Is it time to speak about Kansas at No. 1 but?

Is it time so as to add one other staff to the No. 1 dialogue?

With Alabama shedding to Tennessee on Wednesday, debate excessive spot within the rankings is as soon as once more wanted. The Crimson Tide and Houston are the 2 apparent candidates, with Purdue fading a bit after dropping a sport for a 3rd straight week. But ought to we start to think about Kansas as a possible general 1-seed?

Sure, the Jayhawks have extra general losses than Alabama, Houston and Purdue, and so they’re decrease within the NET and most predictive metrics, however their record-based résumé is unparalleled. They have the No. 1 general energy of schedule, essentially the most Quadrant 1 wins within the nation — by 4 — and essentially the most Quadrant 1 and a couple of wins within the nation, by three. The common NET of their wins is comfortably the bottom, and so they’re tied for the bottom common NET in losses. All 5 of their losses had been to groups ranked in final week’s AP ballot.

Kansas has 4 video games left: at TCU and Texas and internet hosting West Virginia and Texas Tech. If the Jayhawks win all 4, I do not see how they go into Champ Week with no probability to earn the general 1-seed on Selection Sunday.

As for this week, Alabama stays on prime. There’s a robust argument for Houston, however the Crimson Tide’s early-season win over the Cougars provides them the sting.

Onto this week’s awards and rankings …



Jalen Pickett’s 41-point night time lifts Penn State previous Illinois

Jalen Pickett’s 41 factors helped the Penn State Nittany Lions to a 93-81 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini.

As just lately as a number of weeks in the past, Texas Tech was within the dialog for the most important non-North Carolina, not-Kentucky disappointment within the nation. The Red Raiders went to the Sweet 16 in Mark Adams’ first season, began 10-2 this season — after which proceeded to lose their first eight Big 12 video games. Since then, they’ve gained 5 of seven, together with this previous week in opposition to Texas and on the highway at West Virginia. The offense has woken up, scoring 1.13 factors per possession in these wins, going 13-for-28 from 3 and dominating on the offensive glass. The return of Utah Valley switch Fardaws Aimaq from harm has been an enormous enhance. He missed 21 video games, however has now performed three video games in a row — with Tech successful all three. Can the Red Raiders get into the at-large hunt? They clearly must proceed stacking wins (4-10 within the Big 12 is simply nowhere close to ok), however defeating Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas and West Virginia previously three weeks has their purpose inside attain.



No. 10 Tennessee topples top-ranked Tide

The Volunteers’ stout protection snags 11 steals at hand No. 1 Alabama its first convention loss and lowest-scoring sport of the season, 68-59.

After a number of weeks of inauspicious Player of the Week selections, Pickett made it very simple this week. Penn State wanted a 2-0 week to remain within the bubble dialog, and with Pickett main the way in which, it beat the Illinois Fighting Illini and Minnesota Golden Gophers. The 2021 Siena Saints switch opened the week with 41 factors and eight assists in opposition to the Fighting Illini, capturing 15-for-20 from the sector, 5-for-9 from 3-point vary and making all six of his free throws. Against Minnesota on Saturday, he went off once more, ending with 32 factors (11-for-20 from the sector, 4-for-8 from 3), 9 rebounds and eight assists. He hadn’t made greater than three 3s in a sport all season, however did it twice this previous week. He needs to be a surefire first-team All-Big Ten participant, and he has been one of many two or three greatest guards within the nation all season.



Alex Caldwell scores 7 straight factors for UNC Asheville

Alex Caldwell helps energy UNC Asheville’s offense late within the first half with seven straight factors.

Beat the No. 1 and you are a shoo-in. The Vols entered the week coming off buzzer-beating losses to the Vanderbilt Commodores and Missouri Tigers and had been with out Julian Phillips and Josiah-Jordan James; Alabama had simply ascended to the highest spot within the rankings and hadn’t misplaced an SEC sport all season. In a battle between one of many elite offenses within the nation and arguably the most effective protection, this was an evening for Tennessee’s D. Rick Barnes’ staff pressured Alabama into its worst offensive efficiency all season, limiting the Crimson Tide to 0.85 factors per possession and 35.4% capturing from the sector, and the Tide dedicated 19 turnovers. Zakai Zeigler was a menace at each ends, ending with 15 factors, 8 assists and 0 turnovers, whereas Jonas Aidoo had a breakout 12-point, 11-rebound efficiency.



Alabama places up 108 in 49-point win over Georgia

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide: Full Highlights

When Morrell took over in Asheville in 2018, he was wanting principally at an empty cabinet. The staff had gained 21 video games the season prior, however was decimated by commencement and transfers, and went 4-27 in Year 1 beneath Morrell. Four years later, the Bulldogs are the Big South regular-season champion. They clinched the title final week, successful at second-place Radford on Thursday after which caring for enterprise at dwelling in opposition to fourth-place Gardner-Webb on Saturday. Asheville was picked third within the preseason after a pair years of regular enchancment beneath Morrell, however a season-opening win at UCF set the tone and the Bulldogs have hardly ever stumbled since. They enter this week with a 13-1 document because the calendar turned to 2023.

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Three groups with questions

North Carolina Tar Heels: We’re on the level the place the Tar Heels would possibly solely have room for yet another loss the remainder of the season. They misplaced to NC State on Sunday, their fifth defeat in six video games, to drop to 8-8 within the ACC. They’re now 0-9 in Quadrant 1 video games and are on the skin of the NCAA event image wanting in. According to ESPN Stats & Information, UNC’s 11 losses are tied for essentially the most by a preseason No. 1 staff because the preseason ballot started in 1961-62.

Clemson Tigers: Three weeks in the past, Clemson was sitting atop the ACC standings with a 10-1 league document. Now, it is fading from the NCAA event dialogue. The Tigers have misplaced 4 of their previous 5 video games, together with Saturday night time’s defeat at Louisville, which entered the weekend with a 3-23 document.

West Virginia Mountaineers: Bob Huggins’ staff appeared to proper the ship after its five-game shedding streak to open Big 12 play, successful 5 of seven to solidify its event hopes. But the Mountaineers have now misplaced three in a row, after falling at dwelling to Texas Tech, and so they’re only one sport out of final place within the league.

Power Rankings

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (23-4)
Previous rating:
This week: at South Carolina (Wednesday), vs. Arkansas (Saturday)



Oumar Ballo makes use of a pump faux for two plus foul

Oumar Ballo bullies his technique to the cup for a tricky and-1 end.

Alabama actually is aware of how to reply to losses. After falling to Oklahoma in late January, it bounced again with a 101-44 win over Vanderbilt three days later. And after dropping Wednesday’s sport in opposition to Tennessee, it completely battered Georgia on Saturday, 108-59. While a few of its losses this season might be attributed to 3-point or defensive struggles, the defeat to Tennessee got here due to the Volunteers’ elite protection. The Crimson Tide made simply eight 2-pointers, capturing 33.3% contained in the arc. That’s their worst 2-point effort in two years. They additionally turned it over 19 occasions. Three of their 4 losses this season have now come after they flip it over on a minimum of one-quarter of their possessions.

2. Houston Cougars (25-2)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Tulane (Wednesday), at East Carolina (Saturday)

J’Wan Roberts has loved the most effective season of his faculty profession, offering Kelvin Sampson with a reliable scoring presence across the rim — and a unique dimension for the Cougars, who’ve usually simply had large males seize offensive rebounds and shield the rim on the different finish. But Roberts, one of the vital efficient offensive rebounders within the nation on a per-minute foundation his first two seasons, has taken his sport to a brand new degree. He has scored in double figures 17 occasions this season, together with 4 double-doubles. And he had his greatest efficiency of the season Sunday in opposition to Memphis, ending with a career-high 20 factors to go along with 12 rebounds.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (22-5)
Previous rating:
This week: at TCU (Monday), vs. West Virginia (Saturday)

Start the back-to-back nationwide championship discuss. Kansas’ second half in opposition to Baylor on Saturday was an distinctive 20-minute show — the Jayhawks outscored the Bears 55-26 en path to an 87-71 win. Dajuan Harris Jr. was the catalyst, ending with 14 factors and 9 assists. Jalen Wilson did typical Jalen Wilson issues, scoring 21 factors and grabbing 13 boards. And Kansas’ protection, after letting Baylor’s backcourt do no matter it needed within the first half, dialed in. A optimistic pattern for the Jayhawks: Wilson’s supporting solid. I’ve written a number of occasions this season how Wilson getting constant assist usually leads to wins for Kansas. Against Baylor, three different gamers scored a minimum of 14 factors. It was the identical in opposition to Oklahoma State. Four guys hit double figures within the win over Oklahoma. Kansas is rounding into kind on the proper time.

4. Purdue Boilermakers (24-4)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Indiana (Saturday)

Purdue snapped its two-game shedding streak with a dominant second-half efficiency in opposition to Ohio State, and likewise broke out of its capturing stoop. In losses to Northwestern and Maryland, the Boilermakers shot simply 7-for-35 from 3, scoring 0.90 factors per possession. The subsequent step shall be to get freshman Fletcher Loyer again on monitor. In the primary 18 video games of the season, Loyer was averaging 13.4 factors and capturing 37.4% from 3. In the previous 10, he is down to eight.7 and 21.1%, respectively. When he can take stress off Zach Edey within the inside, Purdue’s offense begins buzzing.

5. Arizona Wildcats (24-4)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Arizona State (Saturday)



Julian Strawther flushes one-handed alley-oop for Gonzaga

Julian Strawther flushes one-handed alley-oop for Gonzaga

Tommy Lloyd shall be hoping Saturday’s efficiency boosts Oumar Ballo shifting ahead. Ballo was a dominant drive for the primary three months of the season, averaging 16.1 factors and eight.9 rebounds over the primary 20 video games, capturing 64.5% from the sector and hitting double figures in every. Over the subsequent seven video games, although, he averaged simply 9.9 factors, scoring double figures in simply three. He was nonetheless environment friendly from the ground, nevertheless it wasn’t translating to factors constantly. On Saturday in opposition to Colorado, Ballo reverted to his early-season kind, ending with 18 factors, 16 rebounds — 6 on the offensive finish — and three assists.

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6. Texas Longhorns (21-6)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Iowa State (Tuesday), at Baylor (Saturday)

With Marcus Carr taking on as the first scorer and Sir’Jabari Rice changing into a go-to man late in video games, Tyrese Hunter’s offensive position has taken a again seat over the second half of the season. He averaged 15.1 factors by means of the primary seven video games of 2022-23, capturing 51.9% from the sector and 36.4% from 3 — notching double figures in every. Since then, he has scored in double figures in six of 20, averaging 7.8 factors on 31.5% from the sector and 28.4% from 3. Yet, in a few of Texas’ greatest Big 12 wins — vs. Baylor, at Kansas State, at West Virginia — he has been a key issue. Rodney Terry will want him in March.

7. Baylor Bears (20-7)
Previous rating:
This week: at Kansas State (Tuesday), vs. Texas (Saturday)

For 20 minutes in Lawrence on Saturday, Baylor successful its second nationwide championship in three years appeared like an actual risk. The Bears had among the best halves of the season, with Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer and Keyonte George primarily taking turns going off on the Kansas protection. They had been an offensive juggernaut. And then the second half got here, and their greatest weak spot — protection — was uncovered. The Jayhawks scored 55 factors after halftime, finally successful by 16. The Bears are useless final within the Big 12 in defensive effectivity in convention video games, with groups capturing practically 57% from contained in the arc in opposition to them. Their backcourt provides them an opportunity in opposition to anybody come March, however they’ve had a number of lengthy stretches of defensive apathy this season and that may’t pop up when it issues.

8. UCLA Bruins (23-4)
Previous rating:
This week: at Utah (Thursday), at Colorado (Sunday)

UCLA was the staff I used to be most intrigued by getting into the NCAA mock bracket reveal on Saturday afternoon. It’s within the prime 5 of KenPom, BPI and Sagarin whereas additionally sitting at No. 4 within the NET. Its energy of document is No. 6. It’s fairly clear why the Bruins had been ranked No. 4 within the AP ballot this previous week. On the flip aspect, their 23 wins are principally empty from a résumé-building perspective. They have a win over Maryland … and that is it. (Kentucky most likely moved into that very same class over the weekend.) It’s why the Bruins had been simply No. 9 in final week’s Power Rankings. Ultimately, the committee slotted them at No. 8. UCLA has a whole lot of work to do to get within the 1-seed dialog.

9. Virginia Cavaliers (21-4)
Previous rating:
This week: at Boston College (Wednesday), at North Carolina (Saturday)

It was a “take the win and run” form of week for the Cavaliers. They beat Louisville and Notre Dame, the 2 worst groups within the ACC, by a mixed 5 factors — and Dane Goodwin had an open shot on the buzzer Saturday that will have knocked off Virginia. But the wins are what matter within the ACC standings, and the Cavs at the moment are in sole possession of first place. After a protracted stretch during which Virginia started to shoot the ball with some consistency, its perimeter capturing has light just lately. In every of its previous 4 video games, UVa is making fewer than 5 3s, hitting simply 29.9% of its makes an attempt. The offense hasn’t been that unhealthy, comparatively talking, however relying so closely on 2s and protection inherently lends itself to shut video games.

10. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-5)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. San Diego (Thursday), vs. Saint Mary’s (Saturday)



Olivier-Maxence Prosper provides Marquette the lead in last seconds

Olivier-Maxence Prosper provides Marquette the lead in last seconds.

Gonzaga has turned the screw offensively since its loss at Saint Mary’s a few weeks in the past, placing up a mean of 98 factors over the past 4 video games, scoring a ridiculous 1.32 factors per possession. For comparability, the most effective uncooked offensive effectivity ranking within the nation this season is round 1.18 factors per possession (shared by Toledo, Houston and Gonzaga). The Zags at the moment are No. 1 in adjusted offensive effectivity at KenPom. If they will keep on the prime by means of the top of the season, it might be the fourth time previously 5 seasons they have been No. 1 in that metric. Gonzaga has been remarkably environment friendly contained in the arc, capturing a minimum of 61% from 2 in all 4 video games — with Julian Strawther averaging 28 factors in his previous three.

11. Tennessee Volunteers (20-7)
Previous rating:
This week: at Texas A&M (Tuesday), vs. South Carolina (Saturday)

Tennessee went from beating top-ranked Alabama on Wednesday to shedding by 12 at Kentucky on Saturday — the second time this season it misplaced to the Wildcats this season. The Vols are simply 2-4 of their final six video games since beating Texas in late January, and searching nearly as good as anybody within the nation. The offense has struggled throughout most of these video games, failing to hit 0.90 factors per possession in three of six, nevertheless it’s surprisingly been the protection letting down Tennessee in losses. The Volunteers are nonetheless ranked No. 1 within the nation in adjusted defensive effectivity, however they’ve allowed a minimum of one level per possession in 5 of seven video games after permitting simply two opponents to hit that mark within the first 20.

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12. Marquette Golden Eagles (21-6)
Previous rating:
This week: at Creighton (Tuesday), vs. DePaul (Saturday)



Jackson-Davis’ acrobatic bucket ties it for Indiana

Trayce Jackson-Davis knocks down a formidable basket to tie the rating at 56-56.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper’s tip-in with 1.6 seconds left in opposition to Xavier on Wednesday night time formally put Marquette in pole place for the Big East regular-season title — it now possesses a one-game lead on Xavier, Providence and Creighton. There are seemingly two video games left that may decide who finally ends on prime of the standings: Marquette at Creighton on Tuesday, and Xavier’s journey to Providence on March 1. The first time the Golden Eagles confronted Creighton, the Bluejays had been with out Ryan Kalkbrenner, however his substitute, Fredrick King, had 16 factors and 10 boards regardless of Marquette successful by 11. Marquette’s protection was terrific, forcing 18 turnovers and limiting Creighton to 4 3s.

13. Kansas State Wildcats (20-7)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Baylor (Tuesday), at Oklahoma State (Saturday)

The Wildcats had misplaced 5 of seven getting into Saturday. Jerome Tang had publicly questioned their effort after Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma. Clearly the staff, particularly senior leaders Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, acquired the message. Nowell had 20 factors, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, whereas Johnson went for 15 factors and 6 rebounds. Tang additionally handed one other senior switch, Desi Sills, his first begin of the season. Kansas State’s offense nonetheless wasn’t overly environment friendly, however when the Cats purchase in defensively and have Nowell and Johnson clicking on the different finish, that is normally sufficient to get wins at dwelling.

14. UConn Huskies (20-7)
Previous rating:
In the ready room
This week: vs. Providence (Wednesday), at St. John’s (Saturday)

UConn felt like the most important shock omission from the NCAA’s bracket reveal Saturday afternoon. The Huskies are within the prime 10 within the NET and the highest 10 of each predictive metric — whereas additionally possessing 5 Quadrant 1 wins, together with in opposition to Alabama by 15, Iowa State by 18 and Marquette by 15. Their dwelling loss to the Red Storm throughout a tough 1-5 stretch in January is the lone adverse on the résumé, though not one of the profiles within the 4-seed vary are with out imperfections. UConn has 4 video games left, and needs to be the favourite in all. Running the desk till the Big East event would seemingly safe a top-four seed, leaving the mock reveal a distant reminiscence.

15. Indiana Hoosiers (19-8)
Previous rating:
This week: at Michigan State (Tuesday), at Purdue (Saturday)

Until now, there hasn’t actually been a debate: Zach Edey has been the heavy favourite for Wooden Award and consensus National Player of the Year honors. He’s nonetheless the frontrunner, however after Indiana’s win over Illinois on Saturday, Trayce Jackson-Davis has an argument to win Big Ten Player of the Year over Edey, in accordance with the IndyStar’s Zach Osterman. By extension, that will put him in a race with Edey for NPOY, too. While I nonetheless suppose Edey is the decide, the very fact Jackson-Davis has even made it a dialog is spectacular. In convention play, he leads the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding (by one complete rebound over Edey) and blocks. He’s averaging 24.9 factors, 13.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and three.2 blocks over his final 10 video games. Circle Saturday in your calendar.

16. Iowa State Cyclones (17-9)
Previous rating:
This week: at Texas (Tuesday), vs. Oklahoma (Saturday)

Since beginning 13-2, Iowa State misplaced seven of its final 11 video games. Clearly, the committee valued their résumé, slotting the Cyclones as a 3-seed previous to their loss at Kansas State. But they should flip issues round in the event that they wish to keep among the many prime 4 strains. Their offense simply is not displaying up constantly. They’ve hit one level per possession in only one loss all season, going 2-8 after they fail to hit or surpass the mark. Getting Gabe Kalscheur out of his capturing stoop shall be necessary. In his final 5 video games, the senior guard is averaging simply 8.0 factors on 28.3% from the sector and 29.6% from 3. In the earlier 13 video games, he was at 16.5 factors on 38.6% from 3.

Dropped out: Creighton Bluejays (No. 15)

In the ready room

Miami Hurricanes: They’re firing on all cylinders proper now offensively, scoring a minimum of 78 factors of their final six video games — and greater than 90 in three of these. It’s not simply Isaiah Wong. Nijel Pack is averaging 23.0 factors in his final three, and Jordan Miller had 24 and 11 in opposition to North Carolina.

Creighton Bluejays: Creighton noticed its eight-game successful streak snapped in double additional time at Providence on Tuesday, however bounced again with a highway win at St. John’s on Saturday. It wasn’t Baylor Scheierman’s most interesting week — 9.5 factors, 3-for-19 from 3 — however Greg McDermott acquired some good bench manufacturing from Shereef Mitchell and Mason Miller.

Xavier Musketeers: After shedding two video games by a mixed three factors on the highway, Xavier returned dwelling Saturday and dealt with DePaul by 14 to remain within the Big East title race. It was the Musketeers’ greatest defensive efficiency since a Dec. 13 win over Southern, holding the Blue Demons to 0.91 factors per possession and forcing 15 turnovers.