By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Sporterberg is back! Maybe this will be better than ever! College basketball is in full swing, and with Baylor ranked No. 1, it’s time to look where the other teams are across the nation.
The Big 12
What a week for the second best 10-team conference in the country! Baylor is ranked No. 1, Kansas is No. 3 and Kansas player Silvio De Sousa almost hit a Kansas State player over the head with a stool.
At the end of the game between the two bitter rivals in Lawrence, Kans., with five seconds left on the clock, a Wildcat stole the ball as the Jayhawks attempted to run out the clock at the end of a 20-point win. The Wildcat rushed down the court to attempt a layup, but De Sousa emphatically blocked the shot as it went up.
De Sousa then stood over the Kansas State player as the crowd roared, and the situation escalated quickly. A brawl ensued and concluded with a Kansas assistant ripping a sideline stool out of De Sousa’s hands before he could take a swing.
The Kansas player is now suspended indefinitely by the Jayhawks, pending suspensions handed down by the Big 12 and the NCAA. That punishment should be considered lenient compared with Seth Greenberg’s suggestion of criminal charges for De Sousa during the postgame show.
But other than that minor spat, the conference is doing incredibly well.
The Big 10
Another “what a conference” feeling with this one. Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State are a tire fire of unexpected outcomes.
Michigan State was the preseason No. 1. They lost on the first night, then went on a run, then lost to Virginia Tech and No. 8 Duke at home within four games, then won eight straight, then lost by 29 at Purdue. The Spartans have slipped to No. 7 in KenPom, but they still field one of the best offenses in the country and the preseason favorite for National Player of the Year, Cassius Winston.
The other two powerhouses have had opposite seasons from the Green and White. Ohio State debuted at No. 1 in the NCAA’s NET rankings in December, but have since slipped to No. 18 after starting conference play 2-5. The Buckeyes do have quality wins over No. 9 Villanova and No. 15 Kentucky, so that will continue to buoy them in the national discussion, but they will need to pick up the pace in a Big 10 that is generally considered “fine” this season.
Michigan has had a similar season to their interstate rivals. Big Blue started with seven straight wins, including a neutral-site victory over No. 2 Gonzaga, but have since lost seven of their last 11 games. Three of those losses did come to top-12 teams, yet two of the games on their current three-game losing streak have come to unranked squads. Same deal as Ohio State: if the Wolverines pick it up and beat the teams they should over the next two months, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be dancing.
What is going on with North Carolina? And Virginia? And Duke? The powerhouses of the Atlantic have fallen off a cliff this season, clearing the way for Florida State and Louisville to take hold of the once prestigious conference.
The Tarheels have fielded possibly the worst team in the past 30 years of the program, and without lottery-bound NBA prospect Cole Anthony to prop us the ailing supporting cast, UNC lost their unbeaten streak against Clemson, got routed by Pittsburgh and lost to Virginia Tech in double overtime in the past two weeks.
Virginia is a massively interesting case. According to KenPom, the Cavaliers rank second in defense, which is pretty on-brand for the ACC power. However, they rank 253rd in offensive efficiency, right behind Alcorn State. Virginia is also the slowest team in the country, averaging 1.8 fewer possessions than the next slowest team. They are also 12-6, falling rapidly behind the newcomers to the top of the conference.
At the top, Florida State, Louisville and Duke fight for the reigns and a possible No. 1 seed. Duke has some embarrassing losses, including at Clemson and at home to Stephen F. Austin, while the Seminoles and Cardinals have been rocketing up the standings throughout the season.