Nate Wolters took just 15 shots and scored 30 points to just miss a road upset of a great defensive team in Alabama. He took just 15 shots to score 28 points in a road upset of ranked New Mexico (pictured). Last night he made it eight straight wins with the most impressive performance of any player in the country this year – 28 shots and 53 points – the night after Jake Odum outscored All-American Doug McDermitt 22-8.
The two unknown superstars try to run South Dakota State and Indiana State through the “Middle 20″ and into the tournament. In college football, a No. 1 team losing is huge news that resets who will play for the national title. However, in basketball the focus is all on the following “Middle 20,” the 20 teams fighting for the last 10 invitations to the NCAA tournament. These are the teams we believe deserve to be in the “Middle 20,” not the teams we predict would actually be picked.
|Team||Rnk||Best Player’s www.valueaddbasketball.com rank||Notes on the last 10 deserving of a March Madness bid|
|Notre Dame||1||#26 Jack Cooley (6’9″)||While ranked, Irish have looked very shaky during 4-4 run, and could easily have been 1-7 with 3 narrow wins and getting blown out by 16 twice.|
|St. Mary’s||2||#50 Matthew Dellavedova (6’4″)||Very impressive win at Santa Clara tonight moves them up even further, solidly in tournament even if they lose home game to Zags next Thursday.|
|Brigham Young||3||#169 Brandon Davies (6’9″)||Loss at San Diego today 74-68 ended 3-game win streak, but still in.|
|St. Louis||4||#245 Dwayne Evans (6’5″)||Stayed on roll with destruction of Fordham on road. Should be solidly in.|
|Oregon||5||#79 Arsalan Kazemi (6’7″)||Home losses are killers, and getting defeated by Colorado is making Oregon’s bid possibility shaky despite their #19 ranking.|
|Baylor||6||#25 Pierre Jackson (5’10”)||67-69 loss at Oklahoma State won’t hurt them, but was a huge chance to solidify bid.|
|Illinois||7||#147 Brandon Paul (6’4″)||Beating No. 1 Indiana tonight pops Illinois into the tournament as of now.|
|La Salle||8||#69 Ramon Galloway (6’3″)||Winners of 5 of 7 including Richmond, Dayton, Butler and at VCU make them deserving.|
|Indiana St.||9||#21 Jake Odum (6’4″)||Won three out of last four including HUGE resume builders in 76-57 over top 25 Creighton and 68-55 ROAD win over Top 50 Wichita State. Fastest team moving up and can sneak into tournament. Outscored McDermitt 22-8 in upset, and top player at getting to the line.|
|UCLA||10||#76 Jordan Adams (6’5″)||Last second shot to preserve home win over Washington could have kept UCLA from being OUT as of today, but we assume the top freshman class will continue to shoot up and be a tourney threat.|
|Team||Rnk||Best Player’s www.valueaddbasketball.com rank||Notes on the 10 that do not quite deserve an invite|
|Temple||11||#167 Khalif Wyatt (6’4″)||Home loss to Charlotte would have been killer, but Khalif Wyatt’s free throws for 1-point win at end gives them shot to make it.|
|Stanford||12||#164 Dwight Powell (6’10”)||Loss at Arizona 66-73 yesterday expected, but still outside looking in.|
|South Dakota St.||13||#12 Nate Wolters (6’4″)||It took Jack Taylor 108 shots to score his 138 points for Grinnell earlier this year, and it took Nate Wolters only 28 shots to score 53 points in a huge 80-74 win today to give South Dakota State it’s 8th straight win.|
|Boise St.||14||#85 Derrick Marks (6’3″)||Yesterday’s one-point loss at San Diego State was a missed chance to shoot up and intot he tournament.|
|Alabama||15||#32 Trevor Releford (6’0″)||Even on road, 37 points and a loss against a last place rival Auburn really has Alabama looking like a non-tournament team again.|
|Maryland||16||#259 Alex Len (7’1″)||Even though Virginia Tech is struggling, getting the road win there is a much needed boost for Maryland to get in the discussion.|
|Charlotte||17||#255 Pierria Henry (6’4″)||Just missed big opportunity yesterday with 88-89 loss at Temple.|
|Massachusetts||18||#199 Chaz Williams (5’9″)||Destruction of lowly Rhode Island at home does little to get Massachusetts into tourney.|
|New Mexico St.||19||#112 Daniel Mullings (6’2″)||Dodge a bullet by surviving 76-74 at home against Idaho, but still shaky.|
|St. John’s||20||#119 D’Angelo Harrison (6’3″)||Do not deserve invite now, but if they somehow pull a shocker at Syracuse (Sunday) or Louisville (next Thursday) the would deserve consideration).|
It took Jack Taylor 108 shots to score 138 points for Grinnell – not nearly as impressive as Nate Wolters taking just 28 shots to score 53 points for South Dakota State in a 6-point win that gives the Jack Rabbits a chance at sneaking into the tournament.
|Nate Wolters||SD State||28||53||1.89|
The odds are still against him a bid for the Jackrabbits, as opponents will point to only the win at New Mexico as a big win. Wolters needed to go 6 of 6 on three-pointers at Alabama to pull that upset (he hit only 5 of 6 from beyond the arc), and unfortunately he was out for the game at Minnesota.
North Dakota State may finish in the RPI top 50, which would give South Dakota State another top 50 win even if they do not beat them for the Summit title and the automatic bid. However, if the Jackrabbits can win their last five to finish the season on a 13-game win streak, they deserve a bid. That would entail Wolters going into Murray State to upset a team that just beat OVC leading Belmont tonight to add another signature.
Larry Bird’s Indiana State hopes to return to tourney
While Indiana State’s 15-8 record may not scare anyone, with the five big wins they already have they will have a much easier time of getting a tournament invite and reminding everyone of the classic Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson Indiana State vs. Michigan State NCAA title game in 1978. The biggest reason is Jake Odum, who draws more fouls than any other player in the country and is one of the top assists men. In the five upsets of top 10 Miami and ranked Mississippi on a neutral court, a revenge win against Northern Iowa, and then huge wins at a top 50 Wichita State team and top 25 Creighton team, Odum has dished out 28 assists and got to the line for 43 shots (more than 8 a game) and made 33 of them:
|Sat Dec 22||Mississippi (neutral)||W, 87-85||16||10 of 15||8|
|Tue Dec 25||Miami FL (neutral)||W, 57-55||9||4 of 4||6|
|Sat Jan 26||Northern Iowa||W, 59-58||16||5 of 7||5|
|Tue Jan 29||Wichita St. (road)||W, 68-55||10||6 of 6||4|
|Wed Feb 6||Creighton||W, 76-57||22||8 of 11||5|
|Totals||73||33 of 43||28|
While talking about the top team is fun, the college regular season is focused more on the teams fighting to stay alive in March. To that end, another huge game last night was Illinois defeating Indiana – it was just huge because it may have put Illinois back in the tournament rather than because Indiana will drop a couple of spots in the polls.