As conference tourneys are approaching, let’s take a look at some teams playing their best ball and some that are reeling.
Notre Dame: The Big East has been brutal this year. With eleven likely NCAA teams, there is rarely an easy night. Yet, Notre Dame finished the Big East season undefeated at home with their Monday demolition of Villanova, a game in which they hit TWENTY three pointers. The Irish have won ten out of their last eleven games, with wins over the aforementioned Villanova, Pitt, Cincinnati, Marquette, and Louisville. When Ben Hansbrough and company are raining three pointers, watch out for this bunch
Kansas State: K-State continues to impress. This, despite the fact that they have a complete lunatic roaming their sideline. Yet somehow the players have bought in. Jacob Pullen is finally providing the veteran leadership we expected. With wins in seven of their last eight, including victories over Kansas, Missouri, and Texas, their mid-season slump is a thing of the past.
North Carolina: In my last edition, I had the Heels as a team you would want to play come March. I guess all it took to change my mind was to see them beat down my favorite team in person. Harrison Barnes is starting to look like the player everyone thought he would be in the beginning of the season. The Heels are really learning to use their superior length and athleticism to their advantage. All things are right again at the top of the ACC with Duke and UNC set to battle for the ACC regular season title this Saturday at 8 PM. I only wish the rest of the league could keep pace.
Purdue: Didn’t expect the Boilermakers to be this good without Robbie Hummel. JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore have really picked up the slack. Ohio State has gotten all the publicity in the Big Ten this year, but Purdue has quietly racked up seven straight wins, with victories over Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Illinois twice.
Illinois: Early this season, it looked like this veteran-laden squad had things under control with quality wins over UNC, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga. However, lately the Illini have been in a free fall. A team that once looked like a tourney lock only a couple of weeks ago is firmly on the bubble now that they’ve lost five of their last eight. Demetri McCamey is going to have to be better than he’s been recently to get this team off of the bubble.
Villanova: Another team with some veterans that looked to be in control even a few weeks ago. Lately, though, they’ve been a casualty of the difficult Big East. They’ve lost their last three and five of their last seven, with a bad loss to Rutgers. Even their two wins were barely surviving against Seton Hall and Depaul. The team probably isn’t in danger of missing the tourney, but they better hope the two Corey’s (Fisher and Stokes) regain their shooting touch soon or it could be an early exit in March.
Texas: Seemed like just a week ago we were talking about this team being a number one seed in March. Losses in three out of the last four have almost certainly ended that thought. This team will have another tough road test this weekend against a Baylor team in need of a win. Another loss could vault this team out of a two seed. Though, despite the recent stretch, this team has the talent to get back on track.
BYU: What a difference a couple of days makes. After last weekend’s road victory against San Diego State, the Cougars had things rolling. Team Jimmer was being talked about as a possible number one seed. Then, out of nowhere, Brandon Davies was dismissed from the team for an honor code violation. Honor Code violations are little bit different in Provo, Utah than they are at other schools. It is rumored that the violation was that Davies had premarital sex. Davies was the Cougars’ only legitimate post-presence and Jimmer’s support was considered weak even with Davies. Now, without Davies, this team looks to be in big trouble, as was evident by their blowout loss to New Mexico last night.
Virginia Tech: After last weekend’s home victory against #1 Duke, it looked like we would finally be spared from Seth Greenberg having to talk about how his team should be on the right side of the bubble. The Hokies cannot make it easy on themselves though. They came back from that monumental victory to lay an egg at home on Senior Night to Boston College. A team that can beat Duke, yet lose to the likes of Georgia Tech and UVA will likely have Greenberg squirming once again on Selection Sunday.
Arizona: Derrick Williams was impressive with his game winning block against Washington on February 19th. The Wildcats seemed to have the Pac-10 on cruise control. Then, they lost to USC on the road, which could have been described as a let-down game. And then, in their last game, they got blown out by a mediocre UCLA squad. Which Wildcat team will show up in the coming weeks?