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National hoops update

 - Is Ohio State a legitimate No.1? Major college programs that start their seasons 18-0 generally get the benefit of the doubt. But you have to wonder are the Buckeyes (18-0, 5-0 Big 10) an overwhelming, no-brainer of a choice.

College hoops scoops doesn't think so. Sure, the record is gaudy, but the Buckeyes best wins were against Florida and Minnesota. The schedule will get a little tougher over the next two weeks with games against Illinois and Purdue. Even money said the Buckeyes will have at least two losses before we hit February.

- We've been visiting this topic at least once a week. Who is the real beast of the east? Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UConn and Villanova have all taken turns. Top to bottom, the Orange, despite Monday's loss at Pittsburgh, is probably the best of the bunch. Syracuse (18-1, 5-1) has quality players in the paint and on the perimeter. They fell behind, 19-0, in Monday's loss, but came right back with 17 straight points. Hoops scoops is convinced the Orange will be the last team standing.

- Duke won't be down for long. One tough road loss to Florida State turned a lot of people off. But keep in mind Duke has been without freshman sensation Kyrie Irving (foot) for the last nine days. In the meantime, tough senior guard Nolan Smith has really taken off. Smith, who's averaging 20.1 points and 5.7 assists, had a season-high 29 in a win over Virginia on Saturday. The real key to the Blue Devils run this season has been the play of center Mason Plumlee. The 6-10 sophomore has been a rugged presence and is averaging 10.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks over his last five games. His presence allows Smith, Kyle Singler, Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry do their thing on the perimeter. 

- The SEC is a complete jumble. Kentucky looked unbeatable early on with wins over Washington, Notre Dame, and Louisville, but has fallen back into the pack. Losses at Georgia and Alabama the last two weeks proves the Wildcats are vulnerable. That's what happens when your best three players (Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb) are freshmen. Eight of the SEC's 12 teams are eighter 2-2 or 2-1. 

 - Jimmer Fredette for President? The Glens Falls native had a career-high 47 points in a win over Utah on January 11. He's already had games of 32, 33, 34 and 39 points. And its legit. Fredette is shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. 

- Kemba Walker for Vice President? You can call Walker the east coast version of Fredette. He's averaging over 25 points per game and has had games of 42, 31 (three times) and 30 points (twice).

- Team flying under the radar? Texas A&M (16-1, 3-0 Big 12). Yes, we know the Aggies are the No.10 team in the country. But they have to be considered the quietest top 10 team in the country. Wins over then-No.20 Temple, No.22 Washington and No.12 Missouri. But they will be put to the test over the next few weeks with two games against Texas, and one against Kansas State.

- Disappointments? Try the ACC. With only one ranked team -Duke- the conference has seen better days. It just shows how long the arms of the Big East are. The Mountain West has more ranked teams than the ACC.

- Jeremy Hazell is back for Seton Hall. The Pirates went 5-8 without the 6-5 senior. Hazell is averaging 15.2 points in his three games, including a 23-point outburst in a win over DePaul.

- Renardo Sidney also made a return for Mississippi State. In three games he's been back since his suspension, the freshman power forward is averaging 13.2 points per game. He had 24 pointsn in a win at Mississippi and 15 in a home win against Auburn. 

New York Sports