The last week of the regular season is all about earning seed lines in the conference tournaments and ultimately bids in the NCAA Tournament.
Two teams that did just that this past week were North Carolina and San Diego State.
And that’s why the Tar Heels are the NCAA Digital March Madness Men’s Basketball team of the week and San Diego State’s Matt Bradley our player of the week.
The Tar Heels stunned Duke and Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, 94-81, in the final game of his legendary 42-year career at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels have won five in a row, culminating with the win over the Blue Devils — their second quad one win and the most significant of the season.
Meanwhile, the Aztecs eliminated doubt about the Mountain West getting a fourth bid with four wins in a row, including two road wins at Wyoming and at Nevada. Bradley, a transfer from Cal, delivered when the Aztecs needed him most — scoring 30 at Wyoming on Monday, 26 against Fresno State on Thursday, and then 24 at Nevada on Saturday. The senior guard said he will come back next season for his extra season. He came this season to help San Diego State get to the NCAA tournament. He’s done that.
On to the rankings:
1. Gonzaga (1): Zags will be pushed in the WCC title chase, but must win it to still be No. 1.
2. Arizona (2): The Wildcats continue to cruise and are the favorites to win the Pac-12 tournament title too.
3. Kansas (3): The Jayhawks got a share of the Big 12 title by escaping Texas.
4. Baylor (4): The Bears got a piece of the Big 12 title, quite an accomplishment after dealing with a slew of injuries.
5. Auburn (12): The Tigers won the SEC regular season. Full stop.
6. Kentucky (10): The Wildcats are getting healthy at the right time and are a favorite going into the SEC tournament.
7. Villanova (16): The Wildcats didn’t win the Big East but they swept Providence.
8. Illinois (15): The Illini finished a wild season and got the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten by beating Iowa late Sunday night. This team could get to New Orleans.
9. Tennessee (9): The Vols held off Arkansas for a gritty win.
10. Arkansas (8): The Hogs can ride JD Notae to a possible SEC tournament title.
11. Wisconsin (6): The Badgers lost Johnny Davis in the first half and lost a stunner at home to the Bryce McGowens-less Huskers after beating Purdue earlier in the week.
12. Providence (7): The Friars couldn’t beat Nova but enter the Big East tournament as the top seed.
13. Purdue (11): The Boilermakers squeezed out a win over Indiana to finally have momentum heading into the Big Ten tournament.
14. Iowa (23): Do not sleep on the Hawkeyes. Iowa has all the pieces to make a deep run.
15. Duke (5): The Blue Devils lost to North Carolina at home in the same week they won the ACC regular-season title for the first time since 2010.
16. UConn (15): The Huskies are going to be a tough out in the postseason. Book it.
17. Texas Tech (13): The Red Raiders lost by one to Oklahoma State. But the Red Raiders are still going to be hard team to beat.
18. Saint Mary’s (18): The Gaels are hoping for a rematch with the Zags in the title game, assuming they get past Santa Clara.
19. North Carolina (NR): The Tar Heels shocked Duke in Cameron in Coach K’s final game after also beating Syracuse in OT. The Tar Heels did what they needed to get a bid.
20. UCLA (25): The Bruins finally got past USC to head into the Pac-12 tournament with confidence.
21. Murray State (24): The Racers won the OVC title and will be a team nobody wants to face in round one.
22. Memphis (29): The Tigers are scorching right now, getting the sweep of Houston and making the case for a solid NCAA Tournament bid.
23. Michigan (26): The Wolverines went 3-2 with interim coach Phil Martelli to ensure they get a bid.
24. Houston (20): The Cougars won the American but got swept by Memphis.
25. Texas (21): No reason to fault the Longhorns who lost to Kansas in Lawrence in OT and to Baylor. Still, that’s two in the same week.
26. Colorado State (35): The Rams beat Boise State and are poised for a run in Las Vegas.
27. USC (19): The Trojans made a late run at UCLA and have as much of a case to win in Las Vegas as any other team not named Arizona.
28. SMU (28): The Mustangs have put themselves in a position for a bid as long as they don’t fall flat in Fort Worth.
29. Dayton (NR): The Flyers earned the No. 2 seed in the A10 tournament after knocking off Richmond and Davidson.
30. Rutgers (NR): The Scarlet Knights are back in the poll after thrilling wins at Indiana and over Penn State.
31. San Diego State (NR): The Aztecs have won four in a row, including at Wyoming and at Nevada to put themselves in position for a bid.
32. Davidson (31): The Wildcats won the A10. That should keep them in the Power 36.
33. Seton Hall (NR): The Pirates are back after winning five in a row.
34. San Francisco (NR): The Dons got the win they needed by beating BYU in the WCC quarterfinals.
35. Kent State (NR): Win 12 in a row to close the season and you’ve earned a spot in the Power 36!
36. Colorado (NR): Don’t sleep on the Buffaloes. Colorado has won two in a row, including a home win over Arizona.
Dropped out: Ohio State (17), Alabama (22), TCU (27), VCU (30), Boise State (32), Notre Dame (33), Iowa State (34), North Texas (36).