Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose drives against the Orlando Magic in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose drives against the Orlando Magic in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose drives against the Orlando Magic in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose, center, drives between Orlando Magic's D.J. Augustin, left, and Khem Birch during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose, center, drives between Orlando Magic's D.J. Augustin, left, and Khem Birch during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose, center, drives between Orlando Magic's D.J. Augustin, left, and Khem Birch during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose (1) shoots over Orlando Magic's Marreese Speights (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose (1) shoots over Orlando Magic's Marreese Speights (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose (1) shoots over Orlando Magic's Marreese Speights (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Derrick Rose expects to return for Cavaliers on Thursday night
Derrick Rose expects to return for Cavaliers on Thursday night
Derrick Rose expects to return for Cavaliers on Thursday night
<p>Derrick Rose is looking to make his return Thursday against the Magic, he told media following practice Wednesday. </p><p>On Oct. 20 Rose went down with an <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/10/20/derrick-rose-injury-news-update-cavaliers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ankle injury" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ankle injury</a> in a Cavaliers win over the Bucks. He missed Cleveland&#39;s next four games, but returned Oct. 29 for a loss to the Knicks. Rose played four games after that, but has not been on the court since a Nov. 7 win over Milwaukee.</p><p>&quot;I feel good, I haven&#39;t had any setback,&quot; he said. </p><p>At one point, Rose was <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/11/24/derrick-rose-evaluating-future-basketball-away-cavaliers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reportedly evaluating" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reportedly evaluating</a> retirement since he was sick of being injured. But he <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/12/04/cleveland-cavaliers-derrick-rose-return" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:returned" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">returned</a> to Cleveland at the beginning of December after being away from the team for a while. </p><p>Rose has had to deal with injuries his entire career, missing 27 games the 2011-2012 season and then tearing his ACL in the first game of the playoffs.</p><p>He missed the following season and then played only 10 games during the 2013-2014 season. He </p><p> In seven games this season he is averaging 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists.</p>
Watch: Derrick Rose Says He Wants to Return Thursday

Derrick Rose is looking to make his return Thursday against the Magic, he told media following practice Wednesday.

On Oct. 20 Rose went down with an ankle injury in a Cavaliers win over the Bucks. He missed Cleveland's next four games, but returned Oct. 29 for a loss to the Knicks. Rose played four games after that, but has not been on the court since a Nov. 7 win over Milwaukee.

"I feel good, I haven't had any setback," he said.

At one point, Rose was reportedly evaluating retirement since he was sick of being injured. But he returned to Cleveland at the beginning of December after being away from the team for a while.

Rose has had to deal with injuries his entire career, missing 27 games the 2011-2012 season and then tearing his ACL in the first game of the playoffs.

He missed the following season and then played only 10 games during the 2013-2014 season. He

In seven games this season he is averaging 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

<p>The NBA is set to unveil the starting lineups for the 2018 All-Star Game on Thursday, as determined by a joint vote among fans, players and media members.</p><p>While this year’s All-Star festivities include a major new wrinkle—the appointment of the conference leading vote-getters as captains who will draft their teams from a pool of All-Star players—the procedure for selecting the starters remains unchanged from 2017. This year, fans will again account for half of the vote, players will account for 25%, and a panel composed of 100 media members will account for the final 25%.</p><p>Without further ado, here’s how I casted my official ballot. Note: Media members were asked to select two backcourt players and three frontcourt players from each conference. (<em>All stats and rankings through Monday.)</em></p><p>??</p><h3><strong>East Backcourt: Victor Oladipo (Pacers) and Kyrie Irving (Celtics)</strong></h3><p>Right off the top, a classic voting dilemma: three very qualified candidates—Oladipo, Irving, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan—for only two spots. Unfortunately, this predicament is well-known and particularly annoying to All-Star voters, who might be able to avoid such pickles if the NBA ever moved to a fully position-less ballot.</p><p>The East’s top tier of guards isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years. Washington’s John Wall has struggled with his efficiency and consistency. Although Bradley Beal, Wall’s teammate, has helped pick up the slack and deserves strong All-Star reserve consideration, his career year hasn’t translated to the type of stability one expects from a veteran-dominated roster. In Charlotte, Kemba Walker’s Hornets have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, already falling well off the playoff pace. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has smartly been cast into a narrower role, leaving him in a similar boat as Miami’s Goran Dragic. Neither point guard has the per-game numbers to keep up with the East’s most productive backcourt players.</p><p>The Crossover&#39;s first backcourt pick is Oladipo (24.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4 APG), who easily qualifies as the biggest surprise among the 10 players selected here given his ho-hum 2016-17 campaign in Oklahoma City. Oladipo, Irving and DeRozan all have virtually identical per-game stats in terms of points, rebounds and assists, but Indiana’s new guard held slight edges in shooting efficiency and Player Efficiency Rating at the time ballots were due. More importantly, though, Oladipo’s impact numbers notably exceeded Irving and DeRozan.</p><p><em>• Indiana: +7.4 with Oladipo | -6.9 without Oladipo | Net: +13.8<br>• </em><em>Boston: +7.4 with Irving | +1.3 without Irving | Net: +9.6 </em><br><em>•</em><em>Toronto: +6.9 with DeRozan | +8.1 without DeRozan | Net: -1.2</em></p><p>As the East’s top two seeds, Boston and Toronto can point to numerous driving forces behind their success, including proven co-stars, deep rosters and established systems. For the overhauled Pacers, Oladipo has easily been the central force. Without him this year, Indiana is 0-5, losing by an average of 12.8 PPG. Indeed, Oladipo’s Pacers recall Jimmy Butler’s Bulls from years past. Without Oladipo, Indiana would be utterly hopeless, likely ranking among the league’s worst teams. With him, they are comfortably in the East’s playoff picture, even if they can’t quite keep up with the East’s best. They also possess a top-six offense league-wide, which still seems impossible given the loss of Paul George and their mediocre assembled talent. Considering their respective team contexts, Oladipo rates as the least replaceable of the three East backcourt candidates. </p><p>It’s fair to wonder whether Oladipo can maintain his career-best level of play, especially because both Irving and DeRozan have performed at an All-Star level for multiple years. A second-half drop-off in Oladipo’s efficiency and the Pacers’ success wouldn’t be surprising at all, leaving Irving and DeRozan as stronger All-NBA selections. However, this All-Star starter ballot was cast solely looking at games played between the start of the 2017-18 season and the voting deadline.</p><p>For the second spot, Irving (24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG) versus DeRozan (25.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5 APG) is about as close as it gets, with their major statistics and advanced stats (PER, Win Shares) usually separated by mere decimals. Both have similar usage rates and similar impacts on their respective offenses. And relative to their all-around offensive games, both players are less accomplished and less integral to their team’s success on the defensive end.</p><p>DeRozan’s improvement as a reader of defenses coupled with his first serious dabbling outside the three-point arc have helped boost him from fringe All-Star selection to starter candidate, and they’ve moved him past Lowry on the list of Toronto’s most important players this season. Still, the pick here is Irving, due to his better on/off impact numbers, his superior outside shooting (proficiency and volume), and the Celtics’ East-leading record. </p><h3><strong>East Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and Joel Embiid (Sixers)</strong></h3><p>Let’s not bother with unnecessary debates: Both James and Antetokounmpo are no-brainers.</p><p>At the midway point of his 15th season, James stands as the 2018 NBA MVP frontrunner. He has been the alpha and omega for the East’s most efficient offense while welcoming a host of new faces (Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green) and dealing with numerous injuries (Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose). Even more remarkably, he’s shattered conventional expectations for age curves and post-30 decline. Throughout NBA history, only four players have matched James’ current stat line (27.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 8.8 APG): Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All four did it at age 28 or younger, while James turned 33 last month.</p><p>Kudos to fan voters for recognizing Antetokounmpo’s brilliance: At just 23, he’s already challenging James for the title of the East’s leading vote-getter, pulling in nearly 1.5 million votes at last count. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player is now deep into his second season as one of the league’s top one-man shows. The Bucks boast a +4 net rating with Antetokounmpo on the court and a pitiful -11.3 net rating when he sits, a split that helps explain why he’s the NBA’s leader in minutes per game. A do-everything, play-anywhere force of nature, Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) joins Larry Bird, David Robinson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average 28/10/4 during the three-point era. While Milwaukee’s so-so record should leave observers wanting more, it would be so, so, so much worse without nightly heroics from their franchise player. </p><p>If he were eligible, DeRozan would have a strong case for the third frontcourt spot. Alas, Embiid and Boston’s Horford stand atop the remaining pool of frontcourt candidates, separating themselves from New York’s Kristaps Porzingis (fading slightly after a strong individual start), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (an afterthought following the Pistons’ recent cratering) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (an undeniable part of the problem for Cleveland’s atrocious defense).</p><p>Horford’s portfolio is virtually identical to his previous All-Star seasons: His two-way game, unselfishness, inside/outside versatility, and intelligence have made him a more important driver of Boston’s winning than his raw stats (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) would suggest. As the stabilizing force for the NBA’s stingiest defense, Horford will command Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive team attention. He’s also enjoyed significantly better health than Embiid, logging 300+ more minutes and missing just four games.</p><p>Ultimately, the quality of Embiid’s minutes won out on this ballot. Aside from long-established A-listers like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, Embiid helps his teammates find success better than anyone in the league. He draws tons of attention to free up role players. He works a nice two-man game with Ben Simmons. He blankets the paint on defense. He parades to the foul line. He cleans the glass. He leads with energy and fearlessness.</p><p>While Horford has a longer track record of winning and has enjoyed better health this season, Embiid has clearly established himself as one of the league’s most indispensable stars. Philadelphia’s net rating swings from -6.2 without him to +8.7 with him, and the Sixers are 2-7 without Embiid in the lineup. Boston, meanwhile, has gone 4-0 without Horford. Other than his lagging three-point efficiency and his DeMarcus Cousins-like propensity for turning the ball over by doing too much, Embiid (23.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) is virtually impossible to nitpick. His per-game numbers suggest he’s elite. His advanced stats suggest he’s elite. His impact numbers suggest he’s elite. The eye test suggests he’s an elite monster who would thrash and thrive to an even greater degree if surrounded by Boston’s talent.</p><p>Postscript: Horford is an easy reserve selection.</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>West Backcourt: James Harden (Rockets) and Stephen Curry (Warriors)</strong></h3><p>Most years, good health weighs heavily on this voter’s ballot. That’s especially true in deep groupings like the West backcourt, which is always a gauntlet full of impossible choices. This season, though, toeing a hard line on health makes less sense due to a rash of injuries to star players and the increased proliferation of strategic resting.</p><p>Disqualifying or downgrading West guards for missing meaningful time would result in a bloodbath: Harden, Curry, and Portland’s Damian Lillard would all be impacted, along with Houston’s Chris Paul, Memphis’s Mike Conley and other perennial candidates who don’t belong in the conversation because they’ve missed huge chunks of the season. The top remaining, rarely-injured candidates would be Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and LA’s Lou Williams. All are worthy All-Star reserve candidates, but none belongs on the same tier as Harden and Curry, who have both been top-five overall talents this season.</p><p>Although currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harden (32.3 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5 RPG) is a must All-Star starter. At the time of his injury, he stood as the MVP favorite, leading the league in points, PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus. His individual success directly translated to team–wide success: Houston was on track for its best season in franchise history, the West’s No. 2 record, a top-two offense, and the NBA’s second-best point differential when he went down.</p><p>Curry (27.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) has already missed 14 games, a chunk that would usually see him dumped to the second team on this voter’s ballot. Much like Embiid, however, Curry’s play when healthy has simply been too dominant to snub. His stat line isn’t that far off his 2015 unanimous MVP campaign. He’s threatening another 50/40/90 shooting season. Golden State is playing at a 68-win pace when he suits up. The Warriors’ offensive rating is a preposterous 120.7 when he’s on the court. He ranks fourth in PER and first in Real Plus Minus. The sport continues to be molded by his influence.</p><p>That leaves Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.1 APG) to fall to the West’s bench. As with DeRozan in the East, a position-less ballot could have potentially opened a starting spot for Butler, a punishing wing who capably defends four positions and easily oscillates between different roles in big and small lineups. Butler’s off-season arrival has delivered impressive and immediate results, transforming the Timberwolves from a decade-long also-ran to a top-four seed and a potential Northwest Division banner. Simply put, Butler is the top performer not included among this ballot’s 10 starters.</p><p>Despite his gaudy numbers, Westbrook (25 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 9.9 APG) should not be viewed as a serious All-Star starter candidate. Oklahoma City has just been too shaky, in part because he’s struggled to shoot efficiently and hasn’t displayed the delicate touch necessary to consistently pull quality contributions from his auxiliary options. </p><h3><strong>West Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and Draymond Green (Warriors)</strong></h3><p>The West’s frontcourt picture will get dicey when it comes to separating the reserves from the snubs, but the starters are a simpler task.</p><p>Durant (26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) is in, and his nomination doesn’t require an extended explanation. At this point of his career, the 2014 MVP has become a chameleon-like force, capable of matching his top peers in an increasingly long list of ways. Like Curry, he is a 50/40/90 candidate. Like Harden, he is a primary scorer and playmaker for an elite offense. Like James, he steps forward as a major stabilizing force when his teammates are in and out of the lineup. Like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, he has become a major plus on defense, one capable of defending elite wings while also carrying a significant offensive burden. Like Horford and Green, he has risen to the challenge of interior defense while logging major minutes in undersized spread lineups. Like Irving, he never hesitates to break off a defender with his handle. Like Antetokounmpo, he’s a terror in transition, and his length and athleticism present constant problems for opponents big and small.</p><p>In sum, Durant’s case to surpass James as the game’s top all-around talent is only gaining momentum. </p><p>Even with the injury issues in the West, it’s impossible to justify placing two Pelicans—who have hovered near .500 and the playoff bubble all season—in the All-Star starting lineup. While DeMarcus Cousins (25.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) started with a bang and continues to boast insane numbers, his steak doesn’t quite match his sizzle. Hence, Davis (26.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.3 APG) makes more sense the New Orleans representative: His per-game stats are huge as always, he holds a team-best +5.3 net rating, and New Orleans is 3-6 when he plays fewer than 25 minutes. Simply put, he’s more reliable than Cousins, who leads the league in turnovers and fouls, while also ranking among the league leaders in technical fouls and ejections.</p><p>The West’s final frontcourt spot is a tangled ball of yarn due to Leonard’s numerous injury issues. One school of thought suggests transferring his spot to LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG), who stepped forward as San Antonio’s leading scorer in Leonard’s absence. Others might argue for Cousins based on his Shaquille O’Neal-like numbers. Still others might nominate Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (20.2 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.3 APG), a natural/smooth/efficient/forceful offensive weapon who has responded in recent weeks to severe criticism of his defense. All three have legitimate cases, as would Butler if he were eligible in the frontcourt.</p><p>On this ballot, the choice is Green (11.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.6 APG), who obviously trails his aforementioned competition as a scorer. What sets Green apart is everything else: His comfort guarding any player at any time and at any spot on the court; his motor; his ability to step forward as an initiator in Curry’s absence; his decision-making; his rim-protection; and his ability to push the ball end to end in transition. Green is key to helping Golden State play at the league’s No.4 pace, he is the leading assist man on the league’s No. 1 assist team, he is a key playmaker for the NBA’s No. 1 offense, he is the leading rebounder on a team that’s juggled centers all season long, and he’s the most proven and versatile cog in the NBA’s No. 4 defense.</p><p>While Green has become a familiar face during Golden State’s run of dominance—emerging as one of this year’s leading All-Star vote-getters—the breadth of his positive contributions can still get lost in Superteam envy or in complaints about his behavior. So, here’s a cool shorthand method for explaining his unique and wide-ranging impact: <a href="http://bkref.com/tiny/dWaNc" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Green and James are the only two players to average" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Green and James are the only two players to average</a> seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block during the three-point era. This season, James is doing it for the fourth time during a career in which he will likely go down as one of the top two players ever. Green, meanwhile, is doing it for the third straight time while playing in the shadow of two all-timers in Curry and Durant. The Warriors’ blossoming dynasty greatness is fueled in no small part by Green’s consistent greatness across so many different facets of the game.</p><p>Check back next week for The Crossover&#39;s All-Star reserve selections. </p>
The Crossover's 2018 NBA All-Star Game Starters

The NBA is set to unveil the starting lineups for the 2018 All-Star Game on Thursday, as determined by a joint vote among fans, players and media members.

While this year’s All-Star festivities include a major new wrinkle—the appointment of the conference leading vote-getters as captains who will draft their teams from a pool of All-Star players—the procedure for selecting the starters remains unchanged from 2017. This year, fans will again account for half of the vote, players will account for 25%, and a panel composed of 100 media members will account for the final 25%.

Without further ado, here’s how I casted my official ballot. Note: Media members were asked to select two backcourt players and three frontcourt players from each conference. (All stats and rankings through Monday.)

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East Backcourt: Victor Oladipo (Pacers) and Kyrie Irving (Celtics)

Right off the top, a classic voting dilemma: three very qualified candidates—Oladipo, Irving, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan—for only two spots. Unfortunately, this predicament is well-known and particularly annoying to All-Star voters, who might be able to avoid such pickles if the NBA ever moved to a fully position-less ballot.

The East’s top tier of guards isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years. Washington’s John Wall has struggled with his efficiency and consistency. Although Bradley Beal, Wall’s teammate, has helped pick up the slack and deserves strong All-Star reserve consideration, his career year hasn’t translated to the type of stability one expects from a veteran-dominated roster. In Charlotte, Kemba Walker’s Hornets have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, already falling well off the playoff pace. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has smartly been cast into a narrower role, leaving him in a similar boat as Miami’s Goran Dragic. Neither point guard has the per-game numbers to keep up with the East’s most productive backcourt players.

The Crossover's first backcourt pick is Oladipo (24.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4 APG), who easily qualifies as the biggest surprise among the 10 players selected here given his ho-hum 2016-17 campaign in Oklahoma City. Oladipo, Irving and DeRozan all have virtually identical per-game stats in terms of points, rebounds and assists, but Indiana’s new guard held slight edges in shooting efficiency and Player Efficiency Rating at the time ballots were due. More importantly, though, Oladipo’s impact numbers notably exceeded Irving and DeRozan.

• Indiana: +7.4 with Oladipo | -6.9 without Oladipo | Net: +13.8
Boston: +7.4 with Irving | +1.3 without Irving | Net: +9.6
Toronto: +6.9 with DeRozan | +8.1 without DeRozan | Net: -1.2

As the East’s top two seeds, Boston and Toronto can point to numerous driving forces behind their success, including proven co-stars, deep rosters and established systems. For the overhauled Pacers, Oladipo has easily been the central force. Without him this year, Indiana is 0-5, losing by an average of 12.8 PPG. Indeed, Oladipo’s Pacers recall Jimmy Butler’s Bulls from years past. Without Oladipo, Indiana would be utterly hopeless, likely ranking among the league’s worst teams. With him, they are comfortably in the East’s playoff picture, even if they can’t quite keep up with the East’s best. They also possess a top-six offense league-wide, which still seems impossible given the loss of Paul George and their mediocre assembled talent. Considering their respective team contexts, Oladipo rates as the least replaceable of the three East backcourt candidates.

It’s fair to wonder whether Oladipo can maintain his career-best level of play, especially because both Irving and DeRozan have performed at an All-Star level for multiple years. A second-half drop-off in Oladipo’s efficiency and the Pacers’ success wouldn’t be surprising at all, leaving Irving and DeRozan as stronger All-NBA selections. However, this All-Star starter ballot was cast solely looking at games played between the start of the 2017-18 season and the voting deadline.

For the second spot, Irving (24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG) versus DeRozan (25.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5 APG) is about as close as it gets, with their major statistics and advanced stats (PER, Win Shares) usually separated by mere decimals. Both have similar usage rates and similar impacts on their respective offenses. And relative to their all-around offensive games, both players are less accomplished and less integral to their team’s success on the defensive end.

DeRozan’s improvement as a reader of defenses coupled with his first serious dabbling outside the three-point arc have helped boost him from fringe All-Star selection to starter candidate, and they’ve moved him past Lowry on the list of Toronto’s most important players this season. Still, the pick here is Irving, due to his better on/off impact numbers, his superior outside shooting (proficiency and volume), and the Celtics’ East-leading record.

East Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and Joel Embiid (Sixers)

Let’s not bother with unnecessary debates: Both James and Antetokounmpo are no-brainers.

At the midway point of his 15th season, James stands as the 2018 NBA MVP frontrunner. He has been the alpha and omega for the East’s most efficient offense while welcoming a host of new faces (Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green) and dealing with numerous injuries (Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose). Even more remarkably, he’s shattered conventional expectations for age curves and post-30 decline. Throughout NBA history, only four players have matched James’ current stat line (27.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 8.8 APG): Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All four did it at age 28 or younger, while James turned 33 last month.

Kudos to fan voters for recognizing Antetokounmpo’s brilliance: At just 23, he’s already challenging James for the title of the East’s leading vote-getter, pulling in nearly 1.5 million votes at last count. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player is now deep into his second season as one of the league’s top one-man shows. The Bucks boast a +4 net rating with Antetokounmpo on the court and a pitiful -11.3 net rating when he sits, a split that helps explain why he’s the NBA’s leader in minutes per game. A do-everything, play-anywhere force of nature, Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) joins Larry Bird, David Robinson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average 28/10/4 during the three-point era. While Milwaukee’s so-so record should leave observers wanting more, it would be so, so, so much worse without nightly heroics from their franchise player.

If he were eligible, DeRozan would have a strong case for the third frontcourt spot. Alas, Embiid and Boston’s Horford stand atop the remaining pool of frontcourt candidates, separating themselves from New York’s Kristaps Porzingis (fading slightly after a strong individual start), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (an afterthought following the Pistons’ recent cratering) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (an undeniable part of the problem for Cleveland’s atrocious defense).

Horford’s portfolio is virtually identical to his previous All-Star seasons: His two-way game, unselfishness, inside/outside versatility, and intelligence have made him a more important driver of Boston’s winning than his raw stats (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) would suggest. As the stabilizing force for the NBA’s stingiest defense, Horford will command Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive team attention. He’s also enjoyed significantly better health than Embiid, logging 300+ more minutes and missing just four games.

Ultimately, the quality of Embiid’s minutes won out on this ballot. Aside from long-established A-listers like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, Embiid helps his teammates find success better than anyone in the league. He draws tons of attention to free up role players. He works a nice two-man game with Ben Simmons. He blankets the paint on defense. He parades to the foul line. He cleans the glass. He leads with energy and fearlessness.

While Horford has a longer track record of winning and has enjoyed better health this season, Embiid has clearly established himself as one of the league’s most indispensable stars. Philadelphia’s net rating swings from -6.2 without him to +8.7 with him, and the Sixers are 2-7 without Embiid in the lineup. Boston, meanwhile, has gone 4-0 without Horford. Other than his lagging three-point efficiency and his DeMarcus Cousins-like propensity for turning the ball over by doing too much, Embiid (23.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) is virtually impossible to nitpick. His per-game numbers suggest he’s elite. His advanced stats suggest he’s elite. His impact numbers suggest he’s elite. The eye test suggests he’s an elite monster who would thrash and thrive to an even greater degree if surrounded by Boston’s talent.

Postscript: Horford is an easy reserve selection.

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West Backcourt: James Harden (Rockets) and Stephen Curry (Warriors)

Most years, good health weighs heavily on this voter’s ballot. That’s especially true in deep groupings like the West backcourt, which is always a gauntlet full of impossible choices. This season, though, toeing a hard line on health makes less sense due to a rash of injuries to star players and the increased proliferation of strategic resting.

Disqualifying or downgrading West guards for missing meaningful time would result in a bloodbath: Harden, Curry, and Portland’s Damian Lillard would all be impacted, along with Houston’s Chris Paul, Memphis’s Mike Conley and other perennial candidates who don’t belong in the conversation because they’ve missed huge chunks of the season. The top remaining, rarely-injured candidates would be Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and LA’s Lou Williams. All are worthy All-Star reserve candidates, but none belongs on the same tier as Harden and Curry, who have both been top-five overall talents this season.

Although currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harden (32.3 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5 RPG) is a must All-Star starter. At the time of his injury, he stood as the MVP favorite, leading the league in points, PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus. His individual success directly translated to team–wide success: Houston was on track for its best season in franchise history, the West’s No. 2 record, a top-two offense, and the NBA’s second-best point differential when he went down.

Curry (27.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) has already missed 14 games, a chunk that would usually see him dumped to the second team on this voter’s ballot. Much like Embiid, however, Curry’s play when healthy has simply been too dominant to snub. His stat line isn’t that far off his 2015 unanimous MVP campaign. He’s threatening another 50/40/90 shooting season. Golden State is playing at a 68-win pace when he suits up. The Warriors’ offensive rating is a preposterous 120.7 when he’s on the court. He ranks fourth in PER and first in Real Plus Minus. The sport continues to be molded by his influence.

That leaves Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.1 APG) to fall to the West’s bench. As with DeRozan in the East, a position-less ballot could have potentially opened a starting spot for Butler, a punishing wing who capably defends four positions and easily oscillates between different roles in big and small lineups. Butler’s off-season arrival has delivered impressive and immediate results, transforming the Timberwolves from a decade-long also-ran to a top-four seed and a potential Northwest Division banner. Simply put, Butler is the top performer not included among this ballot’s 10 starters.

Despite his gaudy numbers, Westbrook (25 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 9.9 APG) should not be viewed as a serious All-Star starter candidate. Oklahoma City has just been too shaky, in part because he’s struggled to shoot efficiently and hasn’t displayed the delicate touch necessary to consistently pull quality contributions from his auxiliary options.

West Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and Draymond Green (Warriors)

The West’s frontcourt picture will get dicey when it comes to separating the reserves from the snubs, but the starters are a simpler task.

Durant (26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) is in, and his nomination doesn’t require an extended explanation. At this point of his career, the 2014 MVP has become a chameleon-like force, capable of matching his top peers in an increasingly long list of ways. Like Curry, he is a 50/40/90 candidate. Like Harden, he is a primary scorer and playmaker for an elite offense. Like James, he steps forward as a major stabilizing force when his teammates are in and out of the lineup. Like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, he has become a major plus on defense, one capable of defending elite wings while also carrying a significant offensive burden. Like Horford and Green, he has risen to the challenge of interior defense while logging major minutes in undersized spread lineups. Like Irving, he never hesitates to break off a defender with his handle. Like Antetokounmpo, he’s a terror in transition, and his length and athleticism present constant problems for opponents big and small.

In sum, Durant’s case to surpass James as the game’s top all-around talent is only gaining momentum.

Even with the injury issues in the West, it’s impossible to justify placing two Pelicans—who have hovered near .500 and the playoff bubble all season—in the All-Star starting lineup. While DeMarcus Cousins (25.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) started with a bang and continues to boast insane numbers, his steak doesn’t quite match his sizzle. Hence, Davis (26.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.3 APG) makes more sense the New Orleans representative: His per-game stats are huge as always, he holds a team-best +5.3 net rating, and New Orleans is 3-6 when he plays fewer than 25 minutes. Simply put, he’s more reliable than Cousins, who leads the league in turnovers and fouls, while also ranking among the league leaders in technical fouls and ejections.

The West’s final frontcourt spot is a tangled ball of yarn due to Leonard’s numerous injury issues. One school of thought suggests transferring his spot to LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG), who stepped forward as San Antonio’s leading scorer in Leonard’s absence. Others might argue for Cousins based on his Shaquille O’Neal-like numbers. Still others might nominate Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (20.2 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.3 APG), a natural/smooth/efficient/forceful offensive weapon who has responded in recent weeks to severe criticism of his defense. All three have legitimate cases, as would Butler if he were eligible in the frontcourt.

On this ballot, the choice is Green (11.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.6 APG), who obviously trails his aforementioned competition as a scorer. What sets Green apart is everything else: His comfort guarding any player at any time and at any spot on the court; his motor; his ability to step forward as an initiator in Curry’s absence; his decision-making; his rim-protection; and his ability to push the ball end to end in transition. Green is key to helping Golden State play at the league’s No.4 pace, he is the leading assist man on the league’s No. 1 assist team, he is a key playmaker for the NBA’s No. 1 offense, he is the leading rebounder on a team that’s juggled centers all season long, and he’s the most proven and versatile cog in the NBA’s No. 4 defense.

While Green has become a familiar face during Golden State’s run of dominance—emerging as one of this year’s leading All-Star vote-getters—the breadth of his positive contributions can still get lost in Superteam envy or in complaints about his behavior. So, here’s a cool shorthand method for explaining his unique and wide-ranging impact: Green and James are the only two players to average seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block during the three-point era. This season, James is doing it for the fourth time during a career in which he will likely go down as one of the top two players ever. Green, meanwhile, is doing it for the third straight time while playing in the shadow of two all-timers in Curry and Durant. The Warriors’ blossoming dynasty greatness is fueled in no small part by Green’s consistent greatness across so many different facets of the game.

Check back next week for The Crossover's All-Star reserve selections.

<p>The NBA is set to unveil the starting lineups for the 2018 All-Star Game on Thursday, as determined by a joint vote among fans, players and media members.</p><p>While this year’s All-Star festivities include a major new wrinkle—the appointment of the conference leading vote-getters as captains who will draft their teams from a pool of All-Star players—the procedure for selecting the starters remains unchanged from 2017. This year, fans will again account for half of the vote, players will account for 25%, and a panel composed of 100 media members will account for the final 25%.</p><p>Without further ado, here’s how I casted my official ballot. Note: Media members were asked to select two backcourt players and three frontcourt players from each conference. (<em>All stats and rankings through Monday.)</em></p><p>??</p><h3><strong>East Backcourt: Victor Oladipo (Pacers) and Kyrie Irving (Celtics)</strong></h3><p>Right off the top, a classic voting dilemma: three very qualified candidates—Oladipo, Irving, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan—for only two spots. Unfortunately, this predicament is well-known and particularly annoying to All-Star voters, who might be able to avoid such pickles if the NBA ever moved to a fully position-less ballot.</p><p>The East’s top tier of guards isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years. Washington’s John Wall has struggled with his efficiency and consistency. Although Bradley Beal, Wall’s teammate, has helped pick up the slack and deserves strong All-Star reserve consideration, his career year hasn’t translated to the type of stability one expects from a veteran-dominated roster. In Charlotte, Kemba Walker’s Hornets have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, already falling well off the playoff pace. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has smartly been cast into a narrower role, leaving him in a similar boat as Miami’s Goran Dragic. Neither point guard has the per-game numbers to keep up with the East’s most productive backcourt players.</p><p>The Crossover&#39;s first backcourt pick is Oladipo (24.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4 APG), who easily qualifies as the biggest surprise among the 10 players selected here given his ho-hum 2016-17 campaign in Oklahoma City. Oladipo, Irving and DeRozan all have virtually identical per-game stats in terms of points, rebounds and assists, but Indiana’s new guard held slight edges in shooting efficiency and Player Efficiency Rating at the time ballots were due. More importantly, though, Oladipo’s impact numbers notably exceeded Irving and DeRozan.</p><p><em>• Indiana: +7.4 with Oladipo | -6.9 without Oladipo | Net: +13.8<br>• </em><em>Boston: +7.4 with Irving | +1.3 without Irving | Net: +9.6 </em><br><em>•</em><em>Toronto: +6.9 with DeRozan | +8.1 without DeRozan | Net: -1.2</em></p><p>As the East’s top two seeds, Boston and Toronto can point to numerous driving forces behind their success, including proven co-stars, deep rosters and established systems. For the overhauled Pacers, Oladipo has easily been the central force. Without him this year, Indiana is 0-5, losing by an average of 12.8 PPG. Indeed, Oladipo’s Pacers recall Jimmy Butler’s Bulls from years past. Without Oladipo, Indiana would be utterly hopeless, likely ranking among the league’s worst teams. With him, they are comfortably in the East’s playoff picture, even if they can’t quite keep up with the East’s best. They also possess a top-six offense league-wide, which still seems impossible given the loss of Paul George and their mediocre assembled talent. Considering their respective team contexts, Oladipo rates as the least replaceable of the three East backcourt candidates. </p><p>It’s fair to wonder whether Oladipo can maintain his career-best level of play, especially because both Irving and DeRozan have performed at an All-Star level for multiple years. A second-half drop-off in Oladipo’s efficiency and the Pacers’ success wouldn’t be surprising at all, leaving Irving and DeRozan as stronger All-NBA selections. However, this All-Star starter ballot was cast solely looking at games played between the start of the 2017-18 season and the voting deadline.</p><p>For the second spot, Irving (24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG) versus DeRozan (25.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5 APG) is about as close as it gets, with their major statistics and advanced stats (PER, Win Shares) usually separated by mere decimals. Both have similar usage rates and similar impacts on their respective offenses. And relative to their all-around offensive games, both players are less accomplished and less integral to their team’s success on the defensive end.</p><p>DeRozan’s improvement as a reader of defenses coupled with his first serious dabbling outside the three-point arc have helped boost him from fringe All-Star selection to starter candidate, and they’ve moved him past Lowry on the list of Toronto’s most important players this season. Still, the pick here is Irving, due to his better on/off impact numbers, his superior outside shooting (proficiency and volume), and the Celtics’ East-leading record. </p><h3><strong>East Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and Joel Embiid (Sixers)</strong></h3><p>Let’s not bother with unnecessary debates: Both James and Antetokounmpo are no-brainers.</p><p>At the midway point of his 15th season, James stands as the 2018 NBA MVP frontrunner. He has been the alpha and omega for the East’s most efficient offense while welcoming a host of new faces (Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green) and dealing with numerous injuries (Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose). Even more remarkably, he’s shattered conventional expectations for age curves and post-30 decline. Throughout NBA history, only four players have matched James’ current stat line (27.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 8.8 APG): Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All four did it at age 28 or younger, while James turned 33 last month.</p><p>Kudos to fan voters for recognizing Antetokounmpo’s brilliance: At just 23, he’s already challenging James for the title of the East’s leading vote-getter, pulling in nearly 1.5 million votes at last count. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player is now deep into his second season as one of the league’s top one-man shows. The Bucks boast a +4 net rating with Antetokounmpo on the court and a pitiful -11.3 net rating when he sits, a split that helps explain why he’s the NBA’s leader in minutes per game. A do-everything, play-anywhere force of nature, Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) joins Larry Bird, David Robinson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average 28/10/4 during the three-point era. While Milwaukee’s so-so record should leave observers wanting more, it would be so, so, so much worse without nightly heroics from their franchise player. </p><p>If he were eligible, DeRozan would have a strong case for the third frontcourt spot. Alas, Embiid and Boston’s Horford stand atop the remaining pool of frontcourt candidates, separating themselves from New York’s Kristaps Porzingis (fading slightly after a strong individual start), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (an afterthought following the Pistons’ recent cratering) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (an undeniable part of the problem for Cleveland’s atrocious defense).</p><p>Horford’s portfolio is virtually identical to his previous All-Star seasons: His two-way game, unselfishness, inside/outside versatility, and intelligence have made him a more important driver of Boston’s winning than his raw stats (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) would suggest. As the stabilizing force for the NBA’s stingiest defense, Horford will command Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive team attention. He’s also enjoyed significantly better health than Embiid, logging 300+ more minutes and missing just four games.</p><p>Ultimately, the quality of Embiid’s minutes won out on this ballot. Aside from long-established A-listers like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, Embiid helps his teammates find success better than anyone in the league. He draws tons of attention to free up role players. He works a nice two-man game with Ben Simmons. He blankets the paint on defense. He parades to the foul line. He cleans the glass. He leads with energy and fearlessness.</p><p>While Horford has a longer track record of winning and has enjoyed better health this season, Embiid has clearly established himself as one of the league’s most indispensable stars. Philadelphia’s net rating swings from -6.2 without him to +8.7 with him, and the Sixers are 2-7 without Embiid in the lineup. Boston, meanwhile, has gone 4-0 without Horford. Other than his lagging three-point efficiency and his DeMarcus Cousins-like propensity for turning the ball over by doing too much, Embiid (23.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) is virtually impossible to nitpick. His per-game numbers suggest he’s elite. His advanced stats suggest he’s elite. His impact numbers suggest he’s elite. The eye test suggests he’s an elite monster who would thrash and thrive to an even greater degree if surrounded by Boston’s talent.</p><p>Postscript: Horford is an easy reserve selection.</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>West Backcourt: James Harden (Rockets) and Stephen Curry (Warriors)</strong></h3><p>Most years, good health weighs heavily on this voter’s ballot. That’s especially true in deep groupings like the West backcourt, which is always a gauntlet full of impossible choices. This season, though, toeing a hard line on health makes less sense due to a rash of injuries to star players and the increased proliferation of strategic resting.</p><p>Disqualifying or downgrading West guards for missing meaningful time would result in a bloodbath: Harden, Curry, and Portland’s Damian Lillard would all be impacted, along with Houston’s Chris Paul, Memphis’s Mike Conley and other perennial candidates who don’t belong in the conversation because they’ve missed huge chunks of the season. The top remaining, rarely-injured candidates would be Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and LA’s Lou Williams. All are worthy All-Star reserve candidates, but none belongs on the same tier as Harden and Curry, who have both been top-five overall talents this season.</p><p>Although currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harden (32.3 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5 RPG) is a must All-Star starter. At the time of his injury, he stood as the MVP favorite, leading the league in points, PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus. His individual success directly translated to team–wide success: Houston was on track for its best season in franchise history, the West’s No. 2 record, a top-two offense, and the NBA’s second-best point differential when he went down.</p><p>Curry (27.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) has already missed 14 games, a chunk that would usually see him dumped to the second team on this voter’s ballot. Much like Embiid, however, Curry’s play when healthy has simply been too dominant to snub. His stat line isn’t that far off his 2015 unanimous MVP campaign. He’s threatening another 50/40/90 shooting season. Golden State is playing at a 68-win pace when he suits up. The Warriors’ offensive rating is a preposterous 120.7 when he’s on the court. He ranks fourth in PER and first in Real Plus Minus. The sport continues to be molded by his influence.</p><p>That leaves Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.1 APG) to fall to the West’s bench. As with DeRozan in the East, a position-less ballot could have potentially opened a starting spot for Butler, a punishing wing who capably defends four positions and easily oscillates between different roles in big and small lineups. Butler’s off-season arrival has delivered impressive and immediate results, transforming the Timberwolves from a decade-long also-ran to a top-four seed and a potential Northwest Division banner. Simply put, Butler is the top performer not included among this ballot’s 10 starters.</p><p>Despite his gaudy numbers, Westbrook (25 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 9.9 APG) should not be viewed as a serious All-Star starter candidate. Oklahoma City has just been too shaky, in part because he’s struggled to shoot efficiently and hasn’t displayed the delicate touch necessary to consistently pull quality contributions from his auxiliary options. </p><h3><strong>West Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and Draymond Green (Warriors)</strong></h3><p>The West’s frontcourt picture will get dicey when it comes to separating the reserves from the snubs, but the starters are a simpler task.</p><p>Durant (26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) is in, and his nomination doesn’t require an extended explanation. At this point of his career, the 2014 MVP has become a chameleon-like force, capable of matching his top peers in an increasingly long list of ways. Like Curry, he is a 50/40/90 candidate. Like Harden, he is a primary scorer and playmaker for an elite offense. Like James, he steps forward as a major stabilizing force when his teammates are in and out of the lineup. Like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, he has become a major plus on defense, one capable of defending elite wings while also carrying a significant offensive burden. Like Horford and Green, he has risen to the challenge of interior defense while logging major minutes in undersized spread lineups. Like Irving, he never hesitates to break off a defender with his handle. Like Antetokounmpo, he’s a terror in transition, and his length and athleticism present constant problems for opponents big and small.</p><p>In sum, Durant’s case to surpass James as the game’s top all-around talent is only gaining momentum. </p><p>Even with the injury issues in the West, it’s impossible to justify placing two Pelicans—who have hovered near .500 and the playoff bubble all season—in the All-Star starting lineup. While DeMarcus Cousins (25.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) started with a bang and continues to boast insane numbers, his steak doesn’t quite match his sizzle. Hence, Davis (26.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.3 APG) makes more sense the New Orleans representative: His per-game stats are huge as always, he holds a team-best +5.3 net rating, and New Orleans is 3-6 when he plays fewer than 25 minutes. Simply put, he’s more reliable than Cousins, who leads the league in turnovers and fouls, while also ranking among the league leaders in technical fouls and ejections.</p><p>The West’s final frontcourt spot is a tangled ball of yarn due to Leonard’s numerous injury issues. One school of thought suggests transferring his spot to LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG), who stepped forward as San Antonio’s leading scorer in Leonard’s absence. Others might argue for Cousins based on his Shaquille O’Neal-like numbers. Still others might nominate Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (20.2 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.3 APG), a natural/smooth/efficient/forceful offensive weapon who has responded in recent weeks to severe criticism of his defense. All three have legitimate cases, as would Butler if he were eligible in the frontcourt.</p><p>On this ballot, the choice is Green (11.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.6 APG), who obviously trails his aforementioned competition as a scorer. What sets Green apart is everything else: His comfort guarding any player at any time and at any spot on the court; his motor; his ability to step forward as an initiator in Curry’s absence; his decision-making; his rim-protection; and his ability to push the ball end to end in transition. Green is key to helping Golden State play at the league’s No.4 pace, he is the leading assist man on the league’s No. 1 assist team, he is a key playmaker for the NBA’s No. 1 offense, he is the leading rebounder on a team that’s juggled centers all season long, and he’s the most proven and versatile cog in the NBA’s No. 4 defense.</p><p>While Green has become a familiar face during Golden State’s run of dominance—emerging as one of this year’s leading All-Star vote-getters—the breadth of his positive contributions can still get lost in Superteam envy or in complaints about his behavior. So, here’s a cool shorthand method for explaining his unique and wide-ranging impact: <a href="http://bkref.com/tiny/dWaNc" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Green and James are the only two players to average" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Green and James are the only two players to average</a> seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block during the three-point era. This season, James is doing it for the fourth time during a career in which he will likely go down as one of the top two players ever. Green, meanwhile, is doing it for the third straight time while playing in the shadow of two all-timers in Curry and Durant. The Warriors’ blossoming dynasty greatness is fueled in no small part by Green’s consistent greatness across so many different facets of the game.</p><p>Check back next week for The Crossover&#39;s All-Star reserve selections. </p>
The Crossover's 2018 NBA All-Star Game Starters

The NBA is set to unveil the starting lineups for the 2018 All-Star Game on Thursday, as determined by a joint vote among fans, players and media members.

While this year’s All-Star festivities include a major new wrinkle—the appointment of the conference leading vote-getters as captains who will draft their teams from a pool of All-Star players—the procedure for selecting the starters remains unchanged from 2017. This year, fans will again account for half of the vote, players will account for 25%, and a panel composed of 100 media members will account for the final 25%.

Without further ado, here’s how I casted my official ballot. Note: Media members were asked to select two backcourt players and three frontcourt players from each conference. (All stats and rankings through Monday.)

??

East Backcourt: Victor Oladipo (Pacers) and Kyrie Irving (Celtics)

Right off the top, a classic voting dilemma: three very qualified candidates—Oladipo, Irving, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan—for only two spots. Unfortunately, this predicament is well-known and particularly annoying to All-Star voters, who might be able to avoid such pickles if the NBA ever moved to a fully position-less ballot.

The East’s top tier of guards isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years. Washington’s John Wall has struggled with his efficiency and consistency. Although Bradley Beal, Wall’s teammate, has helped pick up the slack and deserves strong All-Star reserve consideration, his career year hasn’t translated to the type of stability one expects from a veteran-dominated roster. In Charlotte, Kemba Walker’s Hornets have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, already falling well off the playoff pace. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has smartly been cast into a narrower role, leaving him in a similar boat as Miami’s Goran Dragic. Neither point guard has the per-game numbers to keep up with the East’s most productive backcourt players.

The Crossover's first backcourt pick is Oladipo (24.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4 APG), who easily qualifies as the biggest surprise among the 10 players selected here given his ho-hum 2016-17 campaign in Oklahoma City. Oladipo, Irving and DeRozan all have virtually identical per-game stats in terms of points, rebounds and assists, but Indiana’s new guard held slight edges in shooting efficiency and Player Efficiency Rating at the time ballots were due. More importantly, though, Oladipo’s impact numbers notably exceeded Irving and DeRozan.

• Indiana: +7.4 with Oladipo | -6.9 without Oladipo | Net: +13.8
Boston: +7.4 with Irving | +1.3 without Irving | Net: +9.6
Toronto: +6.9 with DeRozan | +8.1 without DeRozan | Net: -1.2

As the East’s top two seeds, Boston and Toronto can point to numerous driving forces behind their success, including proven co-stars, deep rosters and established systems. For the overhauled Pacers, Oladipo has easily been the central force. Without him this year, Indiana is 0-5, losing by an average of 12.8 PPG. Indeed, Oladipo’s Pacers recall Jimmy Butler’s Bulls from years past. Without Oladipo, Indiana would be utterly hopeless, likely ranking among the league’s worst teams. With him, they are comfortably in the East’s playoff picture, even if they can’t quite keep up with the East’s best. They also possess a top-six offense league-wide, which still seems impossible given the loss of Paul George and their mediocre assembled talent. Considering their respective team contexts, Oladipo rates as the least replaceable of the three East backcourt candidates.

It’s fair to wonder whether Oladipo can maintain his career-best level of play, especially because both Irving and DeRozan have performed at an All-Star level for multiple years. A second-half drop-off in Oladipo’s efficiency and the Pacers’ success wouldn’t be surprising at all, leaving Irving and DeRozan as stronger All-NBA selections. However, this All-Star starter ballot was cast solely looking at games played between the start of the 2017-18 season and the voting deadline.

For the second spot, Irving (24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG) versus DeRozan (25.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5 APG) is about as close as it gets, with their major statistics and advanced stats (PER, Win Shares) usually separated by mere decimals. Both have similar usage rates and similar impacts on their respective offenses. And relative to their all-around offensive games, both players are less accomplished and less integral to their team’s success on the defensive end.

DeRozan’s improvement as a reader of defenses coupled with his first serious dabbling outside the three-point arc have helped boost him from fringe All-Star selection to starter candidate, and they’ve moved him past Lowry on the list of Toronto’s most important players this season. Still, the pick here is Irving, due to his better on/off impact numbers, his superior outside shooting (proficiency and volume), and the Celtics’ East-leading record.

East Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and Joel Embiid (Sixers)

Let’s not bother with unnecessary debates: Both James and Antetokounmpo are no-brainers.

At the midway point of his 15th season, James stands as the 2018 NBA MVP frontrunner. He has been the alpha and omega for the East’s most efficient offense while welcoming a host of new faces (Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green) and dealing with numerous injuries (Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose). Even more remarkably, he’s shattered conventional expectations for age curves and post-30 decline. Throughout NBA history, only four players have matched James’ current stat line (27.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 8.8 APG): Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All four did it at age 28 or younger, while James turned 33 last month.

Kudos to fan voters for recognizing Antetokounmpo’s brilliance: At just 23, he’s already challenging James for the title of the East’s leading vote-getter, pulling in nearly 1.5 million votes at last count. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player is now deep into his second season as one of the league’s top one-man shows. The Bucks boast a +4 net rating with Antetokounmpo on the court and a pitiful -11.3 net rating when he sits, a split that helps explain why he’s the NBA’s leader in minutes per game. A do-everything, play-anywhere force of nature, Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) joins Larry Bird, David Robinson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average 28/10/4 during the three-point era. While Milwaukee’s so-so record should leave observers wanting more, it would be so, so, so much worse without nightly heroics from their franchise player.

If he were eligible, DeRozan would have a strong case for the third frontcourt spot. Alas, Embiid and Boston’s Horford stand atop the remaining pool of frontcourt candidates, separating themselves from New York’s Kristaps Porzingis (fading slightly after a strong individual start), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (an afterthought following the Pistons’ recent cratering) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (an undeniable part of the problem for Cleveland’s atrocious defense).

Horford’s portfolio is virtually identical to his previous All-Star seasons: His two-way game, unselfishness, inside/outside versatility, and intelligence have made him a more important driver of Boston’s winning than his raw stats (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) would suggest. As the stabilizing force for the NBA’s stingiest defense, Horford will command Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive team attention. He’s also enjoyed significantly better health than Embiid, logging 300+ more minutes and missing just four games.

Ultimately, the quality of Embiid’s minutes won out on this ballot. Aside from long-established A-listers like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, Embiid helps his teammates find success better than anyone in the league. He draws tons of attention to free up role players. He works a nice two-man game with Ben Simmons. He blankets the paint on defense. He parades to the foul line. He cleans the glass. He leads with energy and fearlessness.

While Horford has a longer track record of winning and has enjoyed better health this season, Embiid has clearly established himself as one of the league’s most indispensable stars. Philadelphia’s net rating swings from -6.2 without him to +8.7 with him, and the Sixers are 2-7 without Embiid in the lineup. Boston, meanwhile, has gone 4-0 without Horford. Other than his lagging three-point efficiency and his DeMarcus Cousins-like propensity for turning the ball over by doing too much, Embiid (23.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) is virtually impossible to nitpick. His per-game numbers suggest he’s elite. His advanced stats suggest he’s elite. His impact numbers suggest he’s elite. The eye test suggests he’s an elite monster who would thrash and thrive to an even greater degree if surrounded by Boston’s talent.

Postscript: Horford is an easy reserve selection.

?

West Backcourt: James Harden (Rockets) and Stephen Curry (Warriors)

Most years, good health weighs heavily on this voter’s ballot. That’s especially true in deep groupings like the West backcourt, which is always a gauntlet full of impossible choices. This season, though, toeing a hard line on health makes less sense due to a rash of injuries to star players and the increased proliferation of strategic resting.

Disqualifying or downgrading West guards for missing meaningful time would result in a bloodbath: Harden, Curry, and Portland’s Damian Lillard would all be impacted, along with Houston’s Chris Paul, Memphis’s Mike Conley and other perennial candidates who don’t belong in the conversation because they’ve missed huge chunks of the season. The top remaining, rarely-injured candidates would be Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and LA’s Lou Williams. All are worthy All-Star reserve candidates, but none belongs on the same tier as Harden and Curry, who have both been top-five overall talents this season.

Although currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harden (32.3 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5 RPG) is a must All-Star starter. At the time of his injury, he stood as the MVP favorite, leading the league in points, PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus. His individual success directly translated to team–wide success: Houston was on track for its best season in franchise history, the West’s No. 2 record, a top-two offense, and the NBA’s second-best point differential when he went down.

Curry (27.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) has already missed 14 games, a chunk that would usually see him dumped to the second team on this voter’s ballot. Much like Embiid, however, Curry’s play when healthy has simply been too dominant to snub. His stat line isn’t that far off his 2015 unanimous MVP campaign. He’s threatening another 50/40/90 shooting season. Golden State is playing at a 68-win pace when he suits up. The Warriors’ offensive rating is a preposterous 120.7 when he’s on the court. He ranks fourth in PER and first in Real Plus Minus. The sport continues to be molded by his influence.

That leaves Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.1 APG) to fall to the West’s bench. As with DeRozan in the East, a position-less ballot could have potentially opened a starting spot for Butler, a punishing wing who capably defends four positions and easily oscillates between different roles in big and small lineups. Butler’s off-season arrival has delivered impressive and immediate results, transforming the Timberwolves from a decade-long also-ran to a top-four seed and a potential Northwest Division banner. Simply put, Butler is the top performer not included among this ballot’s 10 starters.

Despite his gaudy numbers, Westbrook (25 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 9.9 APG) should not be viewed as a serious All-Star starter candidate. Oklahoma City has just been too shaky, in part because he’s struggled to shoot efficiently and hasn’t displayed the delicate touch necessary to consistently pull quality contributions from his auxiliary options.

West Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and Draymond Green (Warriors)

The West’s frontcourt picture will get dicey when it comes to separating the reserves from the snubs, but the starters are a simpler task.

Durant (26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) is in, and his nomination doesn’t require an extended explanation. At this point of his career, the 2014 MVP has become a chameleon-like force, capable of matching his top peers in an increasingly long list of ways. Like Curry, he is a 50/40/90 candidate. Like Harden, he is a primary scorer and playmaker for an elite offense. Like James, he steps forward as a major stabilizing force when his teammates are in and out of the lineup. Like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, he has become a major plus on defense, one capable of defending elite wings while also carrying a significant offensive burden. Like Horford and Green, he has risen to the challenge of interior defense while logging major minutes in undersized spread lineups. Like Irving, he never hesitates to break off a defender with his handle. Like Antetokounmpo, he’s a terror in transition, and his length and athleticism present constant problems for opponents big and small.

In sum, Durant’s case to surpass James as the game’s top all-around talent is only gaining momentum.

Even with the injury issues in the West, it’s impossible to justify placing two Pelicans—who have hovered near .500 and the playoff bubble all season—in the All-Star starting lineup. While DeMarcus Cousins (25.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) started with a bang and continues to boast insane numbers, his steak doesn’t quite match his sizzle. Hence, Davis (26.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.3 APG) makes more sense the New Orleans representative: His per-game stats are huge as always, he holds a team-best +5.3 net rating, and New Orleans is 3-6 when he plays fewer than 25 minutes. Simply put, he’s more reliable than Cousins, who leads the league in turnovers and fouls, while also ranking among the league leaders in technical fouls and ejections.

The West’s final frontcourt spot is a tangled ball of yarn due to Leonard’s numerous injury issues. One school of thought suggests transferring his spot to LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG), who stepped forward as San Antonio’s leading scorer in Leonard’s absence. Others might argue for Cousins based on his Shaquille O’Neal-like numbers. Still others might nominate Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (20.2 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.3 APG), a natural/smooth/efficient/forceful offensive weapon who has responded in recent weeks to severe criticism of his defense. All three have legitimate cases, as would Butler if he were eligible in the frontcourt.

On this ballot, the choice is Green (11.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.6 APG), who obviously trails his aforementioned competition as a scorer. What sets Green apart is everything else: His comfort guarding any player at any time and at any spot on the court; his motor; his ability to step forward as an initiator in Curry’s absence; his decision-making; his rim-protection; and his ability to push the ball end to end in transition. Green is key to helping Golden State play at the league’s No.4 pace, he is the leading assist man on the league’s No. 1 assist team, he is a key playmaker for the NBA’s No. 1 offense, he is the leading rebounder on a team that’s juggled centers all season long, and he’s the most proven and versatile cog in the NBA’s No. 4 defense.

While Green has become a familiar face during Golden State’s run of dominance—emerging as one of this year’s leading All-Star vote-getters—the breadth of his positive contributions can still get lost in Superteam envy or in complaints about his behavior. So, here’s a cool shorthand method for explaining his unique and wide-ranging impact: Green and James are the only two players to average seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block during the three-point era. This season, James is doing it for the fourth time during a career in which he will likely go down as one of the top two players ever. Green, meanwhile, is doing it for the third straight time while playing in the shadow of two all-timers in Curry and Durant. The Warriors’ blossoming dynasty greatness is fueled in no small part by Green’s consistent greatness across so many different facets of the game.

Check back next week for The Crossover's All-Star reserve selections.

<p>The NBA is set to unveil the starting lineups for the 2018 All-Star Game on Thursday, as determined by a joint vote among fans, players and media members.</p><p>While this year’s All-Star festivities include a major new wrinkle—the appointment of the conference leading vote-getters as captains who will draft their teams from a pool of All-Star players—the procedure for selecting the starters remains unchanged from 2017. This year, fans will again account for half of the vote, players will account for 25%, and a panel composed of 100 media members will account for the final 25%.</p><p>Without further ado, here’s how I casted my official ballot. Note: Media members were asked to select two backcourt players and three frontcourt players from each conference. (<em>All stats and rankings through Monday.)</em></p><p>??</p><h3><strong>East Backcourt: Victor Oladipo (Pacers) and Kyrie Irving (Celtics)</strong></h3><p>Right off the top, a classic voting dilemma: three very qualified candidates—Oladipo, Irving, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan—for only two spots. Unfortunately, this predicament is well-known and particularly annoying to All-Star voters, who might be able to avoid such pickles if the NBA ever moved to a fully position-less ballot.</p><p>The East’s top tier of guards isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years. Washington’s John Wall has struggled with his efficiency and consistency. Although Bradley Beal, Wall’s teammate, has helped pick up the slack and deserves strong All-Star reserve consideration, his career year hasn’t translated to the type of stability one expects from a veteran-dominated roster. In Charlotte, Kemba Walker’s Hornets have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, already falling well off the playoff pace. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has smartly been cast into a narrower role, leaving him in a similar boat as Miami’s Goran Dragic. Neither point guard has the per-game numbers to keep up with the East’s most productive backcourt players.</p><p>The Crossover&#39;s first backcourt pick is Oladipo (24.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4 APG), who easily qualifies as the biggest surprise among the 10 players selected here given his ho-hum 2016-17 campaign in Oklahoma City. Oladipo, Irving and DeRozan all have virtually identical per-game stats in terms of points, rebounds and assists, but Indiana’s new guard held slight edges in shooting efficiency and Player Efficiency Rating at the time ballots were due. More importantly, though, Oladipo’s impact numbers notably exceeded Irving and DeRozan.</p><p><em>• Indiana: +7.4 with Oladipo | -6.9 without Oladipo | Net: +13.8<br>• </em><em>Boston: +7.4 with Irving | +1.3 without Irving | Net: +9.6 </em><br><em>•</em><em>Toronto: +6.9 with DeRozan | +8.1 without DeRozan | Net: -1.2</em></p><p>As the East’s top two seeds, Boston and Toronto can point to numerous driving forces behind their success, including proven co-stars, deep rosters and established systems. For the overhauled Pacers, Oladipo has easily been the central force. Without him this year, Indiana is 0-5, losing by an average of 12.8 PPG. Indeed, Oladipo’s Pacers recall Jimmy Butler’s Bulls from years past. Without Oladipo, Indiana would be utterly hopeless, likely ranking among the league’s worst teams. With him, they are comfortably in the East’s playoff picture, even if they can’t quite keep up with the East’s best. They also possess a top-six offense league-wide, which still seems impossible given the loss of Paul George and their mediocre assembled talent. Considering their respective team contexts, Oladipo rates as the least replaceable of the three East backcourt candidates. </p><p>It’s fair to wonder whether Oladipo can maintain his career-best level of play, especially because both Irving and DeRozan have performed at an All-Star level for multiple years. A second-half drop-off in Oladipo’s efficiency and the Pacers’ success wouldn’t be surprising at all, leaving Irving and DeRozan as stronger All-NBA selections. However, this All-Star starter ballot was cast solely looking at games played between the start of the 2017-18 season and the voting deadline.</p><p>For the second spot, Irving (24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG) versus DeRozan (25.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5 APG) is about as close as it gets, with their major statistics and advanced stats (PER, Win Shares) usually separated by mere decimals. Both have similar usage rates and similar impacts on their respective offenses. And relative to their all-around offensive games, both players are less accomplished and less integral to their team’s success on the defensive end.</p><p>DeRozan’s improvement as a reader of defenses coupled with his first serious dabbling outside the three-point arc have helped boost him from fringe All-Star selection to starter candidate, and they’ve moved him past Lowry on the list of Toronto’s most important players this season. Still, the pick here is Irving, due to his better on/off impact numbers, his superior outside shooting (proficiency and volume), and the Celtics’ East-leading record. </p><h3><strong>East Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and Joel Embiid (Sixers)</strong></h3><p>Let’s not bother with unnecessary debates: Both James and Antetokounmpo are no-brainers.</p><p>At the midway point of his 15th season, James stands as the 2018 NBA MVP frontrunner. He has been the alpha and omega for the East’s most efficient offense while welcoming a host of new faces (Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green) and dealing with numerous injuries (Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose). Even more remarkably, he’s shattered conventional expectations for age curves and post-30 decline. Throughout NBA history, only four players have matched James’ current stat line (27.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 8.8 APG): Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All four did it at age 28 or younger, while James turned 33 last month.</p><p>Kudos to fan voters for recognizing Antetokounmpo’s brilliance: At just 23, he’s already challenging James for the title of the East’s leading vote-getter, pulling in nearly 1.5 million votes at last count. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player is now deep into his second season as one of the league’s top one-man shows. The Bucks boast a +4 net rating with Antetokounmpo on the court and a pitiful -11.3 net rating when he sits, a split that helps explain why he’s the NBA’s leader in minutes per game. A do-everything, play-anywhere force of nature, Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) joins Larry Bird, David Robinson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average 28/10/4 during the three-point era. While Milwaukee’s so-so record should leave observers wanting more, it would be so, so, so much worse without nightly heroics from their franchise player. </p><p>If he were eligible, DeRozan would have a strong case for the third frontcourt spot. Alas, Embiid and Boston’s Horford stand atop the remaining pool of frontcourt candidates, separating themselves from New York’s Kristaps Porzingis (fading slightly after a strong individual start), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (an afterthought following the Pistons’ recent cratering) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (an undeniable part of the problem for Cleveland’s atrocious defense).</p><p>Horford’s portfolio is virtually identical to his previous All-Star seasons: His two-way game, unselfishness, inside/outside versatility, and intelligence have made him a more important driver of Boston’s winning than his raw stats (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) would suggest. As the stabilizing force for the NBA’s stingiest defense, Horford will command Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive team attention. He’s also enjoyed significantly better health than Embiid, logging 300+ more minutes and missing just four games.</p><p>Ultimately, the quality of Embiid’s minutes won out on this ballot. Aside from long-established A-listers like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, Embiid helps his teammates find success better than anyone in the league. He draws tons of attention to free up role players. He works a nice two-man game with Ben Simmons. He blankets the paint on defense. He parades to the foul line. He cleans the glass. He leads with energy and fearlessness.</p><p>While Horford has a longer track record of winning and has enjoyed better health this season, Embiid has clearly established himself as one of the league’s most indispensable stars. Philadelphia’s net rating swings from -6.2 without him to +8.7 with him, and the Sixers are 2-7 without Embiid in the lineup. Boston, meanwhile, has gone 4-0 without Horford. Other than his lagging three-point efficiency and his DeMarcus Cousins-like propensity for turning the ball over by doing too much, Embiid (23.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) is virtually impossible to nitpick. His per-game numbers suggest he’s elite. His advanced stats suggest he’s elite. His impact numbers suggest he’s elite. The eye test suggests he’s an elite monster who would thrash and thrive to an even greater degree if surrounded by Boston’s talent.</p><p>Postscript: Horford is an easy reserve selection.</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>West Backcourt: James Harden (Rockets) and Stephen Curry (Warriors)</strong></h3><p>Most years, good health weighs heavily on this voter’s ballot. That’s especially true in deep groupings like the West backcourt, which is always a gauntlet full of impossible choices. This season, though, toeing a hard line on health makes less sense due to a rash of injuries to star players and the increased proliferation of strategic resting.</p><p>Disqualifying or downgrading West guards for missing meaningful time would result in a bloodbath: Harden, Curry, and Portland’s Damian Lillard would all be impacted, along with Houston’s Chris Paul, Memphis’s Mike Conley and other perennial candidates who don’t belong in the conversation because they’ve missed huge chunks of the season. The top remaining, rarely-injured candidates would be Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and LA’s Lou Williams. All are worthy All-Star reserve candidates, but none belongs on the same tier as Harden and Curry, who have both been top-five overall talents this season.</p><p>Although currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harden (32.3 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5 RPG) is a must All-Star starter. At the time of his injury, he stood as the MVP favorite, leading the league in points, PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus. His individual success directly translated to team–wide success: Houston was on track for its best season in franchise history, the West’s No. 2 record, a top-two offense, and the NBA’s second-best point differential when he went down.</p><p>Curry (27.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) has already missed 14 games, a chunk that would usually see him dumped to the second team on this voter’s ballot. Much like Embiid, however, Curry’s play when healthy has simply been too dominant to snub. His stat line isn’t that far off his 2015 unanimous MVP campaign. He’s threatening another 50/40/90 shooting season. Golden State is playing at a 68-win pace when he suits up. The Warriors’ offensive rating is a preposterous 120.7 when he’s on the court. He ranks fourth in PER and first in Real Plus Minus. The sport continues to be molded by his influence.</p><p>That leaves Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.1 APG) to fall to the West’s bench. As with DeRozan in the East, a position-less ballot could have potentially opened a starting spot for Butler, a punishing wing who capably defends four positions and easily oscillates between different roles in big and small lineups. Butler’s off-season arrival has delivered impressive and immediate results, transforming the Timberwolves from a decade-long also-ran to a top-four seed and a potential Northwest Division banner. Simply put, Butler is the top performer not included among this ballot’s 10 starters.</p><p>Despite his gaudy numbers, Westbrook (25 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 9.9 APG) should not be viewed as a serious All-Star starter candidate. Oklahoma City has just been too shaky, in part because he’s struggled to shoot efficiently and hasn’t displayed the delicate touch necessary to consistently pull quality contributions from his auxiliary options. </p><h3><strong>West Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and Draymond Green (Warriors)</strong></h3><p>The West’s frontcourt picture will get dicey when it comes to separating the reserves from the snubs, but the starters are a simpler task.</p><p>Durant (26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) is in, and his nomination doesn’t require an extended explanation. At this point of his career, the 2014 MVP has become a chameleon-like force, capable of matching his top peers in an increasingly long list of ways. Like Curry, he is a 50/40/90 candidate. Like Harden, he is a primary scorer and playmaker for an elite offense. Like James, he steps forward as a major stabilizing force when his teammates are in and out of the lineup. Like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, he has become a major plus on defense, one capable of defending elite wings while also carrying a significant offensive burden. Like Horford and Green, he has risen to the challenge of interior defense while logging major minutes in undersized spread lineups. Like Irving, he never hesitates to break off a defender with his handle. Like Antetokounmpo, he’s a terror in transition, and his length and athleticism present constant problems for opponents big and small.</p><p>In sum, Durant’s case to surpass James as the game’s top all-around talent is only gaining momentum. </p><p>Even with the injury issues in the West, it’s impossible to justify placing two Pelicans—who have hovered near .500 and the playoff bubble all season—in the All-Star starting lineup. While DeMarcus Cousins (25.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) started with a bang and continues to boast insane numbers, his steak doesn’t quite match his sizzle. Hence, Davis (26.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.3 APG) makes more sense the New Orleans representative: His per-game stats are huge as always, he holds a team-best +5.3 net rating, and New Orleans is 3-6 when he plays fewer than 25 minutes. Simply put, he’s more reliable than Cousins, who leads the league in turnovers and fouls, while also ranking among the league leaders in technical fouls and ejections.</p><p>The West’s final frontcourt spot is a tangled ball of yarn due to Leonard’s numerous injury issues. One school of thought suggests transferring his spot to LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG), who stepped forward as San Antonio’s leading scorer in Leonard’s absence. Others might argue for Cousins based on his Shaquille O’Neal-like numbers. Still others might nominate Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (20.2 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.3 APG), a natural/smooth/efficient/forceful offensive weapon who has responded in recent weeks to severe criticism of his defense. All three have legitimate cases, as would Butler if he were eligible in the frontcourt.</p><p>On this ballot, the choice is Green (11.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.6 APG), who obviously trails his aforementioned competition as a scorer. What sets Green apart is everything else: His comfort guarding any player at any time and at any spot on the court; his motor; his ability to step forward as an initiator in Curry’s absence; his decision-making; his rim-protection; and his ability to push the ball end to end in transition. Green is key to helping Golden State play at the league’s No.4 pace, he is the leading assist man on the league’s No. 1 assist team, he is a key playmaker for the NBA’s No. 1 offense, he is the leading rebounder on a team that’s juggled centers all season long, and he’s the most proven and versatile cog in the NBA’s No. 4 defense.</p><p>While Green has become a familiar face during Golden State’s run of dominance—emerging as one of this year’s leading All-Star vote-getters—the breadth of his positive contributions can still get lost in Superteam envy or in complaints about his behavior. So, here’s a cool shorthand method for explaining his unique and wide-ranging impact: <a href="http://bkref.com/tiny/dWaNc" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Green and James are the only two players to average" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Green and James are the only two players to average</a> seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block during the three-point era. This season, James is doing it for the fourth time during a career in which he will likely go down as one of the top two players ever. Green, meanwhile, is doing it for the third straight time while playing in the shadow of two all-timers in Curry and Durant. The Warriors’ blossoming dynasty greatness is fueled in no small part by Green’s consistent greatness across so many different facets of the game.</p><p>Check back next week for The Crossover&#39;s All-Star reserve selections. </p>
The Crossover's 2018 NBA All-Star Game Starters

The NBA is set to unveil the starting lineups for the 2018 All-Star Game on Thursday, as determined by a joint vote among fans, players and media members.

While this year’s All-Star festivities include a major new wrinkle—the appointment of the conference leading vote-getters as captains who will draft their teams from a pool of All-Star players—the procedure for selecting the starters remains unchanged from 2017. This year, fans will again account for half of the vote, players will account for 25%, and a panel composed of 100 media members will account for the final 25%.

Without further ado, here’s how I casted my official ballot. Note: Media members were asked to select two backcourt players and three frontcourt players from each conference. (All stats and rankings through Monday.)

??

East Backcourt: Victor Oladipo (Pacers) and Kyrie Irving (Celtics)

Right off the top, a classic voting dilemma: three very qualified candidates—Oladipo, Irving, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan—for only two spots. Unfortunately, this predicament is well-known and particularly annoying to All-Star voters, who might be able to avoid such pickles if the NBA ever moved to a fully position-less ballot.

The East’s top tier of guards isn’t as deep as it’s been in recent years. Washington’s John Wall has struggled with his efficiency and consistency. Although Bradley Beal, Wall’s teammate, has helped pick up the slack and deserves strong All-Star reserve consideration, his career year hasn’t translated to the type of stability one expects from a veteran-dominated roster. In Charlotte, Kemba Walker’s Hornets have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, already falling well off the playoff pace. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has smartly been cast into a narrower role, leaving him in a similar boat as Miami’s Goran Dragic. Neither point guard has the per-game numbers to keep up with the East’s most productive backcourt players.

The Crossover's first backcourt pick is Oladipo (24.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4 APG), who easily qualifies as the biggest surprise among the 10 players selected here given his ho-hum 2016-17 campaign in Oklahoma City. Oladipo, Irving and DeRozan all have virtually identical per-game stats in terms of points, rebounds and assists, but Indiana’s new guard held slight edges in shooting efficiency and Player Efficiency Rating at the time ballots were due. More importantly, though, Oladipo’s impact numbers notably exceeded Irving and DeRozan.

• Indiana: +7.4 with Oladipo | -6.9 without Oladipo | Net: +13.8
Boston: +7.4 with Irving | +1.3 without Irving | Net: +9.6
Toronto: +6.9 with DeRozan | +8.1 without DeRozan | Net: -1.2

As the East’s top two seeds, Boston and Toronto can point to numerous driving forces behind their success, including proven co-stars, deep rosters and established systems. For the overhauled Pacers, Oladipo has easily been the central force. Without him this year, Indiana is 0-5, losing by an average of 12.8 PPG. Indeed, Oladipo’s Pacers recall Jimmy Butler’s Bulls from years past. Without Oladipo, Indiana would be utterly hopeless, likely ranking among the league’s worst teams. With him, they are comfortably in the East’s playoff picture, even if they can’t quite keep up with the East’s best. They also possess a top-six offense league-wide, which still seems impossible given the loss of Paul George and their mediocre assembled talent. Considering their respective team contexts, Oladipo rates as the least replaceable of the three East backcourt candidates.

It’s fair to wonder whether Oladipo can maintain his career-best level of play, especially because both Irving and DeRozan have performed at an All-Star level for multiple years. A second-half drop-off in Oladipo’s efficiency and the Pacers’ success wouldn’t be surprising at all, leaving Irving and DeRozan as stronger All-NBA selections. However, this All-Star starter ballot was cast solely looking at games played between the start of the 2017-18 season and the voting deadline.

For the second spot, Irving (24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG) versus DeRozan (25.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5 APG) is about as close as it gets, with their major statistics and advanced stats (PER, Win Shares) usually separated by mere decimals. Both have similar usage rates and similar impacts on their respective offenses. And relative to their all-around offensive games, both players are less accomplished and less integral to their team’s success on the defensive end.

DeRozan’s improvement as a reader of defenses coupled with his first serious dabbling outside the three-point arc have helped boost him from fringe All-Star selection to starter candidate, and they’ve moved him past Lowry on the list of Toronto’s most important players this season. Still, the pick here is Irving, due to his better on/off impact numbers, his superior outside shooting (proficiency and volume), and the Celtics’ East-leading record.

East Frontcourt: LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and Joel Embiid (Sixers)

Let’s not bother with unnecessary debates: Both James and Antetokounmpo are no-brainers.

At the midway point of his 15th season, James stands as the 2018 NBA MVP frontrunner. He has been the alpha and omega for the East’s most efficient offense while welcoming a host of new faces (Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green) and dealing with numerous injuries (Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose). Even more remarkably, he’s shattered conventional expectations for age curves and post-30 decline. Throughout NBA history, only four players have matched James’ current stat line (27.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 8.8 APG): Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All four did it at age 28 or younger, while James turned 33 last month.

Kudos to fan voters for recognizing Antetokounmpo’s brilliance: At just 23, he’s already challenging James for the title of the East’s leading vote-getter, pulling in nearly 1.5 million votes at last count. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player is now deep into his second season as one of the league’s top one-man shows. The Bucks boast a +4 net rating with Antetokounmpo on the court and a pitiful -11.3 net rating when he sits, a split that helps explain why he’s the NBA’s leader in minutes per game. A do-everything, play-anywhere force of nature, Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) joins Larry Bird, David Robinson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average 28/10/4 during the three-point era. While Milwaukee’s so-so record should leave observers wanting more, it would be so, so, so much worse without nightly heroics from their franchise player.

If he were eligible, DeRozan would have a strong case for the third frontcourt spot. Alas, Embiid and Boston’s Horford stand atop the remaining pool of frontcourt candidates, separating themselves from New York’s Kristaps Porzingis (fading slightly after a strong individual start), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (an afterthought following the Pistons’ recent cratering) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (an undeniable part of the problem for Cleveland’s atrocious defense).

Horford’s portfolio is virtually identical to his previous All-Star seasons: His two-way game, unselfishness, inside/outside versatility, and intelligence have made him a more important driver of Boston’s winning than his raw stats (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) would suggest. As the stabilizing force for the NBA’s stingiest defense, Horford will command Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive team attention. He’s also enjoyed significantly better health than Embiid, logging 300+ more minutes and missing just four games.

Ultimately, the quality of Embiid’s minutes won out on this ballot. Aside from long-established A-listers like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, Embiid helps his teammates find success better than anyone in the league. He draws tons of attention to free up role players. He works a nice two-man game with Ben Simmons. He blankets the paint on defense. He parades to the foul line. He cleans the glass. He leads with energy and fearlessness.

While Horford has a longer track record of winning and has enjoyed better health this season, Embiid has clearly established himself as one of the league’s most indispensable stars. Philadelphia’s net rating swings from -6.2 without him to +8.7 with him, and the Sixers are 2-7 without Embiid in the lineup. Boston, meanwhile, has gone 4-0 without Horford. Other than his lagging three-point efficiency and his DeMarcus Cousins-like propensity for turning the ball over by doing too much, Embiid (23.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) is virtually impossible to nitpick. His per-game numbers suggest he’s elite. His advanced stats suggest he’s elite. His impact numbers suggest he’s elite. The eye test suggests he’s an elite monster who would thrash and thrive to an even greater degree if surrounded by Boston’s talent.

Postscript: Horford is an easy reserve selection.

?

West Backcourt: James Harden (Rockets) and Stephen Curry (Warriors)

Most years, good health weighs heavily on this voter’s ballot. That’s especially true in deep groupings like the West backcourt, which is always a gauntlet full of impossible choices. This season, though, toeing a hard line on health makes less sense due to a rash of injuries to star players and the increased proliferation of strategic resting.

Disqualifying or downgrading West guards for missing meaningful time would result in a bloodbath: Harden, Curry, and Portland’s Damian Lillard would all be impacted, along with Houston’s Chris Paul, Memphis’s Mike Conley and other perennial candidates who don’t belong in the conversation because they’ve missed huge chunks of the season. The top remaining, rarely-injured candidates would be Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and LA’s Lou Williams. All are worthy All-Star reserve candidates, but none belongs on the same tier as Harden and Curry, who have both been top-five overall talents this season.

Although currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harden (32.3 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5 RPG) is a must All-Star starter. At the time of his injury, he stood as the MVP favorite, leading the league in points, PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus. His individual success directly translated to team–wide success: Houston was on track for its best season in franchise history, the West’s No. 2 record, a top-two offense, and the NBA’s second-best point differential when he went down.

Curry (27.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) has already missed 14 games, a chunk that would usually see him dumped to the second team on this voter’s ballot. Much like Embiid, however, Curry’s play when healthy has simply been too dominant to snub. His stat line isn’t that far off his 2015 unanimous MVP campaign. He’s threatening another 50/40/90 shooting season. Golden State is playing at a 68-win pace when he suits up. The Warriors’ offensive rating is a preposterous 120.7 when he’s on the court. He ranks fourth in PER and first in Real Plus Minus. The sport continues to be molded by his influence.

That leaves Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.1 APG) to fall to the West’s bench. As with DeRozan in the East, a position-less ballot could have potentially opened a starting spot for Butler, a punishing wing who capably defends four positions and easily oscillates between different roles in big and small lineups. Butler’s off-season arrival has delivered impressive and immediate results, transforming the Timberwolves from a decade-long also-ran to a top-four seed and a potential Northwest Division banner. Simply put, Butler is the top performer not included among this ballot’s 10 starters.

Despite his gaudy numbers, Westbrook (25 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 9.9 APG) should not be viewed as a serious All-Star starter candidate. Oklahoma City has just been too shaky, in part because he’s struggled to shoot efficiently and hasn’t displayed the delicate touch necessary to consistently pull quality contributions from his auxiliary options.

West Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and Draymond Green (Warriors)

The West’s frontcourt picture will get dicey when it comes to separating the reserves from the snubs, but the starters are a simpler task.

Durant (26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.3 APG) is in, and his nomination doesn’t require an extended explanation. At this point of his career, the 2014 MVP has become a chameleon-like force, capable of matching his top peers in an increasingly long list of ways. Like Curry, he is a 50/40/90 candidate. Like Harden, he is a primary scorer and playmaker for an elite offense. Like James, he steps forward as a major stabilizing force when his teammates are in and out of the lineup. Like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, he has become a major plus on defense, one capable of defending elite wings while also carrying a significant offensive burden. Like Horford and Green, he has risen to the challenge of interior defense while logging major minutes in undersized spread lineups. Like Irving, he never hesitates to break off a defender with his handle. Like Antetokounmpo, he’s a terror in transition, and his length and athleticism present constant problems for opponents big and small.

In sum, Durant’s case to surpass James as the game’s top all-around talent is only gaining momentum.

Even with the injury issues in the West, it’s impossible to justify placing two Pelicans—who have hovered near .500 and the playoff bubble all season—in the All-Star starting lineup. While DeMarcus Cousins (25.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) started with a bang and continues to boast insane numbers, his steak doesn’t quite match his sizzle. Hence, Davis (26.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.3 APG) makes more sense the New Orleans representative: His per-game stats are huge as always, he holds a team-best +5.3 net rating, and New Orleans is 3-6 when he plays fewer than 25 minutes. Simply put, he’s more reliable than Cousins, who leads the league in turnovers and fouls, while also ranking among the league leaders in technical fouls and ejections.

The West’s final frontcourt spot is a tangled ball of yarn due to Leonard’s numerous injury issues. One school of thought suggests transferring his spot to LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG), who stepped forward as San Antonio’s leading scorer in Leonard’s absence. Others might argue for Cousins based on his Shaquille O’Neal-like numbers. Still others might nominate Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (20.2 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.3 APG), a natural/smooth/efficient/forceful offensive weapon who has responded in recent weeks to severe criticism of his defense. All three have legitimate cases, as would Butler if he were eligible in the frontcourt.

On this ballot, the choice is Green (11.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.6 APG), who obviously trails his aforementioned competition as a scorer. What sets Green apart is everything else: His comfort guarding any player at any time and at any spot on the court; his motor; his ability to step forward as an initiator in Curry’s absence; his decision-making; his rim-protection; and his ability to push the ball end to end in transition. Green is key to helping Golden State play at the league’s No.4 pace, he is the leading assist man on the league’s No. 1 assist team, he is a key playmaker for the NBA’s No. 1 offense, he is the leading rebounder on a team that’s juggled centers all season long, and he’s the most proven and versatile cog in the NBA’s No. 4 defense.

While Green has become a familiar face during Golden State’s run of dominance—emerging as one of this year’s leading All-Star vote-getters—the breadth of his positive contributions can still get lost in Superteam envy or in complaints about his behavior. So, here’s a cool shorthand method for explaining his unique and wide-ranging impact: Green and James are the only two players to average seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block during the three-point era. This season, James is doing it for the fourth time during a career in which he will likely go down as one of the top two players ever. Green, meanwhile, is doing it for the third straight time while playing in the shadow of two all-timers in Curry and Durant. The Warriors’ blossoming dynasty greatness is fueled in no small part by Green’s consistent greatness across so many different facets of the game.

Check back next week for The Crossover's All-Star reserve selections.

<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?