Thoughts from around the block on this Monday.
- It’s the Road to Selection Sunday. And we’re on it. In four weeks time we will have selected all 68 teams and placed them into their respective brackets. Four weeks from tomorrow the opening round games will tip off in Dayton, Ohio. VCU went from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011 so who knows what the Dayton rounds will bring.
- How about Miami? The Canes keep gaining ground on Indiana in the polls and could pop up to #1 if Indiana loses at Michigan State Tuesday night. More on that one later. Miami has a tough one this week against Virginia, right after IU-MSU II.
- Wisconsin has proven itself once again. The Badgers ran Ohio State out of the building yesterday in Madison, staking claim to third place in the Big Ten. They now own victories over Ohio State, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan and get another shot at Sparty on March 7th.
- Minnesota is in free fall mode after an embarrassing road loss to Iowa. Iowa on the other hand has won three in a row and could win four of their last five games, with the one loss coming March 2nd at Indiana.
- Gonzaga is up to #3 in both polls and deservingly so. The Bulldogs scored a huge win over St. Mary’s last week on ESPN and looked impressive doing so. St. Mary’s now has to beat Creighton to assure themselves of a spot in the Big Dance.
- Things won’t get easier for Duke. They have two ACC bottom feeders before getting another crack at Miami as well as a road game at Virginia. If this team has no Ryan Kelly the rest of the way you could see Duke dropping to a 2 or 3 seed.
- Louisville is doing a nice job of hanging around while flying below the national radar. The Cardinals get Syracuse and Notre Dame still on their Big East slate before the league tournament in Madison Square Garden which is always fun. Before the year started I had UL-IU in the title game.
- Michigan could still win the Big Ten regular season title. The Wolverines host Illinois, Michigan State and Indiana all over the last three weeks of the season while also getting home games against Penn State and Purdue. Michigan could very easily win out and get the #1 seed in Chicago.
- Memphis jumped six spots in the Coaches Poll today, probably surprising the entire fan base. The coaches who were relatively down on Memphis since dropping them out of the polls in the Fall, bumped Memphis past Marquette, Notre Dame and VCU. Watch out for Memphis. If they keep winning and keep climbing, it’ll be very hard for the committee not to award them a top 5 seed.
- Injuries really ruin the game of basketball. Victor Oladipo missed the second half of Indiana’s walloping of Purdue Saturday with a sprained ankle. Ryan Kelly missed another Duke loss. Rutgers leading scorer Eli Carter is out for the year now. Seton Hall’s Brandon Mobley will have season-ending surgery next week. And Nerlens Noel has already begun his pre-surgery preparations in Lexington. Pray that nobody gets hurt in the first couple weeks of March ala Kenyon Martin.
- Arizona better get it together fast if they intend to win the Pac-12 and more. The Wildcats got back to their winning ways last night against Utah. But it was a game too close for comfort against a team that came in with a 3-10 record in the league. Zona is now one game back of Oregon. And when they put it together, they’re as good a team as anyone in the country.
- I like Pittsburgh tonight against Notre Dame at home. Kansas State should handle West Virginia at home as well.
- I’m excited to hear Dick Vitale and Magic Johnson call a game together tomorrow night in East Lansing. Magic is as good as it gets when talking about basketball royalty, and Dick Vitale is, well Dick Vitale.
- If Kentucky is gonna make its run, it is gonna be this week. They host Vanderbilt on Tuesday then have a BIG game Saturday at home against Missouri. Coach Calipari better have his troops ready or it’ll be NIT time in Big Blue Nation.