Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Big Ten Is Becoming Easier to Figure Out

The Big Ten found itself sorted out a bit more after Wednesday night's game as Michigan began flexing its muscles and Wisconsin worked on its Ohio State impression. That and more in Tuesday night's recap.

@Michigan 75, Iowa 67: I'm not surprised that Michigan won at all, considering this was a road game, but I am surprised that I'm now convinced that Michigan deserves a spot in the conversation as being the best Big Ten team, especially since that Charlotte loss continues to stand out like a sore thumb. Since giving away an upset of Arizona in mid-December, though, UM is undefeated, including wins at Wisconsin at at Minnesota (and at Nebraska, which was tough for Ohio State). This game doesn't say much about Iowa, as a road loss to a good team is always deemed acceptable. But Michigan is making its presence well known.

@Richmond 58, Massachusetts 55: This is another game where the result is not very surprising because it was a road game against a decent team. When you've won 16 of your first 17 games, you can drop your next one on the road if it is to a decent team that should finish above 0.500 in conference. But UMass is going to need to watch out for stacking its schedule with losses like this. After some close A-10 calls, I think UMass has been caught by Saint Louis, and VCU and GW is right on the Minutemen's heels.

@Minnesota 81, Wisconsin 68: The question was, "What's wrong with Ohio State?" Now it is, "What's wrong with Ohio State and Wisconsin?" The two early Big Ten powers are a combined 0-7 in the past two weeks, after starting a combined 31-0. These losses may just be a correction to starting off so unexpectedly hot. Or they may be a symptom of something more troubling. Whatever it is, these two teams will square off in Madison on February 1 in a matchup to see who can best right the ship.

There were a lot of other very interesting games on Wednesday night, as you'll see below. There seemed to be a shift of power in a number of low-major conferences. One of last night's preview games did not disappoint, as Tennessee won a close game at home against Arkansas, the result being the best chance for the SEC to get both teams in the tournament.

And I think this is a topic I will delve into a bit more on Friday, but Wichita State and San Diego State's runs got me thinking: if both teams win out, and there is an open #1 seed, which one of these teams deserve it? Wichita State's undefeated season would be extremely impressive, but SDSU's one loss would be to Arizona, and SDSU has a lot more good teams to run through to go undefeated in the Mountain West. This could be a real dilemma we'll have to deal with down the road.

Louisville 86, @South Florida 47
Saint Louis 76, @Duquesne 72
@UNC Asheville 81, Winthrop 66
VCU 80, @Dayton 66 - superb road win for VCU, UD falling further off bubble
@Toledo 77, Northern Illinois 68
Duke 67, @Miami (FL) 46 - note: on Jan. 22, Duke got its first road win
@American 86, Boston U 56 - American may now take over Patriot auto-bid
@NC Central 84, NC A&T 44 - NCC best MEAC team in over a decade
@Tennessee 81, Arkansas 74
@Green Bay 83, Oakland 69 - Green Bay should terrify any major team
Wichita State 70, @Illinois State 55
@Miss. Valley St. 72, Southern 64 - SU still best team in SWAC
@Oklahoma 77, TCU 69
San Diego State 75, @San Jose State 50
@USC 77, California 69 - bad loss for Cal, no one wants to be #2 in Pac-12

What may be the most interesting game on Thursday night is one of the final games out west when Stanford heads to UCLA. Stanford has played better as of late, while UCLA seems to be treading water. If UCLA has an off-night, Stanford could take advantage of

#3 Florida at Alabama
Illinois at #2 Ohio State
Sacred Heart at #16 Robert Morris
Florida Gulf Coast at #14 Mercer
Southern Miss at Old Dominion
#16 Elon at Chattanooga
Charlotte at #11 Louisiana Tech
Houston at #5 Memphis
Morehead State at #15 Belmont
#15 Georgia State at Louisiana Lafayette
#14 Stephen F. Austin at Oral Roberts
#11 Colorado at #1 Arizona
UCF at #5 Cincinnati
(FFO) Utah at (NFO) Arizona State
Northern Arizona at #16 Northern Colorado
#13 UC Santa Barbara at UC Riverside
(NFO) BYU at Portland
San Diego at #10 Gonzaga
(LFI) #12 Stanford at #8 UCLA
#10 Oregon at Washington

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