2018-19 RTC16: Week Twelve

Posted by Walker Carey on February 11th, 2019

Throughout a majority of the conference season, it has felt like #12 Marquette and #13 Villanova were the only two Big East teams with a legitimate shot at the regular season title. As the league race hits its home stretch, that feeling has borne itself out. Even though the Golden Eagles had been tripped up by St. John’s earlier last week — their second loss to Chris Mullin’s squad this season — Marquette rode a 38-point performance from star guard Markus Howard to a thrilling 66-65 victory to cut Villanova’s lead to just one game in the Big East standings. The Wildcats will have an opportunity to avenge the defeat when they welcome Marquette to Philadelphia for the rematch on February 27. Wide-open conference races are always enjoyable, but this season’s Big East race has shown two-team races can be just as fine. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • Duke is back at #1. The Blue Devils return to the top spot in the RTC16 after earning arguably the most impressive road win of the entire college basketball season. Duke went to #4 Virginia on Saturday and led throughout the game en route to an 81-71 victory, as freshmen phenoms R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson combined to score 44 points and grab 12 rebounds. The Blue Devils have now won seven straight contests since their surprise home defeat to Syracuse last month. Duke will be tested this week, however, as a road date at Louisville followed by a battle with NC State will not be a walk in the park. A perfect week would increase the Blue Devils’ winning streak to nine and show that they have definitely hit their stride — a very scary development for the rest of college basketball.
  • #9 Michigan State takes a step back. The Spartans’ loss of Joshua Langford to a season-ending injury was going to catch up to them at some point, and it appears that time has arrived. It is rare that a team can overcome the loss of a veteran play-maker for an entire season, and, as a result, Michigan State’s losing streak increased to three games last Tuesday with a shocking 79-74 turnover-plagued (24) loss at Illinois. Tom Izzo‘s squad righted the ship somewhat on Saturday with a resounding 79-55 home victory over Minnesota, but the Spartans’ newfound vulnerability remains something to track over the balance of the season.
  • #15 Kansas State is the surprise leader in the Big 12. The Wildcats were arguably the team of the week in college basketball. Their home triumph over intrastate rival Kansas followed by a seven-point victory at Baylor has put Kansas State atop the Big 12 standings by two full games in the loss column. The tide has turned impressively for Bruce Weber‘s team, as it began league play 0-2 and has now rifled off eight straight conference victories. The Wildcats will be tested this week with a trip to Texas on the docket Tuesday before returning home to battle Iowa State on Saturday. If Kansas State can win both of those games, it will be time to start talking about a regular season Big 12 title heading to Manhattan.

Game of the Week. #2 Tennessee vs. #5 Kentucky. The SEC’s game of the year will take place Saturday night in Lexington as Tennessee comes to town looking to definitively establish itself as the new top dog. It will not be easy for the Volunteers, though, as Kentucky has won nine straight games and is proving itself to be a legitimate Final Four contender. The match-up to watch in this game will be the battle of the frontcourts. Tennessee star forwards Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are among the most productive post players in the country and their athleticism makes them a nightmare to defend. Kentucky will counter in the post with senior Reid Travis, who will try to use his ruggedness to knock the Tennessee duo off their games, and sophomore P.J. Washington, who has been playing at an All-America level over the last month. Expect a close game at Rupp Arena — you should unquestionably carve out some time on Saturday night to watch what should be an epic battle.

Keep Tabs On. #4 Virginia vs. #7 North Carolina; #10 Purdue vs. Maryland; #5 Kentucky vs. #14 LSU; #9 Michigan State vs. Wisconsin; #1 Duke vs. Louisville; #6 Michigan vs. Maryland; #16 Texas Tech vs. Baylor; #15 Kansas State vs. Iowa State; #13 Villanova vs. St. John’s.

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

WCarey (304 Posts)

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