Scramble at the Top & Gonzaga Moves Up
The Indiana Hoosiers solidified their hold on the top spot this past week, taking in all but one of the 65 first-place votes as announced on Monday. The very next evening the Hoosiers traveled to Minnesota and were upset 77 to 73 as Trevor Mbakwe’s 21 points and 12 rebounds made the difference for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota, by the way, likely improved its post season chances in knocking off Indiana.
Gonzaga on the Rise
Tonight, No. 2 Gonzaga travels to BYU and then hosts Portland on Sunday. Winning both games could move the Bulldogs up to the top spot, but with a game on the road against a Cougar team with a serious case of pre-March madness, an upset could be in the making. Bulldog coach Mark Few will make certain that his team is focused on the Cougars and the Cougars alone when they take to the court at 9 p.m.
Even if the Bulldogs should lose to BYU, they may retain their position among the top teams in the nation. No. 4 Michigan is likely to beat Penn State tonight, but then hosts No. 9 Michigan State on Sunday. The Spartans manhandled the Wolverines two weeks ago at home 75 to 52, but MSU has lost its last two games that began its late season four-game stretch of Top 20 teams.
Duke Stands Tall
Duke, ranked No. 3 nationally and in second place in the ACC behind No. 5 Miami, visits Virginia tonight. At 19-8, the Cavaliers are considered by some to be on the bubble for post season play, but most certainly would strengthen its chances for gaining a Field of 68 berth by beating the Blue Devils.
Without looking ahead to Sunday evening, Duke could take over the top spot in the nation by beating Miami too. Coach K, like Coach Few, will make sure that his squad takes one game at a time.
The Jayhawks Rebound
Perhaps the team most likely to pull down one of the four No. 1 tournament bids is the one now sitting in the No. 6 spot: the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks have won five straight, after snapping a three-game losing streak. That losing streak dampened KU’s postseason positioning, but it has since been revived thanks in no small part to an officiating blunder that failed to call a charge or a block against a KU player, one that allowed the Jayhawks to tie its game against Iowa State in regulation before winning in overtime.
Sunday’s shocker was the second overtime victory in three games for KU, a team we think will garner a top seed when the seedings are announced on Selection Sunday, March 17. Kansas, which lost the national championship game to Kentucky last year, appears ready to make a return to the Final Four with redshirt freshman Ben McLemore rising to the occasion.
Related Reading — March Madness & the Run Up to Selection Sunday