RTC Top 25: Week 17Posted by KDoyle on March 11th, 2013
Despite dropping a game for the second straight week — this time on Senior Night against Ohio State — Indiana maintained its spot atop the rankings. It was certainly easier to put the loss to Ohio State in the back of mind after Indiana stunned Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t so much the Hoosiers’ win that was so shocking, but the manner in which they did so, as they scored six points in the final minute to win 72-71 in a sweep of the regular season series from the Wolverines. Since the return of Ryan Kelly, Duke is looking stronger than ever after demolishing North Carolina over the weekend. The Blue Devils garnered two #1 votes with Louisville securing the final #1 ballot. As for Gonzaga, despite having 30 wins and not losing since that unbelievable game at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler, the top team in the AP/Coaches polls checks in here at #4.
More good stuff with the Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…
Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.
- Indiana Still #1. The Hoosiers’ dramatic win over Michigan was everything you would expect from a #1 team: leadership from their star player down the stretch (Cody Zeller), resiliency in a hostile environment, and exceptional coaching by Tom Crean — although it may be difficult for some to even think of Crean this morning given his questionable actions following the win. Whether Indiana is peaking now is a question for another time, but the fact that they’re the #1 team in the ultra-competitive Big Ten this season is reason enough for their top ranking.
- High Risers and Big Droppers. Ohio State had, without question, the most impressive week of any team and has risen to #8 in the RTC25 as a result. You already know about their convincing mid-week victory of Indiana, but the Buckeyes followed that up with a solid win over Illinois to close out the regular season. A Top 10 team in the preseason who many began to seriously question following a 74-55 drubbing at the hands of Illinois in their second Big Ten game, Ohio State is playing like the team we all expected: stingy defense, sound point guard play, and Deshaun Thomas being Deshaun Thomas. When he plays within himself, there aren’t many players out there who are better. St. Mary’s and Creighton are back in the RTC25 as they both check in at #22. The Gaels look to win the West Coast Conference Tournament tonight against Gonzaga— they’ve lost twice to the Zags already — but even with a third loss they should be a lock for an at-large bid. Creighton, meanwhile, beat Wichita State to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. There was an 11-game stretch where the Bluejays went just 5-6, but they look to be back on track now and peaking for March. Nobody will fear their defense, but Creighton will be a tough game for anyone given their highly efficient offense and, of course, Doug McDermott. Kansas appeared to have solved the issues that plagued them during their three-game losing streak in early February (Oklahoma State, TCU, and Oklahoma), but had a real clunker over the weekend in losing at Baylor, 81-58. The loss drops Kansas four spots from #5 to #9 in the RTC25.
- How to Rank UCLA? The Bruins won the Pac-12 regular season title, but are a borderline team in the RTC25. That speaks volumes to the parity — err, mediocrity — in the conference. Two pollsters don’t have UCLA ranked at all, while four others do; the Bruins check in as high as #17.
Game of the Week. How can we possible select a GOTW with Championship Week upon us? From here on out, there are only “Games of the Hour.” If you’re looking for a great one tonight, tune into Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s; this game never disappoints.
Three New Faces. St. Mary’s, Creighton, and UCLA. All three teams were ranked at one point or another this season, and they find themselves back in the RTC25 in Week 17. The next game for Creighton won’t be until March 21 or 22, while St. Mary’s does battle with Gonzaga this evening for the WCC Championship, and UCLA has the Pac-12 tournament later this week.
Conference Call. Big East (5), Big Ten (5), Big 12 (3), ACC (2), Atlantic 10 (2), Mountain West (2), Pac-12 (2), West Coast (2), SEC (1), Missouri Valley (1)