This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.
College basketball fans hungry for an upset got their appetite fed Tuesday, as No. 1 ranked Kentucky went down to an Evansville team that just managed to hang around long enough. It's a classic case of one of John Calipari's young, freshman-filled teams not quite turning on the gas until it was too late. But trust me, they'll be in the conversation when the NCAA Tournament gets to its second weekend and beyond.
Right now, Kentucky seems to be missing the type of post player able to assert his dominance in the paint following the departures of both Reid Travis and PJ Washington. Sure, third-year center Nick Richards is capable, but it will help having the 6-10 EJ Montgomery (ankle) to spell him on occasion. Power forward Nate Sestina is more of a finesse player capable of shooting from deep, while Keion Brooks is one potential candidate to step up.
When predicting tournament success, the first two factors I look at are coaching and backcourt experience. There's no doubt Calipari checks the coaching box, and sophomore guards Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley are about as experienced as a Kentucky team is going to get. Look for Big Blue to get back on track as SEC play approaches.
Without further delay, here are this week's risers and fallers in the college basketball landscape.
Nate Reuvers, F, Wisconsin
You knew if I was going to fill in on a Barometer column, I'd have to start with my alma mater, the Wisconsin Badgers. Coach Greg Gard desperately needed a player to take over the usage and production left behind by Ethan Happ, and while Reuvers certainly wasn't a stranger to Badger fans, his skill set best fits the profile. He's not the passer Happ was, but he brings one dimension Happ could never dream of – outside shooting. Reuvers knocked down 32 three-pointers last season at a rate of 44.9 percent, and that type of ability allows Gard to get back to his more traditional swing offense. Reuvers is closer to a Jon Leuer than an Ethan Happ, but is a better shot blocker, collecting 14 rejections through three games – including a school-record nine against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 8. He'll effectively spread the floor to create more opportunities in the lane for his teammates, which makes the Wisconsin offense more difficult to figure out than when they ran everything through Happ.
Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
Hailburton started 34 games out of necessity for the Cyclones in his freshman season, as the team dealt with backcourt injuries for the entire year. He still flew under the radar a bit, but that started to change during this summer's U19 World Cup, where he averaged 7.9 points and 6.9 assists across seven games. That momentum looks to be building heading into his sophomore year, and his stat lines are improving tremendously. Haliburton already has 32 assists through only three games, and is averaging 10.3 points and 6.0 rebounds as well. The ISU point guard was on the fantasy radar heading into the year, but now he's looking like a league-winning asset if you snagged him later in drafts.
Omer Yurtseven, C, Georgetown
Many forgot about the 7-0 Yurseven after he left NC State and proceeded to sit out a year, but he's back in a big way for Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas. He opened the year with a 20 point/12 rebound effort, and in his second game, needed just 19 minutes to collect 17 points and 15 boards. He'll get a tougher challenge Thursday against Mike Watkins and the Nittany Lions, which will be one of the better early-season center matchups. Yurtseven has experience at the collegiate level and is learning from one of the best to do it in the modern era, so look for him to keep up a level near this pace as the season marches along.
Brandon Anderson, G, Brown
Time for the mid-major special. Anderson averaged just 9.2 ppg a season ago, which was a big step down from his sophomore year (17.3 ppg). The senior shooting guard has carried the Bears to a 3-0 start, however, scoring 23, 32 and 28 points in the first three games. Those three contests were won by a combined 11 points. Brown was picked to finish fifth in the preseason Ivy League poll, getting less than half the points of frontrunner Harvard, but this is a team that starts five upperclassmen and could make some noise.
(Last Week: Powell, Smith, Nwora, Dosunmu)
Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall - From the Upgrade to the Downgrade due to injury
Powell suffered a serious-looking ankle injury Saturday against Stony Brook, and while his status was eventually upgraded, he's still a 50-50 shot to play Thursday against Cassius Winston and the Michigan State Spartans. While Seton Hall surely wants to bring its best for the national stage against a high-profile opponent, it might be wiser to save the Big East Preaseason Player of the Year for conference play, where the Pirates of a legitimate chance to take home the crown. Marquette lost two key players in Sam and Joey Hauser to the transfer market, while Villanova looked beatable in a lopsided loss to Ohio State on Wednesday.
Kamar Baldwin, G, Butler
Baldwin started the season nursing an oblique injury that held him to just five minutes in the opener and forced him to come off the bench in Butler's second game. He got back on track Wednesday against Minnesota, getting back to the starting five and putting up 27 points – a feat he accomplished just three times last season. If the oblique injury is in the past, fantasy owners can look get back to the production that was expected when Baldwin was selected on draft day.
(Last Week: Wiseman, Ali, Tillie, Doka)
James Wiseman, C, Memphis
The James Wiseman saga finally came to a temporary halt Thursday, when the NCAA determined he is officially ineligible pending reinstatement. The Tigers and head coach Penny Hardaway took a big risk playing him in the last two games despite the NCAA declaring him "likely ineligible." While it's unclear if Memphis will face a penalty as a result, fantasy owners won't be able to deploy the seven-footer in lineups for the upcoming game week period. Meanwhile, Wiseman's lawsuit against the NCAA has been dropped while the school prepares his reinstatement application. Given the pace at which the NCAA dealt with a plethora of transfer waivers (and ensuing appeals) this offseason, there's no clear timetable in sight for Wiseman to return to the court. He shouldn't be dropped just yet, but it's still a tough break for a player worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts.
EJ Montgomery, F, Kentucky
It finally looked like Montgomery was ready to crack the starting five after averaging just 15.1 mpg a season ago, but the former five-star recruit injured his ankle in the first game and has sat out the two contests since. As mentioned in the introduction, Nick Richards has taken the spot, but it's not looking like a role he can handle all by himself. Montgomery should get some run upon returning, but it's unclear when that might be, or if he'll return to being a starter when healthy. There's risk deploying him in fantasy lineups if he's not a lock to see 20 minutes, and that's often the case with Kentucky big men.
Jalen Cone, G, Virginia Tech
I'll be the first to admit when I'm wrong – I way overshot Cone's projection in his freshman year with the Hokies. Part of it was the roster turnover, as there weren't many recognizable names left over after Mike Young took over. Part of it was the hype – even though Cone is undersized (5-10), he fit the profile of a four-year starter that would be good, but not good enough to jump to the next level early. I figured a first-year coach would want to develop his point guard of the future, but that hasn't happened just yet. His long-term ceiling is still there, but for now, Wabissa Bede will be taking care of ball-handling duties in Blacksburg, with Hunter Cattoor taking over the starting spot I had Cone penciled in for.
(Last week: Yetna, Green, Bryant, Queta)