Now that Memphis has only league games remaining on its schedule, folks in the River City are voicing concern that the weakness of Conference USA will hurt the third-ranked Tigers' seeding in the NCAA tournament. Should that happen, it would be grossly unfair to a team that faced a formidable slate of nonconference games--the only part of its schedule over which it had any control--and went 14-2 in that stretch, including a three-point loss to Duke (above).
Certainly Memphis's RPI ranking (No. 2 at week's end) will fall; eight of Conference USA's 12 schools are currently 200th or lower in the RPI. Nor does it help that the Tigers (17-2, 3-0 in C-USA) will play just one game each against two of the league's better teams, Houston and UTEP. But if Memphis dominates the conference as expected and wins its postseason tournament, it should be rewarded with a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.
I've always felt that All-America teams should feature the five best players, regardless of position. That's especially true this season, as small ball has enjoyed particular success, which is why I'm going with a four-guard lineup for my midseason team.
G Maurice Ager, Michigan State
A terrific athlete who leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 20.2 points at week's end
G Dee Brown, Illinois
Has shown he can run the point (5.7 assists per game) while sparking the Illini to a surprising 17-2 start
G Randy Foye, Villanova
A consistent shooter and stout rebounder who makes the Wildcats' four-guard offense work
G J.J. Redick, Duke
The nation's No. 2 scorer (27.3 ppg), Redick has made himself more than just a shooter
F Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
The nation's top scorer (27.6 ppg) has hit 51.7% of his shots despite being the focus of defenses
1 North Dakota State's 62-55 win over then No. 15 Wisconsin (14-4) last Saturday in Madison (left) was the biggest college hoops upset of the last few years. An independent in just its third year as a Division I program, North Dakota State (11-9) snapped the Badgers' 27-game home nonconference winning streak.
2 Louisville's David Padgett took a big step forward on Saturday against then No. 3 UConn. The Cardinals lost by 13, but Padgett, a 6'11" sophomore transfer from Kansas, broke out with a 27-point, eight-rebound game, giving sliding No. 23 Louisville (13-5, 1-4 in Big East) hope that it can get back on the right track.
3 No. 22 Oklahoma is a different team with junior guard Michael Neal. The 6'3" juco transfer, who missed the Sooners' Big 12 losses to Nebraska and Missouri with an injured groin, made four of seven threes while scoring a team-high 15 points as Oklahoma (11-4, 2-2 in Big 12) beat Texas Tech 60-48 on Saturday.
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (MEMPHIS)
ANDY MANIS/AP (NORTH DAKOTA STATE)