Siler’s Selections – Week 10

For the week of 1/18 – 1/24

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Matthew Siler, Reporter

Siler’s Selections

For the week of 1/18 – 1/24

Chaos. Upsets. Craziness. Whatever you want to call it, last week had everything you could ask for. Unfortunately for me, all this chaos creates a lot of stress when trying to analyze the teams who should be ranked. I have a sheet where I compile all the data for the season and looking at all of the losses this week makes my head hurt. I digress, I have found an amazing glossary (via Sports Reference) that has an extremely in-depth look at many statistics and other abbreviations that could confuse the average sports-watcher. I’m still trying to figure out a system where I can fit a spot for my takes on teams who either dropped out or talk about big matchups for the upcoming week. Here are my rankings for week 10 of the college basketball season:

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (15-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Pacific 95-49

 

It gets harder and harder to write about this team every week. They just keep winning. Most basketball analysts say that Gonzaga will finish the season undefeated, and I agree with them. They made their out of conference schedule as hard as possible (with the exception of Northwestern State) and won every game. Now, they can’t mess up. It seems like every season, if Gonzaga slips up even once in conference play it knocks them down a whole seed which means that the stakes are extremely high. It’s hard to blame Gonzaga for being in a conference like the WCC but the problem this year is that they’re so good, every team they play looks much worse in comparison.

 

Up next for Gonzaga: @ San Diego 1/28

2. Baylor Bears (14-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #9 Kansas 77-69; Win @ Oklahoma State 81-66

 

Baylor is so much fun to watch. Their adjusted stats are starting to pass Gonzaga’s in many places, but that’s because the Big 12 is a much better conference than the WCC. The Oklahoma State win was a bit closer than it looks, in fact Baylor was losing by 4 at halftime; it’s also important to note that Oklahoma State was down their best player, Cade Cunningham, who is projected to be the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. Nevertheless, Baylor came storming back into the game in the second half with a 12-0 run. I don’t think Baylor can pull off a perfect season — not because they lack the talent — but because they will eventually play a team who is extremely hot and decides they won’t miss. However, I stay optimistic. If you can, watch one of their games; it’s great basketball.

 

Up next for Baylor: Vs. Kansas State 1/27

3. Villanova Wildcats (10-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Seton Hall 76-74; Win vs. Providence 71-56

 

After coming back from an almost one-month hiatus, Villanova had to play against two conference opponents who are out for blood: Seton Hall and Providence. I watched the entirety of both games and Villanova played as expected. For those wondering why I’m not critiquing them for playing such close games: coming back from any break longer than a week is very difficult in basketball (see: Clemson). There was some assistance by the refs in the win against Seton Hall but a win is a win. I’m just happy that Nova is able to play again.

 

Up next for Villanova: @ #23 UConn 1/28

4. Texas Longhorns (11-2)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Texas is back! Well, in the number four spot. Their game against Iowa State got canceled, so there weren’t any games this week for Texas. Just like Baylor, the rest of their schedule is extremely tough, so I don’t expect them to keep the same number of losses, but for right now I definitely think they are the number four team in the country.

 

Up next for Texas: vs. Oklahoma 1/28

5. Iowa Hawkeyes (12-3)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Indiana 69-81

 

I will be the first to admit that I turned off the Indiana game at halftime because I thought Iowa was going to run away with it like they usually do when they’re up six at halftime. I did not account for the fact that Iowa has a chance to go 12 minutes without scoring a field goal. Games like this are inevitable for Iowa. For all you Iowa fans out there, just hope that this doesn’t happen in March. The biggest problem for Iowa at the moment is their defense, and the game against Indiana proved why. Iowa has the 254th (out of 357) scoring defense, or points allowed per game. It is imperative that they improve in that category or else they’ll have more games like the Indiana game.

 

Up next for Iowa: @ #22 Illinois 1/29

6. Michigan Wolverines (13-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Maryland 87-63; Win @ Purdue 70-53

 

After the loss at Minnesota, Michigan has really improved their game. According to T-Rank, Michigan has the second highest chance to beat any given division 1 team, trailing only Gonzaga. Here is a great explanation of what T-Rank is. As for the team, Isaiah Livers and Hunter Dickenson are just tearing up defenses everywhere. They are probably the scariest one-two punch in the country at the moment. Both are threats on offense and defense, so fans of other Big 10 schools beware, they will play any team with as much intensity as you’ve seen in years from a Michigan school.

 

Up next for Michigan: vs. #22 Illinois 2/11

7. Houston Cougars (13-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs Tulsa 86-59; Win @ Temple 68-51

 

Even though Houston won both of their games this week, I moved Michigan ahead of them. It really just comes down to the fact that I believe Michigan is a better basketball team than Houston. The metrics are pretty similar when compared to each other, but Michigan has the edge on offensive efficiency (6th versus 18th) by a larger margin than Houston does on defensive efficiency (2nd versus 7th). I’m sure Michigan will slip up again eventually, but until that happens Houston will remain in their shadow.

 

Up next for Houston: @ Tulane 1/28

8. Virginia Cavaliers (10-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Georgia Tech 64-62

 

On the surface, a two-point victory over a middle-of-the-road ACC opponent doesn’t seem like the kind of performance that would move a team up four spots. However, Georgia Tech is a very streaky team and can give anyone a run for their money. Georgia Tech shot 60% from three. 9-15. And they still only scored 62 points. To me, this game shows how Virginia is able to play offense. Their slow-paced style of play has drawn a lot of criticism, especially after their first round exit in 2018 against 16-seeded UMBC (in which they followed up with a championship the year after). Virginia’s biggest problem throughout the Tony Bennett era has been offense, and they finally have it again. 64 points may not be much, but they were reliant on their offense and they still won; an uncommon feat in Virginia.

 

Up next for Virginia: vs. Syracuse 1/25

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-4)

THIS WEEK: No Games 🙁

 

The fact that Texas Tech is 9th shows just how wild this week really was. There was no one else as deserving as the Red Raiders; everyone lost. They were supposed to have a game on the 23rd but it got canceled, so Texas Tech’s next game won’t be for a while. I think this is their maximum ranking for now; they did beat Texas, but they couldn’t finish it out against Baylor so it’s up in the air how consistent they’ll be going forward.

 

Up next for Texas Tech: @ #14 West Virginia 1/25

10. Alabama Crimson Tide (13-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ LSU 105-75; Win vs. Mississippi State 81-73

 

Yup. There’s no mistake there. Alabama is a top 10 team without a doubt at this point. I was low on them last week; I didn’t feel like they had done enough to prove that they were worthy of being ranked. I was wrong to say the least. So wrong, in fact, that Alabama had to go and set the SEC record for made three pointers in a game (23) in order for me to pay attention. The only problem I see with this team is the same problem I see with Iowa: their defense. Sure they scored over 100 against LSU, but they still let LSU score 75. And they aren’t always going to shoot 60% from three before the walk ons get on the court. The SEC is having a down year for sure this year because Kentucky is nowhere to be seen, but teams like Alabama have more than replaced them.

 

Up next for Alabama: vs. Kentucky 1/26

11. West Virginia Mountaineers (10-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Kansas State 69-47

 

It’s pretty easy to win a game when the team you’re playing has almost as many turnovers as they do rebounds. I’m usually pretty optimistic in these write-ups, but 28 turnovers in one game is bad. It’s bad basketball. West Virginia has a very respectable defense and Bob Huggins does a great job but if West Virginia was playing any other team in the Big 12 outside of Iowa State, I don’t know if they would have won with that performance. I’ll leave it to you Kansas State fans to decide what to do with Bruce Webber, but for now West Virginia is going to come back after a two week hiatus and win a very winnable game.

 

Up next for West Virginia: vs. #12 Texas Tech 1/25

12. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. Purdue 65-67; Win @ #10 Wisconsin 74-62

 

Ohio State is a weird team. They’re extremely streaky and it seems like their biggest weakness is themselves. If Ohio State can just get over themselves, their performances will be that much more dynamic. Ahrens is having an amazing year from behind the arc, but if he doesn’t have a good game it seems like the entire team falters as a result. Their loss to Purdue was a game they should have won. They were up double digits at one point in the second half and they blew it (as a Chargers fan, I can empathize). That being said, it seems like that loss lit a fire under them and I’m sure we’ll get a much better Ohio State team in the future.

 

Up next for Ohio State: vs. Michigan State 1/31

13. Missouri Tigers (10-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. South Carolina 81-70; Win @ #6 Tennessee 73-64

 

First of all, I completely forgot to include Missouri in last week’s ranking. That one is on me, they just never popped into my head. A top-15 Missouri team is definitely something I had in my head for the whole week, however. This win over Tennessee is what is called a “marquee win.” In March, when looking at where to rank teams, the selection committee will point at their game against Tennessee and say “That’s a team who won big games.” After a few questionable performances, Missouri is finally looking like they’re back to dominating the SEC again.

 

Up next for Missouri: @ Auburn 1/26

14. Tennessee Volunteers (10-3)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Florida 75-49; Loss vs. #19 Missouri 64-73

 

If this week in Tennessee basketball was summarized in one word it would be: disappointment. A team who started out so strong has crumbled over the past few days, and I’m not really sure why. I’ve made the argument that they’re taking the highest quality shots — and they still are. The problem is they aren’t making them! Tennessee just isn’t hitting the shots they’re taking; it doesn’t take an expert to realize that’s a problem. It does, however, take an expert to understand how to fix said problem. I am not an expert. I do not know how Tennessee can fix this. All I’m hoping for is that they do fix this problem and they start winning again.

 

Up next for Tennessee: vs. Mississippi State 1/26

15. Wisconsin Badgers (12-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Northwestern 68-52; Loss vs. Ohio State 62-74

 

I have lots of respect for this Wisconsin team. However, I don’t think they’ve lived up to the hype that all the media was giving them. They aren’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but the fact that they’ve got so much experience as a team you’d think that it would give them an advantage over teams like Ohio State who are relatively young (which is a little unfair considering Wisconsin has the oldest age average in the NCAA). I think if Wisconsin can have more of an inside presence, they’ll get more offensive rebounds and thus get more opportunities for the amount of three pointers they shoot every game.

 

Up next for Wisconsin: @ Penn State 1/27

16. Creighton Bluejays (11-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. Providence 70-74; Win vs. #23 UConn 74-66

 

I’ve been raving about Creighton’s offense for the past few weeks, but for the past three games it’s been nothing short of embarrassment for the Bluejays. They’ve got Zegarowski back and he’s doing fine; it’s the rest of the team that needs help. I think the problem for Creighton is the fact that they have slow starts. Letting Providence lead by 10 early in the game made it really difficult for Creighton to get back into the game, and with UConn, they started in the lead and never really looked back. I want this to sound like more than just a “you need to play better” but for Creighton to get out of this offensive rut they’re in, they should start running more plays rather than passing the ball around for the entire possession and then chucking up a three with two seconds left on the shot clock. Just a thought.

 

Up next for Creighton: @ Seton Hall 1/27

17. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-3)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Syracuse 60-78

 

Virginia Tech doesn’t lose very often; but when they do, it’s by way more than anyone expected. I mean look at their losses: 20 point loss to Penn State, 18 point loss to Syracuse; their only close loss was by 2 to Louisville. I’m not really sure what to make of this Mike Young-led Hokies team yet. To me, they seem very inconsistent (see: first half versus second half of the Notre Dame game) and out of sync. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the season goes for them.

 

Up next for Virginia Tech: @ Notre Dame 1/27

18. Florida State Seminoles (9-2)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Louisville 78-65; Win vs #20 Clemson 80-61

 

Florida State needs more respect. They’re on a four-game win streak and they are hot. After defeating Louisville on the road, the Seminoles played a struggling Clemson team and took care of them with ease. I’m not quite sure what happened to Clemson this week, two 19+ point losses that seemingly came out of nowhere have completely killed any chance of them being ranked for a while. The turnaround this Florida State team has had after their long break is truly incredible.

 

Up next for Florida State: vs. Miami (FL) 1/27

19. Saint Louis Billikens (7-1)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Well it happened again. Saint Louis was scheduled to have a game on the 20th against Massachusetts, but it was postponed. Now, Saint Louis will play their next game over a month after their last played game. I’m not sure how this will affect their play to be honest. They could come out and play like Florida State did in their game back or they could flounder and squeak by their opponents like Duke did. It’s up to Saint Louis to figure that out.

 

Up next for Saint Louis: vs. Dayton 1/26

20. Kansas Jayhawks (10-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #2 Baylor 69-77; Loss @ Oklahoma 68-75

 

Kansas is struggling. All the blue bloods are. That’s what happens when you rely purely on freshman talent and the few returning players are mainly “glue guys” who don’t really see the floor that much. The Jayhawks always have a few good returning players; Adebaji is one of them. However, that does not mean their team is top-15 or top-10. Their shooting has been lacking over the past few weeks, and their defense hasn’t been much help either. Kansas needs to figure out how to win games or they’re going to be the last of the blue bloods to drop out of the rankings.

 

Up next for Kansas: vs. TCU 1/28

21. Colorado Buffalo (12-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Washington 80-84; Win @ Washington State 70-59

 

To say that Colorado’s loss to Washington is confusing is an understatement. Washington is currently 3-11 with wins over Utah, Colorado, and Seattle; their notable losses include University of California-Riverside by 15 and the University of Montana by 8. I really don’t know what to say about it. I’m sure Colorado will recover from this, but for now it is one of the worst losses in recent memory. I still have them ranked because I believe they are the 21st best team in the country. They simply had a bad game and the worst team won.

 

Up next for Colorado: vs. Washington State 1/27

22. Oregon Ducks (9-3)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Oregon State 64-75

 

The PAC-12 this year is just like every other — chaos everywhere and everyone is losing. It’s hard to be good in this league because of the sheer amount of parity there is between the teams. It’s like the football season except this time there are still PAC-12 teams ranked. Oregon was coming off of a fairly long stretch without playing (14 days) and any team will have their flaws when coming off of a break that isn’t long enough for practices to be held but is long enough that players lose their touch just enough to where the opposing team can take full advantage. I’m sure Oregon will recover from this and their season will be solid from here on out.

 

Up next for Oregon: @ #24 UCLA 1/28

23. Illinois Fighting Illini (10-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Penn State 79-65

 

Illinois lucked out a little bit this week with their rank. So many teams lost and so many teams got booted out of the poll that the only viable option was Illinois. They won this week which is more than other teams can say, but how long can they keep winning? The Big 10 is extremely good this year, but on more than one occasion Illinois has looked less than what they’ve advertised. I’m sure Ayo Dosumnu and Kofi Cockburn will keep this team afloat in the season and in the tournament, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had to rely on the at-large bid to get them into the tournament.

 

Up next for Illinois: vs. #5 Iowa 1/29

24. UCLA Bruins (12-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ California 61-57; Loss @ Stanford 72-73

 

This week was really heartbreaking for UCLA. That loss to Stanford really stung considering that’s the last time the two teams will meet until at least the conference tournament. There’s not much to say about their loss other than better luck next time. Someone has to be on the receiving end of a buzzer beater. I don’t think that would drop UCLA at all given their record in both conference and out of conference play. UCLA will be fine and they’ll keep winning. Keep an eye out for them, try and watch a game of theirs. They play good basketball.

 

Up next for UCLA: vs. #21 Oregon 1/28

25. Drake Bulldogs (13-0)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Ever since I started ranking Drake, their games have kept getting canceled. They haven’t actually played since the first time I put them in my rankings. Maybe it’s a sign? Who knows. I genuinely think Drake is a good basketball team. There aren’t too many other teams who are qualified to be in the rankings, and I’m not putting a team like Alabama A&M in here just because they’re also undefeated. It is so hard to beat a team twice in a row within a two day span. I don’t even know how to put it. Teams have never had to play each other like this before. One day, you could have a team win by 20 and the next day the other team wins by 30. Mid-major basketball is crazy and I love every second of it.