Siler’s Selections – Week 16

For the week of 3/1 – 3/7

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Matthew Siler, Reporter

March is here. Conference tournaments are starting (PLEASE watch the conference tournaments!! They are so much fun!), drama is at an all-time high, and there is some really good basketball being played. March is when legends are born and where storylines are made, and this season is no different.  However, due to Selection Sunday being so close and the fact that rankings really don’t mean much anymore, this will be the last week for this season I will be writing my Siler’s Selections. Hopefully next season I’ll be able to pick right back up from where I started and actually have a full season of rankings instead of just two-thirds of a season.


Fear not, however! I am not done with all of my college basketball content yet. I’ve mentioned a few times that I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of all the different stats when I write these selections. Over the past few weeks, I have been slowly working at getting a “Resume Comparer” out in time for Selection Sunday, and I’m happy to say that it is complete! Here is the official Resume Comparer that I have created. It might be a little barren right now, but all of the content is there and ready for analyzing (and starting debates).


I am also hosting a Bracket Challenge this year to increase engagement across The Tower! There will be more information (and likely another article) coming soon.


With that said, here are my FINAL RANKINGS for the 2020-2021 college basketball season:

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (24-0)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁


Some things never change. And that’s perfectly okay with me, especially when it means a team is undefeated going into their conference tournament.


Up next for Gonzaga: vs. (NEUTRAL) St. Mary’s (CA) ⅜

2. Baylor Bears (20-1)

THIS WEEK: Win @ #6 West Virginia 94-89 (OT); Win vs. #17 Oklahoma State 81-70; Win vs. #18 Texas Tech 88-73


That’s right. Baylor is BACK. Three games in a week and all three against ranked opponents. Only Baylor is able to make them all Ws. I don’t think I have to justify having the Bears in the number two spot anymore, so here are some fun stats about Baylor this season: It is their first regular season conference title since 1950. That’s right. It has been 71 years since the last time Baylor has won a regular season conference title. Going back even further, the last time Baylor was undefeated at home during the regular season was in 1948. What Scott Drew has done for Baylor cannot be overstated. He is a legend in Waco and for good reason. Absolutely incredible.


Up next for Baylor: Conference tournament!

3. Illinois Fighting Illini (20-6)

THIS WEEK: Win @ #2 Michigan 76-53; Win @ #7 Ohio State 73-68


The biggest controversy of the week: Illinois is 0.5 games AHEAD of Michigan in the Big 10 standings, but Michigan has the better winning percentage so they get the regular season title (Michigan is 14-3 while Illinois is 16-4). Illinois can get the satisfaction of being ahead of Michigan in my rankings… if that’s of any solace. Anyways, right now Illinois is playing like a championship-calibre team. I can definitely see them winning the Big 10 championship and having a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.


Up next for Illinois: Conference tournament!

4. Michigan Wolverines (19-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Michigan State 69-50; Loss @ Michigan State 64-70


This last game against Michigan State sort of felt like a week 17 game. Michigan did not look like they wanted to be there. Who would? They’ve already locked up a one seed in both their conference tournament and in the NCAA Tournament (barring some wild turn of events) so this game just wasn’t important. Should they have won? Absolutely, even games that don’t matter are important. I’m sure seeing a 20 instead of a 19 would look nicer but they’re still the conference regular season champs and have the opportunity to be the tournament champions as well.


Up next for Michigan: Conference tournament!

5. Iowa Hawkeyes (20-7)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Nebraska 102-64; Win vs. #25 Wisconsin 77-73


In one of the easiest ranked wins ever, Iowa was able to hold on against Wisconsin. Again, Wisconsin now has 11 losses and somehow the AP voters thought it was a good idea to rank them. I digress, the Iowa team is going back to their old form, and the curse of the Fran February is gone now that it’s March. I see only good things happening to this Hawkeye team. Also, interesting to note, Luka Garza’s number (55) is being retired following the end of the season. Watch some Iowa games! It’s not very often we get to see a player’s number retirement get announced during a season. 


Up next for Iowa: Conference tournament!

6. Houston Cougars (21-3)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Memphis 67-64


It took a buzzer-beater for Houston to beat Memphis. Does that mean Houston is in imminent danger of losing in the AAC tournament? Not necessarily but it doesn’t look good for them if they want to make a deep run in the tournament and if they want to be taken seriously in the future. Houston has had a few embarrassing losses this season and a low-seed upset could be another one if they aren’t careful.


Up next for Houston: Conference tournament!

7. Arkansas Razorbacks (21-5)

THIS WEEK: Win @ South Carolina 101-73; Win vs. Texas A&M 87-80


Well, Arkansas didn’t lose which is more than other teams can say. This team is on an 8 game winning streak, which is one of the best in the nation at the moment and one of the best in power 6. They had a little bit of a scare against Texas A&M (the worst team in the SEC) but have looked like true contenders for the past month and a half, beating teams like Missouri, Kentucky, and Alabama all in that timeframe. Look out for Arkansas.


Up next for Arkansas: Conference tournament!

8. West Virginia Mountaineers (18-8)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. #3 Baylor 89-94 (OT); Win vs. TCU 76-67; Loss vs. #17 Oklahoma State 80-85


Eighth is probably the highest I’ve ever had (and hopefully ever will) an eight loss team. I just think West Virginia and the Big 12 as a whole is that good. They’re definitely up there with the depth of their conference. If West Virginia can pull off a few conference tournament wins, I’m sure they can pull out a Sweet Sixteen appearance or an Elite Eight. I guess we’ll see how the rest of their season goes. I’m excited.


Up next for West Virginia: Conference tournament!

9. Creighton Bluejays (18-7)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #10 Villanova 60-72; Win vs. Butler 93-73


Creighton is Creighton. I don’t have too much to say about them other than they probably could have beat Villanova again, but it was senior night and it’s really hard to beat a team on the road; it’s even harder when it’s senior night. I probably could have them lower but I think they’ll be fine in their conference tourney and in the NCAA Tournament they’ll thrive.


Up next for Creighton: Conference Tournament!

10. Alabama Crimson Tide (21-6)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Auburn 70-58; Win @ Georgia 89-79


Has Alabama shown up this season or what? An absolutely stellar season, setting records that date back to the 70s and 80s with their number of conference wins and their home winning record, all that fun stuff. Nate Oats is an amazing coach who knows how to manipulate an offense to the point where if one player is having an off night, somebody else will cover for them and have an even better night. The culture he has built and the ability Coach Oats has to remain calm in most situations is truly remarkable. Good for them.


Up next for Alabama: Conference Tournament!

11. Ohio State Buckeyes (18-8)

THIS WEEK: Loss vs. #4 Illinois 68-73


Four losses in a row does not look good on any team, no matter who they played in that given timeframe. Ohio State may have just played themselves out of both a one seed and a two seed in a matter of two weeks. That’s impressive. If they somehow lose their first conference tournament game I cannot see how the selection committee will keep them as a two seed. They have a really good resume but as of late their flaws are showing: They don’t have a true “big man” and they rely on the three so much to the point where they won’t win a game if their three point percentage isn’t above a certain threshold. I guess we’ll have to see how it goes for them.


Up next for Ohio State: Conference Tournament!

12. Oklahoma State Cowboys (18-7)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #16 Oklahoma 79-75; Loss @ #3 Baylor 70-81; Win @ #6 West Virginia 85-80


For those who don’t know: Oklahoma State was without their best rebounder (Isaac Likekely) for all three games and without their best player (Cade Cunningham) for the West Virginia game. And yet somehow Oklahoma State went 2-1 in their three game stretch against ranked opponents. If they could do that, I’m sure they’ll do amazing in the tourney. Oklahoma State is a dark horse for the Final Four this season.


Up next for Oklahoma State: Conference Tournament!

13. Kansas Jayhawks (19-8)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. UTEP 67-62


People will see this final score and wonder why I have a team who beat UTEP by five points at number 13. Well, it helps that UTEP ended the game with their highest three point percentage (58%) of the season. There wasn’t much Kansas could do in terms of stopping them from scoring that way. Kansas is just a defense-oriented team this year and people label it as “sloppy play” even though it’s the same way teams like Virginia and Duquesne have played for years.


Up next for Kansas: Conference Tournament!

14. Villanova Wildcats (16-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #14 Creighton 72-60; Loss @ Providence 52-54


Imagine being told you’d hold a team to under 15 points in a half but you’d still lose. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Villanova the other day. Providence was on fire for the entire first half and, well, was extremely cold during the second half but found enough fight in them to keep Villanova away. As for the Wildcats, well they were without one of their good rebounders in Justin Moore, and also without their best shooter in Collin Gillespie so they were definitely hurting to say the least. Not a very good excuse, but it’s what happened. Such is life.


Up next for Villanova: Conference Tournament!

15. San Diego State Aztecs (20-4)

THIS WEEK: Win @ UNLV 71-62


I see no reason why San Diego State should be any lower than 15th. They are on an 11 game winning streak, and have clinched the one seed in a very competitive Mountain West Conference. This team is one to pay attention to when tournament time comes.


Up next for San Diego State: Conference Tournament!

16. Oregon Ducks (19-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Arizona 80-69; Win vs. UCLA 82-74; Win @ Oregon State 80-67


Oregon is absolutely tearing it up in the PAC-12 right now. In their past 12 games they are 11-1, which is awesome for any team in any power conference. I have been very adamant about more PAC-12 representation within the polls this season, and Oregon is finally proving why I believe that. They have clinched the one seed in the PAC-12 this season and are going to be a good option in the NCAA Tournament.


Up next for Oregon: Conference Tournament!

17. Colorado Buffaloe (20-7)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Arizona State 75-61


Colorado is winning and they have an excellent record. Right now they are on a four game winning streak and don’t have very many bad losses. This PAC-12 tournament is going to be really interesting so I implore you to go and watch it when it’s on! These conference tournaments are what the college players work their whole careers towards because there are so many players who never even sniff a postseason game.


Up next for Colorado: Conference Tournament!

18. Florida State Seminoles (15-5)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Boston College 93-64; Loss @ Notre Dame 73-83


As an enormous Notre Dame fan, I will attempt to keep this as neutral as possible. Florida State’s win over Boston College was to be expected, as BC just fired their head coach and doesn’t have much to play for this season. However, coming into the game against Notre Dame (who also doesn’t have much to play for), all Florida State had to do was beat a team who lost to BC (whom Florida State just beat by 29 a few days earlier). No problem. Right? Wrong. It definitely doesn’t help the fact that FSU started out 0-8 from three point range, but to never lead a team who isn’t even close to .500 is sad. I understand, Notre Dame is much better than their record implies, but my point still stands. A terrible defensive performance and an even worse offensive performance knocked FSU out of the top 15 for me and down to second place in the ACC standings thanks to Virginia’s win over Louisville.


Up next for Florida State: Conference Tournament!

19. Texas Longhorns (17-7)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Iowa State 81-67; Win @ #16 Oklahoma 69-65; Win @ TCU 76-64


Texas was good this week, but they can still be better. I’m not completely convinced that this team can make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament yet unless they do well in the Big 12 tournament. If they can beat a few ranked teams along the way then I’d be more than happy to put them higher but for now, and I guess for the rest of the year until next season, they’re going to stay at a disappointing 19th. Not the way to go out, but the expectations are low so they’re just as easily exceeded.


Up next for Texas: Conference Tournament!

20. Oklahoma Sooners (14-9)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ #17 Oklahoma State 75-79; Loss @ #15 Texas 65-69


What a disappointing end to the season for Oklahoma. Ending up as a 7 seed in your conference is not the way Sooners fans imagined their conference tournament ending up like. Oklahoma doesn’t even get a bye! And yet I still have them ranked because I think they’re a good team. They just lost their footing. A good beatdown of an Iowa State team should get them back to where they were in January. This team has beaten some amazing teams, and I think they should still get credit for that.


Up next for Oklahoma: Conference Tournament!

21. Virginia Cavaliers (17-6)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Miami (FL) 62-51; Win @ Louisville 68-58


Congratulations to Virginia on winning the ACC regular season title! Thanks to Florida State’s complete botching of the Notre Dame game, all the Cavaliers had to do was beat Louisville at Louisville to claim the ACC title. Coach Bennett is absolutely amazing. In the past 12 years, Virginia has as many ACC regular season titles as they did over the course of the first 56 years of Virginia basketball. It’s amazing what a coach can do for a program. It’s going to be interesting to see how they do in the ACC tournament.


Up next for Virginia: Conference Tournament!

22. Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-9)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. TCU 69-49; Win vs. Iowa State 81-54; Loss @ #3 Baylor 73-88


Texas Tech really couldn’t stop Baylor. I don’t think anyone could. MaCio Teague (BAY) was 10-12 FROM THREE, which sets a Big 12 record for the most number of threes by a single player in a game. I watched that game start to finish and Texas Tech really did well. They also shot the ball over 50% from three, but was overshadowed by Baylor shooting at almost 70% from three. There are some things that were just meant to be. I think that’s what happened in that Texas Tech game against Baylor. Incredible.


Up next for Texas Tech: Conference Tournament!

23. Virginia Tech Hokies (15-5)

THIS WEEK: No games 🙁


Not much to say about a team who didn’t play this week. I’m sure the Hokies will do great in the postseason, as they’re a lock for the NCAA Tournament.


Up next for Virginia Tech: Conference Tournament!

24. Purdue Boilermakers (18-8)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #25 Wisconsin 73-69; Win vs. Indiana 67-58


Nine straight wins for the Boilermakers over Indiana. That’s quite a long time since, well, it was a rivalry. Good, now that I have your attention let me tell you about Purdue. This team is really good. Zach Edey, the 7’4” monster has improved immensely over the course of the season along with players like Jaden Ivey and Sasha Stefonovich. I’m really impressed with how they’ve performed over the past few weeks, and right now they’re on track for about a four seed. Good for them.


Up next for Purdue: Conference Tournament!

25. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (24-4)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Southern Illinois 73-49; Win vs. Indiana State 65-49; Win vs. Drake 75-65


There’s not much more I could say about Loyola that I haven’t said already. These guys are legit. Those three games I’ve listed were actually all tournament games. Loyola has already punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament as an auto-bid. So congratulations Loyola! You are the first team to punch your ticket into the NCAA Tournament! The tough part will be seeing what their seed will be. An 8 or 9 seed would be rough because if they win the first game then they’ll be up against a 1 seed, so it’s up to the selection committee to decide. Again, congratulations to the Ramblers and to everyone else who has made the tournament this season as an auto-bid!


Up next for Loyola-Chicago: NCAA TOURNAMENT!