2016-17 RTC Top 25: Week Nine

Posted by Walker Carey on January 16th, 2017

Another action-packed week of college basketball is in the books and with it came a change at the top of this week’s RTC25. Previously top-ranked Baylor relinquished its ranking after suffering its first setback of the season in a 89-68 blowout loss at #7 West Virginia. The Bears rebounded from that loss over the weekend with a solid 77-68 victory at Kansas State. That allowed #1 Villanova to regain the top spot after a week in which the Wildcats dominated #22 Xavier in a 25-point home victory and earned a 70-57 road victory against St. John’s. Jay Wright’s team has a couple of winnable home games this week as it hosts Seton Hall on Monday and Providence on Saturday, but you should know by now that it is not very wise in college basketball to view any conference game as a sure thing. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty Analysis of the RTC25 is after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • What is going on with #12 Duke? The Blue Devils fell six spots in this week’s RTC25 after dropping road games at #18 Florida State and #8 Louisville last week. While losing games to excellent teams in hostile environments is completely understandable, it might be time to start wondering if the Blue Devils can ever reach the expectations that were placed on the squad in the preseason. In just two short months, Duke has had to deal with several injuries to high-profile players, all the Grayson Allen drama and head coach Mike Krzyzewski taking a medical leave of absence. There is a lot going on for a group of college students to deal with, and you could make a reasonable argument that it is impacting how the Blue Devils are performing on the hardwood. Their defensive effort has been lacking for much of the season and, at times, it appears as if Duke’s offense has no cohesion. The middle of January is certainly too early to count the Blue Devils out of both the ACC and National Championship pictures, but if it does not change course soon, those hopes may slip away for good.
  • #5 Gonzaga is the last unbeaten. The Bulldogs moved their overall record to 17-0 last week with blowout victories over Loyola Marymount and #22 Saint Mary’s. Given Baylor’s loss earlier in the week to West Virginia, Mark Few’s squad is now the country’s lone unbeaten team. It is certainly fair to begin wondering if Gonzaga has the stamina and will power to finish the regular season undefeated. Looking at its schedule the rest of the way, the only game where Gonzaga will not be a heavy favorite when it walks on the court is when it visits #22 Saint Mary’s on February 11.
  • #17 Notre Dame leads the ACC. The Irish entered this season coming off of consecutive Elite Eight appearances but this was supposed to be the year where Mike Brey’s team took a step backward. That has not been the case thus far, as Notre Dame currently sits at 16-2 overall with a perfect 5-0 mark in ACC play. The Irish’s ACC record is even more impressive when you consider that three of the victories have come on the road in difficult places to earn wins. It might be early to consider Notre Dame among the favorites for the ACC crown, but the Irish have already shown that they can win games no matter where they are played. The week ahead appears daunting, however. They will be underdogs when they head to #18 Florida State on Wednesday and Syracuse on Saturday in a match-up that has given them plenty of fits throughout Brey’s tenure.

Game of the Week. #3 UCLA vs. #13 Arizona. Saturday’s game between UCLA and Arizona at Pauley Pavilion figures to be a great one, as two of the top teams in the Pac-12 will battle to keep pace with #11 Oregon at the top of the standings. UCLA has been impressive throughout the entire season, but Arizona has not lost since December 3 and continues to improve with a mostly new lineup. The individual match-up to watch in this game will be between freshmen T.J. Leaf and Lauri Markkanen. Both forwards are dynamic offensive players, so this contest could come down to which team gets more stops on the defensive end. The Pac-12 is at its best when both UCLA and Arizona are national contenders, so this should be appointment viewing for all college hoops fans.

Keep Tabs On. #10 Creighton vs. #22 Xavier; #2 Kansas vs. Iowa State; #21 Florida vs. #24 South Carolina; #17 Notre Dame vs. #18 Florida State; #13 Arizona vs. USC; #8 Louisville vs. #18 Florida State; #6 Kentucky vs. #24 South Carolina; #4 Baylor vs. TCU; #12 Duke vs. Miami (FL).

Conference Call: ACC (6), Big East (4), Big Ten (3), Pac-12 (3), Big 12 (3), SEC (3), WCC (2), AAC (1).

WCarey (279 Posts)

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