College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers
College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

The Big 12 has two teams ranked in the top three.  The Mountain West has the lone undefeated squad.  A team from the Atlantic 10 (Dayton) is ranked higher than any school from the ACC.  The preseason No. 1 (Michigan State) has dropped out of the polls all together.  North Carolina will not make the NCAA Tournament and is currently tied for last in its conference.   

Since the ACC expanded in 2013-2014, the conference has never had fewer than six teams in the tourney.  This year there might be only four.  Meanwhile, Seton Hall is on pace for its first Big East regular season championship since 1993.  Rutgers could make an appearance in the big dance for the first time since 1991.  Ladies and gentlemen, the 2019-2020 campaign remains the wildest season we've seen in a long, long time.

Selection Sunday is about a month away.  Let's see whose stock is trending upwards and who has seen better days in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Breein Tyree, G, Mississippi – A scorer at heart, Tyree has exploded over the last three games for the Rebels.  Tyree poured in 38 points on Feb. 5 against South Carolina.  He managed a respectable 23 points in the subsequent outing versus Florida.  Tyree then caught fire again versus Mississippi State on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 40 points against the Bulldogs.  Unsurprisingly, the Rebels won all three contests.  Both South Carolina and Florida are still vying for NCAA Tournament berths.  Over this three-game hot streak, Tyree is averaging 33.7 points, shooting a blistering 52.8 percent from three-point land.  With this recent outburst, Tyree is tied for the conference lead in scoring at an even 20.0 points per game.  Matchups with Kentucky and Auburn could bring Tyree back to earth, but the senior has proven over the last two seasons that he can score against virtually anyone.

James Bouknight, G, Connecticut – Bouknight's freshman season has come full circle.  He was suspended for the first three games of the season following an on-campus arrest in September stemming from a vehicular incident.  He subsequently came off the bench for 12 games, averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per contest.  Thereafter he was inserted into the starting lineup, a move that has paid dividends for both he and the Huskies.  In seven games started, the freshman is averaging 14.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest.  He has been even better of late, managing 18.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.6 steals in the last five tilts.  The Huskies have won three of their last four games with Bouknight playing crucial minutes, including a 72-71 OT win over a stellar Cincinnati squad.  Bouknight scored a career-high 23 points in the triumph.  Bouknight is coming into his own, and UConn is reaping the rewards on the court.

Jerrick Harding, G, Weber State – Harding is doing his best Damian Lillard impersonation of late.  The comparison is easy, as Harding and Dolla Dame are similar in size, played four years at largely unheralded Weber State, yet thrived nevertheless.  Now, Harding may never turn into the superstar Lillard has become, but Harding has averaged at least 21.4 points per game in each of the last three seasons.  By contrast, Lillard only averaged as many points in his final season in the Big Sky.  Harding has actually shot better from the field during his collegiate career, though Dame was the more well-rounded player in terms of rebounding and dishing.  Harding was named preseason Big Sky Player of the Year; Lillard won the award twice.  However, it is Harding who is now the school's all-time leading scorer.  Harding unsurprisingly leads the Big Sky in scoring, buoyed by his 44-point barrage last week against Sacramento State.  The Wildcats likely will not be making the big dance this season, but Harding has certainly cemented his place in Weber State history beside Lillard.

AJ Green, G, Northern Iowa – Not to be confused with the wideout of Cincinnati Bengals fame, this Green is a 6-foot-4 sharpshooter who currently leads the Missouri Valley conference in scoring and hits 40.7 percent of his shots from long range.  The Panthers are currently tops in the Missouri Valley Conference, riding a five-game winning streak.  Green torched Drake in their last contest, nailing six treys en route to 34 points.  The Panthers are fifth in the country as a team in terms of three-point field goal percentage; they could be a team to watch in the NCAA Tournament due to their ability to score from three-point land.  Green is no one-trick pony, though, as he also averages 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest.  He could be the frontrunner for MVC Player of the Year.

CHECK STATUS

Oscar da Silva, F, Stanford – The Stanford forward suffered a laceration to his head and is being evaluated for a concussion after hitting his head on the hardwood during a scary, inadvertent collision with Colorado forward Evan Battey last Saturday.  Da Silva appeared to briefly lose consciousness following his head striking the floor, but thankfully was able to walk off the court under his own power.  The laceration on the side of his head did require stitches, though.  The junior is having a sensational season for the 16-7 Cardinal, who have been among the bigger surprises in the Pac-12 this season.   Da Silva leads Stanford in scoring and rebounding.  It remains to be seen how much, if any time he will miss, but the Cardinal figure to be cautious with him given the nature and origin of the head injury.

Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois – The sophomore had to be carried off the court after sliding awkwardly on the final play in Tuesday's 70-69 loss to Michigan State.  Though not much is known about the severity of the injury, it appeared to be a knee/leg issue, and Dosunmu could not put any weight on his left leg.  The loss of the catalyst of the Illini attack would be a crushing blow to the tournament hopes of the Illini, who are currently 16-8 on the season, including 8-5 in the ultra-competitive Big Ten.  Dosunmu leads the team in scoring and dishing.  He is sixth in the conference in scoring overall.  If Dosunmu is lost, he would be virtually impossible to replace, but Andres Feliz and Trent Frazier would do their best to fill the massive void.  Illini nation is collectively holding its breath that the injury looked worse than it actually is.

Terrence Shannon, G/F, Texas Tech – Shannon is being evaluated for a concussion following Monday's battle with TCU.  The freshman is averaging 11.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per tilt for the Red Raiders.  Shannon is fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding.  The injury comes at a bad time for Tech, as the Red Raiders are riding a three-game winning streak but are short-handed in terms of height and rebounding.  Texas Tech has only one player above 6-foot-6 that plays significant minutes.  Still, the Red Raiders have done well with this type of quasi-positionless basketball under coach Chris Beard, including a run to the Final Four and subsequently the Championship Game last season.  Hopefully Shannon's head injury is not serious, and the surging Red Raiders can head into the big dance at full strength.

DOWNGRADE

Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State – The Cyclones will be without Haliburton, their best player and one of the top players in the entire Big 12 conference, for the remainder of the season.  Halliburton suffered a broken left wrist during the first half of Saturday's clash with Kansas State.  The sophomore led the Big 12 in assists and steals, and was sixth in scoring at 15.2 points per tilt.  The 6-foot-5 guard was no slouch rebounding either, managing 5.9 boards per contest, which was 13th in the conference.  Colorado State transfer Prentiss Nixon looks to be the prime candidate to step into the starting lineup in place of Haliburton.  While it will be impossible to replace all of Haliburton's production, Nixon did collect nine points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and two steals in 27 minutes against the Wildcats.

Mustapha Heron, G, St. John's – Heron's collegiate career may be over due to a nagging ankle injury.  The Auburn transfer was in his second season with the Johnnies, but his numbers were down across the board this year.  Heron was averaging 13.8 points on just 38.5 percent shooting, both career-lows.  Perhaps the ankle issue was worse than initially thought, as Heron missed three games in late December but returned for 10 games in January and to start the month of February.  However, Heron aggravated the injury Saturday against Creighton, and as a result is likely to miss the remainder of the season.  Even with the decrease in statistics, Heron was still second on the squad in scoring, so his numbers may be difficult to replace.  Even more pressure will now be placed on L.J. Figueroa and Rasheem Dunn.

Hunter Thompson, F, Wyoming – Fear and Loathing in Laramie?  The sophomore forward started the first 23 games of the season for the Cowboys, but has missed the last two contests due to mononucleosis.  In fact, Thompson will be sidelined indefinitely due to the illness, which as anyone who has ever had mono knows, can sap your energy and linger for a month or more.  Thompson had been a key cog for Wyoming, averaging 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per tilt.  This version of the Cowboys is vertically challenged, and Wyoming has just one conference win to its resume in 13 tries.  Hunter Maldonado has been the silver lining to this abysmal squad, and he will be forced to shoulder even more of the interior load with Thompson absent for what could be the rest of the year.

Elijah Hughes, F, Syracuse – In a bit of bad luck, Hughes apparently suffered a groin strain in warmups prior to Tuesday's clash with NC State.  Hughes started the game, but left after three minutes and a turnover, unable to continue.  His current status is unknown in the short term.  The junior is the leading scorer and assist man for the Orange, averaging 18.6 points and 3.8 dimes per contest for a mediocre Syracuse unit.  Hughes is second in the ACC in scoring behind Louisville's Jordan Nwora.  The loss of Hughes for any period of time would be extremely damaging for the Orange, who are trying to tread water at 7-6 in conference play and 14-10 overall.  Freshman Joe Girard III scored 30 points in the 79-74 loss to the Wildcats with Hughes sidelined, while Quincy Guerrier collected a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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