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College Hoops Barometer: Duke is Back on top

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.

The Duke Blue Devils are the No. 1 team in the land. Surprise, surprise. Despite losing Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee to the NBA, Coach K has his squad back atop the heap. Mason Plumlee has taken his game to an elite level, averaging 19.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Stephen Curry gets the pub for his bloodlines, but sophomore Quin Cook has been quite the catalyst for the Blue Devils. Cook is managing 10.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. With freshman Rasheed Sulaimon showing his meddle and Ryan Kelly stroking the three as well, the Blue Devils look the part of a well-oiled machine early on this season.

Let's take a peek at the rest of the hoops scene in this week's College Basketball Barometer.

UPGRADE

Durand Scott, G, Miami -
With Malcolm Grant graduating, Scott is the veteran presence on a very underrated Miami squad. Scott has stepped his game up this season, averaging career highs across the board, averaging 15.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 dimes per tilt. Perhaps most impressive has been his improvement in shot selection; the 6-foot-5 guard is hitting a blistering 58.8 percent of his shots from the field, including 44.4 percent from three-point land. Along with behemoth Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji, the Canes are poised to make some noise this season.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Georgia -
It's going to be a rough season for the Bulldogs, who are off to a dismal 3-7 start. The one bright spot should be Caldwell-Pope, who has taken his game to new heights as a sophomore. Benefitting from being the best player on a lackluster team, the 6-5 guard averages 17.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Caldwell-Pope is more of a volume scorer, putting up 14 shots per game. More than half of those shots have come from beyond the arc. If his shot selection and jumper continue to improve, Caldwell-Pope could be among the top scorers in the nation.

Devon Collier, F, Oregon State -
Collier has been hot recently, scoring at least 23 points in each of the last two contests for the Beavers. The 6-8 junior forward has connected on 18-of-29 shots over that span. Mostly an inside presence, Collier could really help his game by improving his jumper. A higher free-throw percentage also would be nice, as Collier gets to the line 7.6 times per game but connects on just 63.2 percent of his attempts. Still, on the year, Collier is managing 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and has proven to be a better-than-expected passer as well.

Fuquan Edwin, G-F, Seton Hall -
Scoring is Edwin's bread and butter, as he is managing 19.7 points per game. He's hitting a scorching 54.5 percent of his treys this year. The junior is not a one-trick pony, though, as he also averages 6.3 points, 2.3 assists and 2.9 thefts per game. The 6-6 swingman has the Hall off to an 8-2 start, though will need some heroic efforts to keep pace in the ultra-deep Big East. Still, he has the capability to explode on any given night.

CHECK STATUS

Luke Martinez, G, Wyoming -
Martinez poured in a career-high 25 points against Denver on Tuesday, giving the Cowboys their best start in school history at 11-0. Martinez has scored in double-digits in six-straight games en route to a 14.5 points per game average. Will this newfound success last? Martinez and the Cowboys have to face New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State two times apiece beginning in January. We'll see if Wyoming is the real deal during conference play. Still, Martinez managed 11.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season, so he won't be intimidated.

Marshall Plumlee, F, Duke -
Duke has to have two Plumlees playing at all times, right? Marshall will make his highly anticipated debut for the Blue Devils. He's expected to be a combination of his older two brothers; not quite as physical as Miles, not quite as athletic as Mason. How much he'll play for the top team in the land is unknown as well. The Dukies really don't have a true center, as Mason is more fitted for the power forward and Ryan Kelly likes to step out and hit threes. Marshall could be an immediate force for the Blue Devils, or he could play insignificant minutes. We'll find out shortly.

Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh -
One of the most highly-touted freshmen big men coming out of high school, Adams struggled out of the gate for the Panthers. He was nowhere against Michigan at the end of November, and is just scratching the surface in turning his talent into consistent production. He's come alive lately, though, including posting the first double-double of his career on Saturday against Bethune-Cookman. Progress is already being made by Adams, but it could be slow as he acclimates himself to the college game.

Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville -
It looks like the Cardinals will be without their enforcer at least until January. Dieng broke his wrist Nov. 23 against Mizzou and has not played since. Originally slated to return Dec. 22, Dieng is now targeting the Big East opener Jan. 2 against Providence for his return. He nearly managed a double-double last season with 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He was also a force on the defensive end with 3.2 swats per tilt. Dieng played just five games before the injury but will become a crucial asset to Louisville as the Cardinals attempt to return to the Final Four.

DOWNGRADE

Drew Crawford, F, Northwestern -
Crawford injured his shoulder and will miss the rest of the season for the Wildcats. The senior averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game before tearing his labrum, and has undergone surgery to repair the tear. Crawford will apply for a medical red-shirt, but the senior will be sorely missed this season for Northwestern. Reggie Hearn and Dave Sobolewski will be asked to pick up the slack in his absence.

Ron Baker, G, Wichita State -
Leading scorer and rebounder Carl Hall will miss a month for the Shockers with a thumb injury, and Baker will be out six weeks as well due to a stress fracture in his foot. The freshman was playing the second-most minutes on the team, averaging 7.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Sophomore guard Evan Wessel broke his pinkie finger and will be sidelined as well, meaning that the Shockers will be severely shorthanded for the next month or so.

Julian Boyd, F, LIU -
Considered the best player on the Blackbirds, Boyd tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. In fact, Boyd was the reigning NEC Player of the Year. The 6-7, 230, forward averaged 18.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a senior before the injury. Teammate Jamal Olasewere becomes the focal point of the Blackbird attack; bear in mind that the senior has been no slouch himself this season, compiling 18.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Wendell Lewis, C, Mississippi State -
Lewis injured the patella tendon in his right knee during practice last week and will miss about eight weeks. The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the senior, who was playing perhaps the best basketball of his career. The burly 6-9 center had 20 points and five rebounds Dec. 4 against UTSA, as well as a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds at Providence on Dec. 1. By contrast, Lewis averaged just 3.8 points and 4.0 rebounds last season for the Bulldogs. Freshman Gavin Ware should get more playing time in Lewis's stead.

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