1. Does Georgia State have a chance to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament? A chance, yes. The Panthers should handle Hofstra, seeded 11th, in the opener on Friday. Then would come No. 3 George Mason, as coached by Paul Hewitt, on Saturday. Then, assuming the seeds hold, would come No. 2 VCU on Sunday, and VCU is based in Richmond, which is the site of the event. And then No. 1 seed Drexel could await in Monday’s title tilt. I’d say that potential 3-2-1 parlay is a bit much to ask. I’d say it’s more likely Georgia State will lose in the semifinals. But I’ve been known to be wrong.
2. Georgia beat Florida on Saturday. A major shock? Yes and no. Georgia hasn’t been very good this season, but Florida is good in the way — it doesn’t defend much — that leaves it vulnerable to such upsets. You’ll recall that Tennessee, which doesn’t do anything but defend, swept the Gators. And surely you noted that Billy Donovan ripped his team after it lost 76-62 in Athens on Saturday, telling reporters: “I am really concerned if we will ever play with passion again.” As for the Bulldogs: It was nice to see that they haven’t quit on their season. They’ll lose at Kentucky on Thursday, but they should beat South Carolina on Saturday to finish 5-11 in league play.
3. Is Ohio State an NCAA tournament sleeper, or has it already nodded off? The Buckeyes are among the nation’s five most talented teams — the others: Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and Kansas — and three weeks ago you could have made the case (indeed, I did) that this was as good a bet to win it all as anybody. But Ohio State has lost three of its past five, including home losses to Michigan State and Wisconsin, and Jared Sullinger has gone from being the preseason favorite for player of the year to seeming like just another guy. If this team figures it out, it could be dangerous. But it should have figured out something by now, don’t you think?
1. Kentucky: Only two SEC teams since 1956 have gone unbeaten in league play. Both times (1996, 2003) it was Kentucky. One of those teams won it all.
2. Syracuse: Only a date with Louisville remains on this leg of Jim Boeheim’s last laps around the Big East. Boeheim was coaching Syracuse before there was a Big East.
3. Kansas: Dilemma time for ol’ MB. In spite of my stated declaration never again to pick KU to reach the Final Four, these Jayhawks look Final Four-worthy.
4. Duke: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Duke will play North Carolina on Saturday, and the winner stands to be the ACC regular-season champion.
5. Michigan State: The Spartans’ surge has left them in place to lose to both Indiana and Ohio State this week and still finish in a tie for the Big Ten title.
6. North Carolina: The Tar Heels gutted out a low-scoring (54-51) victory at Virginia, which hasn’t often happened with this score-big-or-else team.
7. Wichita State: The closest of the Shockers’ past six victories has been 13 points. If you’re looking for absolute best mid-major, here you are.
8. Missouri: The Tigers lost as many games (two) last week as in the season’s first three-plus months. That’s called going the wrong way at the wrong time.
9. Marquette: Of the Golden Eagles’ 13 Big East victories, only one has come against a team ranked in the Top 25. Which can happen in a 16-team league.
10. Murray State: The Racers will probably make the NCAA field even if they don’t win the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. But that’s no given.
11. Baylor: The Bears stopped their slide — they’d lost three of four, albeit to three very good teams — by winning at Texas and then beating Oklahoma.
12. Georgetown: The Hoyas began a big week by trouncing Notre Dame on Monday night. Saturday will bring an even bigger test: Marquette in Milwaukee.
13. Ohio State: How much money did Jared Sullinger cost himself by staying in school? He had eight points and six rebounds in Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin.
14. UNLV: The Rebels are tied with New Mexico and San Diego State atop the Mountain West, but no final-week showdown looms. They all play other schools.
15. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels claimed their first outright West Coast Conference crown since 1989. Which means Gonzaga didn’t win for the first time in 11 years.
16. Indiana: The Hoosiers have steadied after a midseason dip and have a chance to consolidate gains against Michigan State on Tuesday in Bloomington.
Dropped out: New Mexico, Florida, Florida State, Louisville.
By Mark Bradley