Everything's jumbled atop the college basketball rankings. With Syracuse losing its undefeated season, Kentucky and Mizzou have slipped ahead of the Orange. Along with mid-major darling Murray State, Missouri is one of the biggest surprises of the 2011-2012 campaign. In his first season in Columbia, coach Frank Haith has the Tigers averaging a robust 83.4 points per game, good for fourth in the nation. The former Miami coach has continued the fast-paced offense of his predecessor, Mike Anderson. With weapons like Marcus Denmon and the Pressey brothers at his disposal, it's easy to see why. Senior Ricardo Ratliffe has more than filled the void in the frontcourt with the loss of Lawrence Bowers to a torn ACL prior to the season. Ratcliffe is shooting an obscene 77.2 percent from the floor. And let's not forget about sharpshooter Kim English, hitting a blistering 50.5 percent of his treys. Lack of size could be the only thing standing in the way of Missouri's title hopes, but it hasn't hindered the Tigers thus far.
Rodney McGruder, G, Kansas State - McGruder hit the 30-point plateau in two of his last four games for the Wildcats, including 33 points in last Wednesday's 84-80 victory over Texas. In those four contests, McGruder hit 53.3 percent of his shots en route to averaging 24 points per game. The 6-foot-4 junior also managed 7.5 boards during this hot streak. The Wildcats are the only squad to take down Missouri this year as well, and McGruder is one of the main contributors.
Henry Sims, C, Georgetown - Sims has emerged from relative anonymity to play an integral role for the Hoyas this season. The 6-10 senior center averages 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 rejection per game. In the mold of former teammate Greg Monroe, Sims has shown excellent passing skills as well, managing a sterling 3.5 assists per game. With his well-rounded game, Sims has been vital to the success of Georgetown. If he can improve his shot selection (46.6 percent from the floor), Sims could really take his game to the next level.
Chace Stanback, G, UNLV - The Rebels are 18-3 this year, and much of the success can be attributed to the sensational shooting of the 6-8 Stanback. Stanback has connected on 50.5 percent of his shots overall, including 47.7 percent of his shots from downtown. An 84.7-percent shooter from the charity stripe, Stanback leads UNLV in scoring at 14.7 points per tilt. He is also second on the squad in rebounding behind the ferocious Mike Moser.
Tyshawn Taylor, G, Kansas - Although Thomas Robinson gets all the adoration for his frequent flyer miles, Taylor is the catalyst for the Jayhawks offense. It took a while, but his game finally matured under coach Bill Self. Less than a year after being suspended by his coach, Taylor averages 16.6 points and 5.0 dimes per game. His turnovers are stlll a tad high, but that tends to happen when the ball is constantly in your hands. Taylor has dialed up long distance with much more success than in the past, hitting 45.7 of his three-pointers. An improved scoring stroke has really taken his game to new heights.
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse - Melo missed the last two games due to an unresolved academic issue, and his absence was clearly felt. The Orange were outrebounded 37-24 in their first loss of the season to Notre Dame on Saturday. Though they snuck by Cininnati on Monday, the Bearcats played Syracuse evenly on the glass. The last line of defense in the 2-3 zone, Melo has also been vital to the success of the offense, freeing up open shooters by dragging defenders with him on pick and rolls. With 7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, the Orange are certainly not as tough without their 7-foot centerpiece.
Khris Middleton, F, Texas A&M - Middleton had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in November, forcing him to miss seven games early in the season. The 6-7 junior appeared to re-injure that same knee Saturday against Oklahoma. His shooting has suffered the most due to his inability to get the same lift; Middleton is posting career lows in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Likewise, he has lacked explosiveness in getting to the rack, averaging two less free-throws per game. He's still been serviceable with 12.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 dimes, but it's clear the junior has been bothered by the nagging knee problem.
Arsalan Kazemi, F, Rice - A double-double machine for the Owls, Kazemi has notched 14 double-doubles in 20 games. Shooting an impressive 63.3 percent from the floor, Kazemi has compiled 13.9 points and 11.7 boards per game. However, he could have a tear of the meniscus in his knee that may force him out of action for an extended period. The 6-7 junior from Iran will almost surely miss Saturday's game against Tulsa, and likely even more time.
John Jenkins, G, Vanderbilt - Jenkins has been battling a sore foot lately for the Commodores. The 6-4 junior can still fill it up, as he's putting in 19.6 points per game for Vandy. Still, he'll never be a fantastic source of rebounds, assists or many other stats, leaving much to be desired from a fantasy perspective. For instance, his last two games he's collected three rebounds and zero assists. A gifted scorer, Jenkins has been unable to assert himself in other facets of the game, and the nagging foot injury certainly can't help.
Dexter Strickland, G, North Carolina - A torn ACL ended Strickland's season prematurely for UNC. An undervalued starter for the Heels, the 6-3 junior averaged 7.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest before the injury. Strickland also hit a superb 57.0 percent from the floor. In his absence, North Carolina will rely even more heavily on young guns Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston.
Kendall Timmons, G-F, Tulane - The leading scorer for the Green Wave at 13.6 points per game, Timmons will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair the Achilles' tendon in his right leg. The 6-5 junior was also second on the squad in rebounding with 5.2 boards per tilt. The dynamic Timmons added 2.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and even 1.2 steals per game. Although his stats were down from a season ago, Timmons was still the best player on the court for the Green Wave, and not surprisingly they have lost two of their last three games without him.
Renardo Sidney, F, Mississippi State - Sidney is still a part of the Bulldogs program, which is definitely a bonus considering his status with the squad and school in the past. However, he has seen his minutes decrease this season due to his inability to stay out of foul trouble. As a result, the 6-10 junior has seen a dip in his scoring and rebounding. On top of that, Sidney recently suffered a right knee injury. Although he is not expected to miss any time, the injury could further derail his attempt at making a bigger impact for Mississippi State.
Jordan Henriquez, C, Kansas State - An unfortunate theme for college hoops this season has been the plethora of suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team. Add Henriquez to the list, as no-nonsense coach Frank Martin will sit the 7-0 center for the time being. The junior big man had finally become part of the normal rotation for the Wildcats, averaging 1.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 swats per game. Though he could be back shortly, this is certainly a situation to monitor.