College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

The Boise State Broncos are riding a 13-game winning streak and currently sit atop the Mountain West with an unblemished conference record.  The Broncos have handed both San Diego State and Wyoming their only conference losses to date.  Boise State has shown off stifling defense of late, holding the opposition under 65 points in 12 of the last 13 contests.  That includes the 42-37 rock fight versus the aforementioned Aztecs in which SDSU shot a putrid 28.1 percent from the floor.  On the offensive side of the ball, the Broncos have a well-balanced attack with five players averaging at least nine points per contest.  Surprisingly, Boise State has never won an NCAA Tournament game, posting an 0-7 record all-time.  This year's squad is looking to change the course of history for the program.

As the calendar creeps ever so closer to March, let's continue to highlight some prominent hoopsters in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Bryson Williams, F, Texas Tech – The Red Raiders fell to Kansas in a double-overtime thriller Tuesday, but Williams did everything in his power to try and will Texas Tech to victory.  Williams poured in a season-high 33 points on 14-of-19 shooting.  Williams canned all four of his three-pointers.  Despite the step up in competition from Conference USA, Williams has not really seen that much of a drop-off in production.  He is averaging 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.  He has really improved his three-point shooting as well, hitting an impressive

The Boise State Broncos are riding a 13-game winning streak and currently sit atop the Mountain West with an unblemished conference record.  The Broncos have handed both San Diego State and Wyoming their only conference losses to date.  Boise State has shown off stifling defense of late, holding the opposition under 65 points in 12 of the last 13 contests.  That includes the 42-37 rock fight versus the aforementioned Aztecs in which SDSU shot a putrid 28.1 percent from the floor.  On the offensive side of the ball, the Broncos have a well-balanced attack with five players averaging at least nine points per contest.  Surprisingly, Boise State has never won an NCAA Tournament game, posting an 0-7 record all-time.  This year's squad is looking to change the course of history for the program.

As the calendar creeps ever so closer to March, let's continue to highlight some prominent hoopsters in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Bryson Williams, F, Texas Tech – The Red Raiders fell to Kansas in a double-overtime thriller Tuesday, but Williams did everything in his power to try and will Texas Tech to victory.  Williams poured in a season-high 33 points on 14-of-19 shooting.  Williams canned all four of his three-pointers.  Despite the step up in competition from Conference USA, Williams has not really seen that much of a drop-off in production.  He is averaging 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.  He has really improved his three-point shooting as well, hitting an impressive 46.7 percent of his shots from downtown.  The Red Raiders can hang with anyone, and Williams is one of the main reasons Tech will be a force come tourney time.

 Jules Bernard, G, UCLA – The Bruins had a statement victory Tuesday, clobbering Arizona in a highly-anticipated matchup between top-10 squads.  While Cody Riley, Johnny Juzang and even Jaime Jaquez get more pub, the steadying influence of the senior Bernard cannot be understated.  Bernard tied for the team lead in points with 15 for the game, led the Bruins in rebounding with seven, and also tied for the team lead in assists with three in the 75-59 drubbing of the Wildcats.  Overall, Bernard is averaging 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest.  He just might be the unsung hero of this team.

 Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State – Molinar did everything in his power to try and lift the Bulldogs to an upset win over Kentucky on Tuesday.  The junior poured in a career-high 30 points in the 82-74 OT loss to the Wildcats.  Molinar has been hot lately, hitting the 20-point plateau in four of the last five games while shooting 57.7 percent over that span.  Perhaps even more impressive, Molinar does not really rely on the three-point shot in his arsenal, making only about one trey per contest.  Molinar does get his teammates involved, though, as he manages 4.3 assists per contest on the season.  The Panamanian Prince has the same body type as his namesake, and apparently the same knack for scoring inside the three-point arc too.

CHECK STATUS

 Warren Washington, C, Nevada – Washington suffered a hand injury Tuesday, playing only six minutes in the eventual 77-66 loss to Colorado State.  His status remains up in the air at this time.  Washington has been a frontcourt anchor for a surprising Wolfpack squad this season, averaging 10.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 swats per outing.  K.J. Hymes has seen increased minutes of late and would appear to be the chief beneficiary if Washington misses more action.  However, Nevada will need Washington to come back soon in order to have any chance of keeping pace in a suddenly highly competitive Mountain West.

 Jacob Gilyard, G, Richmond – Gilyard continues to stuff the stat sheet for the Spiders, though his shot remains a work in progress.  The streak shooter is hitting a career-low 38.9-percent from the floor this season.  That includes just 32.6-percent from beyond the arc.  To exemplify his streakiness, Gilyard has four games over the last nine outings in which he missed every three-pointer he took.  By contrast, he combined for 59 points and 11 three-pointers made in successive contests versus Davidson and Fordham last week.  He has been held under 10 points seven times this season, while crossing the 20-point mark just twice.  Of course, Gilyard impacts the game in a bevy of other areas.  He leads the Atlantic 10 in steals by a wide margin and is third in the conference in assists.  Still, inconsistency with his shot is holding back the 5-9 guard from reaching his true zenith.

 Javon Freeman-Liberty, G, DePaul – Freeman-Liberty leads the Big East in scoring at 21.1 points per game, though the Blue Demons have been missing his presence over their last three games due to a groin injury.  The senior guard is an above-average rebounder for his size and, in fact, leads the team in boards with 7.4 per tilt.  He is also second on the team in dishing and steals, flashing his versatility and showing his value.  It should come as no surprise, then, that DePaul has dropped all three games he has not appeared in.  The Blue Demons face ranked opponents in three of the next four contests, so DePaul is hoping the injury is not serious.

DOWNGRADE

 Colin Castleton, C, Florida –  Castleton continues to be sidelined with a right shoulder injury, a devastating blow for the Gators.  He will miss his fourth-straight game Wednesday, and there is no timetable for his return.  The senior leads the Gators in scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking.  In fact, he is second in the entire conference in rebounding and rejections, while placing seventh in scoring.  Junior Jason Jitoboh has filled in admirably for Castleton, including notching 12 points and five boards at Ole Miss last game.  However, there is simply no replacing the size, production and skill of a player of Castleton's caliber, and Florida's NCAA Tournament hopes likely hinge upon whether Castleton can return.

 Eric Curry, F/C, Minnesota – Curry has a high ankle sprain and is likely to miss Thursday's game against Ohio State, which would be his third-straight absence for the Gophers.  Curry had been enjoying his best collegiate season prior to the injury.  The senior is managing 8.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per tilt.  Minnesota's roster has been ravaged by both COVID and injury, though the Gophers still somehow managed to upset Rutgers in their last game while missing three starters.  Little-used senior Charlie Daniels along with freshman Treyton Thompson will continue to see expanded roles in the frontcourt until Curry and the rest of the starters come back.

 Noah Locke, G, Louisville – The last calendar year has been nothing short of a disaster for the Louisville basketball program, as coach Chris Mack appears to be on his way out.  This after last year's extortion scandal involving one of Mack's assistant coaches.  Meanwhile, Locke is the leading scorer for the Cardinals, but it is clear that the wheels have fallen off for both players and coaches.  Locke has combined for just eight points in the last two games, and the Cardinals have dropped five of their last six games, all in ACC conference play.  The Cardinals still have to play Duke, Miami and North Carolina twice, so the schedule does not figure to do them any favors on the court even with the turmoil off the court.

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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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