2018-19 RTC 16: Week Eleven

Posted by Walker Carey on February 4th, 2019

The calendar has turned to February and several conference races have
heated up, the most intriguing of which might be the Big Ten, where a pair of surprising weekend results have changed the league standings. The action began Friday evening at Iowa when #5 Michigan was unable to overcome early foul trouble to big men Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers en route to a 74-59 defeat. While the Wolverines are still in very good shape at 20-2 overall and 9-2 in conference play, it should be noted that they have shown some vulnerability on the road with two straight losses. #9 Michigan State appeared likely to grab sole possession of first place in the league with a home win over spiraling Indiana on Saturday night, but the Hoosiers rode a strong three-point shooting night to an overtime upset victory. The result is even more befuddling when you consider that Archie Miller’s team was without star senior forward Juwan Morgan for the entire second half after leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Losses are bound to happen in conference play, but you have to think Michigan State is shaking its head about its brutal 8-of-22 performance from the free throw line. Those two upsets set the stage for #15 Purdue to join the Wolverines and Spartans atop the league standings if they were able to notch a home victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. For a portion of the game, it appeared as if the Boilermakers were also going to fall victim to an upset. They trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half before putting together a 19-2 run to grab control to cruise to a 73-63 win and a share of the Big Ten lead. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Tennessee and Virginia are tied at #1. The Volunteers are back in the top spot in the RTC16, sharing that position with Virginia this week. With its 16th consecutive win on Saturday’s over Texas A&M, Tennessee set a school record for consecutive victories that moved the squad’s overall record to 20-1. Expect that record to move to 19 consecutive victories, as their next three games are all at home and they will be comfortably favored over Missouri, Florida and South Carolina. Should that come to fruition, a showdown in Lexington against #5 Kentucky on February 16 will be appointment television. Virginia also moved its record to 20-1 this past week with a hard-fought overtime victory at NC State on Tuesday and a 10-point win over Miami (FL) on Saturday. The Cavaliers’ only action this coming week is a rematch with #2 Duke – which handed Tony Bennett‘s squad its only defeat of the season back on January 19.

#7 North Carolina is on the rise. There were many questions about the Tar Heels after they were pasted at home by Louisville on January 12. Most of those questions revolved around the team’s inability to defend or rebound at a high level. Since that blowout loss, however, it seems as if North Carolina has made the necessary adjustments to answer some of those questions. The Tar Heels have won five straight games since that defeat and their most recent victory had them getting revenge on the very same Louisville team with a dominating defensive effort. North Carolina will have a chance to move its winning streak to seven this week with very winnable home games versus NC State on Tuesday and Miami (FL) on Saturday.

#4 Gonzaga and #8 Nevada continue to dominate their leagues. Gonzaga and Nevada do not draw the same number of national headlines that major conference teams do, but it is important to note that the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack continue to blow away their competition. Gonzaga is now 21-2 overall and 8-0 in WCC play, and the Bulldogs have yet to receive significant game pressure in any of their eight conference wins. An upset before the end of the regular season is always on the table, but it would be surprising to see Gonzaga enter the postseason without picking up another loss. Ever since Nevada dropped its second conference game at New Mexico, the Wolf Pack have run undeterred through its Mountain West schedule, picking up seven consecutive wins with a vast majority in dominant efforts. Eric Musselman‘s group still has five more road games before the end of the regular season, so another loss is a possibility — but much like Gonzaga, it would not be surprising if Nevada enters the postseason without suffering another defeat.

Game of the Week. #1 Virginia vs. #2 Duke. The first Virginia/Duke game this season definitely lived up to the hype with the Blue Devils defending their home court in a 72-70 victory. The stout Virginia defense had no answer for Duke freshmen R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, who combined to score 57 of the team’s 72 points. The key for Virginia in the rematch will be to neutralize their impact. Troubling for the Cavaliers, though, is that it is much easier said than done and it is currently unknown whether junior guard Ty Jerome will be back from his ailing back injury.

Keep Tabs On. #11 Virginia Tech vs. Louisville; #12 Marquette vs. St. John’s; #13 Kansas vs. Kansas State; #14 Houston vs. UCF; #6 Michigan vs. Wisconsin; #5 Kentucky vs. Mississippi State; #10 Villanova vs. #12 Marquette; #14 Houston vs. Cincinnati.

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

WCarey (299 Posts)

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