The top four teams in the nation lost last week elevating Duke to the No. 1 slot in what was a fantastic week of college basketball.
Maybe, the best week of the entire season.
In the process, it made things a little more jumbled for the NCAA selection committee with two weeks to go. A team like Alabama is making things interesting for themselves by winning eight of its last nine – covering the last seven in a row, but still on the outside looking in.
One of the most impressive resurgences on the year added another chapter over the week with St. John’s making the coaches poll at No. 25. The win over then No. 4 Pitt, a team that had won 14 of their last 15 in the tough Big East, sent a message to the basketball world that the Johnnies are indeed for real.
The Red Storm don’t have any quality road wins, but man, they can beat just about anyone at the Garden.
St. John’s is regarded as having the toughest schedule and has used those rough contests to take them to where they are now. The Red Storm are a team no one will want to face in the tournament. They have big conference wins against Georgetown, Notre Dame, Connecticut, West Virginia and Pitt and also are one of only two teams to have knocked off No. 1 ranked Duke.
From a betting stand point, the Red Storm have been hot as well. Since losing at UCLA three weeks ago, St. John’s has won and covered four straight games with three of those coming as underdogs and two of them on the road.
Leading the charge for Steve Lavin’s team has been senior guard Dwight Hardy who has come up big in each of their impressive wins. He leads the team with 17.2 point per game, up seven points from his junior season.
The kids have all bought into Lavin’s energetic coaching style and it’s all paying off. Look for St. John’s to keep the momentum going with a good showing in the Big East tournament, played in Madison Square Garden where they are 7-1 this year, as well as a run to the sweet 16 in the NCAA’s.
St. John’s will start its week off Wednesday at home against suddenly dangerous DePaul who ended a 12 game losing skid with a big road win at Providence. The Blue Demons followed that up with a 77-75 overtime home loss to Villanova making it five straight covers.
The team playing perhaps the best of the week was Purdue, who are rolling along just fine without star scorer Robbie Hummel. They Boilermakers beat two top-10 teams last week with home wins against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
E’Twaun Moore’s 38 points Sunday against the Buckeyes helped Purdue to their fourth straight cover while also coming with one game of Ohio State for the Big Ten regular season title. If they can win out for their remaining four games, they’ll have a No. 2 seed wrapped up.
Three of their games are on the road with a big one at Michigan State who is fighting for its life to avoid the NIT.
Wildcats are Back
Just when we had Kansas State as a bubble team last week after losing to Colorado, the Wildcats go off and beat No. 1 Kansas then make quick work of Oklahoma by 15.
After scoring only 12 points at Colorado, seven below his season average, Jacob Pullen poured in 38 in the upset over Kansas and then 27 against the Sooners. Pullen had vowed that he wouldn’t play in the NIT if that’s where they were headed, but now has finally done something about it on the court.
Kansas State can solidify its current status as a team making the Big Dance with a road win at Nebraska and a victory at home against Missouri this week. The following week they’ll play at Texas and a home game against Iowa State. Those are three pretty tough tasks and Pullen will have to create some more magic to take at least two of them.
Oklahoma State has been in a meltdown mode that has made some bettors happy by betting against the Cowboys, who have gone 3-8 in their last 11 games straight up, and 1-7 ATS in their last 8 including two straight weeks of not covering.
Texas Tech has gone 1-4 in its last 5, but has covered the spread in the last 4 with three of those games having lines of 13-points or higher. The Red Raiders play Colorado this Wednesday and then have a match with Oklahoma State on Saturday where they put their ATS streaks against each other.
No. 1 seed at stake
The game of the week will be Saturday when BYU plays at San Diego State where the Aztecs will try to avenge their 71-58 loss January 26 in Provo.
The Aztecs haven’t lost since that game and should they win, (and they will) it might wrap up a No. 1 seed for the NCAA’s despite not having the East Coast support on its side when it comes to voting.
That fact was no more evident than last week when two teams who lost remained higher ranked. San Diego State still has the RPI numbers in its favor. The Aztecs are currently No. 2 there, just below Kansas and above BYU.
I’ll take San Diego State to win by 8.