Just when I think I have these conferences and teams figured out, a week like last week happens. While the Final Four category remains the same, there was some major shuffling in the other categories. Teams I left for dead in weeks past are currently prospering and vice versa. The selection committee looks to have tough road ahead with both determining the field and seeding
Final 4: (Best 4 Teams)
After a 2-0 week Duke is still the best team in the country. They beat Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech each by double digits and their trio of fabulous freshman continue to exceed expectations. Duke should continue to dominate as they hit the road this week to take on Notre Dame and take on Saint John’s at home.
DUKE FANS: Want 1st looks at our 😎 content & weekly messages from the squad? Like or RT this post.
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) January 24, 2019
According to the polls the Vols are the best team in the country. Even though I disagree, a midweek scare against Vanderbilt just isn’t enough to take Tennessee out of Final Four consideration. Junior guard Lamonte Turner exploded Saturday for 23 points on 8/10 shooting. Tennessee needs scoring like this from the guard spot to supplement its tremendous forward play.
Michigan rebounded nicely this week after a road loss to Wisconsin last Saturday. They beat a very competent Minnesota team at the buzzer on the road and completely dismantled Indiana. Michigan’s only competition in the Big Ten is Michigan State. Those in state rivals don’t meet until late February.
Virginia rounds out a very boring week in the Final Four category. Like Michigan, Virginia rebounded nicely after a road loss to Duke. The Cavs beat both Wake Forest and Notre Dame in typical Virginia fashion. They didn’t allow 60 points in either contest and look forward to a road test against NC State on the 29th.
Elite 8: (Next 4 Teams)
North Carolina (15-4)
Only one game for UNC this week but they made it count by beating 10th ranked Virginia Tech by 21. North Carolina will have a full seven days off before traveling to Georgia Tech Tuesday night. UNC will also travel to Louisville next Saturday in hopes to avenge an embarrassing 21-point home loss on January 12th. Expect a well-rested North Carolina team to come out blazing this week.
Despite a road loss to Kentucky Saturday, I still really like this Kansas team. They have proven to be the class of the Big 12 and at point it would shock me if they didn’t hoist both the regular season and conference tournament titles. Memphis transfer, Dedric Lawson, continues to impress and has established himself as a POY the year candidate. Kansas takes on Texas and Texas Tech this week.
I’ve written about Marquette in previous editions of Brinkman Bracketology in the Cinderella category. They have graduated to the Elite 8 category based on their stellar all-around play. Marquette has now won seven games in a row in the Big East after road wins against Depaul and Xavier this week. Star guard, Markus Howard, get the press but the Hauser brothers are the heart and soul of Marquette. Sam and Joey made Big East history this week after being the first brother tandem to win weekly individual awards in Big East history. Marquette has all the tools to make a deep run.
Marquette’s Sam and Joey Hauser kept the Big East’s weekly men’s basketball honors all in the family. https://t.co/N9OVTlgRAW
— JSOnline – MU (@js_goldeneagles) January 21, 2019
Michigan State (18-3)
Michigan State under Tom Izzo was proven to be one of the most consistent programs in the nation. The Spartans did lose to Purdue Sunday afternoon, but hadn’t lost since November 27th prior to Sunday. They completely outclassed 13th ranked Maryland this week and appear to be on a collision course with arch rival Michigan for Big Ten supremacy.
Potential Cinderella’s (Teams That Can Make A Run)
This team should be ranked after defeating Michigan State Sunday afternoon 73-63. Senior guard, Ryan Cline, lead the way for Purdue scoring 17 points. If Kline can continue to compliment All-American point guard Carson Edwards and an above average front court Purdue can really make noise deep into March.
Murray State (16-3)
Even an ugly loss to Belmont can’t diminish my man crush on Ja Morant and Murray State. They are a virtual lock to represent the Ohio Valley in the NCAA Tournament.
Davidson should get some love from the “mainstream” bracketologists after a huge road win Saturday over Saint Louis. Jon Axel Gudmunsson erupted for 27 points and is now averaging 16 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists on the season. Gudmundsson, along with fellow guards Kellan Grady and Luke Frampton will be a tough trio to top in the Atlantic 10.
Providence is a solid team that is starting to peak after a dreadful start to Big East play. The Friars win loss resume won’t blow you away but when I watch this team play I see a potential cinderella story. Alpha Diallo is averaging 16 points and 8 boards and is a dominant force in the low post. Freshman guard A.J Reeves leads the Friars on the perimeter shooting a blistering 45 percent from 3 on the season. Watch out for Providence!
Bracket Buster’s (Teams I don’t Trust)
Texas Tech (16-4)
It wasn’t long ago I was touting Texas Tech as a potential final for contender. Things have changed. After losing three straight Big 12 games, the Red Raiders barely squeaked by a very average Arkansas team in Saturday’s SEC/ Big 12 Challenge. This team needs to become more consistent for me to trust moving forward.
I warned readers not to be fooled if Maryland started to gain momentum and climb the rankings and I was right. The Terps were completely outclassed by Michigan State last Monday, but it’s a loss to a less than stellar Illinois team on a neutral court that has me shaking my head. The problem is clearly head coach Mark Turgeon. It’s a shame he can’t find consistency with the talent he has.
Make it three SEC losses in a row for Auburn dropping them to 9th place in a very average conference. The latest loss comes to Mississippi State where the Tigers gave up a staggering 92 points. Like Maryland, this team has talent, but struggles with consistency.
Villanova is on fire so some may find it puzzling they are being classified as a team I don’t trust. The fact of the matter is I just don’t see their Big East success translating to NCAA postseason success. They are severely undersized and will have a tough time winning if they don’t shoot well. Five-star freshman recruit Javon Quinerly continues to struggle to get consistent minutes.