2019-20 RTC16: Week Eight

Posted by Walker Carey on January 6th, 2020

The beginning of conference play is always good for temporarily removing the shine from a team or two that had been a non-conference darling. This season that phenomenon applies to #11 Louisville and #13 Ohio State. Louisville started its season 9-0, but has since lost three of its last five games, with the most concerning coming Saturday in a 13-point home loss to #10 Florida State. Guard play continues to be a significant issue for the Cardinals, as Fresh Kimble, Darius Perry and Ryan McMahon combined for just 14 points on 6-of-27 shooting in the loss. Ohio State was another early season standout, as the Buckeyes stood at 11-1 on Christmas Day and looked to be the class of a strong Big Ten. They have since lost two straight, including a puzzling 61-57 home loss to Wisconsin last Friday. While sloppy play was a major reason for the defeat (Ohio State committed 14 turnovers to just eight assists), it must be noted that the Buckeyes are currently without junior starting forward Kyle Young, who had an appendectomy early last week and is game-to-game moving forward. It is certainly too early in league play to speculate whether Louisville and Ohio State will regain their early season form, but it would be wise for both teams to get back on track before their NCAA Tournament résumés begin to take significant hits. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • Gonzaga survived an unexpected test to remain at #1. The star-studded Bulldogs were not supposed to be pushed by a West Coast Conference foe other than BYU or Saint Mary’s this season, but that was the situation Mark Few‘s squad found itself in at home Saturday night when they needed a late second half surge to survive Pepperdine. Star forwards Filip Petrusev and Killian Tillie proved to be too much for the Waves, as their physical play down low on both ends of the court ultimately allowed Gonzaga to leave with a victory. The Bulldogs travel to San Diego and Loyola Marymount next, and while they figure to be comfortable favorites in both games, conference road games are always tricky so they have to be on their game to return home with a pair of wins.
  • #8 Michigan State has righted the ship. Few teams had a more disappointing non-conference season than the Spartans. The preseason #1 team suffered a loss to Kentucky at the Champions Classic, a stunning setback against Virginia Tech at the Maui Invitational, and a blowout home throttling at the hands of Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Since that embarrassing loss to the Blue Devils; however, the Spartans have run off seven straight wins. The most impressive of those victories came Sunday in East Lansing where they dominated intrastate rival Michigan en route to an 87-69 result. The biggest reason why Michigan State has been able to right the ship has been that star guard Cassius Winston and standout forward Xavier Tillman are once again playing like one of the country’s best guard/forward duos. The Big Ten is a gauntlet every year, but Tom Izzo‘s Spartans are definitely headed in the right direction as we get to the meat of league play.

Game of the Week. #3 Kansas vs. #4 Baylor. It is still very early in the conference season, but it does not seem to be hyperbolic at all to state that if Baylor is able to win at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, it will greatly improve its chances of winning the regular season Big 12 title. That will be a tall task, though, as Kansas is among the best teams in the country at defending its homecourt and Jayhawks big man Udoka Azubuike presents a match-up nightmare for the Bears. Baylor will have to get a big game from standout guard Jared Butler if the Bears want to head back to Waco with a statement win.

Keep Tabs On. #13 Ohio State vs. #14 Maryland; #4 Baylor vs. Texas Tech; #9 Oregon vs. Arizona; #14 Maryland vs. Iowa; #13 Ohio State vs. Indiana; #16 West Virginia vs. Texas Tech; #8 Michigan State vs. Purdue.

Conference Call.  Big 12 (3), Big Ten (3), ACC (3), SEC (2), Pac-12 (1), Atlantic 10 (1), Big East (1), Mountain West (1), WCC (1).

WCarey (318 Posts)

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