Duke maintained its spot regardless of shedding to North Carolina final week as a result of the Blue Devils had one of the best resume within the nation. After a second loss in three video games with out Zion Williamson, although, we won’t preserve Duke within the prime spot anymore.
Virginia strikes as much as No. 1, because the Cavaliers have 9 Quadrant 1 wins and solely two losses on the season, each coming to Duke. They get the sting over Gonzaga because of their sheer variety of high quality wins, as they personal victories over North Carolina, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech twice, Florida State, Maryland, Louisville, and so on. Gonzaga has the victory over Duke, an honest win over Washington, and that is about it.
There needs to be no asterisk on North Carolina’s victory in Durham. The Tar Heels are the actual deal.
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As for Duke, its resume is getting a bit dicey on the subject of feeling nice about touchdown a 1-seed on Choice Sunday. The Blue Devils nonetheless must go to North Carolina subsequent weekend, after which could have the ACC match. In the event that they lose two extra instances, with or with out Williamson, can they get jumped by another person? Williamson seems more likely to return in some unspecified time in the future this season, however it will likely be attention-grabbing to see how a lot the committee weighs their video games with out him — particularly Tuesday night time’s loss to Virginia Tech, which additionally was with out its finest participant, Justin Robinson.
The Blue Devils merely have not seemed good with out Williamson. RJ Barrett has been the only supply of constant offense, and groups have begun to break down on him and drive him to offer the ball to another person. There might be stretches like we noticed within the second half when he nonetheless will get his factors, however he’ll want extra constant assist from Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. He is simply not getting it proper now. Defensively, Duke had its second-worst efficiency of the season on Tuesday.
Consequently, Duke drops to No. Three and now Virginia is atop the rankings.
Monday: Circle these video games over the ultimate two weeks
There are formally lower than two weeks till the top 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 prime 5 of the Energy Rankings. Duke is in fairly good condition with its résumé (assuming Zion Williamson returns quickly); Virginia has misplaced solely twice all season (each instances to Duke) and is 9-Zero in its different Quadrant 1 video games; and Gonzaga has received 18 straight, hasn’t had a sport inside single digits since Dec. 15 and seems unlikely to lose earlier than the NCAA match. Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan and Michigan State all nonetheless have photographs to maneuver up.
Whereas convention tournaments additionally will play a significant position, 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 are actually 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 probably has to win in Knoxville or win the SEC match 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 match, can they bounce the Blue Devils? Their mixture of wins over Duke and Gonzaga is unparalleled (in addition to Duke’s two wins over Virginia).
Michigan at Michigan State (March 9): Michigan State received Spherical 1 on Sunday, and the Wolverines have now misplaced 4 of their previous 11. Michigan would probably must win Spherical 2 to have an opportunity at a share of the Massive Ten title. The Spartans are an attention-grabbing case due to their damage 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 among 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 match, they’re probably going to finish the season with a 33-1 document, a top-five NET and 18 wins in opposition to Quadrant 1 and a couple of groups.
1. Virginia Cavaliers (24-2)
Earlier rating: 2
This week: vs. Georgia Tech (Wednesday), vs. Pittsburgh (Saturday)
Virginia ought to be capable of construct off its dominant second half at Louisville on Saturday, as the subsequent two video games for the Cavaliers are at residence in opposition to two of the worst groups within the ACC. Tony Bennett’s staff did have a stretch just lately with some uncharacteristically sloppy halves blended in, however this week will give it an opportunity to work out among the kinks heading down the stretch.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (27-2)
Earlier rating: Three
This week: at Pacific (Thursday), at Saint Mary’s (Saturday)
Gonzaga hasn’t needed to get into prime gear since December, however the Bulldogs face arguably their hardest take a look at of the West Coast Convention season on Saturday, once they head to Moraga for a highway showdown in opposition to convention rival Saint Mary’s. The Gaels aren’t nearly as good as they have been lately, however they’ve received 4 in a row, and McKeon Pavilion needs to be rocking for the season finale.
Three. Duke Blue Devils (24-Four)
Earlier rating: 1
This week: Misplaced to Virginia Tech 77-72 on Tuesday, vs. Miami (Saturday)
In its three video games since Zion Williamson was harm, Duke has been outscored 230-219. RJ Barrett has scored 84 of these 219 factors, and is simply too typically checked out to supply all of the offense. Tre Jones is 6-for-32 (Three-for-17 from Three-point vary) in these three video games, and Cam Reddish is 18-for-47. Furthermore, Duke has allowed a minimum of one level per possession in two of these three video games — after doing it eight instances within the first 25 video games of the season.
Four. Kentucky Wildcats (24-Four)
Earlier rating: Four
This week: Beat Arkansas 70-66 on Tuesday, at Tennessee (Saturday)
Kentucky outscored Arkansas by 15 factors within the second half and escaped within the ultimate minute with a win over the Razorbacks. PJ Washington lastly ended his scorching streak, however Tyler Herro made up for it. Herro, regardless of enjoying with an injured ankle, had 29 factors on 10 photographs — together with 5 Three-pointers. He additionally hit two large free throws within the ultimate seconds. Up subsequent is a visit to Knoxville.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels (23-5)
Earlier rating: 5
This week: Beat Syracuse 93-85 on Tuesday, at Clemson (Saturday)
Coby White had been in a little bit of a hunch over the previous three video games, totaling 29 factors on 37 photographs. He actually snapped out of it on Tuesday, although, going for 34 factors on 14 photographs, making six Three-pointers. The Tar Heels wanted White, as Luke Maye wasn’t hitting. Nassir Little made an influence off the bench with 11 factors and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes.
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 damage firstly of SEC play gave Tennessee an enormous increase due to his skill to make photographs from the perimeter and add a special 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 sport. 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 capturing 26.9 p.c 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 robust ending stretch.
9. Houston Cougars (26-1)
Earlier rating: eight
This week: at East Carolina (Wednesday), vs. UCF (Saturday)
The Cougars received their 11th sport 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 in opposition to the Knights, Corey Davis Jr. carried a lot 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 received 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 all the time 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 (23-5)
Earlier rating: 11
This week: Beat Texas A&M 66-55 on Tuesday, at Alabama (Saturday)
The Tigers are actually 2-Zero with out Tremont Waters, who missed his second consecutive sport — albeit a neater matchup than final Saturday’s showdown with Tennessee. All 5 starters scored in double figures for Will Wade’s staff, and Ja’vonte Good continued rolling. He went for 17 factors, seven rebounds and three assists after ending with 29 factors, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in opposition to Tennessee. The freshman has helped LSU make up for Waters’ absence.
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 sport previously 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 received its third sport in a row Saturday, however Carsen Edwards continues to battle capturing the ball. He went Three-for-16 from the sector — together with 1-for-10 from Three-point vary — in opposition to the Cornhuskers. That got here 4 days after he shot Four-for-24 from the sector and Zero-for-10 from Three-point vary in opposition to Indiana. Luckily for Matt Painter, Matt Haarms has actually stepped up, sandwiching 18- and 17-point efforts round Purdue’s victory over Indiana through 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 is just not fairly executed simply but. Kansas acquired surprisingly productive performances from Quentin Grimes and Mitch Lightfoot and dealt with first-place Kansas State pretty simply in Lawrence. The Massive 12 race seems a bit bit totally different now than it did on Monday morning. Kansas is only one sport 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 best way.
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 match inclusion is just not in query, racking up a loss one week earlier than a visit to Utah State would have been disastrous for his or her seeding. Keep in mind, this can be a staff and not using a Quadrant 1 sport, not to mention a Quadrant 1 win. That adjustments this weekend in a sport that might be completely large for Utah State’s at-large possibilities.
16. Maryland Terrapins (21-7)
Earlier rating: Unranked
This week: at Penn State (Wednesday), vs. Michigan (Sunday)
Maryland replaces its convention brethren after Wisconsin’s loss to Indiana. The Terrapins have received 4 of 5, together with residence wins over Purdue and Ohio State and highway victories at Iowa and Nebraska. They do not have a lot of an opportunity on the Massive Ten title, but when they get previous Penn State on Wednesday, they’ve a significant likelihood at a marquee win with Michigan headed to Faculty Park on Sunday.
Dropped out: Wisconsin (No. 16)