Men’s college basketball Power Rankings: Is UCLA the final 1-seed?

Is the debate about the #1 fourth seed and the fourth and fifth places in the strength ranking growing as we reach the finals two weeks before qualifying Sunday? Let’s take a look at the top three firsts: Alabama bounced back from a three-straight loss on the road to Tennessee, Houston hasn’t lost in over a month, and Kansas has a solid resume with Quadrant 1 victories and a strong schedule. .

After that, everything is on the line. Looking at last week’s power rating, lost #4, lost #5, lost #6, lost #7, lost #9 (twice) and lost #11. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed far-fetched that Purdue might lose control of the 1-seeded , even with a defeat or two. But Saturday night’s home loss to Indiana was the Boilermakers’ fourth in six games, which obviously left them vulnerable to falling a few positions.

Arizona’s loss to Arizona State was the fifth for a team ranked 50th or lower in the NET. The other top Big 12 teams continue to follow each other, with Kansas State beating Baylor, who turned around and beat Texas.

UCLA is the beneficiary of all this chaos. The Bruins don’t have the noteworthy wins that other top-seeded candidates have; their best victories came over Maryland and Kentucky back in December. But they’ve passed the proverbial eye test with their on-court performance, they’re running away with the Pac-12 title in the regular season – and the numbers love them. UCLA is ranked 2nd by KenPom, 4th by BPI, 4th by Sagarin, and 5th by Sportzshala.

If Mick Cronin’s team can take care of things at home against Arizona and Arizona State this week, they could enter the Pac-12 tournament in a very strong position and take last place.

About this week’s awards and rankings…

Team of the Week: Villanova Wildcats

It took three months longer than expected, but Villanova is getting back into shape ahead of the Big East tournament. The Wildcats sat 10-13 on Feb. 4 after a road loss at Creighton, but with Justin Moore in full health, a message was sent last week that Kyle Neptune’s team would be a strong opponent at Madison Square Garden next week. Nova opened with a 64-63 road win over Xavier on Tuesday, with Moore throwing one big shot after another, scoring 25 points to hold off the Musketeers. On Saturday, the Wildcats ran their case against the Bluejays from start to finish. In the second half, they led by 17 points to win 79–67. Moore had eight points and eight assists, but Saturday’s star was Eric Dixon with a career-high 31 points and six 3-pointers.

Is it too little, too late for this team? Despite winning five of six, the Wildcats are still only 15-14. Even if Moore missed 20 games and star rookie Cameron Whitmore missed seven, the overall profile isn’t good enough to draw attention to NCAA tournament play. But what if they win at Seton Hall and at home against UConn this week and do some damage in MSG? It’s not in the realm of the possible.

Player of the Week: Jalen Hood-Scifino, Indiana Hoosiers

Hood-Scifino’s game against Purdue on Saturday night was one of the best big game performances we’ve seen all season and more than enough to overcome the fact that Indiana lost earlier this week to Michigan State (Hood-Schifino) . scored 16 points). He was incredible against the Boilermakers, especially since it was a away game at Mackey Arena. The freshman guard finished with a career-high 35 points on 14-of-24 shooting, as well as seven rebounds and a couple of assists. He scored 23 at halftime and then hit the basket just in time in the second half as Indiana extended their lead or stopped Purdue’s momentum. According to Sportzshala Stats & Information, he became the first Indiana freshman to score multiple 30-point games since Eric Gordon in the 2007-08 season.

Trace Jackson-Davis has been Indiana’s guy all season, especially in Big Ten play, but when the big man fought Zach Edie, Hood-Schiffino showed he could carry Indiana if needed.

Wins of the Week: Arizona State Sun Devils 89, Arizona Wildcats 88

Not only did this game have the best ending any Playing last weekend, the rivalry win gave the Sun Devils, who entered the weekend in Joe Lunardi’s “Next Four Out”, their best win of the season. Winning over in-state rivalries took them 4-3 against opponents from Quadrant 1 and 9-8 against opponents from Quadrant 1+2. They still have games at UCLA and USC and are still these games are being watched from the sidelines, but Desmond Cambridge Jr.’s 50-foot throw at the buzzer keeps Bobby Hurley and Arizona State in the tournament conversation.

Trainer of the Week: Jay Ladner, Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Southern Miss did indeed lose Wednesday at Old Dominion, which would normally disqualify a coach from this award. But on Friday, the Golden Eagles bounced back, winning in Texas State to clinch the overall regular season Sun Belt title. Arguably the most surprising conference champion in the country this season, the Eagles finished 13th out of 14 teams in the Sun Belt preseason poll, just four points ahead of last-placed UL Monroe. The lack of expectations came as no surprise: last season in the US conference, the Eagles went 7-26 overall, winning just one league game. This season they have won more matches (25) and conferences (14) than in the previous three seasons combined (24 and 10). Ladner coached his teams to win at Vanderbilt and Liberty in November, setting the stage for one of the best regular seasons in program history.

Three teams with questions

Iowa cyclones: The Cyclones took 3rd place in the trial draw last weekend, but it’s hard to imagine that they’re getting close to that now. After losing 11 at home to Oklahoma on Saturday, they are now 4-9 in their last 13 games and have dropped to .500 in the Big 12 with 11 losses overall. In each of their last three games, they have scored less than 0.90 points for possession.

Oklahoma State Cowboys: OSU was one of the hottest teams in the country from mid-January to mid-February, winning seven out of eight. However, since last weekend, he’s been teetering on the NCAA Tournament line. The Cowboys have lost four games in a row, including Saturday’s home loss to Kansas State. Monday vs. Baylor looms big.

New Mexico Lobos: As the nation’s last undefeated team at the turn of the new year, New Mexico will likely need to win the Mountain West tournament to be named on Qualifier Sunday. The Lobos lost to San Diego State on Saturday night, their sixth loss in seven games, down to 7-9 in the league. They are just 5-9 since the season opener with 14 consecutive wins.

Strength Rating

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (25-4)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Auburn (Wednesday), at Texas A&M (Saturday)

It’s been an unconvincing week for the Crimson Tide, who needed overtime to win in South Carolina on Wednesday and then close 11 points behind to beat Arkansas on Saturday. There were several similarities between the two games in terms of where they struggled. On the offense, Alabama did not shoot from the perimeter; it was just 7 out of 27 out of 3 against the Gamecocks and 3 out of 22 against Arkansas. South Carolina and Arkansas, meanwhile, scored a combined 14 of 31 of 3 against the Tide, a sharp increase from the 24.6% they allowed in the SEC game. It was also the first time since December that they had allowed more than one point per possession in consecutive games.

2. Houston Cougars (27-2)
Previous rating:
This week: v. Wichita State (Thursday), in Memphis (Sunday)

Markus Sasser is really picking up the pace at the right time. He started the 2022-23 season with an All-American record in the preseason, and while he was one of the best two-way defensemen in the country, his scoring took a back seat to his 12 games before injury last season. This has changed in the last five games. In each of them, he scored at least 20 points, and he reached this threshold only five times in the first 24 games of the campaign. In those games, Sasser averaged 21.8 points and 3.2 assists while shooting 50% from the field, 47.4% from three and 87.1% from the free throw line. Assuming the ankle injury that sidelined him for minutes against East Carolina isn’t serious, he’s poised to be the Cougars’ favorite in March.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (24-5)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Texas Institute of Technology (Tuesday), in Texas (Saturday)

Jalen Wilson has gone through several transformations this season. For the most part, he had to carry the Jayhawks’ workload, which he was rarely asked to do during his first two seasons at Lawrence. Perhaps in late January and early February, he showed his best individual basketball. Dajuan Harris Jr. is starting to look like an elite-level two-way point guard again, and Grady Dick, Kevin McCallar Jr. and KJ Adams Jr. find consistency, with Wilson averaging just 12.2 points over his last six games. But Kansas may be in better shape right now, and Wilson seems happy with his role.

4. UCLA (XX)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Arizona State (Thursday), vs. Arizona State (Saturday)

UCLA captured the regular season Pac-12 title by beating Utah and Colorado in one of the toughest outings in the league. While Jaime Jacques Jr. and Tiger Campbell performed best in both games as expected, freshman Adem Bona also made his mark on the interior – and not just because he had one of the season’s best blocks to help out. consolidate success. defeat Buffalo. Bona has blocked multiple shots in four straight games and has also grabbed seven rebounds in each of his last two. He fouls too often, hitting 5.9 for 40 in a Pac-12 game, but his explosive power and ability to defend the rim…


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