For the primary time because the first week of the season, we have made a change within the prime two of the Energy Rankings.
It has been Gonzaga then Baylor all season — and for a lot of the season, it regarded like there was an infinite hole between the highest two and everybody else. However Michigan exited its COVID-19 pause wanting pretty much as good because it has all season, whereas Baylor actually struggled in its first two video games out of its personal pause. Regardless of the momentum constructing for the Wolverines, Baylor would have remained solidly at No. 2 so long as it did not lose — however the Bears suffered their first setback of the season on Saturday evening to Kansas, so it was time to formally transfer Michigan to No. 2.
Breaking down résumés, it is powerful to choose in opposition to Michigan. The Wolverines are forward of Baylor in power of file and KenPom, and behind the Bears in BPI and Sagarin. They’re No. 2 in NET, one spot forward of Baylor. Michigan is 7-1 in Quadrant 1 video games and 5-0 in Quadrant 2 video games, in comparison with Baylor’s 6-1 and 2-0 information, respectively. Granted, Michigan’s lone loss — by 18 at Minnesota — appears to be like considerably worse now than it did then, however that does not cease them from transferring as much as No. 2.
Let’s pump the brakes on the Michigan No. 1 speak, although. Gonzaga remains to be atop the nation in practically each related metric, and it is 7-0 in opposition to Quadrant 1 opponents, 5-0 in opposition to Quadrant 2 opponents and nonetheless hasn’t misplaced a recreation but.
So there will not be a change on the prime simply but, however it is time to welcome Michigan into the highest two.
Group of the Week: Arkansas Razorbacks
Had the week ended earlier than Sunday, Michigan State would have been the simple alternative for this award. The Spartans’ 48-hour stretch between Tuesday evening and Thursday evening, once they knocked off Illinois and Ohio State in back-to-back video games, was as spectacular a two-game run as anybody may have this season. However then they misplaced by 18 at Maryland on Sunday, and their terrific week ended with a little bit of a bitter style.
However Arkansas is completely deserving to be the choose. The Razorbacks had the most effective wins of any group within the SEC this season, hammering Alabama within the second half en path to an 81-66 win. There was no letdown effort on Saturday, both, with one other large second-half efficiency in an 83-75 win over LSU. Arkansas outscored the Crimson Tide and Tigers by a mixed 93-66 margin within the second half of their video games this week.
Eric Musselman’s group has now gained 9 straight SEC video games (its lone loss within the final 10 video games got here at Oklahoma State within the Large 12/SEC Problem). Musselman has this group buzzing, as he has discovered the correct mix of transfers, freshmen and returnees in his rotation. The Razorbacks are making a authentic push for a top-three seed and are taking part in their finest basketball on the proper time.
Participant of the Week: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Perhaps Cunningham heard the discuss Evan Mobley being one of the best freshman within the nation or making a case to be the No. 1 choose on this yr’s NBA draft. As a result of his efficiency in opposition to No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday was the most effective particular person video games we have seen from anybody this season: 40 factors, 11 rebounds, 12-for-21 from the sector, 13-for-14 from the free throw stripe, two blocks and three steals — all in a 94-90 additional time win.
Cade Cunningham notches 40 factors and 11 rebounds as Oklahoma State edges Oklahoma 94-90.
Cunningham was terrific, making large play after large play down the stretch at each ends of the ground. That recreation would have been sufficient by itself to provide Cunningham the Participant of the Week honor, however the star freshman additionally had 20 factors and 5 rebounds in an additional time win over Texas Tech on Monday. Caring for the ball has been a difficulty for Cunningham this season, and that did not change within the two video games this previous week, however his general manufacturing drastically outweighs the turnovers. He ranks within the prime 10 of the Large 12 in utilization fee, complete taking pictures share, free throw fee and 3-point share. Jared Butler goes to win Large 12 Participant of the Yr, however Cunningham is closing the common season on a tear.
Win of the Week: Kansas Jayhawks 71, Baylor Bears 58
How can it’s the rest? Baylor suffered its first lack of the season on Saturday evening, falling by the hands of a resurgent Kansas group. The Jayhawks have been in management for a lot of the recreation, by no means main by fewer than three factors within the second half. They have been elite on the defensive finish, holding Baylor to its lowest level complete of the season and forcing the Bears right into a 6-for-26 evening from the 3-point line.
Baylor’s three-week COVID pause definitely had an impact; the Bears merely had no legs late within the recreation once they have been attempting to chop into the lane. However Kansas’ protection additionally performed a serious position, as did its domination on the glass. The Jayhawks outrebounded Baylor 48-28 and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.
David McCormack was terrific, scoring 20 factors — together with 14 within the first half — earlier than fouling out. Kansas has now gained six of its final seven video games and is taking part in a few of the finest basketball within the Large 12, if not the nation. This win goes to vault Kansas into the top-three-seed dialogue.
Coach of the Week: Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
When Georgia Tech misplaced its first two video games of the season to Georgia State and Mercer at dwelling, it regarded just like the preseason optimism for the Yellow Jackets was a mistake. Three months later, the Yellow Jackets have performed their means into the NCAA event hunt after profitable 4 straight video games — together with wins this previous week at Virginia Tech and over Syracuse.
Moses Wright was sensational for Georgia Tech within the two wins, going for 26 factors and 10 rebounds in opposition to the Hokies and dominating Syracuse’s 2-3 zone en path to 31 factors and 16 rebounds, with 9 of these on the offensive finish. The Yellow Jackets are squarely within the bubble image proper now. This can be a group ranked within the 30s at KenPom and within the NET and owns a marquee win over Florida State. The Yellow Jackets have 4 seniors starters, together with Wright and Jose Alvarado, the most effective level guards within the ACC. Pastner and Georgia Tech have an opportunity to really place their stamp on the nationwide stage in opposition to Duke on Tuesday.
Three groups with questions
Seton Corridor Pirates: Losses to Georgetown and Butler final week put Kevin Willard’s group squarely on the bubble. There’s not a ton of meat on the Pirates’ at-large résumé, with one of the best win coming at UConn. There’s zero room for error now.
Indiana Hoosiers: The Hoosiers’ at-large hopes are basically completed at this level. Shedding at Rutgers and vs. Michigan is not a difficulty in a vacuum, however they’re now 12-12 general and 7-10 within the Large Ten with street video games at Michigan State and Purdue remaining. Can they win three or 4 in a row?
Belmont Bruins: Belmont entered this previous week with a 21-game profitable streak and exit it with a two-game dropping streak. The Bruins misplaced by 14 at Jap Kentucky after which fell in additional time at Morehead State. They’re nonetheless the Ohio Valley champs, and each losses got here with out main scorer Nick Muszynski, however at-large hopes at the moment are nonexistent.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (24-0) Earlier rating: 1 This week: None
ESPN Stats & Data included a number of nice nuggets in its piece on Gonzaga’s undefeated common season on Saturday evening. Over the previous 60 seasons, just one program has produced a 21-game streak of double-digit wins. That program is Gonzaga — and the Zags have now completed it 3 times. And this season’s Bulldogs are the primary AP No. 1 group to win 21 video games in a row by double digits. Certain, share all of your caveats about their lack of competitors within the WCC — however this can be a traditionally good group regardless of which means you slice it. If the season ended in the present day, they might be the second-best group in KenPom’s database, with solely the 38-1 Kentucky group in 2014-15 forward of this season’s Zags. That can be examined beginning in two weeks, however they’re nonetheless very a lot the favourite to win all of it.
2. Michigan Wolverines (18-1) Earlier rating: 3 This week: vs. Illinois (Tuesday), vs. Michigan State (Thursday), at Michigan State (Sunday)
After Hunter Dickinson dominated Ohio State final weekend, all eyes have been on the Wolverines’ freshman large man this previous week — and he handed his exams in impression trend. Dickinson gained his battle in opposition to Iowa’s Luka Garza, ending with 14 factors and eight boards and holding Garza to 6-for-19 taking pictures. In opposition to Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Dickinson had 13 factors and 7 rebounds, whereas Jackson-Davis completed with simply 10 factors on 3-for-12 taking pictures and 4 boards. Kofi Cockburn is up subsequent for Dickinson. I watched Dickinson greater than a dozen instances at the highschool degree — he was a touted prospect since he was youthful — and it was apparent he had the talent set to be within the combine for the No. 1 rating … if this was 20 years in the past. However might his old-school recreation translate to in the present day’s recreation? Juwan Howard has clearly completed job using a system to get one of the best out of Dickinson, however that talent set has additionally translated. He is walling up defensively, artful together with his left hand together with his again to the basket and is a high-level passer and rebounder. Typically good gamers are simply good gamers and can discover a technique to thrive.
Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson has bested a few of the finest gamers within the Large Ten, together with Iowa’s Luka Garza and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis. Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire
3. Baylor Bears (18-1) Earlier rating: 2 This week: at West Virginia (Tuesday), vs. Oklahoma State (Thursday), vs. Texas Tech (Sunday)
The unbeaten run got here to an finish on Saturday evening at Kansas, however the indicators have been there on Tuesday in opposition to Iowa State, too. In opposition to the Cyclones, Baylor’s high-level gamers have been merely capable of make sufficient high-level performs at each ends of the ground to deliver the Bears again into the sport and seize a win. That wasn’t sufficient in opposition to Kansas. The most important concern within the two video games was Baylor’s incapacity to make pictures from the perimeter. The Bears rank No. 1 nationally in 3-point taking pictures, making 43.2% of their makes an attempt coming into the weekend. However within the two video games since coming back from its pause, Baylor went 14-for-51 from behind the arc, together with 6-for-26 on Saturday evening. The Bears have the nation’s finest backcourt, however Jared Butler actually struggled in opposition to Marcus Garrett, and there wasn’t sufficient firepower elsewhere.
4. Illinois Combating Illini (18-6) Earlier rating: 5 This week: at Michigan (Tuesday), at Ohio State (Saturday)
Tuesday might have been a turning level in Illinois’ quest for a 1-seed. The Combating Illini misplaced to Michigan State, however in addition they misplaced Wood Award candidate Ayo Dosunmu to a facial damage. However in stepped Andre Curbelo, and Illinois did not miss a beat, cruising previous Nebraska and hanging on late at Wisconsin. Curbelo got here off the bench in each video games, as he has completed all season, however he noticed a season-high 31 minutes in opposition to Nebraska after which performed 25 minutes in opposition to Wisconsin. He had 10 factors, 12 rebounds and eight assists in opposition to the Cornhuskers, after which adopted it up with 17 factors — together with some late free throws — and 7 rebounds to carry on in opposition to the Badgers. There is not any timetable for Dosunmu’s return, however now Illinois goes into some of the tough weeks for any group to face this season: at Michigan, at Ohio State.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes (18-7) Earlier rating: 4 This week: vs. Illinois (Saturday)
With three losses in a row, the Buckeyes drop one spot behind Illinois within the Energy Rankings — and fall behind within the race for the fourth 1-seed as properly. They do personal a head-to-head win over the Combating Illini, however they’ve additionally now misplaced three extra video games in Large Ten play and have defeats to Northwestern, Minnesota and Michigan State. Metrics are additionally on Illinois’ aspect within the debate. However Ohio State can get again on monitor this weekend when it faces Illinois for a second time. A sweep of Illinois could be arduous to disregard on Choice Sunday. The Buckeyes must decelerate Kofi Cockburn on the within; Cockburn, Luka Garza, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Hunter Dickinson and Trevion Williams have all harm Ohio State’s inside protection. On the different finish, the Buckeyes have to begin making pictures from the perimeter. They’re simply 9-for-33 from behind the arc up to now two video games.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide (19-6) Earlier rating: 6 This week: vs. Auburn (Tuesday), at Georgia (Saturday)
Alabama earned a break up with a street loss at Arkansas and a street win at Mississippi State, however offensive points proceed to plague the Crimson Tide. They don’t seem to be making 3s on the identical clip they have been earlier within the season, and so they’ve didn’t hit one level per possession in seven of their final 9 video games. The efficiency of John Petty Jr. and Joshua Primo are microcosms of Alabama’s offense of late. Throughout the Crimson Tide’s profitable streak, Petty was averaging 15.3 factors and taking pictures 52.5% from 3. Within the final eight video games, during which they’re simply 5-3, Petty is averaging 10.8 factors and taking pictures 30% from 3. It is a related story for Primo, who performed solely eight minutes in Saturday’s recreation. He averaged 10.5 factors and shot 44.4% from 3 in the course of the profitable streak; that is down to six.5 factors and 37.5% from 3 up to now eight video games.
John Petty Jr. swats a shot off the backboard on protection, then Jahvon Quinerly feeds James Rojas for an Alabama jam.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (18-7) Earlier rating: 7 This week: vs. Nebraska (Thursday), vs. Wisconsin (Sunday)
Sunday’s win in Columbus over Ohio State was an awfully spectacular bounce-back efficiency after the 22-point defeat at Michigan on Thursday. Iowa got here out able to battle on the street, hit the Buckeyes within the mouth early and withstood any runs to return away with a complete 16-point win. Luka Garza was wonderful and Joe Wieskamp supplied his normal complementary scoring, however position gamers Joe Toussaint and Keegan Murray supplied strong minutes off the bench for the Hawkeyes. Toussaint had seven assists in simply 14 minutes, whereas Murray had eight factors and 5 boards. It was one other stellar defensive effort, as properly. Iowa held Ohio State to its lowest scoring output of the season — it was the fifth time in seven video games the Hawkeyes have held an opponent below one level per possession.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers (17-6) Earlier rating: 10 This week: vs. Baylor (Tuesday), vs. TCU (Thursday), vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday)
After a few bumps within the street following Oscar Tshiebwe‘s departure, West Virginia has hit its stride with its smaller lineup. The Mountaineers have gained eight of their final 9 Large 12 video games, their lone loss coming by one level in opposition to Oklahoma in mid-February. In accordance with BartTorvik.com, the Mountaineers are No. 11 in adjusted offensive effectivity since Tshiebwe left, after rating No. 36 with him. They have been No. 155 in free throw fee with Tshiebwe, No. 11 with out. And the largest change with out Tshiebwe has been the perimeter taking pictures. They shot simply 30.3% from the 3-point line with Tshiebwe within the fold; since he left, they’re making 3-pointers at a 40.4% clip, ok for No. 13 within the nation over that span. Defensively, they’ve regressed a bit, however the uptick offensively from improved taking pictures has greater than made up for it.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (18-8) Earlier rating: 13 This week: vs. UTEP (Thursday)
There have been two large speaking factors in terms of Kansas’ latest stretch of six wins in seven video games: David McCormack and the group’s enchancment defensively. McCormack has been an actual issue all through most of Large 12 play after an inconsistent begin to the marketing campaign, however his 20 factors in opposition to Baylor on Saturday evening was an announcement efficiency. Over the previous seven video games, McCormack is averaging 15.0 factors and 6.3 rebounds and taking pictures 56.8% from the sector. Defensively, Kansas has prevented its final seven opponents to succeed in one level per possession, and Baylor’s 58 factors on Saturday have been its fewest of the season. The Bears’ 6-for-26 effort from behind the arc was additionally indicative of the Jayhawks’ latest stifling methods; Kansas’ final seven opponents have shot a mixed 35-for-155 from the 3-point line, a 22.6% clip. Over a full season, that may rank No. 1 within the nation by a large margin.
10. Houston Cougars (20-3) Earlier rating: 12 This week: vs. Memphis (Sunday)
With the highest 9 groups in the newest AP ballot going 10-9 over the previous week, the door is open for Houston to quietly stand up the seed listing. A victory over Memphis within the season finale, adopted by a convention event title, might transfer the Cougars to the 2-line come Choice Sunday. In the meantime, Quentin Grimes‘ inconsistent stretch from late January to mid-February appears to be within the rearview mirror. The previous Kansas switch had a terrific week in wins over Western Kentucky and South Florida, totaling 33 factors, six rebounds and eight 3-pointers in opposition to the Hilltoppers and following that up with 22 factors and 6 3-pointers in simply 20 minutes on Sunday vs. the Bulls. This comes after Grimes had 20 factors, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and three 3-pointers final weekend in opposition to Cincinnati. He is prepared for March.
Houston guard Quentin Grimes hits his sixth three of the primary half from the emblem.
11. Villanova Wildcats (15-4) Earlier rating: 8 This week: vs. Creighton (Wednesday), at Windfall (Saturday)
Villanova had develop into the sneaky potential 1-seed over the previous couple of weeks, with Large Ten groups not named Michigan beating up on one another and losses by Alabama, Florida State and Oklahoma. However the Wildcats could not take benefit, dropping on Sunday at Butler by 12. Hinkle Coliseum hasn’t been variety to Jay Wright, as Villanova has misplaced there in 4 of its final 5 journeys to face the Bulldogs. Street woes are nothing new to the Wildcats, both; they went 0-3 on the street in February. Nova has a comparatively underwhelming résumé for a group within the combine for a top-four seed. The Wildcats have simply two Quadrant 1 wins, with their finest victories coming in opposition to Texas, UConn and Seton Corridor twice. They’re nonetheless the favorites to win the Large East title, however a win Wednesday vs. Creighton would assist their seeding.
12. Arkansas Razorbacks (19-5) Earlier rating: Within the ready room This week: at South Carolina (Tuesday), vs. Texas A&M (Saturday)
Arkansas goes to get most of its manufacturing from its perimeter group, led by projected first-round choose Moses Moody, transfers JD Notae and Jalen Tate and freshman Davonte Davis. But it surely’s the frontcourt duo of Justin Smith and Jaylin Williams that make me optimistic come March. Smith had an uneven three years at Indiana however has made an impression in Fayetteville that goes past his factors and rebounds. He has supplied some veteran management and toughness and is among the finest defenders on the group. The Razorbacks are 18-2 with a wholesome Smith. Williams, the 6-foot-10 in-state freshman, has developed over the previous few weeks. He comes off the bench behind Connor Vanover, however he turned issues round with 13 factors and eight boards in opposition to Alabama after which had eight factors, six rebounds and 4 blocks in opposition to LSU.
13. Florida State Seminoles Earlier rating: 11 This week: vs. Boston School (Wednesday), at Notre Dame (Saturday)
The Seminoles’ scorching stretch got here to a halt within the second half in opposition to North Carolina on Saturday, when Florida State blew a 12-point halftime result in fall to the Tar Heels. It will not occur usually, however Carolina matched FSU on the inside — and the Seminoles’ turnover points additionally reared their head once more. One factor to notice: Florida State’s 3-point taking pictures has additionally fallen off a bit in latest video games. It ranks within the prime 15 nationally in 3-point taking pictures, however over the previous three video games, the Seminoles have made simply 18 of 56 makes an attempt from behind the arc. It is seemingly only a blip, and upcoming video games in opposition to Boston School and Notre Dame ought to assist them get away coming into the ACC event. The regular-season title remains to be Florida State’s to lose with a one-game lead within the loss column over Virginia, Virginia Tech and Louisville.
14. Texas Longhorns (14-7) Earlier rating: 16 This week: at Iowa State (Tuesday), at Oklahoma (Thursday), at TCU (Sunday)
Texas notched a large win over Kansas on Tuesday, a win that appears higher after the Jayhawks beat Baylor on Saturday. However the Longhorns have some noticeable points, and so they’re simply 4-6 of their previous 10 video games. Their saving grace is a résumé that features a sweep of Kansas, plus wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma State. The protection that regarded so elite at the beginning of the season has now allowed not less than one level per possession in eight of the Longhorns’ previous 11 video games; in truth, they’re simply center of the pack within the Large 12 in adjusted defensive effectivity and are the third-worst group within the league guarding contained in the arc. Offensively, they’re largely inconsistent. They’ve develop into extra 3-point reliant in convention play, however that is to be anticipated when the offense revolves round three guards. Shaka Good simply must get all of them on the identical web page.
15. Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-6) Earlier rating: Unranked This week: vs. Oklahoma (Monday), at Baylor (Thursday), at West Virginia (Saturday)
Oklahoma State goes to have one of many weirder résumés on Choice Sunday. Its NET is within the 30s, as is its KenPom, and its BPI is within the 50s. (The 50s!) However alternatively, the Cowboys have a power of file — which measures résumé — within the prime 20 and so they have seven Quadrant 1 wins, tied for second most within the nation. Both means, Mike Boynton’s group is using a four-game profitable streak after additional time victories in opposition to Texas Tech and Oklahoma. The Cowboys at the moment are 4-0 in additional time video games this season. They do face one of many tougher ultimate stretches to the season, with one other recreation in opposition to Oklahoma on Monday after which street video games at Baylor and West Virginia. Their profile may very well be a lot simpler to learn after these three video games.
16. Texas Tech Pink Raiders (15-8) Earlier rating: Within the ready room This week: vs. TCU (Tuesday), vs. Iowa State (Thursday), at Baylor (Sunday)
The Large 12 pecking order after Baylor, West Virginia and now Kansas is changing into tough to distinguish. Texas has strong metrics, zero dangerous losses and several other good wins. Oklahoma State swept Texas Tech and has seven Quadrant 1 wins, however mediocre metrics. Oklahoma has two Quadrant 3 losses and metrics which can be fading each week. Then there’s Texas Tech, which has sweeps of Texas and Oklahoma and excellent NET and KenPom numbers — however a 5-8 file in opposition to Quadrants 1 and a pair of. That mentioned, the Pink Raiders have an opportunity to pad their league file with dwelling video games in opposition to TCU and Iowa State arising, earlier than ending on the street at Baylor — which by then ought to have its sea legs again. And so they might want to pad that file, as proper now they’re seventh within the standings, which suggests a first-round recreation as a substitute of a bye within the convention event.
Virginia Cavaliers: That is now three straight losses for Virginia, and the Cavaliers are actually struggling on the defensive finish of the ground. They’ve allowed not less than 1.08 factors per possession in three straight video games. The large concern with their profile? An absence of marquee wins. Their finest wins are over Clemson, Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
Creighton Bluejays: Creighton falls a few spots after its street loss at Xavier on Saturday. The Bluejays scored under one level per possession for simply the second time of their previous 10 video games, whereas additionally permitting Xavier to make higher than 65% of its 2-pointers. Wednesday at Villanova is an enormous assertion alternative.
Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners’ underwhelming metrics may very well be ignored once they have been rolling by way of the Large 12, however with back-to-back losses — together with one at Kansas State — these eyesores stand out just a little bit extra. They’re simply 8-7 in opposition to the highest three quadrants, with a KenPom rating within the 30s.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7116