Tuesday Top 25 Takeaways: SDSU struggling, Duke a pretender?

While college basketball usually has a lot of conference action on Wednesdays, Tuesday boasted a large slate of match-ups involving ranked teams, highlighted by a Top-25 showdown between #18 Iowa and #24 Michigan State, and Wake Forest’s shocking upset of #7 Duke. With that being said, each of our podcast personalities came up with a takeaway or two from Tuesday’s packed schedule.

Andrew Degeorge

  • Tom Izzo needs to calm down

An emotional coach on the sideline can generate a lot of opinions, but Tom Izzo’s frustration with the referees on Tuesday seemed more reflective of his frustration with the under-performing Spartans. Michigan State pulled out a win on Tuesday, but hovering at the edge of the Top 25 is pretty disappointing, and Izzo may be boiling over. Michigan State’s season isn’t dead yet though, so Izzo needs to calm down a little bit as the Spartans head for the postsesaon.

  • Xavier Tillman figures out how to slow down Luka Garza

Izzo called Tillman one of the best defenders in the country after this game, and the praise was justified. Playing a red-hot Luka Garza, Tillman matched up against the Iowa star and made him earn every point. After Garza dominated other Michigan State defenders in the first half for twelve points, Tillman took over in the second half. Although the Hawkeyes’ stud notched eight more points, he missed seven second half shots, shooting just 38% for the whole game. Tillman also notched a couple of huge blocks to help the Spartans grab a much-needed victory.

Nathaniel Lapoint’s Takeaway

  • Duke is really overrated

Duke had been looking really good, but then they lost by 22 points to NC State. However, the road loss to a desperate bubble team could be excused, and Duke looked to bounce back with a dominant victory over Virginia Tech. Then came last night. The Blue Devils were up nine with under 90 seconds remaining but allowed one of the worst teams in the ACC – Wake Forest – to come back, tie the game, and then win in double overtime. Duke gave up 113 points in the loss, an embarrassing total considering Wake Forest’s feeble performance this season. With two straight ugly losses to unranked teams, it may be time to start questioning how legitimate this Duke team is.

Cal Christoforo’s Takeaway

  • SDSU needs to wakeup

It’s really hard to finish a season undefeated. So while SDSU’s loss to UNLV was a tough blow to their hopes for a #1 seed, it’s at least understandable. Everyone has an off night. But then the Aztecs came out on Tuesday, presumably fired up to play after a loss, and laid a first-half egg. They trailed a mid-tier Colorado State team at halftime on their home court, and needed a comeback to secure a 6-point victory by the end. San Diego State seems to have gotten a little bit too comfortable, and they need to wake up. There will be better teams than UNLV and Colorado State in March.

Cal Christoforo’s Weekend Takeaways: A lot of overrated teams

1.Baylor isn’t ready for primetime 

With a non-traditional basketball power like Baylor at the top of the rankings, the question is always whether they can withstand the pressure of being one of the best teams in the country. For large portions of their game with Kansas, the Bears did seem overwhelmed by the moment, trailing by double digits on their home court. Although they came back late, Baylor did not seem to be playing like the #1 team in the country, and one has to wonder whether Baylor is ready for primetime. 

2. SDSU is not a one seed

Overreacting to San Diego State’s first loss of the year is easy to do, and while this takeaway isn’t saying that the Aztecs are complete frauds, I do think losing on their homecourt to an extremely mediocre UNLV team makes it evident that this squad is not and should not be a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Aztecs were still listed on the top line in Joe Lunardi’s bracketology in the latest projections, but that will hopefully change, because San Diego State is not one of the best four teams in the country. 

3. Penn State should never have been within the top 10

The recency bias on this ranking was horrific. Penn State had won eight straight games, several by single digits and several over some pretty bad Big 10 teams. At no point during the stretch did they play like a top-10 team, and they proved their ranking was unjustified with an extremely ugly week, losing at home to an unranked Illinois squad and dropping another contest at Indiana. It was a hideous week and proved that while Penn State is a tournament team, they should be nowhere near the top 10.

Andrew DeGeorge’s Weekend Takeaways

After a thrilling weekend of basketball that saw the #1, #2, and #4 teams in the AP Poll lose, and eleven ranked teams lose in total, each of us are discussing our takeaways from this weekend. Here are 3 of Andrew DeGeorge’s takes:

  1. Luka Garza is a top 3 player in the nation

Certainly, Garza has been extremely impressive all year. He was one of our earliest March Impact Player Profile features, and for good reason. Garza is a legitimate contender to become the National Player of the Year, and Iowa’s hopes for a deep tournament run this year. Technically, Iowa didn’t play this weekend, but they did take on a red-hot Ohio State team on Thursday, and Garza dropped 24 points, bringing his average to 23.7 points per game. It was his twelfth straight game of over 20 points, and he’s shot over 50% in six straight contests. He’s shooting 56% from the field and averaging almost 10 rebounds per game. He’s an unreal player who is turning the Big 10 on its head.

2. Jarron Cumberland is the best player in the American Conference

A senior guard for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Cumberland has been the focal point of the Cincinnati offense all year. The Bearcats are in a 3-way battle atop the American Conference, and Cumberland is stepping up late, including this past weekend, when the senior made a whopping 16 free throws as part of a 24-point outing to close out a huge win over Wichita State. The Bearcats have won eight of ten, and they’ll continue to look to their best player, and arguably the conference’s best player now that James Wiseman has left the picture, as they hope for a conference title and automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

  1. Payton Pritchard is the best point guard in the country

Back to the National Player of the Year conversation, another player who has simply played his way into candidacy is Payton Pritchard, Oregon’s senior guard. After leading the charge in the Ducks’ upset run to the Sweet 16 last year, Pritchard has returned with a vengeance this season. He has increased his output to 20.1 points per game, and he turned in his most impressive game of the season this past weekend. Coming off a tough loss to Arizona State and playing a huge road game against #24 Arizona, Pritchard never left the court, scoring 38 points on 44% shooting, turning the ball over just two times, as the fourteenth-ranked Ducks survived the Wildcats 73-72 as they jockey for the Pac-12 lead with three other teams.

Wait ‘Til Next Year: NCAA Basketball Bottom 10 Power Conference Teams

No conference wins are a guarantee in college basketball, but a few are pretty close. Recently, our podcast discussed the worst teams in the country, and this article puts a spin on that, ranking the worst 10 teams in Power-6 basketball. #1 is who we consider the worst team in these rankings. 

Dishonorable Mention:

  • Boston College 
  • St. Johns
  • Pittsburgh

#10 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons

  • The Demon Deacon are saved from the basement of the ACC by North Carolina, but this team is just 4-12 in conference play and 11-15 overall. They’ve been competitive in some games, but they’ve hit some bad lows recently, losing by 17 to a dismal Miami squad and at home to a really bad Georgia Tech team. 

#9 – DePaul Blue Demons 

  • In a competitive Big East, where seemingly every team has a chance in every game, the Blue Demons simply do not. They are a horrific 1-12 in conference games – somehow defeating a ranked Butler team once. After going 12-1 with a weak non-conference schedule, DePaul is now 13-13 and on an 8-game losing streak. 

#8 – Washington State Cougars

  • The Cougars do have a 5-9 conference record, but that’s not saying much in an exceptionally weak Pac-12. They just lost at home to Cal, one of the worst teams in the conference, which is their second loss to the Golden Bears. They’ve been blown out by USC, Stanford, and their lackluster offense leads them to some really ugly games. 

#7 – Kansas State Wildcats

  • The Wildcats bring up the rear of the Big 12, which is entirely mediocre outside of Kansas and Baylor. The biggest headlines K-State has made this year has been their postgame brawl with Kansas. They are just 2-11 in conference play and 9-17 overall, with just one decent win over West Virginia saving them from slipping lower on this list. 

#6 – Texas A&M Aggies

  • This might be a harsher ranking than the Aggies deserve, but they have been so horrifically uncompetitive in so many games that they just played themselves onto this list. They went just 6-6 in a pretty soft no-conference schedule, losing by 11 to Harvard, 23 to Temple, and losing to Fairfield. They hosted Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, currently 10-16 and in 9th in the Southland Conference, and they won by just three. This team is not good, and it’s embarrassing to the SEC that they’ve half a dozen conference games. 

#5 – Cal Golden Bears

  • That bad Cal team that beat Washington State twice? Yeah, they’re going to make this list too. In compiling just an 11-15 record, including 6-7 outside of the barely relevant Pac-12, Cal has been blown out by the likes of San Francisco, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s, Stanford, and USC, while also dropping home games to Boston College and Harvard. It’s not exactly a bevy of quadrant one losses, and they haven’t beaten any conference opponent that’s more than a half-game better than them in the standings. Tough look for the Golden Bears. 

#4 – Northwestern Wildcats

  • You may have thought the Northwestern athletic department hit their low point with a dismal football season, but they actually may be looking back fondly on their season on the gridiron, after seeing their product on the court. They’ve lost ten straight conference games and bring up the rear in the Big 10 with a 1-14 conference record. Their one win is at home versus Nebraska who – not to offer spoilers – will also appear on this list. Embarrassing results include losses to Hartford, Radford, and Merrimack. Wouldn’t surprise me if Northwestern’s ranked field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams start getting more attendance than their basketball team. 

#3 – Vanderbilt Commodores

  • This team may have been #1 on this list until they somehow manhandled LSU. But at 1-12 in SEC play, that remains their only conference win, as the Commodores sport a measly 9-17 record. They’ve lost to Tulsa and Richmond while also dropping six conference games by at least 15 points, including a 19-point decision to the aforementioned Aggies. At least it’s baseball season for Vandy. 

#2 – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

  • I’m avoiding recency bias with this ranking. Georgia Tech has been one of the worst teams all year in Power-6 basketball. Somehow, they’ve won three of four including a stunner of a Top-10 Louisville team. Between November 28 and their recent hot streak, a span of over two months, the Yellow Jackets scored more than 74 points just once in an ACC conference hardly known for its defensive prowess. They’ve lost to Ball State by 18 points at home, and by 34 at home to Syracuse. They hosted Bethune-Cookman and barely defeated them as well. If the Yellow Jackets can keep playing well, maybe they’ll work their way off this list, but their offense remains a gigantic eye-sore that fails to remedy their early season woes. 

#1 – Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • The only Big 10 team to fall victim to the atrocious Northwestern team, Nebraska’s equally dismal season has them topping off our list of the worst Power-6 teams. The Cornhuskers have also lost ten straight, and they’ve lost home games to North Dakota and George Mason this year, the latter coming by 19 points. They’ve been blown out by UC Riverside and lost to Southern Utah, teams so irrelevant in the national picture, you may not have even heard of them or known they played D1 basketball before this article. Nebraska has a dismal record of success in most of their major sports, and that certainly does not exclude their basketball team, which is an embarrassment to Power-6 basketball.