With the Super Bowl and the NFL season officially in the rear-view mirror we can now officially start the countdown to Selection Sunday. We stand 41 Days out as of Monday and we still have a lot to be determined. We are taking a different approach to Bracketology this week as we combine the Final four and Elite 8 categories and rank the top 8 teams in the country to go along with our Potential Cinderella’s and Bracket Buster’s.
Power 8 (Self Explanatory)
As expected, Duke took care of business this week. The Blue Devils beat both Notre Dame and St. John’s by over 20 points a piece but it’s Zion Williamson who stole the show. Williamson had his most electrifying performance to date Saturday scoring twenty-nine points and registering five steals. Duke travels to Virginia this Saturday in a battle for ACC supremacy.
Tennessee continues to win and cover with ease in SEC play. The Vols put up over ninety points in both road victories this week. Tennessee shouldn’t have a problem continuing its dominance this week against Missouri and Florida.
A very impressive week for Virginia as they head into their showdown Saturday with Duke. The Cavs were able to defeat ranked NC State on the road 66-65 with less than their best effort and made easy work of Miami Saturday.
North Carolina (17-4)
As predicted, a well-rested North Carolina came out blazing this week. Their ten-point road victory over ranked Louisville wasn’t as close as the score indicated. With Michigan losing on the road to Iowa this week, I would give the fourth and final number one seed to UNC as of now.
Michigan beat Ohio State as expected but lost on the road to Iowa last Friday night. Michigan is still a very good team and has proven to be the class of the Big 10. Iowa is a good team and a road loss to the Hawkeyes shouldn’t cause an overreaction.
Make it eight in a row for Marquette as they now trail only Villanova in the Big East standings. They made quick work of Xavier and Butler and look forward to a showdown with Villanova next Saturday.
I can ignore the resume of Kentucky no longer. The Wildcats have won eight games in a row and have recorded wins over North Carolina and Kansas this season. The Wildcats should continue to dominate SEC play and have two games against number one ranked Tennessee in their future.
Virginia Tech (18-3)
A 2-0 week has the Hookies back in my good graces. Virginia Tech recorded a key road win Saturday against NC State where they held the Wolf Pack to just 24 points for the entire game. Tech only has two ACC losses to Virginia and North Carolina and look poised for a deep tournament run.
Potential Cinderella’s (Teams That Can Make A Run)
After a win over St. Bonaventure Saturday the Wildcats sit atop the Atlantic 10. I don’t expect this to change as I have been touting Davidson as the best the A-10 has to offer for weeks now. Davidson has a huge mid-week tilt with Rhode Island on the 6th.
Murray State (17-4)
Murray State has lost two of three in the Ohio Valley but I still believe in the Racers long term. Ja Morant should be enough to lead Murray State to an Ohio Valley Championship and an automatic berth into the tournament.
Frankly, I am surprised Syracuse isn’t ranked. They sit at 16-6 and are currently in 4th place in a loaded ACC. The Orange have an elite point guard and coach in Tyus Battle and Jim Boeheim. Syracuse has been in this position before when they made a final four run in 2013 as a ten seed.
Recap last night’s win at Pitt with story, stats, photos, highlights & morehttps://t.co/dnK2pNb16L
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) February 3, 2019
Like Murray State, Lipscomb is all but assured an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament via an automatic bid out the Atlantic Sun conference. The Bison are undefeated in conference play and have a road win over tournament bound TCU in the non-conference.
Bracket Buster’s (Teams I don’t Trust)
North Carolina State (16-6)
NC State was only able to score 24 points at home against Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon. They shot sixteen percent from the field and I’m shocked they are still ranked after such an embarrassing performance. I’m out on a team that con only manage 24 points in 40 minutes of basketball.
Feast upon NC State’s gloopy heap of basketball-shaped sadness. https://t.co/plLVPj4MHU
— Slate (@Slate) February 3, 2019
Texas Tech (17-5)
Texas Tech was completely embarrassed by Kansas on Saturday. I can’t trust a team as inconsistent as Texas Tech in the tournament.
… record is all sizzle and no steak. They bullied their way to a gaudy record playing a weak non-conference schedule and gave up 90 points in a loss to a below average Arkansas team. Like many of the middle tier teams in the SEC, I don’t trust LSU.
Michigan State (18-4)
I just don’t see this as a vintage Tom Izzo Michigan State team. With Joshua Langford slated to miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. Things could get tough for Sparty as Big Ten play progresses.
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.