Siler’s Selections – Week 12

For the week of 2/1 – 2/7

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Matthew Siler, Reporter

 

If there has ever been a time to watch college basketball, it’s now. The whole month of February determines how March will go. Teams rise. Teams fall. We’re in the homestretch now, folks. Players around the country are being asked to hurry up and wait as the unfortunately short season reaches its endgame. For the first time in my lifetime at least, teams are playing with wildly different game totals. We are seeing situations that would never happen without the use of bubbles (I’ll talk more about that later), and it’s leading to some high quality basketball. It might feel weird to watch games without a crowd or while the commentators are sitting at a desk at home, but to me it’s all the same. I’m just here for the ride. Here are my top 25 for week 12 of the college basketball season:

Glossary of Statistics

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (18-0)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Pacific 76-58

 

Last week I said that Gonzaga keeps games close so they’re more entertaining. This week it was close for sure, but it didn’t feel like Gonzaga really controlled the game until way later than usual. For starters, they were down by one at halftime. I was able to watch most of this game since it was on CBS Sports Network and it boggled me how normal Gonzaga looked. For much of the season, Gonzaga played like they could be in the G-League but during that Pacific game they just looked like a WCC team. I’m keeping them up here for now because their Out-Of-Conference schedule still holds up against Baylor’s conference schedule.

 

Up next for Gonzaga: @ BYU 2/8

2. Baylor Bears (17-0)

THIS WEEK: Win @ #13 Texas 83-69

 

Baylor is truly outstanding. I feel like every time I write about them all I can do is shower them with praises even though that’s exactly what they deserve. They have personality, they have style, they have scorers, and most importantly they have no losses. Outside of Kansas State and Iowa State, the Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the nation right now. No wins come easy to these teams and yet Baylor has beaten all of them. Convincingly. It helps that their other wins are getting better, too: Illinois (whom they beat 82-69) is now a top 10 win along with Texas Tech. They don’t have smooth sailing either: four out of their last six games are against teams currently ranked. If Baylor makes it out of this schedule alive then I might put them over Gonzaga.

 

Up next for Baylor: vs. #7 Texas Tech 2/13

3. Michigan Wolverines (13-1)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Michigan lucked their way into a top-3 spot. Everyone above them keeps losing. Not much to say about them this week since they didn’t play. I hope they’re able to keep their momentum through the end of the year. Not playing for this long can really come back to haunt teams (see: Saint Louis, Clemson).

 

Up next for Michigan: @ #21 Wisconsin 2/14

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (15-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ #15 Iowa 89-85

 

I’m fine with Ohio State at fourth for now. They’re in the same boat as Michigan because everyone above them is losing so they keep moving up, which is normal because they’re winning games. In fact, Ohio State has won seven of their last eight games, their only loss being Purdue at home. To me, their best win is @ Illinois and outside of that there really isn’t much that is impressive. They’ve played mostly the bottom half of the Big 10 thus far, and the real challenge will start once they are able to play Michigan. Until then, they’re kind of defaulted at number 4.

 

Up next for Ohio State: @ Maryland 2/8

5. Virginia Cavaliers (13-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ NC State 64-57; Win vs. Pittsburgh 73-66

 

So I’m a little high on Virginia right now, but their defense is just so good. Sure it’s not as good as when they won the national championship but this is a completely different team with the exception of Kihei Clark. Sure they struggled a little bit with these two teams but let’s not disrespect NC State and Pitt right now; both are very good and could upset any team at any given moment. Many of Virginia’s losses were extremely flukey such as the San Francisco loss and the most recent Virginia Tech loss. Those were because the offense didn’t work at all for some reason. I’m willing to give Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers a break for those two games.

 

Up next for Virginia: @ Georgia Tech 2/10

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders (14-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #12 Oklahoma 57-52; Win @ Kansas State 73-62

 

Texas Tech is such a weird team. They can beat a team like Oklahoma, keep Baylor to their first single-digit win of the season, but then let Kansas State score 62? For those who didn’t watch, the games was much closer than the score indicates. It was pretty back-and-forth for the entirety of the first half and for the first 10 minutes or so of the second. Kansas State is historically bad this season. So bad, in fact, they lost by double digits to Fort Hays State, a Division TWO school by 11! I was confused the whole game as to how it was so close. There is definitely a separation between the top of the Big 12 and the rest of the conference.

 

Up next for Texas Tech: vs. #14 West Virginia 2/9

7. Villanova Wildcats (12-2)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ St. John’s (NY) 59-70; Win vs. Georgetown 84-74

 

Yikes. These past two games have not made the Wildcats look too good to say the least. Before their long break, Villanova was only letting opponents score an average of 67 points per game. Since their first game back against Seton Hall, they have allowed 72.5 points per game. Those five points may not sound like a lot, but it has led to much closer games than Villanova is used to. I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to fare the rest of the schedule. It’s up to them now.

 

Up next for Villanova: vs. Marquette 2/10

8. Illinois Fighting Illini (13-5)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Indiana 75-71; Win vs. #21 Wisconsin 75-60

 

First of all, I am extremely surprised that Wisconsin is still ranked after that game against Illinois. Wisconsin has lost three of their last five games and yet they’re still ranked? I think it’s ridiculous, but I don’t have a say in the AP poll yet. I digress, the Illini are looking really good. They’re on a four game win streak right now, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to let up any time soon. The only qualm I have at the moment is that many of the wins over the past few weeks have been at home rather than on the road, so it’s up to them to start winning those games (albeit it’s not as egregious as Minnesota’s away record).

 

Up next for Illinois: vs. Northwestern 2/16

9. Houston Cougars (16-2)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ East Carolina 72-83; Win vs. Our Lady of the Lake 112-46

 

If you’re wondering how Houston could beat a team 112-46 it’s because Our Lady of the Lake is division two. I was wondering if I should even include that game because its of no use to any statistics. NET, Kenpom, and T-Rank all ignore stats from games against Division two teams. Anyways, Houston lost to East Carolina. It’s hard to put into words how big of an upset that is. Let’s just say East Carolina is a football school. It was the first time they had beaten a ranked team in almost 20 years. So yeah, Houston is not looking very good right now. They’re lucky to be a top 10 team at this point.

 

Up next for Houston: @ USF 2/10

10. West Virginia Mountaineers (13-5)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Iowa State 76-72; Win vs. Kansas 91-79

 

Just like Texas Tech, this team is extremely confusing. They squeak out a close one against Iowa State (who is another historically bad Big 12 team this season) just to beat Kansas, who was ranked at the time, by 12. I really don’t know what to say. They’ve won four of their last five games, so they’re doing something right. West Virginia is just one of those sit-and-wait teams because nobody knows if they’re going to win or lose in every game they play.

 

Up next for West Virginia: @ #7 Texas Tech 2/9

11. Texas Longhorns (11-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. #2 Baylor 69-83; Loss @ Oklahoma State 67-75 (2OT)

 

Texas just keeps getting in their own way. Right now they’re on a three game losing streak and have lost four of their last five games (their only win was against Kansas State). The Baylor loss was expected because, well, it’s Baylor. However, the losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were rather uncalled for. I watched all three of those games, and the biggest problem I saw was that Texas simply can’t hit their shots. In the two overtimes against Oklahoma State, Texas went 0-12 on the floor. Their only points came from free throws. That is unacceptable for a team who wants to win. They need a better shot selection and they need to stop getting in their own way.

 

Up next for Texas: @ Kansas State 2/9

12. Oklahoma Sooners (12-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #7 Texas Tech 52-57; Win vs. Iowa State 79-72

 

I (unfortunately) watched both of Oklahoma’s games this week. The game against Texas Tech was one of the best bad games of basketball I’ve ever seen. Neither team hit double digits until more than halfway through the first half. It wasn’t really good defense, more of bad offense. Mac McClung, whom I’ve previously mentioned was Texas Tech’s only offensive option, hit a total of 0 shots and only made free throws. It was Oklahoma’s for the taking and yet they blew it. I’m honestly pretty disappointed. As for the Iowa State game, don’t be deceived by the score. Iowa State shot the ball 20% better form three than they did from any other shot inside the arc. It was such a weird game. Iowa State would miss a layup and then kick it out to a player outside the arc and then they’d hit a three. I do not blame Oklahoma at all for that close win. Iowa State couldn’t miss from behind the three for some reason.

 

Up next for Oklahoma: @ #14 West Virginia 2/13

13. Missouri Tigers (13-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Kentucky 75-70; Win vs. #11 Alabama 68-65

 

Two very good wins for Missouri this week albeit both were home games. It does concern me how close Alabama came to beating Missouri, especially since Missouri had a 21 point lead at one point in the game. Outside of that Missouri should do decently well for the rest of the season because the SEC really isn’t that bad this season. A few tricky away games should test the Tigers enough for them to pop into the top 10 if they keep on winning like this.

 

Up next for Missouri: @ Ole Miss 2/10

14. Florida State Seminoles (10-3)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Just like most teams who go on break, Florida State is moving on up. It’s a little weird considering their most recent game was a loss, but that shouldn’t matter because it is very difficult to beat Georgia Tech on the road. Their single game this week really shouldn’t be too bad for them and if they get lucky enough they might just land themselves a spot in the top 10. It stinks that they’ve only played 13 games so far. Leonard Hamilton has really built himself a great team this season.

 

Up next for Florida State: vs. Wake Forest 2/13

15. Iowa Hawkeyes (13-6)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Michigan State 84-78; Loss vs. #4 Ohio State 85-89; Loss @ Indiana 65-67

 

Yikes (part 2). Iowa is straight up playing themselves out of a top seed. Right now most projections have them at a 4 seed, if that. Up until about last week they were considered a 1 seed. This is one of the hardest drops I’ve ever seen from a top 5 team. Losing four of the their last five is not a good look for a team many analysts have defended throughout the year. The saying “defense wins championships” is true. Iowa has thrived on outscoring their opponents this season. Their Defensive Rating is barely average according to KenPom, while their offensive rating is number one. It’s nice when the score is in the 80s and 90s every game until you start losing them. Or until you get a team like Indiana who actually has a defense and can shut down the team’s players. Until Iowa can get their act together on defense, they’re going to fall further and further down this hole.

 

Up next for Iowa: vs. #25 Rutgers 2/10

16. Tennessee Volunteers (13-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Ole Miss 50-52; Win @ Kentucky 82-71

 

Tennessee does just enough every week to keep themselves afloat. Their loss to Ole Miss was pretty bad in itself, but then they turn around and beat Kentucky by double-digits. Their defense has been outstanding over the past few weeks, but their offense hasn’t. They’re really streaky as well, going from an 80 point game all the way to a 60 point or even 50 point game. Inconsistency is not how you move forward in March.

 

Up next for Tennessee: @ LSU 2/13

17. Virginia Tech Hokies (14-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Pittsburgh 72-83; Win @ Miami (FL) 80-76 (OT)

 

Like I said earlier, Pittsburgh can beat whoever they want. Virginia Tech wasn’t ready for the absolute storm Justin Champaigne was bringing after their 20+ point loss to Notre Dame in their previous game. Tech was simply outplayed and outhustled. However, that is not the case for the Miami game. See, Miami is an extremely injured team with good talent but not good enough this season. I’m surprised it went to overtime; Cottrel (VT) it a clutch three to send it to OT. Virginia Tech was able to hang on and win because of it. That’s how it goes sometimes.

 

Up next for Virginia Tech: vs. Louisville 2/13

18. Southern California Trojans (15-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Stanford 72-66; Win vs. UCLA 66-48

 

The PAC-12 is severely underrated. I think it’s because there weren’t many PAC-12 teams in the preseason polls, and every time a team enters they always seem to lose. This isn’t the case for USC though. They took on UCLA like they were no big deal and beat them by almost 20. Again, I’m unable to actually watch these games because of how unworldly late they are, but looking through these box scores, USC is a very athletic and scores a lot of easy buckets.

 

Up next for Southern California: @ Washington 2/11

19. Creighton Bluejays (14-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. Georgetown 79-86; Win @ Marquette 71-68

 

Creighton loses to the worst teams. At the moment they have four conference losses. They are to Providence (Fifth worst in the Big East), Marquette (Fourth worst in the Big East), Butler (Third worst in the Big East), and Georgetown (Second worst in the Big East). I’ve honestly never seen something as consistent as this. They’ve beaten some really good teams as well, but those four losses are just completely mind boggling. This is a team that’s is begging to be upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament if they keep playing down to their competition.

 

Up next for Creighton: @ Georgetown 2/9

20. Alabama Crimson Tide (15-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. LSU 78-60; Loss @ Missouri 65-68

 

This might be a hot take, but I doubt that Alabama will hit an offensive stride as big as they did against LSU a week or two ago. In fact I don’t think Alabama will hit 100 for the rest of the season. Their offense is just too streaky and too reliant on the three-ball to actually be implemented as a permanent strategy in college basketball. Smallball is becoming more of the norm in college basketball, but it won’t work at a place like Alabama where there are teams with bigger players than at mid-major schools. I’m frustrated that the AP poll only dopped them a spot for their abysmal performances over the past few weeks.

 

Up next for Alabama: @ South Carolina 2/9

21. Oregon Ducks (10-4)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. Washington State 71-74; Win vs. Washington 86-74

 

Like I said for Southern California, I’m really high on PAC-12 teams. I think their talent is underrated and the teams haven’t been given a chance to prove themselves. Oregon lost this week, but the past few weeks have been really good for them so I think they deserve a spot on this list.

 

Up next for Oregon: @ Arizona State 2/11

22. Xavier Musketeers (11-2)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁

 

Will Xavier ever play a game again? Who’s to say. For now though they’re back in the top 25. I’m never quite sure what to say when a team doesn’t have any games because there really isn’t much to say.

 

Up next for Xavier: vs. DePaul 2/11

23. Colorado Buffaloe (14-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Arizona 82-79

 

Colorado was on my radar last week, but their loss to Utah took them off for a little bit. However, now that they’ve beaten Arizona I think this team is going places. Coming off of a break is very difficult and right now Colorado is doing well. I tried watching this game but again these PAC-12 games that start at 8/9/10PM are just impossible to watch on a weekday. Colorado is going to stay here for a while.

 

Up next for Colorado: vs. Oregon State 2/8

24. Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ TCU 78-81; Win vs. #13 Texas 75-67

 

I wasn’t planning on ranking Oklahoma State, but then they beat Texas and I couldn’t not rank them. Cade Cunningham is an interesting character to say the least. Oklahoma State wins and loses games because of him. He’s an amazing player, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure he’s ready to be the number one overall pick in the NBA draft like many talking heads are saying he will. His decision-making is alright but his play is very hero ball-esque. In order for me to trust in Cade, I think he needs to share the ball more. Also, the camera angle for the Oklahoma State games is terrible, I just needed to get that out there.

 

Up next for Oklahoma State: @ Kansas 2/8

25. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (17-3)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Missouri State 70-50; Win vs. Evansville 68-55; Win vs. Evansville 69-58

 

Out goes one MVC team and in comes another. Drake lost this week, and Loyola-Chicago is on a 10 game winning streak which is really good. Back-to-back games have not been talked about as much as they should be. Those two days where two teams play each other twice is absolutely ridiculous to win both. It really just goes to show the amount of parity within college basketball. Beating the same team twice in a row is so hard, no matter the team. Not even Loyola-Chicago has done it with every team. They lost to Indiana State earlier in the season, but they’ve won 10 straight since. I’m excited for them this season. It might not be another final four run exactly, but I think that this team has a chance at a high seed in the tournament.