May 25, 2024

Monday Madness: 20 days until Selection Sunday

In this week’s Monday Madness, staff writer Dalton King highlights the winners and losers from the past week in college basketball and what it means for their season.

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March is a big month, especially in a year with a competitive election and an insane college basketball season. March has all the ingredients of being the craziest month of 2016.

There are seven days until Super Tuesday, when 12 states vote in the presidential primary. There are 20 days until Selection Sunday, when the committee for the NCAA Tournament will choose the 68 teams that make up the beloved NCAA Tournament. And before we even get to March, rappers J Cole and Kendrick Lamar are expected to drop a collab album.

It’s about to go down. But as the hype builds, let’s check out the winners and losers from this past week in college basketball and give a glimpse of the week to come:

Winners: 

Kansas – They were here in this same spot last week. Finding themselves in a fight for their 12th consecutive Big 12 regular season title, the Jayhawks have had two huge weeks.

Kansas has now won seven games in a row and are two games ahead in the race for the Big 12.

This week, the second-ranked Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Their last meeting with Oklahoma State resulted in an upset loss, but the Jayhawks responded emphatically last Tuesday night, dominating the Cowboys 94-67.

This dominant performance and another sound victory against Kansas State has launched the Jayhawks into the clear frontrunner position in the Big 12.

According to their twitter account, the Jayhawks are the “only team to maintain a top-7 ranking in both national polls” for each of the past 16 weeks.

It seems like destiny for the Jayhawks to win their 12th consecutive conference title.

Michigan State – Even though they only played one game this week, the Spartans are my other winners.

With a 69-57 win against Wisconsin this week and a 19-point win against Indiana two Sundays ago, all signs point to them being back on their game.

On Valentine’s Day against Indiana, college basketball’s Valentine gave us 30 points and 13 assists.

In the win against Wisconsin, senior stud Denzel Valentine continued his stellar play with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. Coach Tom Izzo’s only complaint? That Valentine didn’t get his third triple-double.

After this performance, Joe Lunardi chose the Spartans as one of his two-seeds in this week’s Bracketology. ESPN college basketball writer Myron Medcalf has the Spartans as the team from the Big Ten most likely to reach the Final Four.

While the Spartans aren’t back at the top spot that they held for four consecutive weeks earlier in the season, they seem to be in top shape entering the final stretch of the regular season.

Losers: 

Maryland – After being the No. 2 team in the country just two weeks ago, the Terrapins are now ranked 10th.

This week, Maryland lost to the 7-19 Minnesota Gophers and barely escaped with a win against Michigan to prevent a three-game losing skid.

An answer to Maryland’s recent struggles is the “ordinary” play of the Terps’ star point guard, Melo Trimble. Over the past three games, Trimble is a combined 7-of-35 from the field and has had 13 assists and 18 turnovers. These are not the numbers of a pre-season candidate for player of the year.

Over the next three games, Maryland will face No. 20 Purdue and No. 18 Indiana to close out the year.

If the Terrapins are going to make a run to the Final Four like many expected, Trimble MUST return back to his early season form when he was dropping 23 and 12 on North Carolina.

LSU – Now holding a 16-11 record with its most talent-filled roster EVER, the expected new and improved Louisiana State University is now looking a lot like Loser State University.

Despite having the newest 19-year-old basketball prodigy, Ben Simmons, the Tigers have underperformed in every way imagined.

LSU came into conference play with five losses already. Its 9-5 record in SEC play has been just as disappointing.

And to cap all the disappointment off, the Tigers lost 81-65 to the Tennessee Volunteers WITHOUT Kevin Punter.

After being on the tournament “bubble” all season, it may be about to pop.

It was announced today that senior guard Keith Hornsby may miss the remainder of the season.

The Tigers have an RPI of 81. As their athletic director pointed out,“There has never been a team picked in the tournament at-large with an RPI over 80. As of right now, I don’t think [the chances are] very good.”

LSU’s Athletic Director Joe Alleva is a member of the men’s basketball selection committee.

Winning this week’s games against Arkansas and Florida wouldn’t hand the Tigers a spot in the field, but losses would surely pit them in an even bigger hole.

Now is the time when we see what kind of college player Ben Simmons really is. Although many contribute their lack of success to the coaching of head coach Johnny Jones, it is time for Simmons to take over this team.

Will he will his team’s way to an NCAA Tournament appearance? Will he show everyone a different side of Ben Simmons? It is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.

No one wants to see Ben Simmons playing in the NIT in his final moments of his college career.

While this past week was huge for gaining momentum and improving resumés for the tournament, this week may be even bigger.

It’s do-or-die for teams on the bubble. The coveted one-seeds remain very much up for grabs. The field in general is more open than usual.

Here are some of the best games college basketball has to offer this week:

No. 7 Virginia at No. 11 Miami, 7 p.m., Tonight 

No. 13 Iowa State at No. 10 West Virginia, 9 p.m., Monday

No. 2 Kansas at No. 25 Baylor, 8 p.m., Tuesday

No. 1 Villanova at No. 8 Xavier, 7 p.m., Wednesday

The time is now for teams to make their name for March. That’s all for this week’s edition of Monday Madness.

Enjoy this week in college basketball!

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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