One week from today, the Big Ten tournament will be underway, and subsequently, the madness. While this is a week earlier than the rest of the big conference tournaments, we’re getting into the meat of the college basketball season, and there are still many questions looming large.
February 24th will decide the Big 12
If you’re a college basketball fan, you had better make sure you find a TV this Saturday. Kansas has run the Big 12 for the past 13 seasons—but their streak of consecutive Big 12 titles hangs in the balance as the Jayhawks travel to Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders. Kansas has bounced back nicely from their recent struggles with wins over Iowa State, Oklahoma, and West Virginia (Bob Huggins is still fuming about the -33 free throw margin his team faced in Allen Fieldhouse), but they will be faced with a stiff test against a team that is 5th in the country in points allowed per game. Texas Tech has never won the Big 12.
Sooners on the Bubble Watch?
Speaking of the Big 12, Oklahoma is completely spiraling out of control—the Sooners have lost 9 of their last 11 games, and now find themselves under .500 in conference play. And don’t look now, but a team that was once on a straight path for a top-two seed finds themselves dangerously close to joining the NCAA Tournament Bubble—they are currently out of position to even capture a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament.
Trae Young is still in line for Player of the Year, but if he wants to keep this average team afloat, he will have to shoot better down the stretch and put together a 2011-Kemba Walker-esque performance if Oklahoma is to make a run.
Will the Big Ten get more than four teams in?
You’ve heard it all year—the Big Ten is down. Minnesota and Northwestern have severely underachieved preseason expectations, and Wisconsin and Maryland are in rebuilding mode. Ohio State has been a nice surprise for the conference, but they join Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan as the only current tournament teams in a top-heavy conference.
Nebraska and Penn State are the Big Ten’s next best chances to surpass four tournament teams, but they would need strong showings in the conference tournament, and their regular season matchup on February 25th is pivotal. The Cornhuskers boast the better record, but the Nittany Lions have the stronger strength of schedule and have the first head-to-head win.
Who wants a one seed?
Anyone want to be on top in the tournament? They have a 132-0 record against the 16 seed, so the odds are in your favor.
We’re in a never-ending round robin of “who wants it?” regarding the number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has Virginia, Xavier, Kansas, and Villanova on the one line, but the way this season has progressed, that’s likely to change weekly.
We’ve seen a number of times this season where a team finds themselves in a good position to make a statement towards a top seed and blows it—we saw Purdue start out 12-0 in conference play, only to drop three straight.
I’ve been waiting and waiting for Cincinnati to make the jump, and I thought they finally had it…before losing back-to-back games against Houston and Wichita State.
And with their seemingly never-ending pool of talent, many expected Duke to be the number one overall seed, but a couple of recent close losses have kept them on the two line. However, if Bagley comes back strong and Duke has a strong ACC tournament, the Blue Devils will surely be a one seed come March 11th.