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College Hoops Barometer: Racing to Perfection

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.

It's a distinct possibility that Murray State will be undefeated come NCAA tourney time. The Racers are 18-0, including 6-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State has won those six conference tilts by an average of more than 16 points and do not appear to have a tough game left on the schedule. They are led by junior Isaiah Canaan, a deadly three-point shooter averaging 18.5 points per contest. Canaan is also the leading assist man for the Racers with 4.1 per game. The rest of the cast is littered with upperclassmen, including seniors Donte Poole, Ivan Aska and Jewuan Long. The experienced, dangerous and perhaps unblemished squad will be one of the biggest stories of March Madness this year.

UPGRADE

Doug McDermott, G, Creighton -
The 6-foot-7 sophomore is lighting up the Missouri Valley Conference to the tune of 24.3 points per game on an impressive 62.1 percent shooting from the floor. McDermott can score from anywhere on the court, as witnessed by his blistering 53.2 percent from three-point land. With 8.5 rebounds per game on his resume as well, the sophomore is virtually a shoe-in for MVC Player of the Year. The Bluejays are 16-2, largely because of McDermott's play.

Richard Howell, F, N.C. State -
Howell has been a double-double machine for the Wolfpack, compiling five double-doubles in his last seven games. Not surpassingly, N.C. State is 6-1 over that span. Overall, the 6-8 junior from Atlanta averages 12.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while shooting a career-high 52.4 percent from the field. The skilled backcourt tandem of C.J. Williams and Lorenzo Brown has certainly helped in giving Howell some easy buckets.

Terrence Ross, G, Washington -
One of the most hyped candidates prior to the season to make the leap into superstardom, Ross has not disappointed thus far for the Huskies. The 6-6 sophomore punctuated his breakout season with 30 points and 14 rebounds in his last game against Washington State on Sunday. Ross hits 41.0 percent of his treys, while also managing 1.8 assists and even one block per game. With freshman Tony Wroten Jr. at his side, Ross is part of one of the most potent backcourts in the country.

Royce White, F, Iowa State -
White has shed his checkered past and become one of the feel-good stories of the 2011-2012 campaign. The 6-8, 260, big man who withdrew from the University of Minnesota in 2009 and considered giving up basketball altogether, has emerged as the leader for the Cyclones. White averages 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game; however, perhaps his most impressive feat is that he is the leading assist-maker for the Cyclones at 4.3 per game. Once a highly-touted recruit, White appears to be finally living up to his potential.

CHECK STATUS

Patric Young, F, Florida -
A physical specimen at 6-9, 245, Young can jump out of the gym and has many NBA scouts salivating at his potential. Unfortunately, he's battling an ankle injury, the severity of which is unknown. Young was forced to come off the bench against South Carolina on Saturday, notching just four points and three rebounds in 13 minutes. Young picked up four fouls during that limited play and clearly was not at full strength. Young is beastly when healthy, but that's not the case at this juncture.

Ryan Boatright, G, Connecticut -
Boatright's eligibility remains a concern, as new allegations continue to surface regarding his dealings with an AAU coach. Boatright already missed six games earlier this season due to the infractions, and he was relegated to the bench at Notre Dame on Saturday as a precautionary measure. The freshman point guard had been a nice backup to Shabazz Napier too, averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Until some sort of ruling comes, Boatright's status is in the air.

Kenny Frease, C, Xavier -
Frease is dinged up with an ankle injury and is questionable for the Musketeers. Other than getting punched in the face by Yancy Gates earlier this season, Frease hasn't had much of an impact in the headlines for Xavier. He averages fewer points and fewer rebounds (8.9 and 5.7, respectively) than his standout junior campaign (11.7 points, 7.1 rebounds). He also shoots just 49.3 percent from the field and a putrid 45.0 percent from the free-throw line. With Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons dominating the rock, it has been difficult for Frease to get into the action.

Vincent Council, G, Providence -
With Marshon Brooks in the NBA, the Friars are definitively Council's squad. The junior averages 16.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.1 dimes per tilt. However, Council sat out Saturday's game against Syracuse due to an undisclosed reason. The Friars didn't have much chance even with Council in the lineup against the nation's No. 1 team, but the 6-2 guard from Brooklyn is certainly vital to the success of Providence. Monitor the situation.

DOWNGRADE

Kyle Kuric, G, Louisville -
Due to a high ankle sprain, Kuric has missed Louisville's last two games and is out indefinitely. The leading scorer for the Cardinals at 13.0 points per game, Kuric is a 49.4-percent shooter from the field, and hits 80.0 percent of his free-throws. He had also flexed his rebounding muscles just prior to the injury, averaging 9.5 rebounds in his last two contests. Without Kuric on Monday, the Cardinals were no match for Marquette. Kuric can't come back soon enough for coach Rick Pitino and fantasy owners alike.

Adonis Thomas, G, Memphis -
The talented freshman likely will miss the remainder of the season due to an injured tendon in his ankle/foot. The athletic swingman was averaging 9.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game. The injury couldn't come at a worse time for the Tigers, as they had won six consecutive games and overcome a brutal 6-5 stretch. Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and the Barton brothers will have to pick up the slack in the freshman's absence.

Johnny O'Bryant, F, LSU -
Another freshman sidelined by injury, O'Bryant has missed four games in a row due to a broken hand suffered in practice earlier this month. The 6-9 freshman has shown raw potential as the second-leading rebounder on the Tigers at 6.2 boards per tilt. He is a load on the interior and could be a force to be reckoned with once he becomes a more polished player in the post - as well as get healthy. He is not expected back for at least another week or two.

Marcus Thornton, F, Georgia -
Mr. Basketball in the state of Georgia in 2010, Thornton has been largely a disappointment for the Bulldogs. He played extremely limited minutes as a freshman and shot just 24.5 percent from the field this season as a sophomore before needing arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He is out indefinitely, but was not making much of an impact anyway with 2.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Thornton's offensive game needs work when he recovers, to say the least.