2016-17 RTC Top 25: Week 13Posted by Walker Carey on February 13th, 2017
Another week of the college basketball season has come and gone, and with it a little more clarity has been revealed regarding the group of college basketball’s top teams. Duke and UCLA both showed on Thursday night that they must be included in the discussion. The Blue Devils, whose dramatically volatile season has been thoroughly documented, stayed on the winning course by earning an 86-78 victory over arch-rival North Carolina. The Bruins earned some revenge from an early Pac-12 loss to Oregon by riding its home crowd and a rejuvenated defensive effort to an impressive 82-79 comeback win. February is normally the month where elite teams begin to separate themselves from the pack, so it will be interesting to observe whether UCLA and Duke, along with a handful of others above them in the rankings, are ready to make a push. There are many opportunities for teams to earn impressive wins and bolster their NCAA Tournament résumés. It just comes down to which teams will actually take advantage of those opportunities. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.
Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.
- Gonzaga is now the unanimous #1. The nation’s only undefeated team is now also the unanimous #1 in the RTC25 following a week where its path to an undefeated regular season became likely. Gonzaga went to #22 Saint Mary’s on Saturday night (with ESPN Gameday in tow) and controlled the game throughout in an easier-than-expected 74-64 victory. The Bulldogs have just four games remaining and they will be heavy favorites in each (KenPom gives Gonzaga a 95.6 percent chance of finishing the regular season unbeaten). Its toughest remaining test will be a regular season finale against BYU, but Gonzaga easily dispatched the Cougars in Provo earlier this month. It looks like it is almost time to log the third undefeated regular season in the last four seasons (2014 – Wichita State; 2015 – Kentucky).
- Disagreement on #9 North Carolina and #12 West Virginia. While this week’s five pollsters were fairly lockstep regarding the RTC25, indecision regarding #9 North Carolina and #12 West Virginia certainly stands out. The Tar Heels, coming off a loss to arch-rival #13 Duke, were ranked as high as #7 and as low as #14 in this week’s poll. The Mountaineers, which were able to shake off last Saturday’s defeat with two wins since, were placed at #9 by one pollster and at #16 by another. There is no doubt that both teams are capable of making noteworthy postseason runs, but it is certainly interesting to see the disparity that exists when it comes to these two squads.
- #23 Notre Dame and #24 Wichita State re-enter the RTC25. The Fighting Irish are back in the mix after shaking off a four-game losing streak and earning home victories over Wake Forest and #16 Florida State. Mike Brey’s group returns to the road this week, but both contests are very winnable — at Boston College on Tuesday and at NC State on Saturday. Wichita State returns to the RTC25 after a pair of blowout victories over Missouri State and Loyola (IL). Expect the Shockers to remain steady in next week’s poll, as they will again be strong favorites this week in games against Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa.
Game of the Week. #3 Kansas vs. #5 Baylor. Saturday’s game in Waco will have major Big 12 title implications as the Bears will look to avenge a 73-68 loss in Allen Fieldhouse. A major reason why Kansas was able to earn that victory was because of a tenacious second half defensive effort that limited Baylor star forward Johnathan Motley to just two points in the last 20 minutes of action. It will be interesting to see if the Jayhawks can provide the same level of defensive pressure on the road this weekend.
Keep Tabs On. #3 Kansas vs. #12 West Virginia; #25 Maryland vs. Northwestern; #13 Duke vs. #14 Virginia; #10 Wisconsin vs. Michigan; #6 Oregon vs. Utah; #9 North Carolina vs. #14 Virginia; #11 Kentucky vs. Georgia; #7 UCLA vs. USC; #10 Wisconsin vs. #25 Maryland.
Conference Call: ACC (6), Big Ten (3), Big 12 (3), Pac-12 (3), SEC (3), Big East (2), WCC (2), AAC (2), Missouri Valley (1).