The 2017-18 RTC 16: Week Fifteen

Posted by Walker Carey on February 26th, 2018

Amid all the sordid details related to the ongoing FBI investigation that has cast an ugly cloud over the college basketball season, this weekend’s action on the hardwood still gave fans a reminder of why we remain enamored with this troubled sport. The most noteworthy result of the week came on Saturday when #6 Kansas locked up at least a share of its astounding 14th consecutive regular season Big 12 championship with a thrilling 74-72 road victory over #12 Texas Tech. The Jayhawks will have a chance to clinch the outright title this week, either beating Texas at home tonight or winning at Oklahoma State on Saturday. College basketball is a fickle beast and it is completely reasonable to assume even the most consistent national powers will experience a down year from time to time, but it must be noted how amazing the Kansas Big 12 title streak has been. Just pencil in Kansas as your Big 12 pick when making your preseason predictions from now until Bill Self retires. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty analysis is after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • Virginia remains #1. Virginia moved its overall record to 26-2 with easy victories over overmatched Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh squads last week. The win over the Panthers was particularly dominating, as the Cavaliers held them to an anemic seven first-half points and only 37 points for the entire game. Additionally, Saturday’s win also secured Virginia its third outright regular season ACC title in the last five years. The Cavaliers close out their regular season slate this week with a game at Louisville on Thursday before hosting Notre Dame on Saturday. Expect Tony Bennett‘s squad to be healthy favorites in both games.
  • #4 Duke continues to impress. Duke moved its winning streak to five games last week with commanding home wins over Louisville and Syracuse. What made each victory so impressive was how well the Blue Devils fared on the defensive end of the floor — the Cardinals were held to just 56 points and the Orange managed only 44. Duke also received a considerable boost on Saturday when freshman phenom Marvin Bagley III returned to action after missing four games due to a knee injury. He promptly contributed 19 points and seven rebounds.
  • Michigan enters the RTC16 at #14. Michigan has operated somewhat under the radar for most of the season, but it is definitely time to notice the Wolverines as the postseason nears. John Beilein‘s group moved its own winning streak to five games last week with solid road victories over Penn State and Maryland. While the win over the Nittany Lions was close throughout, the triumph over the Terrapins was not as Michigan held a 30-point halftime lead en route to a 24-point victory. The Wolverines are the #5 seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament in New York City, but they certainly could be considered one of the conference favorites due to its recent run of impressive results.

Poll Defenses.

  • “I cannot fault someone for dropping Villanova below Michigan State, but I still think the Wildcats’ overall body of work is superior — certainly their strength of schedule is. Villanova is 1-3 in road games versus teams certain to be in the NCAA field, including its win at Xavier. Michigan State has only played one such game — its blowout loss at Ohio State.” – pollster Brad Jenkins, acknowledging his logic for keeping Villanova at #2 despite its overtime loss at Creighton on Saturday afternoon.
  • “While Texas Tech’s overall body of work undeniably makes it a top 16 team in the country, I have a hard time defending them being that as currently constructed. After dropping three straight, and with its best player quite clearly less than 100 percent, the Red Raiders are scuffling, while teams like Michigan and Kentucky, who I have moved into the top 16, are both playing their best basketball of the season” – pollster Matt Auerbach, defending his decision to drop #12 Texas Tech completely out of his RTC16.

Game of the Week. #4 Duke vs. #7 North Carolina. This edition of college basketball’s greatest rivalry will take place Saturday night in Durham. The Blue Devils enter with revenge on their minds after blowing a four-point halftime lead in an 82-78 defeat at North Carolina earlier this month. The key for Duke in this game will be slowing down the North Carolina backcourt. Tar Heels guards Joel Berry II, Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams combined for 59 points in the previous match-up, and their perimeter shooting impacted Duke’s shaky defense throughout the night. While neither team has a chance at grabbing the ACC regular season title as a result of this contest, this game remains appointment viewing for all college basketball fans.

Keep Tabs On. #4 Duke vs. Virginia Tech; #6 Kansas vs. Texas; #12 Texas Tech vs. #16 West Virginia; #7 North Carolina vs. Miami (FL); #13 Auburn vs. Arkansas; #3 Villanova vs. Seton Hall; #1 Virginia vs. Louisville; The Big Ten Tournament.

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

WCarey (276 Posts)

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