Gonzaga is still undefeated, Baylor is not and Michigan are now seeded number two
Selection Sunday is exactly two weeks away and the March madness is just around the corner.
In case you missed the flurry of matches on Saturday, here are some of the top titles summed up: No.1 Gonzaga is still undefeated in March, No.2 Baylor lost for the first time, and No.3 in the Michigan is now the screened. overall No. 2 in the NCAA tournament rankings, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
Duke and Indiana, the traditional blue bloods, live in the bubble, while Kentucky is expected to win the SEC tournament to do the Big Dance.
And Oklahoma state freshman Cade Cunningham solidified his record to be the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft with a phenomenal 40-point, 11-rebound outing against rival Oklahoma.
Here’s a quick look at some of the main scenarios:
NO. 1 GONZAGA IS ALWAYS INDEFECT, WHO WILL CONQUER THEM?
The top-ranked Bulldogs finished an unbeaten regular season with an 86-69 victory over Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
He’s saying here that there’s a solid chance – I’ll put it at 60 percent – that the Zags will go undefeated through March and April and win the program’s first NCAA Championship. After losing in the 2017 NCAA title game to North Carolina, the Zags are looking to become the first non-power-6 team to win the title since UNLV in 1990.
The Bulldogs (24-0, 15-0 WCC) won their 51st straight home game to set an academic record and finished the first perfect regular season in program history. Gonzaga has won 28 straight games since last season and is the first team to finish the regular season unbeaten since Kentucky in 2014-15. The Zags have 21 consecutive wins with more than 10 points.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find something that has never been done in this program. There is very little left, ”said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. “For this group to be able to score is amazing, and when you factor in that they didn’t have a kennel to count on for me at all, it’s just amazing.”
The Zags are the only team in the country with three players – Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme – named to the 2021 Naismith Trophy midseason squad. They have size, length, depth, great coaching and an expected NBA top pick in Suggs.
Maybe they will lose in March to one of the few other NCAA title contenders – Baylor, Michigan, Villanova, Iowa, Illinois
BAYLOR LOSES FOR THE FIRST TIME
Because they play in the Big 12 and not in the WCC, Baylor’s chances of remaining undefeated in the regular season were always going to be more difficult than Gonzaga’s in the WCC.
The Bears lost to Kansas, 71-58, on Saturday night but fell to 18-1, 11-1 Big 12, while Kansas improved to 18-8, 12-6. But keep in mind that Baylor recently came out of a three-week hiatus at Covid in which five games were postponed or canceled.
“We had three weeks where they got worse and they had three weeks where they got better,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team led Kansas wire by wire in a 77 victory. -69 last month in Waco, TX. “Even Superman has kryptonite and I guess the COVID protocols are ours.”
Kansas, meanwhile, improved to 17-5 against the Top 10 teams at Allen Fieldhouse under coach Bill Self.
No one really qualifies Kansas as a national championship contender, but the win over Baylor was only their last on a ranked team this season.
MICHIGAN IS NOW THE NO. 2 GENERAL SEEDS
Like Baylor, Michigan had a long Covid hiatus triggered by their sports department shutting down all sports for three weeks.
Yet despite 23 days between games, Juwan Howard’s side are now 18-1 overall, 13-1 in the Big Ten and 5-0 since being laid off on February 14. Wisconsin, Rutgers (who is set to make their first NCAA tournament since 1991), No.4 Ohio State, No.9 Iowa and Indiana. Their only loss this season was at 23rd Minnesota on Jan. 16.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi now has the Wolverines as the No. 2 seed overall.
Howard, the former ‘Fab Five’ member, is Michigan’s first coach to win 37 of his first 50 games and he has the Wolverines in position to be a No.1 seed for the first time in the season. 1992-93 when he played there.
Michigan has what it takes to win the title and is absolutely loaded.
Sophomore guard Franz Wagner is a long and nervous player who can score in different ways and is a planned NBA pick in the first round, while main forward Isaiah Livers is a second round player. Freshman big man Hunter Dickinson is the team’s top scorer and has defended Naismith Player of the Year favorite Luka Garza extremely well this week, while transfer Columbia graduate Mike Smith is second in the Big Ten for assists after spending last year as the nation’s sixth top scorer. with the Lions.
Michigan has another titanic game on Tuesday against No. 5 Illinois.
DUKE AND KENTUCKY COULD MISS THE TOURNAMENT
Duke hasn’t missed the NCAA tournament since 1995, when Bill Clinton was in his first term as president, and Kentucky has only missed the tournament twice since exiting NCAA penalties in the 1992 season, most recently in 2013.
After Duke’s 70-63 home loss to Louisville on Saturday, they fell to 11-9, 9-7 in the ACC and are part of Lunardi’s “First Four Outs”.
Louisville’s Carlik Jones resumed the game in overtime while Duke’s Matthew Hurt barely touched the ball late in the OT settlement while finishing with 37 points before committing a foul.
“[With] very good teams, you have to do more than put yourself in a position to win, ”said second-year forward Wendell Moore Jr.“ You have to be a win. ”
The Blue Devils have two more regular season games with Georgia Tech and North Carolina, then will likely have to compete in the ACC tournament in Greensboro, NC.
Kentucky lost at home to Florida, 71-67, to drop to 8-14, 7-8 in the SEC. John Calipari’s side will need to win the SEC tournament to not miss the dance for the first time in eight years.
Meanwhile, the NBA Draft stock of freshmen BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke, who ended the season with an injury, has plummeted. First-year forward Isaiah Jackson looks like the team’s top NBA prospect.
“Boston and Clarke had a fight outside the Top 20,” said a Western Conference leader. “Jackson seems like the best prospect of the 3 and if he could shoot he could be a Top 20 guy.”
PROJECT NO. 1 PICK CADE CUNNINGHAM DROPS 40
The Oklahoma State rookie had 40 points and 11 rebounds in the Cowboys’ 94-90 victory over rival Oklahoma in the first of two games for Bedlam.
Minnesota and Detroit have the two worst NBA records and are likely licking their lips at the prospect of landing the 6-7 point guard with the No.1 pick overall.
“Teams like Minny and Detroit shouldn’t win another game and put themselves in a strong position to be No.1,” Western Conference executive said says ZAGSBLOG.
The AP contributed to the report.