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College Hoops Barometer: Getting Hot at the Right Time

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 Michigan Wolverines ascend to the top spot of the NCAA rankings for the first time since the Fab Five in 1992. That roster had many future NBA stars and, interestingly, the current version possesses a bevy of players with NBA bloodlines. Tim Hardaway Jr. is taller than his father, but breaks out that killer crossover every so often. He averages 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Glenn Robinson III did a highlight-reel, 360-dunk on a fastbreak earlier this year that was flat-out ridiculous, but he also leads Michigan with 6.0 rebounds per game. Jon Horford, the younger brother of Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford, is more of a role player for the Wolverines but completes a triumvirate of players with NBA pedigrees.

Still, the most talented player on the roster had a father who "only" honed his skills at Northwest Missouri State University. That would be the lineage of Trey Burke, a high school teammate of current Boston Celtic Jared Sullinger. Burke likely will be a top-10 pick in the NBA draft this June after flirting with the Association in 2012. He is the catalyst for this uber-talented Michigan squad, managing 17.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. The point guard is also shooting an impressive 49.4 percent from the floor. The Wolverines have a ton of NBA-caliber talent, but will ultimately go only as far as Burke takes them.

Let's look at the rest of the college basketball world in this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Shane Larkin, G, Miami -
On a squad with incredible veteran presence, it's the sophomore Larkin who has been the catalyst for Miami. The son of MLB Hall of Famer Barry Larkin played an integral role in Miami's 90-63 thumping of Duke last week, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Larkin followed that up with an all-around gem against FSU on Sunday with eight points, nine rebounds and six assists in the 71-47 rout. Larkin is the primary ball-handler despite sharing the backcourt with Durand Scott, and has been able to find players like Kenny Kadji and Julien Gamble for alley-oops or set up Reggie Johnson and Trey McKinney-Jones for open looks. The Canes are legit, and Larkin is the driving force behind their meteoric rise.

Marshall Henderson, G, Ole Miss -
Henderson is a character; he never met a shot he didn't like and loves to get into scuffles with the fans and even his own coach. Nevertheless, that's been fine for Ole Miss and the rest of the Rebels so far this season. Mississippi is 6-1 in the SEC with Henderson averaging a stellar 19.2 points per game. A deadly sniper from long range, Henderson attempts an astounding 11 treys per game, hitting 35.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He is also an 86.7-percent shooter from the free-throw line. Teaming with double-double machine Murphy Holloway, the Rebels are primed for big things in a down year for SEC hoops.

Rasheed Sulaimon, G, Duke -
After hitting a bit of a lull in late December and early January, Sulaimon has hit his scoring stride recently. Sulaimon has averaged 18.7 points over his last three games for the Blue Devils. The freshman's hot streak culminated in a career-high 25-point effort against Maryland on Saturday. Sulaimon hit his first six three-pointers of the game, finishing the contest 9-of-13 from the floor. The 6-4 guard is hitting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc on the year. He hasn't been asked to rebound or distribute much, but he certainly has that capability as well with season highs of seven rebounds and seven assists at differing times this season. With Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly all graduating after this season, Sulaimon could have an even bigger impact next season for the Dukies.

Akil Mitchell, F, Virginia -
Joe Harris remains the face of the Cavaliers, but Mitchell has been an unsung hero during the surprising 15-5 start to the season. Mitchell averaged 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore, logging just one double-double all of last season in 22 minutes per game. By contrast, Mitchell has notched seven double-doubles already this year, including a 14-point, 12-rebound effort in Tuesday's impressive 58-55 victory over NC State. Mitchell is by far the leading rebounder on the squad with 9.0 boards per tilt, while sitting second in points at 12.4 per contest behind the aforementioned Harris. The Cavs are now 5-2 in the ACC and could be a dark horse behind Mitchell and company.
CHECK STATUS

Rico Gathers, F, Baylor -
It's been boom or bust for Gathers lately. In two of his last three games, he's tallied double-doubles, including a 15-point, 10-rebound effort at TCU on Saturday. However, sandwiched in between those two games was a dismal performance against Oklahoma State in which he did not score a point and registered just three rebounds. Even worse, Gathers missed all four of his free-throw attempts that game, and is an abysmal 25-54 (46.3-percent) from the charity stripe during his freshman campaign. Ups and downs are to be expected for a freshman forward, but some consistency would be a welcome sight.

Ioannis Papapetrou, F, Texas -
There are time when Papapetrou looks like a star; other times, the freshman from Greece is nowhere to be found. For example, Papapetrou dominated Texas Tech on Saturday to the tune of 15 points, four rebounds and five assists. On the flip side, he went 0-for-4 with just one point in a 57-53 OT loss to West Virginia on Jan. 9. Likewise, on the year he is averaging only 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds. The potential is there, but Papapetrou has only show flashes to this point in his brief Texas career.

Trevor Mbakwe, F, Minnesota -
The Gophers have been reeling lately, losing their last four games in Big Ten conference play. It certainly hadn't been because of Mbakwe, though, as the senior forward collected four-straight double-doubles heading into Saturday's contest with Wisconsin. Not only did Mbakwe's streak end that night, but he also injured his right wrist late in the game and could not even attempt two free-throws down the stretch. It was reportedly Mbakwe's second hand issue in as many games. Though he is not expected to miss any time, it would certainly be prudent to monitor his status.

Phil Pressey, G, Missouri -
On paper, it appears Pressey is having a stellar season with 11.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 7.2 rebounds per contest. These averages are in line with his statistics from the previous season. However, when delving a little deeper, Pressey is shooting just 35.9 percent from the floor, a significant drop from his 42.8-percent clip as a sophomore. Likewise, his turnovers have risen to 3.7 per tilt. Pressey had a disastrous game in the 83-52 rout at the hands of the Florida Gators on Jan. 19, turning the ball over an incredible 10 times while scoring just two points. Mizzou lost five games in 2011-2012; the Tigers already have four losses with 12 games to go before the SEC Tournament even begins. Simply put, Pressey has not been able to control the game as much as he did last season.

DOWNGRADE

DaJuan Coleman, F, Syracuse -
An Orange squad already thin from the ineligibility of forward James Southerland suffered another blow with the news that Coleman will miss four weeks due to a knee injury. Coleman had been a role player for Cuse, averaging 5.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Coleman's surgery leaves the Orange with just seven scholarship players. Rakeem Christmas, Jerami Grant and Baye Keita will be forced to shoulder even more of the frontcourt load.

Dominic Artis, G, Oregon -
Nobody has been surging quite like the high-flying Ducks, who have won nine games in a row and are a perfect 7-0 in the Pac-12 thus far. Oregon is also undefeated at home this season, having won 20-straight games at Matthew Knight Arena spanning back to last year. Still, the Ducks will have to trek on without the services of Artis, who has been lost indefinitely due to a left foot injury. Artis was one of five players averaging double-digits in points for the Ducks at 10.2 per game. He was also the leading distributor for Oregon with 3.8 dimes per contest. Adding in 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as well, Artis was a vital part of Oregon's sustained success this season. The Ducks will be forced to rely even more heavily on fellow freshman Damyean Dotson, as well as the play-making abilities of point-forward EJ Singler.

Jordan Morgan, F, Michigan -
Morgan sprained his ankle against Illinois on Sunday and is questionable to play during a particularly rough patch in Michigan's Big Ten schedule. Morgan's game has also remained fairly stagnant over his three-year career in Ann-Arbor. He is averaging a career-low 6.4 points per game, with his career-high coming as a freshman with 9.2 points per tilt. He has hovered around five rebounds per game and about 62 percent from the field over his time at Michigan as well. In sum, Morgan hasn't been bad, but stardom was expected out of him after an impressive freshman season. That has obviously not materialized.

Shavon Coleman, F, LSU -
That 6-0 start seems like a distant memory for the Tigers, as they are just 4-7 since that time. Similarly, Coleman started fast but has since come crashing back down to earth. Coleman had five double-doubles in his first 11 games, but has failed to record a single double-double over his last six contests. He has failed to score even double-digits in points during four of his last six contests, after reaching double figures in scoring in nine of the first 11 games for LSU. Add in the fact that he's battled foul trouble in each of the last four conference tilts, and the recipe for a Tiger swoon is in full force. Coleman is still the leading scorer and second-leading rebounder for the Tigers, but has clearly been regressing as the season has progressed.

Follow @JesseLSiegel on Twitter.

Siegel was named the 2012 College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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