It’s time for the madness to begin. We’re officially in March and this past Saturday saw some shakeup among the top teams in the country.
There were surprise upsets, BYU at Gonzaga, and teams playing their way into the Top 25 like Dayton. Regardless, conference tournaments start this week and the field will start to be set.
Note: These rankings are before games played on March 2.
- Ohio State
The Buckeyes got a much needed win against Purdue last night. Projected to be somewhere around a No. 8 seed, the Buckeyes need every win possible to close out the season. Ohio State will have a chance for another quality win at home against Wisconsin this weekend.
Did you know Providence is 20-9? Despite being blown out by Villanova, the Friars bounced back to win against Marquette. Get to know the name Kris Dunn come NCAA Tournament time. The point guard is a walking triple-double threat.
The Atlantic 10 deserves more respect when talking about conferences in America. Sitting on top of that conference is the Dayton Flyers, who made the Elite Eight last season. The Flyers got an impressive road win at VCU over the weekend and have the makings of another Cinderella run this year.
The Bulldogs did what they had to, which was win against weaker competition at Marquette and DePaul. Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones, and Kameron Woods provided balanced scoring and got Butler the two conference wins.
- West Virginia
The Mountaineers held off Texas at home while falling at Baylor without Juwan Staten. If West Virginia wants to continue to be a threat moving forward, Staten needs to get healthy as he’s clearly the best player for the Mountaineers.
Yes, the Cardinals won two games BUT they were against weak talent. Let’s see what they do this week against Notre Dame and Virginia.
- North Carolina
North Carolina continues to struggle even though the Tar Heels won at Miami. They haven’t looked the same in February and they have the makings of a team with an early loss in the NCAA Tournament. There’s no real excuse for this as the Tar Heels have plenty of talent on their roster.
SMU got blasted at UCONN on Sunday. It shouldn’t be surprising as we mentioned last week teams on the bubble tend to play a little harder at home during the final weeks of the season. The Mustangs currently have 10 top 100 RPI wins and should be firmly in come Selection Sunday.
So, maybe the talk of Arkansas as a threat to Kentucky shouldn’t have been so serious. The Razorbacks are still the second best team in the conference and Bobby Portis is the best player no one talks about.
- Iowa State
What was the inbound play at Kansas State on Saturday? The Cyclones literally threw the game away, despite leading by double digits. Iowa State is tracking the wrong way, losing at home to Baylor and then the Kansas State debacle.
- Notre Dame
Did Notre Dame peak too early? Since the win at home against Duke, the Irish have lost at Pittsburgh, got blown out at Duke and recently lost at Syracuse. More importantly, their offense has seemed to sputter, including a 3-22 from deep performance against Syracuse.
- Northern Iowa
The Panthers fell into the trap of having to play at Wichita State in a big game. The Shockers won the MVC by defeating Northern Iowa by 14 points on Saturday while seemingly scoring at will. Hopefully there will be a rubber match in the conference championship.
The Terrapins solidified their position as the second best team in the Big 10 thanks to a home win against Wisconsin before beating Michigan on Senior Day. Dez Wells looks to have found his groove as he almost single-handily upset Wisconsin.
Oklahoma had a quiet week this past week, having just one game – a come from behind home victory over TCU. Regardless, the Sooners are 20-8 and are an arguably more impressive 11-5 in Big 12 play.
- Wichita State
That was a much needed win over Northern Iowa for Wichita State. Heading into the game the Shockers didn’t have a win over a guaranteed tournament team. Tekele Cotton continues to be one of the best third options in the country as Wichita State is looking for another run in March.
Utah suffered a heart breaking loss to Arizona on Saturday night. The officials held Jakob Poeltl to just 12 minutes of action while Brekkott Chapman played just 15 minutes. Despite that, Utah still had a lead with less than two minutes to go before they couldn’t find a bucket. The loss almost guarantees Utah will be a 3 seed in March.
I’ve talked at lengths about why Virginia won’t crack my top eight. Despite a dominating win at Wake Forest, Virginia’s schedule without Justin Anderson has been putrid. It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers look when Anderson comes back.
Virginia better hope Baylor gets out of the 4 seed in their bracket. The Bears are as good as anyone in the country not named Kentucky. Their balance allows them to be free-flowing on the offensive side of the ball while Rico Gathers grabs almost every rebound. The Bears will be a popular Final Four pick.
Every time it seems the Jayhawks will slip on their Big 12 title, a break happens. This time it was a come from behind home win against Texas thanks to Perry Ellis. With Cliff Alexander sitting out due to an NCAA investigation, Ellis put up 28 points and 13 rebounds.
The most surprising loss of the week was Gonzaga’s three point defeat to BYU in Spokane. The Bulldogs will almost certainly fall to a 2 seed because of their conference, but could the loss benefit Gonzaga?
Duke surprisingly needed an overtime win at Virginia Tech to secure a 2-0 week. Jahlil Okafor had a massive game in his return, putting up 30 points in 37 minutes. The Blue Devils seem to be getting beat up toward the end of the season with Okafor’s ankle and Justise Winslow playing with a rib injury.
Wisconsin had the unfortunate luck of having to play at Maryland late in February. For whatever reason, the Terps seem to always get a big win in that situation and this time it was against the Badgers. Wisconsin still has a ton of talent and as long as they play under control they are easily a top 5 team in the country.
Arizona’s road win over Utah was the most impressive win of the weekend. The Wildcats have won six in a row and have clinched the Pac-12 title. As long as Arizona takes care of business through the Pac-12 championship game, the Wildcats will be in contention for a No. 1 seed.
Do people know Villanova is good? They never get brought up when talking about No. 1 seeds in March or even on the short list of title contenders. Since losing at Georgetown, the Wildcats have won 10 in a row, including three wins over ranked teams. Villanova is 27-2 with the two losses being on the road to Seton Hall and Georgetown.
How do you beat this team?