NEWS AND NOTES
-On January 3rd, Indiana knocked off Illinois to improve to 12-2 on the year. They have gone 1-11 since then. Their loss to Purdue last night, while close, was one of the more poorly played games that we’ve seen at the div1 level all season long. Early on in the game, commentator Dan Dakich was interviewing a cameraman. Why? I don’t know, but it was far more entertaining than the game itself. Purdue picked up another conference road win and swept the series against their rival. I think they are on pace for a protected seed. Indiana is interesting, and our Hoops HD committee has been arguing about them for a while. On one hand they’ve lost 11 out of 12, but on the other they have some incredible wins on their resume that are better than what anyone else in the bottom half of the bracket is likely to have. So..what do you do with them? I know what I want to do with them, but I’m not sure everyone shares my opinion.
-Florida State continues to roll. They won their 8th straight yesterday by knocking off Clemson on the road in a game where they really didn’t sweat. Clemson is squarely on the bubble and sure could have used that win. They’ll have some other opportunities, but their chances are starting to run out.
-Baylor picked up a VERY impressive road win at Iowa State. This followed up a very impressive road win by the Cyclones over the weekend. It also starts to jam up the top of the standings. A week or so ago we were just assuming Kansas wouldn’t do it this year. But, with five games to go in the conference schedule just one game separates the top three teams, and one of those teams is Kansas. One of those teams is now NOT Iowa State. So, the Jayhawks may finish in at least a tie for first for about the gazillionth year in a row.
-Maryland picked up what I think is their biggest win of the year by knocking off a very good Iowa team on the road. Maryland had what seemed to be a controlling lead, but Iowa came storming back and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but the shot and the put back did not go down. (Amazingly, this was the first time in 28 tries that Maryland beat a ranked team on the road. – JS)
-South Carolina blasted Ole Miss. They have a very weak overall profile still, but they are now 9-4 in SEC play, and if you look at their remaining five games they are all winnable given how well they’ve been playing. If South Carolina wins out, and I realize that is assuming a lot, I think they are in the field. At the very least they are a VERY interesting discussion.
-NORTH CAROLINA AT DUKE (ACC) (***Spotlight Game***). It’s a huge rivalry. It’s for a share (if UNC wins) or outright (if Duke wins) first place in the conference. It’s for helping cement a #1 seed. They are eight miles apart. And if history repeats itself you better enjoy this game because you won’t see them play in the NCAA Tournament.
-RUTGERS AT MICHIGAN STATE (Big Ten). Michigan State still has a path to a #1 seed, but they pretty much need to win out in order to get it. Rutgers is a long way from the NCAA Tournament, but they are teetering around .500, which is certainly a step in the right direction, especially when you consider some of the close games they’ve lost.
-VILLANOVA AT GEORGETOWN (Big East). Nova is looking to bounce back after a loss at Saint John’s where they blew a 19 point lead and appeared to be cruising. Georgetown is hovering around outside the bubble and needs a strong finish to the season in order to make the field.
-MISSISSIPPI STATE AT GEORGIA (SEC). Mississippi State is relatively safe and can win their third game in a row tonight, as well as pick up another road win.
-FLORIDA AT LSU (SEC). LSU is one of the hottest teams in the country right now, and has another very winnable game tonight which can keep them at the top of the SEC standings and on a path to end up as a protected seed.
-LOUISVILLE AT SYRACUSE (ACC). Louisville has been fantastic for the first 35 minutes of nearly all the games they’ve played in this year, and despite two recent meltdowns that was followed up by a very near meltdown, they’re still in really good shape as a team. A road win should stabilize both their resume and mental health. Syracuse has been schizophrenic all year. You don’t know if they’re going to win at Duke or lose a buy game at home.
-XAVIER AT SETON HALL (Big East). Seton Hall has strung together several wins and should be able to pick up their fourth straight tonight against a Xavier team that’s been playing better, but still seems to be a long way away from the field.
-BOSTON COLLEGE AT NC STATE (ACC). NC State appears to be hovering around the bubble and a loss at home to a team that’s nowhere near the field would really crash an anvil into their resume.
-NORTHWESTERN AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten). Ohio State is probably safely in the bracket for now, but is also probably not safely in the top half of it. They need to hold serve at home against a non-tournament caliber team.
-SAINT JOHN’S AT PROVIDENCE (Big East). The Johnnies have played great in some games and below average in others this year. In their last game against Villanova they played both great and below average in the same game. They are in relatively good shape and can better themselves even more if they can pick up this road win.
-ARKANSAS AT AUBURN (SEC). Auburn has not done anything spectacular other than avoid losses that are disastrous, and that should end up being enough. They’re at home against a team that will likely miss the field, and they need to win this one.
-BUTLER AT MARQUETTE (Big East). Marquette has a path to a protected seed and should get it if they are able to hold serve the rest of the way. Some say that Butler is on the bubble, and while the bubble is weak, I think they need to string together several wins to get close to the NCAA Tournament.
-STANFORD AT ARIZONA STATE (Pac Twelve). Arizona State may blow Stanford out. Or, they may get blown out. They may win out, or they may lose all the rest of their remaining games. They are one of the hardest teams to predict from night to night. They’re also right on the bubble and really need to win.
-NEVADA AT SAN DIEGO STATE (Mountain West). Nevada keeps rolling and should end up with a protected seed if they win out, which they are certainly good enough to do.
-NEW MEXICO AT UTAH STATE (Mountain West). I still think Utah State will get some serious attention from the committee if they are able to hold serve the rest of the way. If they’re able to knock off Nevada later this year then I think they’re in.
UNDER THE RADAR
-LIPSCOMB AT FGCU (Atlantic Sun). Lipscomb is in a tie for first place and will get serious consideration from the committee if they win out, but lose in the conference tournament
-EVANSVILLE AT LOYOLA CHICAGO (Missouri Valley). Loyola is in a race with Drake for a first place finish and the #1 seed in the conference tournament (which I guess doesn’t matter since it’s at a predetermined site).
-WESTERN ILLINOIS AT OMAHA (Summit League). Omaha is just a half game back of South Dakota State in the Summit Standings. The tournament is at a predetermined site, though, so I guess it doesn’t matter.