There are formally lower than two weeks till the tip of the common season, and there is a race shaping as much as nab the ultimate 1-seed — and the final couple of spots within the high 5 of the Energy Rankings. Duke is in fairly fine condition with its résumé (assuming Zion Williamson returns quickly); Virginia has misplaced solely twice all season (each occasions to Duke) and is 9-Zero in its different Quadrant 1 video games; and Gonzaga has gained 18 straight, hasn’t had a recreation inside single digits since Dec. 15 and seems unlikely to lose earlier than the NCAA event. Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan and Michigan State all nonetheless have photographs to maneuver up.
Whereas convention tournaments additionally will play a serious function, what remaining regular-season video games will assist decide the pecking order of the top-tier groups within the Energy Rankings?
Kentucky at Tennessee (Saturday): Tennessee gave the impression to be in nice form a few weeks in the past, however the Volunteers at the moment are locked in a three-way tie for first place within the SEC, and their lack of high-level wins outdoors of Gonzaga is extra noticeable. Kentucky seemingly has to win in Knoxville or win the SEC event to stay a 1-seed in Joe Lunardi’s newest bracket (and the highest 4 within the Energy Rankings).
Duke at North Carolina (March 9): Will Williamson be again by then? Carolina hammered the Blue Devils final week with out Williamson, and the Tar Heels are one of many hottest groups within the nation. In the event that they beat Duke once more after which make a deep run within the ACC event, can they soar the Blue Devils? Their mixture of wins over Duke and Gonzaga is unparalleled (apart from Duke’s two wins over Virginia).
There must be no asterisk on North Carolina’s victory in Durham. The Tar Heels are the true deal.
Here is your up to date supply for all the newest on the NCAA event bubble.
Michigan at Michigan State (March 9): Michigan State gained Spherical 1 on Sunday, and the Wolverines have now misplaced 4 of their previous 11. Michigan would seemingly need to win Spherical 2 to have an opportunity at a share of the Massive Ten title. The Spartans are an fascinating case due to their harm points, however they’ve 11 Quadrant 1 wins and will get one other one over Michigan.
Houston at Cincinnati (March 10): The Cougars do not and will not have the profile of a number of the different groups on this dialogue, however one can think about how excessive they could go. If they can run the desk — together with profitable at Cincinnati on the ultimate day of the common season — after which win the convention event, they’re seemingly going to finish the season with a 33-1 report, a top-five NET and 18 wins towards Quadrant 1 and a couple of groups.
1. Duke Blue Devils (24-Three)
Earlier rating: 1
This week: at Virginia Tech (Tuesday), vs. Miami (Saturday)
Duke stays the general No. 1 staff by advantage of its two wins over the No. 2 staff, however the Blue Devils want Williamson again to remain right here. RJ Barrett was sensational on Saturday evening at Syracuse, ending with 30 factors, however it should be awfully arduous for him to shoulder such a giant load with out constant assist from Cam Reddish.
2. Virginia Cavaliers (24-2)
Earlier rating: 2
This week: vs. Georgia Tech (Wednesday), vs. Pittsburgh (Saturday)
Virginia ought to be capable to construct off its dominant second half at Louisville on Saturday, as the following two video games for the Cavaliers are at residence towards two of the worst groups within the ACC. Tony Bennett’s staff did have a stretch lately with some uncharacteristically sloppy halves combined in, however this week will give it an opportunity to work out a number of the kinks heading down the stretch.
Three. Gonzaga Bulldogs (27-2)
Earlier rating: Three
This week: at Pacific (Thursday), at Saint Mary’s (Saturday)
Gonzaga hasn’t needed to get into high gear since December, however the Bulldogs face arguably their hardest check of the West Coast Convention season on Saturday, after they head to Moraga for a highway showdown towards convention rival Saint Mary’s. The Gaels aren’t pretty much as good as they have been lately, however they’ve gained 4 in a row, and McKeon Pavilion must be rocking for the season finale.
Four. Kentucky Wildcats (23-Four)
Earlier rating: Four
This week: vs. Arkansas (Tuesday), at Tennessee (Saturday)
EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards seem more likely to cut up the minutes down low whereas Reid Travis is sidelined. On Saturday towards Auburn, Montgomery acquired the beginning and performed 23 minutes, ending with six factors, seven rebounds and three blocks. Richards performed 20 minutes off the bench, additionally blocking three photographs and ending with 4 factors and three boards. That mixed manufacturing will make John Calipari blissful.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels (22-5)
Earlier rating: 5
This week: vs. Syracuse (Tuesday), at Clemson (Saturday)
North Carolina may need had the most effective week of anybody within the nation final week, beating Duke by 16 factors in Cameron Indoor Stadium and crushing Florida State within the second half on Saturday. Extra essential than scoring persistently across the rim towards each groups was the Tar Heels’ protection. They held the Blue Devils and Seminoles to a mixed 131 factors on 157 possessions. They’ve gained 10 of 11 and 14 of 16.
6. Tennessee Volunteers (24-Three)
Earlier rating: 6
This week: at Ole Miss (Wednesday), vs. Kentucky (Saturday)
We have mentioned for weeks that the return of Lamonte Turner from harm at first of SEC play gave Tennessee an enormous increase due to his means to make photographs from the perimeter and add a unique dimension to the Volunteers’ offense. When Turner’s photographs aren’t falling, although, Tennessee can lack perimeter pop. He went a mixed 1-for-14 from behind the arc within the Volunteers’ two latest losses.
7. Michigan State Spartans (23-5)
Earlier rating: 9
This week: at Indiana (Saturday)
The Spartans made an enormous assertion by going into Ann Arbor and beating Michigan by seven factors with out Nick Ward (and Joshua Langford). It is their finest win of the season, and so they did it whereas scoring 77 factors — the primary time Michigan has allowed greater than 75 in a loss since final season’s nationwide championship recreation. Cassius Winston was unbelievable, with 27 factors and eight assists in 40 minutes.
Eight. Michigan Wolverines (24-Four)
Earlier rating: 7
This week: vs. Nebraska (Thursday), at Maryland (Sunday)
The Wolverines fall into third place within the Massive Ten standings with their loss to Michigan State. Charles Matthews struggled offensively on Sunday, ending with 4 factors on eight photographs. The Wolverines aren’t more likely to win many video games taking pictures 26.9 % from Three-point vary. Two of Michigan’s ultimate three video games of the season are at Maryland and at Michigan State. It is a powerful ending stretch.
9. Houston Cougars (26-1)
Earlier rating: Eight
This week: at East Carolina (Wednesday), vs. UCF (Saturday)
The Cougars gained their 11th recreation in a row Saturday, a streak that ought to enhance to 12 on Wednesday at East Carolina earlier than preseason favourite UCF (and Faculty GameDay) involves city. Within the first assembly towards the Knights, Corey Davis Jr. carried many of the load offensively, and Davis is beginning to discover his perimeter stroke once more. Davis is 12-for-20 on Three-pointers in his previous two video games.
10. Texas Tech Purple Raiders (22-5)
Earlier rating: 10
This week: vs. Oklahoma State (Wednesday), at TCU (Saturday)
One of many hottest groups within the nation proper now, Texas Tech has gained 5 in a row and 7 of its previous eight and is making a push for the Massive 12 title. A part of the rationale for the turnaround since shedding by 16 in Lawrence earlier this month is the Purple Raiders’ effectivity on the offensive finish. Chris Beard’s staff is at all times going to lock up defensively, however the Purple Raiders have scored 255 factors on 188 possessions of their previous three video games. It is a small pattern, however these are elite-level offensive numbers.
11. LSU Tigers (22-5)
Earlier rating: 11
This week: vs. Texas A&M (Tuesday), at Alabama (Saturday)
LSU has an actual likelihood to win the SEC regular-season title, or a minimum of earn a share of it. The Tigers cast a three-way tie Saturday by beating Tennessee with out Tremont Waters, and so they have a a lot simpler remaining schedule than Kentucky or Tennessee, who face one another later this week. LSU would not face both staff the remainder of the way in which.
12. Marquette Golden Eagles (23-Four)
Earlier rating: 12
This week: at Villanova (Wednesday), vs. Creighton (Sunday)
This weekend’s outcomes went awfully nicely for the Golden Eagles. Not solely did they blow out Windfall on the highway, however Villanova additionally misplaced its fourth recreation up to now 15 days, this time at Xavier. Marquette goes to Villanova on Wednesday with an opportunity to basically seal the regular-season title. Even when they stumble, although, the Golden Eagles have some margin for error of their quest for the crown.
13. Purdue Boilermakers (20-7)
Earlier rating: 13
This week: vs. Illinois (Wednesday), vs. Ohio State (Saturday)
Purdue gained its third recreation in a row Saturday, however Carsen Edwards continues to wrestle taking pictures the ball. He went Three-for-16 from the sector — together with 1-for-10 from Three-point vary — towards the Cornhuskers. That got here 4 days after he shot Four-for-24 from the sector and Zero-for-10 from Three-point vary towards Indiana. Happily for Matt Painter, Matt Haarms has actually stepped up, sandwiching 18- and 17-point efforts round Purdue’s victory over Indiana during which he had the game-winning basket.
14. Kansas Jayhawks (21-7)
Earlier rating: 14
This week: beat Kansas State 64-49 on Monday, at Oklahoma State (Saturday)
The Streak shouldn’t be fairly completed simply but. Kansas obtained surprisingly productive performances from Quentin Grimes and Mitch Lightfoot and dealt with first-place Kansas State pretty simply in Lawrence. The Massive 12 race appears to be like somewhat bit totally different now than it did on Monday morning. Kansas is only one recreation again of Kansas State, whereas Texas Tech is tied with the Wildcats within the loss column. The three groups do not face each other the remainder of the way in which.
15. Nevada Wolf Pack (25-2)
Earlier rating: 15
This week: vs. UNLV (Wednesday), at Utah State (Saturday)
Nevada pulled off a win over Fresno State on Saturday to keep away from a second straight loss. Whereas the Wolf Pack’s NCAA event inclusion shouldn’t be in query, racking up a loss one week earlier than a visit to Utah State would have been disastrous for his or her seeding. Bear in mind, this can be a staff with no Quadrant 1 recreation, not to mention a Quadrant 1 win. That adjustments this weekend in a recreation that can be completely big for Utah State’s at-large possibilities.
16. Wisconsin Badgers (19-Eight)
Earlier rating: 16
This week: at Indiana (Tuesday), vs. Penn State (Saturday)
The Badgers have now gained eight of their previous 10 video games after profitable at Northwestern on Saturday. Most notably, Ethan Happ lastly hit a free throw after lacking all 10 of his makes an attempt the previous three video games. On the flip aspect, Wisconsin’s underlying numbers have fallen off over the previous few video games. The Badgers have scored fewer than one level per possession in 4 of their previous 5 video games and allowed a minimum of one level per possession in three of their previous 4.
Dropped out: None