Time for our 10 college basketball weekly honors.
Team of the week
Xavier: The Musketeers have come storming back since getting blown out at Villanova. Xavier has won eight in a row and the two most impressive wins during that streak came this past week. Xavier beat Butler by five on the same court where Villanova lost and then squeezed out a final 0.3-second win at Creighton.
Xavier is now technically a half-game ahead of Villanova in the Big East at 11-2, while the Wildcats are 10-2. The Musketeers were anointed as a No. 1 seed in the South Bracket in the selection committee’s Top 16 unveiling Sunday. Xavier has eight wins in quadrant 1 and six in quadrant 2. The Musketeers have the second-ranked RPI This is the Musketeers’ best chance to get to a Final Four under Chris Mack.
Player of the week
Shamorie Ponds, 6-1, So., G, St. John’s: Ponds was sensational. He followed up his 33-point performance in the upset over Duke by scoring 26 in a stunning win at Villanova and then 44 in a home win over Marquette. Ponds has played 40 minutes in each of the last four games. In the past two games, Ponds got to the free-throw line and converted 16 of 18 free throws, added a combined nine boards, seven assists and three steals. He made 6 of 12 3s. He did have eight turnovers against Marquette but only two against Villanova. Ponds is single handedly turning St. John’s into a spoiler and, who knows, maybe a real threat to win the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden.
The backup five
Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Jr., F, Ohio State: Bates-Diop is making a strong case, not just for Big Ten player of the year, but also national player of the year. Bates-Diop had the game-winning put-back to knock off Purdue at a raucous Mackey Arena Wednesday night, and finished with 18 points and 11 boards in the thrilling win. He then dished out 14 and eight in a win over Iowa at home. He is a lock to deliver for the Buckeyes down the stretch.
Miles Bridges, 6-7, So., F, Michigan State: Bridges hit a game-winning 3-pointer to beat Purdue at home in the most important victory of the season for the Spartans. He finished with 20. Earlier in the week, he scored 25 in 32 minutes in a three-point win at Iowa. Bridges got to the line effectively against the Hawkeyes, making seven of nine. But his memory maker for this season came in that shot against the Boilermakers. Gamer.
Rui Hachimura, 6-8, So., F, Gonzaga: The Zags stunned Saint Mary’s in Moraga behind Hachimura’s 21. He was an efficient 10 of 14 from the field, three of three at the line. Hachimura is developing into a go-to scorer to compliment Johnathan Williams. He scored 10 in 18 minutes in the 10-point road win at Pacific earlier in the week. The Zags could be a tough out in March if Hachimura can deliver.
Jemerrio Jones, 6-5, Sr., F, New Mexico State: Jones is only 6-5 but he’s rebounding like he’s Karl Malone. He has three straight games of 20 rebounds for the Aggies. And in the last game, he also scored 27 in a win over Grand Canyon. Jones has been a key member of the Aggies surge to the top spot in the WAC and one of the reasons the Aggies could be a first-round winner in the NCAA tournament.
Lindell Wigginton, 6-2, Fr., G, Iowa State: Wigginton, not Trae Young, was the story of the Iowa State-Oklahoma game. Wigginton scored 26 points, made 3 3s, was 7 of 8 from the line, grabbed five boards and dished out five assists in the win. The Cyclones aren’t going to the NCAA tournament but they have had some impressive wins like knocking off Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas Tech at Hilton Coliseum.
Most important road winVirginia Tech 61, Virginia 60 (OT) in Charlottesville: The Hokies knocked off what is now being viewed as the No. 1 overall seed by the men’s basketball selection committee. That gave the Hokies their second road win in quadrant 1. The other was a five-point win over Notre Dame last month. The Hokies also have road wins over Boston College, Wake Forest and Ole Miss, all in quadrant 2. The Hokies are squarely on the bubble and the road win over Virginia could be the most significant of the season for them.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels beat Duke at home and then turned around and won at NC State. North Carolina’s Kenny Williams and Joel Berry II both said after the Duke game that this team can still make a deep run. They finally get how they need to defend to do so. The Tar Heels won’t be a favorite to get to a third-straight title game, but they finally have some momentum.
Most important homestand
Arizona State: The Sun Devils hadn’t won two games in a row since 2017. Well, since earlier in the season. The wins over USC and UCLA were a chance to get ASU back to the way they were playing in the non-conference when ASU was one of the hottest teams in the country. The Sun Devils host Arizona Thursday in what could be a huge boost for this team’s chances to get back into a higher seed.
Washington: The Huskies were flying high after a last-second shot to beat Arizona at home. But then they lost at both the Oregon schools on the road. The Huskies went from a team that could have challenged for the Pac-12 regular-season title to now in a five-way tie for second place.
Most impressive bounce-back win
Alabama 78, Tennessee 50: The Tide got clipped by four at Mississippi State and only scored 63 points. Four days later, they were all over the Vols and won by 28. Alabama remains one of the hardest teams to seed since they have had quality wins but then have flopped offensively at times. They don’t have any bad losses, but consistency is still an issue. They have the talent to go to the second weekend.
Best individual road performance under the radar
Mike Daum, South Dakota State: The lead Jackrabbit scored 27 points and grabbed 14 boards in a road win at Oral Roberts. The Jackrabbits (22-6 and 10-1) lead the Summit league in large part because of the 6-9 junior, who is averaging 23 and 10 this season.
The most perplexing result
DePaul 80, Providence 63: This was more surprising than Baylor beating Kansas at home, Oklahoma State’s win at West Virginia and even St. John’s winning at Villanova (the Red Storm had just beaten Duke). DePaul had won just two games in the Big East. The Blue Demons hadn’t shown that they could run away with a road win. And yet they dominated the Friars at the Dunk. This game a week after the Friars had won at Marquette and dropped Georgetown at home.