A month from now, Selection Sunday will decide the postseason pecking order in a frantic faculty basketball season that ought to produce a memorable NCAA match.
Sunday’s unveiling by the NCAA match choice committee of the projected prime 4 seeds in every area solely inspired the hype for what’s going to come in the subsequent 4 weeks. But the final chapter of the season presents ample time to rip aside every thing that unfolded on Sunday.
There remains to be time for bubble groups to get comfy — whats up, NC State — and for squads we referred to as locks weeks in the past to sweat a bit — um, Oklahoma? — earlier than Selection Sunday.
The coming weeks matter.
Here are the most important components of the ultimate month of faculty basketball’s regular season, by conference:
Big 12: Trae Young’s struggles
Trae Young remains to be a nice participant. He’s nonetheless the Wooden Award favourite. He’s nonetheless a top-10 NBA draft choose. But this ugly chapter for the freshman showcases the challenges related to elevating an 11-win crew into rivalry for the conference title and a favorable seed.
Oklahoma is falling proper now, and Young is not hitting the Three-pointers (7-for-32 in the previous three video games) he made earlier this season.
A rebooted Oklahoma is sweet for the league. And the crew’s placement as a Four-seed by the committee’s projections suggests the panel values Oklahoma’s greatest wins (at Wichita State, TCU twice, Kansas and Texas Tech) over its present 2-6 file in the previous eight video games and a protection approaching triple digits on KenPom.com.
The groups that beat Oklahoma personal a win over a crew in a nice place to snatch a top-four seed if it will probably resolve this turmoil. But the Sooners cannot do this with out a extra environment friendly Young.
This is the most important storyline in the league.
SEC: Kentucky’s embarrassing slide
Kentucky ought to put collectively a type of before-and-after images for John Calipari after the season. He will not look the identical.
He has by no means confronted these hurdles at Kentucky. Yeah, the 2012-13 crew misplaced Nerlens Noel to a knee harm and stumbled into the NIT, however the Wildcats had gained a nationwide title the earlier season. No stress.
The 2013-14 crew performed dangerous basketball all through the regular season, however Calipari and every Kentucky fan knew Karl-Anthony Towns & Co. would quickly arrive. This fumbling group, nonetheless, is three years faraway from Calipari’s most latest Final Four run, an eternity for the spoiled Big Blue Nation.
Today, Kentucky possesses a squad filled with underachievers; Duke and Mike Krzyzewski signed the incoming class Calipari needed. This is a essential interval for Kentucky. The Wildcats entered the week surrendering a 53.7 p.c clip to SEC opponents inside the arc. Only LSU is worse in league play. But that is excellent news for the SEC.
The weak Wildcats, using a three-game shedding streak, entered the week as a top-20 crew in the RPI, which positions Calipari’s squad as a potential high quality Quadrant 1 win for a multitude of groups combating for at-large berths and favorable seeds. Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri (probably with Michael Porter Jr.) and Florida all can inject their résumés with a victory that is nonetheless priceless to the choice committee if Kentucky cannot discover itself inside the subsequent month.
Kentucky, the perennial bully, might develop into the SEC’s doormat main into the NCAA match.
ACC: Boston College
The NCAA touted its newfound acknowledgment of analytics after releasing a crew sheet final month that reveled an official first-time implementation of superior metrics, such as the BPI and KPI. But Sunday’s unveiling of the projected seeds demonstrated how a lot the committee will nonetheless worth the RPI and a new tiered scale that measures top-30 residence wins, top-50 neutral-site wins and top-75 street wins the identical.
That’s why Boston College issues. Jim Christian’s Eagles entered the week at No. 78, simply outdoors the RPI’s Quadrant 1 distinction for groups hoping to safe a horny street win over BC. But the Eagles’ remaining schedule options a slate of opponents aiming for extra safety in the bubble pool.
Notre Dame and Syracuse will journey to BC inside the subsequent month, and the Eagles will face NC State, Miami and Florida State on the street.
The Eagles already personal wins over Duke, Florida State and Miami. And right here they’re, presenting a advanced state of affairs for the remaining squads on their schedule.
We’re not fairly positive what a win over BC will imply on Selection Sunday with the new RPI scale. But a loss to this squad might injury the postseason aspirations of a number of ACC groups that may’t neglect about the Eagles.
Big Ten: The Big Ten match
This is an odd 12 months for the Big Ten. The league hasn’t produced simply 4 NCAA match bids — the Big Ten’s present projection in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology — since 2008. We’re normally speaking about six, seven or eight invites for Jim Delany’s conference.
But that is additionally a league with three groups positioned to chase top-three seeds on Selection Sunday. The conference moved its match to Madison Square Garden a week sooner than the remainder of the Power 5 leagues; the Big Ten match runs Feb. 28 via March Four. With Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State accomplished with their matchups towards each other this season, their solely likelihood to enhance their odds of snatching one among the prime seeds in the NCAA match will come in New York City.
Purdue (1), Michigan State (Three) and Ohio State (Four) all earned top-four nods in Sunday’s projections by the choice committee. If the Spartans, who’ve gained eight in a row, can run the desk and choose up wins over the Boilermakers and Buckeyes in the conference match, they are going to improve their profile and protect their top-seed potential. Ohio State might finish the 12 months with two wins apiece over Purdue and Michigan State. Purdue might avenge its losses to OSU and Michigan State.
The Big Ten will not ship many groups into the NCAA match this season, however the better of the league will enter the chaos with a likelihood to attain San Antonio. And the matchups in New York City might show pivotal in this off 12 months for the league.
Big East: Omari Spellman’s effort
Villanova fought via an early deficit Saturday to keep away from its second consecutive regular-season sweep towards Butler. The Wildcats performed that recreation with out Phil Booth (11.6 PPG) and Eric Paschall (10.1 PPG, Four.6 RPG, 2.Three APG), the No. Three and No. Four scorers on the roster, due to a damaged hand and concussion protocol, respectively. Coach Jay Wright stated he expects each to miss a chunk of time this month as they recuperate.
With 4 of its ultimate six video games on the street, it isn’t loopy to think about Villanova stumbling in the subsequent month.
That’s why the Wildcats want the greatest Omari Spellman to assist them battle via a troublesome stretch whereas these two key gamers recuperate. He completed 7-for-19 in Nova’s two losses to Butler and St. John’s.
With Paschall and Booth on the flooring collectively, Villanova — an inconsistent defensive unit — holds opponents to zero.95 factors per possession. Opponents shoot higher from the Three-point line and commit fewer turnovers, nonetheless, with Spellman in the recreation, in contrast to when he was on the bench, per hooplens.com.
Wright wants an environment friendly Spellman on offense and protection to climate the coming turbulence for a squad which may not attain full power till the postseason.
American Athletic Conference: Cincinnati’s momentum
Cincinnati hasn’t misplaced since Dec. 9. Right now, Mick Cronin’s crew is holding American opponents to a 24.eight p.c mark from the Three-point line. The Bearcats are bulldozers.
Their upcoming matchup towards Wichita State, one among two this season, was initially billed as the American’s heavyweight title battle. But the Bearcats personal a three-game lead over Wichita State and Houston in the standings.
Even if the league fails to provide Cincy the assessments that prime groups in the Power 5 leagues will face in the subsequent month, the Bearcats might begin the NCAA match as the hottest crew in America and the discipline’s best defensive menace outdoors Charlottesville.
Mountain West: Valentine’s Day
Nevada will face Boise State on Wednesday, its best alternative to earn a high quality win in the ultimate weeks of league play. Eric Musselman’s squad is taking part in stellar offense, averaging 1.15 PPP and committing turnovers on simply 13.1 p.c of its possessions in league play.
So there may be solely room to fall in a conference which may finish Selection Sunday as a one-bid league. But Nevada is flawed. Its protection just isn’t even inside the prime 50. In their first matchup, Chandler Hutchinson and Boise State slowed Nevada’s offense and restricted second-chance alternatives.
A win over Nevada on Wednesday might propel Boise State into the at-large pool or lead to a damaged coronary heart on Valentine’s Day with its second loss to the Mountain West king.
Atlantic 10: Rhode Island’s obstacles
What else are you able to say? Danny Hurley has constructed a monster. His crew, which hasn’t misplaced since Dec. 6, is balanced and deep. The Rams need a conference crown and a top-four seed.
But that is additionally a harmful state of affairs.
A loss to Davidson in the season finale or a loss to one other Atlantic 10 squad in the postseason match should not smash its profile. Rhode Island, No. 5 in the RPI, deserves a excessive seed. But the remainder of its schedule is stuffed with groups that fall outdoors the prime 100 and might toss Rhode Island into a scary first-round matchup.
Pac-12: Deandre Ayton
Arizona needs no a part of the Four-seed the committee tasks it can earn a month from now. The Wildcats recovered from their troubling Bahamas journey in November. But a 1-2 file in their previous three video games proves they’re removed from invincible in the Pac-12.
Deandre Ayton is making an attempt to elevate his crew into a extra promising seed and chase his NBA goals. But Arizona stays the goal of the conference with a protection that is much less imposing than its scoring potential.
This may very well be the stretch in which coach Sean Miller decides to simply feed Ayton extra usually and dare any opponent to cease the freakish 7-footer.
He may need to do this. Ayton is a distinctive menace, averaging 19.5 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 1.eight BPG. Wild numbers. And he’ll have to carry Arizona via a Pac-12 slate filled with harmful opponents in search of a win over the Wildcats and the achievement of Bill Walton’s dream of a nine-team pool of Pac-12ers in the NCAA match.
West Coast Conference: The actual Gonzaga vs. the choice committee’s Gonzaga
That Gonzaga crew that went to Saint Mary’s on Saturday, punched the Gaels in the mouth and left with that yeah-we’re-back vibe? Those Bulldogs would have rumbled with any opponent in the nation.
But they weren’t talked about in Sunday’s projected seeds. Again, that entire “the RPI doesn’t mean as much” idea? Not as actual as we assumed.
And that is a drawback for a crew like Gonzaga, which has one double-digit loss this season (Villanova), one residence loss (Saint Mary’s) and two single-digit losses outdoors Spokane, Washington, to respectable foes (Florida, San Diego State). The RPI says Gonzaga just isn’t even a top-40 crew. Huh?
After Mark Few’s crew simply held Saint Mary’s, a top-five crew in offensive effectivity, to 65 factors? After Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie helped neutralize All-American candidate Jock Landale?
The predictive metrics love Gonzaga. The Bulldogs entered the week ranked seventh on KenPom.com and eighth in the BPI.
Still, they will have to battle even more durable to get the seed they deserve, one which may very well be determined by a doable third matchup towards Saint Mary’s in the WCC match.