So I want to start finding different ways to recap these Saturday slates where there are a million games going on throughout the day. More importantly these slates where it seems like something significant happens almost every hour in terms of upsets or crazy finishes. I figure this week we’ll do a winners and losers blog – taking 5 from each side and just talking about it. I’m open to any ideas so let me know.
1. Kansas Getting Closer to a Lock for a 1 seed – Kansas continues to dominate the regular season in the Big 12, winning the conference regular season for a record 14th year in a row. Devonte’ Graham was absolutely unreal yesterday and is now in consideration with the likes of Trevon Bluiett and Keita Bates-Diop for the final spot on the All-American team. But, more importantly Kansas is close to a lock for a No. 1 seed yet again in the NCAA Tournament. When you win the best conference in America that’s what happens.
2. Xavier’s Big East title hopes – Xavier didn’t play yesterday but it still is one of the biggest winners of the day. With Creighton beating Villanova in overtime, it set up an easy path for Xavier to win the Big East title outright. All Xavier has to do is beat Providence at Cintas Center and then win at DePaul. Those two things give Xavier the Big East title. If they lose one and Nova wins outright it’s a share of a title, but Nova would be the 1 seed in the Big East Tournament due to the tiebreaker.
3. Preseason top-4 teams in the SEC – Pretty much everyone had Kentucky, Florida and Texas A&M in some order in the preseason top-4 in the SEC – Missouri and Alabama was mixed in there as well. Those four teams all got big wins yesterday as Kentucky beat Missouri, Florida got Auburn, A&M beat Vandy. The wins move Florida and Kentucky into the top-4 of the SEC (double bye) while A&M now has a chance to finish .500 after a disastrous start. It also keeps everyone on the right side of the bubble.
4. Michigan State’s late push – The Spartans won at Wisconsin today, which sealed the Big 10 title outright for Sparty. A loss today would have pushed Michigan State to the 2 seed in the Big 10 Tournament and probably would have cost them a 1 seed. Now, they are in a spot to get to the 1 seed line and are really starting to look the part that everyone thought heading into the year. Cassius Winston was unreal today, stepping up and hitting big shot after big shot. There’s no doubt Michigan State will be the popular pick to win the NCAA Tournament in a few weeks.
5. Duke’s defensive dominance – Over the last five games Duke has figured shit out defensively. Mostly it was just running a 2-3 permanently, but the Blue Devils are now in the top-20 on KenPom’s defensive rankings. Oh, throw in the fact Duke got Marvin Bagley back yesterday against Syracuse and its starting to look like a consensus top-5 team in the country. The biggest move though was moving Grayson Allen to the lead guard spot and it’s really starting to pay off.
1. Arizona – I mean, this is pretty simple right? There were roughly 500 things written about Arizona over the last 24 hours and then it happened to lose a game at Oregon. There’s no doubt it has all the talent in the world and Deandre Ayton is a downright star, but it’s an absolute mess right now at Arizona.
2. Pitt basketball falling off a cliff – Yesterday may have been the lowest point of Pitt basketball in the last 20+ years. Not only is Pitt averaging less than 3,800 people to a game, it scored 7 points in a half. Sure, it was against Virginia and that dominant defense, but making one basket in a half is pathetic. Kevin Stallings is going to go down as the worst hire in college basketball that didn’t involve a scandal.
3. Mark Turgeon making his seat cooler – I think Mark Turgeon is one of the smartest coaches in the game. I also think Mark Turgeon is absolutely terrible at communicating what he sees to his players and assistant coaches. That leads to over-coaching and uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball. I think Mark Turgeon is a really strong recruiter. I also think Mark Turgeon’s biggest problem has been his inability to truly develop players and teams as the season goes on. A win over Michigan could have helped could have helped how Maryland fans talk about the season – chalking some of it up to losing Justin Jackson to injury, etc. Instead Maryland no-showed and now Maryland fans are getting louder about a new coach.
4. Auburn’s ability to clinch the SEC title – A win yesterday would have all but clinched the SEC title for Auburn. The Tigers of course are now playing without Anfernee McElmore who suffered one of the ugliest injuries I’ve seen at the collegiate level in a few years. Auburn ended up losing to Florida last night, a game in which Florida controlled pretty much from the start. Now Auburn is one game up on Tennessee with two to play. Auburn has to go to Arkansas and then hosts South Carolina while Tennessee goes to Mississippi State and hosts Georgia.
5. Marquette’s chances of the NCAA Tournament – All Marquette had to do was win at DePaul. There were bubble teams losing left and right yesterday. Marquette lost at DePaul. There’s now little hope for Marquette to make the NCAA Tournament, something that should be upsetting for them. They were in the field last year, have arguably the best shooting backcourt in America and couldn’t beat DePaul.