@belmardays) <a href="https://twitter.com/belmardays/status/948908657600757761?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Visibility is about 100-150 yards on ocean Ave <a href="https://twitter.com/brian4NY?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@brian4NY" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@brian4NY</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JamesGWeather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JamesGWeather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JamesGWeather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DinaLongSB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@DinaLongSB" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@DinaLongSB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AmyFreeze7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@AmyFreeze7" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@AmyFreeze7</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCantore?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@JimCantore" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@JimCantore</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/nynjpaweather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@nynjpaweather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@nynjpaweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DanaPerino?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@DanaPerino" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@DanaPerino</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jersey?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Jersey" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Jersey</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://t.co/ntObXuUZih" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/ntObXuUZih" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/ntObXuUZih</a></p> <p>&#8212; Bill Mckim (@belmardays) <a href="https://twitter.com/belmardays/status/948920884500234240?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div>  <p>By early afternoon, there were reports of coastal flooding caused by the storm in Boston and along the Massachusetts coast.&#160;</p> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Perfect storm of ingredients for a major coastal flood<br><br>1) Supermoon Monday (high astro tides)<br>2) Worst of the storm hitting *at* high tide<br>3) Ice hunks chucked ashore from recent arctic cold<br>4) Some sea level rise since 1978 also &#39;helps&#39;</p> <p>&#8212; Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) <a href="https://twitter.com/ericfisher/status/948987377057456130?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SevereCoastalFlood?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#SevereCoastalFlood" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#SevereCoastalFlood</a> worst ever in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Gloucester?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Gloucester" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Gloucester</a> ma.. pics of highschool , Commercial st , Washington St , Harbor road all under FEET of Ocean!!! <a href="https://t.co/gkPjACFLkq" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/gkPjACFLkq" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/gkPjACFLkq</a></p> <p>&#8212; NEMAStormWatch (@PeterLovasco) <a href="https://twitter.com/PeterLovasco/status/948987506359455745?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MBTA?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MBTA" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MBTA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueLine?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#BlueLine" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#BlueLine</a>: The Harbor side entrance at Aquarium Station is temporarily closed. Please use the State Street entrance/exit: <a href="https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi</a> <a href="https://t.co/yCcprm0Mwj" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/yCcprm0Mwj" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/yCcprm0Mwj</a></p> <p>&#8212; MBTA (@MBTA) <a href="https://twitter.com/MBTA/status/948977593281404928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAflood?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MAflood" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MAflood</a> View from Seaport Lane <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Boston?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Boston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Boston</a> looking east down Seaport Blvd. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAwx?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MAwx" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MAwx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wx?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Wx" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Wx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAtraffic?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#MAtraffic" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#MAtraffic</a> <br><br>Road closures are in place. <a href="https://t.co/WWNaik2aJC" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/WWNaik2aJC" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/WWNaik2aJC</a></p> <p>&#8212; Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) <a href="https://twitter.com/MassStatePolice/status/948982040761917440?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>Look at this video outside our window of flooding in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Boston?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Boston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Boston</a> historic <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FortPoint?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#FortPoint" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#FortPoint</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Seaport?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#Seaport" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#Seaport</a> neighborhood that is causing big dumpsters to float down the street. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blizzard2018?src=hash&#38;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:#blizzard2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">#blizzard2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CNN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@CNN" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@CNN</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WCVB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@WCVB" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@WCVB</a> <a href="https://t.co/mjfrZJYnKr" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/mjfrZJYnKr" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/mjfrZJYnKr</a></p> <p>&#8212; kelkelly (@kelkelly) <a href="https://twitter.com/kelkelly/status/948982158533824512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/universalhub?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@universalhub" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@universalhub</a> check out Seaport Blvd right now, disaster and its getting worse by the min..... <a href="https://t.co/6schC67H9l" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/6schC67H9l" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/6schC67H9l</a></p> <p>&#8212; Miss Lippy (@Libjammin) <a href="https://twitter.com/Libjammin/status/948974684862902273?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <div><div><blockquote> <p>BLIZZARD conditions from pier at Salem MA with coastal flood threat rising # Blizzard2018 <a href="https://twitter.com/breakingweather?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@breakingweather" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@breakingweather</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AccuRayno?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@AccuRayno" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@AccuRayno</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/lauravelasquez?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@lauravelasquez" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">@lauravelasquez</a> <a href="https://t.co/uQw2jR5L5L" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pic.twitter.com/uQw2jR5L5L" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pic.twitter.com/uQw2jR5L5L</a></p> <p>&#8212; Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) <a href="https://twitter.com/ReedTimmerAccu/status/948953251885576194?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:January 4, 2018" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">January 4, 2018</a></p> </blockquote></div></div> <p><em>This is a developing story...</em></p>
Images and video pour in as 'bomb cyclone' buries U.S. northeast

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. ET): Updated to include reports and images of coastal flooding in Massachusetts


Well, we were warned.

A giant swath of the east coast is getting a heaping dose of winter thanks to a powerful, fast-moving "bomb cyclone" winter storm that whipped straight along the coast, having already dumped snow across parts of the South not accustomed to such winter weather.

Now, it's your turn, North Atlantic. Parts of Virginia and New Jersey have already been hit with near white-out conditions and the bulk of the storm is now moving on to New York, Connecticut, and other parts of New England. 

From Mashable's Andrew Freedman:

The snow is already piling up Thursday morning and will continue to bury the area throughout the day. 

Images and video of the storm poured in from up and down the eastern seaboard.

Astonishing scenes on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront as #WinterStormGrayson continued to bomb off the coast. #vawx #blizzard2018 #stormhour @spann @JimCantore @ReedTimmerAccu pic.twitter.com/MmhsftdJDH

— Mark Overbeck (@Mrk_WX) January 4, 2018

Snowy Atlantic City, NJ. #Blizzard2018 pic.twitter.com/fgcPpRMdtm

— StormForce_1 (@StormForce_1) January 4, 2018

EWR, JFK, and LGA all with blizzard conditions now. The city is getting CRUSHED.

— Ryan Hanrahan (@ryanhanrahan) January 4, 2018

RT VictorOquendo: Brutal wind and snow right now in Asbury Park, New Jersey: pic.twitter.com/dfaREkOBID

— Derrick Rose WHAS11 (@WHAS11DRose) January 4, 2018

Plenty of snow falling now - and plenty of wind to accompany it. Here's the view from Inwood. #NY1Snow pic.twitter.com/2FpV6U53uT

— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) January 4, 2018

Coincé à New York #Snow #storm pic.twitter.com/DvTAmU7g0L

— OGKerri (@OG_Kerri) January 4, 2018

Making my way downtown, waking slow, faces low, and I’m work bound pic.twitter.com/6VxXfZdB7U

— Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) January 4, 2018

By early afternoon, there were reports of coastal flooding caused by the storm in Boston and along the Massachusetts coast. 

Perfect storm of ingredients for a major coastal flood

1) Supermoon Monday (high astro tides)
2) Worst of the storm hitting *at* high tide
3) Ice hunks chucked ashore from recent arctic cold
4) Some sea level rise since 1978 also 'helps'

— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) January 4, 2018

#SevereCoastalFlood worst ever in #Gloucester ma.. pics of highschool , Commercial st , Washington St , Harbor road all under FEET of Ocean!!! pic.twitter.com/gkPjACFLkq

— NEMAStormWatch (@PeterLovasco) January 4, 2018

#MBTA #BlueLine: The Harbor side entrance at Aquarium Station is temporarily closed. Please use the State Street entrance/exit: https://t.co/a9UUPK5Kpi pic.twitter.com/yCcprm0Mwj

— MBTA (@MBTA) January 4, 2018

#MAflood View from Seaport Lane #Boston looking east down Seaport Blvd. #MAwx #Wx #MAtraffic

Road closures are in place. pic.twitter.com/WWNaik2aJC

— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) January 4, 2018

Look at this video outside our window of flooding in #Boston historic #FortPoint #Seaport neighborhood that is causing big dumpsters to float down the street. #blizzard2018 @CNN @WCVB pic.twitter.com/mjfrZJYnKr

— kelkelly (@kelkelly) January 4, 2018

@universalhub check out Seaport Blvd right now, disaster and its getting worse by the min..... pic.twitter.com/6schC67H9l

— Miss Lippy (@Libjammin) January 4, 2018

BLIZZARD conditions from pier at Salem MA with coastal flood threat rising # Blizzard2018 @breakingweather @AccuRayno @lauravelasquez pic.twitter.com/uQw2jR5L5L

— Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) January 4, 2018

This is a developing story...

<p>Hayne appoints Derrick Rose&#39;s attorney to defend him against rape allegations</p>
Hayne appoints Derrick Rose's attorney to defend him against rape allegations

Hayne appoints Derrick Rose's attorney to defend him against rape allegations

<p>Hayne appoints Derrick Rose&#39;s attorney to defend him against rape allegations</p>
Hayne appoints Derrick Rose's attorney to defend him against rape allegations

Hayne appoints Derrick Rose's attorney to defend him against rape allegations

Australian lawyers acting on behalf of Jarryd Hayne have confirmed the NRL star has appointed a prominent US attorney to defend him.
Hayne appoints Derrick Rose's attorney to defend him against rape allegations
Australian lawyers acting on behalf of Jarryd Hayne have confirmed the NRL star has appointed a prominent US attorney to defend him.
Cleveland Cavaliers PG Derrick Rose says that he did not consider retirement during his recent absence from the team.
Derrick Rose says he's not depressed, didn't ponder retirement during absence from Cavs
Cleveland Cavaliers PG Derrick Rose says that he did not consider retirement during his recent absence from the team.
Cleveland Cavaliers PG Derrick Rose says that he did not consider retirement during his recent absence from the team.
Derrick Rose says he's not depressed, didn't ponder retirement during absence from Cavs
Cleveland Cavaliers PG Derrick Rose says that he did not consider retirement during his recent absence from the team.
Derrick Rose says he&#39;s not depressed, didn&#39;t ponder retirement during absence from Cavs
Derrick Rose says he's not depressed, didn't ponder retirement during absence from Cavs
Derrick Rose says he's not depressed, didn't ponder retirement during absence from Cavs
So, what happened with Cavaliers guard?
Derrick Rose says he isn’t depressed, didn’t come close to retiring
So, what happened with Cavaliers guard?
So, what happened with Cavaliers guard?
Derrick Rose says he isn’t depressed, didn’t come close to retiring
So, what happened with Cavaliers guard?
So, what happened with Cavaliers guard?
Derrick Rose says he isn’t depressed, didn’t come close to retiring
So, what happened with Cavaliers guard?
<p>The NBA can’t force Stephen Curry to play through a bum ankle, but the league’s schedule-makers did everything else within their power to ensure a strong Christmas Day quintuple-header.</p><p>To help compensate for the absence of Golden State’s two-time MVP, the league lined up a series of phenomenal individual match-ups. Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid should open the festivities dueling for the Best Unicorn title. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, again the top two players on SI.com’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list, will go head-to-head in the showcase game. And then reigning MVP Russell Westbrook will trade buckets and insane stat lines with MVP runner-up James Harden. Along the way, Kyrie Irving will stare down John Wall, while the Timberwolves’ No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) will battle the Lakers’ No. 2 picks (Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball).</p><p>For a schedule that is set months in advance, skewed towards large markets, and vulnerable to injury issues, that’s hard to top. San Antonio and Toronto have both played well enough for their fans to feel snubbed, but everyone else can settle in for 12 or 13 hours of basketball goodness.</p><p>Without further ado, here’s a full breakdown of Monday’s five-game slate, which doubles as a viewer’s guide. Each game is ranked on its “must-see” potential from 1 (halt all family affairs) to 5 (break out the board games). <em>All stats through Dec. 21.</em></p><p>?</p><p><strong><em>Game 1: </em></strong><em>Sixers at Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None.</em><br><strong><em>Main storyline: </em></strong><em>The rising East.</em></p><p>The league took a chance on both sides of the Christmas Day opener when it announced this matchup in August. New York, after parting with Phil Jackson and Derrick Rose, seemed destined for a <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-knicks-thunder-russell-westbrook-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Carmelo Anthony trade" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Carmelo Anthony trade</a> and a choppy rebuilding campaign. Philadelphia, even after an attention-grabbing <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/06/17/trade-grades-draft-sixers-celtics-no-1-pick-markelle-fultz-joel-embiid-picks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz</a>, was bound to be at the mercy of its youth and health. Fingers crossed, but the NBA’s bet appears ready to pay off on both sides: the Kristaps Porzingis-led, Anthony-free Knicks have been fun, loose and even occasionally potent offensively, while the Sixers have been appointment viewing all fall thanks to relatively good health for franchise center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons.</p><p>While Porzingis’s breakthrough as a 25 PPG scorer has gotten most of the attention, there have been additional points of pride and promise: rookie Frank Ntilikina has acquitted himself nicely, scoring guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/11/28/knicks-tim-hardaway-jr-kristaps-porzingis-hawks-michigan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:delivered on his big summer payday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">delivered on his big summer payday</a>, Michael Beasley has somehow returned to playing rotation minutes in the NBA, and the oft-mocked Enes Kanter has even managed to enjoy a few moments in the sun. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Sixers are riding fairly high, too, even though Fultz has largely been missing in action due to a shoulder injury. At his best, Embiid has performed like an All-NBA First Team selection, captaining a long and active defense while punishing opponents with his wide offensive skillset. Simmons, meanwhile, has shaken off pre-draft questions about his shooting ability and character with drool-inducing no-look passes and rim-rattling dunks. </p><p>In short, both teams enter the holiday with postseason aspirations after enduring multiple lottery-bound campaigns, and they have their 23-and-under stars to thank for the newfound hope. Christmas morning should offer a glimpse at two futures that are only getting brighter.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Kristaps</strong> <strong>Porzingis vs. Joel Embiid</strong>. The Unicorn showdown speaks for itself. In one corner, a 7’3” shot-creator/three-point marksman/shot-blocker from Latvia with a full package of dribble moves. In the other, a 7-foot dream-shaker/glass-cleaner/shot-blocker from Cameroon with the ability to get to the foul line at will. With all due respect to Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic, the Porzingis/Embiid match-up features the NBA’s most intriguing and complete young big men. </p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 3</strong>. Unfortunately, Porzingis (knee) and Embiid (back) have both missed time recently due to injuries, with the former struggling through an ugly 0–11 shooting night against Boston on Thursday. If either is a late scratch, this game’s watchability will fall off a cliff. As long as both are healthy, though, plan for an early start to the basketball festivities.</p><p><strong><em>Game 2: </em></strong><em>Cavaliers at Warriors (3 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Golden State’s 2017 NBA Finals win in five games.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>2018 Finals preview?</em></p><p>After more than 10 million viewers watched or streamed Cavaliers/Warriors on Christmas Day last year, the NBA would have been foolish not to milk its top rivalry again in 2017. Yes, Cleveland and Golden State have faced off in three straight Finals. And yes, this will mark their third consecutive Christmas Day showdown. But any fear of viewer fatigue went out the window once <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/08/22/kyrie-irving-isaiah-thomas-cavaliers-celtics-trade-grades-analysis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics</a>. How will LeBron James and the new-look Cavaliers fare against the champs without Irving? Which of Cleveland’s new faces—Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and others—can find a way to pose problems for Golden State?</p><p>While clearly a bummer, Curry’s absence due to a sprained ankle does serve as a bit of an equalizer, given that the Cavaliers are still without Isaiah Thomas, their Irving replacement, due to a hip injury. Golden State has played winning, if somewhat choppy, basketball this month without Curry, reorienting its offense around Kevin Durant and rolling off a 10-game winning streak through Thursday. Without the star point guards on hand, the sport’s top two players—James and Durant—will be free to reconvene their mano-a-mano rivalry.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant</strong>. It took a full decade and a heavily-criticized departure from Oklahoma City, but Durant finally scored his first breakthrough victory over James last season. He played the series of his life (averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG in the Finals), he hit the shot of his life (a pull-up three over James in Game 3), he won the first championship of his career, and he took home Finals MVP honors to boot. Yet an offseason of silly controversies, coupled with James’s ceaseless brilliance, has prevented Durant from mounting much of a claim to the throne. He’s still not as dominant as James, as well-liked, or as famous—a reality that only makes their head-to-head matchups that much juicier.</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 1</strong>. Although Boston and Houston have looked like worthy challengers, Cleveland and Golden State remain the odds-on favorites to face off in June. Their regular-season contests have consistently previewed key Finals chess moves, making this game—even without Curry and Thomas—must-see TV. </p><p><strong><em>Game 3: </em></strong><em>Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Boston’s 7-game series win in the 2017 East semis.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>Boston’s new faces enter a bitter rivalry.</em></p><p>At first blush, the idea of Boston/Washington is enough to get the blood going. They intentionally wore black and beefed their way through <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/01/24/wizards-wearing-black-jerseys-vs-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:multiple “Funeral” games" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">multiple “Funeral” games</a> last season, they haven’t played since their riveting 2017 playoff series, they are both led by All-Star point guards, and they both have good reason to anticipate postseason success in 2018. Unfortunately, numerous key figures are missing this season, making Celtics/Wizards less about renewing past grievances and more about commencing a new chapter.</p><p>Isaiah Thomas, who poured in 53 points in a spectacular Game 2 win over Washington, is gone. Kelly Olynyk, the Game 7 hero with 26 points, is gone. Jae Crowder is gone. Amir Johnson is gone. In their place, the Celtics have assembled a young, hungry and disciplined supporting cast around Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Boston’s defense has rated well all season, especially during a 16-game winning streak, but its offense usually settles in closer to “good/very good” rather than “electric.”</p><p>For Washington, the faces are mostly the same, but the requisite determination hasn’t been there. John Wall has been less lethal and efficient, the Wizards’ strong starting-lineup chemistry has been tested by minor injuries, and they have just one truly impressive victory over top competition (beating Toronto in early November). Mike Scott has been playing out of his mind recently, but good luck telling your family that you’re skipping Christmas dinner to see whether a well-traveled, anonymous reserve forward will randomly go off for 20 points again.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall</strong>. This need not be a game driven by individual heroics. When both these teams are clicking, their balanced, complete lineups produce quality contributions from all five positions. Even so, this will be a measuring-stick contest for Wall, who entered the year declaring himself the NBA’s “best two-way point guard” and crowing about <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/10/27/john-wall-wizards-nba-playoffs-bradley-beal-celtics-cavs" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:“Wolf Season”" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">“Wolf Season”</a> after signing a $170 million max extension. That bluster has gone largely unfulfilled to date, with his numbers and efficiency slipping across the board.</p><p>In Irving, Wall has a familiar foe (15 career head-to-head match-ups) and a big target. Boston’s new point guard has received some early MVP buzz thanks to his team’s hot strong start, and he’s garnered nonstop media attention after leaving LeBron James and dishing out “wisdom” (read: nonsense) for six months straight. What more motivation does Wall, who frequently plays the “I’m underrated” card, need?</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 4</strong>. Let’s hope Washington throttles up on the Christmas stage, with Wall and Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 51 points against Portland earlier this month, leading the way. If not, Boston’s steadiness and defensive prowess could lull viewers into midday naps.</p><p><strong><em>Game 4: </em></strong><em>Rockets at Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Houston’s 5-game 2017 first-round series win.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>The 2017 MVP debate rekindled.</em></p><p>Credit the schedule-makers again: They didn’t overthink it. The NBA intelligentsia spent months last spring arguing the MVP merits of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so of course that conversation should carry over into a head-to-head holiday showdown.</p><p>While MVP voters ultimately sided with Oklahoma City’s triple-double machine, Harden and the Rockets first knocked the Thunder out of the first round and then took their play to new heights this season. As Oklahoma City’s offense has sputtered under the weight of too many contested long twos and too much ball-stopping, Houston’s has soared thanks to Harden’s brilliance and Chris Paul’s seamless integration into D’Antoni World.</p><p>Despite choppy early-season play and somewhat disappointing starts for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have maintained one of the league’s best and most versatile defenses all season. They also possess the requisite athleticism and versatility—on paper—to match up with the Rockets’ interchangeable lineups.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden</strong>. Duh. Harden, who leads the league in scoring, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, will enter Christmas at or near the top of most 2018 MVP lists, while Westbrook’s shooting woes (40 FG% and 31 3P%) and Oklahoma City’s bottom-10 have moved him back closer to the All-Star bubble. Nevertheless, Westbrook led the Thunder to a smashing home victory over the Warriors in late November, and his best work—like his 38/9/6 outburst versus Denver earlier this week—remains sublime.</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 2</strong>. The Rockets are fun because of their consistency: they play sharp, focused, explosive basketball virtually every night, as evidenced by their recent 14-game winning streak. The Thunder are fun because of their inconsistency: their offense produces highlights and head slaps in equal doses. With the trade deadline inching closer, the “every game is a referendum on the Thunder’s star trio” sensation will only intensify, especially under the Christmas glare. Don’t miss this one. </p><p><strong><em>Game 5: </em></strong><em>Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>The dynamics of rebuilding.</em></p><p>Will the Lakers spend Christmas getting a look at their own future? At this time last year, the Timberwolves were a lot like the current Lakers: young, talented and losing more than their fans would hope. Tom Thibodeau’s response was to fast-track the rebuilding effort, signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague and trading youngsters Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to acquire a proven All-Star wing in Jimmy Butler. Those moves, together with development from Karl-Anthony Towns and modest development from Andrew Wiggins, have the Timberwolves sitting in the West’s No. 4 seed as one of NBA’s biggest year/year gainers.</p><p>The Lakers—armed with a young core, Julius Randle as a trade chip, 2018 cap space, and big free-agency dreams—could theoretically be headed for a similar trajectory. Insert Paul George, another standout to be named later (LeBron James or otherwise), 12 months of growth for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and L.A. would have a chance to cut through some of the West’s cluttered middle tier in 2018–19.</p><p>But Minnesota’s path does have some cautionary downsides: Butler’s arrival may prove to pigeonhole Wiggins, Teague may not be good enough to be a postseason difference-maker, Thibodeau’s short-term focus and short rotation may lead to longer-term costs, and parting with Dunn and LaVine may come back to bite the franchise once contract extensions for its young stars kick in. If they’re smart, the Lakers should be carefully monitoring both the good and bad of the Thibodeau Timberwolves. </p><p><strong>Match-up to watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Brandon Ingram</strong>. With rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma soaking up most of the hype and attention, Ingram’s growth in year two has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the lean 20-year-old forward is still waiting to fill out, he’s ramped up his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency while displaying star flashes and improved aggressiveness on offense. Some of his best moments have come in big games, as he poured in 32 points against the Warriors and 26 points against the Cavaliers this month. The physical, relentless Butler will make him work (and might make his life miserable).</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 5</strong>. The Lakers are the only team playing on Christmas that isn’t within spitting distance of .500, and most NBA fans have already gotten their fill of Lonzo Mania during L.A.’s numerous national television appearances. For their part, the Timberwolves haven’t quite been as exciting or impressive as their record would indicate, held back by spotty team defense, too many minutes for their stars, and weak bench play. Give this one a chance due to the sheer volume of high draft picks (Towns, Wiggins, Ball, Ingram, Randle), but don’t be afraid to call it a night at halftime if necessary.</p>
Hoops for the Holidays: Ranking Christmas Day Games

The NBA can’t force Stephen Curry to play through a bum ankle, but the league’s schedule-makers did everything else within their power to ensure a strong Christmas Day quintuple-header.

To help compensate for the absence of Golden State’s two-time MVP, the league lined up a series of phenomenal individual match-ups. Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid should open the festivities dueling for the Best Unicorn title. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, again the top two players on SI.com’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list, will go head-to-head in the showcase game. And then reigning MVP Russell Westbrook will trade buckets and insane stat lines with MVP runner-up James Harden. Along the way, Kyrie Irving will stare down John Wall, while the Timberwolves’ No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) will battle the Lakers’ No. 2 picks (Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball).

For a schedule that is set months in advance, skewed towards large markets, and vulnerable to injury issues, that’s hard to top. San Antonio and Toronto have both played well enough for their fans to feel snubbed, but everyone else can settle in for 12 or 13 hours of basketball goodness.

Without further ado, here’s a full breakdown of Monday’s five-game slate, which doubles as a viewer’s guide. Each game is ranked on its “must-see” potential from 1 (halt all family affairs) to 5 (break out the board games). All stats through Dec. 21.

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Game 1: Sixers at Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Previous meetings: None.

Main storyline: The rising East.

The league took a chance on both sides of the Christmas Day opener when it announced this matchup in August. New York, after parting with Phil Jackson and Derrick Rose, seemed destined for a Carmelo Anthony trade and a choppy rebuilding campaign. Philadelphia, even after an attention-grabbing trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, was bound to be at the mercy of its youth and health. Fingers crossed, but the NBA’s bet appears ready to pay off on both sides: the Kristaps Porzingis-led, Anthony-free Knicks have been fun, loose and even occasionally potent offensively, while the Sixers have been appointment viewing all fall thanks to relatively good health for franchise center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons.

While Porzingis’s breakthrough as a 25 PPG scorer has gotten most of the attention, there have been additional points of pride and promise: rookie Frank Ntilikina has acquitted himself nicely, scoring guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has delivered on his big summer payday, Michael Beasley has somehow returned to playing rotation minutes in the NBA, and the oft-mocked Enes Kanter has even managed to enjoy a few moments in the sun. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Sixers are riding fairly high, too, even though Fultz has largely been missing in action due to a shoulder injury. At his best, Embiid has performed like an All-NBA First Team selection, captaining a long and active defense while punishing opponents with his wide offensive skillset. Simmons, meanwhile, has shaken off pre-draft questions about his shooting ability and character with drool-inducing no-look passes and rim-rattling dunks.

In short, both teams enter the holiday with postseason aspirations after enduring multiple lottery-bound campaigns, and they have their 23-and-under stars to thank for the newfound hope. Christmas morning should offer a glimpse at two futures that are only getting brighter.

Match-up to watch: Kristaps Porzingis vs. Joel Embiid. The Unicorn showdown speaks for itself. In one corner, a 7’3” shot-creator/three-point marksman/shot-blocker from Latvia with a full package of dribble moves. In the other, a 7-foot dream-shaker/glass-cleaner/shot-blocker from Cameroon with the ability to get to the foul line at will. With all due respect to Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic, the Porzingis/Embiid match-up features the NBA’s most intriguing and complete young big men.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 3. Unfortunately, Porzingis (knee) and Embiid (back) have both missed time recently due to injuries, with the former struggling through an ugly 0–11 shooting night against Boston on Thursday. If either is a late scratch, this game’s watchability will fall off a cliff. As long as both are healthy, though, plan for an early start to the basketball festivities.

Game 2: Cavaliers at Warriors (3 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Golden State’s 2017 NBA Finals win in five games.
Main storyline: 2018 Finals preview?

After more than 10 million viewers watched or streamed Cavaliers/Warriors on Christmas Day last year, the NBA would have been foolish not to milk its top rivalry again in 2017. Yes, Cleveland and Golden State have faced off in three straight Finals. And yes, this will mark their third consecutive Christmas Day showdown. But any fear of viewer fatigue went out the window once Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics. How will LeBron James and the new-look Cavaliers fare against the champs without Irving? Which of Cleveland’s new faces—Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and others—can find a way to pose problems for Golden State?

While clearly a bummer, Curry’s absence due to a sprained ankle does serve as a bit of an equalizer, given that the Cavaliers are still without Isaiah Thomas, their Irving replacement, due to a hip injury. Golden State has played winning, if somewhat choppy, basketball this month without Curry, reorienting its offense around Kevin Durant and rolling off a 10-game winning streak through Thursday. Without the star point guards on hand, the sport’s top two players—James and Durant—will be free to reconvene their mano-a-mano rivalry.

Match-up to watch: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. It took a full decade and a heavily-criticized departure from Oklahoma City, but Durant finally scored his first breakthrough victory over James last season. He played the series of his life (averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG in the Finals), he hit the shot of his life (a pull-up three over James in Game 3), he won the first championship of his career, and he took home Finals MVP honors to boot. Yet an offseason of silly controversies, coupled with James’s ceaseless brilliance, has prevented Durant from mounting much of a claim to the throne. He’s still not as dominant as James, as well-liked, or as famous—a reality that only makes their head-to-head matchups that much juicier.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 1. Although Boston and Houston have looked like worthy challengers, Cleveland and Golden State remain the odds-on favorites to face off in June. Their regular-season contests have consistently previewed key Finals chess moves, making this game—even without Curry and Thomas—must-see TV.

Game 3: Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Boston’s 7-game series win in the 2017 East semis.
Main storyline: Boston’s new faces enter a bitter rivalry.

At first blush, the idea of Boston/Washington is enough to get the blood going. They intentionally wore black and beefed their way through multiple “Funeral” games last season, they haven’t played since their riveting 2017 playoff series, they are both led by All-Star point guards, and they both have good reason to anticipate postseason success in 2018. Unfortunately, numerous key figures are missing this season, making Celtics/Wizards less about renewing past grievances and more about commencing a new chapter.

Isaiah Thomas, who poured in 53 points in a spectacular Game 2 win over Washington, is gone. Kelly Olynyk, the Game 7 hero with 26 points, is gone. Jae Crowder is gone. Amir Johnson is gone. In their place, the Celtics have assembled a young, hungry and disciplined supporting cast around Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Boston’s defense has rated well all season, especially during a 16-game winning streak, but its offense usually settles in closer to “good/very good” rather than “electric.”

For Washington, the faces are mostly the same, but the requisite determination hasn’t been there. John Wall has been less lethal and efficient, the Wizards’ strong starting-lineup chemistry has been tested by minor injuries, and they have just one truly impressive victory over top competition (beating Toronto in early November). Mike Scott has been playing out of his mind recently, but good luck telling your family that you’re skipping Christmas dinner to see whether a well-traveled, anonymous reserve forward will randomly go off for 20 points again.

Match-up to watch: Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall. This need not be a game driven by individual heroics. When both these teams are clicking, their balanced, complete lineups produce quality contributions from all five positions. Even so, this will be a measuring-stick contest for Wall, who entered the year declaring himself the NBA’s “best two-way point guard” and crowing about “Wolf Season” after signing a $170 million max extension. That bluster has gone largely unfulfilled to date, with his numbers and efficiency slipping across the board.

In Irving, Wall has a familiar foe (15 career head-to-head match-ups) and a big target. Boston’s new point guard has received some early MVP buzz thanks to his team’s hot strong start, and he’s garnered nonstop media attention after leaving LeBron James and dishing out “wisdom” (read: nonsense) for six months straight. What more motivation does Wall, who frequently plays the “I’m underrated” card, need?

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 4. Let’s hope Washington throttles up on the Christmas stage, with Wall and Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 51 points against Portland earlier this month, leading the way. If not, Boston’s steadiness and defensive prowess could lull viewers into midday naps.

Game 4: Rockets at Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Houston’s 5-game 2017 first-round series win.
Main storyline: The 2017 MVP debate rekindled.

Credit the schedule-makers again: They didn’t overthink it. The NBA intelligentsia spent months last spring arguing the MVP merits of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so of course that conversation should carry over into a head-to-head holiday showdown.

While MVP voters ultimately sided with Oklahoma City’s triple-double machine, Harden and the Rockets first knocked the Thunder out of the first round and then took their play to new heights this season. As Oklahoma City’s offense has sputtered under the weight of too many contested long twos and too much ball-stopping, Houston’s has soared thanks to Harden’s brilliance and Chris Paul’s seamless integration into D’Antoni World.

Despite choppy early-season play and somewhat disappointing starts for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have maintained one of the league’s best and most versatile defenses all season. They also possess the requisite athleticism and versatility—on paper—to match up with the Rockets’ interchangeable lineups.

Match-up to watch: Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden. Duh. Harden, who leads the league in scoring, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, will enter Christmas at or near the top of most 2018 MVP lists, while Westbrook’s shooting woes (40 FG% and 31 3P%) and Oklahoma City’s bottom-10 have moved him back closer to the All-Star bubble. Nevertheless, Westbrook led the Thunder to a smashing home victory over the Warriors in late November, and his best work—like his 38/9/6 outburst versus Denver earlier this week—remains sublime.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 2. The Rockets are fun because of their consistency: they play sharp, focused, explosive basketball virtually every night, as evidenced by their recent 14-game winning streak. The Thunder are fun because of their inconsistency: their offense produces highlights and head slaps in equal doses. With the trade deadline inching closer, the “every game is a referendum on the Thunder’s star trio” sensation will only intensify, especially under the Christmas glare. Don’t miss this one.

Game 5: Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
Previous meetings: None.
Main storyline: The dynamics of rebuilding.

Will the Lakers spend Christmas getting a look at their own future? At this time last year, the Timberwolves were a lot like the current Lakers: young, talented and losing more than their fans would hope. Tom Thibodeau’s response was to fast-track the rebuilding effort, signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague and trading youngsters Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to acquire a proven All-Star wing in Jimmy Butler. Those moves, together with development from Karl-Anthony Towns and modest development from Andrew Wiggins, have the Timberwolves sitting in the West’s No. 4 seed as one of NBA’s biggest year/year gainers.

The Lakers—armed with a young core, Julius Randle as a trade chip, 2018 cap space, and big free-agency dreams—could theoretically be headed for a similar trajectory. Insert Paul George, another standout to be named later (LeBron James or otherwise), 12 months of growth for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and L.A. would have a chance to cut through some of the West’s cluttered middle tier in 2018–19.

But Minnesota’s path does have some cautionary downsides: Butler’s arrival may prove to pigeonhole Wiggins, Teague may not be good enough to be a postseason difference-maker, Thibodeau’s short-term focus and short rotation may lead to longer-term costs, and parting with Dunn and LaVine may come back to bite the franchise once contract extensions for its young stars kick in. If they’re smart, the Lakers should be carefully monitoring both the good and bad of the Thibodeau Timberwolves.

Match-up to watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Brandon Ingram. With rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma soaking up most of the hype and attention, Ingram’s growth in year two has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the lean 20-year-old forward is still waiting to fill out, he’s ramped up his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency while displaying star flashes and improved aggressiveness on offense. Some of his best moments have come in big games, as he poured in 32 points against the Warriors and 26 points against the Cavaliers this month. The physical, relentless Butler will make him work (and might make his life miserable).

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 5. The Lakers are the only team playing on Christmas that isn’t within spitting distance of .500, and most NBA fans have already gotten their fill of Lonzo Mania during L.A.’s numerous national television appearances. For their part, the Timberwolves haven’t quite been as exciting or impressive as their record would indicate, held back by spotty team defense, too many minutes for their stars, and weak bench play. Give this one a chance due to the sheer volume of high draft picks (Towns, Wiggins, Ball, Ingram, Randle), but don’t be afraid to call it a night at halftime if necessary.

<p>The NBA can’t force Stephen Curry to play through a bum ankle, but the league’s schedule-makers did everything else within their power to ensure a strong Christmas Day quintuple-header.</p><p>To help compensate for the absence of Golden State’s two-time MVP, the league lined up a series of phenomenal individual match-ups. Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid should open the festivities dueling for the Best Unicorn title. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, again the top two players on SI.com’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list, will go head-to-head in the showcase game. And then reigning MVP Russell Westbrook will trade buckets and insane stat lines with MVP runner-up James Harden. Along the way, Kyrie Irving will stare down John Wall, while the Timberwolves’ No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) will battle the Lakers’ No. 2 picks (Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball).</p><p>For a schedule that is set months in advance, skewed towards large markets, and vulnerable to injury issues, that’s hard to top. San Antonio and Toronto have both played well enough for their fans to feel snubbed, but everyone else can settle in for 12 or 13 hours of basketball goodness.</p><p>Without further ado, here’s a full breakdown of Monday’s five-game slate, which doubles as a viewer’s guide. Each game is ranked on its “must-see” potential from 1 (halt all family affairs) to 5 (break out the board games). <em>All stats through Dec. 21.</em></p><p>?</p><p><strong><em>Game 1: </em></strong><em>Sixers at Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None.</em><br><strong><em>Main storyline: </em></strong><em>The rising East.</em></p><p>The league took a chance on both sides of the Christmas Day opener when it announced this matchup in August. New York, after parting with Phil Jackson and Derrick Rose, seemed destined for a <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-knicks-thunder-russell-westbrook-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Carmelo Anthony trade" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Carmelo Anthony trade</a> and a choppy rebuilding campaign. Philadelphia, even after an attention-grabbing <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/06/17/trade-grades-draft-sixers-celtics-no-1-pick-markelle-fultz-joel-embiid-picks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz</a>, was bound to be at the mercy of its youth and health. Fingers crossed, but the NBA’s bet appears ready to pay off on both sides: the Kristaps Porzingis-led, Anthony-free Knicks have been fun, loose and even occasionally potent offensively, while the Sixers have been appointment viewing all fall thanks to relatively good health for franchise center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons.</p><p>While Porzingis’s breakthrough as a 25 PPG scorer has gotten most of the attention, there have been additional points of pride and promise: rookie Frank Ntilikina has acquitted himself nicely, scoring guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/11/28/knicks-tim-hardaway-jr-kristaps-porzingis-hawks-michigan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:delivered on his big summer payday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">delivered on his big summer payday</a>, Michael Beasley has somehow returned to playing rotation minutes in the NBA, and the oft-mocked Enes Kanter has even managed to enjoy a few moments in the sun. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Sixers are riding fairly high, too, even though Fultz has largely been missing in action due to a shoulder injury. At his best, Embiid has performed like an All-NBA First Team selection, captaining a long and active defense while punishing opponents with his wide offensive skillset. Simmons, meanwhile, has shaken off pre-draft questions about his shooting ability and character with drool-inducing no-look passes and rim-rattling dunks. </p><p>In short, both teams enter the holiday with postseason aspirations after enduring multiple lottery-bound campaigns, and they have their 23-and-under stars to thank for the newfound hope. Christmas morning should offer a glimpse at two futures that are only getting brighter.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Kristaps</strong> <strong>Porzingis vs. Joel Embiid</strong>. The Unicorn showdown speaks for itself. In one corner, a 7’3” shot-creator/three-point marksman/shot-blocker from Latvia with a full package of dribble moves. In the other, a 7-foot dream-shaker/glass-cleaner/shot-blocker from Cameroon with the ability to get to the foul line at will. With all due respect to Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic, the Porzingis/Embiid match-up features the NBA’s most intriguing and complete young big men. </p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 3</strong>. Unfortunately, Porzingis (knee) and Embiid (back) have both missed time recently due to injuries, with the former struggling through an ugly 0–11 shooting night against Boston on Thursday. If either is a late scratch, this game’s watchability will fall off a cliff. As long as both are healthy, though, plan for an early start to the basketball festivities.</p><p><strong><em>Game 2: </em></strong><em>Cavaliers at Warriors (3 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Golden State’s 2017 NBA Finals win in five games.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>2018 Finals preview?</em></p><p>After more than 10 million viewers watched or streamed Cavaliers/Warriors on Christmas Day last year, the NBA would have been foolish not to milk its top rivalry again in 2017. Yes, Cleveland and Golden State have faced off in three straight Finals. And yes, this will mark their third consecutive Christmas Day showdown. But any fear of viewer fatigue went out the window once <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/08/22/kyrie-irving-isaiah-thomas-cavaliers-celtics-trade-grades-analysis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics</a>. How will LeBron James and the new-look Cavaliers fare against the champs without Irving? Which of Cleveland’s new faces—Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and others—can find a way to pose problems for Golden State?</p><p>While clearly a bummer, Curry’s absence due to a sprained ankle does serve as a bit of an equalizer, given that the Cavaliers are still without Isaiah Thomas, their Irving replacement, due to a hip injury. Golden State has played winning, if somewhat choppy, basketball this month without Curry, reorienting its offense around Kevin Durant and rolling off a 10-game winning streak through Thursday. Without the star point guards on hand, the sport’s top two players—James and Durant—will be free to reconvene their mano-a-mano rivalry.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant</strong>. It took a full decade and a heavily-criticized departure from Oklahoma City, but Durant finally scored his first breakthrough victory over James last season. He played the series of his life (averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG in the Finals), he hit the shot of his life (a pull-up three over James in Game 3), he won the first championship of his career, and he took home Finals MVP honors to boot. Yet an offseason of silly controversies, coupled with James’s ceaseless brilliance, has prevented Durant from mounting much of a claim to the throne. He’s still not as dominant as James, as well-liked, or as famous—a reality that only makes their head-to-head matchups that much juicier.</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 1</strong>. Although Boston and Houston have looked like worthy challengers, Cleveland and Golden State remain the odds-on favorites to face off in June. Their regular-season contests have consistently previewed key Finals chess moves, making this game—even without Curry and Thomas—must-see TV. </p><p><strong><em>Game 3: </em></strong><em>Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Boston’s 7-game series win in the 2017 East semis.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>Boston’s new faces enter a bitter rivalry.</em></p><p>At first blush, the idea of Boston/Washington is enough to get the blood going. They intentionally wore black and beefed their way through <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/01/24/wizards-wearing-black-jerseys-vs-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:multiple “Funeral” games" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">multiple “Funeral” games</a> last season, they haven’t played since their riveting 2017 playoff series, they are both led by All-Star point guards, and they both have good reason to anticipate postseason success in 2018. Unfortunately, numerous key figures are missing this season, making Celtics/Wizards less about renewing past grievances and more about commencing a new chapter.</p><p>Isaiah Thomas, who poured in 53 points in a spectacular Game 2 win over Washington, is gone. Kelly Olynyk, the Game 7 hero with 26 points, is gone. Jae Crowder is gone. Amir Johnson is gone. In their place, the Celtics have assembled a young, hungry and disciplined supporting cast around Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Boston’s defense has rated well all season, especially during a 16-game winning streak, but its offense usually settles in closer to “good/very good” rather than “electric.”</p><p>For Washington, the faces are mostly the same, but the requisite determination hasn’t been there. John Wall has been less lethal and efficient, the Wizards’ strong starting-lineup chemistry has been tested by minor injuries, and they have just one truly impressive victory over top competition (beating Toronto in early November). Mike Scott has been playing out of his mind recently, but good luck telling your family that you’re skipping Christmas dinner to see whether a well-traveled, anonymous reserve forward will randomly go off for 20 points again.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall</strong>. This need not be a game driven by individual heroics. When both these teams are clicking, their balanced, complete lineups produce quality contributions from all five positions. Even so, this will be a measuring-stick contest for Wall, who entered the year declaring himself the NBA’s “best two-way point guard” and crowing about <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/10/27/john-wall-wizards-nba-playoffs-bradley-beal-celtics-cavs" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:“Wolf Season”" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">“Wolf Season”</a> after signing a $170 million max extension. That bluster has gone largely unfulfilled to date, with his numbers and efficiency slipping across the board.</p><p>In Irving, Wall has a familiar foe (15 career head-to-head match-ups) and a big target. Boston’s new point guard has received some early MVP buzz thanks to his team’s hot strong start, and he’s garnered nonstop media attention after leaving LeBron James and dishing out “wisdom” (read: nonsense) for six months straight. What more motivation does Wall, who frequently plays the “I’m underrated” card, need?</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 4</strong>. Let’s hope Washington throttles up on the Christmas stage, with Wall and Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 51 points against Portland earlier this month, leading the way. If not, Boston’s steadiness and defensive prowess could lull viewers into midday naps.</p><p><strong><em>Game 4: </em></strong><em>Rockets at Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Houston’s 5-game 2017 first-round series win.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>The 2017 MVP debate rekindled.</em></p><p>Credit the schedule-makers again: They didn’t overthink it. The NBA intelligentsia spent months last spring arguing the MVP merits of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so of course that conversation should carry over into a head-to-head holiday showdown.</p><p>While MVP voters ultimately sided with Oklahoma City’s triple-double machine, Harden and the Rockets first knocked the Thunder out of the first round and then took their play to new heights this season. As Oklahoma City’s offense has sputtered under the weight of too many contested long twos and too much ball-stopping, Houston’s has soared thanks to Harden’s brilliance and Chris Paul’s seamless integration into D’Antoni World.</p><p>Despite choppy early-season play and somewhat disappointing starts for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have maintained one of the league’s best and most versatile defenses all season. They also possess the requisite athleticism and versatility—on paper—to match up with the Rockets’ interchangeable lineups.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden</strong>. Duh. Harden, who leads the league in scoring, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, will enter Christmas at or near the top of most 2018 MVP lists, while Westbrook’s shooting woes (40 FG% and 31 3P%) and Oklahoma City’s bottom-10 have moved him back closer to the All-Star bubble. Nevertheless, Westbrook led the Thunder to a smashing home victory over the Warriors in late November, and his best work—like his 38/9/6 outburst versus Denver earlier this week—remains sublime.</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 2</strong>. The Rockets are fun because of their consistency: they play sharp, focused, explosive basketball virtually every night, as evidenced by their recent 14-game winning streak. The Thunder are fun because of their inconsistency: their offense produces highlights and head slaps in equal doses. With the trade deadline inching closer, the “every game is a referendum on the Thunder’s star trio” sensation will only intensify, especially under the Christmas glare. Don’t miss this one. </p><p><strong><em>Game 5: </em></strong><em>Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>The dynamics of rebuilding.</em></p><p>Will the Lakers spend Christmas getting a look at their own future? At this time last year, the Timberwolves were a lot like the current Lakers: young, talented and losing more than their fans would hope. Tom Thibodeau’s response was to fast-track the rebuilding effort, signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague and trading youngsters Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to acquire a proven All-Star wing in Jimmy Butler. Those moves, together with development from Karl-Anthony Towns and modest development from Andrew Wiggins, have the Timberwolves sitting in the West’s No. 4 seed as one of NBA’s biggest year/year gainers.</p><p>The Lakers—armed with a young core, Julius Randle as a trade chip, 2018 cap space, and big free-agency dreams—could theoretically be headed for a similar trajectory. Insert Paul George, another standout to be named later (LeBron James or otherwise), 12 months of growth for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and L.A. would have a chance to cut through some of the West’s cluttered middle tier in 2018–19.</p><p>But Minnesota’s path does have some cautionary downsides: Butler’s arrival may prove to pigeonhole Wiggins, Teague may not be good enough to be a postseason difference-maker, Thibodeau’s short-term focus and short rotation may lead to longer-term costs, and parting with Dunn and LaVine may come back to bite the franchise once contract extensions for its young stars kick in. If they’re smart, the Lakers should be carefully monitoring both the good and bad of the Thibodeau Timberwolves. </p><p><strong>Match-up to watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Brandon Ingram</strong>. With rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma soaking up most of the hype and attention, Ingram’s growth in year two has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the lean 20-year-old forward is still waiting to fill out, he’s ramped up his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency while displaying star flashes and improved aggressiveness on offense. Some of his best moments have come in big games, as he poured in 32 points against the Warriors and 26 points against the Cavaliers this month. The physical, relentless Butler will make him work (and might make his life miserable).</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 5</strong>. The Lakers are the only team playing on Christmas that isn’t within spitting distance of .500, and most NBA fans have already gotten their fill of Lonzo Mania during L.A.’s numerous national television appearances. For their part, the Timberwolves haven’t quite been as exciting or impressive as their record would indicate, held back by spotty team defense, too many minutes for their stars, and weak bench play. Give this one a chance due to the sheer volume of high draft picks (Towns, Wiggins, Ball, Ingram, Randle), but don’t be afraid to call it a night at halftime if necessary.</p>
Hoops for the Holidays: Ranking Christmas Day Games

The NBA can’t force Stephen Curry to play through a bum ankle, but the league’s schedule-makers did everything else within their power to ensure a strong Christmas Day quintuple-header.

To help compensate for the absence of Golden State’s two-time MVP, the league lined up a series of phenomenal individual match-ups. Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid should open the festivities dueling for the Best Unicorn title. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, again the top two players on SI.com’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list, will go head-to-head in the showcase game. And then reigning MVP Russell Westbrook will trade buckets and insane stat lines with MVP runner-up James Harden. Along the way, Kyrie Irving will stare down John Wall, while the Timberwolves’ No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) will battle the Lakers’ No. 2 picks (Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball).

For a schedule that is set months in advance, skewed towards large markets, and vulnerable to injury issues, that’s hard to top. San Antonio and Toronto have both played well enough for their fans to feel snubbed, but everyone else can settle in for 12 or 13 hours of basketball goodness.

Without further ado, here’s a full breakdown of Monday’s five-game slate, which doubles as a viewer’s guide. Each game is ranked on its “must-see” potential from 1 (halt all family affairs) to 5 (break out the board games). All stats through Dec. 21.

?

Game 1: Sixers at Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Previous meetings: None.

Main storyline: The rising East.

The league took a chance on both sides of the Christmas Day opener when it announced this matchup in August. New York, after parting with Phil Jackson and Derrick Rose, seemed destined for a Carmelo Anthony trade and a choppy rebuilding campaign. Philadelphia, even after an attention-grabbing trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, was bound to be at the mercy of its youth and health. Fingers crossed, but the NBA’s bet appears ready to pay off on both sides: the Kristaps Porzingis-led, Anthony-free Knicks have been fun, loose and even occasionally potent offensively, while the Sixers have been appointment viewing all fall thanks to relatively good health for franchise center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons.

While Porzingis’s breakthrough as a 25 PPG scorer has gotten most of the attention, there have been additional points of pride and promise: rookie Frank Ntilikina has acquitted himself nicely, scoring guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has delivered on his big summer payday, Michael Beasley has somehow returned to playing rotation minutes in the NBA, and the oft-mocked Enes Kanter has even managed to enjoy a few moments in the sun. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Sixers are riding fairly high, too, even though Fultz has largely been missing in action due to a shoulder injury. At his best, Embiid has performed like an All-NBA First Team selection, captaining a long and active defense while punishing opponents with his wide offensive skillset. Simmons, meanwhile, has shaken off pre-draft questions about his shooting ability and character with drool-inducing no-look passes and rim-rattling dunks.

In short, both teams enter the holiday with postseason aspirations after enduring multiple lottery-bound campaigns, and they have their 23-and-under stars to thank for the newfound hope. Christmas morning should offer a glimpse at two futures that are only getting brighter.

Match-up to watch: Kristaps Porzingis vs. Joel Embiid. The Unicorn showdown speaks for itself. In one corner, a 7’3” shot-creator/three-point marksman/shot-blocker from Latvia with a full package of dribble moves. In the other, a 7-foot dream-shaker/glass-cleaner/shot-blocker from Cameroon with the ability to get to the foul line at will. With all due respect to Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic, the Porzingis/Embiid match-up features the NBA’s most intriguing and complete young big men.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 3. Unfortunately, Porzingis (knee) and Embiid (back) have both missed time recently due to injuries, with the former struggling through an ugly 0–11 shooting night against Boston on Thursday. If either is a late scratch, this game’s watchability will fall off a cliff. As long as both are healthy, though, plan for an early start to the basketball festivities.

Game 2: Cavaliers at Warriors (3 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Golden State’s 2017 NBA Finals win in five games.
Main storyline: 2018 Finals preview?

After more than 10 million viewers watched or streamed Cavaliers/Warriors on Christmas Day last year, the NBA would have been foolish not to milk its top rivalry again in 2017. Yes, Cleveland and Golden State have faced off in three straight Finals. And yes, this will mark their third consecutive Christmas Day showdown. But any fear of viewer fatigue went out the window once Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics. How will LeBron James and the new-look Cavaliers fare against the champs without Irving? Which of Cleveland’s new faces—Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and others—can find a way to pose problems for Golden State?

While clearly a bummer, Curry’s absence due to a sprained ankle does serve as a bit of an equalizer, given that the Cavaliers are still without Isaiah Thomas, their Irving replacement, due to a hip injury. Golden State has played winning, if somewhat choppy, basketball this month without Curry, reorienting its offense around Kevin Durant and rolling off a 10-game winning streak through Thursday. Without the star point guards on hand, the sport’s top two players—James and Durant—will be free to reconvene their mano-a-mano rivalry.

Match-up to watch: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. It took a full decade and a heavily-criticized departure from Oklahoma City, but Durant finally scored his first breakthrough victory over James last season. He played the series of his life (averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG in the Finals), he hit the shot of his life (a pull-up three over James in Game 3), he won the first championship of his career, and he took home Finals MVP honors to boot. Yet an offseason of silly controversies, coupled with James’s ceaseless brilliance, has prevented Durant from mounting much of a claim to the throne. He’s still not as dominant as James, as well-liked, or as famous—a reality that only makes their head-to-head matchups that much juicier.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 1. Although Boston and Houston have looked like worthy challengers, Cleveland and Golden State remain the odds-on favorites to face off in June. Their regular-season contests have consistently previewed key Finals chess moves, making this game—even without Curry and Thomas—must-see TV.

Game 3: Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Boston’s 7-game series win in the 2017 East semis.
Main storyline: Boston’s new faces enter a bitter rivalry.

At first blush, the idea of Boston/Washington is enough to get the blood going. They intentionally wore black and beefed their way through multiple “Funeral” games last season, they haven’t played since their riveting 2017 playoff series, they are both led by All-Star point guards, and they both have good reason to anticipate postseason success in 2018. Unfortunately, numerous key figures are missing this season, making Celtics/Wizards less about renewing past grievances and more about commencing a new chapter.

Isaiah Thomas, who poured in 53 points in a spectacular Game 2 win over Washington, is gone. Kelly Olynyk, the Game 7 hero with 26 points, is gone. Jae Crowder is gone. Amir Johnson is gone. In their place, the Celtics have assembled a young, hungry and disciplined supporting cast around Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Boston’s defense has rated well all season, especially during a 16-game winning streak, but its offense usually settles in closer to “good/very good” rather than “electric.”

For Washington, the faces are mostly the same, but the requisite determination hasn’t been there. John Wall has been less lethal and efficient, the Wizards’ strong starting-lineup chemistry has been tested by minor injuries, and they have just one truly impressive victory over top competition (beating Toronto in early November). Mike Scott has been playing out of his mind recently, but good luck telling your family that you’re skipping Christmas dinner to see whether a well-traveled, anonymous reserve forward will randomly go off for 20 points again.

Match-up to watch: Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall. This need not be a game driven by individual heroics. When both these teams are clicking, their balanced, complete lineups produce quality contributions from all five positions. Even so, this will be a measuring-stick contest for Wall, who entered the year declaring himself the NBA’s “best two-way point guard” and crowing about “Wolf Season” after signing a $170 million max extension. That bluster has gone largely unfulfilled to date, with his numbers and efficiency slipping across the board.

In Irving, Wall has a familiar foe (15 career head-to-head match-ups) and a big target. Boston’s new point guard has received some early MVP buzz thanks to his team’s hot strong start, and he’s garnered nonstop media attention after leaving LeBron James and dishing out “wisdom” (read: nonsense) for six months straight. What more motivation does Wall, who frequently plays the “I’m underrated” card, need?

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 4. Let’s hope Washington throttles up on the Christmas stage, with Wall and Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 51 points against Portland earlier this month, leading the way. If not, Boston’s steadiness and defensive prowess could lull viewers into midday naps.

Game 4: Rockets at Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Houston’s 5-game 2017 first-round series win.
Main storyline: The 2017 MVP debate rekindled.

Credit the schedule-makers again: They didn’t overthink it. The NBA intelligentsia spent months last spring arguing the MVP merits of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so of course that conversation should carry over into a head-to-head holiday showdown.

While MVP voters ultimately sided with Oklahoma City’s triple-double machine, Harden and the Rockets first knocked the Thunder out of the first round and then took their play to new heights this season. As Oklahoma City’s offense has sputtered under the weight of too many contested long twos and too much ball-stopping, Houston’s has soared thanks to Harden’s brilliance and Chris Paul’s seamless integration into D’Antoni World.

Despite choppy early-season play and somewhat disappointing starts for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have maintained one of the league’s best and most versatile defenses all season. They also possess the requisite athleticism and versatility—on paper—to match up with the Rockets’ interchangeable lineups.

Match-up to watch: Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden. Duh. Harden, who leads the league in scoring, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, will enter Christmas at or near the top of most 2018 MVP lists, while Westbrook’s shooting woes (40 FG% and 31 3P%) and Oklahoma City’s bottom-10 have moved him back closer to the All-Star bubble. Nevertheless, Westbrook led the Thunder to a smashing home victory over the Warriors in late November, and his best work—like his 38/9/6 outburst versus Denver earlier this week—remains sublime.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 2. The Rockets are fun because of their consistency: they play sharp, focused, explosive basketball virtually every night, as evidenced by their recent 14-game winning streak. The Thunder are fun because of their inconsistency: their offense produces highlights and head slaps in equal doses. With the trade deadline inching closer, the “every game is a referendum on the Thunder’s star trio” sensation will only intensify, especially under the Christmas glare. Don’t miss this one.

Game 5: Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
Previous meetings: None.
Main storyline: The dynamics of rebuilding.

Will the Lakers spend Christmas getting a look at their own future? At this time last year, the Timberwolves were a lot like the current Lakers: young, talented and losing more than their fans would hope. Tom Thibodeau’s response was to fast-track the rebuilding effort, signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague and trading youngsters Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to acquire a proven All-Star wing in Jimmy Butler. Those moves, together with development from Karl-Anthony Towns and modest development from Andrew Wiggins, have the Timberwolves sitting in the West’s No. 4 seed as one of NBA’s biggest year/year gainers.

The Lakers—armed with a young core, Julius Randle as a trade chip, 2018 cap space, and big free-agency dreams—could theoretically be headed for a similar trajectory. Insert Paul George, another standout to be named later (LeBron James or otherwise), 12 months of growth for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and L.A. would have a chance to cut through some of the West’s cluttered middle tier in 2018–19.

But Minnesota’s path does have some cautionary downsides: Butler’s arrival may prove to pigeonhole Wiggins, Teague may not be good enough to be a postseason difference-maker, Thibodeau’s short-term focus and short rotation may lead to longer-term costs, and parting with Dunn and LaVine may come back to bite the franchise once contract extensions for its young stars kick in. If they’re smart, the Lakers should be carefully monitoring both the good and bad of the Thibodeau Timberwolves.

Match-up to watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Brandon Ingram. With rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma soaking up most of the hype and attention, Ingram’s growth in year two has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the lean 20-year-old forward is still waiting to fill out, he’s ramped up his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency while displaying star flashes and improved aggressiveness on offense. Some of his best moments have come in big games, as he poured in 32 points against the Warriors and 26 points against the Cavaliers this month. The physical, relentless Butler will make him work (and might make his life miserable).

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 5. The Lakers are the only team playing on Christmas that isn’t within spitting distance of .500, and most NBA fans have already gotten their fill of Lonzo Mania during L.A.’s numerous national television appearances. For their part, the Timberwolves haven’t quite been as exciting or impressive as their record would indicate, held back by spotty team defense, too many minutes for their stars, and weak bench play. Give this one a chance due to the sheer volume of high draft picks (Towns, Wiggins, Ball, Ingram, Randle), but don’t be afraid to call it a night at halftime if necessary.

<p>The NBA can’t force Stephen Curry to play through a bum ankle, but the league’s schedule-makers did everything else within their power to ensure a strong Christmas Day quintuple-header.</p><p>To help compensate for the absence of Golden State’s two-time MVP, the league lined up a series of phenomenal individual match-ups. Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid should open the festivities dueling for the Best Unicorn title. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, again the top two players on SI.com’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list, will go head-to-head in the showcase game. And then reigning MVP Russell Westbrook will trade buckets and insane stat lines with MVP runner-up James Harden. Along the way, Kyrie Irving will stare down John Wall, while the Timberwolves’ No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) will battle the Lakers’ No. 2 picks (Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball).</p><p>For a schedule that is set months in advance, skewed towards large markets, and vulnerable to injury issues, that’s hard to top. San Antonio and Toronto have both played well enough for their fans to feel snubbed, but everyone else can settle in for 12 or 13 hours of basketball goodness.</p><p>Without further ado, here’s a full breakdown of Monday’s five-game slate, which doubles as a viewer’s guide. Each game is ranked on its “must-see” potential from 1 (halt all family affairs) to 5 (break out the board games). <em>All stats through Dec. 21.</em></p><p>?</p><p><strong><em>Game 1: </em></strong><em>Sixers at Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None.</em><br><strong><em>Main storyline: </em></strong><em>The rising East.</em></p><p>The league took a chance on both sides of the Christmas Day opener when it announced this matchup in August. New York, after parting with Phil Jackson and Derrick Rose, seemed destined for a <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-knicks-thunder-russell-westbrook-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Carmelo Anthony trade" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Carmelo Anthony trade</a> and a choppy rebuilding campaign. Philadelphia, even after an attention-grabbing <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/06/17/trade-grades-draft-sixers-celtics-no-1-pick-markelle-fultz-joel-embiid-picks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz</a>, was bound to be at the mercy of its youth and health. Fingers crossed, but the NBA’s bet appears ready to pay off on both sides: the Kristaps Porzingis-led, Anthony-free Knicks have been fun, loose and even occasionally potent offensively, while the Sixers have been appointment viewing all fall thanks to relatively good health for franchise center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons.</p><p>While Porzingis’s breakthrough as a 25 PPG scorer has gotten most of the attention, there have been additional points of pride and promise: rookie Frank Ntilikina has acquitted himself nicely, scoring guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/11/28/knicks-tim-hardaway-jr-kristaps-porzingis-hawks-michigan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:delivered on his big summer payday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">delivered on his big summer payday</a>, Michael Beasley has somehow returned to playing rotation minutes in the NBA, and the oft-mocked Enes Kanter has even managed to enjoy a few moments in the sun. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Sixers are riding fairly high, too, even though Fultz has largely been missing in action due to a shoulder injury. At his best, Embiid has performed like an All-NBA First Team selection, captaining a long and active defense while punishing opponents with his wide offensive skillset. Simmons, meanwhile, has shaken off pre-draft questions about his shooting ability and character with drool-inducing no-look passes and rim-rattling dunks. </p><p>In short, both teams enter the holiday with postseason aspirations after enduring multiple lottery-bound campaigns, and they have their 23-and-under stars to thank for the newfound hope. Christmas morning should offer a glimpse at two futures that are only getting brighter.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Kristaps</strong> <strong>Porzingis vs. Joel Embiid</strong>. The Unicorn showdown speaks for itself. In one corner, a 7’3” shot-creator/three-point marksman/shot-blocker from Latvia with a full package of dribble moves. In the other, a 7-foot dream-shaker/glass-cleaner/shot-blocker from Cameroon with the ability to get to the foul line at will. With all due respect to Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic, the Porzingis/Embiid match-up features the NBA’s most intriguing and complete young big men. </p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 3</strong>. Unfortunately, Porzingis (knee) and Embiid (back) have both missed time recently due to injuries, with the former struggling through an ugly 0–11 shooting night against Boston on Thursday. If either is a late scratch, this game’s watchability will fall off a cliff. As long as both are healthy, though, plan for an early start to the basketball festivities.</p><p><strong><em>Game 2: </em></strong><em>Cavaliers at Warriors (3 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Golden State’s 2017 NBA Finals win in five games.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>2018 Finals preview?</em></p><p>After more than 10 million viewers watched or streamed Cavaliers/Warriors on Christmas Day last year, the NBA would have been foolish not to milk its top rivalry again in 2017. Yes, Cleveland and Golden State have faced off in three straight Finals. And yes, this will mark their third consecutive Christmas Day showdown. But any fear of viewer fatigue went out the window once <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/08/22/kyrie-irving-isaiah-thomas-cavaliers-celtics-trade-grades-analysis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics</a>. How will LeBron James and the new-look Cavaliers fare against the champs without Irving? Which of Cleveland’s new faces—Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and others—can find a way to pose problems for Golden State?</p><p>While clearly a bummer, Curry’s absence due to a sprained ankle does serve as a bit of an equalizer, given that the Cavaliers are still without Isaiah Thomas, their Irving replacement, due to a hip injury. Golden State has played winning, if somewhat choppy, basketball this month without Curry, reorienting its offense around Kevin Durant and rolling off a 10-game winning streak through Thursday. Without the star point guards on hand, the sport’s top two players—James and Durant—will be free to reconvene their mano-a-mano rivalry.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant</strong>. It took a full decade and a heavily-criticized departure from Oklahoma City, but Durant finally scored his first breakthrough victory over James last season. He played the series of his life (averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG in the Finals), he hit the shot of his life (a pull-up three over James in Game 3), he won the first championship of his career, and he took home Finals MVP honors to boot. Yet an offseason of silly controversies, coupled with James’s ceaseless brilliance, has prevented Durant from mounting much of a claim to the throne. He’s still not as dominant as James, as well-liked, or as famous—a reality that only makes their head-to-head matchups that much juicier.</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 1</strong>. Although Boston and Houston have looked like worthy challengers, Cleveland and Golden State remain the odds-on favorites to face off in June. Their regular-season contests have consistently previewed key Finals chess moves, making this game—even without Curry and Thomas—must-see TV. </p><p><strong><em>Game 3: </em></strong><em>Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Boston’s 7-game series win in the 2017 East semis.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>Boston’s new faces enter a bitter rivalry.</em></p><p>At first blush, the idea of Boston/Washington is enough to get the blood going. They intentionally wore black and beefed their way through <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/01/24/wizards-wearing-black-jerseys-vs-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:multiple “Funeral” games" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">multiple “Funeral” games</a> last season, they haven’t played since their riveting 2017 playoff series, they are both led by All-Star point guards, and they both have good reason to anticipate postseason success in 2018. Unfortunately, numerous key figures are missing this season, making Celtics/Wizards less about renewing past grievances and more about commencing a new chapter.</p><p>Isaiah Thomas, who poured in 53 points in a spectacular Game 2 win over Washington, is gone. Kelly Olynyk, the Game 7 hero with 26 points, is gone. Jae Crowder is gone. Amir Johnson is gone. In their place, the Celtics have assembled a young, hungry and disciplined supporting cast around Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Boston’s defense has rated well all season, especially during a 16-game winning streak, but its offense usually settles in closer to “good/very good” rather than “electric.”</p><p>For Washington, the faces are mostly the same, but the requisite determination hasn’t been there. John Wall has been less lethal and efficient, the Wizards’ strong starting-lineup chemistry has been tested by minor injuries, and they have just one truly impressive victory over top competition (beating Toronto in early November). Mike Scott has been playing out of his mind recently, but good luck telling your family that you’re skipping Christmas dinner to see whether a well-traveled, anonymous reserve forward will randomly go off for 20 points again.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall</strong>. This need not be a game driven by individual heroics. When both these teams are clicking, their balanced, complete lineups produce quality contributions from all five positions. Even so, this will be a measuring-stick contest for Wall, who entered the year declaring himself the NBA’s “best two-way point guard” and crowing about <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/10/27/john-wall-wizards-nba-playoffs-bradley-beal-celtics-cavs" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:“Wolf Season”" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">“Wolf Season”</a> after signing a $170 million max extension. That bluster has gone largely unfulfilled to date, with his numbers and efficiency slipping across the board.</p><p>In Irving, Wall has a familiar foe (15 career head-to-head match-ups) and a big target. Boston’s new point guard has received some early MVP buzz thanks to his team’s hot strong start, and he’s garnered nonstop media attention after leaving LeBron James and dishing out “wisdom” (read: nonsense) for six months straight. What more motivation does Wall, who frequently plays the “I’m underrated” card, need?</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 4</strong>. Let’s hope Washington throttles up on the Christmas stage, with Wall and Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 51 points against Portland earlier this month, leading the way. If not, Boston’s steadiness and defensive prowess could lull viewers into midday naps.</p><p><strong><em>Game 4: </em></strong><em>Rockets at Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ABC)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None since Houston’s 5-game 2017 first-round series win.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>The 2017 MVP debate rekindled.</em></p><p>Credit the schedule-makers again: They didn’t overthink it. The NBA intelligentsia spent months last spring arguing the MVP merits of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so of course that conversation should carry over into a head-to-head holiday showdown.</p><p>While MVP voters ultimately sided with Oklahoma City’s triple-double machine, Harden and the Rockets first knocked the Thunder out of the first round and then took their play to new heights this season. As Oklahoma City’s offense has sputtered under the weight of too many contested long twos and too much ball-stopping, Houston’s has soared thanks to Harden’s brilliance and Chris Paul’s seamless integration into D’Antoni World.</p><p>Despite choppy early-season play and somewhat disappointing starts for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have maintained one of the league’s best and most versatile defenses all season. They also possess the requisite athleticism and versatility—on paper—to match up with the Rockets’ interchangeable lineups.</p><p><strong>Match-up to watch</strong>: <strong>Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden</strong>. Duh. Harden, who leads the league in scoring, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, will enter Christmas at or near the top of most 2018 MVP lists, while Westbrook’s shooting woes (40 FG% and 31 3P%) and Oklahoma City’s bottom-10 have moved him back closer to the All-Star bubble. Nevertheless, Westbrook led the Thunder to a smashing home victory over the Warriors in late November, and his best work—like his 38/9/6 outburst versus Denver earlier this week—remains sublime.</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 2</strong>. The Rockets are fun because of their consistency: they play sharp, focused, explosive basketball virtually every night, as evidenced by their recent 14-game winning streak. The Thunder are fun because of their inconsistency: their offense produces highlights and head slaps in equal doses. With the trade deadline inching closer, the “every game is a referendum on the Thunder’s star trio” sensation will only intensify, especially under the Christmas glare. Don’t miss this one. </p><p><strong><em>Game 5: </em></strong><em>Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)<br><strong>Previous meetings</strong>: None.<br><strong>Main storyline: </strong>The dynamics of rebuilding.</em></p><p>Will the Lakers spend Christmas getting a look at their own future? At this time last year, the Timberwolves were a lot like the current Lakers: young, talented and losing more than their fans would hope. Tom Thibodeau’s response was to fast-track the rebuilding effort, signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague and trading youngsters Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to acquire a proven All-Star wing in Jimmy Butler. Those moves, together with development from Karl-Anthony Towns and modest development from Andrew Wiggins, have the Timberwolves sitting in the West’s No. 4 seed as one of NBA’s biggest year/year gainers.</p><p>The Lakers—armed with a young core, Julius Randle as a trade chip, 2018 cap space, and big free-agency dreams—could theoretically be headed for a similar trajectory. Insert Paul George, another standout to be named later (LeBron James or otherwise), 12 months of growth for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and L.A. would have a chance to cut through some of the West’s cluttered middle tier in 2018–19.</p><p>But Minnesota’s path does have some cautionary downsides: Butler’s arrival may prove to pigeonhole Wiggins, Teague may not be good enough to be a postseason difference-maker, Thibodeau’s short-term focus and short rotation may lead to longer-term costs, and parting with Dunn and LaVine may come back to bite the franchise once contract extensions for its young stars kick in. If they’re smart, the Lakers should be carefully monitoring both the good and bad of the Thibodeau Timberwolves. </p><p><strong>Match-up to watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Brandon Ingram</strong>. With rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma soaking up most of the hype and attention, Ingram’s growth in year two has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the lean 20-year-old forward is still waiting to fill out, he’s ramped up his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency while displaying star flashes and improved aggressiveness on offense. Some of his best moments have come in big games, as he poured in 32 points against the Warriors and 26 points against the Cavaliers this month. The physical, relentless Butler will make him work (and might make his life miserable).</p><p><strong>Christmas Day rank (1 to 5)</strong><strong>: No. 5</strong>. The Lakers are the only team playing on Christmas that isn’t within spitting distance of .500, and most NBA fans have already gotten their fill of Lonzo Mania during L.A.’s numerous national television appearances. For their part, the Timberwolves haven’t quite been as exciting or impressive as their record would indicate, held back by spotty team defense, too many minutes for their stars, and weak bench play. Give this one a chance due to the sheer volume of high draft picks (Towns, Wiggins, Ball, Ingram, Randle), but don’t be afraid to call it a night at halftime if necessary.</p>
Hoops for the Holidays: Ranking Christmas Day Games

The NBA can’t force Stephen Curry to play through a bum ankle, but the league’s schedule-makers did everything else within their power to ensure a strong Christmas Day quintuple-header.

To help compensate for the absence of Golden State’s two-time MVP, the league lined up a series of phenomenal individual match-ups. Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid should open the festivities dueling for the Best Unicorn title. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, again the top two players on SI.com’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list, will go head-to-head in the showcase game. And then reigning MVP Russell Westbrook will trade buckets and insane stat lines with MVP runner-up James Harden. Along the way, Kyrie Irving will stare down John Wall, while the Timberwolves’ No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) will battle the Lakers’ No. 2 picks (Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball).

For a schedule that is set months in advance, skewed towards large markets, and vulnerable to injury issues, that’s hard to top. San Antonio and Toronto have both played well enough for their fans to feel snubbed, but everyone else can settle in for 12 or 13 hours of basketball goodness.

Without further ado, here’s a full breakdown of Monday’s five-game slate, which doubles as a viewer’s guide. Each game is ranked on its “must-see” potential from 1 (halt all family affairs) to 5 (break out the board games). All stats through Dec. 21.

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Game 1: Sixers at Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Previous meetings: None.

Main storyline: The rising East.

The league took a chance on both sides of the Christmas Day opener when it announced this matchup in August. New York, after parting with Phil Jackson and Derrick Rose, seemed destined for a Carmelo Anthony trade and a choppy rebuilding campaign. Philadelphia, even after an attention-grabbing trade for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, was bound to be at the mercy of its youth and health. Fingers crossed, but the NBA’s bet appears ready to pay off on both sides: the Kristaps Porzingis-led, Anthony-free Knicks have been fun, loose and even occasionally potent offensively, while the Sixers have been appointment viewing all fall thanks to relatively good health for franchise center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons.

While Porzingis’s breakthrough as a 25 PPG scorer has gotten most of the attention, there have been additional points of pride and promise: rookie Frank Ntilikina has acquitted himself nicely, scoring guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has delivered on his big summer payday, Michael Beasley has somehow returned to playing rotation minutes in the NBA, and the oft-mocked Enes Kanter has even managed to enjoy a few moments in the sun. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Sixers are riding fairly high, too, even though Fultz has largely been missing in action due to a shoulder injury. At his best, Embiid has performed like an All-NBA First Team selection, captaining a long and active defense while punishing opponents with his wide offensive skillset. Simmons, meanwhile, has shaken off pre-draft questions about his shooting ability and character with drool-inducing no-look passes and rim-rattling dunks.

In short, both teams enter the holiday with postseason aspirations after enduring multiple lottery-bound campaigns, and they have their 23-and-under stars to thank for the newfound hope. Christmas morning should offer a glimpse at two futures that are only getting brighter.

Match-up to watch: Kristaps Porzingis vs. Joel Embiid. The Unicorn showdown speaks for itself. In one corner, a 7’3” shot-creator/three-point marksman/shot-blocker from Latvia with a full package of dribble moves. In the other, a 7-foot dream-shaker/glass-cleaner/shot-blocker from Cameroon with the ability to get to the foul line at will. With all due respect to Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic, the Porzingis/Embiid match-up features the NBA’s most intriguing and complete young big men.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 3. Unfortunately, Porzingis (knee) and Embiid (back) have both missed time recently due to injuries, with the former struggling through an ugly 0–11 shooting night against Boston on Thursday. If either is a late scratch, this game’s watchability will fall off a cliff. As long as both are healthy, though, plan for an early start to the basketball festivities.

Game 2: Cavaliers at Warriors (3 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Golden State’s 2017 NBA Finals win in five games.
Main storyline: 2018 Finals preview?

After more than 10 million viewers watched or streamed Cavaliers/Warriors on Christmas Day last year, the NBA would have been foolish not to milk its top rivalry again in 2017. Yes, Cleveland and Golden State have faced off in three straight Finals. And yes, this will mark their third consecutive Christmas Day showdown. But any fear of viewer fatigue went out the window once Kyrie Irving forced his way to the Celtics. How will LeBron James and the new-look Cavaliers fare against the champs without Irving? Which of Cleveland’s new faces—Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and others—can find a way to pose problems for Golden State?

While clearly a bummer, Curry’s absence due to a sprained ankle does serve as a bit of an equalizer, given that the Cavaliers are still without Isaiah Thomas, their Irving replacement, due to a hip injury. Golden State has played winning, if somewhat choppy, basketball this month without Curry, reorienting its offense around Kevin Durant and rolling off a 10-game winning streak through Thursday. Without the star point guards on hand, the sport’s top two players—James and Durant—will be free to reconvene their mano-a-mano rivalry.

Match-up to watch: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. It took a full decade and a heavily-criticized departure from Oklahoma City, but Durant finally scored his first breakthrough victory over James last season. He played the series of his life (averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG in the Finals), he hit the shot of his life (a pull-up three over James in Game 3), he won the first championship of his career, and he took home Finals MVP honors to boot. Yet an offseason of silly controversies, coupled with James’s ceaseless brilliance, has prevented Durant from mounting much of a claim to the throne. He’s still not as dominant as James, as well-liked, or as famous—a reality that only makes their head-to-head matchups that much juicier.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 1. Although Boston and Houston have looked like worthy challengers, Cleveland and Golden State remain the odds-on favorites to face off in June. Their regular-season contests have consistently previewed key Finals chess moves, making this game—even without Curry and Thomas—must-see TV.

Game 3: Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Boston’s 7-game series win in the 2017 East semis.
Main storyline: Boston’s new faces enter a bitter rivalry.

At first blush, the idea of Boston/Washington is enough to get the blood going. They intentionally wore black and beefed their way through multiple “Funeral” games last season, they haven’t played since their riveting 2017 playoff series, they are both led by All-Star point guards, and they both have good reason to anticipate postseason success in 2018. Unfortunately, numerous key figures are missing this season, making Celtics/Wizards less about renewing past grievances and more about commencing a new chapter.

Isaiah Thomas, who poured in 53 points in a spectacular Game 2 win over Washington, is gone. Kelly Olynyk, the Game 7 hero with 26 points, is gone. Jae Crowder is gone. Amir Johnson is gone. In their place, the Celtics have assembled a young, hungry and disciplined supporting cast around Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Boston’s defense has rated well all season, especially during a 16-game winning streak, but its offense usually settles in closer to “good/very good” rather than “electric.”

For Washington, the faces are mostly the same, but the requisite determination hasn’t been there. John Wall has been less lethal and efficient, the Wizards’ strong starting-lineup chemistry has been tested by minor injuries, and they have just one truly impressive victory over top competition (beating Toronto in early November). Mike Scott has been playing out of his mind recently, but good luck telling your family that you’re skipping Christmas dinner to see whether a well-traveled, anonymous reserve forward will randomly go off for 20 points again.

Match-up to watch: Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall. This need not be a game driven by individual heroics. When both these teams are clicking, their balanced, complete lineups produce quality contributions from all five positions. Even so, this will be a measuring-stick contest for Wall, who entered the year declaring himself the NBA’s “best two-way point guard” and crowing about “Wolf Season” after signing a $170 million max extension. That bluster has gone largely unfulfilled to date, with his numbers and efficiency slipping across the board.

In Irving, Wall has a familiar foe (15 career head-to-head match-ups) and a big target. Boston’s new point guard has received some early MVP buzz thanks to his team’s hot strong start, and he’s garnered nonstop media attention after leaving LeBron James and dishing out “wisdom” (read: nonsense) for six months straight. What more motivation does Wall, who frequently plays the “I’m underrated” card, need?

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 4. Let’s hope Washington throttles up on the Christmas stage, with Wall and Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 51 points against Portland earlier this month, leading the way. If not, Boston’s steadiness and defensive prowess could lull viewers into midday naps.

Game 4: Rockets at Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Previous meetings: None since Houston’s 5-game 2017 first-round series win.
Main storyline: The 2017 MVP debate rekindled.

Credit the schedule-makers again: They didn’t overthink it. The NBA intelligentsia spent months last spring arguing the MVP merits of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so of course that conversation should carry over into a head-to-head holiday showdown.

While MVP voters ultimately sided with Oklahoma City’s triple-double machine, Harden and the Rockets first knocked the Thunder out of the first round and then took their play to new heights this season. As Oklahoma City’s offense has sputtered under the weight of too many contested long twos and too much ball-stopping, Houston’s has soared thanks to Harden’s brilliance and Chris Paul’s seamless integration into D’Antoni World.

Despite choppy early-season play and somewhat disappointing starts for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have maintained one of the league’s best and most versatile defenses all season. They also possess the requisite athleticism and versatility—on paper—to match up with the Rockets’ interchangeable lineups.

Match-up to watch: Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden. Duh. Harden, who leads the league in scoring, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares, will enter Christmas at or near the top of most 2018 MVP lists, while Westbrook’s shooting woes (40 FG% and 31 3P%) and Oklahoma City’s bottom-10 have moved him back closer to the All-Star bubble. Nevertheless, Westbrook led the Thunder to a smashing home victory over the Warriors in late November, and his best work—like his 38/9/6 outburst versus Denver earlier this week—remains sublime.

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 2. The Rockets are fun because of their consistency: they play sharp, focused, explosive basketball virtually every night, as evidenced by their recent 14-game winning streak. The Thunder are fun because of their inconsistency: their offense produces highlights and head slaps in equal doses. With the trade deadline inching closer, the “every game is a referendum on the Thunder’s star trio” sensation will only intensify, especially under the Christmas glare. Don’t miss this one.

Game 5: Timberwolves at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
Previous meetings: None.
Main storyline: The dynamics of rebuilding.

Will the Lakers spend Christmas getting a look at their own future? At this time last year, the Timberwolves were a lot like the current Lakers: young, talented and losing more than their fans would hope. Tom Thibodeau’s response was to fast-track the rebuilding effort, signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague and trading youngsters Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to acquire a proven All-Star wing in Jimmy Butler. Those moves, together with development from Karl-Anthony Towns and modest development from Andrew Wiggins, have the Timberwolves sitting in the West’s No. 4 seed as one of NBA’s biggest year/year gainers.

The Lakers—armed with a young core, Julius Randle as a trade chip, 2018 cap space, and big free-agency dreams—could theoretically be headed for a similar trajectory. Insert Paul George, another standout to be named later (LeBron James or otherwise), 12 months of growth for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and L.A. would have a chance to cut through some of the West’s cluttered middle tier in 2018–19.

But Minnesota’s path does have some cautionary downsides: Butler’s arrival may prove to pigeonhole Wiggins, Teague may not be good enough to be a postseason difference-maker, Thibodeau’s short-term focus and short rotation may lead to longer-term costs, and parting with Dunn and LaVine may come back to bite the franchise once contract extensions for its young stars kick in. If they’re smart, the Lakers should be carefully monitoring both the good and bad of the Thibodeau Timberwolves.

Match-up to watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Brandon Ingram. With rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma soaking up most of the hype and attention, Ingram’s growth in year two has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the lean 20-year-old forward is still waiting to fill out, he’s ramped up his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency while displaying star flashes and improved aggressiveness on offense. Some of his best moments have come in big games, as he poured in 32 points against the Warriors and 26 points against the Cavaliers this month. The physical, relentless Butler will make him work (and might make his life miserable).

Christmas Day rank (1 to 5): No. 5. The Lakers are the only team playing on Christmas that isn’t within spitting distance of .500, and most NBA fans have already gotten their fill of Lonzo Mania during L.A.’s numerous national television appearances. For their part, the Timberwolves haven’t quite been as exciting or impressive as their record would indicate, held back by spotty team defense, too many minutes for their stars, and weak bench play. Give this one a chance due to the sheer volume of high draft picks (Towns, Wiggins, Ball, Ingram, Randle), but don’t be afraid to call it a night at halftime if necessary.