2/14-2/20 Teams of the Week
Three weeks remain until the official start of the NCAA Tournament! Every game is becoming even more important as teams look to be playing their best basketball at this time of year heading into the postseason. Many programs around the country have played well of late, but we have focused in on these ten as our teams of the week! Check it out!
Teams of the Week!
1. Texas Tech:
The Red Raiders have had quite the three game stretch following the road loss to Oklahoma a week and a half ago. Texas Tech defeated TCU to cap off last week, and went 2-0 over the last seven days. Both wins this week were massive for TTU, beating Baylor by 10, 83-73 on Wednesday, and following it up with a 61-55 win on the road against Texas on Saturday. The win over Texas is extra sweet for Texas Tech as it completes the season sweep of the Longhorns whose head coach, Chris Beard, previously coached for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech won at Texas despite not shooting well from the field or from three. Defensive, grind it out games are how TTU typically plays, so this was nothing new for them. The Red Raiders dominated on the boards, and held every Longhorn outside of Andrew Jones to 4/16, (25%), shooting from the three point line. Earlier in the week, Texas Tech's offense looked great, further displaying that this team can beat you in a variety of ways. Four Red Raiders scored in double figures in the win over Baylor, led by 23 points and 13 rebounds from Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor. This great week of play had Texas Tech in the Top-10 of the NCAA selection committee's Top-16 reveal, and TTU continues to move closer to a projected 2 seed with each win.
2. North Texas:
We stay in the Lone Star State for the next team of the week, and similar to Texas Tech, this is another group that has been featured multiple times now on the year as a team of the week. North Texas has now won twelve straight games, is 20-4 on the season and 13-1 in the Conference USA. The C-USA has been a solid league this season with many formidable programs, making this all the more impressive. The Mean Green kept the win streak going in thrilling fashion over the last seven days, winning two road games by a combined four points! North Texas beat FAU 54-51 on Thursday, and defeated arguably its biggest competition in conference in UAB on Saturday, 58-57. With just seconds to go in the game against the Blazers, Tylor Perry hit a clutch three pointer to give the Mean Green the lead and ultimately the one point win. Perry also led the team in scoring in both victories, notching 13 points against FAU, and tied his season-high with 25 points against UAB. The road win over UAB, along with this incredible win streak has North Texas in the at-large discussion, even if they do not win the Conference USA tournament. If UNT makes the NCAA Tournament, this is a group that 5 seeds will dread matching up against in round one.
3. Kent State:
Another program on a phenomenal win streak of late is Kent State. The Golden Flashes have won eight games in a row after adding two more victories to the win column this week. What makes the last seven days even more impactful for Kent State, is that the two wins came against the top two teams in the Mid-American Conference in Toledo and Ohio. Both wins were also by double digits, 72-59 over Toledo and 75-52 over Ohio, and the Golden Flashes now sit just one game back of first place in the MAC and look like the best team of late. A balance of stout defense and solid offensive production were key for Kent State in each win. Sincere Carry dropped 23 points and added 5 assists and 6 rebounds against Toledo, while the team held the Rockets to just 59 points. Against Ohio, four players scored in double figures for the Flashes, and they held the Bobcats to just 18% shooting from three and 23% overall from the field. Incredible! A few weeks ago it looked like a two horse race for the MAC crown, but its time to add Kent State to that mix as we head down the closing stretch of the season.
The Wildcats are on a five game win streak, including wins over UConn, St Johns and Seton Hall prior to this week. Villanova also defeated Georgetown on Saturday to extend the streak to five. All of that is great, but Nova finds themselves in this list because of what the team did Tuesday night. The Wildcats had a primetime, Top-10 matchup on the road against Providence, and the game did not disappoint. Both teams looked great, and the game was exciting, finishing 89-84 in favor of Villanova. This was not only a top-tier quality win for Nova, but also helped them close the gap for first place in the Big East, (as of today Providence leads by 0.5 games). Collin Gillespie looked every part the All-Conference and All-American type player he is regarded to be in this win. The Senior scored 33 points on 10/17 shooting including 5 made threes. Justin Moore added 19 points and 10 rebounds, and 80/89 points for Villanova were scored by the starters. In fact, the 9 bench points all came from Caleb Daniels, as just six total players scored for the Wildcats. That remains the biggest question for this team, do they have enough depth to sustain a run in March? We can debate that question all we want, but we can't debate that this team is playing great basketball, and is one of the 10 best teams in the country as of today.
Lets first address the elephant question in the room on Creighton fans' minds after Sunday's win. For us, Creighton is now above the Last 4 In group after the 83-82 victory over Marquette. While that might be the biggest Creighton question on fans' minds, the Bluejays have been playing solid basketball for a good stretch of games now. Creighton has won five in a row, and picked up three of those wins this week. The group beat Georgetown on Monday, won on the road against DePaul on Thursday, and as we mentioned beat Marquette Sunday. The victories over Georgetown and DePaul were more about avoiding defeat than moving the needle much, but the Marquette win did wonders for Creighton's current NCAA Tournament safety. All five starters scored in double figures for the Bluejays, and were the only players on the team to make a basket in the game. Rati Andronikashvili scored 1 point off the bench, but it came at the free throw line. Ryan Kalkbrenner led the way with 21 points and 7 rebounds, but every starter played well in this game. It was a good thing they did, because each starter played at least 35 minutes in the game, with four playing 37+ minutes! This latest run and big win on Sunday has Creighton at 18-8 on the year, 10-5 in Big East play, and in control of their tournament destiny with three weeks to go.
We stay in the Big East for a third team in a row to honor how well the Connecticut Huskies have been playing of late. UConn has won three straight games, and four out of five including two wins this past week. The Huskies defeated Seton Hall on Wednesday, and Xavier on Saturday, two teams that project to be in the NCAA Tournament. The recent run, along with results from others, has also boosted UConn to our 5 seed line and inside our Top-20 teams overall. Adama Sanogo and Rj Cole were the stars in the wins this week, but really have been all year for the Huskies. Sanogo averages 15 points and 8.6 rebounds on the year, and had 20 points and 16 rebounds against Seton Hall, while contributing 15 points and 9 rebounds in the win over Xavier. Cole averages just over 16 points on the season, and scored that exact amount in each victory this week, consistency! Connecticut is now also a lock in our projected field of 68, so look out for this team come March, as they are capable of making a run into the second weekend.
We move out of the Big East and into the Patriot League for our next team of the week. The Colgate Raiders were the preseason favorites in the conference, but had an up and down start to the season, and were 8-11 overall on the year. Now, Colgate has won nine games in a row, sits at 13-2 in conference and 17-11 on the year. The Raiders won three games this week, including scoring 100 points on the road against Army on Wednesday. That marks the second time this year that Colgate has hit the century mark, as they also scored exactly 100 points on the road against Syracuse back in November. Colgate's offense is able to get going thanks to having five players that average 9.5 points per game or more, with all five also shooting 35% or better from three. As a team, Colgate shoots just about 40% from behind the arc, a strength that has become a staple for this program over the last few years. This latest win streak has extended Colgate's lead atop the Patriot League, as the Raiders look to make it back to the NCAA Tournament once again this season.
Belmont has been a solid program for years, but never seems to get enough credit that is deserves. This year's team is no different. The Bruins sit at 24-5 on the season, 14-2 in conference play and have won 10 consecutive games. Two of those wins came this week, both by double digits as Belmont beat Eastern Illinois 81-57 and followed it up with a 73-62 win over SIU Edwardsville on Saturday. Both victories showed off Belmont's ability to score in multiple ways, while also play great defense. On the season, Belmont averages over 80 points per game and is giving up less than 70, and have two players that average over 16 points per game in Nick Muszynski and Ben Sheppard. Both Musynski and Sheppard came up big in the two wins this week. Nick Musynski scored 20 and 18 points respectively in the victories, while Sheppard had 16 and 20 points respectively. Ben Sheppard also added 5 steals to his 20 point performance in the win over SIUE. At the moment, this Belmont group sits just outside of our projected tournament field, but has a massive opportunity coming on the road against Murray State on Thursday, (9pm ET on ESPNU), to change that quickly.
9. South Carolina:
South Carolina still has work to do to get themselves closer to the NCAA Tournament, but took a great step towards that goal this week and are not out of it yet. The Gamecocks have won three straight games, including two coming over the last seven days. The week started off with a bang as James Reese V hit a half-court buzzer beater, in overtime, to take down Ole Miss on the road 77-74. Erik Stevenson's 17 points and a key 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench from Devin Carter made the difference along with, of course, Reese's late heroics. The week would get even better for South Carolina on Saturday as the Gamecocks upset LSU 77-75 in a game that moved South Carolina into our bubble group just outside of "Next 4 Out". This game was all about Jermaine Couisnard who scored 33 points on 12/18 shooting including five made three pointers. What an incredible game! This group is playing solid basketball at the right time and is a sleeper to watch in the SEC.
10. South Dakota State:
Everyone stand up for the Jackrabbits! This program has been fantastic for years now, and this season is no exception! South Dakota State has now won 16 straight games, and has still yet to lose in Summit League play! The Jacks are also an outstanding 25-4 on the year and have not yet lost a home game. Three players, Baylor Scheierman, Douglas Wilson, and Noah Freidel all average 15 points per game and all shoot 40% or better from three. As a team, South Dakota State shoots over 45% from three and 53% from the field while averaging just under 87 points per game and are one of the best offensive teams in the country. SDST has also held four consecutive opponents to less than 67 points as they continue to dominate in league play. Specifically, in Thursdays win over Western Illinois, dominance on both ends was on display. The Jacks forced 18 turnovers, while connecting on 55% of their threes, (11/20), and scoring 91 points to win by 25. Similar to North Texas, this is a 12-13 seed that teams will not want to face in round one of the NCAA Tournament.
-Gonzaga: win streak stretches to 16 games in a row
-Murray State: also on a 16 game win streak
-UC Irvine: 7 game win streak, 2-0 week
-Penn State: 2-0 week, beat Michigan St, 62-58 on Tuesday
-Western Kentucky: 7 game win streak
-Arizona: 8 game win streak, 2-0 week
-St Bonaventure: 3-0 week, 5 game win streak
-VCU: 5 game win streak, beat Richmond 77-57
-San Diego State: 5 game win streak
-St Johns: 2-0 week, won at Xavier 86-73
-UNLV: 2-0 week, beat Fresno State and Colorado State
-SF Austin: 6 game win streak continues
-New Mexico State: 2-0 week, beat GCU 82-66
-Saint Marys: 2-0 week, beat BYU and San Francisco
-Arkansas: 2-0 week highlighted by a 58-48 win over Tennessee
Lets keep the hoops momentum going! DM us @TBracketology if there is anyone else worthy of a shoutout! Thanks for reading!