One would think that as the season progresses the NCAA Tournament picture would become clearer. The total opposite is true after the craziest week of the season thus far. Duke lost as a 17.5-point favorite to Syracuse at Cameron Indoor. Kansas couldn’t hold a six-point lead with two minutes to go against West Virginia. Texas Tech lost to Iowa State and Michigan and Virginia are no longer undefeated. The madness has begun and with football off until early February fans can finally sink their teeth into college hoops for the first time this season.
Final 4: (Best 4 Teams)
Duke rebounded nicely after puzzling home loss to Syracuse early in the week with a big win over previously unbeaten Virginia Saturday evening. Freshman standout, Zion Williamson, continues to dominate player of the year talk after dropping 27 against Virginia. Fellow freshman RJ Barret also scored 30 in the top 5 showdown. Despite a loss to Syracuse, Duke is still the best team.
After sub-par weeks by both Kansas and Texas Tech, Tennessee makes their debut in the Final Four portion of bracketology. The Vols have one loss to Kansas and is the only team to beat Gonzaga this season. Tennessee proved their depth in a blowout win over Missouri a few weeks ago. Their best player, Grant Williams, only had four points and the Vols still put up 87 and had four players in double figures. I like this team more and more each week.
Michigan’s body of work is too strong to move them out of the Final Four category after a lone loss on the road to Wisconsin. They have out of conferences wins over Villanova and North Carolina and are still the class of the Big Ten to date. Expect Michigan to be playing deep into March.
Like Michigan, a singular loss on the road against Duke, doesn’t change my opinion of Virginia. In addition to their loss at Duke, the Cavs also destroyed 9th ranked Virginia Tech 81-59 this week. Virginia is clearly the second-best team in ACC behind Duke and should be a one seed come selection Sunday.
Elite 8: (Next 4 Teams)
North Carolina (14-4)
North Carolina took care of business this week with sound victories over Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The Heels have a huge ACC bout Monday night against Virginia Tech. The game should go a long way in determining the 3rd best team in the ACC.
Virginia Tech (15-2)
I still really like Virginia Tech as a team, but a 22-point loss to Virginia defiantly raised my eyebrows. The Hookies rebounded nicely with a blowout win over bottom dweller Wake Forest. They’ll need to at least show well Monday night against UNC to remain on next week’s edition of Bracketology.
Nevada continues to dominate the 2018-2019 season running their record to an impressive 18-1 over the past week. Their lone loss is an ugly one to New Mexico but Nevada passes the eye test with flying colors. Star Forward Jordan Caroline is averaging 18 points a game and shooting a blistering 48 percent from the floor. Nevada most likely will enter the NCAA tournament with a lone loss and have the potential to make a deep run.
I’m not pleased with Kansas after a complete collapse in the final minutes Saturday in a loss to West Virginia. I’ll preach patience and body of work as Kansas still has tons of talent. Kansas is also clear favorites in the Big 12 after a horrendous week by rival Texas Tech.
Potential Cinderella’s (Teams That Can Make A Run)
Like most every season under head coach Matt Painter, Purdue is in the mix for a Big Ten title. Purdue had an impressive blowout win over ranked arch rival Indiana Saturday and has one of the best point guards in the country in Carson Edwards. Edwards is averaging 24 points per game and is the type of player who can carry a team to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Murray State (15-2)
The Racers continue to dominate the Ohio Valley conference with two blowout victories this week and look to be a lock for an automatic bid into March Madness. Once they get in they have a chance to do real damage with an NBA caliber in Ja Morant. Morant is averaging 24 points and 10 assists on the season at torched SIU-Edwardsville for 40 points in Saturday’s victory.
Even after a puzzling loss to and underachieving St. Josephs, I still believe in this team. They rebounded nicely with a blowout victory over Richmond Saturday. Davidson currently sits 3rd the Atlantic 10 and have work to do if they want to have their name called on selection Sunday. They shouldn’t be counted out with a player like Kellen Grady on their side.
San Francisco (16-3)
The Don’s are Gonzaga’s biggest competition in the West Coast Conference. They have 3 losses on the season and have wins over California and Stanford. The bubble will be very nervous when San Francisco inevitably takes on Gonzaga in the WCC title game. The Don’s are a bid stealer waiting to happen.
Bracket Buster’s (Teams I don’t Trust)
A two-point loss to a less than stellar Kentucky team Saturday sums up Auburn perfectly. They win big over teams they should beat and fall when tested. That doesn’t make for a team I can trust in my bracket come March.
Mississippi State (14-3)
Like Auburn, Mississippi State sits at 2-2 in a very average SEC. I don’t think this team has the horses at the guard position to make a deep run into March.
Ohio State (12-5)
The Buckeyes are winless in four tries in Big Ten play. Ohio state is in serious trouble of not making the NCAA tournament even after a promising non- conference record. Even in a competitive conference like the Big 10 you must win at last some games.
With six losses already and coming off a blowout loss to arch rival Purdue, I struggle to see Indiana making a serious run come March. This is a complete turnaround from my opinion on Indiana in the debut of Bracketology, but star guard Romeo Langford can’t do it all himself.