College Top 25 Recap: Big East Takeover
This week’s Top 25 features five Big East teams.
13. Baylor (23-5, 10-5)
The Bears have had a tough February. After coming into the month with two losses, Baylor has dropped three over a three-week span. Earlier this week, they dropped a heartbreaker to a suddenly hot K-State team but recovered and took care of business against Texas on Tuesday. Fortunately, Baylor has the talent to make a nice run in the Big 12 Tournament—it seems as if the Bears just need to put it all together when it matters most.
14. Murray State (26-1, 13-1)
The Racers met St. Mary’s last Saturday in a much hyped Bracket Buster game and thanks to Isaiah Canaan’s 23-point performance, Murray State walked away with an easy 15-point dub. The Racers have an opportunity to avenge their sole loss of the season when they take on Tennessee State tonight.
15. Florida State (19-7, 10-2)
The Seminoles have been one of the biggest surprises of the ’11-12 college basketball season. They have stormed through the ACC and their only two losses were flukes against Clemson and Boston College. Their biggest game of the season comes tonight against Duke, a team they beat on a buzzer-beating three-pointer last go around. If they can get past the Blue Devils, they have a serious opportunity to be crowned ACC regular-season champs and earn themselves a high seed in the Tournament. Who woulda thought.
16. Wisconsin (20-7, 9-5)
The Badgers may be number 16 in the polls, but they don’t impress me. They have only beaten one ranked team all season (against Indiana, another unimpressive team) and have barely snuck by some of the lower echelon Big Ten teams. Look for an early exit in the NCAA Tournament for Wisco.
17. Louisville (21-6, 9-5)
After losing by a point to Syracuse, it took overtime for the Cardinals to get past the 11-16 DePaul Blue Demons. Louisville closes the season against Cincy, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Syracuse—certainly no cake walk there.
18. New Mexico (22-4, 8-3)
New Mexico has taken the Mountain West Conference by surprise, knocking off San Diego State and UNLV in consecutive games to take control of the conference and burst onto the national scene. But, after two great wins, the Lobos turned around and lost to Colorado State on Tuesday night. With three games left, the regular-season conference title is theirs to lose.
19. Wichita State (25-4, 15-2)
The Shockers are a team that I am very high on and think they have a chance to make a run this March. They have a talented inside-outside combo with big man Garrett Stutz and sharpshooting guard Joe Ragland, who is hitting an assassin-like 56 percent of his field goals. The Shockers have been dominant in conference play, blowing by their competition en route to a 15-2 conference record. They play their final conference game on Saturday against Drake; a team they lost to in triple-overtime earlier this season.
20. Notre Dame (20-8, 12-3)
The Irish are hands down the hottest team in the country. Many picked them to finish near the bottom of the Big East, and after Tim Abromaitis went down with a season-ending knee injury, those predictions looked like they would come to fruition. But, once again, Mike Brey has done a fantastic job and should be the frontrunner for Coach of the Year. Notre Dame has won a school-record nine straight Big East games, including victories over Syracuse, Marquette, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The Fighting Irish look to keep this improbable winning streak going against St. John’s this weekend at the Garden before travelling to D.C. for a Big East showdown with G’Town.
21. UNLV (23-6, 7-4)
The Runnin’ Rebels have sputtered down the stretch with losses to Wyoming, TCU and New Mexico but should still be a threat in the Tournament. They still have an opportunity to win the Mountain West if they beat Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming to close the year. Behind Mike Moser and Chace Stanback, UNLV will be a handful for any team in the Big Dance and could be a sleeper Final Four pick.
22. Temple (22-5, 11-2)
The Owls are another team peaking at the right time. They have won eleven straight and control their own destiny in the A-10. Temple is led offensively by the backcourt duo of Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt who have combined for an average of 35 points a game, and may remind some A-10 fans of the esteemed St. Joe’s backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. Temple also has 6-11 center Micheal Eric who is a force upfront and his play will decide just how far the Owls go.
23. Indiana (21-7, 8-7)
The overrated Hoosiers were upset by the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday and now sit one game above .500 in conference play. Indiana plays Minnesota, Michigan State and Purdue to close the season, and if they somehow manage to drop all three and lose their first round Big Ten tournament game, they may find themselves on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.
24. San Diego State (21-6, 7-4)
Another dumbfounding Mountain West team; what’s with these guys? After winning eleven straight, the Aztecs have dropped four of their last seven, including three straight to UNLV, New Mexico and Air Force. They are another team who may find themselves on the outside looking in if they don’t pick up their play and finish strong.
25. Virginia (20-6, 8-5)
The Cavaliers have a tremendous opportunity to gain momentum and prove that they belong in Tournament with games against Carolina and Florida State coming up. They need a big win after stumbling through February and with both of these games at home they have to seize the opportunity.