THE OFFICIAL DUMPSTER GUIDE TO THE FINAL FOUR

#9 Wichita State vs. #1 Louisville – Saturday (6:09 – CBS)

I give Gregg Marshall and Wichita State a ton of credit; the Shockers have continued to roll despite what everyone else thinks. Fuck, the majority of the country has never even heard of this program or its conference, so why on Earth would they have even stood a chance at taking down a solid team from the Big East (Pittsburgh) in the opening round?

At least that was the consensus heading into the tournament, despite the fact that the Shockers have been relevant for quite some time, and despite the fact that the Missouri Valley Conference is one the best non-Power 6 conferences in the nation. But then, before we knew it, Wichita had sprinted past the Panthers, taken down Gonzaga, steamrolled LaSalle, and survived a furious comeback from Ohio State. Clearly this underdog thing is working for them.

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The Shockers have a great compliment of athletic forwards and lightning quick guards. They thrive on the defensive end and crash the boards like animals, all the while getting enough offense to outlast their opponents night in and night out. In reality, there is nothing “mid-major” about the way this team plays.

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These ladies are apparently referring to some other usage of the term “shocker”

With all that being said, Wichita State fans and bandwagon jumpers alike should be wary of this matchup. This might be a statement from Captain Obvious, but Louisville is playing with a lot of emotion in the wake of the Kevin Ware injury (and for those of you who have been living under a rock for the past week, yes, Kevin Ware’s leg injury was the worst sports injury of all-time).

But even without the injury, Rick Pitino’s squad was clearly beginning to reach another level. The Cardinals were dealt the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and they have, without doubt, fulfilled those expectations. The way they fluster and disrupt opposing offenses, the way they take complete control of the tempo of the game; Louisville simply looks better than everyone else. Now, with that added motivation, this Louisville team might not be stopped.

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Never has a broken leg seemed so tragic

Between Gorgui Dieng’s emergence in the post, Russ Smith’s cold-blooded shooting from outside, and the consistent contributions from guys like Chase Behanan and Wayne Blackshear, Louisville is running on all cylinders at the right time. And of course, it all revolves around heady point guard Peyton Siva, who might just be one of the most respected players in all of college basketball (seriously, check out what this guy has been through so far in his life. Feel useless yet?)

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To make a long story short, Louisville has the horses to ride this thing out until the end. And besides, I’ve been picking against Wichita State this whole time, so why start now.

FINAL VERDICT: LOUISVILLE 77, WICHITA STATE 69

Duke v Louisville

#4 Michigan vs. #4 Syracuse – Saturday (8:49 – CBS)

THIS is the matchup we’ve all wanted to see. It’s the uber-exciting Michigan Wolverines and their National Player of the Year, Trey Burke, against the rejuvenated Syracuse Orange and their relentless 2-3 zone. On one side, it all starts with Burke, who is the fearless leader of the Michigan Machine. He has elevated his play when it matters most, and clearly has some massive onions, as evidenced by his shot from the parking lot in the last seconds of regulation against Kansas last weekend.

Michigan Wolverines Burke shoots a three point basket over Kansas Jayhawks Young to tie the game during the second half in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington

Step-back jumper from 30 feet with four seconds left? I think so

However, aside from Burke, the rest of the Wolverines are young and spry and hella-talented as well. The Wolverines have a pair of top notch athletes on the wings (Tim Hardaway & Glenn Robinson III), who also happen to have NBA bloodlines. They have a certain lock-down shooter waiting in the corner (Nik Stauskas), who happens to be shooting a ridiculous 45% from beyond the arc. They also happen to have one of the rising young big men (Mitch McGary) in college basketball, which are increasingly harder to find these days. Although the notion of starting three freshman and a sophomore could bode negatively for some squads, that’s not the case for John Beilein’s crew. This team uses its youth and athleticism as an advantage. That is it’s calling card.

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Because of these playmakers, Michigan’s offense is so efficient, so compelling, and so smooth. Most importantly, there are so many options. Once again, it starts with Burke, as he easily knifes his way into the heart of the defense. He then either dishes the ball to any of their gunners on the outside, dumps it underneath to McGary, or he just takes it to the rack himself. So. Many. Options. Did you watch them against Florida in that first half? When things are going well, it’s a work of art.

On the other end, you have a Syracuse team that has defined the concept of “tightening things up on defense”. After an otherworldly start to their season, the Orange fell back down to Earth in February. And they fell hard, to the tune of seven losses in a 12 game stretch. Yet, Jim Boeheim got his team going again in March, and the timing could not have been more perfect. Since scoring just 39 points in an ugly loss to Georgetown on March 9, ‘Cuse has won seven of their last eight (including four in a row, duhh) and has held their opponents to an average of 48 points per game during that span. Most recently, the Orange allowed just 39 points in their 16-point drubbing of Marquette on Saturday. The Golden Eagles shot 23 percent from the floor. I think it’s safe to say that Syracuse’s defense has risen to the occasion.

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While defense may set the tone for Syracuse, let’s not forget that the Orange aren’t necessarily slouches on offense either. We’ve raved about Michael Carter-Williams in the Dumpster before, and there is no question that he is a top-4 point guard in college basketball (along with Burke, Siva, and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart). He is a engine that makes this thing run.

However, it’s all ansillary pieces to the puzzle that have gotten Syracuse to where they are today, because let’s face it, Carter-Williams hasn’t brought his A-game every day. Look at the weapons they have at their expense, both inside and out: C.J. Fair, James Southerland, Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita, and of course, 58th-year senior Brandon Triche (that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but whatever).

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Doesn’t it seem like he’s been with ‘Cuse for like 15 years, or is it just me?

The Orange have seemed to underachieve with this core group time and time again, or at least it seems that way since Southerland and Triche have been fixtures in the rotation for what seems like ages. But now, with the likes of Carter-Williams and Fair working the perimeter, and Christmas and Keita lurking in the paint, things feel different for Syracuse this year. Can Michigan score at will against this ramped-up Orange defense? Can the Wolverines consistently get stops on the defensive end. Will Burke vs. Carter-Williams be as good of a point guard matchup as anticipated? Will James Southerland explode and rip someone’s head off? Lots of questions to be answered here guys, but I guess we’ll have to wait ’till this weekend.

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Seriously, look at that face. He might rip someone’s head off

When it comes to a game that looks as evenly matched as this, often times you side with the team that has the best player of the floor, which would be Trey Burke. But this time, I’m going in a different direction. I’m going with the team that features more veterans, both on the floor and on the sidelines. Given the bevy of leadership within its core rotation and its coaching staff, I feel like Boeheim’s squad should have what it takes to upend the high-flying Wolverines.

FINAL VERDICT: SYRACUSE 62, MICHIGAN 58 

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DUMPSTER HOOPS: YOUR SATURDAY/SUNDAY AFTERNOON VIEWING GUIDE

Editor’s Note: Believe it or not, Selection Sunday is just two days away!!! The final stretch of Championship Week concludes today and tomorrow, so here’s a handful of games to watch out for this weekend.

ACC SEMIFINALS
Saturday 
No. 9 Miami vs. North Carolina State – 1pm (ESPN)
Maryland vs. North Carolina – 3pm (ESPN)
ACC  CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunday- 1pm (ESPN)
This N.C. State team has been playing exceptionally as of late. They’ve won eight of its last 10 and it teams like the Wolfpack are finally playing to their potential . So much talent on that squad, it’ll be fun to see if they can upend the Hurricanes. Either way, both teams are heading to the NCAAs. The real question mark is whether or not Maryland can keep the magic rolling. The Terps sit squarely on the bubble and could really use a win over UNC to go dancing.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Northwestern

ATLANTIC 10 SEMIFINALS
Saturday
Butler vs. No. 16 St. Louis – 1:30 (CBS Sports Network)
UMass vs. No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth – 4 pm (CBS Sports Network)
ATLANTIC 10 CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunday – 1 pm (CBS)
For starters, the Butler/St. Louis game should be a thriller. Both these teams are heading to the NCAAs, so here’s your chance to get a sneak peak of two teams who could make a sleeper run to the Sweet 16. However, the Dumpster has its eyes focused on UMass. Can the Minutemen upset VCU en route to the A-10 title game? VCU is a lock to go to the Big Dance, but UMass is literally playing for its season. A loss to the Rams will surely spell NIT.

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BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday
No. 19 Syracuse vs. No. 4 Louisville – 8:30 pm (ESPN)
This is it for the Big East as we know it. For over 30 years, this was the cream of the crop when it came to college basketball. It’s sad to see it fade away. I’ll go on record as saying that the “New Big East” will be fucking awesome, especially since those 10 teams will be focusing all of its efforts on basketball, not football. But there is a sense of nostalgia tied into the current Big East and all of its great rivalries and history. This is must-see TV, nevermind the fact that it’s a sick matchup. The Dumpster likes the Orange to win this thing AND make a run to the Final Four. Mark it down.

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BIG TEN SEMIFINALS
Saturday
No. 22 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Indiana – 1:40 pm (CBS)
No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Ohio State – 4 pm (CBS)
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunday – 2:30 (CBS)
All of these teams are locked into the NCAA Tournament, so these squads are basically playing for bragging rights and positioning in the Big Dance. That being said, the semifinals alone will certainly be worth the watch, especially that Michigan State/Ohio State matchup. And watch out for the pesky Badgers of Wisconsin. I’m sure Bo Ryan and company would love to end Indiana’s weekend a little early.

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BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday
No. 11 Kansas State vs. No. 7 Kansas – 6 pm (ESPN)
In-state rivals. Top 15 teams. Conference tournament championship. Those are keywords you want to look for when trying to find the best basketball on television. Well, this game features all of that. Keep an eye on the Jayhawks, after that three-game losing streak a few weeks ago, this group seems hungrier than ever.

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MAC CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday
Ohio vs. Akron – 6:30 pm (ESPN2)
I had to throw in some solid mid-major basketball for good measure. Akron has been one of the most efficient, consistent teams in the nation this year, but their best player was just arrested on major drug charges and is nowhere to be found for the Zips with their NCAA Tournament hopes on the line. Dude, if you’re gonna get five pounds of weed mailed to your apartment, wait until after the season.

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MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday
UNLV vs. No. 15 New Mexico – 6 pm (CBS)
Led by potential Mountain West Player of the Year Kendall Williams, New Mexico has lost just twice since the calendar turned to 2013. One of those two losses came at the hands of UNLV, who has won seven of its last eight and is really hitting its stride. Both teams are going dancing as it is, but this game should be a lot of fun to watch regardless.

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PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday
Oregon vs. No. 21 UCLA – 11 pm (ESPN)
Late-night hoops action in Las Vegas!!! On the one hand, you have Oregon, who continues to overachieve and is playing way better than anyone ever would have expected this season. Then you have mighty UCLA, who is FINALLY playing up to its potential after spending a couple of years in the doldrums of their conference. This might be the most talented roster in college basketball, it was just a matter of time before Ben Howland’s squad put it together. The Bruins might also be a bit too young to make a run in the NCAAs, but they are still an exciting team to watch.

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SEC SEMIFINALS
Saturday
Alabama vs. No. 13 Florida – 1 pm (ABC)
Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss – 3 pm (ABC)
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday – 1 pm (ABC)
This is really the one conference tournament remaining that has serious NCAA Tournament implications. Florida is going dancing no matter what, but Ole Miss and Alabama are definitely on the bubble. Both teams need to win the whole thing to assure that they’ll avoid the NIT, but could sneak in if they at least advance to the title game on Sunday. But if Vanderbilt takes this whole thing, that would certainly be the biggest surprise of all the conference tournament champions.  The Commodores have just been awful this year. To make a long story short, you better believe every bubble team in the country is praying that the Gators win the SEC and not anyone else.

NCAA Basketball: Division I Championship-Louisville vs Florida

 

DUMPSTER HOOPS: YOUR SATURDAY AFTERNOON VIEWING GUIDE

Editor’s Note: You could argue that Louisville/Syracuse was the best matchup of the day, but that game is already halfway over as I’m typing this, so we won’t be including any of the 12 pm games today. Sorry, we all know how hard it is to get out of bed before noon on a Saturday. Here’s a list of the top eight games on TV today…

West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas – 2 pm (CBS)
The Jayhawks should still be considered one of the scariest teams in the country, despite their collective ups and downs this season. With that being said, for Kansas to make a deep run through March, it needs Ben McLemore to play like the potential No. 1 draft pick that he is. Since dropping 30 points against Kansas State, McLemore is averaging just 10 points and is shooting 35 percent in his last four games.

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No. 21 Notre Dame at No. 22 Marquette – 2 pm (ESPN)
Marquette is always the silent assassin come this time of year. March rolls around, and even though no one really includes Buzz Williams’ team in the  conversation, the Golden Eagles are quietly sitting just one game out first place in the Big East standings. Don’t be surprised if Marquette wins its final three games and takes home its first-ever Big East regular season title.

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Wichita State at Creighton – 2pm (ESPN 2)
This might not jump off the page as an action-packed, Saturday afternoon thriller, but it should be included in the short list of today’s top games because the Missouri Valley Conference is as good as any conference in the nation. Both the Shockers and the Blue Jays have a shot at making a run in the Big Dance. Here’s a chance for you to check them out before everyone  else does.

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Arizona State at Southern California – 3 pm (CSN)
Arizona State is going to be an exciting team to watch down the stretch for a number of reasons. Jahii Carson is one of the top scoring guards in the PAC 12, swingman Carrick Felix might be the best perimeter defender in the league, and 7’2″ center Jordan Bachynski is a shot-blocking machine. Oh, and they’re the definition of a “bubble team,” meaning that they need literally every win they can get to be included in the field of 68. What more could you ask for?

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Texas at No. 15 Oklahoma State – 4 pm (ESPN)
Marcus Smart. That is a name you want to remember. The 6’4″ freshman has lapped Michael Carter-Williams as the nation’s top point guard prospect and could go as high as No. 1 overall in June’s NBA Draft. He’s tough, physical, and lightning-fast. He makes great decisions and is incredibly smart with the basketball. He also went through some fucked up shit to get to where he is today. To make a long story short, he is absolutely worth tuning into for at least a few minutes.

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No. 5 Miami at No. 3 Duke – 6 pm (ESPN)

Will the Blue Devils fall for the second game in a row? Can Miami take down Duke for the second time this year? Another loss to the Hurricanes would send the Blue Devils tumbling out of the top 5, while a win would give Miami sole possession of its first ACC regular season Championship ever. Simply put, there’s a lot at stake for both teams in this one.

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No. 13 Kansas State at Baylor – 7 pm (ESPN 2)
I’ve mentioned Kansas State as one of the teams to watch coming out of the Big 12, but what about Baylor? The Bears were figured to compete for a league title this season, but have completely fallen short of expectations. They’ve lost six of their last nine games and are rapidly looking more and more like an NIT team. If they want to turn this thing around, Baylor needs more from freshman center Isaiah Austin. The 7’1″ monster of a human is expected to be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but hasn’t shown the willingness to bang in the paint with the big boys. Dude! You’re 7’1″!!! Play down low, not on the perimeter.

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No. 11 Arizona at UCLA – 9 pm (ESPN)
This might be my favorite game of the night right here. No one mentions Arizona when it comes to legitimate title contender, yet the Wildcats have as good of a seven man rotation that you will find these days. They’re deep, talented, experience, and well-coached. A win over an improving UCLA team would catapult the Wildcats back into the top 10.

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DUMPSTER HOOPS: ELIJAH JOHNSON GONE WILD

So in case you missed it last night, the Kansas Jayhawks and the Iowa State Cyclones met up in what proved to be one of the best games of the 2012-2013 college basketball season. It was complete with milestones, late-game heroics, controversial calls, unnecessary showboating, and racist death threats. To summarize it simply, there was some motherfucking excitement up in Ames, Iowa yesterday.

Oh, did I mention it featured the most incredible single-game performance we have seen in college basketball this season? Shit, that was best individual performance we’ve seen in college hoops in a long fucking time. I mean, Elijah Johnson absolutely took over that game. The kid finished with 30 POINTS IN THE SECOND HALF. 30 FREAKING POINTS!!! Everything, literally everything was falling for Elijah. It was an unprecedented shooting display, something he couldn’t duplicate if he tried.

NCAA Final Four Kansas Ohio St Basketball

And it comes as somewhat of a surprise because Johnson had struggled mightily this season with his shot and had also been playing second fiddle to freshman Ben McLemore, one of the top players in the country. Johnson, a senior, was shooting less than 40 percent coming into Monday’s contest against the Cyclones, while also averaging less than 10 points a game.

He changed that last night with a ridiculous 39 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the floor, 6-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc, and a 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Not to mention he added seven assists and five rebounds. That is about as good as it gets.

After stumbling through much of the season, Elijah Johnson has come to life. Just a week ago, he came up with some big baskets for the Jayhawks in their thrilling, double-overtime road win over a very good Oklahoma State team. He also put Marcus Smart, one of the best point guards in the country, on his ass with this filthy crossover…

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Broken. Ankles. Amen.
(Ignore the fact that he got stuffed at the end of this GIF)

Last night, Elijah Johnson single-handedly propelled Kansas to a victory over a tough Iowa State team that had won 21 straight home games. He led Head Coach Bill Self to his 500th win. He led Kansas to its fifth straight win. And he led all of us to wonder how dangerous this Kansas team can really be if he plays to his full potential. McLemore gets a lot of the attention, but it’s Johnson who’ll be the most important for Kansas if the Jayhawks want to return to the Final Four.

DUMPSTER HOOPS: YOUR SATURDAY AFTERNOON VIEWING GUIDE

Editor’s note: I guess a lot of you might be watching the NBA dunk contest or the three-point shootout tonight, but for those of you concerned with watching actual basketball, here’s a list of the top seven college games on TV today…

St. Joseph’s at LaSalle – 1pm (NBCSN)
The Atlantic 10 is deep this year, with as many as seven teams lobbying for NCAA Tournament bids. LaSalle is surprisingly one of those teams, especially after picking up huge back-to-back wins in late-January against a pair of Top 20 opponents (Butler & VCU). If the Explorers continue their strong play, they could go dancing for the first time since 1992.

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Virginia Tech at North Carolina State – 2pm (ESPN 2)
One of the most exciting teams in the country (NC State) matched up against one of the most exciting players in the country (Erick Green). Sign me up. Green leads the nation with 25 points per game and has continued to be the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Hokies. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack have dropped three of their last four and need to pick up their play if they want to remain in the hunt for the NCAA’s.

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Missouri at Arkansas – 4pm (ESPN)
Missouri might just be one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year, but is somehow still hovering outside of the Top 25. When their star point guard Phil Pressey bring his A-game, the Tigers can literally beat anybody in the country. When he fails to step up, they lose to teams like Texas A&M and LSU. Watch out for the Razorbacks here; all of Missouri’s losses have come on the road.

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No. 2 Duke at Maryland – 6pm (ESPN)
College Park is just one of those places where Coach K’s Blue Devils have trouble. I know the Terrapins aren’t quite the same as they were under the legendary Gary Williams, but a rivalry is still a rivalry. Regardless, Maryland is an improved team with a solid NCAA Tournament resume, and is ranked second in the country in rebounding and 29th in field goal percentage. That’s mainly because of massive Ukrainian freshman center Alex Len, who stands at 7’1″ and is bound to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

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Georgia at Mississippi – 8pm (ESPN 2)
Two words: Marshall Henderson. The high-flying Rebels may have dropped four of their last five, but Henderson remains one of the most exciting players in the country. He’s also the loosest of cannons, but being bat-shit crazy just adds to the fun, right? Check out this link for a look at why he’s earned this reputation, and also why has Ole Miss in the hunt for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002.

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Texas at No. 14 Kansas – 9pm (ESPN)
Shocking to see the Jayhawks drop three games in a row the way they did after plowing through the early portion of their schedule, but Kansas will be one of the last teams standing. They are too good. Ben McLemore, in particular, is too good. However, it’s games like these that the Jayhawks can ill afford to lose. Texas has been just awful this season, despite having one of the more talented rosters in the conference.

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San Diego State at UNLV – 9pm (NBCSN)

I’m telling you, Mountain West basketball is where it’s at. The Aztecs and the Rebels are two of the best teams in this conference that is surprisingly deep. Colorado State, Boise State, and Air Force could all end up earning tickets to the Big Dance, along with SDSU and UNLV. These two teams though, the Aztecs and the Rebels, are the cream of the crop in this league. Watch out for SDSU guard Jamaal Franklin. He leads the team in scoring with over 17 points per game and is a monster of the defensive end. He also does shit like this…

In the middle of a fucking game? You’re crazy, Jamaal Franklin. I like you, but you’re crazy.

DUMPSTER HOOPS: YOUR SATURDAY AFTERNOON VIEWING GUIDE

As I’m writing this, Pittsburgh literally just upset No. 6 Syracuse, so aside from that marquee Big East matchup that is already in the books, here are seven college basketball games to watch today…

No. 5 Duke at Florida State – 2pm (ESPN)
Duke is always susceptible to an upset when they visit Tallahassee. The once top-ranked Blue Devils got destroyed at Miami last week; the Dumpster would love to see the Seminoles pick up where the Hurricanes left off.

Dayton at Saint Louis – 2pm (NBCSN)
I’ll always go on record saying that Atlantic-10 basketball is some of the most underrated basketball in Division I. This is a solid league from top to bottom this year, and this game features two of the conference’s most improved programs.

No. 19 Miami at No. 14 NC State – 4 pm (CBS)
Speaking of the ‘Canes, can they continue their meteoric rise to national prominence into the Top 15 with a win? I say probably not; the Wolfpack are one of the country’s most exciting teams to watch and continue to improve after a sluggish start.

Tennessee at Arkansas – 4pm (ESPN)
Here we have two SEC teams who still have a chance to contend for the league title.  Players to watch: Jarnell Stokes (6’8″, 270 lbs.) is a man among boys in the paint for the Vols, while B.J. Young is one of the conference’s top scorers (16.4 ppg).

Kentucky at Texas A&M – 6pm (ESPN)
The Wildcats are, to no one surprise, one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in the country. With that being said, they probably have at least four future lottery picks on their roster.

No. 18 Kansas State at Oklahoma 6pm (ESPN2)
Keep an eye on K State guard Rodney McGruder. Definitely worth watching for a few minutes at least.

No. 1 Michigan at No. 3 Indiana – 9pm (ESPN)
No need for explanation here. No. 1 vs. No. 3; it’s as simple as that. This could be the best game you’ve watched all season.

FIVE NAMES IN COLLEGE HOOPS YOU WILL KNOW BY MARCH

MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS –SYRACUSE

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Once again under the guidance of Jim Boeheim, Syracuse men’s basketball looks like a legitimate title contender. The Orange have moved on from the Bernie Fine scandal, they have that always stingy 2-3 zone, they have a strong core of veterans (Brandon Triche, James Southerland, CJ Fair), and they have the best facilitator in the nation in Michael Carter-Williams. After barely cracking the rotation as a freshman, this kid has emerged as quite possibly the best point guard in college basketball, and is definitely emerging as a potential lottery draft pick.

As of right now, Carter-Williams leads the country in assists (9.2 apg) and ranks fourth in the nation in steals (3.1 spg). If he stays on this same pace through the rest of the season, MCW could be the first player since Jason Kidd in 1994 to post more than nine assists and three steals a game. A prolific scorer at St. Andrew’s School in Providence, the Massachusetts native is chipping in with 12.3 points per game as well, but seems to be more comfortable as the distributor for the Orange. Not to mention that with his size (6’5”) and speed, MCW has become a much-needed, disruptive force on the defensive end for ‘Cuse.

College basketball is not like the NBA; great guards win titles, not big men. As evidenced by their comeback victories against Louisville and Cincinnati this past week alone, the Orange have one of the most poised backcourts in the country. Carter-Williams, one of the more unique point guards we’ve seen in the last few years, sparked both of those rallies with his play on both ends of the floor and seems to have the intangibles to lead Syracuse back to glory.

TREY BURKE – MICHIGAN

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Michigan is back, and it might be the best thing to happen to college basketball in a long time. It seems like it’s been forever since the Wolverines have been a title contender, in fact you would probably have to go all the way back to the Fab Five era to find the last time they made in impact in the NCAA tournament. Since Chris Webber’s infamous failed timeout call, the Wolverines haven’t done jack shit. That being said, John Beilein has put together the best team Ann Arbor has seen in 20 years, as Michigan, at 17-1, will most likely take over as the new No. 1 after seeing Duke get destroyed Wednesday night by Miami.

Those of you who were NBA fans in the 90’s will recognize some of the names on this Michigan roster, such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. However, the key to Michigan’s success this year has been Trey Burke. Maybe one of the quickest guards in the country, Burke can score in the blink of an eye and is averaging 18 points a game to go along with a little over seven assists, and is shooting a cool 50 percent from the floor. He’s smart with the basketball, efficient, controlled, and composed; everything you could want from your star point guard.

The Wolverines are a well-rounded team across the board, but the catalyst on both ends of the floor is Burke, another top point guard prospect in next year’s NBA draft. If he keeps it up and leads Michigan to a top seed in the big dance, expect Burke to garner a ton of consideration for the college basketball’s Player of the Year award.

BEN MCLEMORE – KANSAS

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Kansas hasn’t lost in over two months. Judging by the way they’ve been rolling as of late, and judging by the level of talent in the Big 12 this year, the Jayhawks might not lose for a while. Although most people point to stud center Jeff Withey, a shot-blocking machine, as the reason for their success, we here in the Dumpster think otherwise. The key has been Ben McLemore, another potential top-five pick in the NBA draft who already looks ready for the pros and might just end up going No. 1 overall.

McLemore has a silky smooth jump shot and can score from pretty much anywhere on the floor. The 6’4” shooting guard is averaging 16 points and five rebounds a game, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor, which is pretty damn good for a two-guard. As he continues to get more comfortable in just his first season in college basketball, McLemore could be on his way to leading Kansas, one of the most consistent programs in the nation, to another championship run. This guy can play for my team any day of the week. Did I mention he can dance?  If you didn’t click the link I just posted in the previous sentence you are missing out. Funniest shit I’ve seen in a while.

DOUG MCDERMOTT – CREIGHTON

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There’s always that one token white guy from a tiny no-name mid-major school somewhere out west who takes the nation by storm in March. We’ve seen it before, with the likes of Adam Morrison and Jimmer Fredette. Well, for two years in a row now, it looks like that guy is Doug McDermott. As a first-team All-American just a year ago, he led the Creighton Blue Jays to the NCAA’s after averaging 23 points per game and shooting 60 percent as a sophomore. Yet, you probably don’t even know who he is. So, that’s what I’m here for.

McDermott, who is currently second in the country with 23.9 points per game, might just finish the season as the nation’s leading scorer. And for someone who takes 15 shots a game, he’s pretty damn efficient, shooting 56 percent from the floor. Much like Morrison and Fredette before him, McDermott might not be a star in the NBA. In fact, if he’s anything like Adam Morrison, he’ll be out of the league in three years. But right now, McDermott is one of the country’s premier scorers, and he’s doing it for an underrated Creighton team that is currently ranked No. 17 in the nation. At the very least, Creighton is a very dangerous team that you do not want to see in the first couple rounds of the NCAA’s. That being said, there’s no doubt Doug McDermott alone has the ability to shoot the Blue Jays into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1974.

ANTHONY BENNETT – UNLV

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If you haven’t watched UNLV play yet this season, do yourself a favor and check them out. A one-time national power, the Runnin’ Rebels have all the talent to make a run in the NCAA’s this year. At 16-4 overall, UNLV currently stands outside the Top 25, so in some sense the Rebels are underachieving this season. But then again, you cannot consider the Mountain West to be a mid-major conference; right now, it might be the third best conference in the country behind the ACC and the Big 10. Despite not having won in the NCAA’s since 2008, UNLV looks poised to cause damage in the Big Dance this year, mainly because of Anthony Bennett.

Bennett is a bit undersized (listed at 6’7”), but he still looks like a smaller version of Dwight Howard out there between his massive shoulders and his 7’1” wingspan. At 240 lbs., Bennett is a big boy. Yet, the Canada native is already a polished post player with an outstanding inside/outside game; 18.4 points per game as just a freshman is certainly evidence of that. Defensively, he has endless potential given his excellent athleticism and big-bodied frame. To make a long story short, the Runnin’ Rebels are one of the most exciting teams in the country to watch, and it all starts with Anthony Bennett, a potential top five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and the go-to player for UNLV.

Sidenote: Another reason UNLV is so exciting? Freshman guard Katin Reinhardt. Seriously, check out this kid’s handles.

Other names to know: Marshall Henderson (Ole Miss), Russ Smith (Louisville), Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State), Kenny Boynton (Florida), Isaiah Caanan (Murray State), Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga), Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati), C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)