College Basketball Weekly
Just for starters, we’ll mention that this week the every team in the Top 5 aside from Gonzaga lost…let’s go.
The “Real” Top 25
We say good-bye this week to St. Mary’s, Illinois, and Notre Dame. You will be sorta missed.
#25 Wisconsin: Losing by 13 at home against Purdue on senior day should be enough to get you kicked out of the RT25, but Wisconsin has beaten some good teams this year and has earned one more week before being demolished by a Michigan State team which will be fuming after a 2-point loss to rival Michigan in Ann Arbor.
#24 Virginia Commonwealth: I have to put the Rams back in the “Real” Top 25 because they are my saviors who finally have removed the dreaded Butler Bulldogs from the AP Poll. Without VCU’s obliteration of Brad Stevens utterly overrated squad, Butler may have managed to sneak back in this week and that would have been unacceptable. VCU is a good team. Are they a great team? No. Can they win the NCAA Tournament? Honestly I think anyone who does enough to reach the field of 68 has a decent chance. VCU certainly has a better shot than many.
#23 North Carolina: I remember teasing everyone by having the Tar Heels in the RT25 two weeks ago, but they have stormed back. If you haven’t seen the new age UNC team, you should check them out. Roy Williams is definitely an overrated coach who has been able to rest on talent for the bulk of his years at North Carolina; however, his decision to revamp the lineup sparked a slugfest in Cameron Indoor followed by five straight wins by 9 or more. Duke in Chapel Hill looms on March 9th. Winning out (including the ACC Tournament) would earn UNC A 3-seed in the Dance.
#22 University of Nevada at Las Vegas: The Runnin’ Rebels managed another undefeated week. Everyone figured on UNLV having boatloads of talent. It was always a question of if the talent could mesh into a winning ball team. Well, UNLV seems to have figured it out and will be a dangerous 6-9 seed in the Big Dance. If I’m a #1, I don’t want to even sniff UNLV as an 8 or 9 in my region.
#21 Syracuse: I’ve regretted many things in my day, but picking Syracuse as my National Champion in my second College Basketball Weekly is up there with the time I took a $5 bet to streak through a neighborhood and the day when I left my essay in the printer tray. The Orange are falling at a rate rarely seen in college basketball…Remember, there are no easy wins in the Big East…except DePaul.
#20 Arizona: Two loss weeks are never beneficent for a college basketball team in any arena, whether it be team morale or the RT25. Arizona looks miserable, but is saved only by many other teams looking miserable. The whole “Mark Lyons: scoring point guard” idea has fallen flat on its face. Sean Miller has always been a guy who has relied on his point guards being leaders on the floor, but for reasons unknown to this writer has decided to give the reigns to a guy whose most memorable moment is saying he wanted to put University of Cincinnati players in a body bag.
#19 University of California Los Angeles: UCLA pounded Arizona, looking like the “Real” Pac-12 champions. Oregon (who still manages to avoid making the list -_-) may contest this idea, after all, they beat UCLA in Wooden’s house by nine points. The facts are the facts and Oregon does not have the horses UCLA does. If the Bruins played to their potential, the ballclub is a solid top 10 team with realistic hopes for an NCAA Championship. We’ve seen what happens when they don’t play their best basketball (They lose to Cal Poly).
#18 Memphis: Look, I included the loss to only a decent Xavier team in the last RT25, so the Tigers get the edge over UCLA, and losers Syracuse and Arizona this week thanks to an undefeated conference record. Even in C-USA road wins are not gimmes. A mediocre (which is in no way an insult) UTEP team can prove it come Tuesday.
#17 Ohio State: The Bucks had the weekend off. Maybe this will inspire great effort in Assembly Hall on Tuesday.
#16 Michigan State: The Spartans looked foolish for the beginning of the second half against Michigan. Of the 40 minutes, the Spartans looked the better team for perhaps 30 of them. Trey Burke made the “Wooden-Award” play by striping Keith Appling to his Hanes’ in a tie game where it looked Michigan State was about to have the last shot. The Big Ten is hardly easy, but Wisconsin hasn’t looked too great of late and Northwestern closes out MSU’s year. Sparty should go 2-0 before the next “Real” Top 25, but should hasn’t necessarily existed this season.
#15 St. Louis: Boogie reeled off another undefeated week. The Bilikens (I’m still petrified of the damn mascot) seems to be as in-sync as any team in the country. The only fear I have for teams like this are they have hit their stride at the wrong time. If St. Louis had waited two weeks to begin it’s streak, it would be tourney time. I have to thank St. Louis for twice beating Butler. Your efforts to rid the AP of that plague has not gone unnoticed. I caveat, do not sleep on Xavier in the Cintas Center.
#14 Florida: You may say “Florida has just as many bad losses as Arizona, Michigan State, and Syracuse!” Well, avid participant, at least the Gators are still first in their conference standings. Florida may have lost to Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri, but it has beaten the teams it has needed to (Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Alabama) to remain ahead in the SEC.
#13 Middle Tennessee: I apologize to Blue Raider nation, I added “State” at the end of the name last week and probably caused mass hysteria around the world as people panicked at Middle Tennessee State being in the RT25. Middle Tennessee likely won’t receive more than 5 votes in the AP, but the system is clearly flawed more than mine, right?
#12 Oklahoma State: The win at home against Texas seemed gutsy to me. The Cowboys did not come out with much swagger and looked flat. The team bounced back and easily beat the Longhorns in a game which I feel showed Okla State’s backbone. Team’s with a nice backbone do well in March, but so do teams with talent. Any other year, I’d say Okla State didn’t have the horses to push through to a National Title, but no team seems to have any better of horses.
#11 Marquette: You wanna talk about a gutsy win? I think Buzz Williams’s team had one of the more gutsy wins this season against Notre Dame. Having come off the emotional high of beating Syracuse, one might assume the Golden Eagles were prime for what we’ve seen so often: a team being knocked off that high. No let down ensued, however, and Marquette managed to finagle a two-win, undefeated week when two ranked teams (both in the AP and RT25 last week) were on the schedule. Two road games lurk (although against Rutgers and St. John’s) but we’ll remind you again there are no easy wins in the Big East except DePaul.
#10 Kansas State: Baylor certainly is a team with talent and I feared for Kansas State a little when they visited Waco last week. KSU managed to steal a victory with a buzzer beating three by Rodney McGruder. Sure, we saw cooler buzzer beaters over the weekend, but McGruder put an exclamation point on a big win. KSU needs to avoid an unfathomable let-down in Manhattan against TCU, setting up an Adam Bross favorite March 9th in Stillwater against Oklahoma State.
#9 Michigan: I was not overly impressed with the victory against Michigan State. I think the Wolverines were outplayed for the bulk of the game. Not to mention the incredulous loss at Penn State. I’m not sure if it was as bad as Kansas losing at TCU, but it really clashes with reality and makes this writer begin to question his sanity when that brand of ridiculous upset rears its ugly face twice in one season. One might think after (hopefully) Michigan smashes Purdue into tiny pieces confidence would be peaking when Indiana rolls into Ann Arbor, but if Michigan plays as it has since its first loss to Indiana then I’m scared what IU might do to Michigan.
#8 Louisville: The Cardinals are showing people why they were thought of as one of the nation’s best team’s in September. The negative side is it improves the win Duke had over the Cards earlier this year, but the victories over Kentucky and Ohio State still manage to look unsubstantial so we won’t fret the Cardinals great play too much. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva continue to be liabilities more than assets at times. Siva had zero points against Syracuse. Louisville has proven they are one of the best around even with Siva being terrible and Russ Smith’s tendency to confuse even college basketball’s biggest imbecile. Cincinnati is going to give Louisville its best shot on Monday. We’ll see if the Cards are ready to punch back.
#7 New Mexico: For all the losing the top 5 did this week, you think New Mexico would have jumped at least one spot. Unfortunately for the Lobos, they won two games at home in the Mountain West (even though one was against my Aztecs). Two road wins can help…if a higher ranked team loses, of course.
#6 Duke: Reader, you’re probably scratching you cranium wondering “Did he forget Miami Florida?” As you may have portended by this naysayer comment I have craftily slid into this piece, no I have not forgotten about the Hurricanes. In the brutal honesty which the opinion of a sports writer merits, the Hurricanes won the game in Cameron. It took the finest game of Ryan Kelly’s college career, home court advantage, and a missed three by millimeters at the buzzer for Duke to sink Miami. If Kelly plays extremely well, Duke probably still loses with game. If you’re Duke, I expect you to win at Cameron and it shouldn’t take a miraculous and once-in-a-lifetime performance by the ugliest player this year in college basketball to get it done.
#5 Miami Florida: I know the AP will have my head for this, but what I see right now is Miami leading the ACC (clinching if they win one of the last two home games they have against Georgia Tech and Clemson) and a performance which demands a recount in Durham. I was expecting Duke to play with urgency and demolish the team which embarrassed, taunted, and slammed the Blue Devils a few weeks back. Duke did not look like the better team on Saturday. That’s all I have to say about that.
#4 Gonzaga: It’s not a head-scratcher, seriously. I feel sorry for Gonzaga because they don’t have the opportunities to impress me the way other teams do. The Zags are doing what they have to do: winning games. I feel giving them a #1 seed in the tournament is reward enough, but perhaps the #1 spot in a poll wouldn’t hurt since the school has never ascended to the post. We’ll see what happens this week.
#3 Kansas: Aside from a three-game hiccup in February’s first week, the Jaybirds have looked the part of a #1 overall seed. Crushing the terrible teams and beating good teams is all a trademark of the #1 overall seed. Kansas obliterated Kansas a while back and survived two tough road tests against Oklahoma State and Iowa State. I hope Kansas is ready for the Big Dance. Lackadaisical play isn’t exactly absent from Kansas’s tournament history.
#2 Georgetown: Call it refusal to lose, but the Hoyas are just running the Big East of late. I cannot believe this team lost to South Florida, but Georgetown has done more than enough to refurbish its resume since that mockery. Aside from Indiana, it may have the toughest two games to end the season with a road game at Villanova and Syracuse visiting D.C. If the past is any indicator, Georgetown will win both games by about seven.
#1 Indiana: I’m still not talking about the loss against Minnesota. The Hooisers have as few losses as any other top tier team (aside from Gonzaga, of course) and I’m not going to remove them simply because they lost a road game against a likely tournament team. Stick Minnesota and IU on a neutral floor and say au revoir to the Gophers. Indiana can prove the #1 ranking by beating both Ohio State and Michigan this week in the toughest two game end to the season any team in D-1 knows.
Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr, Georgetown: He is the Hoyas. Otto Porter won the game at Syracuse and won the game against Connecticut. He put up 28 and 8 against a bad Rutgers team. I’m not sure what his encore will be for his unbelievable performance against Syracuse come Saturday, but it may be interesting.
Coach of the Year Kermit David, Middle Tennessee
Most Underrated Team: By me? Sure, Oregon…but maybe Duke as well. By the AP? Middle Tennessee for days, bro!
Most Overrated Team: By me? If history is any indication, Georgetown will lose at least once this week and no longer be #2, so they may be the most overrated. By the AP? Butler should be gone, so I’ll say Michigan gets overrated this week.
National Champion at This Juncture: Gonzaga!!! (but in all reality, I still think Indiana has the best chance).
Bold Prediction: Duke loses by double figures in Chapel Hill.