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The question: John Wall or Evan Turner?
Who ya got in the great John Wall-Evan Turner debate?
It hasn't reached J.J. Redick-Adam Morrison or Tyler Hansbrough-Michael Beasley proportions, but give it another week or so. The way Wall and Turner are playing, it's only going to get harder to choose which one's more deserving of national player of the year. (Though I consider it a win-win.)
Wall – once again – made the clutch plays for Kentucky in Saturday's 58-56 win against Vandy. He hit free throws, blocked a late 3-point attempt and finished with 13 points and three assists. More importantly, the Wildcats are now 26-1 and Wall's seen as the driving force.
Perhaps Wall's overall play has dropped off a bit since SEC play began, but his supporters argue he's still the most talented and important player in the counrty.
Right on cue, Turner answered with another sparkling performance on Sunday, finishing with 20 and 10 in a 74-67 win against Michigan State. His supporters argue that Turner's the nation's best all-around player and the only reason the Buckeyes are even in contention.
Only worth noting is the injury factor. Turner broke two bones in his lower back in Dec., then returned after a six-game absence. Without him, the Buckeyes were 3-3. Since he returned they're 11-3 and second in the Big Ten standings.
So we need separation. Wall's Wildcats have South Carolina on Thursday and travel to Tennessee on Saturday. Turner's Buckeyes travel to Penn State on Wednesday and play host to Michigan on Saturday.
At this point, every game counts. Onto the 5 Things to Watch this week.
A big Monday for Kansas?
The Jayhawks (26-1, 12-0) can clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title with a win against Oklahoma on Monday. It'd be the sixth straight regular-season crown for KU, which would be the most consecutive titles by a major conference school since Kentucky won the SEC East every year from 2000 to 2005.
"We talked about it for the first time in the locker room. Worst-case scenario, we've got a chance to clinch a tie Monday. That's a big deal," Kansas coach Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World. "It's a big deal if you are the best team in a league that is as good as any league in the country — the RPI-rated No. 1 league. We haven't won it yet by any means. ... I'd be pretty proud of our guys ... we'd have sold out for that before the season started, probably at Game 16 let alone Game 13."
(If Gonzaga beats Santa Clara and San Francisco this week, it'd clinch its 10th straight WCC title.)
Passing the General
Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee won the 902nd game of his career Saturday, tying coaching legend Bob Knight for the most victories by a men's coach in NCAA history. (Tennessee women's coach Pat Summit has 1,022 wins and counting.)
A victory on Tuesday against Goldey-Beacom College would be one for the record books.
Something's gotta give
Villanova's lost two straight, while Syracuse hasn't been impressive in its last three games. Don't let either factoid sway you on Saturday when the Wildcats play at the Carrier Dome. It'll be classic because both teams are still contenders.
It's the only time this season we'll get to see Syracuse's 2-3 zone matchup against Villanova's efficient offense. The Wildcats have to hit their perimeter shots to stretch the zone, especially since they don't have an inside game comparable to UConn, Louisville or Georgetown, the three teams that just gave the Orange fits.
One to watch out West
The Mountain West has its answer to that Big East matchup: New Mexico at BYU. If it seems like forever since the conference had any hoops worth a national audience, Mike DeCourcy agrees.
The winner's likely headed to a Top 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, while the loser could still earn a 5 or a 6. If the MWC is ever going to add to its eight NCAA tourney wins, this is the year and these are the teams.
Butler and Murray State have both won 17 consecutive games, the longest current D-I streaks. The Bulldogs (25-4 overall) close their regular-season at Valparaiso on Friday, while the Racers (26-3) are at Morehead State on Thursday and at Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.
Don't count on Butler losing, but the Racers are another story. Kenpom has them winning both games, but by slim margins. If they join Butler as unbeaten conference champs, it'll be a story worthy of national attention.
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