College Basketball: Zags Hold on, But Baylor Makes a Case for #1

According to Jeff Borzello at ESPN, Baylor should be the top-ranked team in the NCAA, and it’s hard to argue with him. As previously discussed, the knock against the 18-1 Gonzaga Bulldogs is that they play in the WCC, which is not a terribly strong conference. After two weeks of conference play, the ‘Zags have beaten four teams who are a combined 9 games under .500. The Baylor Bears, meanwhile, have beaten 11-4 Texas, 10-5 and then #22 ranked Texas Tech, and Kansas, which had been 12-2 and ranked #2 in the country. Baylor is now 5-0 against ranked teams, Gonzaga is 3-0. Baylor’s lone loss was by 3 against Washington, which has been in and out of the rankings all season; Gonzaga’s loss was by 18 to Michigan, who has crept up the rankings, but is hardly a powerhouse. Baylor has four more games remaining against ranked opponents, Gonzaga zero. The Bulldogs have a better shot at winning out the regular season, but it’s Baylor who will be battle-tested come March Madness.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up this week in college hoops.

Tuesday, January 14
#3 Duke Blue Devils (15-1) vs Clemson Tigers (8-7)
7pm ET on ESPN
The Blue Devils smoked Wake Forest 90-59 on Saturday, as sophomore guard Tre Jones scored a game-high 23 points to go along with 5 assists and 4 steals. Clemson became the latest team to victimize a weakened North Carolina squad, winning 79-76 in overtime Saturday. It was Clemson’s first win over UNC in 60 games. Clemson’s Aamir Simms had a huge day with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks.

#7 San Diego State Aztecs (17-0) Fresno State Bulldogs (5-11)
11pm ET on ESPN2
One of only two D1 teams without a loss, the Aztecs stayed unbeaten thanks to Saturday’s 83-65 win over Boise State, with KJ Feagin scoring a game-high 23 points. The Fresno State bench was little to no help last Tuesday, as they combined for 15 points on 5-of-24 shooting in the team’s 78-64 loss to New Mexico.

Wednesday, January 15
Virginia Cavaliers (11-4) vs #9 Florida State Seminoles (14-2)
7pm ET on ESPN2
The Cavs tumbled from #18 to unranked after Saturday’s 63-55 loss to Syracuse, a game in which they sank just 7-of-31 shots from 3-point land. The Seminoles notched their 7th straight win last Wednesday, beating Wake Forest 78-68, with Trent Forest going 14-10 with 4 steals.

#4 Auburn Tigers (15-0) vs Alabama Crimson Tide (8-7)
9pm ET on ESPN2
D1’s other undefeated team, Auburn made it 15 in a row with a 82-60 win over Georgia. Anfernee McLemore and Allen Flanigan came off the bench to combine for 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting, along with 12 rebounds in 20 minutes each. ‘Bama fell 76-67 to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, thanks largely to their inability to make a 3, as the team went just 4-of-21 from beyond the arc.

Thursday, January 16
Cincinnati Bearcats (10-6) vs #22 Memphis Tigers (13-3)
7pm ET on ESPN
Tre Scott had himself some kinda Saturday night, with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals to lead the Bearcats to a 68-54 win over Central Florida. After finding themselves in a 14-point hole on Sunday, the Tigers fought their way back for a 68-64 win over South Florida, thanks largely to Precious Achiuwa’s 22-11 line with 5 blocks.

Santa Clara Broncos (15-3) vs #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (18-1)
11pm ET on ESPN2
Down 7 with 3:30 to play, Josip Vrankic of the Broncos tallied the final points and rebound of a 22-11 effort by grabbing his own miss and following it up with a bucket to give his team a 67-66 win over Saint Mary’s on Saturday. The Zags rolled over Loyola Marymount on Saturday night for an 87-62 win, with Drew Timme coming off the bench to contribute 10 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists in 20 minutes.

Friday, January 17
Wisconsin Badgers (10-6) vs #15 Michigan State Spartans (13-4)
7pm ET on FS1
Junior Micah Potter came off the pine Saturday to deliver 24 points and 13 rebounds — both career highs — in the Badgers’ 58-49 win over Penn State. In a loss that dropped them 7 spots in the rankings, the Spartans had a rough go of it against Purdue on Sunday, scoring their fewest points in nearly 8 years as they made 2-of-16 from beyond the arc, went to the charity stripe just 6 times, and had 18 turnovers to just 7 assists.

#19 Michigan Wolverines (11-5) vs Iowa Hawkeyes (11-5)
9pm ET on FS1
Zavier Simpson’s 19-6-9 line on Sunday wasn’t nearly enough to propel the Wolverines to victory, as Minnesota outscored them 75-67. The Hawkeyes delivered a big upset over Maryland on Friday, as Luka Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, chipped in with 21-13, and Joe Wieskamp went 26-11 in his team’s decisive 67-49 win.

Saturday, January 18
#12 West Virginia Mountaineers (13-2) vs Kansas State Cougars (7-8)
2pm ET on ESPNU
The West Virginia bench did all the heavy lifting on Saturday, scoring 41 points on 12-of-26 shooting, in the team’s 66-54 win over Texas Tech. West Virginia’s Miles McBride led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. With a 14-5 line on Saturday, Cartier Diarra was the only Cougar to score in double digits, as K-State fell 64-50 to Texas. They’ve now lost 3 in a row and 5-of-6 overall.

#11 Louisville Cardinals (13-3) vs #3 Duke Blue Devils (15-1)
6pm ET on ESPN
Louisville very nearly blew a 16-point lead on Saturday, but held on for a 67-64 win over Notre Dame, with Jordan Nwora scoring a game-high 20 points. Duke is outscoring opponents by 22.8 ppg during their current 9-game winning streak. This could be the game of the week.

Sunday, January 19
Boston College Eagles (9-7) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-7)
6pm ET on ACCN
The Eagles made just 3-of-18 3-pointers and had more turnovers than assists in Saturday’s 71-52 loss to Georgia Tech. Olivier Sarr had 13 points and 9 rebounds in Wake’s 90-59 drubbing at the hands of Duke on Saturday.

Cal Bears (8-8) vs UCLA Bruins (8-8)
8pm ET on ESPNU
The Bears’ Matt Bradley played 42-of-45 minutes and scored 17 points with 5 rebounds in his team’s 61-58 overtime win over Washington. The Bruins lost for the fifth time in six games on Saturday, getting bested by their crosstown rivals USC, despite 16 points and 10 rebounds from junior guard Chris Smith.

Stats through Monday, courtesy SRCBB