Marquette wasn’t supposed to win the Big East.
Tyler Kolek wasn’t projected to be a candidate for Big East player of the year.
But here we are and both are coming to fruition.
Kolek, our March Madness National Player of the Week, helped get the Golden Eagles at least a share of the Big East title with 22 points and 14 assists in the 90-84 win over DePaul. But Kolek’s 18 and six assists in a 73-71 win over Creighton in Omaha, capped off by his jump shot with 29 seconds, put the Golden Eagles in position to win the Big East.
The sophomore guard has had a sensational season, averaging 12.8 points and 7.8 assists a game. He has been an extension of Shaka Smart and been one of the best leaders in the country.
Marquette is safely in. Bradley is not. But the Braves won their 10th-straight game Sunday, a winner-take all game against Drake, to claim their first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title in 27 years. The win over Bradley earned the Braves our March Madness National Team of the Week. Bradley, 16-4 in the Valley, 23-8 overall, gets the top seed in Arch Madness in St. Louis, but will still have to win the tournament to earn an automatic bid.
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Bradley will crack our Power 36, but the rest of the rankings are going through another tweak after a number of competitive losses within major conferences.
Onto the rankings:
1. Houston (1): The Cougars keep winning and as a result are securing a potential No. 1 seed.
2. Kansas (2): The Big 12 is back to going through Lawrence.
3. Alabama (3): The Tide came back to beat South Carolina on the road and Arkansas at home to hold the top spot in the SEC.
4. UCLA (4): The Bruins escaped Colorado to get a sweep of the Mountain schools and claim the Pac-12 title.
5. Marquette (10): The Golden Eagles are Big East champs and are primed for a top four seed line in the NCAAs.
6. Indiana (15): The Hoosiers are playing the best basketball in the Big Ten at the right time after knocking off Purdue in West Lafayette and getting the season sweep.
7. Kansas State (11): The Wildcats have won three in a row, including beating Iowa State and Baylor.
8. Baylor (12): The Bears got a massive win over Texas to reset for the final week of the season.
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9. Texas (5): The Longhorns have won three of five, which is par for the course in the Big 12.
10. Purdue (6): The Boilermakers are down to 13-5 in the Big Ten after losing to Indiana at home.
11. Arizona (7): The Wildcats were stunned at home by a Desmond Cambridge Jr., buzzer beater and Arizona State.
12. Miami (9): The Hurricanes had a massive lead on Florida State, only to blow it and get beat on a buzzer-beater.
13. Maryland (20): The Terps throttled Northwestern in the second half and have won four of their last five.
14. Gonzaga (19): The Zags got revenge on Saint Mary’s and beat the Gaels to get a share of the WCC title.
15. Saint Mary’s (18): The Gaels, by virtue of the NET ranking, get the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
16. UConn (29): The Huskies are back. It took some time, but UConn has returned to its early-season play and maybe even better for the stretch run.
17. Kentucky (23): The Wildcats have won four in a row, including beating Tennessee, at Mississippi State and most recently Auburn and at Florida.
18. Duke (27): The Blue Devils have won four in a row and are getting healthy at the right time.
19. Providence (25): The Friars have won three of four, including beating Creighton.
20. San Diego State (22): The Aztecs are going to win the Mountain West and got the W they needed at the buzzer to beat New Mexico at the Pit.
21. Texas A&M (21): The Aggies got the W over Tennessee in a slug fest and then lost at Mississippi State. But the Aggies are still primed to finish second in the SEC.
22. Pitt (31): The Panthers are back atop the ACC.
23. Tennessee (14): The Vols blasted South Carolina in what should be a reset game for them going forward.
24. TCU (34): The Horned Frogs got the W at Texas Tech and are finally getting healthy.
25. Xavier (16): The Musketeers got a necessary W over Seton Hall on the road and seem to be ready to make a run in the Big East tournament.
26. USC (32): The Trojans got the necessary sweep over Colorado and Utah on the road to feel a bit more secure about a bid.
27. Missouri (NR): The Tigers are back in after beating Mississippi State.
28. Iowa (30): The Hawkeyes had an epic comeback and beat Michigan State in overtime. Their offense is unguardable at home.
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29. Creighton (17): The Bluejays lost to Villanova, but they still need to be taken seriously as a Big East tournament title contender.
30. Virginia (8): The Cavaliers have to drop after losing at BC and North Carolina. They need a reset before the ACC tournament.
31. Arizona State (NR): The Sun Devils are back in play for a bid after beating Arizona at the buzzer.
32. Northwestern (13): The Wildcats lost twice on the road, but there is no shame in that in the Big Ten.
33. VCU (33): The Rams continue to be the team to beat in the A-10.
34. Hofstra (36): The Pride won the CAA regular-season title and have won 11 in a row.
35. Toledo (35): The Rockets have won 13 in a row and hold a one-game lead in the MAC.
36. Bradley (NR): The Braves won the Missouri Valley regular-season title Sunday for the first time in 27 years after their 10th-straight win came against Drake.
Dropped out: Vanderbilt (24), NC State (26), Iowa State (28).