Here’s what we know…
Now that No.1, Ohio State, has taken a loss, we can forget about the perfect record talk. That doesn’t mean the Buckeyes aren’t the best team in the country. They lost a close game to a Wisconsin team that is an absolute beast of a squad at home. It’s also worth noting that Ohio State had a 15-point lead in the second half. Ohio State won’t be No.1 in the next AP or ESPN/USA Today poll, Kansas will be. But wait, Kansas’ reign as No.1 ended the same day they were anointed as Kansas Sate belted them, 84-68, in Manhattan on Monday night. Kansas had won 42 of the last 44 games between the schools, including a 90-66 drubbing earlier this season.
That No.1 ranking is like a hot potato these days. Look for Texas, barring a loss this week, to get its turn in the top spot.
That Atlantic 10, traditionally a multi-bid conference, has a good chance at getting four teams into the tournament. Xavier (18-6, 9-1), Duquesne (16-7, 8-2), Temple (19-5, 9-2), Rhode Island (16-9, 7-4) and Richmond (20-6, 9-2) all have enough of a resume to make a case for an at-large bid. Xavier, Temple and Richmond are probably locks at this point. Richmond has a win over Purdue, Xavier topped Temple, while Temple has wins over Georgia and Georgetown to hang its hat on. Duquesne and Rhode Island have a little work to do. One will not get in, unless both make miracle runs to the A-10 tournament championship game and play each other. Even that might be enough for one of them.
NJIT. Remember them? Just two years ago the Hilltoppers went 1-30. Now the upstart program is 11-12 and has won eight of its last 11 games. None of those victories were over significant opponents, but NJIT is at a stage in its progression where any win will suffice.
Syracuse. Remember them? The Orange were 18-0 on January 15 and looked unbeatable. Then the bottom fell out. In the immortal words Ricky Ricardo from the “I Love Lucy Show”, Wha happun? Syracuse is 3-6 since that great start.
Georgetown. Remember them? The Hoyas started their Big East season 1-4 and were left for dead. The Hoyas (20-5, 9-4) have won eight straight conference games since then.
Michigan State. Remember them? They were predicted to possibly be in the Final Four mix in the preseason. We can table that talk for now. The Spartans are 14-10 and 6-6 in the Big Ten and lost five of their last seven. There are several factors in Michigan State’s lackluster play. The dismissal of guard Korie Lucious a few weeks ago and the lackluster play of senior guard Durrell Summers have been part of the problem. “I know you guys see it,” Summers told reporters last week. “I don't look comfortable out there. I feel like a D-League college player.”
The Spartans will get a chance to get back on track against Ohio State on Tuesday night.