Saturday afternoon introduced a tempting first have a look at a bracket. Then quite a lot of these groups that have been seeded by the choice committee went on to lose hours later. Hey, that is the fluid nature of faculty basketball’s season and a reminder that loads will change between now and Choice Sunday, which is precisely one month away.
Listed below are my high 10 takeaways from a stunning Valentine’s Day weekend in school hoops.
What to know: Bracket reveal
The Division I Basketball Choice Committee’s high 16 reveal from Saturday afternoon presents up just a few tidbits to bear in mind. As a refresher, right here was the highest 16. Twelve of those 16 groups performed over the weekend, going a mixed 8-4.
4. Ohio State
10. West Virginia
14. Texas Tech
Though the committee is utilizing S-curve rules to construct the bracket this season (geography is not an element as a result of the whole event will probably be in Indiana), it is important to keep in mind that there are bracketing procedures that preclude high-end convention opponents from assembly previous to the Candy 16. And if two groups from the identical league have met 3 times previous to the Huge Dance, they don’t seem to be allowed to fulfill previous to the Elite Eight. So the committee needed to cut up up 5 Huge 12 groups, 4 Huge Ten groups and three SEC groups into totally different areas as a result of groups throughout the highest 4 seed strains can’t be in the identical area — that is an NCAA rule — until a league has extra groups than areas within the high 16. That is why the Huge 12 (5 groups) was pressured to have two in the identical area (No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 4 Texas in Area 2).
The best-ranked staff on common throughout all six NCAA metrics that didn’t make the listing: USC, now thirteenth at KenPom and fifteenth within the NET.
Contemplate that the Huge Ten had three of the highest 5 seeds. With Villanova’s loss on Saturday, it is wanting all of the extra possible that the convention can have two No. 1s subsequent month.
Nice information for Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State followers: Within the earlier three years of the February bracket reveal that later had an NCAA Match (2017-19), three of the 4 No. 1 seeds in February held the highest line in March. (Whereas there was no 2020 NCAA Match, the projections final yr additionally saved this sample.) And within the three earlier years we did have a event, one of many 4 No. 1 seeds in February went on to win the nationwide title: North Carolina in 2017, Villanova in 2018, Virginia in 2019.
If the highest 16 seemed unusual to you, effectively, you would not be mistaken. It was undeniably missing big-brand presence. Solely 4 colleges seeded have received an NCAA Match: Michigan, Ohio State, Villanova, Virginia.
Need extra school hoops? The most recent episode of Eye on Faculty Basketball is under.
Michigan capsizes Wisconsin
The No. 3 Wolverines waited 23 days between video games, bought down by 14 on the street towards a ranked staff after which managed to double-up No. 21 Wisconsin 40-20 within the second half en path to a 67-59 win. That was spectacular. Actually, it is in all probability Michigan’s most spectacular win this season, which it closed with a 13-2 run. Juwan Howard’s staff did not make the committee look bullish for slotting them No. 3 total. Contemplating this was a standalone Sunday sport, it solely enhances the Wolverines’ profile total as effectively.
Permit me to gush about that second half efficiency, because the collective defensive exhibiting sliced away at a double-digit Wisconsin lead (the inadvertent elbow with Brad Davison’s did not assist Bucky; Michigan turned the sport thereafter). Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, Chaundee Brown, Franz Wagner and Eli Brooks held UW to only below 0.62 factors per possession within the second half. Completely turned off Wisconsin’s water. The Badgers fell off a cliff within the second half, capturing 25% and scoring a mere 20 factors whereas capturing 1 of 13 from 3-point vary.
Dickinson had 11 factors, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks. He is a top-five freshman within the nation. Livers had a game-high 20 factors, however Dickinson’s play signified why Michigan can win a nationwide title. He’s particular. One last item: As a lot as I might prefer to credit score Dickinson’s play solely, the actual fact is there isn’t any excuse for Wisconsin bigs Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers to complete with zero rebounds. That ought to by no means occur.
Two-bid Valley? It is nonetheless alive
Should you’re the sort to root for small conferences to earn at-large bids, then the Missouri Valley is the league for you this yr. No. 22 Loyola Chicago and Drake wound up splitting their sequence this weekend, boosting each groups’ at-large instances within the course of. It was the absolute best scenario for the Valley. On Saturday, Loyola Chicago steamrolled its strategy to an 81-54 street win over the Bulldogs. On Sunday, Drake once more was at residence and received a slugfest, holding on 51-50 in extra time to enhance to 20-2 and notch its first Quadrant 1 win.
Here is why it is so significant for Drake: The Bulldogs bought this win regardless of not having their finest participant. Tank Hemphill is Drake’s main scorer and rebounder. He lately had surgical procedure on his left foot. He’ll be out, minimally, till the beginning of the NCAA Match. So this was enormous. Loyola Chicago and Drake at the moment are each 1-1 within the high quadrant with each these outcomes having coming towards the opposite. The Ramblers sit at 18-4. They began the day tenth within the NET, whereas Drake was fortieth. I might enterprise Loyola-Chicago will nonetheless be among the many high 20 on Monday morning, whereas Drake will transfer again into the highest 35. It is important each of those groups do not lose once more previous to the Missouri Valley Match, which can begin in simply over two weeks’ time.
A brand new Creighton emerges?
Creighton’s insistent 86-70-win over No. 5 Villanova was the Bluejays’ finest win this season and an emphatic proclamation. Once we mentioned the Jays within the preseason as a possible equal to Villanova within the Huge East, that is the staff we had in thoughts. Seems being an underdog on their residence flooring is all of the motivation the staff wanted.
“We have been the hunted, actually, for a month,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott mentioned Saturday night time. “We have been in all probability the favourite in each sport we have been ranked. So all people has a bit of further motivation — throughout a yr the place it is type of powerful to search out motivation — to play us. In the present day, we bought to play a top-five staff within the nation and it gave, I feel, us a bit of extra juice.”
Star guard Marcus Zegarowski additionally lastly had his assertion sport. The preseason Huge East Participant of the Yr had knee surgical procedure final spring, then was out once more for six weeks in October and November. In January, one other brief setback (hamstring) hampered him. Zegarowski’s nearly wholesome now, and lookie right here: a season-high 25 factors. If that is what Creighton can financial institution on extra nights than not going ahead, this staff has a Remaining 4 ceiling.
As for Villanova, you are taking the bruising loss and transfer on. The largest affect the sport had on the Wildcats, so far as I can inform, is that they are going to in all probability should win out with a view to have a shot at a No. 1 seed.
Weekend’s finest sport: Oklahoma-West Virginia
Simply because a mid-February sport between two ranked groups would not have both 1-seed or bubble-type penalties doesn’t suggest it could actually’t be vital. No. 12 Oklahoma went into No. 14 West Virginia and pulled off a 91-90 double-overtime win to enhance to 13-5 and take sole possession of second place within the feisty Huge 12. 5 Sooners, led by Austin Reaves, scored in double figures. Reaves posted 28 factors together with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. For OU to beat 29 factors from WVU’s Derek Culver — along with 5 3-pointers from Sean McNeil — and to do that on the street? Nice signal. So keep in mind this one month from right now (Choice Sunday): Oklahoma has tasty potential to be a premier Remaining 4 sleeper.
Can Ayo catch Luka?
We have reached a stage the place this must, on the very least, be a pleasant debate. Luka Garza was the near-consensus choose for faculty hoops’ finest participant within the preseason. And it is true he is nonetheless the frontrunner for Nationwide Participant of the Yr. However he is bought at the very least two gamers chasing him, a kind of guys additionally being somebody nipping at Garza’s heels in his personal league: Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu. The No. 5 Illini wanted OT to win 77-72 at Nebraska on Friday night time. If not for Dosunmu, Illinois takes its worst lack of the season. He scored the staff’s last 10 factors in regulation and its first 5 in OT to almost-single handedly beat Nebraska and maintain Illinois because the highest-rated No. 2 seed, based on the choice committee.
Dosunmu’s a stud, the type of participant nice sufficient to carry his staff to a nationwide title. He is additionally averaging higher than 20/5/5, and if he retains these averages he’ll be the primary Huge Ten participant to try this since Ohio State’s Evan Turner pulled it off 11 years in the past. (When Turner did it he received Nationwide Participant of the Yr.)
Dosunmu’s heroic effort got here an evening earlier than Garza had a reasonably quiet day in Iowa’s 30-point win at mediocre Michigan State: eight factors, eight rebounds, three assists. Illinois is 14-5 and alone in second place within the Huge Ten. Iowa is 15-6 and tied for fourth. Statistically, this is how the 2 match up. Garza is the choose proper now, however it’s a respectable race with three weeks of normal season ball remaining.
Virginia quietly coming into 1-seed territory
Saturday closed with one other intriguing matchup as we waited to see whether or not bubbly North Carolina may maintain it shut vs. No. 9 Virginia. Nope. For the fourth time this season UVA held an opponent below 50 factors: Cavaliers 60, Tar Heels 48. Virginia has performed UNC extra occasions than any opponent (144) and has by no means received seven straight video games towards the Tar Heels — till now.
The Wahoos have been a No. 3 seed as of Saturday morning, per the committee. However at 15-3 (11-1 ACC) and clearly standing as the most effective staff in that convention, Tony Bennett’s membership has a shot to get a No. 1 seed ought to it get to Choice Sunday with not more than 4 losses. It is wanting doable.
For 12-7 North Carolina, it is on a game-by-game foundation going ahead with its event destiny. The Tar Heels had their upcoming Tuesday sport vs. Virginia Tech postponed, so the ACC will attempt to shift issues round for the Heels if it could actually. In any other case, UNC will not play once more till subsequent Saturday vs. Louisville.
Weekend’s most cherished energy win: UConn
UConn has been hampered by vital accidents all season lengthy. Akok Akok is the staff’s finest defender; he is performed 4 video games. Extremely touted freshman Andre Jackson has missed seven. The largest blow has been James Bouknight’s absence since Jan. 5. The longer term NBA choose is UConn’s most useful participant. Coming into the weekend, UConn was 5-1 with him and 3-4 with out him. He wasn’t obtainable for the roadie towards 10-2 Xavier on Saturday, both.
Considerably amazingly, that wound up not mattering as Dan Hurley’s staff received 80-72 and landed its second Quad 1 victory of the season. The 9-5 Huskies are nonetheless on the skin of the bracket and searching in as of now. But when Bouknight can return for subsequent Saturday’s sport towards Villanova (as I feel he’ll), then UConn has a wholesome shot at not simply enjoying itself again into the NCAA Match convo but in addition changing into a darkish horse to win the Huge East Match title.
Tennessee, Mizzou too shaky to belief
Tennessee now not will get to make use of the “undefeated with Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson wholesome” line. The Volunteers have been by no means in it on the street vs. LSU, shedding 78-65 and enabling the Tigers to make 20 of their 31 photographs from 2-point vary (64.5%), which is an affront to a staff that for weeks has held the highest rating in protection at KenPom. Tennessee’s offense did not common at the very least 1.0 factors per possession for the eighth sport this season. (Troubling.)
Elsewhere within the SEC, Arkansas knocked off Missouri on the street. It was the Razorbacks’ first win over an NCAA Match-level staff. For Mizzou, extra purpose to fade the Tigers. It was their third loss in six video games. The Tigers have been projected as a No. 4 seed two hours earlier than this sport started, however clearly that may not have been the case had this sport been determined previous to Saturday. Mizzou is a 5 at finest now. Odd however true: Alabama is the one SEC staff price trusting in your bracket subsequent month.
A minimum of Hogs coach Eric Musselman lastly had one more reason to take off his shirt once more.
One other staff voluntarily ends its season
Let’s shut with this as a result of we will see extra of it. Maine quietly ended its season Saturday after having performed simply 9 video games in virtually three months. As I discussed lately on the Eye on Faculty Basketball podcast, sources round school hoops in latest weeks have advised me they anticipate a handful of opt-outs earlier than we get to March. We have had just a few in Division I girls’s basketball already (with extra doubtlessly to return), and now on the lads’s facet there are three: Maine, Howard and Chicago State. New Mexico debated it as effectively earlier than selecting to proceed. As extra groups with dangerous data battle to hit the end line, do not be shocked if the variety of groups that bail on the season accomplish that earlier than their final scheduled sport.