1/3-1/9 Teams of the Week
The first full week of January was an eventful one in college basketball! There were still some postponements of note, but we saw a much higher percentage of games played than the few weeks prior. This too shall pass! The past week was so eventful in fact, that there were probably north of 20 teams worthy of being featured below. We narrowed it down to 10, but many schools in our honorable mentions could easily be featured in other weeks. Check it out!
Teams of the Week!
Welcome back Hurricanes! Miami becomes one of only a few teams this year to be featured as one of our teams of the week in back to back weeks! Miami won two thrillers this past week, defeating Syracuse by one, 88-87 on Wednesday, and Duke on the road 76-74. The win at Duke is the Hurricanes' 9th win in a row, and as much of a statement win as a team can have to this point. Miami's top four scorers all scored in double figures again in both wins this week, and the U is now averaging 80 points per game during the winning streak. While Miami's NET ranking, as of January 9th, is 80th, this is a team with a resume as good as anyone on the bubble, and should be considered a NCAA Tournament team as of today. Keep an eye on Miami!
Wisconsin did something this week that is rare any week, but especially with the number of postponements happening lately, they won three games! Those three wins for the Badgers this week have its win streak up to five in a row. Wisconsin won at Purdue on Monday, beat Iowa at home Thursday, and closed out the week with a close road victory over Maryland on Sunday. Sophomore Johnny Davis continues to get the majority of the headlines, and rightfully so being he is a legit All-American candidate, but Brad Davison and Tyler Wahl also played a major role in Wisconsin's strong week. With a good mix of star power, experience, and leadership, this team has the legs to compete for the Big Ten regular season title.
Illinois went 2-0 this week, has won four straight games, and is 4-0 in Big Ten play. This week, the Illini defeated Minnesota on the road, 76-53, and followed it up with another double digit win over Maryland on Thursday. Illinois scored exactly 76 points in both wins, and were led by star Center Kofi Cockburn who scored 29 points with 10 rebounds against the Gophers, and 23 points with 18 rebounds against Maryland. Kofi is averaging 24.5 points and 13.3 rebounds during Illinois' winning streak. Similar to Wisconsin and Johnny Davis, Cockburn's star power combined with consistency from the role players is what has the Illini at the top of the conference and a Top-25 team nationally.
No that is not a typo, Indiana is our third consecutive Big Ten team of the week, and for good reason. The Hoosiers defeated Top-15 Ohio State on Thursday in dominating fashion, 67-51, followed up with a gritty 73-60 win over Minnesota on Sunday. Trayce Jackson-Davis continues to be the All-American force IU needs, posting a double-double with points and rebounds in both wins, including 27 against Ohio State. His dominance versus OSU, along with some solid perimeter shooting from Rob Phinisee, Parker Stewart, and Xavier Johnson versus Minnesota fueled Indiana's bounce back performances after a disappointing loss to Penn State just one week ago. It would appear that Jackson-Davis is a constant the Hoosiers can count on, but the perimeter shooting from others is what needs to become more consistent if Indiana is to stay in the projected tournament field all the way until March.
5. Seton Hall:
The Big East is a BATTLE this season, just ask Seton Hall. The Pirates were coming off two single digit conference losses heading into this week prior to going 2-0 over the last seven days. Seton Hall took down Butler on the road 71-56, followed by an OT victory in a classic against UConn on Saturday morning, 90-87. The usual suspects of Jared Rhoden, Bryce Aiken, and Alexis Yetna helped SHU get the win at a tough Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler, but it was Sophomore Kadary Richmond who led the team in scoring off the bench in the win over UConn. Richmond finished with 27 points on 10/13 shooting from the field, scoring more than 3x his scoring average on the season. Seton Hall is now 11-3 on the year, and is a clear Top-20 team as of today.
Welcome back Golden Eagles! Marquette has had an up and down campaign so far this season, but put together two outstanding games this past week. The Golden Eagles beat a legit Providence side by 32, 88-56 on Tuesday, and showed that was no fluke by beating Georgetown on the road 92-64 on Friday. Marquette had both phases rolling in its wins, holding Providence and Georgetown to under 30% from three, connecting on a combined 19 threes in the two games themselves, and assisted on 69% of its baskets (48/70). Marquette has now proven on multiple occasions that it can compete with some of the top teams in college basketball, the key moving forward if MU wants to finish Big East play strong and make the NCAA Tournament, is consistency on both ends of the floor.
After LSU lost its first game of the season to Auburn last week, the Tigers dropped back out of the Top-20 in many rankings, and were deemed by some as a bit overrated. One week later, both of those narratives proved to be false. LSU won two games at home this week, beating Kentucky on Tuesday and Tennessee on Saturday to move to 14-1 on the season. In the loss to Auburn, LSU did not move the ball well, (only four assists), shot it poorly from deep, and were significantly outrebounded. The Tigers improved in all three of those facets to get the two wins this week, tying or winning the rebound battle in both games, shooting over 39% from three in each win, and assisting on 53% of its baskets, (a 31% increase from the Auburn game). The SEC is as deep as its been in the last decade this year, but consider LSU one of the major threats to make noise all conference season.
The Ohio Bobcats cannot be stopped in the last month. Ohio is now on a seven game win streak after picking up two more wins this week, 3-0 in MAC play, and 12-2 on the season. The Bobcats have also yet to give up 80 points or more again this season since giving up exactly 80 on opening night against Belmont, and are averaging 65 points against for the year. On the offensive side, Mark Sears is leading the way and is a young star in the making. Sears has now scored 21+ points in five straight games, and scored 24 and 28 respectively in Ohio's wins over Akron and Kent State this week. There is still a slight at-large chance for Ohio moving forward, but regardless, the Bobcats are the clear best team in the Mid-American Conference.
9. Notre Dame:
Notre Dame is quietly on a five game winning streak, and 3-1 in ACC play. It was not long ago that ND was just above .500, but now the Irish sit at 9-5 and won two games last week. Notre Dame grinded out a tough road win against Georgia Tech on Saturday, but made this list due to its 78-73 win over North Carolina on Wednesday. In the win over UNC, the Irish made 13 threes on 42% shooting, and had three players score 17 or more points. The leading scorer in that game, Nate Laszewski, finished with 20 points and went 6/7 from downtown, outstanding! As we've mentioned a few times recently on twitter, the ACC this season is going to be more about quantity of wins with less quality wins to be had than normal. In ND's case, it does not have a game against a team projected better than an 11 seed currently until mid February, so it will be important to rack up as many wins as possible until then.
10. Mid-Major Statements
We lied before. We were unable to narrow down our team of the week list to 10, and instead have left this last section to highlight two "mid-majors" that made big statements this week in San Diego State and Loyola Chicago. San Diego State only played one game this week, but it was a 30 point, 79-49, win over then undefeated Colorado State. This victory puts the Aztecs into the majority of projected NCAA Tournament fields, and is the clear best win to date for SDSU. It seems that regardless of player turnover in recent years, you can always count on San Diego State to play top notch defense. Holding Colorado State to 49 points is incredible! For Loyola Chicago, the week was highlighted by winning a last minute, neutral contest against a very solid San Francisco team. The Ramblers held San Francisco to just 24% shooting from three, outrebounded the Dons, and were led by 24 points off the bench from Ryan Schwieger on 9/10 shooting. Loyola Chicago appears poised to once again make the NCAA Tourney as either an at-large or auto-bid if it can avoid any losses to the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference.
-Wake Forest: 2-0 week, beat Florida State & Syracuse in OT
-Rutgers: two wins this week, highlighted by a victory over Michigan, 75-67
-VCU: 2-0 on the week, both on the road, against Dayton and La Salle. Has now won six straight games
-Houston: have won six straight games including two this week over Wichita State and South Florida
-Texas A&M: two win week highlighted by a close win over Arkansas, 86-81. Also on a six game win streak
-Missouri: moved back to .500 after an upset win over Alabama, 92-86
-Texas Tech: 1-1 week, but upset Top-10 Kansas 75-67 on Saturday
-BYU: picked up two wins including a defensive victory over Saint Mary's, 52-43, late Saturday night
-Saint Louis: in a last minute game, defeated a Top-50 team in Iona, 68-67 in a thriller
-Oklahoma: went 1-1 this week, but beat a good Iowa State team 79-66 and battled #1 Baylor in its loss
-New Mexico State: has now won 9 straight games, including a 12 point win on Saturday over UTRGV
-Auburn: has its win streak now up to 11 after a 2-0 week
-Villanova: continued strong momentum with two more wins this week over DePaul and Creighton
-Drexel: upset one of the top teams in the CAA in Towson, 65-61
-Southern: on a three game win streak and have the best overall record in the SWAC
-Colorado: 2-0 week, five game winning streak, and appear to be the 4th best Pac-12 team behind three schools in the Top-10
Lets keep the hoops momentum going! DM us @TBracketology if there is anyone else worthy of a shoutout! Thanks for reading!