1. Some brief thoughts on tonight’s Syracuse – Florida game: The Orange are favored by 6.5, which seems high considering a) how poorly they often play in the first half in nearly all their games, b) Florida is the best team they’ve faced this season, c) Syracuse has struggled to put away fringe NCAA tourney teams like Virginia Tech and Stanford. I like the Gators a lot this year (well, until the internal squabbling begins over shots; probably after a loss to Kentucky), and yes, that’s just based on seeing them against Ohio State. Bradley Beal will be the best player on the floor tonight. Guess: Syracuse 74, Florida 71.
2. Quietly, the best debut of the week goes to Perry Jones, the Baylor superstar: 10-of-14 shooting, 27 points in a rout of Prairie View A&M. Jones will be on display against Northwestern Sunday, but his real tests come later this month against rugged West Virginia and an athletic Mississippi State team.
3. Duke’s Ryan Kelly with the surprisingly bad stat line of the week: 0-2, 0 points in 15 minutes against Ohio State. Kelly came in on a tear, scoring 17 points each against Tennessee, Michigan and Kansas out in Maui. OSU is wing-heavy, and Kelly, a 6-foot-11 forward with nice touch from deep, was badly exposed. He couldn’t guard anyone. He couldn’t get off any shots. He was a complete non-factor. Kelly will be fine in the ACC, but this is just something to file away for the NCAA tournament.
4. Toni Kukoc’s son is a freshman at Pennsylvania. Marin Kukoc redshirted last year, and had his best game of the young season Tuesday when he scored 11 points in a win over Manhattan. He’s 6-foot-7 and wasn’t a big-time recruit in Chicago.
5. Staying in Illinois … 7-foot sophomore Meyers Leonard is off to a great start with the Illini. He’s averaging 12.2 points and 6.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks so far this season. I’m looking forward to his first battle with Jared Sullinger in six weeks. For now, I’ll settle for watching his best high school dunk over and over … along with this dunk attempt against Maryland Tuesday.
6. The dagger of the week was delivered by Hollis Thompson of Georgetown Thursday in Alabama. The Hoyas tried very hard to lose this one, but Thompson’s triple with :02 left propelled Georgetown to a 2-point win. The Hoyas are 6-1. Georgetown’s only loss was to Kansas in Maui. It’s still very early, but Georgetown looks like an NCAA Tournament team. Number of people who predicted this after the departures of Austin Freeman and Chris Wright? Zero.