College basketball could not get any crazier this season. After my blog last week on the struggles of number one this year, yet another top dog has fallen. Syracuse finally gets one of their premier players back, I’ll recap the week that was for the three local schools and we’ll dig in to Louisville and Notre Dame’s five overtime thriller. Let’s get started.
For the fifth consecutive week, number one in college basketball has fallen. Indiana lost at Illinois on Thursday 74-72 thanks to a defensive breakdown in the final second that led to an easy layup for Illini big man Tyler Griffey. Although many will focus on Indiana’s loss, it should also be noted that aside from the Hoosiers, #2 Florida, #3 Michigan and #5 Kansas (twice) all fell this week. With all of the teams dubbed as the “nation’s elite” going down so frequently, it’s becoming harder and harder to look for a front runner for March.
Although we might not be sure who the top team is in the nation, there is no question that Syracuse is a legitimate contender, and folks, the rich just got richer. Senior Forward James Southerland was suspended for ineligibility and hasn’t played since the Orange’s win at Providence on Jan. 9. After a successful appeal, Southerland has been cleared to play and instantly improves Syracuse. Averaging 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on the year, Southerland will help take some pressure off Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams in fueling the Orange’s offense.
Elsewhere in the Big East, we had some overtime drama in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame and Louisville slugged it out through five overtimes before the Fighting Irish finally pulled it out, 104-101. I found the Louisville stat lines from this one to be quite interesting. Have a look for yourself:
Chane Behanan: 56 mins, 30 points, 15 rebounds, 13-20 FG
Gorgui Dieng: 52 mins, 17 points, 13 rebounds
Russ Smith: 56 mins, 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4-19 FG
Peyton Siva: 41 mins, 2 points
If it isn’t clear to you why Louisville lost, you can point the finger at their guard play. Siva and Smith were not playing at the level that many expected them to this year. Only scoring two points and fouling out, Siva put his team in quite the whole. The play of Smith, who only got to 21 points because of 13 free throws, was a bit cocky. The junior took far too many bad shots and did not do his team any favors with his poor shooting.
Kansas State had another solid week, notching wins over Texas Tech and Iowa State. The Wildcats are now 8-2 in the Big XII and 19-4 overall; however, they’ll get a huge chance to prove their worth with a visit to Lawrence Monday night. With a win, K-State would even the season series with Kansas and open up a two game lead in the conference over their Sunflower State rivals.
Missouri once again looked like their Jekyll and Hyde selves, losing on the road at Texas A&M on Thurs. before getting some revenge in style over Ole Miss on Saturday. The Tigers got out to a slow start in College Station and were just too far behind, despite a late push for a comeback. Mizzou then doubled their scoring output in the rematch of the abysmal performance they displayed at Ole Miss on Jan. 12. The Tigers have two road games this week and need to start winning some away from Columbia before they find themselves on the outside of the bubble.
Kansas’ woes continued following their 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State last week. The Jayhawks only scored 13 points in the first half of a 62-55 loss at TCU in what was an all-around awful performance Wednesday night. TCU gained their first win in the Big XII over the fifth ranked team in the country and improved their RPI to 213 AFTER the win. Kansas then fell at Oklahoma on Saturday 72-66. I never thought I’d see the day that a Bill Self coached team lost three consecutive games. While this run is very uncharacteristic of Kansas, they have a chance to get some good wins this week with both Kansas State and Texas coming into Lawrence.
Due to the fact that there are way too many losses by the top ranked teams in the country for me to release a top 25, I’ll be providing my top 10 every week. Here’s this edition:
1. Duke, 21-2
2. Indiana, 21-3
3. Gonzaga, 23-2
4. Michigan, 21-3
5. Miami, 19-3
6. Syracuse, 20-3
7. Florida, 19-3
8. Michigan State, 20-4
9. Arizona, 20-3
10. Butler, 20-4
If for whatever reason you can only watch a few games this week, here are a few you need to tune in to:
Marquette @ Georgetown, 6 p.m. Mon. – ESPN
Kansas State @ Kansas, 8 p.m. Mon. – ESPN
Michigan @ Michigan State, 8 p.m. Tues. – ESPN