With the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, there are still plenty of questions about which team will take the No. 1 overall seed come Selection Sunday. The past week only made that picture more cloudy after No. 3 Purdue fell to Ohio State on Sunday and No. 1 UConn lost to No. 15 Creighton on Tuesday. 

Not all the top teams stumbled, though. No. 2 Houston took control of first place in the Big 12 with an impressive 73-65 win over No. 6 Iowa State at home. Star point guard Jamal Shead led the charge, scoring 20 of his 26 total points in the second half.

Shead's performance is a stark reminder that elite guard play is essential if you want to win it all in March. The last 7-footer to lead a national champion in scoring was North Carolina's Eric Montross in 1993. The last 7-footer to average at least 16 points on a national title team was Georgetown's Patrick Ewing in 1984.

This year eight 7-footers are averaging at least 20 minutes per game on an Associated Press Top 25 team — the most in the last 15 seasons. Six of those eight players average 16 or more points, which hasn't happened in nearly 25 years.

Most PPG by 7-Footers this season

  • Purdue's Zach Edey: 23.2
  • Kansas' Hunter Dickinson: 18.2
  • Creighton's Ryan Kalkbrenner: 17.2
  • Duke's Kyle Filipowski: 17.0
  • Utah's Branden Carlson: 16.9
  • Boston College's Quinten Post: 16.4

Purdue moved up to the No. 1 overall seed in the latest Bracketology from CBS Sports' Jerry Palm. Not only do the Boilermakers have a chance to erase years of early exits in the tournament this spring, they could also break a historic trend that doesn't favor big men.

Welcome back to college basketball stock watch, where all the happenings around the sport will be discussed every Wednesday throughout the rest of the season. This report will represent if a team, coach, player, school, conference, etc. have seen their stock rise or fall over the course of the last seven days.

Stock rising: Houston's Shead is among the elite point guards in America

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson is clearly bullish on Shead. Is it coach talk? Maybe. But, Sampson does have a point. The Cougars star has been one of, if not the top point guard in the country this season. Shead is averaging 13.3 points, 5.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

"I wouldn't trade Jamal Shead for any point guard in America," Sampson said on ESPN after the win over Iowa State. "He is what we stand for. He has a tremendous mother and father. He's going to graduate with a 3.84 GPA. He's one of those kids you just want your kid to grow up and be like. He's a winner."

Shead is a menace on defense. He is one of 15 players up for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award. As the best defender on the best defensive team in the country, he's one of the odds-on favorites to take home the hardware.

Stock falling: Data doesn't favor 7-footers as championship centerpiece 

Edey is the best college basketball player in the country. He should win the National Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season in the coming weeks. The biggest question is ... can he lead Purdue to a national championship?

The data says it's rare.

The only two 7-footers to win the Naismith Award and a national championship in the same season are Ewing and UCLA's Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Edey would be the third if Purdue runs the table.

The next three players on the list (Dickinson, Kalkbrenner and Filipowski) all play for Final Four contenders. All three could be potential All-Americans. The data doesn't favor that, either. The last national champion with an All-American center was Duke in 2015. That year, Jahlil Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. 

Could Edey, Dickinson, Kalkbrenner, Filipowski, or even North Carolina's Armando Bacot become the next All-American center to win the championship in the same season? Time will tell.

Stock rising: Washington State is a Pac-12 title contender

Washington State has just six NCAA Tournament appearances dating back to 1941, which ranks just behind Northwestern (two) for the fewest among all power conferences. The Cougars were tabbed to finish 10th in the Pac-12 preseason poll.

Barring a shocking stumble down the stretch, Washington State is already in line for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2008, but there's even more history on the table for the Cougars. A road win over Arizona on Thursday would put Washington State in the driver's seat for its first regular-season conference championship since 1941. 

Washington State is doing this without its three best players from last season. Mouhamed Gueye declared for the NBA Draft. DJ Rodman and TJ Bamba transferred to USC and Villanova, respectively. Smith reloaded the roster by landing Idaho transfer Isaac Jones. The former Vandals standout is averaging 15.7 points and 7.6 rebounds.

While Jones has been Washington State's best player, the story of the year in college basketball may be the play of Myles Rice. The cancer survivor is the top contender to win the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award. His coach may be the conference's Coach of the Year when it's all said and done, too. 

Stock falling:Virginia's offense could be a problem

Virginia is coming off a 75-41 road loss to Virginia Tech, marking the worst conference loss in the Tony Bennett era. It comes just days after they scored 49 points in a narrow win at home over Wake Forest

The Cavaliers have played themselves back in the ACC title race after a rough start to the season. Since a Jan. 13 loss, Virginia has won nine of its last 11 games. Even though the Cavs have been winning at a high clip, the recent loss to their in-state rival brought their offensive struggles back to center stage. Virginia scored 65 points or less in seven of those 11 games.

Virginia ranks No. 3 in scoring defense behind only Houston and Saint Mary's.The offense, on the other hand, checks in at No. 342 (64.1 PPG) out of 351 Division l teams. Notre Dame is the only Power Six program (346) that has been worse. If Virginia can sustain this level of defensive play while improving to at least average on offense, it will have a chance to make a run in March. If they don't, the first one to 60 ... wins?

Stock rising: Utah State's Danny Sprinkle is a COTY candidate

Sprinkle is doing big things at Utah State in Year 1. Even with zero production returning from last season, the Aggies sit atop the Mountain West standings with four games left and are on track for their first conference title since 2019. Utah State is coming off a 68-63 win over No. 19 San Diego State on Tuesday -- its third Quad 1 win of the season.

Three of Utah State's final four games are against Quad 3/4 opponents. The lone game against a Quad 1 foe comes against New Mexico at home in the Aggies' regular-season finale. 

Sprinkle guided Montana State to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2022 and 2023. He left his post in Bozeman to succeed Ryan Odom, who took the vacant job at VCU last spring. He deserves legitimate buzz in every Coach of the Year conversation.

Stock falling: Michigan State misses opportunity to extend win streak

Michigan State has been synonymous with the NCAA Tournament for the last 25 seasons. The Spartans haven't missed the Big Dance since 1997 and despite some early-season struggles, they appear to be on the right side of the bubble heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.

The Spartans' final four games come against Quad 1/2 opponents. The toughest remaining challenge is a road clash with No. 3 Purdue in West Lafayette. The Spartans have two Quad 1 wins since the turn of the calendar year and that game could loom large in solidifying their case.

While it won't crush the Spartans' tournament hopes, Tuesday's loss at home to Iowa as nearly a double-digit favorite was a missed opportunity. Michigan State had won its last three games before the loss to the Hawkeyes. Simultaneously, Iowa's win over MSU opens the door for the Hawkeyes to make a late push as an at-large team.