Another week has passed and the college basketball landscape has started to change in anticipation of the most important month of the season: February. Though the selection committee states otherwise, much of the determination of a team’s seeding and/or at-large chances depends on the final full month of the season.
There are teams like Middle Tennessee that challenged themselves in non-conference play. The only negative is the fact that those games were so long ago. The remembrance of wins over Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, UNC Wilmington and others are lost to a long and grueling conference schedule.
That being said, the month of February can be a godsend for teams like the previously mentioned Blue Raiders. They will be favored in every game left on their regular season schedule and can really impress the committee with a long winning streak. The same goes for programs like New Mexico State, Vermont, UNC Wilmington, Akron, Nevada, and Illinois State. All of those teams could head into the conference tournament with four or fewer losses. While some like New Mexico State and Vermont will likely still need to win their conference tournament to make the Big Dance, I would love to be in the room for a debate between a 19-12 Michigan State versus a 30-3 UNC Wilmington that was upset in the CAA title game.
Five games to pay attention this weekend:
- Rhode Island at Duquesne (NBCSN): The Rams are on the outside looking in and need to collect as many A-10 wins as possible heading into the tournament. Though that have likely lost and real shot at an at-large berth, a long winning streak to end the season could go a long way in determining Rhode Island’s postseason plans.
- Drexel at UNC Wilmington: The Seahawks recently dispatched of their only real conference threat in Charleston, but have to worry about a bit of a letdown after that win. They have to put together as many wins as possible to impress the selection committee. Drexel is not very good this season and should not pose a real threat, but eyes will be on UNCW as long as they continue to win.
- Samford at Chattanooga: The Mocs has responded nicely since losing early in conference play to UNC Greensboro. They will get another shot on Groundhogs Day, but there are three games before that rematch. First, they have to get by an up and down Samford team that has this game circled on the calendar.
- Fresno State at Nevada (CBSSN): The Wolfpack have one of the oddest resumes in the nation. They have big wins, but also have terrible losses that include a 77-76 loss to Fresno State. This is the rematch of that game, but also at a tough time with a trip to Boise State on Wednesday. A win here would negate some of the negativity from that early conference loss.
- Morgan State at Savannah State: First, let me say that the MEAC is BAD. Only one team in the conference has a winning record in North Carolina Central. They are not leading the conference due to Morgan State’s hot start to MEAC play. They came into conference play at 3-10 and have fought to a 7-10 record that includes a 4-0 start to MEAC play. Thought Savannah State is only 6-12 on the season, they are dangerous due to attempting and making more three-pointers per game than any team in the nation.
***As always, we do not count the AAC or WCC in our statistical calculations***
Points per game:
- Marcus Keene, CMU: 28.7 ppg.
- Alec Peters, Valparaiso: 23.9 ppg.
- Chris Clemons: 23.5 ppg.
- Randy Onwuasor, Southern Utah: 23.3 ppg.
- Tyler Hall, Montana State: 23.2 ppg.
Rebounds per game:
- Rokas Gustys, Hofstra: 12. 3 rpg.
- Bryce Washington, Louisiana: 12.2 rpg.
- Steve Taylor Jr., Toledo: 11.9 rpg.
- Aubrey Williams, Kennesaw State: 11.9 rpg.
- Alec Peters, Valparaiso: 10.9 rpg.
- Jimmy Hall, Kent State: 10.9 rpg.
Assists per game:
- Austin Luke, Belmont: 7.1 apg.
- Jaaron Simmons, Ohio: 7.1 apg.
- Erick Neal, UT Arlington: 6.8 apg.
- Christen Cunningham, Samford: 6.7 apg.
- Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha: 6.5 apg.
- Bryce Washington, Louisiana: 15
- Steve Taylor Jr., Toledo: 14
- Alec Peters, Valparaiso: 12
- Alize Johnson, Missouri State: 11
- Aubrey Williams, Kennesaw State: 11
- Wyatt Walker, Samford: 11
- Tim Kempton, Lehigh: 11
- Marquise Moore, George Mason: 11
Field Goal Percentage:
- Davontae Cacok, UNCW: 81.2%
- Aundre Jackson, Loyola Chicago: 70.8%
- John Konchar, Fort Wayne: 64.3%
- Jacob Wiley, Eastern Washington: 64.1%
- Isaiah Johnson, Akron: 63.8%
Three-point Field Goal Percentage:
- Joe Sherburne, UMBC: 53.4%
- Erik Durham, Jacksonville State: 52.9%
- Mo Evans, Fort Wayne: 51.7%
- Nick Masterson, Kennesaw State: 50.9%
- Braxton Huggins, New Mexico State: 48.7%