Well, here we are. Fresh off winning the Big Ten Tournament, we (as Buckeye fans) need to get ready for the NCAA’s, the Big Dance in collegiate basketball. To do that, Westward Ho!
Rather than go through game-by-game in the Region, I’ll focus on five (5) questions; 1) team likely to win region, 2) region’s Cinderalla team, 3) likely upset, 4) unheralded player (who’s he?) and 5) my Elite 8 picks. Envelopes, please….
Regional Favorite: Ohio State is my choice to win this Region. They are simply one of the hottest teams in the country right now. In their last 10 games, they are 9-1, and battled through a couple highly regarded teams to win the BTT. The complementary players (those not named ‘DeShaun Thomas’) are beginning to gain confidence and play well. And the Buckeyes play pretty solid defense, which is particularly useful come tournament time.
However, even Achilles had his heel. Two things can get this team out of the NCAA’s in a hurry. They have a tendency for slow starts. At some point in the first half their offense will absolutely flat-line for annoying stretches of time. Except for a few occasions this season, OSU’s defense has managed to keep the game within reach. But, as I mention, there have been exceptions, and in a “one and done” format, that usually means “done”. The other flaw is the recent (MSU,Wisconsin) love affair with shooting 3-point shots while showing very little ability to actually make 3′s. In this two game span, 3-point attempts were 40% of their FG’s, yet they only made 20% of them. That is a lot of empty possessions. Read More
Heading into the final week of the season we still do not have a clear cut favorite to win the National Championship. That, my friends, is exciting news! This past week continued to be just like the many weeks before. There were more Top 25 losses, more new additions, and more shocking developments. This week’s “biggest loser” award goes to the Michigan Wolverines. Apparently, they thought because Penn State had not won in the Big Ten yet, that this would be a cakewalk! Well, after blowing a huge lead, they left Happy Valley losers and the Nittany Lions celebrated their first conference win. If a season like this has not heightened your love for college basketball, nothing will. Well, enough of me of me celebrating a Michigan loss……..lets’ dive in shall we?
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Week Ahead and Week in Review:
1. Indiana (25-4, 13-3) Previous Rank: 1
Past Week: 2/26 @ Minnesota, L 73-77 & 3/2 Iowa, W 73-60
Upcoming: 3/5 (16) Ohio State
Apparently Indiana thought a couple of weeks at Number One were long enough so they decided to lose on the road to Minnesota. This week they will host Ohio State in a late season battle.
2. Gonzaga (29-2, 16-0) Previous Rank: 3
Past Week: 2/28 @ BYU, W 70-65 & 3/2 Portland, W 81-52
Upcoming: Regular Season is complete
As much as I think the voters hate this, I don’t think they have a choice at putting Gonzaga number one after this week’s shenanigans. The Bulldogs finished their regular season with two more wins and will now wait for their conference tournament.
3. Duke (25-4, 12-4) Previous Rank: 6
Past Week: 2/24 Boston College, W 89-68 & 2/28 @ Virginia, L 68-73 & 3/2 (5) Miami (FL),W 79-76
Upcoming: 3/9 Virginia Tech
The Blue Devils most likely lost their shot at the top spot this week by losing to Virginia. A strong win against Miami (FL) helped them rebound though. They host the Hokies in their final regular season game.
4. Michigan (23-5, 10-5) Previous Rank: 7
Past Week: 2/24 Illinois, W 71-58 & 2/27 @ Penn State, L 78-84
Upcoming: 3/3 (9) Michigan State & 3/6 @ Purdue
Someone forgot to tell Michigan that just because you are up by 15+ points the game isn’t over. A huge comeback by Penn State shocked the Wolverines. Michigan is now 3-4 in their last 7 games. They don’t have time to think about that though as Michigan State comes to town.
5. Miami (FL) (23-5, 14-2) Previous Rank: 2
Past Week: 2/27 Virginia Tech, W 76-58 & 3/2 @ (3) Duke, L 76-79
Upcoming: 3/6 Georgia Tech & 3/9 Clemson
After embarrassing Duke in the first game, the Hurricanes fell to them in the rematch. Two home games to close out the regular season before the ACC tournament starts. Read More
When it comes to the rankings this year I am reminded of a famous Beatles song. That song…..”Hello, Goodbye”. Teams that gain a specific ranking or jump into the Top 25 say “hello” to it just as quickly as they say “goodbye” to it. This week was no exception as I am still trying to catch my breath after it was all over. The remaining three undefeateds are no longer undefeated. North Carolina State picked up their signature win in handing Duke their first loss and should move up pretty nicely in the polls. Arizona lost their second……oops……their first game in a close game at Oregon. And, last but not least, the Buckeyes took care of business against Michigan at home. All in all, 9 of the Top 25 teams lost games this week, with a certain Big Ten Team (see below) not winning all week! When it’s all said and done there should be changes a plenty in the rankings but for now let’s see what happened with all the teams.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Week Ahead and Week in Review
1. Duke (15-1, 2-1) Previous Rank: 1
Past Week: 1/8 Clemson, W 68-40 & 1/12 @ (20) N.C. State, L 76-84
Upcoming: 1/17 Georgia Tech
Duke received its first ACC test and failed in losing to a good North Carolina State. Depending on how the injury to Curry is, this could only be the beginning. The Blue Devils hope to bounce back in hosting Georgia Tech this week. Read More