2018-19 RTC16: Week Ten

Posted by Walker Carey on January 28th, 2019

We have reached the point in the college basketball season where the legitimate Final Four contenders have started to separate from the pack. A team that somewhat unexpectedly fits that mold is #7 Kentucky. The Wildcats infamously started their season by getting blown out against Duke in the Champions Classic, but a December loss to an average Seton Hall team followed by an SEC-opening loss at Alabama was cause for concern. Luckily for Big Blue Nation, things have turned on a dime. Since that setback to the Crimson Tide, Kentucky has rifled off six straight victories — the most recent of which came in Saturday’s 71-63 comeback win over #11 Kansas. In the victory, Kentucky showcased the many elements that has led to its vast improvement. Senior forward Reid Travis and sophomore forward P.J. Washington took advantage of Kansas’ lack of interior size with a pair of double-doubles. Freshman guard Ashton Hagans continued his steady play on the offensive end too, contributing 12 points and eight assists while playing stifling defense. While it is certainly possible Kentucky could revert back to its inconsistent early season form, it has shown nothing during its current hot streak to suggest that will become a reality. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • Virginia is back at #1. The Cavaliers are back in the top spot in the RTC16 after a one-week hiatus. Virginia recovered from its loss at #2 Duke last Saturday with a dominant week where it beat Wake Forest by 23 points and Notre Dame by 27. While those two ACC clubs are not top competition, it was clear that the Cavaliers showed no lasting effects from their sole loss of the season. Looking ahead, Tony Bennett‘s group will need to be on top of its game Tuesday night when it travels to Raleigh to take on a capable NC State team. Should Virginia secure a win against the Wolfpack, it will likely be in the top spot again next week as the Cavaliers figure to be healthy home favorites against a reeling Miami (FL) team.
  • #13 Marquette continues to impress. Since getting blown out at St. John’s on New Year’s Day, the Golden Eagles have rattled off seven straight victories to put them right there with #9 Villanova in a two-team Big East race. Saturday’s win at Xavier showed that Marquette has many of the qualities that make up a very good team, as it rode star junior guard Markus Howard’s 31 points to a key road victory. If the Golden Eagles can win their next two games — at Butler on Wednesday, and home versus St. John’s on February 5 — the subsequent home showdown with Villanova will easily be the Big East’s biggest game of the season.
  • #14 Houston deserves more national attention. The Cougars became the first team in the country to win 20 games on Saturday with an easy road win at Tulsa. Kelvin Sampson‘s team is now 20-1 with its lone defeat coming in a four-point road setback against a capable Temple squad. Much like last season, Houston once again has established itself as one of the premier defensive teams in the country, ranking 12th overall in defensive efficiency. With an underwhelming schedule in and out of conference, it’s difficult to determine just how good the Cougars are, but it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge that they are winning nearly all the game put in front of them.

Game of the Week. #10 North Carolina vs. Louisville. The Cardinals have been one of the great stories of the season in Chris Mack‘s inaugural campaign, as Louisville is tied with Duke and Virginia at the top the ACC standings with a 6-1 mark. Included in those six victories is a dominant win at #10 North Carolina back on January 12 — the worst home loss the Tar Heels have suffered during the Roy Williams era. The Cardinals controlled the game so thoroughly by shooting over 50 percent from the field and putting four players into double figures. Saturday’s rematch at the Yum! Center represents an opportunity for the Cardinals to show that they have staying power, so you have to believe Mack will plan some interesting wrinkles to confuse North Carolina in round two. It’s unlikely that the Tar Heels will allow as many easy scoring opportunities as they did in Chapel Hill.

Keep Tabs On. #11 Kansas vs. Texas; #1 Virginia vs. NC State; #5 Michigan vs. Ohio State; #14 Houston vs. Temple; #5 Michigan vs. Iowa; #11 Kansas vs. Texas Tech; #2 Duke vs. St. John’s; #12 Virginia Tech vs. NC State.

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

WCarey (299 Posts)

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