8 College Basketball Players That Must Step Up Big This Week
College Basketball: 8 Players Who Need To Step Up This Week
This has been an interesting college basketball season so far, with top-ten ranked teams losing every other day and star players getting hurt. This week's games have the potential to make this season even more crazy.
Several teams this week will be battling to stay in the top-25 rankings, others are just trying to keep their NCAA Tournament chances alive. But like in all sports, the battles are won by the players.
Although their will be hundreds of players hitting the hardwood this week, there are a few that must have big weeks for their teams to succeed. Some players have to carry their team on their backs by having a big shooting nights, some have a difficult player they must contain and others just need to increase their basketball IQ and not turn the ball over.
For example, who will step up on the offensive end for the Louisville Cardinals as they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers Monday night?
Will freshman Alex Poythress be the key to Kentucky's two road games against No.23 Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
Is Cody Zeller going to return to playing like a Player of the Year candidate and help Indiana beat the number one team in the nation?
These are just some of the crucial questions that I will address in this list. But I am very aware that any player can step up an take over for their team in the game of college basketball. That is why it is so much fun to watch.
Let's take a look of the 15 players that must step up this week for their team.
Phil Pressey, Missouri
The Missouri Tigers come into the week ranked 18th in the Coaches Poll and is third in the SEC standings. They will go on the road Wednesday night to play the LSU Tigers and then will play Auburn at home on Saturday. These shouldn't be difficult games to win, but a loss could knock them out of the top-25.
The Tigers are led by Phil Pressey, who some believe is the best point guard in college basketball. He is averaging 11.9 points a game and an amazing 7.2 assists per game. It is up to Pressey to lead his team to victory every game for Missouri, without him they could lose to anyone.
Kenny Kadji, Miami
The Miami Hurricanes have won their last seven games straight and have a decent chance at winning the ACC, but this week will test their talent. Miami will play two tough road games this week against Virginia Tech and No. 19 N.C. State.
Miami's big man Kenny Kadji must play well underneath in both games. The 6'11” Cameroon native is averaging 13 points a game and is the Hurricanes' leading rebounder with seven a game. It is not crucial for Kadji to score a lot of points like he did against Duke, but for Miami to win two straight games on the road he must control the glass.
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
This week will be the toughest this season for the Ole Miss Rebels. They will take on a very talent, although struggling, Kentucky team Tuesday and then they must go on the road to play No. 4 Florida. The Rebels are first in the SEC Conference and have won the last nine game straight, but with losses to Indiana State and Middle Tennessee State earlier in the season, two wins this week would be huge on their resume.
Junior Marshall Henderson has been on fire, the 6'2” guard makes almost four three-pointers a game and is averaging 19.2 points a game. If Henderson can play well this week, he could easily move up on the Player of the Year list.
Peyton Siva, Louisville
Louisville desperately needs a victory needs a victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers Monday night. The Cardinals have lost their last three games straight and has moved up rankings from the best team in the country to now the 13th.
Senior Peyton Siva cannot afford to have a off night, he has struggled the past couple of games with foul trouble which has limited his minutes. Louisville does not have a real backup point guard and now sophomore Wayne Blacksher will be out against Pitt with a shoulder injury and backup guard Kevin Ware is suspended for violating team rules.
Things could get real ugly, real fast, if Louisville continues this downward spiral. Siva must rally the team and step up for the Cardinals.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
The Michigan Wolverines are the newest number one team according to the Associate Press, but there has already been several top teams who have fallen already when they have reached the coveted top ranking. Michigan should have no problem beating Northwestern on Wednesday, but they also must travel to No.3 Indiana on Saturday. No matter how good your basketball team is, it is hard to overcome the atmosphere of Assembly Hall.
Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is having a very good season so far in his third year at Michigan. The 6'6” wing is averaging 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. Against Indiana, he has the difficult task of trying to contain Victor Oladipo, who has been on fire lately. Oladip has scored an average of 20 points the past two games and has shot better than 60-percent.
If Hardaway can stay on Oladipo, Michigan will have a lot better chance of remaining number one by the end of the week.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
The Syracuse Orange start the week ranked the sixth-best team in the country and is on top of the Big East standings. The Orange are coming off a tough loss on the road against Villanova Saturday and need a win over the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday to stay in the top-10. The good things is that coach Jim Boeheim has an entire week to let his team heal and prepare for the battle against Pittsburgh.
Michael Carter-Willaims is the top assists leader in college basketball with 8.9 per game and is one of the main reasons Syracuse continues to win. His ability to find the open man underneath and on the break is a tool most teams don't have.
Not only is he a great passer and a decent shooter, but his long arms makes him a fantastic defender from the guard position. Carter-Williams is averaging three steals and almost five rebounds a game. He is the key to the Orange's success this season.
Alex Poythress, Kentucky
The Kentucky Wildcats are still not ranked in the top-25 this week, mostly because they lack a good resume win. The Wildcats will have the opportunity to quality road wins this week when they take on No. 16 Ole Miss on Tuesday night and Texas A&M on Saturday. Kentucky lost their game against Taxas A&M early in the season, 83-71.
The biggest need for Kentucky is for a player to become the teams leader on the court. They are a very young squad and coach John Calipari has yet to develop a leader.
Most believe the freshman Alex Poythress has the potential to become that leader. Saturday Poythress should Kentucky fans and his coaches he can lead his team. The 6'7” forward had 20 points and 12 rebounds, leading the team to a 75-70 win over the LSU Tigers. That is exactly what the young fella must do if Kentucky wants to be successful this week.
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Indiana Hoosier sophomore Cody Zeller was hyped the entire offseason as the best player in the country. With his 7'0” frame and his ability to score points in bulk, who wouldn't think that is would be easy for him to win Player of the Year at the end of the season, especially since he plays for the preseason number one ranked team in the country.
But Zeller has struggled on the offensive side of the court the past two games. He did not make a single field goal against Penn State last week and only made two against Michigan State Sunday. The good news for Indiana is that other players have stepped up and have been able to continue to win.
Indiana will go on the road to play state rivals the Purdue Boilermakers Wednesday and then they will take on No.1 Michigan at home Saturday. Zeller's offense will be needed for Indiana to not lose this week.