Player of the Week

Taz Sherman, West Virginia

Sherman, already second in points per game in the conference, but on another dazzling display of offense against the Horned Frogs. His 25 points was the most points scored in a game this week and he got those buckets with solid efficiency. Even with most of the offensive weight resting on his shoulders, Sherman went 9-17 from the floor and 3-6 from behind the arc while dishing out four assists and grabbing three rebounds. The 6’4 guard had just three fewer points than the rest of the Mountaineers starting lineup combined and was responsible for three of the four West Virginia three-pointers. It certainly hasn’t been a memorable season in Morgantown, but Sherman has been a model of consistency amid the adversity. In a game matched up against the conference’s fifth leading scorer, Mike Miles, Sherman was clearly the best player on the floor. Miles had 17 points but was just 25% from three and coughed up four turnovers. It was an impressive game for the senior, who got the win and a great ending to a productive career for senior night.

Who’s Hot

Bubble Teams

TCU beat No. 6 Kansas 74-64 and beat No. 9 Texas Tech the game before. This is the first time in the Horned Frogs history that they have knocked off ranked opponents in consecutive games and did so against top ten foes. They were on the bubble before those upset victories, and now are projected to make it to the Big Dance. They did end the regular season on more of a sour note, dropping games to Kansas and West Virginia. However, that will only affect their seeding, while their huge wins early this week and last week have likely propelled them into the tournament. Oklahoma has a less convincing case for the bracket than TCU and will probably need a win or two to solidify their resume. After a 1-7 stretch a few games ago, it looked like the Sooners were going to be eliminated from participating in the NCAA tournament. That was before ripping off a three-game win streak that includes a quadrant 1 away win at Kansas State. Those wins give their season significantly more hope than just two weeks ago. It will be difficult to beat the No. 3 Baylor Bears, but a win could successfully punch their ticket.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys dominated Iowa State 53-36 before beating No. 12 Texas Tech 52-51. It was quite the week for Oklahoma State whose defense looks like one of the premier units in the country. They held the Cyclones, a tournament team, to just 28% shooting from the field and 11% behind the arc. They have long, switchable defenders and great rim protectors that help put what feels like a forcefield around the rim. Even without a marquee scorer, Oklahoma State is able to compete with great teams because of their tenacity and energy on defense. They limited the Red Raiders to 35% from the floor and allowed the three starting guards to combine for just 19 points. Bryce Thompson drilled a game-winning three, while a great defensive possession sealed the win.

Who’s Not

Kansas State

A consensus bubble team in mid-February, the Wildcats have fallen off of a cliff. They have lost five straight games, two at home against unranked opponents, and have completely erased any chance of an at-large bid to the tournament. The main reason why has been a deeply flawed defense. They lack a powerful rim protector to deter shots and lobs, and the players on the perimeter seem lost. They have either been over-helping and leaving shooters open, or not rotating over to help quickly enough. They allowed Kansas to score 104 points, and allowed Iowa State, who has struggled mightily on offense recently, to score 74. For a team that mid-way through the year beat ranked teams in back-to-back games, ending as the second worst team in the conference is severely underwhelming.

Top Five Most Likely Teams to Win The NCAA Tourney

In honor of the best month of the year here are my top five teams that are most likely to be cutting down the nets in a few weeks.

5. Iowa State

In all honesty, the Cyclones winning it all is pretty hard to imagine. Izaiah Brockington is a quality forward who can get to the rim and create his own looks, but nobody else on the squad really strikes fear into opposing defenses. Tyrese Hunter is a real contributor as a freshman but is the only other player averaging double figure points per game. They have some good outside shooters but lack a dominant big or even real rim protection. Iowa State is tied for 306th in points per game (67.3) and have a hard time maintaining consistency on offense. Their defense is sturdy and could power the cardinal and gold to some wins. Winning the chip would be startling.

4. Texas

It has been an interesting first season in Austin for new Head Coach Chris Beard. The reason they are ranked 21st is that they beat who they are supposed to. They have only lost to unranked teams this season, while seven of their other losses have been to teams inside the top 15. Avoiding losses to average teams is a great way to boost your resume, but beating elite teams is crucial during the tournament. The Longhorns have three double digits scorers and a rangy, versatile team that can attack the rim and pressure the opposing defense. They are well rounded and don’t have many holes other than the smaller stature of their frontcourt, but they haven’t proven much in the regular season that they can keep up with the premier teams in the sport.

3. Texas Tech

The Red Raiders have four players that are double digits scorers and a potential first round pick in Terrence Sharp Jr.. Forward Bryson Williams is one of my favorite players in the conference. He is leading his team in scoring by four points per game and his connecting on 57% of his field goals and a scorching 43% of his threes. The weakness of this team is that aside from Williams, there is no other player hitting more than 33% of their threes. With such limited spacing from their guards, it is easier to double and trap the starting forwards who generate a decent percentage of Texas Tech’s offense.

2. Baylor

This is where the true title contenders start. The reigning national champions have three guards averaging at least 13 points per game, with two of them canning more than 40% of their three-point attempts. Baylor knows better than anyone that having phenomenal guard play can lead you to a championship (I am looking at you Davion and Jared). They are one of the most well coached teams in the country and have some unique pieces like former five-star freshman Kendall Brown and Matthew Mayer. Brown is an athletic finisher hitting 60% of his looks while Mayer is a guard in a forward’s body. Mayer is the key, as he hasn’t lived up to the potential that was so evident last year. If he can step up and be an offensive force, watch out.

1. Kansas

Ochai Agbaji might be my favorite player in all of college basketball to watch. The conference’s leading scorer is averaging 19 points per game while shooting above 40% from three. He has taken a massive jump from last season and has a real chance to be the Wooden National Player of the Year. Alongside him is 6’6 Christian Braun who can shoot, rebound, defend the paint and flashes some passing chops. They have a physical interior presence in [David McCormack], a rangy driving threat Jalen Wilson and one of the game’s biggest question marks Remy Martin. The Jayhawks should be one of the favorites to win the whole thing, and if Martin can recapture some of his scoring touch from his time with the Sun Devils, Lawrence could be celebrating soon.

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