PLAYER OF THE WEEK: BRANDON ROY
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Chris Livingston/Icon SMIRoy's choice to return has helped him and the Huskies.
By Andy Katz, ESPN.com
UCLA coach Ben Howland called to correct something in the Daily Word. He saw that Roy wasn't listed as one of the top 15 finalists for the Wooden Award. Howland was right -- somehow, I had a brain lock and Roy was omitted. That has been corrected.
Roy is not only the player of the week at ESPN.com, but should be given a strong look for Pac-10 player of the year. Roy scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half to beat Cal Sunday night -- the ninth straight game in which he has scored 20 or more points. Roy started Pac-10 play with back-to-back 35-point games against Arizona State and Arizona.
One coach in the league told ESPN.com Monday that Roy's the toughest matchup in the league, more so than Cal's Leon Powe, his competition for league POY. Roy has solid numbers, averaging 19.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 51 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3s and 81 percent at the line.
Roy has given the Huskies the needed swagger with the departure of Nate Robinson. He decided to stay for his senior season, instead of looking at the NBA draft. The decision was wise and has helped him become a possible lottery pick this season, as well as keeping the Huskies in NCAA contention.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: ARKANSAS
height=272 width=195 alt="Allan Ray" hspace="0" border="0" vspace="0">
Jim Kirchner/Icon SMIYes, coach. Your Hogs are in good NCAA shape.
By Andy Katz, ESPN.com
The Hogs have earned their way into the Dance after winning three straight -- vs. Florida and Alabama, and at Tennessee. That's about as impressive a run as any team in the SEC has had this season.
Now that the Hogs are on a roll, it makes more sense to look back at their losses. They fell to Mississippi State by two early in the season in Starkville. They lost by three at Alabama. They fell by two at Kentucky after holding a significant lead. They lost by one at LSU. And they were beaten by only three at Ole Miss. OK, the last one -- right before this three-game spurt -- might sting a bit, but it shows how close this team was to breaking through.
The 19-8 record shows Stan Heath has improved each of the last four seasons. After Saturday's game, Heath went into the locker room and told the team that this was the win they needed to get into the Dance. He's savvy enough to know that winning at Tennessee was a headline grabber for the selection committee in late February.
The Razorbacks could help their tournament seeding by beating Mississippi State and Georgia, but they're likely to get a bid regardless of the outcome of those games. Arkansas already has a win over Kansas, and its strength of schedule was helped by playing Connecticut and Maryland. Five Hogs are in double figures, proving that this team has balance.
This is the time of year when teams emerge to earn bids and end up causing fits in the NCAAs. Arkansas fits the profile of those squads.
Indiana is one crazy team. I saw a lot of the Hoosiers early in the season and thought Mike Davis had a potential Final Four team. With their style of play, the Hoosiers can spread any defense and isolate a quality big man in the post.
After a couple of tough losses, including a road loss to Iowa followed by a road loss at Minnesota in which the Hoosiers were not competitive, panic set in. Davis resigned after months and months of scurrilous speculation and hatchet jobs, and Indiana looked like it had pitched its NCAA Tournament season down the drain just to change coaches.
Well, Indiana will get into the field, unless the committee decides to stop way short of getting to 65 teams. IU has beaten Kentucky, Charlotte, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State. Few teams outside of the top-seed candidates can boast as many quality wins.
With the exception of the loss to Indiana State, all of Indiana's losses have come on the road in the Big Ten or to ranked teams. While we were playing "In or Out" prematurely, Indiana has just kept on playing through really difficult circumstances. Most teams thrive on certainty and routine. The Hoosiers' routine has been constant uncertainty.
Major props, respect and "shugs" (half handshake, half hug) to Dave Rose at Brigham Young. BYU was 9-21 last year, and Steve Cleveland left to take the Fresno State job. Rose, a long time juco head coach at Dixie State and an assistant at BYU prior to taking over, has only one senior on his roster but has run off eight of nine in the MWC. BYU was picked dead last by the media and in the coaches' polls, but will finish (if the Cougars can beat Colorado State and New Mexico, both at home) tied for second place, with 20 wins overall.
Freshman Trent Plaisted has 11 consecutive double-digit scoring games, but maybe more impressive was Rose's early-season decision to bring Austin Ainge off the bench. As the son the of the greatest player in the history of BYU (Danny Ainge), Ainge came in with a lot of hype, but after realizing he was a role player, Rose made the gutsy move to do what was right, even if it was not that popular early on.
For more of our experts' 3-point shots, click here.
FIVE GAMES TO WATCH
By Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Indiana at Purdue, Tuesday: The win over Michigan State gave the Hoosiers a shot at a bid. A win over Purdue could help cement one.
Duke at Florida State, Wednesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET): This is the Seminoles' shot to get a bid. Losing to Virginia Tech put a dent in their chances, but beating Duke would certainly enhance them. FSU was close in Cameron. The Seminoles have to finish them off in Tallahassee.
Kentucky at Tennessee, Wednesday: The Wildcats can't rest easily just yet. Beating the Vols would certainly go a long way toward securing a bid.
Memphis at UAB, Thursday (ESPN2, 8:30 p.m. ET): If the Blazers want to be in the Dance, they might have to beat the Tigers once. Beating them in the C-USA Tourney in Memphis is highly unlikely, so this might be their only shot.
UCLA at Cal, Thursday: The Bears fell back in Seattle with a loss to Washington. But a win over UCLA would give Cal a sweep and a possible Pac-10 title, depending on what happens Saturday in Palo Alto (for UCLA) and in Berkeley (for Cal against USC). Washington is still in play here, too, sitting one game behind UCLA in the loss column.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
By Nicholas Loucks, Special to ESPN.com
Contrary to traditional thinking, it's actually a credit to Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan that his Badgers have been staying out of the headlines this past month.
On Jan. 18, right before a key battle with Ohio State, sophomore Greg Stiemsma and freshman Marcus Landry, key reserves off the bench for Ryan, both were declared ineligible. No one batted an eye as Wisconsin fell on the road in Columbus. Three days later, though, came the infamous North Dakota State loss at home.
Since then, Ryan has been getting key contributions from a couple of unlikely freshmen. Joe Krabbenhoft had his first career double-double in Sunday's win over Minnesota and walk-on Kevin Gullikson has averaged more than 15 minutes per game over the last eight games, chipping in 4.6 points per game in that span.
The keys have been a renewed commitment on the boards, limiting mistakes and a big dose of steady junior Alando Tucker, who quietly leads the Big Ten with 20.5 points per game in conference play. The formula is not as exciting as Ohio State's high-scoring exploits, Michigan State's highlight-reel dunks or even speculation on Indiana's next head coach, but Ryan quietly has it working in Madison yet again.
Rocking the rim
With the nation's attention wrapped up in the J.J. Redick-Adam Morrison scoring duel, some amazing hot streaks from 3-point land have been left out of the limelight. Others from ranked teams have been putting up numbers from long range that are keeping their fans warm this February.
Matchup of the week
Most college hoops fans will be looking ahead to the latest installment of the Duke-Carolina uber-rivalry on Saturday, but they would be remiss to miss Wednesday's pivotal SEC clash between victory-starved Kentucky vs current "It team" Tennessee in Knoxville.
Here's a look at some of the best recent matchups between the two schools: