College Top 25 Recap: Crunch Time
Selection Sunday is less than a month away.
13. San Diego State (20-5, 6-3)
The Aztecs have now lost two straight and are in danger of falling out of the Top 25 all together. After losing a heartbreaker to UNLV over the weekend, they were beaten at home by New Mexico, who now leads the Mountain West. San Diego State may get an at-large bid, but if they can’t get it together down the stretch, and should do so against teams like Air Force and Wyoming, there is a serious chance of them missing the Tournament.
14. Florida (20-6, 8-3)
Another team that is trending the wrong way at the wrong time. Florida lost back-to-back games against Kentucky and Tennessee last week but were able to right the ship against Alabama on Tuesday night. The Gators have the most potent offense in the SEC and can make a potential run in March if they can get things together. They have a few easy games coming up against Arkansas and Auburn and Billy Donovan should have his team ready.
15. Wisconsin (19-6, 8-4)
Wisconsin, who’s grind it out style frustrates its opponents, has a huge game against Michigan State tonight. A win against the Spartans could shake up the whole landscape of the Big Ten and potentially propel Wisco into a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers will need to find a way to stop Draymond Green inside if they want to win this game. A big game from guard Joran Taylor won’t hurt either. If neither of those things happen, it could be a long night for the Badgers.
16. Murray State (24-1, 12-1)
While the upcoming Bracket Buster game against St. Mary’s may have lost some of its luster now that both teams have recently lost games, it will still be a game to keep an eye on this weekend. Murray State’s loss against Tennessee State may have been a fluke and Murphy’s Law was in full effect during the second half. The Racers bounced back nicely with easy wins over Austin Peay and SE Missouri State. Isaiah Canaan remains the best player that no one is talking about and will have a chance to make a name for himself on the national stage against St. Mary’s—expect a big game from him.
17. Michigan (19-7, 9-4)
Saturday’s game against Ohio State is the biggest game in their rivalry in quite some time. Freshman Trey Burke’s improved play has been huge for the Wolverines and he is a great complement to Tim Hardaway Jr. in the backcourt. Burke has been tearing up the Big Ten during conference play and is making a strong case for a Freshman All-American bid. Michigan will be looking to avenge their early season loss to Ohio State with a win on Saturday.
18. Indiana (19-6, 7-6)
Indiana keeps climbing the polls, but I don’t have much confidence in this team come Tournament time. Granted they have won three straight, but those wins have come against Purdue, Illinois and Northwestern. This is the same team who lost to Minnesota, Nebraska and was blown out by Ohio State and Michigan in the last month. Cody Zeller is definitely a baller and will be a unanimous Freshman All-American pick and may even pop up on a few National All-American teams but I don’t have any faith in his teammates. I can foresee Indiana in one of those dreaded 5-12 Tourney matchups and losing in the first round.
19. Louisville (20-6, 8-5)
Louisville was one of those teams that had been flying under the radar over the last month and really had a chance to make some national noise by beating Syracuse at home earlier this week. The Cardinals played ‘Cuse great defensively but couldn’t find a rhythm offensively and an errant pass by Peyton Siva on their final possession resulted in a one point loss against the Big East leaders. Louisville does have a chance to put together another winning streak as their next four games come against DePaul, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and South Florida. Louisville also has another shot at Syracuse when they travel to the Carrier Dome for their final regular-season game on March 3.
20. Florida State (17-7, 8-2)
The Seminoles have been slipping a little bit recently, losing to Boston College and just sneaking by Miami over the last 10 days. But, they do find themselves tied with Duke for second in the conference and have been one of the biggest surprises of the ’11-12 season. Could they make a run and win the ACC Tournament? It’s feasible considering they have already beat Carolina and Duke and except for a their losses against BC and Clemson, they have beaten every other team in conference.
21. Saint Mary’s (23-4, 12-2)
The Gaels have now lost 2 out of their last 3, including a Wednesday’s loss to Loyola Marymount. Their Bracket Buster game this weekend against Murray State has become that much more important. If they lose, they will probably drop out of the Top 25. Once undefeated in conference play, the Gaels are now being threatened by Gonzaga, BYU and Loyola Marymount and the WCC’s conference tournament will be one of the best under-the-radar tournaments in the country.
22. Virginia (19-6, 6-5)
The Cavaliers have now dropped two straight and most likely will not be in the Top 25 rankings come Monday. After their surprising start, they have cooled off considerably and are falling into the middle of the pack as conference play winds down. Unfortunately, this team does not have the necessary firepower to compete with the top half of the ACC.
23. Notre Dame (18-8, 10-3)
Every year coach Mike Brey rallies his troops and gets them playing great basketball at the right time. Brey, who should be the favorite for coach of the year, has taken a Fighting Irish team that nobody gave a chance following Tim Abromaitis’ season-ending injury and won seven straight Big East games. And, it’s not like they are doing it against the bottom feeders of the conference; during this winning streak, they have beaten Syracuse, UConn, Marquette and West Virginia. They don’t have any players that will “wow” you, but they play sound, fundamental basketball and will continue to be a problem during the final stretch of the season.
24. Gonzaga (20-4, 10-2)
To nobody’s surprise, Gonzaga is back in the Top 25 as March looms closer. The Bulldogs are second in conference but just beat up on conference leader St. Mary’s and it looks like it’s only a matter of time before they take control of the WCC.
25. Wichita State (22-4, 13-2)
The Shockers may be that team that comes out of nowhere and makes a run this year. After blowing out Creighton over the weekend, Wichita State is now in sole control of the Missouri Valley Conference and have an interesting Bracket Buster game against Davidson this weekend. The Shockers are a high scoring, balanced team and have a big, skilled center in 7-footer Garrett Stutz. Don’t sleep on the Shockers.