With post season play right around the corner, it’s time to take a look at some teams who helped, as well as hurt their tournament chances last week. So without further ado…
Wichita State Shockers (22-4, 13-2 MVC) Current RPI# 17, Current SOS# 65
The Shockers continued their stellar league play on Saturday with an 89-68 victory over 15th ranked Creighton. The Shockers, who improved to 13-2 in MVC play, are winners of four straight conference games (14.5 average margin of victory). The Shockers 77.5 points per game, as well as their 36.5 rebounds per game, lead the MVC. The Shockers have shut down opposing offenses for much of league play. The Shockers have held 7 conference opponents to under 40.5% from the field. Their 39.8% field goal defense currently leads the MVC (38th nationally). Although they did finish 29-8 (14-4 in conference) last season, the Shockers would have to settle for an invitation to the NIT. However, the Shockers made the most of their post season appearance, ultimately winning the NIT championship. With 5 of its top 6 scorers back from last season, the Shockers appear poised to make some noise come March.
Highlights from the Shockers upset victory over 15th ranked Creighton
Temple Owls (19-5, 8-2 A-10) Current RPI# 18, Current SOS# 59
It’s business as usual for head coach Frank Dunphy and the Temple Owls this season. Following their 85-72 victory over Xavier on Saturday, the Owls have now reeled off 8 conference wins in a row. The Owls might be the hottest team in college basketball right now (and maybe the most dangerous come March). Consider this, during their current 8 game conference winning streak, the Owls are beating their opponents by an average of 14.2 points per game. During that same timeframe, the Owls are outshooting their opponents by nearly 10% from the floor (Temple-50.9% vs. Opponents-41.7%). With a nucleus of returning starters, including Ramone Moore, Kahlif Wyatt, and Juan Fernandez, the Owls will look to improve upon last season’s NCAA tournament success (second round overtime loss to San Diego State).
California Golden Bears (20-6, 10-3 Pac 12) Current RPI# 35, Current SOS# 93
It’s no secret that the level of competition has been down the last couple seasons in the Pac 12. However, Mike Montgomery and the Golden Bears aren’t going to feel sympathetic for the rest of the league. The Bears wrapped up a sweep of their southern California counterparts on Saturday with a 73-63 road victory versus UCLA (the Bears knocked off USC on Thursday). The Bears have one of the most productive starting units in the nation. Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, Harper Camp, and Jorge Gutierrez account for nearly 75% of the Bears scoring (72.8%) The Golden Bears currently rank in the Top 3 within the conference in points per game (72.4-2nd), FG% (49.7-1st), FGA% (41.9-2nd), and assists per game (16.9-1st).
Alabama Crimson Tide (16-8, 5-5 SEC) Current RPI# 32, Current SOS# 23)
The Tide’s 67-58 defeat at the hands of LSU on Saturday could be damaging for their goal of a post season berth in the NCAA tournament. Head coach Anthony Grant was forced to suspend his three top scorers (JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford, and Tony Mitchell) indefinitely for violating team rules. Grant should no doubt be praised for putting his foot down in this situation. Unfortunately for the Tide, without the services of Green, Releford, and Mitchell, the Tide have little chance to secure a berth in the upcoming tournament.
Illinois Fighting Illini (16-9, 5-7 Big 10) Current RPI# 39, Current SOS# 12)
The Fighting Illini’s post season aspirations appear to be fading fast. The Illini dropped two more conference games this week (Indiana & Michigan) to continue their downward spiral in conference play. The Illini have now lost 6 of their last 7 conference games. The Illini’s defense has been non-existent in their last 3 games. The Illini’s opponents (Northwestern, Indiana, and Michigan) have all shot over 50% from the floor against the Illini during that timeframe. If Bruce Weber and the Illini can’t finish conference play strong, I highly doubt they will hear their name called come selection Sunday (even with wins over Ohio State, Michigan State, and Gonzaga).
The Crazy (Performance of the Week)
Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos versus SMC & LMU
It was quite the week for the Zags freshman guard Kevin Pangos. On Thursday, Pangos scored 27 points (8-16 shooting) to help the Zags knock off the 16th ranked Saint Mary’s Gaels. On Saturday, Pangos would continue his offensive onslaught scoring 21 points versus Loyola Marymount. In total, Pangos would connect on an impressive 10-13 shots beyond the arc. Pagnos’ 44.6% three point shooting currently leads the West Coast Conference.
Pangos nails one of his 5 three point shots versus Saint Mary’s
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