- PLAYER OF THE WEEK: A.J. GRAVES
AP Photo/Darron CummingsGraves' scoring exploits helped send Butler to NYC.By Andy Katz
Graves played two of the best games so far this season with 28 points in a win over Notre Dame and then 20 in a victory over Indiana to help advance the Bulldogs to the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals in New York. The 6-foot-1 guard is averaging 17.8 points through four games.
Graves buried the eventual game-winning 3-pointer with a minute left to beat the Irish and then delivered an impressive encore with a banked-in 3-pointer with five seconds left for the decisive bucket against the Hoosiers at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Graves may not be an All-American, but he certainly was the most valuable player in the first week of the season.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: MARYLAND
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesD.J. Strawberry's move to two-guard has helped the Terps.By Andy Katz
The Terps are on a mission to get back to the NCAA Tournament after missing out the past two seasons.
Gary Williams has the Terps believing in his style of ball and truly has a commitment from these players. Ekene Ibekwe's leadership and prowess on the defensive end, as well as the finishing touches by James Gist, the shooting of D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones, and the point play of Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes make the Terps more complete than they have been in three years.
The wins over St. John's and Michigan State aren't season-changing, but they are significant. Maryland proved it can play Williams' way and should be a team to reckon with throughout the season.
3-POINT SHOTSJay Bilas
This season, Winthrop has taken North Carolina deep into the second half and went on the road and beat Mississippi State. Gregg Marshall has built a terrific program in Rock Hill, S.C., and he has some outstanding players and some really good kids.
Torrell Martin has NBA ability. He is a good shooter and a very good athlete who can take those skills to the next level. The only thing I question about Martin is his ability to put the ball on the floor and create off the dribble. Phillip Williams, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Mississippi State, is a good big man who can step away, has great hands, and understands how to play. Craig Bradshaw is a face-up big man who is now going into the post very effectively. Michael Jenkins can shoot it and drive it. Chris Gaynor is a winner at the point.
Winthrop could be working toward a higher seed with these performances, which is key. Last year, Winthrop was no 15th seed, but Tennessee was no second seed, either. The Big South is 0-15 in NCAA first-round games, so a higher seed would give the Eagles a better chance to win. And they can win.
For more of our experts' 3-point shots, click here.
WEEKLY INTERPRETATIONBy Andy Katz
BC loses to Vermont at home: Eagles don't show up and get burned.
Duquesne wins first two games: Can't measure how meaningful this is to the program after five players were shot in the fall.
Arizona State loses two home games to Big Sky schools: NAU may win the Big Sky. Portland State won't. Herb Sendek is quoted as saying ASU isn't very good right now.
Belmont beats Fordham: A-10 is taking a hit after St. Bonaventure lost to Chicago State last week.
DePaul started out 0-2 before beating Eastern Illinois: The Blue Demons weren't ready for the road swing to Bradley and Northwestern and still are an erratic bunch.
Wake Forest wins at Bucknell in overtime: This is what you call a quality win and a job well done by Skip Prosser for taking on the challenge.
Western Kentucky wins at Georgia: The Hilltoppers were one of the last at-large teams excluded from the NCAA field last season. Beating Georgia, even though the Bulldogs may not be an NCAA team, has shelf life. So, too, does the All-American candidacy of Courtney Lee, leading WKU with 22 points a game.
Winthrop wins at Mississippi State: This is just another example of why Winthrop is legit this season and will again have a chance to win a game in March if it makes the NCAAs.
Oral Roberts wins at Kansas: A hot hand by Marchello Vealy (seven 3s) gives credence to the claim that ORU has enough balance with Ken Tutt and Caleb Green to win a game in the NCAAs if it gets there.
Drew Lavender leads Xavier to wins over VCU and Villanova: Just a reminder of what happened to the former Oklahoma point guard who has found a new home in Cincinnati.
Miami wins at Evansville but loses to Buffalo and Cleveland State: Frank Haith gets credit for taking his ACC team on the road to Evansville for a three-day tournament. He actually beat the home team -- a Missouri Valley team -- for a true road win, but neutral-site losses to Buffalo and Cleveland State could haunt the Canes come March.
Oregon has another big-time scorer: The Ducks leaned on 5-6 Tajuan Porter the first three games and then turned to Chamberlain Oguchi against UC-Irvine (which had just beaten South Carolina). Oguchi scored 25 points as the undefeated Ducks still wait for Malik Hairston to get healthy. The Ducks embark on a two-game swing to Rice and Georgetown for a true barometer.
Hofstra loses at Manhattan: OK, so it came down to the final possession. Still, this is the game Hofstra had to have after losing at Charlotte. Hofstra is in a bit of a situation right now with Greg Washington being ruled ineligible for the season. The Pride are off to the Great Alaska Shootout, where Hawaii and possibly Cal are next.
Nebraska beats Creighton: You can't underestimate the importance of point guard Josh Dotzler to the Bluejays. He played only eight minutes as he continued to nurse an injury. Until he's ready to go, Creighton may struggle.
Fairleigh Dickinson wins at Seton Hall: Just another example of how much of a down season it might be for New York-area teams in the Big East after Rutgers' woeful shooting game against Kansas State and St. John's undressing by Maryland in the Garden.
Drexel wins at Vermont: Drexel, not Hofstra or George Mason, should be the team to beat in the CAA. Unless it's
Old Dominion wins at Georgetown: Sharp-shooting second half gets it done, breaks Hoyas' 24-year streak at McDonough.
Wichita State wins at George Mason: We love Sean Ogirri's hair and his shot. The Shockers were waiting for this game for months, and had to get this win with three straight Saturday road games upcoming at LSU, Syracuse and Wyoming.
FIVE YOU SHOULD KNOW Tyler Smith, Iowa: Iowa's pickup of Smith, who originally signed with Buzz Peterson at Tennessee, didn't get enough hype. Smith is a big-time talent and he proved it with 28 points, six boards and five assists in a win over Toledo at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Jamar Wilson, Albany: The 6-1 senior guard is the name guy in the America East. Remember him because he could be a tournament name come March. He lit up Delaware for 33 to give the Great Danes a 2-0 start.
Daequan Cook, Ohio State: The guard is clearly the most productive member of the Buckeyes' freshman class outside of Greg Oden. Through four games, he's averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds. Add Cook's production to Ron Lewis (17.8 ppg) and Jamar Butler (11 ppg) and the Buckeyes are set on the perimeter and just waiting for Oden to get healthy.
Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga: He averaged 20 points through the first three games. Heytvelt had to be the BMOC for Gonzaga in the transition away from Adam Morrison, and so far he's answering the challenge.
Jerome Habel, San Diego State: The JC transfer was suspended for the first four games but came through against Cal in his debut with 23 points and seven boards in 30 minutes. The 6-10 Habel joins an impressive front line with Brandon Heath and Mohamed Abukar.
-- Andy Katz
FIVE PLACES TO BE CBE Classic in Kansas City, Monday-Tuesday (7 ET, ESPN2/ESPNU): The two overriding story lines here are Bob Knight's continued pursuit of the all-time men's D-I wins record and Air Force's legitimate chance of winning the tournament with Duke, Texas Tech and Marquette involved.
Maui Invitational, Monday-Wednesday (ESPN2/ESPN): The hope is for a Kentucky-UCLA semifinal to give both squads a true test. Georgia Tech and Memphis could face off on the other side, which would pit two of the more athletic teams in the country.
Boston College at Providence, Wednesday: Quick, who thought BC would be coming off a loss to Vermont and Providence a loss to Brown? This is a huge game for both teams, as the loser suddenly is in a deeper hole. This is shot-blocker Sean Williams' season debut after being suspended by BC coach Al Skinner for the first two games.
Florida vs. Kansas in Las Vegas, Saturday (ESPN2, 10:30 ET): The hype for this one is diluted a bit after Kansas lost to Oral Roberts, but the Gators will finally get tested here (and the night before by Western Kentucky) for the first time this season.
NIT Season Tip-Off in New York, Wednesday and Friday (7 ET, ESPN2): A Gonzaga-North Carolina semifinal is tantalizing. So, too, is the potential for a Tennessee-North Carolina track meet final. But don't you dare count out Butler after what the Bulldogs did last week in Indy.
-- Andy Katz
HOT ZONE League: America East Sure, the America East isn't going to scare anyone just yet, but the league is doing something most leagues at the lower level don't: win on the road.
Vermont won at Boston College (ACC), Stony Brook won at Penn State (Big Ten) and Colgate (Patriot), Binghamton won at Niagara (MAAC), Boston University won at Harvard (Ivy), Maryland-Baltimore County won at Hampton (MEAC), Maine won at St. Francis (N.Y.) (Northeast).
Albany's two wins came at home, but of the league's 10 wins through Sunday, eight were away from home. Sure, nothing will change and this league will still get one NCAA bid, but it's worth noting the early-season success.
Team: Air Force The Falcons qualify as one of the most impressive teams to date as they head to Kansas City for Monday's CBE Classic semifinal game against Duke.
Air Force beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff at home and then squeaked by Long Beach State by one in the opening round of the CBE in Palo Alto. Since then, however, the Falcons smoked host Stanford by 34 and then rolled at in-state rival Colorado by 38.
Four starters, including the return of one of the MWC's best in Nick Welch, are in double figures. Four of the top five scorers are seniors. Air Force is turning into a machine that really could enhance its résumé this week in Kansas City, all before Thanksgiving.
-- Andy Katz
LOOKING AHEAD • Here are the latest rankings.
• What else is on tap for this week? Here's the schedule.
• ESPN/ABC TV schedule