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College Hoops Barometer: Sputtering Spartans

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.

Let's give a shout-out to the only remaining undefeated teams in conference play. Ohio State, Texas, Coastal Carolina and Princeton all remain perfect in conference action. Don't expect much Ivy League magic this season, though, come tournament time. After the Cornell Big Red captured the hearts of the nation by going to the Sweet 16 last year, the Tigers have barely been beating the likes of Harvard and Columbia. As a result, the Ivy League likely will go back to being an automatic out this March.

With six games left in the regular season for Ohio State, the Buckeyes' greatest threat will come in the form of the Wisconsin Badgers this Saturday. Coach Bo Ryan is 148-11 at home and 7-0 at home against OSU. This Ohio State squad might not be like others Ryan has faced, but Wisconsin is ranked in the Top 15 and certainly a viable threat to take down Jared Sullinger and the rest of his crew.

Meanwhile, the stifling defense at Texas, combined with the fact that they do not face Kansas in the regular season again, will make the Longhorns tough to beat in conference play. Still, a March 5 matchup at surging Baylor could prove an intriguing game.

Lastly, how about Coastal Carolina, sitting at 13-0 in the Big South behind leading scorer Desmond Holloway? They have not been to the dance since 1993. And there might not be a better nickname in the country than the Chanticleers. They'll travel to face bitter rival Winthrop on this weekend in what should be a heated contest.

Without further ado, this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADES

1. Harrison Barnes, F, North Carolina -
The Tar Heels finally appear to be back on the rise, and much of the credit has to go to their maturing neophyte, Barnes. After a rough beginning to his collegiate career, the 6-foot-8 freshman has scored in double figures in seven straight contests. Not surprisingly, UNC is 6-1 over that span. Over his last five games, Barnes is shooting 51.5 percent from the floor. Barnes recorded the second double-double of his career in Sunday's thrashing of Florida State, and scored a career-high 26 points against BC on Feb. 1. All these statistics are evidence of Barnes' growth as a player, which in turn has led North Carolina back into the Top 25.

2. Mark Lyons, G, Xavier -
Tu Holloway gets the fanfare, but Lyons has been an integral part of the Musketeers' 8-1 conference record. The 6-1 sophomore guard from Schenectady, N.Y., is averaging 13.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest. Lyons has improved his statistics across the board for Xavier from his freshman campaign. He has been even better over his past six contests, managing 18.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 dimes per tilt. The Musketeers are 5-1 in those games, lending further credence to Lyons' impact on Xavier's success.

3. Perry Jones, F-C, Baylor -
Jones has been surging over his past 10 games, scoring in double figures in each of those games, including a career-high 27 points against Texas A&M on Saturday. The 7-0 freshman is incredibly versatile, as he can play nearly every position on the court. For a player his height, he can shoot the rock and handle the ball effectively. He has been getting to the free-throw line with increased frequency as well, showing the overall maturation of his game. As each day passes, Jones is showing more and more reasons why he will be a Top-5 pick in this year's NBA draft, should he go the One-And-Done route.

4. Chandler Parsons, F, Florida -
Once thought of as merely a lightweight shooter, Parsons has vastly improved his toughness as a rebounder over his collegiate career. The 6-10, 218, forward has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in five straight games for the Gators. He has three double-doubles over that span, four of which have been Florida victories. A deadly shooter from the outside, the Chandler Parsons Project is shooting a career-best 39.1 percent from beyond the arc, while also averaging 3.6 dimes per game. Parsons has developed a well-rounded repertoire that is certainly paying dividends for UF.

5. Scott Martin, G, Notre Dame -
While the Irish are undoubtedly Ben Hansbrough's team, his tag-team partner Martin hasn't been too shabby for Notre Dame as well. The Purdue transfer has scored in double-digits in five consecutive games, all wins for coach Mike Brey's squad. The 6-5 guard is also averaging 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 dimes per tilt on the season after not playing at all last season. Martin may not even be the second or third scoring option for the Irish, but he has shown the ability to score when called upon, and has been a real find for ND.

6. Lamont Jones, G, Arizona -
Derrick Williams will have the final say in how far Arizona can go this season, but Jones has been clutch lately, including a career-high 27 points in Saturday's thrilling 107-105 Triple OT victory over Cal. Jones sent the game into OT and Triple OT with game-tying buckets, and had the layup that sealed the victory for the Wildcats. Over his last six games, the 6-0 sophomore is averaging 16.2 points per contest. Surely, teammate Derrick Williams appreciates the help, as AZ has won five in a row and eight of their last nine contests.

Honorable Mention

1. Cam Long, G, George Mason
2. Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
3. Ralph Sampson III, F-C, Minnesota
4. Gary Flowers, F, Southern Miss
5. Julian Boyd, F, LIU

DOWNGRADES

1. Ashton Gibbs, G, Pittsburgh -
There's certainly never a good time for an injury, but an MCL injury that will sideline Gibbs for 10-14 days is an especially unwelcome sign when the Panthers must face Villanova in a crucial in-state rivalry game on Saturday. Pitt is also trying to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack in an ultra-competitive Big East conference. The leading scorer for the Panthers, Gibbs is averaging 16.3 points per game, and was coming off a season-high 25 points against Cincinnati on Saturday. Look for Brad Wanamaker and Travon Woodall to pick up the slack in the backcourt for the Panthers.

2. Josh Selby, G, Kansas -
The Jayhawks' freshman phenom is out with a stress reaction in his right foot. Although not considered serious, it remains to be seen how much time Selby will miss. With Kansas firmly entrenched as No. 2 in the country, expect coach Bill Self to be extra-cautious with his prized prospect. On the year, Selby is managing 12.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists, while shooting a scorching 43.5 percent from three-point land.

3. Delvon Roe, F, Michigan State -
Roe's talent has never materialized for the Spartans, and his lack of growth remains one of the biggest reasons for the Spartans' sudden fall from grace this season. Expected to take Raymar Morgan's spot in the lineup, Roe has simply not played up to snuff. He has failed to score in Michigan State's recent blowout losses to Wisconsin and Iowa. The 6-8 junior forward has also failed to record a single double-double this season. Roe is managing similar statistics to a season ago despite playing five more minutes per game this year. On the season, he is averaging 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Spartans, disappointment numbers for his once highly regarded potential.

4. Ravern Johnson, G, Mississippi State -
Being a 21st-century athlete can certainly have its pitfalls: Johnson, the leading scorer for the Bulldogs, has been suspended indefinitely following comments made on Twitter regarding his role with the team, among other items. Johnson is also in hot water for possible violations of the school's class attendance policy. The 6-7 senior was averaging 17.7 points per game, but had not been seeing the ball as much with the return of Dee Bost from his suspension for failing to properly withdraw his name from the NBA draft last spring.

5. Yancy Gates, F, Cincinnati -
In what is unfortunately becoming commonplace this NCAA season, we had yet another suspension for violating team rules. Gates missed Cincy's loss to Pitt on February 5, and played just 16 minutes in their closer-than-expected victory over DePaul. The leading scorer and rebounder for the Bearcats, Gates appears to be in coach Mick Cronin's doghouse at the very least for the immediate future. On the season, the 6-9 junior forward is managing 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor.

6. Bruce Ellington, G, South Carolina -
Ellington has made a lot of progress during his freshman campaign with the Gamecocks. He is the leading scorer and assist man for SC, at 14.4 points and 3.4 dimes per contest, respectively. He is also pulling down 3.5 boards per tilt despite standing at just 5-9. On the downside, when shouldered with such responsibility at a young age, he has battled turnovers and problems with shot selection. He is shooting just 36.1 percent from the floor, including an anemic 29.4 percent over his last five games. He is also managing three turnovers per game, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of just 1.11. Ellington has the talent, but standing at 5-9 and being thrust into a starring role right off the bat may not do wonders for his confidence moving forward.

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