Siler’s Selections – Week 8

for the week of 1/4/21 – 1/10/21

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Featured Image via USA TODAY

Matthew Siler, Reporter

Hello and welcome to the first published edition of Siler’s Selections! This series is going to be a weekly update on the ever-changing nature of college basketball. It is important to note that I am a novice analyst so I will acknowledge my biases (shoutout to IB Psychology) as this series progresses. My goal as a writer is to create these write-ups every Sunday so they are ready to be published on Monday, much like the AP poll. I will eventually write a different paper that will regurgitate much of the information in this paragraph so those who do not read this “first-edition” write-up can get some background on who I am and other important information.

With that said, many people who are reading this likely have no idea (or at least very little idea) about college basketball. As someone who considers himself “versed” in basketball analytics I sometimes give an acronym or say a word that nobody will really understand. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of important jargon that will enhance one’s reading experience. Again, I will make a separate document that will have a much more comprehensive and expansive list of basketball terminology. I apologize in advance because this list is not in alphabetical order, but it is important to read from top to bottom because some terms cannot be explained without prior knowledge of other terms.

 

NET Rankings – The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is the brand-new, four-quadrant, official analytics of the NCAA. Note: These are not the official rankings, but they are heavily favored when looking at resumes for the NCAA Tournament.

 

Q1/2/3/4 – Whenever I say Q1, Q2, Q3, or Q4 I am referring to the four quartiles of games that the NET rankings have laid out to describe the quality of a win / loss. The Bracketologists have a great website that explains NET very well; I would recommend everyone check them out.

 

KenPom – Efficiency-based basketball statistics created by Ken Pomeroy

 

I’ll be honest, it’s 10:30PM and I’m tired so for now that’s all you need to stay up-to-date on basketball slang. Now, for the rankings:

 

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (12-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. BYU 86-69

                         Win @ Portland 116-88

 

If you ever get a chance to watch Gonzaga, do it. This season is going to be historic and you’ll want to tell your kids you got to see at least one game of this dream team. With four Q1 wins, it’s tied with Missouri for the most. Averaging 95 points per game and shooting over 50%, this team has it all. I can’t quite put into words just how good they are, you just have to watch them yourself.

 

Up next for Gonzaga: Vs. Pepperdine 1/14

 

2. Baylor Bears (11-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Oklahoma 76-61

                         Win @ TCU 67-49

 

Like Gonzaga, if you haven’t watched a Baylor game yet, you should. They had a bit of a slow start against TCU, being down at half thanks to a RIDICULOUS half-court three by TCU, but near the end Baylor’s defense clamped down and stopped TCU very well, allowing less than 30 points in the second half. The Big 12 is very good this season, and I’m excited to see where this amazing team goes. Unfortunately they are stuck behind Gonzaga for what could be the rest of the season if the Zags don’t lose.

 

Up next for Baylor: Vs. #9 West Virginia 1/12

 

3. Villanova Wildcats (8-1)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

I apologize to all you Villanova fans out there, there hasn’t been a game in a long time for the Wildcats. It stinks whenever your team is unable to play, so stay strong and keep waiting. Not much else to say about this team other than they have a chance at winning the Big East this season if this hiatus doesn’t mess with them too much.

 

Up next for Villanova: Vs. Seton Hall 1/19

 

4. Texas Longhorns (10-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Iowa State 78-72

                         Win @ #9 West Virginia 72-70

 

These Longhorns are also one of the best teams in the nation. The only reason they aren’t number 3 right now is because the only team they’ve lost to is, well, Villanova. Other than that, Texas has no slip-ups. There have definitely been close games, that’s for sure. I watched the entirety of the Texas-West Virginia game and it was one of the best regular season games ever. Especially with the story of Andrew Jones and what he had to endure (diagnosed with Leukemia three years ago and is now completely healthy), ending up with the winning shot. It’s art.

 

Up next for Texas: Vs. #18 Texas Tech 1/13

 

5. Creighton Bluejays (10-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Seton Hall 89-53

                         Win vs. St. John’s (NY) 97-79

 

Probably one of my hotter takes of the week, but I genuinely think that Creighton is a top-five caliber team. They scored 97 on St. John’s without one of the best scorers. And before anyone goes trashing St. John’s, they play every team tough and are not a team to scoff at. In the Big East, every game is earned and every win is fought for. Great showing from Creighton and I cannot wait until they play Villanova.

 

Up next for Creighton: @ Butler 1/16

 

6. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Maryland 89-67

                         Win vs. #16 Minnesota 86-71

 

It’s really a toss-up between Creighton and Iowa for the number five spot in these rankings. Both are just such good teams. However, Creighton has shown to actually play defense as opposed to Iowa’s brand-new “swiss cheese” defense. I say this only half-jokingly. In nearly every metric, Iowa’s defense is lacking. From field goal percentage to turnover percentage, they just aren’t defending the ball well. It’s the reason they have two losses instead of one; poor defense against Minnesota (they played @ Minnesota a few weeks ago and lost 95-102) led them to give up over 100 points. If they can clean up the defense, I FEAR for the rest of the Big 10.

 

Up next for Iowa: Vs. Michigan State 1/14

 

7. Tennessee Volunteers (9-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Arkansas 79-74

                         Win @ Texas A&M 68-64

Having Tennessee in my top ten to start the year was a risky move considering they didn’t play until December. However, my intuition paid off big-time as now the Volunteers are starting to look like favorites in the SEC. There is definitely some good competition and they’re going to be challenged a lot (they already dropped one on the road to Alabama)  throughout the season, so be on the lookout for a streaky Tennessee team in March.

 

Up next for Tennessee: @ South Carolina 1/12

 

8. Michigan Wolverines (10-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #16 Minnesota 82-57

 

Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines are at it again. They are adding to the confusion of who is good and who is not good within the Big 10. So far they’ve remained undefeated in a conference so overwhelmed by cannibalism it would make the Donner Party jealous. Hunter Dickenson is such an amazing player; it’s a testament to how good of a coach Howard is and hopefully will continue to be.

 

Up next for Michigan: Vs. #7 Wisconsin 1/12

 

9. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Indiana 80-73 2OT

 

After coming off of a two-week break, Wisconsin decided to test fate by taking Indiana into double overtime. I watched the game from about the 5 minute mark in the second half to the end of the game, and I’ve got to say Wisconsin looks like a very solid team. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they know when to turn on the gas and when to start cruising. They let Indiana back into a game that should have been over by halftime. Live and learn I guess.

 

Up next for Wisconsin: @ #9 Michigan 1/12

10. Kansas Jayhawks (10-2)

THIS WEEK: Win @ TCU 93-64

                         Win vs. Oklahoma 63-59

 

I don’t know what to make of this Jayhawks team. I know they aren’t a top-ten team just by watching them, but somehow they always win. It’s frustrating. This team should not have 10 wins by looking at any of their games. They’ve kept it close with the likes of North Dakota State, Saint Joseph’s, and Kentucky (who, if you haven’t been paying attention this season, is 4-6). However, they come and do what they did against TCU which is being dominant on the boards and score like there’s no tomorrow. If they play like that in every game there wouldn’t be any confusion on if Kansas is a top ten team.

 

Up next for Kansas: @ Oklahoma State 1/12

11. Houston Cougars (10-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Wichita State 70-63

                         Win vs. Tulane 71-50

 

There are some people who consider the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to be a top-tier conference. While I agree that the AAC is a good conference, I feel like many of its teams would not be able to compete among some of the other top conferences like the ACC, Big 10, and even the PAC-12. That being said, there can still be teams like Houston who make the entire conference look bad by being that good. Wichita State is third in the AAC in NET, which is still a good look for Houston, but hurts Wichita State. I digress, I’m excited to see what else Houston has in store for us this season.

 

Up next for Houston: @ South Florida 1/14

 

12. Clemson Tigers (9-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. NC State 74-70

 

I might have Clemson a little high in the rankings, but man can they play defense. After clamping down on NC State, Clemson was able to just roll on by with that overtime victory and make it look easy. Currently Clemson is the best team in the ACC and it’s pretty obvious. Can they do this in March is the question. I’m not sure of the answer right now.

 

Up next for Clemson: Vs. #19 Virginia 1/16

 

13. Oregon Ducks (9-2)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Colorado 79-72

                         Win @ Utah 79-73

 

Fun fact: Oregon has never won at Colorado. They’re 0-10. Isn’t that crazy? Well it’s also very predictable so I’m not really hurting them too bad, especially because of how crazy their win streak has been thus far. I’m still extremely impressed by their offensive ability and their ability to pull out close games.

 

Up next for Oregon: Vs. Arizona State 1/14

 

14. Louisville Cardinals (8-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #21 Virginia Tech 73-71

 

Again, I might be a little high on Louisville, but outside of that 40-some point loss to Wisconsin, the Cards haven’t slipped. It’s their only loss. I’m willing to accept that it was a fluke and move on. They beat a very good Virginia Tech team, so it’s really just a matter of if they’re “on” during a game or not. Who knows, maybe they’ll be off during one of their important games and people will go back to reminiscing about the “good ole days.”

 

Up next for Louisville: @ Wake Forest 1/13

 

15. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-2)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Louisville 71-23

                         Win vs. Notre Dame 77-63

 

This Virginia Tech team is good. I feel like all of the ACC teams are a little out of whack this season because both Duke and North Carolina are having off-seasons, but fear not! The ACC will resolve its identity crisis by having teams just good enough to make the tournament. I predict seven teams this season, and Virginia Tech will be one of them. Who knows, they might have it in them to win the ACC tournament.

 

Up next for Virginia Tech: vs. #20 Duke 1/12

 

16. Missouri Tigers (7-2)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Mississippi State 63-78

 

I cut Mizzou some slack last week after their complete annihilation by Tennessee, but I think there are some deeper problems within the program arising. They are actually tied with Gonzaga with the most number of Q1 wins (4) so they do not have a shortage of quality play, but in the past three games, Mizzou has gone 1-2 which is not ideal for a team who wants to remain ranked. In my opinion, Missouri must win a few more games in order to regain some of that respect they had at the beginning of the season.

 

Up next for Missouri: Vs. Vanderbilt 1/12

 

17. Illinois Fighting Illini (9-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Northwestern 81-56

                          Loss vs. Maryland 66-63

 

Like I’ve said before, the Big 10 is extremely hard to consistently win in. I like to cut them some slack, but come on. Maryland? They aren’t even supposed to be good this season (apologies to any Maryland fan out there but I’m sure you’d agree with me when I say to fire Turgeon) and you let them beat you? Disappointing but I’m more surprised that Illinois lost at home. After their dance with death against Jason Preston and Ohio, it seemed like Illinois was finally vulnerable, but it took until Sunday for a team to finally beat them at home.

 

Up next for Illinois: @ Nebraska 1/13

 

18. Duke Blue Devils (5-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Boston College 83-82

                         Win vs. Wake Forest 79-68

 

Duke honestly shouldn’t be this high, but there is no reason they shouldn’t be this high either. These two wins against Boston College and Wake Forest were pitiful at the least, and uninspiring at the most. I need Duke to win some games against quality opponents before I reconsider my opinion on them.

 

Up next for Duke: @ #21 Virginia Tech 1/12

 

19. Virginia Cavaliers (7-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Wake Forest 70-61

          Win @ Boston College 61-49

 

Well, it seems like Virginia is shaping up to be another 2019-20 team except without any of the offensive production, which is really saying a lot, considering they won a game last season while only scoring 49 points (they beat Maine 49-29). As for their wins, they weren’t really impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if either Wake Forest or Boston College goes winless in conference play this season. As for Virginia, they need Jay Huff and Kihei Clark to start shooting the ball more often, otherwise they’re in for another first-round exit and I don’t mean the NCAA tournament.

 

Up next for Virginia: vs. Notre Dame 1/13

 

20. Florida State Seminoles (5-2)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

It is currently 12:18 AM so I won’t spend an extreme amount of time elaborating on Florida State. They are currently on a 1-2 streak after starting the season 4-0, which is a little disappointing. Leonard Hamilton is a great coach and I expect great things out of Florida State this season even though they’re currently on an almost 20-day hiatus.

 

Up next for Florida State: vs. NC State 1/13

 

21. St. Louis Billikens (7-1)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Don’t get me wrong: Saint Louis is a great team. This might seem weird considering they haven’t played in a while, but this Billikens team is doing really good things on the court. Their next game will take place almost an entire month after their previous game which is completely unheard of, but if they can overcome something like that, I would sharpie them into the tournament that instant.

 

Up next for St. Louis: @ UMass-Amherst 1/20

 

22. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Rutgers 79-68

 

I couldn’t imagine being an Ohio State fan with the amount of times they’ve been ranked/unranked throughout the season. It seems like they just can’t be consistent enough to stay ranked but are also good enough to get ranked in the first place. It would drive me bonkers. Anyways, they are currently on a two-season streak of beating Rutgers at home, and are now only the third team to beat them at home in the past two seasons. I’d say that win is good enough to get a team back into the rankings.

 

Up next for Ohio State: vs. Northwestern 1/13

 

23. West Virginia Mountaineers (9-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Oklahoma State 87-84

                          Loss vs. #4 Texas 70-72

 

I’m really not sure if West Virginia should be ranked or not. They’ve alternated winning / losing for the past two weeks, but then they go out and come back from a 19 point deficit against Oklahoma State and keep it close against a top-five team. With the loss of Oscar Tschibewe, it seems like West Virginia might be lacking in the front court (although there are some who say that it might be better for team chemistry now that Oscar is gone, but who knows).

 

Up next for West Virginia: @ #2 Baylor 1/12

 

24. UCLA Bruins (9-2)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Arizona State 81-75

                          Win @ Arizona 81-76

 

I find it very impressive that UCLA had almost the exact same score against two completely different opponents.That in itself is worthy of being ranked. Just kidding. The fact that they’re 9-2 definitely helps, and the fact that they’re on a four-game win streak helps as well. The PAC-12 Network is absolutely garbage so it’s hard for me to watch the UCLA games, but from what I have seen of them, they seem good enough to be ranked.

 

Up next for UCLA: vs. Washington State 1/14

 

25. Drake Bulldogs (13-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Southern Illinois 76-85

 

It’s hard to go 13-0, especially in the bubble situation that many conferences are in. Playing the same team twice and beating them both times is the epitome of “easier said than done.” Drake has shown time and time again that they deserve some attention, so here I am, giving them attention. I don’t really know too much about this team, but what I do know is that they will be a threat come March.