It looks as if the schedule-makers in the Mountain West wanted to spark some serious national conversation about the conference from the beginning of league play because the first full week of play will feature all three expected contenders facing each other. Wednesday's slate features #16 San Diego State (15-2, 1-0), fresh off of their two-point win over UNLV, visiting The Pit to take on a New Mexico (15-2, 1-0) squad that's quietly won thirteen in a row.
Sunday's a quiet day with regards to the number of games on the college basketball schedule, but there's a critical matchup of Top 10 teams in Columbus as #7 Indiana (15-2, 3-2) visits. #5 Ohio State (15-3, 3-2) in their second meeting of the season. The Hoosiers won the first meeting 74-70 back on New Year's Eve, and a big reason why was the way in which they defended point guard Aaron Craft. Tom Crean threw multiple guys at the sophomore point guard, and the varying looks were a big reason why Craft turned the ball over a season-high six times.
WICHITA STATE (14-3, 5-1 MVC) AT INDIANA STATE (11-6, 2-4 MVC)
The matchup between Ohio State and Illinois was anticipated by many for the individual matchup between the Buckeyes' Jared Sullinger and Illinois' Meyers Leonard. Then there was the ceremony honoring Lou Henson, the all-time winningest coach in Illinois history. But few people expected Brandon Paul to end up being the center of attention, which is exactly what happened in the Fighting Illini's 79-74 win at Assembly Hall.
The game between Top 5 teams and in-state rivals Louisville and Kentucky was expected to be a high-intensity affair played at a good pace. Well thanks to the "third team" we got the intensity but not the pace, but by the end of the afternoon at Rupp Arena it was clear that Kentucky's 69-62 victory would be long remembered for the play of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist, who has emerged as the leader of John Calipari's talented squad, stole the show with 24 point and 19 rebounds in leading Kentucky to their 44th straight home victory.
NO. 21 CREIGHTON (10-2) AT WICHITA STATE (10-2)
Going into Sunday's game at Wichita State, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels were on the tail end of an eight-day stretch that began with a win over then-#1 North Carolina followed by a double-overtime win at UCSB. To say the least this wasn't the easiest way to end that stretch, and Joe Ragland and the Shockers made sure that was the case. Ragland made eight of nine from beyond the arc in scoring a game-high 31 points, and as a team Wichita State shot 12-for-23 from distance in the 89-70 win.
Frank Martin's Kansas State (4-0) may be undefeated on the young season, but it can definitely be argued that this group hasn't been tested. That all changes this evening as the Wildcats play their first true road game of the season, visiting Virginia Tech (5-2) in a game that could have long-term effects on both teams when looking ahead to Selection Sunday.
Creighton could have a lot to say about that
While many teams across the country look to begin the process of building towards an NCAA Tournament berth with trips outside of the country in the summer, not everyone has the same set of circumstances to deal with once the season begins.