RAYNO’S THREE POINTERS
WEEKEND GAME TO WATCH
No. 1 Oklahoma at LSU, 4 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)
Yes, we know we had you tune in to the Sooners last weekend, but hey, Oklahoma is a good team, possibly the best team in college basketball. This matchup isn’t so much about the Sooners this time, though, as it is about two individuals who sit No. 1 and No. 2 in the Wooden Watch. LSU freshman Ben Simmons on the open floor, with OU senior Buddy Hield driving to the hoop and hitting a staggering percentage of shots from beyond the arc. Thank you, Scheduling Gods.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
1960 The last time a team retained its No. 1 spot in the AP poll despite a loss this early in the season, according to ESPN Stats and Info. That is, until Oklahoma stayed put this week.
8 Pac 12 teams currently predicted to land in the NCAA tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi. That accounts for 67 percent of the league’s teams, highest percentage in the country.
4 Times this season that former Gophers recruiting target Henry Ellenson has been named Big East Newcomer of the Week for Marquette. The latest came last week, when he averaged 13.5 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Ellenson gets another chance to shine against Butler on Saturday.
For all the talk about Marcus Paige the past few years, it might be Brice Johnson who really holds the key for North Carolina. The different methods Roy Williams has used to try to motivate the Tar Heels’ talented big man — mostly screaming at him and benching him — have been well-documented, but now the senior is finding the right intensity level on his own.
Offensively, he’s shockingly more efficient than he was a year ago, and he has made himself into one of the best rebounders in the nation. If Johnson continues his dominance, UNC looks as likely as any team to cut down the nets in Houston.