How about some early season love for the Villanova Wildcats? Villanova looks to be the cream of the crop in the new-look Big East. Coach Jay Wright's squad has already knocked off two ranked teams in the form of Kansas and Iowa. They are loaded with experienced upperclassmen like JayVaughn Pinkston, James Bell and Darrun Hilliard, and a sophomore sharpshooter in Ryan Arcidiacono. With Rice transfer Dylan Ennis and big man Daniel Ochefu also coming into the fold, the Cats could be a force to be reckoned with come tourney time.
Here is this week's "Four on the Hardwood Floor:"
1. Will the real North Carolina Tar Heels please stand up? UNC has beaten top squads in Louisville and Michigan State, yet lost stunners to UAB and Belmont. The lack of consistency must be maddening to coach Roy Williams, though the upside for this team is evident.
2. What's the deal with Andrew Wiggins? Though he has shown flashes of brilliance, Wiggins looks far less polished than freshman counterpart Jabari Parker.
3. UCLA's Kyle Anderson is a triple-double threat every time he takes the floor. The sophomore leads the Bruins in rebounds and assists. Did I mention he's 6-foot-10?
4. Don't sleep on the Wisconsin Badgers. They don't win pretty, but they always seem to find ways to win. Sam Dekker may be a budding star, while Frank Kaminsky is one of the most improved players in all of college basketball. Josh Gasser also does not get enough credit for what he brings to the court.
Who else is making waves? Let's take a look in the latest edition of the College Hoops Barometer.
Delon Wright, G, Utah - Wright has been a stat-sheet stuffer this season. The junior college transfer averages 15.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.1 blocks and 3.6 steals per game for the Utes. He has scored in double figures in every game this season, while nearly collecting a triple-double at Boise State. The younger brother of NBA player Dorell Wright, Delon is a 6-5 swingman with above-average rebounding skills for his size, superior court vision and the ability to get to the bucket. He is also a terror on the defensive end and plays the passing lanes exceptionally well. The craziest statistic for Wright, though, is that he is shooting 74.1 percent from the field through the first seven games of the season for Utah. Obviously he does most of his damage in the lane, and the development of an outside shot will be next on Wright's list. Nevertheless, he has been a stud for the Utes thus far.
Chad Frazier, G, UAB - Another JUCO transfer, Frazier led the startling upset of North Carolina by the Blazers on Dec. 1 with 25 points in the 63-59 win. That wasn't even Frazier's best scoring output of the season, though; the 6-4 guard poured in 34 points against New Mexico in Double OT, then followed that performance up with 32 points against Nebraska. Frazier is averages 19.3 points per game, as well as 3.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest. He has also shown a knack for getting to the free-throw line, attempting 8.5 shots per contest from the charity stripe. Frazier is one of the early frontrunners for C-USA Player of the Year.
Evan Smotrycz, F, Maryland - A former member of the Michigan Wolverines, Smotrycz sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Smotrycz played limited minutes in two seasons in Ann Arbor, but has excelled since coming over to the Terps. Smotrycz is averaging 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a junior. The 6-8 forward is not afraid to mix it up down low, though he also has the ability to shoot the three. He is hitting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. With two double-doubles in his last three tilts, it looks like Smotrycz is capitalizing on his increased playing time.
Jordan Clarkson, G, Missouri - The freshmen in this year's class have been getting all of the publicity, but as witnessed by this week's upgrades section, there are plenty of fresh-faced transfers who are also playing well. Add Clarkson to that list. The former Tulsa guard is averaging over 20 points per game, along with over three boards and three dimes per contest. The 6-5 shooting guard is hitting an impressive 53.5-percent from the field. He has scored at least 21 points in each of the four games for the Tigers. Once the three-ball starts going down for him, Clarkson will be a nightmare for opposing defenders.
Rion Brown, G, Miami - Brown may be the lone bright spot on the Hurricanes' squad this season. Brown was a bench player on last season's ACC Championship team, but will play a central role this year on a team that no longer has the likes of Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson. Brown is averaging 13.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game to begin the 2013-2014 campaign. He also had a career-high 25 points at Nebraska. However, it remains to be seen how Brown will be able to handle being the focal point of opposing defenses. Likewise, the Canes may not be very good this season, and losing could also take its toll on the senior. Brown has enough experience to work through the possible stumbling blocks, but it could still lead to some inconsistent play.
Adam Smith, G, Virginia Tech - Smith aggravated a calf injury and was forced to sit out Tuesday's win over Winthrop. The sophomore transfer from UNC-Wilmington came into the game averaging 15.0 points per game for the Hokies, good for second on the team behind senior forward Jarell Eddie. Smith is also averaging 3.4 boards and 3.0 dimes per contest through his first eight games with Tech as well, proving he can impact play in a variety of ways. Smith should come back soon, but make sure he can shake off the calf injury and is deemed fit to suit up before deploying him.
Will Sheehey, F, Indiana - The Hoosiers lost their entire frontcourt in the offseason due to the departures of Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, leaving a void for returning players like Sheehey to fill. While he hasn't been awful, Sheehey hasn't shown that he has star power either. The 6-7 senior averages 10.1 points, 4.0 points and 2.1 assists per contest. His outside shot has not developed as hoped, as Sheehey is hitting just 21.7 percent from long distance. He was held to just three points, zero rebounds and zero assists in a loss to Syracuse. He has also taken a backseat to freshman Noah Vonleh. Sheehey is a hard-nosed player, but may be merely a reserve from a fantasy perspective.
Jeronne Maymom, F, Tennessee - Maymom missed all of last season due to a knee injury and has been off to a bit of slow start in his first real action in over a year. He has scored in double figures in just two of the Vols' seven games this season, while notching just one double-double over that span. By contrast, in his last full season of 2011-12, Maymom had three double-doubles in the first four games for UT. Maymom still averages 9.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest, but has been outplayed by teammate Jarnell Stokes. The latter notched three consecutive double-doubles en route to averages of 14.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per tilt. Maymom should get better as his legs return to him, but hasn't been fantastic thus far.
Rasheed Sulaimon, G, Duke - One of the most disappointing players this season has been Sulaimon, who has taken a backseat to the likes of Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker. A highly-touted recruit, the swingman averaged 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman. However, Sulaimon's numbers have dipped to 7.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest as a sophomore, and he is seeing fewer minutes this season. He is shooting just 36.2 percent from the floor and was a healthy scratch in a win over Michigan. With Sulaimon appearing to fade out of Duke's plans on the court, one wonders whether he will work to get back or simply make his way to another program. Stay tuned to find out.
James Michael McAdoo, F, North Carolina - McAdoo's potential has always been tantalizing, but he has not been able to parlay those exciting physical gifts into basketball productivity. McAdoo failed to take the expected leap last season as a sophomore, and his statistics are even worse to begin the 2013-14 campaign. Although he still averages 13.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, those are hardly superstar numbers. McAdoo continues to struggle with shot selection and efficiency. He is shooting just 39.5 percent from the field. McAdoo's offensive game is still a work in progress, and his growth has been slow, if even nonexistent. He has the tools, but has not had the results thus far for the Tar Heels.
Scottie Wilbekin, G, Florida - It's been a rough senior season for Wilbekin, who missed the first five games of the year due to suspension. He returned for just three games before suffering a high-ankle sprain, which will sideline him indefinitely. Wilbekin was supposed to be the leader of this squad after the graduation of Kenny Boynton, but that has not materialized. Look for fellow senior Casey Prather to continue his breakout campaign in Wilbekin's absence; Prather averages 19.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Seeing extended minutes for the first time in his career, Prather has taken full advantage of the opportunity and should continue to shine with Wilbekin on the shelf.
Alex Poythress, F, Kentucky - Poythress did not live up to his potential as a freshman last season, and as a sophomore has played behind this year's newbies. Poythress is averaging just 5.6 points in 18.5 minutes per contest. Although he is snatching 6.8 boards per contest, he has not had much of an impact on the offensive end. James Young and the Harrison Twins have been starting in a three-guard set for coach John Calipari, with freshman sensation Julius Randle and big man Willie Cauley-Stein rounding out the starting five. That leaves the athletic, powerful Poythress vying for bench minutes. He's still raw from an offensive perspective, with the inability to create his own shot. Poythress is still trying to find his role and his strengths. He's been a disappointment thus far in his Kentucky career.