As J.J. Redick
endured a shocking shooting slump the last two weeks, it became clear that Duke
has been winning with mirrors for some time. Redick has had one of the best
individual seasons in recent memory, but the Blue Devils (27-3) have still had
a lot of close games: Six of their eight wins in February came by fewer than 10
points. And remember, the Blue Devils needed 41 points from Redick on Jan. 21
just to stay close to Georgetown before losing 87-84. Outside of senior center
Shelden Williams (above left, with Redick), none of the other Duke players has
emerged as a consistent scorer. Sophomore guard DeMarcus Nelson contributed 17
points in last Saturday's loss to North Carolina, but freshmen Greg Paulus and
Josh McRoberts and senior Sean Dockery scored a total of 18 points in last
week's losses to Florida State and Carolina. Redick's brilliance may have
impeded the progress of his supporting cast, which could end up costing Duke a
continue to wonder why teams in the Missouri Valley Conference have higher RPIs
than those in some of the power conferences should take a look at the
nonconference schedules of the MVC teams. According to CollegeRPI.com, the 10
schools in the Valley have an average nonconference strength-of-schedule
ranking of 133.9. Compare that to the averages of the Big 12 (146.4), Pac-10
(153.5) and ACC (172.8). Some of the bubble teams in the major conferences are
the worst offenders: California (No. 168 in nonconference SOS), Texas A&M
(252), Colorado (268) and Florida State (317). If the big boys are unhappy when
their leagues get fewer bids than the Valley on Selection Sunday, perhaps they
should think a little bigger when deciding on their early-season schedules.
1 UCLA could nab a
No. 2 seed. While Pittsburgh, Tennessee and West Virginia have stumbled down
the stretch, Jordan Farmar (left) and the Bruins (24-6) have won their last
four games to take the Pac-10 regular-season title outright and are a heavy
favorite to win the league tournament.
2 Gregg Marshall
deserves a big-time job. During Marshall's eight years as the coach at
Winthrop, the Eagles (23-7) have advanced to the NCAA tournament six times.
They will dance again this season, courtesy of last Saturday's 51-50 win over
Coastal Carolina in the Big South tournament final.
3 Michigan State
is running out of gas. Having lost forwards Matt Trannon (broken jaw) and
Marquise Gray (broken foot), the Spartans (20-10) must play their starters for
too many minutes. They played listless defense in last Saturday's 75-68 loss at
home to Illinois, allowing Dee Brown to score 16 second-half points.
For more Hoop
Thoughts from Seth Davis, go to SI.com/collegebasketball.