1/17-1/23 Teams of the Week
Updated: Jan 24, 2022
We are now just seven weeks away from Selection Sunday folks, and many programs around the country are impressing! Similar to most weeks lately, more than ten teams performed well enough to be acknowledged as a team of the week for us. We have narrowed it down to the ten below plus honorable mentions at the end of this piece.
Teams of the Week!
1. UNC Wilmington:
We must apologize to the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington. For weeks we mentioned the likes of Towson, James Madison, and Hofstra as the favorites of the CAA. All three of those teams, among others, are still playing good basketball, but it is UNCW that is out in front of the pack in the conference. UNC Wilmington has now won eight straight games, remains undefeated in CAA play, and went 3-0 this week with all three wins coming on the road. Monday, the Seahawks defeated Charleston, and on Saturday UNCW came from 12 down to beat Towson in overtime. However, the major highlight of the week was Jaylen Sims' buzzer beater to stun James Madison on the road Thursday evening, 71-70. The hero from Thursday, Jaylen Sims, has been fantastic outside of that buzzer beater. Sims has scored 15+ points in five of his last six games, and has registered at least three rebounds in every game during that stretch. Behind Sims, other quality guard play, and solid defense, UNC Wilmington is the team to beat in the Colonial Athletic Association.
2. Morehead State:
Most of the headlines from a good Ohio Valley Conference to this point in the season have been directed towards the usual leaders in Murray State and Belmont. Both of those programs have played well, but its time to add a third team to the mix, Morehead State. The Eagles won both of its games this week, are currently 6-0 in OVC games, and are on an eight game win streak. The highlight of this week was the wire to wire dominating performance against aforementioned Belmont on Thursday. The final score line of 83-74 makes the game seem closer than it was. Morehead State shot 50% from three, (11/22), outrebounded Belmont by 9, assisted on 68% of its baskets, and only turned the ball over seven times in the win. That's quite the all-around game! The Eagles have not given up more than 74 points during this eight game stretch, and have scored over 70 in 7/8 of the games themselves. If Morehead State can continue to execute in all phases of the game like they have been, look for this win streak to continue, and for the Eagles to hang right with Murray State and Belmont at the top of the conference.
3. Florida State:
One week ago, Florida State was on the outside looking in of our projected NCAA Tournament field. That has now changed after FSU's recent play. Florida State went 3-0 this week, pulling off a massive home upset in overtime against Duke on Tuesday, defeated North Florida on Thursday, and holding on despite a great comeback to beat Miami on the road Saturday. The Seminoles are on a six game win streak now, are sitting atop the ACC, and are currently in our NCAA Tournament field. Florida State has been able to stay hot without connecting on many three-pointers during the winning streak. FSU has shot under 35% from three in five out of the last six games yet has found a way to score and win in each one. That is good news moving forward, as you can not always count on the three ball on a night to night basis.
4. Sam Houston:
What an incredible week for Sam Houston. Just last week we shouted out both New Mexico State and Grand Canyon for their great starts to WAC play. Both NMSU and GCU had another fact in common this week, they both lost to Sam Houston. The Bearkats dominated New Mexico State, 71-46, on Thursday, and followed it up with another great win over Grand Canyon on Saturday. With these two victories, Sam Houston's win streak is up to five, and the Bearkats have not allowed a team to score over 63 points during that stretch. In fact, Sam Houston is only allowing an average of 52.4 points per game in the last five games. That is some stout defense! SHSU now sits at 7-1 in WAC play, and is just one game back in the loss column to conference leader Seattle who is 6-0. Sam Houston plays Seattle this Saturday at 4pm ET, mark it down!
The Mountain West is a ton of fun once again, and the Wyoming Cowboys are no exception. This team is quietly in the top 30 of the NET rankings, on a six game win streak, and undefeated in conference play. This week, Wyoming picked up three conference wins, and still has not lost in the month of January. The Cowboys are also 15-0 when scoring 68 or more points this season, a stat to keep an eye on moving forward. We have had the chance to see this team play both in person, and on TV, and one constant remains true, this team has two All-Conference level stars. Hunter Maldonado and Graham Ike fuel this team on a nightly basis scoring the basketball, facilitating from the post, and playing tough defense. Maldonado is averaging 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, while Ike is averaging 20.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Couple that with solid perimeter shooting surrounding these two, and Wyoming has a team that should continue to make noise in the Mountain West Conference.
Remember how we mentioned that Sam Houston's hot five game stretch has them in second place in the WAC? Do you remember who that top team is? That would be the 15-4 Seattle Redhawks! Seattle University is on a seven game winning streak of its own, and is currently 6-0 in WAC play. Over the last seven days, the Redhawks won three games, all on the road. Similar to our last team, Wyoming, Seattle has also not lost in the month of January. One of the main keys to Seattle's success has been three point defense. The Redhawks have held each of their last five opponents to 32% or worse shooting from behind the arc. That defense, plus averaging over 83 points per game in the last seven games is the formula that has the Seattle Redhawks in first place in the WAC as of January 23rd.
Marquette appears to have gotten itself back on track. The Golden Eagles were featured as one of our teams of the week earlier in the year, went on a losing streak that took them out of the projected NCAA Tournament field, then have since followed it up with winning its last six games. This week in particular, Marquette picked up two Top-20 wins, defeating Villanova on the road, and beating Xavier at home Sunday afternoon. This latest hot streak has Marquette rising up the seed lines faster than anyone else in the country. The Golden Eagles held both Villanova and Xavier to under 65 points this week, and both teams shot under 40% from the field, and under 30% from three against Marquette. On the offensive end, Justin Lewis was fantastic. The Freshman scored 21 points on 50% shooting against Villanova, and dropped 20 points, (50% shooting again), with 13 rebounds in the win over Xavier. This team is the real deal, and while the Big East is a competitive and deep league, Marquette is in the upper half of it.
8. Texas Tech:
Prior to the last six games for the Red Raiders, there were questions about the quality of wins this team had. Given that just about every win in the Big 12 is considered a quality win at this point, and Texas Tech has won five of its last six conference games, its safe to say this team has a stellar win resume. Texas Tech defeated Iowa State 72-60 on Tuesday, and beat West Virginia 78-65 on Saturday morning to close out another successful week. Defense continues to be what fuels TTU as the Red Raiders are 15-1 when scoring over 56 points this season. Texas Tech has ranked in the Top-25 in adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last five seasons, so its no surprise that they get after it on that end of the floor. Regardless, continuing this style of play should continue to warrant results for Texas Tech and keep them near the top of an outstanding Big 12 conference.
It seems like we say this about a lot of teams, but Toledo is vastly underrated on the national stage. The Rockets have won six consecutive games and now have a one game lead in first in the MAC. Toledo got the conference lead thanks to a 2-0 week that included a major statement win on the road against Ohio. Toledo defeated Ohio 87-69, and got incredible production from its star player, Ryan Rollins, who scored 26 points and added 5 assists and 6 rebounds. On the year, Rollins is averaging 19.7 points per game and is one of the best players in the entire conference. Additionally, the Rockets were able to contain Ohio's conference player of the year candidate, Mark Sears, in the win, holding him to 14 points on 5/13 shooting. Toledo is ranked in the top 80 nationally, and while it will take continuing this win streak for a significant period to have an at-large NCAA Tournament case, Toledo has proven it should be considered one of the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference.
10. 10+ Win Streak Shoutouts
Our last team of the week spot for this week belongs to two programs that have won 10 or more games in a row, but have not received as much national attention as they deserve. Wagner is currently on an 11 game win streak after winning all three of its games this past week, while Princeton has won 10 consecutive games now after going 2-0 over the last seven days. Both programs are also currently undefeated in conference play. The Seahawks of Wagner have been getting it done both at home and on the road. At home, Wagner is 7-0, while on the road the Seahawks are 7-2 with both losses coming to teams ranked in the Top-100 nationally. Princeton has been dominant at home this season as well, 11-0 home record, but has also picked up a neutral court win over South Carolina and a road win over Oregon State. Don't let these programs slip under your nose, they are teams to watch!
-Auburn: continued its 15 game win streak, defeated Kentucky on Saturday
-Davidson: also continued a 15 game win streak, keeping pace with Auburn as the the longest active winning streaks
-Boise State: 12 game win streak continues, 2-0 week with both wins coming on the road
-Iona: 5 game win streak, beat conference foe Monmouth in overtime this week to keep the streak alive
-Tennessee: 2-0 on the week, defeated LSU 64-50 Saturday
-Missouri State: upset Loyola Chicago 79-69 on Saturday, fueled by 40 points from Isiaih Mosley
-Michigan State: only one game this week, but defeated Wisconsin on the road, 86-74
-Kansas: 4 game win streak, picked up road wins over OU and K-State
-Alabama: 2-0 week, beat LSU 70-68
-UAB: 3 game win streak, won on the road against Louisiana Tech, 83-76
-Jacksonville State: stretched win streak to seven games
-Vermont: also on a seven game win streak of their own
-Houston: 2-0 record this week, have won nine in a row
-New Orleans: six game win streak continues after 2-0 week
-South Dakota State: on an eight game win streak, 2-0 this past week
-Top of the Big West: Both Cal State Fullerton and Hawaii remain undefeated in Big West play, CSUF on a seven game win streak, Hawaii's up to five
-Big South Win Streaks: Winthrop (six in a row), USC Upstate (five in a row), and Longwood (five in a row), all continue long win streaks
Lets keep the hoops momentum going! DM us @TBracketology if there is anyone else worthy of a shoutout! Thanks for reading!