We don’t have many rivalries in any sport these days with the kind of unfiltered hate that we saw on Saturday when Xavier beat Cincinnati. I’m not talking about from fan bases. Of course Duke fans hate North Carolina fans and vice versa. Same thing with Louisville/Kentucky and Purdue/Indiana.
However it was clear that the teams and coaches hate each other when Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin went after Xavier guard J.P. Macura in the post-game hand shake line.
The post-game press conferences were even better whe Cronin claimed that Macura told him to “F-off” three times and Xavier head coach Chris Mack claimed that former Bearcat Lance Stephenson called him the “N-word” three times, but he still shook his hand.
Nothing got too serious between the two teams and the altercation paled in comparison to the brawl from 2017. However, it was a not-so-friendly reminder that this type of game can exist in 2017.
National Player of the Week: Trae Young, Oklahoma. Oklahoma seems to get one of these guys every few years. Young isn’t long for college basketball, but he sure is making the most of it. He’s averaging 28.7 points and 8.7 assists per game and he may single-handedly earn the Sooners an NCAA tournament berth.
Stock Up: Arizona St. It appears that Bobby Hurley finally has it rolling in Tempe. The Sun Devils are currently undefeated and have already beaten San Diego St, Kansas St and Xavier this season. The lowest point total for the Sun Devils so far has been 75 as they’ve scored at least 90 in every other game. If they can get through their next three games against St. John’s, Kansas and Vanderbilt with at least a 2-1 record then they’ll be well on their way to an at-large berth.
Stock Down: Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech lost to Grambling. GRAMBLING. At home. This season has gotten off to a pretty crappy start for the Yellow Jackets. From having to suspend players for NCAA violations to this. There’s enough talent here to make the NCAA tournament once they get the full roster together, but Grambling.
Stock Up: Virginia. I don’t know how head coach Tony Bennett is doing it. The Cavaliers are undefeated again and look to be contenders in the ACC. They’re in the reload and not rebuild phase of the program and if Bennett starts landing recruits that may be a notch above what they’re getting now, watch out.
Stock Down: Oregon. The Ducks are not in the reload phase of their program it appears. Oregon lost its 46-game home winning streak when Boise St beat them with a halfcourt buzzer-beater. That lost in-and-of itself would be ok if it weren’t for Oregon looking subpar in the PK80. I thought this team was a bubble team before the season started now Oregon is running out of opportunities to store resume-building wins.
In the first time since both universities have been Division I participants, both North Dakota and North Dakota St have legitimate shots to go dancing.
At the publishing of this post, North Dakota is in first place by a half-game in the Big Sky while North Dakota St is tied for first in the Summit with South Dakota.
This would be quite the feat for the two universities and would give the state bragging rights over the Dakota to the South. Both schools will most likely be 15/16 seeds, but that doesn’t take away of how historic this will be for the state. Besides, the world needs to see North Dakota’s Quinton Hooker in the Big Dance.
Stock Up: Wichita St. As you will see below the Shockers are an No. 8 seed without an at-large resume. That’s because I believe what my eyes tell me when I watch them play. This is a tournament team. They are destroying the Missouri Valley. In 13 of their 15 conference wins, the margin has been double digits. In fact they beat Illinois St, the team they’re tied with for first place, by 41 points earlier this month. You don’t want to see this team in March.
Stock Down: Virginia. I’m starting to wonder if the rest of the ACC has figured Tony Bennett out. It happens from time-to-time, but the Cavaliers are currently on a four-game losing streak and haven’t looked good in the process. There is now a scenario where Virginia is playing in a 7/10 or 8/9 game in the Big Dance.
Stock Up: Bucknell. On Sunday, Bucknell traveled to Boston University to play a game for first place in the Patriot League. When the game was over; there was no doubt. Bucknell throttled Boston 86-66 to take a two-game lead and are now the odds-on favorite to win the automatic bid.
Stock Down: Mountain West. Last week we spoke about the downturn of Conference USA and this week it’s the Mountain West, which appears to be a one-bid league again. Long-term this appears to be more of a blip than a trend as it has major state universities. However, more is expected of this league.
Last Four In: TCU, Seton Hall, Syracuse, California
Last Four Out: Alabama, Marquette, Providence, Illinois St
Quick Note on two Teams: Tennessee wasn’t being considered as an at-large candidate up until the final week, but now you can’t ignore its wins. Virginia was seen as a lock, but now you can ignore its lack thereof.
Last Four In: Tennessee, Virginia Commonwealth, Northwestern, Colorado St
Last Four Out: South Florida, Arizona, Oregon, NC State