1/31-2/6 Teams of the Week
College Basketball fans, the countdown is now at five weeks until we have an official tournament bracket! February started off with a bang! As is the theme almost every week during basketball season, it was another week of quality games and surprising results. With the last seven days complete, we have focused on ten teams that have stood out above the rest recently, along with honorable mentions. Take a look below!
Teams of the Week!
Another 2-0 week for the Zags has its win streak now up to 12 games! The last seven days for Gonzaga was highlighted by a blowout victory over BYU on Saturday night. In the win over BYU, Gonzaga got out to a scorching start and never looked back. The Bulldogs led 47-23 at the half and finished with a 90-57 win. Gonzaga is now 19-2 on the year and a clear 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament at this moment. The Bulldogs have only scored under 80 twice during this win streak, and have scored over 100 4 times during that span. Gonzaga also ranks in the Top-5 in scoring, (90.9 PPG), and assists per game, (19.3 APG), while allowing less than 70 points per game. If that wasn’t enough, they also have many stars that can beat you in numerous ways. Five players scored 13+ points in the BYU matchup, including 20 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocks from Chet Holmgren. Wow! This team is a National title contender once again, will they finally claim the ultimate prize in April?
Welcome back to the teams of the week Arizona! It was quite a bounce back week for the Wildcats! One week after being outplayed by UCLA, the Wildcats beat that same side, this time on their home floor. In the loss to UCLA, Arizona became too reliant on the outside shot, and it was not falling. In this game, Arizona was much more focused on getting the ball inside and taking advantage of the size mismatch it had against the Bruins. The Wildcats followed up that 76-66 win over UCLA with a 72-63 win over USC on Saturday. Arizona was able to hold USC to 23% shooting from three in the win. Arizona now sits in first place in the Pac-12 and is on a 15 game win streak on its home floor. A few major factors for Arizona’s success is that the Wildcats are ranked in the Top-10 nationally in PPG, APG and RPG. This is a very good basketball team in the desert and a national contender in their own right.
3. Saint Louis:
The Billikens are now on a five game win streak, and have won six of its last seven games. After being off the bubble a few weeks ago, Saint Louis now finds itself right in the mix and one of the A-10’s best chances to get multiple bids. This week, Saint Louis went 2-0, holding on to beat George Mason in double OT, and beating Dayton 72-61 on Saturday. In the 2OT victory over George Mason, Yuri Collins was fantastic, dropping 35 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists AND 5 steals. What a stat line! Against Dayton, it was a balanced approach, as four players scored in double figures and SLU shot 44% from three, 49% from the field and 86% from the free throw line. Saint Louis now sits in second in the conference, and has some more quality win opportunities upcoming. Don’t be surprised if Saint Louis sneaks into the field soon!
Vermont is currently on a 12 game win streak and has won 15 of its last 17 games. The Catamounts are now 18-4 on the year and still undefeated in America East play. Vermont has scored 78+ points in ten out of twelve games during this streak, and have given up less than 70 in eleven out of twelve. In fact, the Catamounts have only given up more than 70 points ONCE all season, 72 against Hartford back in January. Vermont also has four players that play 10+ minutes per game who shoot over 38% from three, and six players that shoot over 75% from the free throw line that play play 10+ mpg. Solid shooting and great defense not only makes Vermont the America East favorites, but a team capable of an upset or two in March. Keep an eye on this team!
The Longwood Lancers ladies and gentleman! After another undefeated week, Longwood remains without a loss in Big South play, and has stretched it’s win streak to 10 games! This team is a ton of fun to watch, especially on the defensive end. On the season, Longwood has held 12 of its 22 opponents to 60 or less points, and five opponents under 50 points, outstanding! For the season the Lancers give up about 64 points per game. But defense is not the only story! Longwood also averages about 78 points per game, and five of its six top scorers shoot over 77% from the free throw line, an important stat for close ball games to come! Four players, Justin Hill, Isaiah Wilkins, DeShaun Wade & Leslie Nkereuwem also average 10+ points per game on the year. This team can beat you on both ends of the floor, is appointment TV, and the current Big South favorites!
For the second time in three weeks, the Wyoming Cowboys make our list as a team of the week, and once again for good reason. Wyoming went 3-0 this week with all three wins falling into the quality win category. Each win was also over a team ranked in the Top-5 in the Mountain West conference at this point. The Cowboys won a thriller over Colorado State in overtime on Monday, 84-78, defeated the top team in the conference in Boise State 72-65 on Wednesday, and finished off the week with a 61-59 road win over Fresno State. This recent streak has now moved Wyoming from a fringe bubble team, to a much safer 9-10 seed in the current projected tournament field. Hunter Maldonado against CSU, (35 points and 7 assists), and Graham Ike against Boise State, (33 points and 10 rebounds), were the stars in the first two wins for Wyo this week, and have been all season. Maldonado and Ike were solid against Fresno State as well, but it was stellar defense and a significant rebound margin that played a major role in that win. The Cowboys also get solid contributions from role players such as Drake Jeffries, Xavier DuSell, Jeremiah Oden and Brendan Wenzel, (12 points and 7 rebounds vs Fresno State), that make them a dangerous side moving forward.
After another undefeated seven day stretch, Illinois is on a four game win streak, 10-2 in Big Ten play, and 17-5 on the year. This week was highlighted by the Illini defeating Wisconsin 80-67, followed up by an impressive road win over Indiana, 74-57 on Saturday morning. Trent Frazier really stood out, as he often does, in the win over IU. Frazier scored 23 points on 8/11 shooting and was able to get just about any look he wanted from all levels. In the Wisconsin victory, Kofi Cockburn looked like a First Team All-American, dominating with 37 points and 12 rebounds. It’s clear this team has options to score the ball, but they also get after it defensively. Illinois has kept three of its four opponents on this win streak under 60 points, and all four under 70. The Fighting Illini are clearly one of the favorites atop the Big Ten. A rematch against Purdue on Tuesday night provides yet another opportunity for Illinois to continue to prove it is the standard of the league this season.
Duke is having a special season in Coach K’s last year as head coach. Recently, the Blue Devils have won five straight and six of its last seven games. Duke is now 19-3 on the year and in first place in the ACC. This past week was highlighted by the dominance in one of the best rivalry matchups in sports, Duke vs UNC. Duke beat the Tar Heels 87-67 behind a career high 27 points from AJ Griffin. This was the first 20 point win for Duke in Chapel Hill in 20 years, (since 2002)! The Blue Devils also out-rebounded UNC 40-24 in the game. On the season Duke ranks in the Top-20 in both points per game (80.4) and assists per game (17.5) while only allowing 64.7 a game. That is quite the balance combination that makes this group a National Title contender moving forward.
Similar to what we mentioned with Gonzaga and Duke, this is a national title contender in Lawrence, Kansas. The Jayhawks proved that this week, winning on the road against Iowa State, and dominating Baylor, 83-59 on Saturday. In the victory over Baylor, KU built up a big lead despite only shooting 25% from deep. It helps that they held Baylor to that same percentage from three for the game. Kansas also got contributions from many sources, with three players scoring in double figures, and six scoring 8+ points. Kansas remains in 1st in the Big 12 with this win and is 19-3 on the year, having won seven of its last eight games. The vast number of quality wins, and this recent success also puts the Jayhawks right in the discussion for a number one seed come tournament time.
10. San Francisco
Following San Francisco’s heart breaking loss to Saint Mary's, the Dons have responded well, winning three straight contests including going 2-0 this past week. The highlight of the week was SF’s impressive 73-59 win over BYU, but it was equally as important for the Dons to hold on for the victory against Portland on Saturday despite quite the scare from the Pilots. Yauhen Massalski led the team in scoring and rebounds in both wins this week, contributing 16 points and 13 rebounds against BYU and 22 points with 12 rebounds against Portland. With this recent streak, San Francisco is now 19-5 on the season and 6-3 in the WCC, a solid conference record in what is a deep conference this year. The recent success has also created a bit of breathing room for USF on the bubble, but it’ll be important to take advantage of games they are expected to win moving forward. Five of the Dons last seven games are against teams projected to be outside of the NCAA Tournament field, with the other two matchups coming against Saint Mary's and Gonzaga. If USF collects the wins they are supposed to get, we should see this team in the bracket on Selection Sunday.
-Auburn:19 game win streak, beat Bama 100-81 on Tuesday
-Wagner: 13 game win streak continues, still undefeated in the NEC
-Murray State: 12 game win streak, up to12-0 in OVC play
-South Dakota State: 12 game win streak, undefeated in conference, 12-0 in conference as well
-Houston: 12 game win streak rolls on, now 9-0 in the AAC
-Bryant: 9 game win streak continues after a close win over Mt St Marys on Saturday
-Montana State: 8 game win streak, big time road win over Weber State to make up ground at the top of the Big Sky
-Arkansas: 8 game win streak, solid 63-55 win over Mississippi State to cap off the week
-Long Beach State: 8 game win streak, and now tied for first in the Big West Conference
-North Texas: 8 game win streak and maintains a one game lead atop the C-USA
-Texas Tech: 3 game win streak, big time win over Texas in Chris Beard’s return to Lubbock
-Providence: 7 game win streak and remain in 1st place in the Big East
-Saint Mary's: 7 game win streak, both wins this week by double digits
-New Mexico State: 4 game win streak, 2-0 week, beat the first place Seattle, 79-64 on Saturday
-Washington State: 5 game win streak, highlighted by a road win over Stanford, 66-60
-Purdue: moved win streak up to 5 in a row this week, just one game back of 1st in the Big Ten
-Utah State: 5 game win streak, 3-0 week, average margin of victory of 19 this week
-UAB: Bounce back 97-75 win over Middle Tennessee including and outstanding 42 points from Jordan Walker
Lets keep the hoops momentum going! DM us @TBracketology if there is anyone else worthy of a shoutout! Thanks for reading!