What We Learned This Week:
Notre Dame is done. Finished. Finito. They have lost seven games in a row and are currently sitting at 12-10 and 3-7 in the Big East.
Their RPI is atrocious (81). They are 2-9 against the RPI top 50, and their two wins are against Texas and Georgetown—both much less impressive now then they were two weeks ago.
Yes, I know their seven game losing streak has been against all RPI top 50 teams, but it isn't who they are playing that has me convinced.
It is how they are playing.
Cincinnati is not a good team offensively. They are ranked 91st in offensive efficiency by KenPom. They've only scored more than 71 points twice in Big East play, but one of those times was when they put up 93 on the Irish.
UCLA, on the other hand, is a good team. KenPom has them at sixth overall. I know the game was played out west, but in a must win situation against the Bruins on Sunday Notre Dame didn't to show up.
They got down big early in the game, Luke Harangody had five points and one board in 25 minutes, and eventually lost by 26.
Look at the rest of Notre Dame's schedule: they still have games against Louisville, Villanova, and at West Virginia, Providence, and UConn. And the Big East tournament.
Even in an absolute best case scenario, they are still much more than likely going to finish the season with at least 13 losses. And that's assuming that they somehow make a miraculous turn-around in the next three weeks.
Notre Dame does not have near a strong enough resume to get an at-large bid with 13 losses.
Who else is in trouble?:
- Davidson: The Wildcats are currently 20-4, 13-1 in the Southern Conference. While their RPI is 50, the loss to the College of Charleston is really going to hurt them. The win against West Virginia is really nice, but their next best victory is against...Charleston, who is sitting pretty at 123 in the RPI. If I'm Davidson, I want to make sure I win the Southern conference. That said, is the NCAA selection committee really going to send Steph Curry to the NIT?
- St. Mary's and Gonzaga: Both the 'Zags and the Gaels had demoralizing losses this weekend. Gonzaga lost by 18 at home to Memphis and St. Mary's by 18 to Santa Clara. Gonzaga should be ok, assuming they win the WCC regular season title. They have two wins over Tennessee and won the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. The Gaels, on the other hand, better hope Patty Mills comes back soon. They are 59 in the RPI right now and have lost three of four. Listening to Joe Lunardi last night, he was saying that in order for the Gaels to get a pass for the games played without Mills, they would need the Aussie to come back and play three or four games, proving that St. Mary's is a different team with him.
- Baylor: The Bears have lost five in a row and seven of their last 10. Their RPI has fallen all the way to 55. They are 3-6 in the Big XII, have Oklahoma on Wednesday and still go to Oklahoma State and Texas. If they finish 7-9 in the Big XII (which it looks exceedingly likely they will), the Bears are not going back to the NCAA's.
- Georgetown: The Hoyas lost for the second time in two weeks to Cincinnati on Saturday, dropping them to 13-9 and 4-7 in the Big East. The Hoyas are far from out of it, however, as they have great computer numbers (36 in the RPI, #1 SOS). Georgetown still has to play Louisville, Marquette, Villanova and Syracuse, which means that it is very likely the Hoyas end up below .500 in the league. They still can get in at 8-10 in the Big East (remember Arizona was in the same situation last year—tough schedule, 8-10 in teh best conference—and got a 10 seed). But if I'm a Hoyas fan, I would hope that JT3 and company can turn this thing around soon. 7-11 in the league may be too far too fall.
TEAMS OF THE WEEK:
Ohio State and Memphis
Ohio State went 2-0 this week, knocking off Purdue in OT and Minnesota. The Buckeyes have now won four straight in the Big Ten and look to be emerging from the mess that is the middle of the league (ninth place is two games behind second place).
The biggest reason for the Buckeyes resurgence is their biggest player. OSU has finally figured out how to use BJ Mullens. The big fella has scored in double figures in nine of the last ten games, averaging 12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 1.3 bpg during that span.
The Buckeyes perimeter quartet of Evan Turner, Jon Diebler, William Buford, and David Lighty (when he gets healthy) is as good as anyone, and with Mullens playing well, if Jeremie Simmons and PJ Hill can continue to provide solid minutes (meaning not turning the ball over, playing defense, and getting the scorers the ball where they can be effective) at the point, the Buckeyes have a shot to make some noise in the dance.
Before the Gonzaga game, I was talking to a co-worker about Memphis. He said "Memphis is my permanent dark horse," mainly because the Tigers are always in the mix at the end of the season.
I had kind of written them off at the start of the year after watching them struggle to score without a true point guard. But after seeing them dismantle Gonzaga on Saturday night, I realized how right he was.
This year's Memphis team might be Calipari's best coaching job. Why? Because this is a team that doesn't have a true point guard and doesn't have a true shooter, but looks to be headed for another top four seed in the dance.
While they are not the same team offensively as last year (how could they be losing Derrick Rose and CDR), they are just as good, if not better, defensively. They attack the glass on both ends. They have a ton of long, athletic guys that can guard a number of different positions.
Bottom line, this is an intimidating team to go up against. They don't need to be great offensively to win games. And by switching Tyreke Evans over to the point, Cal has turned these guys into a team that can score 65-70 points against good competition, which is more than enough for them to win.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Toney Douglas, Florida State
I touched on this a bit in the comments section of the BlogPoll post, but Florida State has put themselves into great position to not only make a run at the NCAA tournament, but to make a run at finishing amongst the top four in the ACC.
The play of Toney Douglas is a huge reason for that.
Douglas scored 21 in a win against Georgia Tech on Thursday, but followed that up with a much better performance on Saturday. With the Seminoles down 19 with 14 minutes left, Toney Douglas took over.
FSU finished the game on a 23-4 run over the final nine minutes, and Douglas had 12 of those 23 points. More important than that is what the win means for FSU's tournament hopes. The 'Noles still have a brutal schedule to play (@ Duke, @ Wake, @ BC, Va Tech twice, Miami, and Clemson again), and getting this win on the road against a top 10 team like Clemson goes a long way to establishing credibility with the selection committee.
MATCH-UPS OF THE WEEK: It is rivalry week on ESPN, so there are going to be a lot of great games on during the week.
2/9 - West Virginia @ Pitt: Won't be a lot of offense in this one—whoever wins the battle of the boards will win the game.
2/9 - Kansas @ Missouri: Both teams are relatively unproved in the Big XII.
2/10 - Marquette @ Villanova: Arguably the two best back courts in the Big East.
2/11 - Syracuse @ UConn: Without a healthy Onuaku, the 'Cuse has their work cut out for them on the inside.
2/11 - UNC @ Duke: Round 1.
2/11 - Xavier @ Dayton: The A-10's best both lost this weekend.
2/12 - UCLA @ Arizona State: Darren Collison and James Harden are two of the best at their positions.
2/13 - Villanova @ West Virginia: Two teams with the exact opposite mentalities.
2/14 - Florida State @ Wake Forest: Quiet Saturday as this is the only game between ranked teams. These also happen to be the two biggest teams in the country.