Siler’s Selections – Week 11

For the week of 1/25 – 1/31


Featured Image via USA TODAY

Matthew Siler, Reporter

Glossary of Statistics

Every week I try to think of an introduction or a starting phrase that would make sense or that could encapsulate what happened in a few simple words. This week, that is not the case. This week was different. It was crazy. It was chaos. It was frustrating. But most importantly, it was entertaining. Every team from AP rank 6 through AP rank 17 lost at least once, with the exception of Houston and Ohio State. Those kinds of statistics means it’s taking more and more time to actually compile all the data and rank the teams every week, which is perfectly fine. I like to write these before the AP Poll is out and, spoiler alert, I don’t have any of the blue bloods (North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky) ranked this week so it’s up to the AP Poll to see if they’re bold enough to do the same. Here are my rankings for Week 11 of the 2020-21 college basketball season:

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (17-0)

THIS WEEK: Win @ San Diego 90-62; Win @ Pepperdine 97-75


Gonzaga makes for very entertaining basketball. They let their opponent get out to a 5 or 10 point lead before completely and utterly destroying all hopes that said team had of winning. For example, Gonzaga was down by 9 during their game against Pepperdine. Just as the announcers were saying that Gonzaga was in trouble, they hit a stride and couldn’t miss a shot if they were paid. Corey Kispert is going to be a star in the NBA, as will most of this Gonzaga team. Their biggest problem this season is that Baylor is also good, so it’s going to be extremely difficult to choose which team will win it all.


Up next for Gonzaga: vs. Loyola Marymount (CA) 2/4

2. Baylor Bears (16-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Kansas State 107-59; Win vs. Auburn 84-72


I really wish I was able to just tie Baylor and Gonzaga at number one. Truly. They both deserve it. In fact, even though Baylor is in the better conference of the two, they have the worse record when it comes to historical success. What Scott Drew has been able to do at Baylor is absolutely incredible. When he got to Baylor there were athletic sanctions and the team was the laughing stock of the Big 12. Now, Baylor is a consistent threat to the Big 12 and has more 20 win seasons than at any point in Baylor basketball history (they only had one 20+ win season before Drew got to Baylor).

Up next for Baylor: @ #5 Texas 2/2

3. Villanova Wildcats (11-1)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Seton Hall 80-72


Now that Villanova is starting to sharpen up, it’s interesting to see how they’ve improved since the beginning of the year. The Big East is no joke: the team in last place could beat the team in first place and it would seem like a normal season. Congrats to Nova on beating Seton Hall, one of your biggest rivals, twice in a matter of 11 days. Watching their game against Seton Hall this week, I was thinking about where I would place them if they lost because at one point they were down by almost 20. But they came back and broke every heart in New Jersey simultaneously.


Up next for Villanova: @ St. John’s (NY) 2/3

4. Michigan Wolverines (13-1)

THIS WEEK: No Games 🙁


Michigan moves up this week by doing nothing. Solid strategy; it’s what kept Villanova at 3rd for so long. Their next game against Illinois will be a great game for certain. If there is a game that people should be looking forward to, it’s the Thursday night matchup of Michigan and Illinois. Or really any Big 10 game at this point because it’s truly anyone’s conference at the moment.


Up next for Michigan: vs. Illinois 2/11

5. Houston Cougars (14-1)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Tulane 83-60; Win vs. SMU 70-48


I honestly wonder how some people consider the American Athletic Conference (AAC) as a power conference. I highly doubt that the middle of these conferences could keep up year after year with the middle of the other conferences like the Big East or the PAC-12. However, the top of the AAC could definitely hang with the big boys. That’s right, Houston is back. They may not be Phi Slama Jama and they definitely don’t have the next Hakeem Olajuan, but Houston definitely plays like a team and knows how to distribute the ball. I would look up some stats on my computer, but for some reason both the T-Rank site and KenPom are both blocked so instead I looked it up on my phone, and Houston is considered to have the best defense in the country at the moment. And with how easy the rest of their schedule is, I’m sure Houston could win out from here.


Up next for Houston: @ East Carolina 2/3 

6. Texas Longhorns (11-3)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. #24 Oklahoma 79-80


I’m not sure what’s been wrong with Texas. For the past few weeks, they just haven’t looked the same. Now, their schedule has been absolutely brutal which I completely understand, but their defense has been lacking as of late. Their game against Texas Tech was absolutely winnable and their most recent loss against Oklahoma was also preventable. I have no worries, however, because Shaka Smart is a great coach and I’m sure he’ll be able to rally the team before their next game because they’ll definitely need it.


Up next for Texas: vs. #2 Baylor 2/2

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (12-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #19 Illinois 75-80


Let me preface this by saying the Iowa-Illinois game was one of the best games of basketball I have ever seen. It was art. These two schools hate each other with a burning passion and they showed it. The game did get a bit chippy but no fights or anything ridiculous. Iowa simply got outplayed and got outlasted by Illinois. Allowing 74 points per game is a very dangerous strategy if you’re going to want to win in March. Teams will get hot and they will beat you if the defense isn’t up to par. Right now they’re being carried by offense but I don’t think they will go very far if this is all that they have to offer.


Up next for Iowa: vs. Michigan State 2/2

8. Ohio State Buckeyes (13-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Penn State 83-79; Win vs. Michigan State 79-62


Well, Ohio State… didn’t lose? That’s good I think. More than most of the other teams this week. It was enough to move them to eighth because Penn State is becoming a very good win for every Big 10 team. Michigan State on the other hand is just, well, alright. As a Notre Dame fan, I remember when we lost 70-80 to Michigan State and how everyone was saying how this Michigan State team had one of the best defenses in the Izzo era. Looking back, I think Notre Dame was a little overhyped and Michigan State was extremely overhyped. Ohio State is a very talented team, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just not sure how long they’ll be able to keep this top 10 rank.


Up next for Ohio State: @ #7 Iowa 2/4

9. Virginia Cavaliers (11-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Syracuse 81-58; Loss @ #20 Virginia Tech 51-65


I definitely believe Virginia is still a top 10 team. They’ve lost to Virginia Tech every year for the past like three years and it’s really no surprise that they lost but I really wish they could have won. Tony Bennett is the epitome of a leader. There are entire college courses about how to be a leader in emotional situations because of how Bennett acted after Virginia lost to UMBC in 2018. He’s truly a remarkable coach and it makes it hard to root against his teams. For now, however, Virginia only falls one spot because their defense will carry them to another deep tournament run. Remember, a team can’t get hot if the defense never lets them shoot.


Up next for Virginia: @ North Carolina State 2/3

10. Oklahoma Sooners (11-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ #5 Texas 80-79; Win vs. #9 Alabama 66-61


As I was browsing through my sheet where I store all the data for these teams, I realized I didn’t have Oklahoma (I only keep stats for 50 teams)! I immediately got rid of a team who had a record below .500 and added everything I could about Oklahoma. They have one of the best resumés in the league with FOUR top 10 wins, and with a stretch of games that would make any team cower in fear Oklahoma needs to be ready to step up and meet their maker. It’s a make or break moment for the Sooners.


Up next for Oklahoma: @ #10 Texas Tech 2/1

11. Texas Tech Red Raiders (12-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #11 West Virginia 87-88; Win @ LSU 76-71


In previous weeks I’ve ragged on Texas Tech for not having an offense and only having a defense. I wonder if Mac McClung reads this because over his last four games he’s had 22, 24, 30, and 22 points respectively. He is single handedly carrying this Texas Tech offense and it’s a little scary. If he goes cold it seems like the team has no other reliable scorers they can lean on to get an easy bucket or two. That isn’t to say he’s their only scorer, but when you’re scoring 30 points in a loss? That’s not the best look. Although I will say that game against West Virginia was another classic that people should rewatch just to see the craziness of the ending.


Up next for Texas Tech: vs. #24 Oklahoma 2/1

12. Tennessee Volunteers (12-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Mississippi State 56-53; Win vs. #15 Kansas 80-61


Ah, the age-old question: Is Tennessee good? That’s an excellent question in which their own players seem to ask every game. It’s like they throw a dart at a board and if it lands on a red slice they play well and if it hits a black space they don’t play well. However, if it hits the bullseye they end up with a game like the one against Kansas. I was already expecting Tennessee to beat Kansas since Kansas has had an abysmal year shooting, but I didn’t expect a 19 point win at all. Congrats to the Vols on their huge win.


Up next for Tennessee: @ Ole Miss 2/2

13. Virginia Tech Hokies (13-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Notre Dame 62-51; Win vs. #8 Virginia 65-51


For those who don’t know: one of Virginia Tech’s players — actually, Virginia Tech’s best player — was kicked off the team last week. It’s not my place to discuss why, but I really didn’t expect them to beat Notre Dame, let alone Virginia. I could write a whole nother article about how much of a disappointment Notre Dame basketball has been for the past three or so years but I won’t because that’s what the Tribune is for. I digress, Virginia Tech has been doing exceptionally well without their leading scorer. It seems like their defense has really improved; Notre Dame and Virginia have very respectable offenses this season even though their tempos don’t reflect it. I’m excited to see where Virginia Tech goes from here.


Up next for Virginia Tech: @ Pittsburgh 2/3

14. Illinois Fighting Illini (11-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Iowa 80-75


Like I said earlier, this game was absolutely amazing. From start to finish there was nothing but high quality basketball. Ayo Dosumnu is looking like he did earlier in the season, and Kofi Cockburn is back to tearing up interior defenses. Speaking of defense, however, Illinois only scored 80 points on an Iowa defense that’s almost below average. Not every Big 10 team has a defense that poor, so Illinois is going to need to find themselves a better offensive plan in the future if they want to have sustained success in the future.


Up next for Illinois: @ Indiana 2/2

15. West Virginia Mountaineers (11-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #10 Texas Tech 88-87; Loss vs. Florida 80-85


We’re 11 weeks into the season — so far into the season that I don’t even have to write out the number anymore because it’s greater than 10 — and I still don’t know what to think about this West Virginia team. After Tschibwe left I thought for sure that the Mountaineers wouldn’t have any inside presence left, but I guess not! I guess they found a way to score 88 on Texas Tech’s defense. This season is so weird. Bob Huggins does a great job adjusting throughout the season; usually coaches have a gameplan and they stick to it all season before maybe changing it in the offseason. Huggins doesn’t do that — he is able to change on the fly and that’s why he’s on track to be a Hall of Fame coach some day.


Up next for West Virginia: @ Iowa State 2/2

16. Creighton Bluejays (13-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Seton Hall 85-81; Win @ DePaul 69-62


Creighton… won. So that’s nice. They didn’t necessarily win convincingly, but they won and that’s enough to keep them where they are. DePaul is not a very good team this year, and to almost lose to them is embarrassing in and of itself. However, a close win is not a loss. I complimented Creighton earlier in the year about how good their offense was. I don’t take it back yet, but I definitely want to see more out of them before I can start restating some of the things I said.


Up next for Creighton: vs. Georgetown 2/3

17. Missouri Tigers (11-3)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Auburn 82-88; Win vs. TCU 102-98


I’m not really sure what’s happened to the Missouri defense this week. For their first 12 games, Missouri only gave up an average of 66 points. In their past two they have given up 88 and 98 respectively. That’s a little concerning. However, their next game is against a team with an absolutely abysmal offense so maybe they can influence their defensive efficiency a bit more with that one. By the way, their win over TCU was absolutely amazing to watch. So much scoring.


Up next for Missouri: vs. Kentucky 2/2

18. Alabama Crimson Tide (14-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Kentucky 70-59; Loss @ #24 Oklahoma 61-66


These results are what I feared would happen to Alabama. They went cold. Now, this doesn’t mean Alabama can’t get hot again, but I’m not sure how much confidence I have in this team to actually stay as hot as they were. There’s no way they hit 23 threes in one game again and I’m not sure if they’ll be able to win many more if they keep playing the way they do. Can’t win them all I guess.


Up next for Alabama: vs. LSU 2/3

19. Florida State Seminoles (10-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Miami (FL) 81-59; Loss @ Georgia Tech 65-76


Florida State went cold. It was bound to happen eventually, but I definitely think they’re better than most of the ACC and better than most people give them credit for. That loss to Georgia Tech was probably inevitable. Georgia Tech is one of the scariest teams in the ACC right now because they can just… win. They can decide to win against Boston College or they can decide to win against, well, Florida State. I don’t really blame Florida State for the loss but I do think that they have a lot of room for improvement.


Up next for Florida State: @ Boston College 2/2

20. Wisconsin Badgers (13-5)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Maryland 61-55; Loss @ Penn State 71-81


So I understand that Maryland is a tough team this season and that it’s going to be a rough ride through the Big 10, but I don’t think anyone expected that loss to Penn State. Of all the teams to lose to, Wisconsin loses to Penn State? Really? I definitely think that Wisconsin has been a tad overrated ever since their loss to Marquette, but there hasn’t been any other reason other than that game specifically, so now I have a few more points to gesture towards whenever I’m told that Wisconsin is better than their record.


Up next for Wisconsin: vs. Penn State 2/2

21. Florida Gators (10-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Vanderbilt 78-71; Win @ #11 West Virginia 85-80


Florida has one of the best redemption arcs in all of college basketball. In early December their best player, Keyontae Johnson, collapsed during a game. After over a week in the hospital, he was released and has been on the sidelines ever since. Florida fell off hard after that incident and I don’t blame them at all. These are kids. Basketball isn’t their job. Their minds were probably preoccupied with thoughts and worries about Johnson. I digress. Florida has bounced back extremely well and their efforts should be recognized with a rank this week.


Up next for Florida: vs. South Carolina 2/3

22. UCLA Bruins (13-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Oregon State 57-52


UCLA is a school not many people talk about anymore. At the beginning of the year I heard some mumblings about UCLA being good and they were ranked to begin the season, but a blowout by San Diego State quieted any talk of UCLA being ranked until a few weeks ago. So far I’ve seen nothing but improvement from this young squad. I’m excited to see what they do in the upcoming weeks because PAC-12 games never go the way one thinks they will.


Up next for UCLA: @ USC 2/6

23. USC Trojans (13-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Oregon State 75-62


I’ll be honest,  I haven’t watched too much PAC-12 basketball this season mainly because their games start at 9PM to 11PM EST, which is far past my bedtime. Looking at the stats, however, I can see that USC is doing extremely well with the situation they’re in and as of right now they aren’t doing anything that concerns me. They did have a close game against UC-Riverside that went into overtime, but I don’t think that should affect how people see them.


Up next for USC: @ Stanford 2/2

24. Xavier Musketeers (11-2)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Butler 68-55


I feel like Xavier has been forgotten this season. They started the year off 8-0 and were ranked really high in the AP polls but then they lost two in a row and haven’t been heard from since. For those wondering, they went on a 20 day break because of game cancellations and postponements, and their first game was against Butler. They won which is more than Creighton can say about that matchup. I think it’s time that a team like Xavier who only has 2 losses should be recognized.


Up next for Xavier: @ DePaul 2/3

25. Drake Bulldogs (16-0)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Missouri State 68-61; Win @ Missouri State 78-73; Win vs. Illinois State 78-76


Okay so Drake had one (1) bad game and now people don’t want to rank them anymore. Imagine being told your team would only shoot 13% from three point range. It sounds like they would lose, right? Wrong. Drake shot 13% from three and still won the game which is a testament to how good the rest of their offense really is. Illinois state shot almost twice as good as Drake did yet still lost. It is extremely important to note that winning two games in a row against the same team is extremely difficult to do against any opponent. So those wins against Missouri State are excellent for Drake’s resumé.