Great teams are those who can win in a hostile environment on the road and take care of business at home. There are several teams around the country who are hitting their stride at the perfect time. Here are the top five teams of the week:
North Carolina Tar Heels
Zion Williamson may have missed the whole game, but the Tar Heels went into Cameron Indoor and dominated Duke. Several days later, UNC took care of business against a hot Florida State team. Winning two consecutive games against ranked opponents makes for a great week. The Tar Heels are 10-2 in their last 12 games and have all the pieces for a deep run in March. Luke Maye and Cam Johnson, two seniors, are leading North Carolina to a potential one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
For a team that started the season at 6-5, the Boilermakers have been one of the hottest teams since the New Year. After two narrow road wins over Indiana and Nebraska, Purdue sits alone in second place at 13-3 in the Big Ten standings. Carsen Edwards had a quiet week in those two games, averaging just 11 points per game. But that goes to show just how dangerous this team can be, as they have several guys in Ryan Cline and Matt Haarms that can contribute when Edwards is struggling. The Boilermakers have two home games against Illinois and Ohio State before traveling to Minnesota and Northwestern to end the regular season.
Another ACC team that had a great week was the Cavaliers. On Big Monday, they took on rival Virginia Tech, who is still without their best player in Justin Robinson. Led by Kyle Guy’s 23 points, the Wahoos escaped Blacksburg with a six-point win. On Saturday, Virginia trailed by 12 in the second-half before storming back for a 12-point win at Louisville. De’Andre Hunter had a career-high with 26 points, as Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome only combined for 12 points. This is one of Tony Bennett’s better offensive teams, which is scary considering their defense is just as suffocating as last year’s team who earned a top seed in the Big Dance.
The Wildcats are a team no one wants to see in your region come Selection Sunday. Albeit it was Missouri, but Kentucky took care of business on the road in Columbia, which is never easy to do. They followed up that performance with a drubbing of Auburn by 27. Calipari’s Wildcats are clicking on all cylinders right now, as PJ Washington has been a force to handle down low in the paint. He can also step outside and knock down the three, as well. Without LSU’s tip-in at the buzzer, Kentucky would currently be on a 14-game winning streak. With four regular-season games left, and three teams tied atop the SEC standings, Saturday’s road tilt at Tennessee will be huge for the Cats’ hopes at an SEC crown.
Anytime a team is on the bubble, every win in late February is huge. Especially when one of those wins is a road win over 19th-ranked Iowa State. The Bears might have taken themselves off the bubble with that win, but when you have losses to Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin, you need every win you can get. After a big resume win, the Bears could ill-afford to drop a game to last-place West Virginia. Thanks to Mario Kegler’s 23 points, Baylor avoided that nightmare. The Bears still have to travel to Kansas and Kansas State in the final two weeks. If they can win one of those, they should feel very confident in their tournament hopes.
Follow Taron Long on Twitter: @TaronAllDayLong