Siler’s Selections – Week 15

For the week of 2/22 – 2/28

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Matthew Siler, Reporter

This is it. This is the homestretch. March is here. It has been two years since the last time we’ve had March Madness. Think about that. Two years. Life really passes by quick, doesn’t it? Think about how much our lives have changed over the last two years. And now start thinking about who’s going to be crowned the next national champion, because this month will be over quicker than any other month. All of my hours and hours of writing these articles comes to a close this week, so why not end with a bang?


This year I will be hosting a Bracket Challenge to support The Tower and to increase engagement within the website. More details will be released in my next article so be on the lookout for when my newest article comes out!


With that said, here are my top 25 teams for week 15 of the college basketball season:

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (24-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Santa Clara 89-75; Win vs. Loyola-Marymount (CA) 86-69


This genuinely might be one of the best teams I have ever seen. Their whole roster could make first-team all-WCC (Apologies to the Pepperdine fans out there rooting for Colby Ross) which might not sound all that impressive, but the WCC is not a bad conference by any means. Gonzaga is just that good. So the next time you see a Gonzaga player in Washington, be sure to congratulate them on a perfect regular season! They have a triple-bye in their conference tournament for the umpteenth time in a row so good for them there as well. It would be nice for them to get their first national championship this season.


Up next for Gonzaga: Conference tourney! Opponent and time TBA

2. Michigan Wolverines (18-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #9 Iowa 79-57; Win @ Indiana 73-57


With Baylor’s loss, Michigan has now joined them and Gonzaga in the upper-echelon of teams who are favorites to win their conference and the national championship. Anyone who still doubts this team is either an Ohio State fan or hasn’t actually seen Michigan play yet. Hunter Dickinson was able to shut down Garza like no other big has done thus far, and what’s even crazier is that he will probably come back next season. With the exception of the Ohio State game, Michigan’s defense is unlike any other. They’re the real deal and I have this feeling that Michigan will be the team to beat in the near future.


Up next for Michigan: vs. #5 Illinois 3/2 

3. Baylor Bears (18-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Iowa State 77-72; Loss @ #17 Kansas 58-71


I knew as soon as I saw the Iowa State game that Baylor was going to lose to Kansas. I don’t mean that as a slight against Baylor, but the fact that as a team they only had a week of practice and three weeks of pure quarantine (with some players contracting the virus), there was going to be some issues. I still think Baylor is in a tier of their own when it comes to their talent and amazing chemistry — it’s what will carry them through March. But it’s hard to be perfect when the flow of a season gets interrupted so badly. MaCio Teague, Jared Butler, Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua, Flo Thamba, Matthew Meyer; those are just a few of the names I can list off of the top of my head. Remember those names. In March they will be spoken so much there’s no way they’ll be forgotten. Baylor is a memorable team and this season is special for them even with the blemish.


Up next for Baylor: @ #10 West Virginia 3/2

4. West Virginia Mountaineers (17-6)

THIS WEEK: Win @ TCU 74-66; Win vs. Kansas State 65-43


This is a bold move. A six-loss team in fourth place?  Yeah. Controversial. I’m not a fan of the term “quality loss” because a loss is a loss no matter how close a team plays (and there’s a LOT of goalpost-moving when it comes to discussion about “quality losses” but that’s for another day) another opponent. West Virginia, however, is one of only two teams with more than one loss but has six or more Q1 wins and ZERO Q2/3/4 losses (Kansas is the other). That’s a pretty good resume if I say so myself. Everyone else is losing, anyways. Why should I give another team credit for losing if West Virginia is winning? It’s never made sense to me.


Up next for West Virginia: vs. #3 Baylor 3/2

5. Illinois Fighting Illini (18-6)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Michigan State 82-71; Win vs. Nebraska 82-70; Win @ #24 Wisconsin 74-69


I only moved Illinois down one spot because for some reason Michigan State was just really good this week, and Illinois was able to recover (Ohio State was not). Ayo went down after a nasty blow to the face during the Michigan State game left him with a broken nose. They ended up beating Nebraska with ease (like most Big 10 teams this season) and got themselves the easiest ranked win ever. Seriously. Why was Wisconsin even ranked this week? They’ve now lost six straight against ranked teams but they’ve stayed ranked in the AP poll for the past three weeks?? Absolutely insane if you ask me. Anyways, Illinois should get Ayo Dosunmu back for their game against Michigan which, if you aren’t planning on watching, you should. This game will be amazing and nobody who watches it will regret it.


Up next for Illinois: @ #3 Michigan 3/2

6. Houston Cougars (20-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Cincinnati 90-52; Win vs. Western Kentucky 81-57


In the same vein as West Virginia, Houston… Didn’t lose? Good for them I guess. I’m surprised they’re even still in the conversation for a one seed after their embarrassments against ECU and Wichita State. If Illinois and West Virginia both lose their games against top-5 opponents this week and Houston can beat 126th ranked South Florida, they’ve got themselves a one seed. For now. However, if either Illinois or West Virginia wins their game, well then we’ve got a mess on our hands and I’m not ready to handle that kind of a scenario yet. Houston should win out and even though they’re sixth in the country they won’t even win their conference’s regular season title because of their losses. Ouch. I’m sure they’ll be fine in March, though.


Up next for Houston: @ Memphis 3/7

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (18-7)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #3 Michigan 57-79; Win @ #4 Ohio State 73-57


What a turn around for this Iowa team. One of their bigs (and Indiana native) Jack Nunge tears his ACL in a non-contact play against Michigan and then they go out and shoot the lights out against Ohio State. This is probably the best their defense has played all season, with Garza and Wieskamp actually looking like defenders and not obstacles that can be bypassed easily. Yes, this might be a little high for them providing they lost to Michigan, but I really don’t see anywhere but up for Iowa at this time. Good for them.


Up next for Iowa: vs. Nebraska 3/4

8. Creighton Bluejays (17-6)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. DePaul 77-53; Loss @ Xavier 69-77


I completely forgot about Creighton’s loss to Xavier until I was compiling the data for this section. I watched that whole game, too. Xavier is a good team, but people still underestimate them because of how long they were on break for. I would rank them but their résumé just doesn’t check out compare to other teams (and there always has to be a spot for Loyola-Chicago so there’s really only 24 spots). Creighton will be fine, their biggest matchup is coming up anyways, so there’s always redemption. For now they’re a lock for the tournament and are pretty strong candidates for a Sweet Sixteen run.


Up next for Creighton:  @ #8 Villanova 3/3

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (18-7)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Michigan State 67-71; Loss vs. #9 Iowa 57-73


I don’t care how good Ohio State’s résumé looks or how many Q1 wins they might have; losing three games in a row will get any team dropped. I said this earlier when talking about “quality losses.” There comes a point where the line between a “good game” and a “pattern of losing” needs to be drawn. This is that point. Ohio State is no longer the fourth-best team in the country and it shows. I’m not quite sure what happened to provoke this losing streak but it certainly doesn’t help that one of their losses was to a middling Michigan State team. I’m sure they’ll figure it out but time is short now that March is here. They might have just played themselves out of a one seed.


Up next for Ohio State: vs. #5 Illinois 3/6

10. Villanova Wildcats (15-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. St. John’s (NY) 81-58; Loss @ Butler 61-73


Talk about a team playing themselves out of a one seed, all Villanova had to do was not lose to an 8-13 Butler team, but I guess when the team shoots a dreadful 2-27 from three (the 7% 3-point percentage is the lowest in the Jay Wright era and lowest since February of 2000 for Villanova) there isn’t much to do except try to move on. Hopefully they got their bad shooting mojo out and are ready for the next few games because these are probably the most important games of the season.


Up next for Villanova: vs. #13 Creighton 3/3

11. Oklahoma Sooners (14-7)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Kansas State 57-62; Loss vs. Oklahoma State 90-94 (OT)


Fun fact, Oklahoma now has a transitive loss to a Division II School: Fort Hays State! I wish I was kidding. What a terrible, terrible loss for Oklahoma. This is worse than Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State, worse than Villanova’s loss to Butler, and worse than Houston’s loss to ECU earlier this year. I’m not quite sure how else to explain just how egregious this is. And then to let Oklahoma State score on every possession in OT? Plain unacceptable from this Sooners team. Two consecutive losses is bad enough but Oklahoma is seriously putting their high seed bids at risk with this past week.


Up next for Oklahoma: @ Oklahoma State 3/1

12. Arkansas Razorbacks (19-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #6 Alabama 81-66; Win vs. LSU 83-75


This Arkansas team is criminally underrated. They completely blew out Alabama in a game I thought would be close (in fact, the line favored Alabama when it opened) but I didn’t even watch the whole thing because of how badly they were winning. Now, I’ve said before that I am low on Alabama, but the metrics haven’t. The AP poll hasn’t. And now Arkasas is proving to everyone why they are the better team (even though they split the series this season). The SEC tournament is going to be a fun one to watch.


Up next for Arkansas: @ South Carolina 3/2

13. Alabama Crimson Tide (19-6)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #20 Arkansas 66-81; Win @ Mississippi State 64-59


For how high-tempoed this team has been all season, the past two games has not been kind to the Crimson Tide. Even going back to their game against Vanderbilt, Alabama’s defense has left much to be desired from people like me. I’ve personally never been a huge fan of them this season and I’ve probably underrated them for a lot of the time, but I think now more than ever Alabama is failing to show up in big games. They’ve got two more regular season games before their conference tournament. They’ve already got their SEC Tournament seed locked up, so now they’re just hoping for a good bump and for a lot of teams above them to lose if they want to get back to the one seed like they were before. Congratulations to them for winning the SEC Regular Season championship though!


Up next for Alabama: vs. Auburn 3/2

14. Kansas Jayhawks (18-8)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #14 Texas 72-75; Win vs. #2 Baylor 71-58


Is this a bit high for Kansas? Yeah, probably. But they’ve got some of the best wins in the country right now. After taking down the beast that is Baylor, Kansas definitely has a lot left in the tank. Bill Self is a great coach and it’s showing. He doesn’t “rely on talent” like some people accuse him of doing (which is ridiculous but, again, for another time) and he is amazing and balancing his teams so that they are adaptive to their own strengths rather than whatever strengths Self thinks they have. I moved Kansas up so high because their ceiling is just now showing. They’re a defensive team this season which is perfectly fine. People aren’t used to seeing Kansas as a defensive team so they say “oh well Kansas plays bad basketball” which is just blatantly false. Kansas plays great defensively. It’s good to note when a team does well. If they keep riding this streak, they’ll be well on their way to a deep tournament run.


Up next for Kansas: vs. UTEP 3/4 (Kansas is done with Conference play)

15. Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-6)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #18 Texas Tech 74-69 (OT); Win @ #7 Oklahoma 94-90 (OT)


Cade Cunningham is perhaps one of the clutchest players on the planet. This man scored 40 points in one game against a nasty Oklahoma defense. Without him, Oklahoma State is nothing. I questioned him as the projected number 1 overall draft pick, but I question him no more. He is an amazing athlete who can score on all three levels and pass the ball like it’s nobody’s business. I cannot wait to see him in March playing in the NCAA Tournament. Keep an eye out for him, folks. He’s a special player.


Up next for Oklahoma State: vs. #7 Oklahoma 3/1

16. Florida State Seminoles (14-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Miami (FL) 88-71; Loss @ North Carolina 70-78


Can’t win them all I guess. It’s surprising to me that Florida State is so low yet has so few losses. I think it’s because they haven’t played many games this season. There are a lot of teams who have 18 wins while FSU only has 18 total games played. I digress, Florida State blew it against North Carolina. That’s really all that happened. They had a pretty decent lead in the double digits and North Carolina simply outperformed and outhustled Florida State in every facet during the second half. North Carolina fans should be happy about that win while Florida State fans should be concerned about this team’s ability to play during the ACC Tournament.


Up next for Florida State: vs. Boston College 3/3

17. San Diego State Aztecs (19-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Boise State 78-66; Win vs. Boise State 62-58


These back-to-backs are insane. Anything can happen within those two days, it makes me curious as to what would happen if March Madness was a double-elimination tournament. The better teams would probably win more, or would they? It’s hard to tell. Anyways, San Diego State looks great. I don’t have much to say about them because their games are way past my bedtime (11PM start times? I’ve got too much schoolwork to do to be staying up watching games till 1AM) so I resort to highlights. SDSU has an amazing defense as always and is able to control most offenses to the point where not many schemes are able to penetrate the stout paint defense of the Aztecs.


Up next for San Diego State: @ UNLV 3/3

18. Texas Tech Red Raiders (15-8)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Oklahoma State 69-74 (OT); Win vs. #14 Texas 68-59


After losing three straight games, Texas Tech has finally got control over their team. A solid win over Texas is exactly what the Red Raiders need to right the ship and get to the end of the season ranked. They have two easy games and their toughest matchup in Baylor as their last regular season game of the year, so as long as they don’t look past these next two games (TCU is looking like a trap game to me), Texas Tech should be fine and should be a top seed going into the NCAA Tournament. I’ll probably get a few questions from Purdue fans now that I’m ranking an 8-loss team that isn’t named Kansas. Well, Texas Tech didn’t lose to Miami (FL) so that’s always a plus.


Up next for Texas Tech: vs. TCU 3/2

19. Texas Longhorns (14-7)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #17 Kansas 75-72; Loss @ #18 Texas Tech 59-68


Texas was doing so well at the beginning of the season. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly where Texas has gone wrong, although last week I pointed out how Texas was fighting amongst each other during one of their games so team chemistry could be a factor. I’m an optimistic person, so I can see Texas pulling out their next few games relatively well. If they can win out the rest of the way I see no reason why they can’t be ranked in the top-15 by the end of the season. They need to get out of their own way first, though.


Up next for Texas: @ Iowa State 3/2

20. Virginia Tech Hokies (15-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. Georgia Tech 53-69; Win vs. Wake Forest 84-46


Virginia Tech sure knows how to come out swinging. After a disappointing loss at home to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech beats Wake forest by 38, their largest margin of victory as an ACC team. What can I say? The Hokies are definitely an “on night, off night” type of team. Nobody knows when they’ll have an “on night” and when they’ll have an “off night.” If I were them, I would have “on nights” for the rest of the season because, well, we’re in the homestretch. No mistakes can be made from here on out. It has to be perfection. I’m not sure if VT can give us that.


Up next for Virginia Tech: vs. Louisville 3/3

21. Oregon Ducks (16-5)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #19 USC 58-72; Win @ Stanford 71-68; Win @ California 74-63


Oregon is on a roll. They’ve only had one (1) loss since the beginning of February, and I’m not quite sure how people haven’t noticed them yet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The PAC-12 needs more representation within the polls. They are playing good competition but since they aren’t the B1G, nobody notices them and if a team loses, they’re out. I think the PAC-12 has some decent teams (and DEFINITELY has bad ones) so the successful ones should be rewarded. Here is Oregon. They are being rewarded.


Up next for Oregon: vs. Arizona 3/1

22. Colorado Buffaloe (19-7)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #19 USC 80-62; Win vs UCLA 70-61


Colorado has been in and out of my rankings for the past month or two. They are currently done with all of their conference games and probably won’t play again until their conference tournament. Again, the PAC-12 is really hard to watch consistently because of how dang late their games are, but from what I’ve seen of them, they are a high-caliber team that should be ranked. Now they have the added advantage of not playing! So they can’t lose! How fun is that?


Up next for Colorado: ??? Conference Tournament! 

23. Virginia Cavaliers (15-6)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. NC State 61-68


Yikes. This team looks completely uninspired. I was at an impasse when ranking them, however: I was choosing between them and Purdue. Purdue has that loss @ Miami (FL) but Virginia has the loss to San Francisco as well. However, unlike Purdue, I have hope that Virginia will turn it around in the conference tournament and play really well. Purdue on the other hand is very inconsistent and doesn’t play very well when it comes to a pressure defense. If Virginia and Purdue played I’m certain Virginia would win because of their matchups on bigs and the defensive advantages that UVa has over Purdue.


Up next for Virginia: vs. Miami (FL) 3/1

24. Connecticut Huskies (12-6)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Georgetown 70-57; Win @ Marquette 80-62


Bouknight has completely changed the way UConn has played this season. He’s only played in 11 of UConn’s 18 games, but with him they are 10-1, with their sole loss being Villanova. He’s a game-changer. Averaging 20+ points per game, he’s the first Husky to do that since Kemba Walker’s 2011 season, and, well, let’s just say the Huskies were a tad underrated that season. Do I think Bouknight will lead UConn to a national championship? Absolutely not. He’s good but he’s not Kemba Walker. UConn, however, should be ranked because of their massive improvements over the last few weeks. Props to them.


Up next for UConn: @ Seton Hall 3/3

25. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (21-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Southern Illinois 60-52; Win vs. Southern Illinois 65-58 (OT)


Loyola-Chicago escapes two more close wins. But hey, a win is a win is a win. Whatever it takes for Loyola to make the tournament I guess. Even if they lose in their conference tournament they should 100% be in as an at-large (although I feel bad for the team whose bid they steal). This is a good team, and a close win to a lesser opponent really shouldn’t shock anyone; it happens to every team. If Loyola-Chicago were to blow every team out by 20+, then those games wouldn’t be any fun to watch now would they. I know I’m just being facetious at this point but give them a chance. If they mess it up it’s on them. Who knows, they might shock the world again.


Up next for Loyola-Chicago: ??? Conference Tournament!