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College Hoops Barometer: Rivalry Heats Up

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.

One of the greatest rivalries in sports takes center stage this weekend, as Duke and North Carolina will once again go toe-to-toe for ACC supremacy. The Blue Devils capped a dramatic comeback against the Heels just a few short weeks ago, with Austin Rivers nailing a buzzer-beating three to lift Duke to the victory. With UNC a bit wiser to the cold-blooded demeanor of Rivers and the rest of Coach K's squad, the Tar Heels will look to avenge the stunning defeat with their monster frontcourt of Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Zeller in particular will look make amends after failing to close out on Doc's kid last time around. The key could be UNC small forward Harrison Barnes, who has not played up to expectations during his sophomore campaign. One monster output against the Dukies could change that perception.

Let's look at the rest of the campus news in this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Cadarian Raines, F, Virginia Tech -
Need a sleeper? Raines has come on strong in the absence of senior Victor Davila. Over his past three games, Raines is managing 15.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per tilt, playing an impressive 34.7 minutes per contest. Raines is shooting 58.3 percent over that span. With Davila expected to missed the remainder of the season, expect the 6-foot-9 Raines to continue to show improvement for the Hokies.

B.J. Young, G, Arkansas -
Young has been as good as advertised for the Razorbacks in his freshman season. The 6-3 neophyte is averaging 15.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 dimes per contest. Perhaps most impressive has been Young's shot selection and efficiency. Young is hitting 50.6 percent of his shots from the floor, including 42.0 percent from downtown. The freshman has been hot of late to boot, averaging 19.8 points and 3.4 boards over his last five games. Young certainly has a bright future for the Hogs.

Andrew Nicholson, F. St. Bonaventure -
Nicholson will soon close out what has been a standout career at St. Bonaventure. Though his scoring is down this season (17.8 points per game), Nicholson is averaging a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The 6-9 senior has been scalding hot of late as well, averaging 29.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per tilt for the Bonnies. Nicholson has hit an absurd 71.7 percent from the field over that span. Feel free to deploy Nicholson for the remainder of his days in the A-10.

O.D. Anosike, F, Siena -
Even more under the radar than Nicholson is the 6-8 Anosike. The junior forward is averaging a double-double on the year with 15.1 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. In fact, Anosike posted 19-straight double-doubles at one point this season. The Staten Island, New York native is hitting 52.2 percent of his shots from the floor. Siena won't make the tourney, but O.D. is a player to watch heading into next season.

CHECK STATUS

Bo Spencer, G, Nebraska -
Spencer tweaked his ankle at Michigan State on Saturday, finishing the game with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Spartans. Those numbers were in stark contrast to the rest of the 6-2 senior's standout season. The LSU transfer has managed 15.1 points, 2.6 boards and 3.4 assists per game for the Huskers. Monitor Spencer's status moving forward, as he has proven simply too valuable this season to lose.

JayVaughn Pinkston, F, Villanova -
Pinkston has been a catalyst for the Wildcats recently, averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in the four games prior to Saturdays contest at Georgetown. In a bit of a freak accident, he rolled his ankle during pre-game warm-ups after he came down on a basketball following a dunk. As a result, the 6-7 forward logged just two minutes for the game, and is questionable for Thursday's contest at Rutgers. It would be a tough pill to swallow for Villanova, a team that has battled injuries and lack of depth the entire season.

Carrick Felix, G-F, Arizona State -
The 6-6 junior missed ASU's last two games due to a virus. The second-leading scorer for the Sun Devils at 10.1 points per game, Felix is also averaging 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 dimes per game. Arizona State does not play again until March 4, so Felix will likely be on the court for that contest, the last regular season game of the season against Arizona. Still, being ill and having not played since February 18 could have a negative impact on Felix's game.

Noah Hartsock, F, BYU -
Hartsock has been dealing with a knee injury that forced him to miss the Cougars' last game with Portland. Hartsock has exploded this season with Jimmer Fredette in the NBA, nearly doubling his points production at 16.8 points per game. The 6-8 senior is also averaging 5.3 boards, 1.6 dimes and 1.6 swats per contest. When he's in the lineup, Hartsock has proven a dynamic player. With only the conference tournament left, it's possible BYU just didn't want to risk further injury to its leading scorer. Still, make sure Hartsock is deemed fit before starting him.

DOWNGRADE

Le'Bryan Nash, G, Oklahoma State -
Nash injured his left arm and will likely miss the remainder of the season for the Cowboys. The freshman had a superb first season in Stillwater, averaging 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Nash's athleticism and size carried him through his freshman campaign, as he shot 39.4 percent from the field and a mere 23.5 percent from three-point land. An uber-talented swingman, Nash has a bright future ahead of him, whether as a college sophomore or possibly in the NBA.

Allen Payne, F, Auburn -
The 6-6 sophomore underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday after suffering a knee injury against Arkansas. Specifically, the procedure was supposed to repair a torn left lateral meniscus. Payne had not progressed as much as expected in his second year at Auburn, averaging 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. While his rebounding numbers had improved from his freshman campaign, his scoring was down. Payne shot just 41.3 percent from the field on the year.

Trevor Lacey, G, Alabama -
Lacey has been battling a sore ankle which has limited his effectiveness recently. The 6-3 freshman guard has played just 17 minutes total in his last two games, after posting a career-high 18 points against Tennessee on February 18. Lacey has played an important role for the Crimson Tide this season, averaging 6.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. With Tony Mitchell kicked off the squad, the Tide were expected to lean on Lacey even more heavily. Those plans may be in jeopardy now.

Glen Rice, Jr., G-F, Georgia Tech -
Rice has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. The leading scorer and rebounder for the Yellow Jackets was shooting 45.7 percent from the field, but just 60.6 percent from the charity stripe. This won't make life in the ACC any easier for the Ramblin' Wreck, who have lost 10 of their last 12 contests. Rice averaged 13.0 points and 6.7 boards per game.