February 28-March 1: Nathaniel Lapoint’s Weekend Takeaways

The college basketball world continues to get crazier. A streaking Creighton team lost by 20 to one of the worst Power-6 teams in the country; Michigan State went into Maryland beat the Big 10 leaders, Baylor was stunned by TCU, and that was just a few of the headlines. I can’t unpack the whole weekend in a few bullet points, but here’s three of my takeaways. 

Duke needs to figure it out

  • After beating Notre Dame by 34, the Blue Devils were 22-3, and streaking fast, heading towards a possible #1 seed. Fast forward just over two weeks later, and Duke has lost three of four, all to unranked teams on the road. They lost by 22 to NC State, a bubble team at best, to Wake Forest, one of the worst teams in the ACC, and then to Virginia. The UVA loss on its own is not horrible, but Duke has now lost three straight road games, and in their two away games prior, they barely survived BC and UNC, another pair of basement dwellers. Championship teams can win away from home, and Duke is looking more and more incapable of that by the day. 

Dayton is ridiculously good

  • They had two early losses, and the Flyers flew under the radar due to the dominance of traditional mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga and the stunning success of San Diego State. But with both of those squads losing games recently, Dayton has flown into the mix for a #1 seed, and they are most certainly a team to watch as March Madness commences. They’ve won 18 straight and are passing every potential test with flying colors. As for the ‘championship teams win on the road’? Dayton is 8-0 in true road games, and their two losses are neutral court defeats by a combined 8 points to #1 Kansas and Colorado, who has been in and out of the Top 25 this season. Beyond that? Dayton has looked almost flawless; I wouldn’t want to be facing this squad in a couple of weeks. 

Michigan State is peaking at the right time

  • Michigan State has underwhelmed for much of the year, but with their most important basketball yet to be played, the Spartans seem to have found their form at the right time. Michigan State had lost four of five, punctuated by a February 15th loss at home to Maryland. Michigan State got some of their mojo back with a 21-point road win over a hapless Nebraska squad, and then they got a big home win over Luka Garza and the #18 Iowa Hawkeyes. Then came a road date with the Terrapins, just two weeks after their tough home loss, except this time, the Spartans picked up a victory by double-digits. The Spartans are getting lots of scoring outside of star guard Cassius Winston, and they are headed in the right direction with the tournament approaching.

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