EDITOR’S NOTE: Fo, Fo, Fo is more than just a nod to legend Moses Malone. It’s columnist Kyle Tucker’s weekly college basketball rundown: Four No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament, four other dangerous teams and four games he can’t wait to watch.
Take a wild guess in this wild college basketball season what happened after the NCAA Tournament selection committee revealed its initial top 16 seeds. Yep, four of the top eight lost last week.
From the Associated Press poll, Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 went down. The two teams from Cincinnati that have been vying for No. 1 seeds — the Bearcats and Xavier — took it on the chin. And Purdue has now gone from no-doubt No. 1 seed and a school-record 19-game winning streak to a three-game skid that nearly turned into four on Sunday.
So yeah, it’s still weird out here.
Fo No. 1 seeds
- Virginia (24-2) — The Cavaliers bounced back from a 1-point, overtime loss to rival Virginia Tech at home by winning comfortably at Miami. It should be smooth sailing until UVA’s trip to Louisville on March 1. With a three-game lead on second-place Duke in the ACC, it’s hard to imagine Tony Bennett’s team not winning the league and locking down a No. 1 seed.
- Villanova (24-3) — Losing two of three games put the Wildcats on the ropes and left Xavier in position to all but lock up the Big East title when Jay Wright and company arrived in Cincinnati on Saturday. Instead, Nova pummeled the Musketeers for the second time this season. It was a 24-point home rout on Jan. 10 and a 16-point road beatdown in Round 2. Wright’s team should handle DePaul and Georgetown, so road trips to Creighton and Seton Hall in between likely will determine a league title and No. 1 seed.
- Duke (22-5) — After losing three of four games with him, the Blue Devils have now somehow won three straight games without superstar freshman Marvin Bagley III. The 9-point victory at then-No. 11 Clemson on Sunday was especially impressive. Of course, it helps when you can plug in 5-star big man Wendell Carter Jr. for Bagley and have him average 15.7 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks the last three games. Senior Grayson Allen, who had performed quite a vanishing act, also took up some slack with Bagley out, averaging 22.3 points and 5.3 assists with a dozen made 3-pointers in that stretch.
- Michigan State (26-3) — Tom Izzo’s team is right back where everyone expected it to be: first place in the Big Ten. But only by the skin of the Spartans’ teeth. During the current 10-game winning streak, they won three in a row (Indiana, Iowa and Purdue) by 3 points, then fell behind by 27 at Northwestern on Saturday and somehow won that one, too. Point guard Cassius Winston was spectacular against the Wildcats, with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and just 2 turnovers.
RELATED: See who made this list last week
Fo mo’ dangerous teams
- Texas Tech (22-5) — The Red Raiders ripped off seven straight wins (including Oklahoma last week) to seize first place in the Big 12, then lost by 2 at Baylor on Saturday and lost star Keenan Evans for an unspecified period of time because of an unspecified toe injury. But Texas Tech still has one of the nation’s stingiest defenses (No. 3 in defensive efficiency, No. 4 in points allowed, No. 7 in opposing FG% and No. 15 in turnovers forced), six RPI top-50 wins and a share of first place in the league. Co-leader Kansas comes to town Saturday.
- Xavier (24-4) — The Musketeers still technically have a half-game lead on Villanova in the Big East, but they suddenly feel miles behind. In between a pair of losses to the Wildcats — by a combined 40 points — Xavier had won nine straight conference games. Chris Mack’s team, fresh off a 2017 Elite Eight appearance and gunning for the first Final Four in program history, still has an impressive eight RPI top-50 wins and zero bad losses (if you don’t count the margins vs. Nova). But getting trounced twice by its only real peer in the conference raises red flags.
- Cincinnati (23-4) — The Bearcats don’t lose often, but when they do, it comes in pairs. They got trounced at Xavier and blew a lead against Florida back in early December, then reeled off 16 consecutive victories to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament committee’s early bracket projection last week. Mick Cronin’s fellas promptly lost two in a row again, this time to Houston and Wichita State (which, to be fair, are both RPI top-20 teams). Is Cincinnati, with just one top-25 win, legit? A road rematch with the Shockers on March 4 offers an opportunity to answer that question.
- North Carolina (21-7) — Don’t look now, but here come the reigning national champs. Since losing three straight, the Tar Heels have won five in a row, including victories over Duke, Notre Dame and at Louisville (by 17). That rematch with the rival Blue Devils on March 3 at Cameron Indoor should be an informative thriller to end the regular season. Junior forward Luke Maye is playing at a ridiculous, All-American level: 18.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, 46.7 percent from 3-point range.
Fo games to watch
- Alabama (17-10, 8-6 SEC) at No. 12 Auburn (23-4, 11-3 SEC) on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 8:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network: The Crimson Tide snapped their rivals’ 14-game winning streak without star Collin Sexton on Jan. 17. John Petty poured in 27 points that night in Tuscaloosa and vowed, “We’re gonna beat ’em again” in a postgame interview with SEC Network. Now the SEC-leading Tigers are coming off an upset loss at South Carolina and an ugly season-ending injury to shot-blocking standout Anfernee McLemore.
- No. 17 Michigan (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten) at Penn State (19-10, 9-7 Big Ten) on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network: The Wolverines have won three straight and five of six straight games, including a win over rival Ohio State on Sunday. The Nittany Lions had won six of seven, including a sweep of the previously top-10 Buckeyes, before nearly knocking off Purdue on the road Sunday. These are two dangerous teams that seem to be hitting their stride at precisely the right time.
- No. 3 Villanova (24-3, 11-3 Big East) at Creighton (19-8, 8-6 Big East) on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX: The Wildcats’ conference title hopes hinge heavily on this dangerous road trip. The Bluejays are solidly in the NCAA Tournament field with four RPI top-50 wins already: Seton Hall, Providence, Butler and UCLA. They lost by 20 at Nova on Feb. 1, but they’ve only lost twice at home this season (by a combined 5 points).
- No. 8 Kansas (21-6, 10-4 Big 12) at No. 6 Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4 Big 12) on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN: This one could be for all the marbles. The Red Raiders already won at Allen Fieldhouse and now by completing the sweep at home could end Bill Self’s incredible run of 13 consecutive years with at least a share of the league title. His Texas Tech counterpart, Chris Beard, was coaching Angelo State three years ago.