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College Hoops Barometer: UW's Top Dawg

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Duke's impressive run at No. 1 finally ended at the hands of the Florida State Seminoles, a squad that has actually given the Blue Devils some trouble the last few seasons. Syracuse fell to an old nemesis, the Pitt Panthers, for its first loss of the season. That leaves Ohio State, Kansas and San Diego State as the only remaining unbeatens in the Top 25.

Although 5-0 in conference play, the Buckeyes have won each of their last four contests by no more than five points against the likes of Iowa, Penn State and Michigan. Kansas has also had some nailbiters lately, defeating the aforementioned Wolverines in overtime while squeaking out victories against Nebraska and Iowa State.

Which leaves the Aztecs of San Diego State, whose biggest hurdle to a perfect 2010-2011 campaign will be Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars. The two square off on Jan. 26 in Provo. After that time, every team in the country may finally have a loss.

Win or lose, though, in the immortal words of Jay-Z, it will still be "On To The Next One." On cue, here is the latest College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADES

1. Isaiah Thomas, G, Washington -
Thomas is surging, including a 27-point, 13-assist outburst against California on Sunday. Both were season highs for the junior, who is shooting career highs of 45.7 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point land. He has a 2.14 assist-to-turnover ratio as well with five consecutive games of at least eight dimes. Thomas is clearly the leader of the Huskies and lately has proven his value.

2. Dee Bost, G, Mississippi State -
Don't forget about Bost, who missed the first 14 games of the season due to failing to properly withdraw from the NBA Draft last spring. In three games back, the 6-foot-2 junior guard has managed 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per contest. On Jan. 13, he smoked rival Ole Miss to the tune of 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Overall, Bost is a superior talent who should have fresh legs after sitting out the first couple of months this season.

3. Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin -
Taylor has shown vast improvement in his game across the board this season, averaging 7.0 more points per game than last year. His shot selection has been markedly better as a junior. He has also tallied career highs of 4.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, while turning the ball over just 1.2 times per contest. An 87-percent foul shooter, Taylor hit a ridiculous 16-of-18 from the charity stripe Saturday against Illinois. Jon Leuer gets the pub, but Taylor might just be the most important cog on the Badger squad.

4. Jackson Emery, G, Brigham Young -
Although teammate Jimmer Fredette is playing on another level, he has been complemented by a stellar senior season from Emery. The 6-3 guard is averaging 12.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while sporting a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Emery is also a 40.6 percent shooter from three-point land, while also managing an impressive 2.7 steals per game, good for 12th in the nation. Fredette may be a Player of the Year candidate, but BYU is certainly not a one-man show by any stretch.

5. Jae Crowder, F, Marquette -
In his first season for the Golden Eagles, Crowder is averaging 12.7 points per game, hitting a scorching 53.0 percent of his shots, including a robust 42.9 percent from downtown. Despite his 6-6 stature, Crowder has also come up big in the rebounding game, managing 6.6 boards per contest to lead the Golden Eagles. Although Crowder still will play second-fiddle to Jimmy Butler and possibly Darius Johnson-Odom, he has carved out a nice little niche for himself on this year's Marquette squad.

6. Durand Scott, G, Miami -
Scott stormed into conference play for the Hurricanes, averaging 17.7 points and 5.0 rebounds through Miami's first three games in the ACC. The sophomore guard has vastly improved his outside shot, connecting on 43.8 percent of his treys after barely sniffing 27.5 percent from downtown as a freshman. He is also shooting 87.1 percent from the free-throw line, a huge difference from 67.0 percent as a frosh. Scott's maturation as a player is evident, and he should continue to grow for The U.

Honorable Mention

1. Toney McCray, G, Nebraska
2. Jordan Theodore, G, Seton Hall
3. Brandon Paul, G, Illinois
4. Jared Cunningham, G, Oregon State
5. Andrew Fitzgerald, F, Oklahoma

DOWNGRADES

1. Tyrone Nash, F, Notre Dame -
Nash has a penchant for doing a disappearing act in Irish losses. In his last two games, both Notre Dame losses, the 6-8 senior forward totaled 13 points and eight rebounds. However, his lack of production appears to be becoming more of a trend than just in losses, as he has failed to score in double-digits in nine of his past 12 games. Starting this season in place of former star Luke Harangody, Nash is shooting a career-low 45.4 percent from the floor and has simply not been as productive as the Irish had hoped.

2. Quincy Acy, F, Baylor -
After starting the season on a hot streak, Acy has cooled off considerably. The 6-7 junior forward has failed to record double-digit rebounds in eight consecutive contests, after recording five double-doubles in his first 10 games of the year. His field-goal percentage has also dropped precipitously from previous seasons; he is shooting 50.6 percent from the floor after never shooting less than 65.5 percent during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Perhaps the emergence of Perry Jones III, as well as the return of LaceDarius Dunn, has negatively affected Acy. It remains to be seen whether he can get back on track for the Bears.

3. Antonio Pena, F, Villanova -
Pena has been anything but dominant on the interior for the Wildcats this season. Despite playing nearly seven more minutes per game than last yeaqr, he is averaging fewer points and the same number of rebounds per game. His offensive game is clearly still raw, though sophomore Mouphtaou Yarou has also outrebounded him over 'Nova's last three tilts. Overall, the growth simply hasn't been there for Pena despite his team's continued success.

4. Kris Joseph, F, Syracuse -
A big reason why Syracuse couldn't hang with Pitt on Monday? The Orange were missing their leading scorer in Joseph, who pours in 14.6 points per game. Joseph did not travel with the team after hitting his head on the hardwood floor in the first half of 'Cuse's game Jan. 15 against Cincinnati. His status is unknown for Syracuse's next contest Saturday, an expected thriller with notorious rival Villanova. Although Joseph may push himself to play, it remains to be seen if he will immediately be effective, or show signs of being affected by the fall. Proceed with caution until Joseph proves he is completely healthy.

5. Tim Hardaway, Jr., G, Michigan -
The son of one of the pioneers of the crossover dribble, Junior has had a trying first season with the Wolverines. He's been asked to bite off a bit more than he can chew, reflected in his 36.6 percent field goal percentage, including his most recent 3-of-14 performance against Northwestern. The Wolverines have lost five consecutive conference games, and Hardaway does not possess the experience to stop the bleeding on his own. He certainly has all the tools to succeed, but it will take him more than one season to figure out how to use them.

6. E.J. Singler, F, Oregon -
Keeping with the familial theme, nobody is going to mistake E.J. for his older brother, Kyle. E.J. is smaller than his more famous counterpart, and as such may struggle to shed the label of a "tweener." At 6-6, he can shoot the rock, but is asked to mix it up down low due to Oregon's lack of size. His averages of 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game are respectable, but he's already playing 29.2 minutes per game and may not have a much higher ceiling. By comparison, as a sophomore at Duke his brother Kyle averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest, while also averaging one more assist per contest. Here's hoping E.J. can prove the doubters wrong, but for now, his upside appears rather limited.