May 19, 2024

Monday Madness: Rivalry Week

In this week’s Monday Madness, staff writer Dalton King recaps the past week in college basketball and previews the week to come. The college basketball season is heating up, big time.

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Week after week, the trend of madness in college basketball continues. This weekend included upsets and nail-biters, but no game was as exciting as this simple fact: as of yesterday, we are one month away from Selection Sunday.

But before we go ahead and shift our minds to the 2016 NCAA Tournament, let us take a look at this past week in college basketball and preview the week to come. The biggest moments in college basketball are upon us.

Winners of the Week:

Kansas – As usual, the sequel was (unfortunately) not as good as the original. Kansas vs. Oklahoma again came down to the wire this past Saturday, but in no way did it duplicate the intensity of their triple overtime matchup earlier this season. But honestly, how could it?

Taking advantage of early struggles from Oklahoma star Buddy Hield, the result remained the same with the Jayhawks once again coming out on top.

This week was huge for Kansas. After slipping out of the top 5 in last week’s poll, the Jayhawks returned with a huge statement, beating then-ranked No. 10 West Virginia and No. 3 Oklahoma in only a week’s time.

With these two wins, the Kansas Jayhawks are now the second-ranked team in the nation and sit at the top of the Big 12 conference in a stone-cold tie with West Virginia.

Are the Jayhawks now the team to beat in college basketball? Along with North Carolina and Oklahoma, Kansas features one of the most well-rounded teams in the nation.

With a month until the tournament, coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks are fighting for their  12th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

Duke – After falling out of the top 25 for the first time since 2007, Duke is now back in the AP Poll Top 25 at No. 20.

The Blue Devils had a huge week, knocking off No. 13 Louisville and No. 7 Virginia.

This performance was enough for college basketball’s top personality Dick Vitale’s team of the week honors.

It seems as if Duke is turning the corner, but if they are indeed turning the corner, they are turning only to find a giant powder blue brick wall in their way.

You know what that means. Friends, Romans, college basketball fans, it is time for the greatest rivalry in college basketball – Duke and North Carolina. (more to come)

What to Look for This Week: 

No. 20 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina, 9 P.M., Wednesday: 

It iss plain and simple the greatest rivalry in college basketball. No discussion.

You have the Iron Bowl in college football and you have the Tobacco Road rivalry in college basketball.

This installment of the rivalry should not lack in intensity, but the background is a little different than usual. Usually, Carolina and Duke are two of the country’s best teams in the nation when they meet up. But this season, Duke has not completely held up their end of the deal.

As we have addressed, the Blue Devils have struggled much of this season. But coming off big victories against Louisville and Virginia, the Blue Devils seem to be revitalized.

The only thing that stands in their way from a full-force recovery is a visit with the Tar Heels of Chapel Hill.

After starting this season as the No. 1 team, this year has been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Heels. Tough losses to Northern Iowa, Texas, Louisville and Notre Dame have prohibited UNC from re-taking the top rank since week two of the season.

But nonetheless, North Carolina has consistently been in the mix of the best teams in the country throughout this crazy season.

In my opinion, North Carolina remains the most talented team in the country.

The first matchup between Carolina and Duke will easily be one of the best games of the season due to the nature of the rivalry.

Freshman Brandon Ingram is coming off his fourth ACC Rookie of the Week and it is now safe to say he has blossomed into his potential as the second-ranked recruit in the class of 2015.

Many consider him to be a one-and-done college player and with his draft stock back on the rise, this will be his biggest stage yet in his short college career. But this game has even more personal implications for Ingram.

He is from Kinston, North Carolina, the home of former Tar Heels Jerry Stackhouse and Reggie Bullock. Many expected him to follow suit and head to Chapel Hill, but instead, Feb. 17 will be his first game in the Dean Smith Center.

Seeing the top recruit in Duke blue instead of Carolina blue will boil the blood of the Tar Heel faithful even more than usual.

Wednesday night is going to be fun. Be in front of a television by 9 P.M. to watch this go down. It is college basketball at its best.

No. 10 West Virginia at No. 24 Texas on Tuesday and vs. No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday: 

The West Virginia Mountaineers might be the only force that can prevent the Kansas Jayhawks from winning their 12th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

But before the Mountaineers go on with their fight for the Big 12, they must avenge two of their three conference losses.

The first opportunity comes against the Texas Longhorns on Tuesday.

In Shaka Smart’s first season in Austin, the Longhorns have an impressive 16-9 overall record and are sixth in the Big 12 conference. One of their signature victories came against West Virginia earlier in the year.

The Longhorns held then-ranked No. 6 West Virginia to a season-low 49 points on their way to a 56-49 upset win.

Smart and the Longhorns are not contenders for a feat as big as the conference champions, but they are playing to further improve an already impressive resumé for the NCAA tournament. Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology currently has them as a five-seed.

The Mountaineers’ opponent on Saturday is the 3rd-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

Coming into this week, the Sooners have lost two of their last three games. Can West Virginia capitalize on their recent struggles and make the race for the Big 12 even more of a two-team race? Will likely player of the year Buddy Hield get back in his groove?

After this week, the big picture of this hectic college basketball season will become a little bit more clear. It will be interesting to see who will emerge on top at the end of this big week.

That is all for this edition of Monday Madness. Enjoy this week in college basketball, it is gonna be a good one.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Shane Adams

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Dalton, a firm believer that sporting events are best spent on Twitter, is an Assistant Sports Editor for TNJN and a sophomore studying Journalism at the University of Tennessee. Two of his favorite pastimes include beating his roommates at 2k and remaining in awe of the amount of stories fellow editor David Bradford writes. Twitter: @dk_writes