College Basketball Weekly
It really is becoming harder to do this every week and retain all my confidence as the teams I believe to be the best continuously lose and disappoint me until all hell has broken loose. In the end, I have to continue for you, the people.
The “Real” Top 25
Au revoir and good day to Wisconsin, Syracuse, UNLV and North Carolina
#25 Virginia Commonwealth: VCU lost at Temple on Saturday, but the Rams I was having trouble finding another team I wanted to put ahead of VCU. None came to mind, so VCU gets to keep its spot for this week. The Rams are my favorite to win the A-10 Tournament. Playing well in a tournament is always a good sign for a team entering March Madness.
#24 Davidson: the Wildcats won the Southern conference and their 17th game in a row on Monday. Drexel and Georgia Southern are two bad losses, but every team has bad losses. The Wildcats are playing hot right now and will be a dangerous 10 or 11 seed when they are placed there on Sunday.
#23 University of California Las Angeles: UCLA lost to Washington State for some reason last week. Despite having identically bad losses as Syracuse and an identical 23-8 record, I decided to keep the Bruins in the RT25. I’m not 100% sure why, but oh well. UCLA is the most talented team in the Pac-12 and has a good opportunity to win. It’d be a shame if either UCLA or Arizona didn’t win, but we’ll see what happens.
#22 Creighton: Beating Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Championship game a big time win for the Bluebirds. The shockers and Creighton are the only two good teams in the MVC, so I’m extremely pumped the game was between the two. Ignore a three game stretch where I don’t know what the hell Creighton was doing and they’ve looked a strong tournament team all season.
#21 St. Louis: Another mid-major which lost this week but managed to keep in the RT25. Boogie is the #1 seed in the A-10 and should be expected to win; however, Butler (who sucks) and the top region is far tougher than the bottom of the A-10 bracket. For now, I’m taking Virginia Commonwealth in the tournament, but Boogie will be dangerous come the Big Dance.
#20 Pittsburgh: The Panthers are new to the RT25 this week. We’ve seen them before, but they have missed out the last couple of weeks. A four game winning streak in the Big East has the Panthers back alive in the RT25 and (even though it has been against the the Big East bottom feeders) the Panthers earned the vaunted double-bye in the Big East tourney. Do I expect they’ll win? No, I don’t they’re good enough, but anything can happen in March.
#19 Belmont: the Bruins also won their conference and punched a ticket for March Madness. Belmont is likely to fall in as a 10 or 11 just as Davidson is, and could easily win 1 or 2 games in the tournament. A realistic option to be this year’s George Mason.
#18 Middle Tennessee: Sure, they lost to Florida International in the semifinals of the Sun Belt. The most disappointing part of it all is the Blue Raiders likely won’t make the field as an at-large. I wish I didn’t have to say that, but facts are facts and Sun Belt teams (even ones with as good a resume as Middle Tennessee) don’t make the NCAA tournament as an at-large team.
#17 Memphis: There will be a lot of activity ahead of the Tigers this week, but not enough to really cause them to jump forward too far. Sure, Memphis is the only undefeated team left in conference in the entire country, but I just didn’t feel they needed to move up this week. Maybe when they win the C-USA tournament I’ll move ’em up a little. We’ll see.
#16 Arizona: One game, one-win. Almost as good as Maurice Clarett’s one-year, one-championship. I don’t think they’ll win the Pac-12 tourney (I’m going with UCLA), but the Wildcats are certainly the favorite.
#15 Kansas State: The Wildcats lost to Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday. I didn’t have the opportunity to watch the contest which was extremely disappointing, but via ScoreCenter viewing I thought KSU had control most of the second half before Okie State came back to take over. Either way, Kansas State earned a share of the Big-12 regular-season title with rival Kansas. I’d give the Wildcats a very slim chance of winning the Big-12 Tournament (Kansas is the runaway favorite).
#14 Marquette: Two soft wins against two soft teams was not the week Marquette was looking to have, but in all honesty I think it was the Golden Eagles taking it a little easy. They needed a week off after the grueling Big East schedule. Another double-bye team, not to mention a co-Big East regular season champion, the Eagles are an interesting team. They don’t seem to have the talent of other teams, but always manage to win. Call it guts. Call it whatever.
#13 Florida: Why? Why did you lose to Kentucky? Now Kentucky is going to make the tournament unless we can get enough bracket busters…why, Florida? Why?
#12 Michigan State: I knew Tom Izzo wouldn’t let me down and his team would crush Wisconsin for me and knock them out of the RT25. Thanks Tom Izzo. Also, don’t forget Sparty is getting knocked out of the Big Ten tourney after its first game loss.
#11 Oklahoma State: A great win against Kansas State on Saturday. I don’t want to belabor a point which some people may find wrong since the win was at home, but K-State was without a doubt giving Okie State its best punch with an opportunity for the Big-12 title on the line. Okie State finished its business and earned a #4 seed in the tourney.
#10 Michigan: The loss against Indiana was far more impressive than the win against Purdue. Michigan plays its arch-rival for the season in the first round of the Big Ten tourney in Penn State. I think they’ll win this time, but the Nittany Lions sure do seem to have the Wolvs number.
#9 Indiana: I’m just mad the Hoosiers celebrated pre-maturely on winning the Big Ten title. I know they wanted to do it at home, but I feel like Tom Crean is making a bigger deal about this season than he should be. He needs to act a little more like a winner and a little less like a giddy fan. I thought Indiana was the experienced, mature team which was going to win a championship this year, but the coach is not mature enough to be champion.
#8 New Mexico: The Lobos lost this week at Air Force and the AP decided to drop them down to #15 despite having a better record than nearly everyone ahead of them and better losses. They’ll win the Mountain West, don’t worry.
#7 Ohio State: I knew the weekend off would inspire great effort in Assembly Hall! Wahoo! The Bucks beat two very good teams this week and I’m proud of them! Sure, I’m probably overrating them a little, but if they play the same defense the rest of the year that we saw in Indiana then they are a legitimate National Champion contender.
#6 Miami Florida: The Canes are hanging around in the RT25. A terrible, terrible, terrible loss to Georgia Tech kind of spoiled my week, but the Canes keeping the regular season over Duke made up for it.
#5 Louisville: The Cardinals are officially back. I remember writing a few weeks how L’Ville needed to calm down and realize the talent they had or else they were going to go the way of North Carolina State. Louisville is shining brightly at the right time. Rick Pitino will give his boys a chance to win in the Tournament and the Cardinals always play well in the Big East tourney so their hot streak should continue.
#4 Kansas: The Jaybirds lost to Baylor, but managed a share of the Big-12 crown (it was technically an outright crown in everyone’s mind since they beat KSU twice, but that’s whatever). Kansas is the clear favorite to win the Big-12 tourney. Bill Self’s teams have a tendency to fold in the Big Dance. Remember that.
#3 Georgetown: The Hoyas slaughtered Syracuse at home. I was a little disappointed with my much hyped game, but equally impressed with the Hoyas. This could be their year. It’s the first time I think Georgetown has had the dominate player during the JT3 era. Otto Porter is the nation’s best (and most important) player and can easily lead the Hoyas deep.
#2 Duke: Dammit, I hate Duke, but I have a lot of respect for the way they played against North Carolina in the Dean Dome…well at least in the first half. To be fair, Duke put on cruise control as soon as the scoreline read 14-0. Duke can be good, really good, but they have had their players playing their best games. If there is one game where their shooting isn’t unbelievable I don’t believe Duke’s defense is good enough to win. Duke can win the National Title, but they could also lose in the first round…yes, to a 16 seed.
#1 Gonzaga: I have no belief the Zags are the nation’s best team, but I don’t know who is. For now, the Zags can chill here (especially with three victories over Saint Mary’s.)
Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown: He’s to good. Even only scoring 10 points against Syracuse, Porter’s influence in the game was unmistakable. Georgetown has had good players over the years (Jeff Green, Greg Monroe, etc.), but none have been as dominant/influential to the outcome of games as Porter.
Coach of the Year John Thompson III Georgetown: The Hoyas are the most surprising Top 10 team right now. That’s honestly my only reasoning here.
Most Underrated Team: By me? I think Arizona. The Wildcats can be really good. By the AP? Middle Tennessee forever.
Most Overrated Team: I called Georgetown losing last week, just realized that. Anyway, by me? I’m just going to say Gonzaga because I don’t want them #1. I’ll say the same for the AP.
National Champion at This Juncture: I have no idea……..ummmm……..Louisville is going to win.
Bold Prediction: Illinois is going to win the Big Ten tournament (AHHHHHH!!) now that’s bold.