Faculty Basketball Broadcaster and Reporter
What number of groups in school basketball have the make-up to win the nationwide championship in Houston this April?
It is a query of wealthy fluidity, however my prime tier within the group could be Alabama, Kansas, Houston, UCLA and Purdue. Three of those groups misplaced this previous weekend, and if that does not sum up the present state of affairs in school hoops, I am unsure what it does. The game is crammed with parity and chaos, and there is simply a double-digit variety of candidates that would attain the Remaining 4.
The chaos was felt Sunday night on the Fertitta Middle, as Temple took down AP No. 1 ranked Houston, 56-55. It marked the Owls’ first win excessive workforce within the rankings since 2000. For the Cougars, it is a setback, however these aren’t the worst issues to undergo on the marathon to March. Candidly, as a result of Houston performs within the American Athletic Convention, it leaves them much less inclined to shedding in comparison with these packages within the Energy 5/Huge East.
The large-picture merchandise for Kelvin Sampson to determine is his offence. Past Marcus Sasser and Jamal Shead, the Cougars didn’t get a lot from different sources. Whereas five-star freshman Jarace Walker has two 20-point performances in his final 4 video games, Sampson and his employees should discover a option to get contributions from him on a extra constant monitor. In Sunday’s loss, Walker scored 9 factors however went 3-for-12 from the sphere. At simply over 33% from past the arc, perimeter capturing is one thing that goes cold and warm for the Cougars. Pretty much as good as they’re defensively, sooner or later on the large dance flooring scoring persistently turns into a should.
Going again to our dialogue of the double-digit variety of potential Remaining 4 candidates, a type of groups is TCU — sure, TCU. And no, I am not simply saying that as a result of the Horned Frogs blew out Kansas on Saturday, 83-60, for the highest-ranked street win within the historical past of this system. Jamie Dixon’s workforce is ranked within the top-15 of KenPom adjusted defensive effectivity whereas being loaded with expertise and an All-American-level guard in Mike Miles Jr. With different seniors in guard Damion Baugh and ahead Emanuel Miller within the equation, and a gang rebounding mentality, this workforce is de facto troublesome to cease when pulling down perimeter pictures. In Saturday’s win over the Jayhawks, the Horned Frogs shot 8-for-15 from past the arc and 6 gamers scored a minimum of eight factors. Sure, TCU is 15-4, however three of these losses got here by only a mixed seven factors. The Frogs are going to be one robust out, as Arizona discovered within the NCAA Match final 12 months.
One other storyline reflecting the randomness to the season? Gonzaga’s 75-game residence unbeaten streak ended with a loss to Loyola Marymount. The Bulldogs additionally mentioned goodbye to a streak of 116 consecutive victories within the WCC over groups not named BYU or Saint Mary’s. These numbers are ridiculous, however additionally they present that even a top-10 Gonzaga workforce does not really feel just like the Zags squads of latest years. And simply suppose, this workforce was ranked sixth within the AP Ballot final Monday.
Whereas it was one other week of change in school hoops, our energy rankings even have a repeat No. 1 for the primary time in a number of weeks — and for good motive.
1. Alabama (17-2)
The Crimson Tide is doing one thing historic. At 7-0, Alabama has received each SEC recreation by double-figures. Nate Oats’ workforce is the primary to attain that feat in a decade, since 2012-13 Florida went 24-6 and reached the Elite Eight. 4 of the Crimson Tide’s seven convention wins have come by a minimum of 20 factors, the most recent coming in an 85-64 blowout at Missouri on Saturday.
2. Purdue (19-1)
The Boilermakers are off to their finest begin to a season at school historical past, with Zach Edey developing clutch in a win at Michigan State and following it up with 24 factors and 16 rebounds in Sunday’s win over Maryland. The season that Edey has put up to this point has been generational. Here is some proof:
3. Kansas State (17-2)
The Wildcats pulled off the most effective moments of the week within the sport, taking down Kansas in an extra time thriller in Manhattan, 83-82. It is nothing in need of unimaginable to see what this workforce has completed this season behind Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell. Jerome Tang could be my nationwide coach of the 12 months in the present day.
4. UCLA (17-3)
Hey, you are allowed to lose on this sport. The Bruins received 14 in a row earlier than falling to an Arizona workforce that additionally cracks our prime 10 this week. UCLA shot simply 31% towards the Wildcats, however solely misplaced by six. Within the two video games this previous week, Bruins level guard Tyger Campbell mixed for 35 factors and eight assists. Mick Cronin has an All-American in Jaime Jaquez and an elite orchestrator as his engineer.
5. Houston (18-2)
The Cougars’ foursome of Sasser, Shead, Walker and Tramon Mark shot a mixed 13-for-48 within the one-point loss to Temple. Houston will look to bounce again Wednesday at UCF, which is coming off losses to USF and Tulane.
6. Virginia (15-3)
Winners of 5 in a row, the Cavaliers have an awesome mix of expertise whereas rating within the prime 25 of KenPom offensive and defensive effectivity. Armaan Franklin posted 25 factors and 10 rebounds in Saturday’s street win over a Wake Forest workforce that is in NCAA Match rivalry.
7. Tennessee (16-3)
The Vols notched double-digit victories over Mississippi State and LSU this previous week, with Josiah Jordan-James scoring a season-high 22 factors and Zakai Zeigler going for a double-double with 12 factors and 10 assists in Saturday’s win over the Tigers.
8. Texas (16-3)
The Longhorns confirmed one thing on Saturday, going into Morgantown and grinding out a 69-61 win over West Virginia. Marcus Carr has posted 20-point performances in two of the final three video games, going for 23 towards the Mountaineers.
9. Arizona (17-3)
Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo are the most effective frontcourt duos in school basketball and confirmed that once more on Saturday. The Wildcats’ bigs mixed for 30 factors and 18 rebounds to earn the 58-52 win over UCLA.
10. Kansas (16-3)
The defending nationwide champions nonetheless get the good thing about the doubt from me even after they obtained run off the ground by TCU on Saturday, 83-60. When it comes to issues for Kansas, giving up 42 factors within the paint exhibits their thinness inside, however you will not see a Invoice Self offense commit 17 turnovers fairly often.
11. TCU (15-4)
Sure, the Horned Frogs clicked on all cylinders in a win over Kansas, however I’m taking the loss final week to West Virginia into consideration as nicely. The Horned Frogs shot over 50% from 3-point vary and hit eight triples towards the Jayhawks. That is when they’re actually troublesome to beat, however it’s not a constant theme for this workforce. Towards the Mountaineers, their offense was not nice past Miles, and WVU took away transition alternatives. I like this workforce rather a lot, however their offense wants to point out me some extra.
12. marquette (16-5)
The Golden Eagles have the No. 1-ranked offense based on KenPom, and although they’re presently in second place within the Huge East, their remaining schedule is the best of the highest groups. This workforce is the convention favourite, which is fairly wild to consider. Kam Jones is a bucket-getter, scoring 22 factors to guide a 74-53 win at Seton Corridor, whereas the Golden Eagles compelled 26 Pirate turnovers.
13. Iowa State (14-4)
The Cyclones suffered a two-point loss at Oklahoma State over the weekend following an 11-point win over Texas earlier within the week. After his 21 factors powered Iowa State previous the Longhorns, Jaren Holmes was shut down by the Cowboys, held to 3-for-13 from the ground.
14. Xavier (16-4)
Regardless that the Musketeers fell at DePaul on Wednesday, this can be a workforce that’s nonetheless on the prime of the Huge East at 8-1 and has received 12 of its final 13 video games. In Saturday’s win over Georgetown, Zach Freemantle went for 30 factors, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Up subsequent for Sean Miller’s workforce? A top-25 battle at Gampel Pavilion towards UConn on Wednesday (6:30 pm ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app.
fifteen. Baylor (14-5)
The Bears have received 4 in a row. Two of their Huge 12 losses—TCU and Kansas State—got here by a mixed three factors. In Saturday’s 62-60 win at Oklahoma, Adam Flagler steered the ship with 16 factors and 5 boards whereas Flo Thamba highlighted a 39-30 rebounding edge with 10 boards. Baylor will get a valuable alternative Monday night time in a house recreation towards Kansas, whereas the Jayhawks look to snap out of their skid.
John Fanta is a nationwide school basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports activities. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Community to offering commentary on The Discipline of 68 Media Community. Comply with him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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