A new #1 in the land. The ‘Cats could stay there the rest of the year. An upset in Stillwater and why this years NCAA tournament bracket could look different from what you’re used to. You’re down 4, a minute left, home crowd is loud….it’s the Full Court Press.
Perfection: Murray State(#11, 20-0, 8-0) has had a week off to prepare for Eastern Illinois. Head Coach Steve Prohm did a 5-minute interview on the Scott Van Pelt show where he mentions a conference championship, afros, and Cardinals baseball.
On the Rise: Saint Louis University now shares the lead atop the A-10 conference at 16-4, 4-2. After losing 3 of 4 in early January, the Billikins are rolling. On Wednesday, SLU defeated Xavier, snapping the Musketeers’ 43-game home winning streak in A-10 play. Tomorrow, they travel to Massachusetts to play for the outright lead of the conference.
Number 1:Kentucky has only lost one game by one point and it wasn’t to KU, UNC, or Louisville, all of whom they have beaten. This is by far the best team in college basketball and come Monday, I don’t think Syracuse will be a close second. They are top 10 in the nation in Scoring Efficiency, Scoring Margin, FG %, Rebounds per Game, Blocks per Game and Defensive Efficiency. I see about two games that could be potentially troubling for the ‘Cats:
Feb. 21 at Mississippi State and their final game of the season March 4 at Florida.
Local Flavor: #2 Mizzou got embarrassed on Wednesday at Oklahoma State for their second loss of the season. For most of this game, I was confident that this team would pull away, and for a couple of minutes, they did. Then, freshman Le’Bryan Nash scored 8 straight points for the Cowboys in 1:17, including two HUGE threes that got the small crowd at Gallagher-Iba roaring. Mizzou’s weakness in size and interior defense has bitten them in the ass once again. Oklahoma State shot an unbelievable 60% from the field. Two huge dunks by Markel Brown, who was later ejected, were probably two of the best dunks I’ve seen all year. Here ya go.
NCAA Tourney Watch: The regular season is a big deal, but conference tournaments go a long way in deciding seeds for the NCAA tournament. Think back to last year’s Big East conference tournament. UConn was 21-9 (9-9) and ranked #21 going into the conference tournament.
A .500 team in conference play somehow knocks off the one, three, and four seeds in the Big East tournament to win it. Climbing to #9 in the nation and gaining a 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Their road to the championship: 14-seed Bucknell, 6-seed Cincinnati, 2-seed San Diego State, 5-seed Arizona, 4-seed Kentucky, and 8-seed Butler. Wow. They had to play one top 10 team in the nation (San Diego State?) to win it all.
Now let’s look at some teams that have the same opportunity as UConn did, besides Murray State.
Davidson (15-4, 9-0) plays nine more games against teams with a combined record of 78-102, with only three teams above .500. If they win out, they could get a 10-12 seed, and everyone knows those are the upset seeds.
Saint Mary’s (20-2, 9-0) has been great all year. This team could be the VCU of 2012. Senior forward Rob Jones, who is averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds a game, has his team focused and looking to grab a top 5 seed.
Games to Watch:
#16 Mississippi State at #13 Florida. Saturday. 12:30 CT
#5 Kansas at Iowa State. Saturday. 1 CT
#21 Virginia at NC State. Saturday. 7 CT