School basketball Energy Rankings: Huge losses pave the best way for a shake-up close to the highest

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The highest of the rankings sees a shake-up this week after two losses by SEC favorites Auburn and Kentucky.

We’ll get to these video games shortly, however what does all of it imply? Do the outcomes of previous week open the door for an additional crew or two to crack the highest 5? Are Auburn’s and Kentucky’s résumés ok to resist some slipups? Or are the Wildcats’ short-handed losses beginning to catch as much as them? Is there something to be involved about for both crew?

Beginning with the final query: I do not assume so. I nonetheless assume full-strength Kentucky is a clear-cut nationwide title favourite, and the Wildcats confirmed on Saturday in opposition to Alabama {that a} short-handed Kentucky is fairly good too. As for the Tigers, their decision-making within the backcourt remains to be worrisome late in video games, and Wendell Green has had some actually, actually poor closing possessions in current weeks. That is the world to observe.

With the SEC losses, although, Kansas‘ path to a 1-seed is extra obvious. The Jayhawks are the one crew within the nation with 10 Quadrant 1 wins. In addition they have only one loss outdoors of Quadrant 1, and so they’re ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s power of file and within the KPI.

Probably the most attention-grabbing crew on this dialogue, although, is Baylor, which raised some eyebrows when it was ranked No. 5 general in Saturday’s mock bracket reveal. With Baylor as one of many elite groups within the nation when fully wholesome, the choice committee was clearly placing an enormous quantity of weight on the Bears’ full-strength résumé and predictive metrics. If the Bears can avenge their blowout loss to Kansas with a win over the Jayhawks on Saturday, their path to 1-seed is wide-open — particularly if everybody moreover Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (knee, out for the season) comes again totally wholesome earlier than Choice Sunday.


Since Texas Tech began wanting like one of many elite groups within the nation in early January, the Pink Raiders have earned Win of the Week honors on a pair of events, and Mark Adams additionally landed Coach of the Week after a house victory over Texas within the first week of February. However they hadn’t earned Group of the Week honors — till now.

That is what a double-digit win over Baylor and a street victory versus Texas will do for you.

Texas Tech dominated the second half in opposition to Baylor on Wednesday, scoring 51 factors en path to a 10-point win. Kevin Obanor was terrific, posting a season-high 23 factors and grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds, as properly. He was quieter in opposition to Texas on Saturday, however Bryson Williams stepped up there with 17 factors, whereas Clarence Nadolny got here off the bench to attain 14. The Pink Raiders’ protection in opposition to the Longhorns was exceptional, holding Texas to simply 10 paint factors and 26.5% capturing from contained in the arc. Oh, and the sport was in Austin, however you possibly can barely inform. “Air ball” chants after a second-half miss from Longhorns guard Andrew Jones stood out.

Probably the most spectacular half? The Pink Raiders received each contests with out two-year starter and double-figure scorer Kevin McCullar, additionally arguably the crew’s greatest defender. This crew is for actual.

Saint Mary’s acquired some separation within the high tier of the West Coast Convention this previous week, beating San Francisco and BYU by matching 69-64 scores and clearly establishing the Gaels because the second-best crew within the league and the possible 2-seed within the convention match. And the star of the present was Kuhse.

Beginning for the primary time since mid-December, the senior guard performed 40 minutes in each wins. He had 22 factors, six rebounds, six assists and 4 steals in opposition to San Francisco, making a number of clutch free throws down the stretch to maintain the Dons at bay. He adopted that up with a second straight season excessive in scoring on Saturday evening, ending with 25 factors, 4 3-pointers and 4 assists in the important thing overcome BYU. His bucket with simply over 5 minutes left gave the Gaels a 12-point lead that the Cougars could not overcome.

Over Kuhse’s previous 5 video games, he’s averaging 18.4 factors and 4.6 assists whereas capturing 43.5% from 3.

I discussed the SEC shake-up on the very starting, and it is exhausting to distinguish between the 2 large victories, so I am giving the Gators and the Vols co-wins of the week.

Florida was basically in a must-win state of affairs in opposition to Auburn on Saturday. The Gators had misplaced two in a row, at Kentucky and Texas A&M, and their NCAA match hopes have been foundering. A 17-2 Auburn run spanning each halves regarded like it could bury them, however the Gators responded with a 12-2 run halfway by the second half and acquired some enormous photographs from Tyree Appleby (26 factors). Florida ahead Colin Castleton (19 factors, eight boards, three blocks) additionally outplayed counterpart Walker Kessler inside.

Earlier within the week, Tennessee avenged its 28-point mid-January loss at Kentucky in beating the Wildcats by 13 in Knoxville. The Volunteers went on a 17-1 run early within the recreation, and Kentucky was not often capable of make it a recreation for the ultimate half-hour. The 2 largest keys for the Vols have been limiting turnovers and transition protection. The Vols coughed it up 20 occasions within the first assembly and have been persistently beat down the ground; they turned it over simply eight occasions on Tuesday and infrequently allowed straightforward baskets.

McCasland has executed an unimaginable job with North Texas this season, capping the week with a last-second win at UAB and giving the Imply Inexperienced a two-game lead over Center Tennessee within the loss column getting into the ultimate two weeks of the common season.

North Texas stunned the nation final season, going from 9-5 in league play — tied for the fifth-best file in Convention USA — to successful the convention match after which upsetting Purdue within the first spherical of the NCAA tourney. However McCasland misplaced three seniors from that crew, and North Texas was picked all the best way down at sixth within the preseason C-USA ballot. After dropping three of 5 to start out the 2021-22 marketing campaign, North Texas has misplaced only one recreation since. The Imply Inexperienced have received 12 video games in a row and 18 of their previous 19.

That the majority current victory may need been one of the best. North Texas visited UAB on Saturday, went forwards and backwards with the gifted Blazers for the higher a part of 35 minutes after which allowed a late 11-0 run that regarded like it could give UAB the win and a shot on the regular-season title. However Tylor Perry made a 3 with 23 seconds left to chop UAB’s result in one after which hit one other deep 3 with fewer than three seconds left to provide North Texas the W.

Three groups with questions

Xavier Musketeers: I do not assume the Musketeers’ NCAA match chances are high in any kind of bother, however they’ve now misplaced 4 of their previous 5 video games after falling by double digits to St. John’s and UConn this previous week. They’re now under .500 within the Huge East, and so they’ve allowed at the least 1.00 level per possession in 9 of their previous 10 outings.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers: For the primary time in months, the Ramblers now not have the sting within the Missouri Valley regular-season race. They misplaced at residence to Drake on Saturday for his or her fourth defeat in 10 video games — following a 10-game successful streak. Their at-large résumé is nice sufficient proper now, however they can not afford too many extra slipups.

Georgetown Hoyas: I’ve included the Hoyas on this part earlier than, however we’re nearing historic ranges of embarrassment within the nation’s capital. Georgetown fell to 0-15 in Huge East play on Saturday, and the Hoyas realistically have just one extra probability to get a win: at residence in opposition to DePaul on Thursday. If the Hoyas do not, 0-19 seems awfully possible. In that case, does Patrick Ewing get one other season on the helm?


Energy Rankings

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2)
Earlier rating:
1
This week: at San Francisco (Thursday), at Saint Mary’s (Saturday)

The Zags are simply two video games from securing their third unbeaten regular-season efficiency previously 4 campaigns — and 4 wins from their fourth NCAA match 1-seed in a row. They’re additionally very prone to be the general 1-seed for the second straight season. Gonzaga’s stranglehold on the highest of the bracket was strengthened with Auburn’s loss to Florida, and I discover it exhausting to consider anybody can move the Zags between now and Choice Sunday if Mark Few’s crew wins out. The Zags have three wins in opposition to the highest 15 of the NET, their solely losses are to top-25 NET groups and so they rank No. 1 in all three predictive metrics and within the NET. Barring a shock defeat, the Zags are going to be on the high of the bracket in three weeks.

2. Arizona Wildcats (24-2)
Earlier rating:
4
This week: at Utah (Thursday), at Colorado (Saturday)

It wasn’t Arizona’s most interesting week, however the Wildcats used large second-half efforts to beat Oregon State and Oregon. And except for exhibiting some resilience in taking each punch a determined Oregon crew threw on Saturday evening, one of many larger positives of the week was Bennedict Mathurin actually rounding again into kind. After a nine-game stretch by which he averaged 13.1 factors and 5.2 rebounds whereas capturing 38.1% from the sector and 29.3% from 3 — and by no means scored greater than 18 in a single recreation — he has now registered at the least 20 factors in 4 straight contests. Over that stretch, Mathurin is averaging 22.3 factors, 4.8 rebounds and three.3 assists whereas capturing 55.6% from the sector and 50.0% from 3.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (22-4)
Earlier rating:
5
This week: vs. Kansas State (Tuesday), at Baylor (Saturday)

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Kerr Kriisa lets it fly and buries the clutch 3-pointer to provide the Wildcats’ the lead late within the second half.

Lastly, some consistency from David McCormack! The 6-foot-10 senior middle surged towards the tip of final season, and after a wildly inconsistent first three months of this one, he appears to be heading in the right direction as soon as once more. By 22 video games, he averaged 9.0 factors and 6.9 rebounds on 51.4% capturing from the sector. That was highlighted by 4 double-doubles but in addition by 5 video games with three or fewer factors. He by no means tallied double figures in scorning for greater than two video games in a row. However over the previous 4 matchups, McCormack has scored at the least 11 factors in each recreation and is averaging 14.5 factors, 8.5 rebounds and capturing 55.0% from the sector. With Jalen Wilson hitting his stride throughout Huge 12 play and McCormack peaking on the proper time, Invoice Self’s offensive choices are increasing.

4. Auburn Tigers (24-3)
Earlier rating: 3
This week: vs. Ole Miss (Wednesday), at Tennessee (Saturday)

Auburn has nonetheless solely misplaced as soon as in regulation, and that got here by one level at Florida, so the Tigers aren’t falling too far within the rankings. And as talked about earlier, I do not assume there’s any purpose to abruptly write off Auburn as a title contender. However decision-making and turnovers are beginning to spotlight its losses. Within the Tigers’ previous 13 video games, they’ve had two by which they turned the ball over on at the least 23% of their offensive possessions. These two tilts have been the losses to Arkansas and Florida. Wendell Green and K.D. Johnson mixed for 10 turnovers in opposition to Arkansas and eight in opposition to Florida. Each gamers are at their greatest after they’re aggressive, getting downhill and making performs off the bounce. However they often neglect Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler exist — which is not excellent, contemplating Smith and Kessler are the Tigers’ two greatest gamers.

5. Kentucky Wildcats (22-5)
Earlier rating: 2
This week: vs. LSU (Wednesday), at Arkansas (Saturday)

Whereas John Calipari will clearly need to be at full power as usually as potential shifting ahead, accidents to TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler have pressured him to dip into his rotation a bit extra not too long ago — and the coach may need discovered one thing with Jacob Toppin. Toppin has been a stable reserve for a lot of the season, beginning one recreation again in January and in any other case offering a prompt the bench along with his explosiveness and dimension. However he was thrust right into a beginning function on Saturday in opposition to Alabama, and he responded. Toppin completed with 13 factors, six rebounds and three assists, together with some momentum-shifting performs within the first half when the Crimson Tide had a lead. Over Toppin’s previous three video games, he’s averaging 11.3 factors and 5.0 rebounds whereas capturing 60.9% from the sector.

6. Purdue Boilermakers (24-4)
Earlier rating:
4
This week: at Michigan State (Saturday)

The Huge Ten title race goes to be as aggressive as any within the nation, with Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin all tied within the loss column. Purdue solely has three video games remaining, whereas Illinois and Wisconsin have 4 apiece. Each BPI and BartTorvik.com give the Boilermakers one of the best probability to win the league, in addition to the best remaining schedule. The March 1 matchup of Purdue and Wisconsin in Madison is basically an elimination recreation, nevertheless. In full disclosure, all of that was only a solution to fill house to get to Jaden Ivey‘s ridiculous dunk and strut in opposition to Rutgers on Sunday. Among the finest of the season.

7. Duke Blue Devils (23-4)
Earlier rating: 8
This week: at Virginia (Wednesday), at Syracuse (Saturday)

After a November that put Wendell Moore squarely within the thick of the All-American dialogue, he had been principally up and down for the previous two months. However he had arguably his greatest week in 2022 this previous week, placing up 16 factors, six rebounds and 5 assists within the win over Wake Forest after which going for 16 factors, 5 rebounds, seven assists and 6 steals within the victory over Florida State. With Mike Krzyzewski shifting Jeremy Roach to the bench and AJ Griffin into the beginning lineup, extra of the playmaking duties have fallen on the shoulders of Moore and Trevor Keels. Neither is a basic level guard, however each are sturdy with the ball and good passers. They mixed for 15 assists in opposition to the Seminoles on Saturday.

8. Villanova Wildcats (21-6)
Earlier rating:
10
This week: at UConn (Tuesday)

Collin Gillespie‘s efficiency in opposition to Windfall on Tuesday was a classic Villanova level guard effort: 33 factors, 5 3s, 4 rebounds, a pair of assists and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. With a number of enormous photographs down the stretch within the second half, he lead the Wildcats to a giant street win over the crew forward of them within the standings. (Gillespie possible would have earned Participant of the Week honors, however he shot 2-for-10 and scored 9 factors in Saturday’s win over Georgetown.) That is going to be the kind of efficiency Villanova will want from Gillespie within the NCAA match. He had some struggles in large nonconference video games this season, however he’s nonetheless able to carrying the Wildcats.

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (21-6)
Earlier rating:
12
This week: vs. Oklahoma (Tuesday), at TCU (Saturday)

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David McCormack will get up for the putback jam

I gave Texas Tech a number of love within the Group of the Week part, so let’s take a fast have a look at the Pink Raiders’ general résumé — primarily to see why the choice committee had them 4 full spots behind Baylor, regardless of sweeping the Bears and tying with them within the Huge 12 standings. Baylor edges Tech in each single metric, with a fairly sizable benefit within the BPI, Sagarin and KPI. The Bears are also higher away from residence (9-3 vs. 5-6) and have a greater Quadrant 1 file (9-4 vs. 7-6). The highest finish of the résumé, although, is the place Tech could make its argument. The Pink Raiders have a win in opposition to Kansas, the 2 aforementioned victories over Baylor, a sweep of Texas and a neutral-court triumph versus Tennessee. Baylor has residence wins in opposition to Villanova and Texas — after which there is a drop-off to a neutral-court victory over Michigan State.

10. Baylor Bears (22-5)
Earlier rating:
7
This week: at Oklahoma State (Monday), vs. Kansas (Saturday)

Scott Drew’s piecing this crew collectively and holding the Bears within the hunt for a Huge 12 regular-season title and a possible 1-seed within the NCAA match is tremendously spectacular. They have been lacking Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer on Saturday in opposition to TCU, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua is already out for the season — and so they nonetheless managed to beat the Horned Frogs by 10. Drew basically had simply six gamers to make use of, however he gave Dale Bonner his second begin of the season. Bonner responded with 5 free throws and 4 steals. Flo Thamba had performed greater than 23 minutes as soon as all season earlier than final weekend, however he has now performed at the least 27 minutes for 3 video games in a row and is averaging 9.7 factors and 9.3 rebounds over that span. The return of Flagler and Cryer shall be essential for Saturday’s recreation in opposition to Kansas, nevertheless.

11. Wisconsin Badgers (21-5)
Earlier rating: 13
This week: at Minnesota (Wednesday), at Rutgers (Saturday)

As I am penning this, the fallout from the postgame fracas involving Juwan Howard and the Wisconsin coaching staff has not been decided, so we’ll wait to handle the ramifications of potential suspensions. Within the meantime, Johnny Davis‘ Wood Award hopes have been taken up a notch final week. He began with 30 factors and 12 rebounds in a key win at Indiana, scoring the Badgers’ closing 13 factors and prepared them to victory. He adopted that up with 25 factors, six rebounds and three blocks in Sunday’s residence win over Michigan. Within the two video games, he shot 21-for-27 from contained in the arc and 13-for-17 from the free throw line. Heading down the stretch, it appears like an Oscar Tshiebwe vs. Johnny Davis race.

12. Tennessee Volunteers (19-7)
Earlier rating:
14
This week: at Missouri (Tuesday), vs. Auburn (Saturday)

Tennessee had probably the greatest wins of the week over Kentucky, however the Volunteers’ offense then disappeared at Arkansas on Saturday. Towards the Wildcats, Tennessee shot 47% from 3 and solely turned it over eight occasions, scoring 1.11 factors per possession. Towards the Razorbacks, Tennessee was all the way down to 0.71 factors per possession after capturing 4-for-24 from behind the arc and coughing it up 15 occasions. Tennessee actually struggled to get factors within the paint in opposition to Arkansas. John Fulkerson had simply two factors in Fayetteville, whereas Kennedy Chandler and Zakai Zeigler did not get the house to persistently end on the rim or discover teammates for open photographs. The trio shot 4-for-17 from 2 and had simply three whole assists.

13. Providence Friars (22-3)
Earlier rating:
9
This week: vs. Xavier (Wednesday), vs. Creighton (Saturday)

That is simply what they do, people. After a midweek loss to Villanova threatened the Friars’ place atop the Huge East, Butler regarded prefer it was going to make it a depressing week for Windfall. However Ed Cooley’s crew got here again from 19 factors down to select up an additional time win on the street — and keep one recreation forward of Villanova within the loss column on the high of the standings. Now the Friars need to care for enterprise at residence in opposition to Xavier and Creighton earlier than getting a rematch with Villanova on March 1. The important thing shall be getting Al Durham again; he missed Sunday’s recreation with a decrease physique harm, and he has been enjoying by ache for some time.

14. Illinois Fighting Illini (19-7)
Earlier rating:
11
This week: vs. Ohio State (Thursday), at Michigan (Sunday)

So what is going on on with Andre Curbelo this season? He has been restricted to simply 12 video games and 4 begins attributable to concussion points associated to the one he suffered again within the preseason, however he hasn’t been almost as efficient even when on the ground. Earlier than lacking 11 video games in a row, Curbelo began his solely 4 video games of the season in November, averaging 9.3 factors and 5.5 assists. When he returned on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in opposition to Purdue, he had 20 factors, six rebounds and three assists and regarded poised to be the elite playmaker he confirmed flashes of being final season. Since then, Curbelo has averaged simply 5.4 factors, 1.7 assists and a couple of.3 turnovers in 15.4 minutes whereas capturing 31.7% from the sector. He has performed greater than 20 minutes simply as soon as previously seven video games. To date, Illinois is 13-1 with out Curbelo and 6-6 with him. The Preventing Illini have Closing 4 potential — however Curbelo returning to his freshman-year kind could be the important thing.

15. UCLA Bruins (19-5)
Earlier rating:
16
This week: vs. Arizona State (Monday), at Oregon (Thursday), at Oregon State (Saturday)

Together with Tommy Kuhse and Johnny Davis, UCLA wing Jaylen Clark was one other prime candidate for Participant of the Week after the sophomore broke out in his second and third begins of the season. Towards Washington State on Thursday, Clark was inserted into the beginning lineup with Tyger Campbell out and responded with 18 factors, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Campbell returned in opposition to Washington, however Johnny Juzang and Cody Riley have been out, so Clark saved his beginning spot. And he regarded even higher, going for 25 factors on 12-for-16 capturing and grabbing 5 boards. Clark has been thought-about as arguably UCLA’s greatest defensive participant, however he not often confirmed that degree of offensive means. That might be an enormous increase for the Bruins shifting ahead.

16. Houston Cougars (22-4)
Earlier rating:
15
This week: at Tulane (Wednesday), vs. SMU (Sunday)

Houston almost let Sunday’s recreation in opposition to Wichita State slip away a number of occasions, however the best way the Cougars completed the second additional time and acquired the win was basic Houston. With the sport tied at 71, Houston missed two photographs however grabbed two offensive rebounds — because the Cougars are wont to do — dove for a free ball on the ground and ended up getting a bucket plus the foul by Josh Carlton. Wichita State got here again down and tied it on a 3 (that half wasn’t basic Houston), however Jamal Shead then took the inbounds move with 5 seconds left, drove the size of the ground and dumped it off to J’Wan Roberts for a game-winning dunk. It is not at all times fairly for Houston, however no matter personnel, Kelvin Sampson’s groups at all times appear to crash the offensive glass, at all times hustle, at all times play to the whistle and, as a rule, get a win.

Dropped out: NONE

Within the ready room

Arkansas Razorbacks: Few groups nationally are enjoying in addition to Arkansas proper now. The Razorbacks have received 11 of their previous dozen video games after caring for enterprise in opposition to Tennessee on Saturday. Try this remaining schedule, although: at Florida, vs. Kentucky, vs. LSU, at Tennessee.

UConn Huskies: The Huskies picked up résumé-boosting wins this previous week in opposition to Seton Corridor and Xavier, giving them 9 victories of their previous 12 video games. Adama Sanogo was dominant down low, totaling 35 factors and 25 rebounds within the two contests. Up subsequent is a go to from Villanova on Tuesday.

Texas Longhorns: The Longhorns want to seek out some kind of offensive consistency. They’ve scored a couple of level per possession simply twice previously seven video games, throughout wins over Kansas and Oklahoma. In these two tilts, they made a mixed 49 2-point photographs; they did not make greater than 16 2-pointers in any of the opposite video games over that stretch.



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