RTC Top 25: Week 14Posted by KDoyle on February 18th, 2013
Indiana survived the curse of being ranked the #1 team in the country—fortunately for the Hoosiers they feasted on two bottom feeders in the Big Ten: Nebraska and Purdue—and maintain their ranking atop the RTC25. A midweek trip to Michigan State will decide whether they maintain their status as top dog, though. Is it possible that Miami, if the Hoosiers were to falter, are the #1 team in waiting? Pretty remarkable considering that they were unranked in the preseason and thought to be a middle-of-the-road ACC club. The Hurricanes continue to escalate in the RTC25 moving to the #2 spot this week after close road wins over Florida State and Clemson. Further down in the Top 10, we welcome Kansas back (#10) after posting resounding wins against Kansas State and Texas. Perhaps the three straight losses were a minor blip? We’ll find out later this week as they travel to Oklahoma State in a big time Big 12 showdown. More good stuff, as always, with the Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…
Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.
- Indiana Stays at the Top. I don’t think anyone would be comfortable calling Indiana “the best team” in the country—for that matter, no team can ostensibly be considered “the best” this season—but that is where the Hoosiers rank in this week’s RTC25. There was no letdown for Indiana after a convincing road win at Ohio State as they toyed with Nebraska and Purdue last week. Consecutive road games against Michigan State and Minnesota will certainly test Indiana’s mettle. In looking at their final five games of the regular season, there isn’t one game where they won’t be tested in: at Michigan State, at Minnesota, vs. Iowa, vs. Ohio State, and at Michigan. Boy, is the Big Ten all kinds of tough.
- High Risers and Big Droppers. Georgetown, Oklahoma State, and Wisconsin all trended upward five spots, while Ohio State and Pittsburgh tumbled seven spots. After beginning Big East play with losses to Marquette and Pittsburgh where it didn’t look like they’d ever score above 50 points again, Georgetown is 9-1 in their last ten games to move into a three-way tie atop the Big East. Their slow pace of play (293rd adjusted tempo according to Pomeroy) and stingy defense presents a real challenge for opponents. Similar to Georgetown, Oklahoma State got off to a slow start in the Big 12 losing three of their first five games, but have won six in a row to move into a three-way tie with Kansas and Kansas State. Do-it-all freshman Marcus Smart (15.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.5 APG, 2.9 SPG) is making a strong case for National Freshman of the Year. Despite having eight losses, Wisconsin is a team our pollsters believe in. They check in at #14 after dismantling Ohio State over the weekend. Bo Ryan has a system predicated on relentless defense, slow pace, and the three point shot, and his Badgers continue to execute it year to year—Bo Knows. Conversely, Ohio State has lost three straight and Pittsburgh fell to Marquette over the weekend as they both dropped seven spots in the RTC25. Both teams are virtual locks for the NCAA Tournament, but their performances down the stretch are the difference between a 3 or 4 seed, and a 6 and 7 seed.
- How to Rank Oregon? After losing three straight games to Stanford, California, and Colorado, Oregon is back in the RTC25, but it is not without some dispute amongst pollsters. The Ducks went ranked in four polls (as high as #19), but unranked in the other four. The Pac-12—like the Mountain West this season—is so unpredictable, and we have found pollsters struggling to come to terms with how to rank these teams.
- Defending Their Poll: Question posed to Andrew Murawa (AM): “Ever since VCU’s consecutive losses to Richmond and La Salle, the Rams have won five straight and appearing in more and more polls every week. You’ve had VCU ranked for a few weeks now, and have them checking in at #14 in this week’s RTC25. What are you seeing in Shaka Smart’s squad that you like so much?” AM: It’s not something you’re going to see in their resume – there aren’t loads of wins over top 25 teams – but more the eye test that draws me into VCU. Maybe I’m a sucker for style of play, because the Rams are certainly on the short list of teams I’d most want to watch play, but I see a defense that can cause significant problems for all but the most experienced of backcourts and, along the way, generate a boost for an already talented offense with scores of athletic and efficient scorers. I’m not for a minute suggesting that VCU has the 14th-best resume in the country, but I see them as the best Atlantic 10 team and a team with a chance to play through March and into April.
Game of the Week. #1 Indiana at #4 Michigan State. An obvious choice for the GOTW as Indiana travels to East Lansing. Both teams are tied atop the Big Ten standings at 11-2 and have two game leads over Michigan and Wisconsin. The Spartans are 11-1 in their last 12 games, and will look to avenge a close loss to Indiana earlier in the season. It’s worth noting that the Spartans haven’t lost at home since the final game of last year’s regular season against Ohio State.
Keep Tabs On. #4 Michigan State at #18 Ohio State, #5 Michigan vs. Illinois, #8 Syracuse vs. #11 Georgetown, #10 Kansas at #12 Oklahoma State, #16 Butler vs. #23 St. Louis, #19 Pittsburgh vs. #25 Notre Dame, #20 New Mexico at #21 Colorado State, #22 Virginia Commonwealth at #23 St. Louis
Two New Faces. St. Louis and Oregon both enter the RTC25. The Oregon has been here before, but St. Louis hasn’t been ranked all year. The Billikens began the season slow with a 3-3 record, and obviously had to cope with the loss of Rick Majerus midway through the year, but have bounced back nicely. They have two huge tests this week against Butler and Virginia Commonwealth.
Conference Call. Big East (6), Big Ten (5), Atlantic 10 (3), Big 12 (3), Mountain West (2), ACC (2), Pac-12 (2), SEC (1), West Coast (1).