How quickly perception changes this time of year
Team of the Week: New Mexico
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Feb. 5, to Sunday, Feb. 11.
More teams that impressed us
Air Force: What a start for interim coach Dave Pilipovich, who took over for the fired Jeff Reynolds and is under consideration for the full-time job. This week was quite the audition. The Falcons ended a seven-game losing streak with a win at Wyoming and then followed it up with the school's first win over a top-20 team, Saturday's 58-56 upset of San Diego State.Creighton: The Bluejays had to beat Long Beach State for their credibility and possibly for an at-large bid. They did. Their comeback was epic in Omaha and was worthy of the frenzied atmosphere. Doug McDermott barely missed a shot all week. Drexel: The Dragons had to pass the credibility test with a win at Cleveland State. They did so in decisive fashion. And now Drexel has the look of a team ready to continue a run through the CAA and into the NCAA tournament. Loyola Marymount: Are the Lions finally starting to put it all together? They've got some good wins, but also some horrible losses. This past week, though, included a stunningly easy 15-point win at Saint Mary's and a BracketBusters victory over a solid Valparaiso team. This is a team no one will want to face in the WCC tourney. Marquette: The Golden Eagles pulled away from Connecticut on the road and continue to play small ball extremely well. This is a tough team to defend. Marquette will continue to cause matchup problems. Michigan: The Wolverines outlasted their rival Ohio State for one of the most important wins in John Beilein's tenure in Ann Arbor. The win means UM has a real shot to win the Big Ten title, something that was unthinkable in the offseason after Darius Morris decided to leave early for the NBA draft.
Shoutout-worthy: Auburn, Boise State, Florida, George Mason, Harvard, Kansas, Kansas State, Marist, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse
-- Andy Katz
Player of the week: Drew Gordon, New Mexico
-- Andy Katz
More performances that wowed us
Matt Carlino, BYU: 30 pts (13-19 FG), 4 stls in win at San Francisco
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois St.: 25 pts, 19 rebs in win over Oakland
Justin Cobbs, Cal: 38 pts, 21 asts, 8 rebs in wins over Oregon, Oregon St.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame: 40 pts, 31 rebs in wins over Rutgers, Villanova
Jae Crowder, Marquette: 29 pts, 12 rebs, 3 stls in win at UConn
Matt Gatens, Iowa: Career-high 30 pts (7-10 3-pt FG) in win over Indiana
Draymond Green, Michigan St.: 40 pts, 20 rebs, 12 asts in wins over Wisconsin, Purdue
Tu Holloway, Xavier: 32 pts (14-15 FT), 6 rebs, 5 asts in win over Dayton
Kareem Jamar, Montana: 21 pts, 11 rebs, 11 asts in win over Hawaii
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt: 54 pts (13-16 FG, 10-12 3-pt FG) in wins over Ole Miss, UGA
Orlando Johnson, UCSB: 47 pts (16-23 FG), 15 rebs in wins at UCI, Utah St.
Adam Kemp, Marist: 17 pts, 11 rebs, 8 blks in win over Loyola (Md.)
Scott Machado, Iona: 29 pts, 24 asts in wins over Rider, Nevada
Doug McDermott, Creighton: 36 pts (14-20 FG), 11 rebs win over Long Beach St.
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure: 32 pts (12-15 FG), 13 rebs in win over URI
Keiton Page, Oklahoma State: 40 pts (20-20 FT) in win over Texas
Joe Ragland, Wichita State: 30 pts (11-14 FG), 7 rebs in win at Davidson
Hank Thorns, TCU: 32 pts (8-12 3-pt FG), 5 rebs, 4 asts in win over UNLV
Erving Walker, Florida: 31 pts (5-6 3-pt FG), 5 asts in win at Arkansas
Jeff Withey, Kansas: 18 pts, 11 rebs, 9 blks in win at Kansas State
Nate Wolters, South Dakota St.: 30 pts (14-18 FG), 5 asts in win over ND State
-- Brett Edgerton
King's observations from the week that was
They said it (or tweeted it)
"We've got a statement about turning the page and I'm the worst in the world at doing that. I could not believe when I looked up and saw we were up by 13, 14. It was surreal, like it was a dream."
-- Loyola Marymount coach Max Good after his team's 75-60 road win over Saint Mary's.
-- Statement by Purdue coach Matt Painter after he dismissed Kelsey Barlow and suspended D.J. Byrd following a Friday morning incident that resulted in Byrd's arrest. "The crowd was awesome. I told our players at halftime, 'You're bringing this crowd back like old times.'"
-- Michigan State's Tom Izzo after his team's 69-55 victory over Wisconsin. "Man I apologize to the whole Baylor nation....sorry."
--Quincy Miller (@qumillertime) following Baylor's 57-56 home loss to Kansas State. "It just looked out there like we gave up at the end. It's tough to say, because we're a great team. Those words coming out of my mouth are horrendous, because you don't want it to happen. ... I think my teammates are all into it. It's just that when push comes to shove ... some guys don't want to give it back. Some guys get punched and want to throw a pillow at somebody. It's not tennis. It's not golf. It's not a one player sport. Like I said, we get punched and some guys just throw pillows back. You're not supposed to throw pillows back."
-- UConn's Shabazz Napier after the Huskies suffered a 79-64 home loss to Marquette.
-- Myron Medcalf
What's On Tap
9 p.m.: Baylor at Texas (ESPN) Tuesday
7 p.m.: Kansas State at Missouri (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: Georgetown at Seton Hall (ESPN3)
8 p.m.: North Carolina at NC State (ESPN3)
8 p.m.: Michigan at Northwestern (BTN)
9 p.m.: Kentucky at Mississippi St. (ESPN) Wednesday
7 p.m.: West Virginia at Notre Dame (ESPNU)
7 p.m.: South Florida at Syracuse (ESPN3) Thursday
7 p.m.: Duke at Florida State (ESPN)
8 p.m.: Murray St. at Tennessee St. (ESPNU)
9 p.m.: Louisville at Cincinnati (ESPN)
11 p.m.: BYU at Gonzaga (ESPN2) Friday
9 p.m.: Marquette at West Virginia (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Fairfield at Iona (ESPNU Saturday
Noon: Vanderbilt at Kentucky (CBS)
1:30 p.m.: Iowa St. at Kansas St. (ESPN3)
4 p.m.: Missouri at Kansas (CBS)
4 p.m.: North Carolina at Virginia (ESPN)
4:30 p.m.: Belmont at Mercer
6 p.m.: Mississippi St. at Alabama (ESPN)
6 p.m.: George Mason at VCU (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: Temple at Saint Joseph's (ESPNU)
7 p.m.: Penn at Harvard
9 p.m.: Syracuse at Connecticut (ESPN) Sunday
1 p.m.: Indiana at Minnesota (ESPN)
4 p.m.: Wisconsin at Ohio State (CBS)
5:30 p.m.: Cal at Colorado (FSN)
6 p.m.: Florida State at Miami (ESPNU)
O'Neil on Missouri-Kansas
Places to be this week
Columbia, Mo. (Kansas St. at Missouri): After a collapse at Texas, Kansas State found itself in need of a quality résumé win. The good news? It had Kansas, Baylor and Missouri left on the schedule. The bad news? All three of those teams are pretty tough to beat. That's why K-State's win at Baylor on Saturday was so big: The Wildcats missed a great opportunity to topple Kansas in Manhattan, and if Baylor would have held on in Waco, Frank Martin's team would have found itself staring down a road date at Missouri as its last, best hope. Given the win in Waco, KSU is probably playing for its seed now, and can try to reprise its 75-59 home win over the Tigers on Jan. 7 with minimal pressure attached. Evanston, Ill. (Michigan at Northwestern): Speaking of Wildcats in need of big résumé wins: Northwestern again finds itself on the bubble in mid-February, but this time Bill Carmody's team may just get it done. Michigan isn't nearly as tough on the road as at home, and is actually a pretty good matchup for Northwestern's undersized Princeton attack. If NU can halt Trey Burke at the point of attack and keep the Wolverines' outside shooting in check, they could take a major step toward the school's first NCAA tournament appearance. Starkville, Miss. (Kentucky at Mississippi St.): Will Kentucky lose in SEC play? After dominating Florida and handling Vanderbilt, many cited this game -- a road trip to face an athletic Bulldogs team (and one of the few players in the country, Arnett Moultrie, with the skill set to play with Anthony Davis at the rim) -- as UK's best chance for a conference loss this season. But that was then. Since last Saturday, the Bulldogs have lost three straight games: a home date versus Georgia, a midweek trip to LSU and Saturday's 65-55 loss at Auburn. With a defense inexplicably ranked 10th in the SEC in per-possession defense, there's little reason to think Mississippi State can stop the Big Blue juggernaut. Thursday
Tallahassee, Fla. (Duke at Florida State): The ACC regular-season title is still very much a three-team affair; Duke and Florida State are hot on UNC's, um, heels. (Sorry.) Still, for all the success each team has experienced this season, both displayed their key flaws (for Duke, defense and rebounding; for FSU, consistent scoring) in last week's close and/or comeback wins. This game will be interesting for its implications, of course, but also for what it reveals about each team's respective progress going forward. After a buzzer-beater ended the first one, who doesn't want to watch the rematch? Spokane, Wash. (BYU at Gonzaga): The WCC tables had seemed to turn back in Gonzaga's favor last week, but Saturday's one-point upset at San Francisco was a gift to Saint Mary's, which regained a one-game lead in the conference standings. If the Zags want to keep their decade-long WCC title streak intact, Gonzaga will have to hope SMC loses down the stretch while taking care of business against a BYU team that it's tied for second with -- and one that very much needs a road win like this to aid its at-large tournament profile. Friday
Morgantown, W.Va. (Marquette at West Virginia): One team safely in the tournament, one team on the bubble -- this is something of a trend this week, and it will be no different in this rare Friday night fixture in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have seen their tournament chances, once wholly safe, shredded by five losses in their past seven games. This week, after a trip to Notre Dame, they'll get a crack at Marquette, which has won 10 of its past 11 games thanks to balanced, efficient offense both at home and on the road. Saturday
Lawrence, Kan. (Missouri at Kansas): How big is this game? Count the ways: If both teams handle their weekday matchups (KU at Texas Tech, Mizzou home versus K-State), both will be tied atop the Big 12 at 13-2 with two regular-season games remaining. In other words, if all goes as planned, this is your de facto Big 12 title game. If Missouri wins, it may just dethrone Kansas, which under Bill Self has won at least a share of the past seven conference titles. Oh, and then there's that century-plus-old rivalry and the tensions therein, and the fact Missouri's move to the SEC (and the vagaries of the Big 12 tournament) may make this the last time these two teams meet for a while. Throw in what should be a rabid Allen Fieldhouse crowd, and a Kansas team that will be eager to avenge Feb. 4's loss in Columbia and, well, yeah: Regular-season college hoops games don't get any bigger than this. We can't wait. Charlottesville, Va. (UNC at Virginia): North Carolina has rebounded rather nicely from its now-infamous meltdown against Duke, winning three straight games (over UVa, Miami and Clemson) by a combined margin of 49 points. Things get a little hairier this week, though, as the Tar Heels face a desperate NC State team in Raleigh just three days before traveling to Charlottesville to play the Mike Scott-led Cavaliers. Richmond, Va. (George Mason at VCU): The Colonial remains one of the more quietly thrilling conference title races in the country this season, with three hot teams -- these two and Drexel, which has won 21 of its past 22 -- all vying for some share of the regular-season crown. Mason won the first in this series on a buzzer-beater last week; Shaka Smart's impressively retooled team will be eager to avenge that loss Saturday. In the meantime, all three teams will be hoping these kind of late wins will earn them enough respect from the committee to overcome collectively ugly RPI and strength-of-schedule numbers. Cambridge, Mass. (Penn at Harvard): We're living in the era of the Bizarro Ivy League. Harvard, once the league whipping boy, is now the league's bona fide best; Penn, one of the league's traditional powers, hasn't gone to the tournament since 2007. This weekend, Harvard faces the Quakers and (fellow traditional power) Princeton at home. With two wins, the Crimson will move ever closer to their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1946. Will the coronation proceed as planned? Sunday
Boulder, Colo. (Cal at Colorado): Colorado may be too far down the S curve to get in the tournament now, no matter what happens this week. But if the Buffaloes want to preserve any chance, they have to get this game (not to mention Thursday's home date with Stanford). Meanwhile, Cal is still plugging away at the top of the league, quietly tacking on wins and staying just above the otherwise confusing fray. The Pac-12 regular-season champ will have a decent built-in argument for selection, but Cal isn't necessarily safe enough to drop games like this, or at Utah, or in its regular-season finale at Stanford. The margin of error in Berkeley is still somewhat slim. -- Eamonn Brennan
Brennan on Duke-Florida State
O'Neil: Three questions
• What happens to Ohio State now?Critical question because the Buckeyes, one of the prohibitive favorites going into the season, have looked extremely vulnerable lately. Ohio State couldn't buy a bucket against Michigan; Jared Sullinger got pestered into turnovers against Michigan State and ultimately, Thad Matta's short bench is leaving the Bucks shorthanded. There is still plenty of time left to figure things out and with games against Wisconsin and Michigan State still on the platter, plenty of opportunities to right the ship. But with Selection Sunday looming, Ohio State has some serious work to do to play itself back into the mix among the nation's elite.
• Who gained the most from BracketBusters?To the winners go the spoils, so Creighton, Murray State and Wichita State earned some serious traction, but Long Beach State also profited in loss. The 49ers, who played a hefty nonconference schedule, earned a lot of props in their wildly entertaining road loss to the Bluejays. This is a team that will make the NCAA tournament and ought to scare whoever earns the slot opposite in the bracket. • Who's fading the most? It's a crowded field here, what with Connecticut and Baylor jockeying for position among the biggest losers lately. But the honors have to go to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are, once again, who we thought they were -- a team full of talent desperate to underachieve. MSU has lost three in a row and not exactly to the best the SEC has to offer, falling to Georgia, LSU and now Auburn. Please don't tell me Renardo Sidney didn't play Saturday. Any team waiting for him to ride in like the knight on the white horse is in deep trouble.
-- Dana O'Neil
Medcalf on Big Ten's week
Upset pick of the week
Northwestern over Michigan, Tuesday: OK Wildcats, this is your chance. If you're going to make a run toward the NCAA tournament then it better continue with a home win over Michigan on Tuesday. The Cats beat Minnesota by 11 on Saturday, stopping a two-game slide. The bubble is soft and there are spots available. Northwestern has winnable games at Penn State and Iowa, with a potentially huge home game against Ohio State on Feb. 29. Lose to Michigan and the argument for the Wildcats is almost impossible to make. But a win over the Wolverines -- which I think they'll get -- would continue the charge toward the school's first NCAA bid.
-- Andy Katz