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 dangerous mid-majors and four games he can’t wait to watch.
So I launched Fo, Fo, Fo last week … and then all hell broke loose. Three of my four No. 1 seeds lost: Duke to Boston College, Texas A&M to Arizona, Kansas to both Washington and Arizona State.
Three of my four dangerous mid-majors also lost: Gonzaga by 16 to Villanova, SMU by 11 at TCU, Nevada narrowly to both Texas Tech and TCU. (Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs, by the way, are now 10-0.)
RELATED: The cursed Fo Fo Fo from last week
Just a third of the way through the regular season, college basketball is already off the rails. Arizona, which went from No. 2 to unranked with three consecutive losses, has suddenly won four in a row — including quality wins over the Aggies, Alabama and UNLV.
Florida, which looked like the best team in America through 35 minutes against Duke at the PK80, lost three straight (including at home to Loyola-Chicago) — only to bounce back with a neutral-court win over ranked Cincinnati.
The Jayhawks own wins over Kentucky and Syracuse away from home — but have now lost two in a row for the first time since December 2013.
Seriously, guys, it’s a mess. Don’t even try to make sense of it all. That’s why I’m here. Fo, Fo, Fo …
Fo No. 1 seeds
Villanova (10-0) — The Wildcats have two Top 25 wins (Gonzaga and Tennessee on neutral courts) and, maybe most importantly, no mind-boggling losses. Mikal Bridges became a star with his 28-point night against the Zags and is now No. 3 in Ken Pomeroy’s metric-based Player of the Year rating. The Wildcats’ game Wednesday at Temple (which already has five KenPom top-100 wins) will be a good test.
Michigan State (9-1) — The Spartans managed not to lose last week, but that’s because they played No. 104 Rutgers and No. 313 Southern Utah. They made their hay early, beating North Carolina and Notre Dame by 18 apiece and Connecticut by 20 (and taking Duke to the wire), but this current stretch of the schedule is godawful. MSU closes out December by playing five additional teams ranked outside the top 100, five ranked 200th or worse. Tom Izzo should pile up wins, since there’s just one Top 25 opponent left on the schedule: Purdue at home Feb. 10.
Duke (11-1) — When people start wondering aloud whether you can go 40-0, be afraid. Just ask Kentucky. Like clockwork, just as the undefeated chatter cranked up, the Blue Devils went to Boston College (which has losses to Texas Tech, Providence and Nebraska) and took their first L on Saturday. But these facts remain: Duke has wins over Michigan State, Florida and Texas on neutral courts and Indiana on the road, and it still has the best player in America, double-double machine Marvin Bagley III.
Arizona State (9-0) — Wait, what? Crazy, right? But if the NCAA Tournament field was announced Monday, the Sun Devils would (or absolutely should) be a No. 1 seed. Good luck finding four other teams with a resume better than this: wins at Kansas by 10, over Xavier on a neutral court by 16 and against KenPom top-50 teams Kansas State and St. John’s. Oh, and you want star power? Tra Holder dropped 40 on the Musketeers and then went for 29 points and 7 assists at Kansas. Bobby Hurley’s team is on fire, and its Dec. 30 game at Arizona will be must-see TV.
Fo mid-major threats
Wichita State (American Athletic) — There might come a day soon when the Shockers have to move out of this category and upstairs to No. 1-seed status. They won by a dozen at Oklahoma State this weekend and get another crack at a name opponent (having already beaten California, Marquette and Baylor away from home) when they host Oklahoma on Saturday. WSU star Landry Shamet vs. Sooners freshman star Trae Young will be worth the price of admission.
Temple (American Athletic) — The Owls have an odd resume: two bad (but close) losses to sub-100 teams La Salle and George Washington away from home … but wins over KenPom No. 34 Clemson, No. 42 Auburn, No. 56 South Carolina, No. 60 Wisconsin and No. 69 Old Dominion. Fran Dunphy’s team will have everyone’s attention if Temple can knock off Villanova at home on Wednesday night.
Houston (American Athletic) — With all these good teams, maybe we shouldn’t call the AAC a mid-major. Kelvin Sampson’s club has just one loss, albeit a stinker to No. 221 Drexel, and quality wins over Wake Forest and Arkansas. That 26-point rout of the Razorbacks looks better every day, considering Arkansas has thumped Oklahoma, Connecticut and ranked Minnesota. The Cougars are at LSU on Wednesday night and have a monster matchup looming Jan. 4 at Wichita State. Senior guard Rob Gray is terrific: 21.6 points per game, 48.6 percent from 3-point range, 92 percent free throws.
Gonzaga (West Coast) — The Zags got whupped by Villanova on Tuesday but turned around and won by 27 at Washington, which had just upset Kansas. Gonzaga has played a terrific schedule with mixed results: wins over Texas, Ohio State and Creighton, losses to Florida (in double-overtime) and Nova. I still believe in the 2017 NCAA runner-up.
Fo games to watch
No. 7 North Carolina (9-1) at No. 20 Tennessee (7-1) on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. The surprising Vols have wins over No. 17 Purdue and N.C. State on neutral courts and at Georgia Tech. Thompson-Boling Arena will be rocking when the defending NCAA champions coming to town. The Tar Heels have beaten Arkansas, Michigan and Stanford and lost one ugly game to MSU. They rank top-20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and a win in Knoxville would vault UNC into No. 1-seed consideration.
Oklahoma (7-1) at No. 3 Wichita State (8-1) on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2. There was a danger that Trae Young would end up like Ben Simmons at LSU and Markelle Fultz at Washington — a superstar on a bad team — but he has almost singlehandedly made the Sooners a good team. They’ve beaten Oregon and Southern Cal already, and Young is top-three nationally in both scoring and assists. The Shockers and their own star guard, Landry Shamet (who scored 30 on Oklahoma State), will provide a huge challenge. WSU looks Final Four-good again.
No. 25 Cincinnati (7-2) at UCLA (7-2) on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. There were encouraging signs for the Bruins last week: they got rid of the Ball family and took Michigan to overtime. And while the Bearcats don’t have a single top-100 win (and got blown out by rival Xavier), they took Florida to the wire in New York over the weekend. UCLA has wins over Wisconsin and Georgia Tech away from home, but this would be the best W on either team’s resume.
Virginia Tech (9-1) at No. 8 Kentucky (8-1) on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2. So are the Wildcats good? Hard to say just yet, but we’re about to find out with consecutive games against the Hokies, UCLA and Louisville. Virginia Tech has rattled off seven straight wins since a bad loss to Saint Louis. Buzz Williams’ club has beaten Ole Miss, Iowa and Washington and ranks No. 1 nationally in effective field-goal percentage (64.2) and No. 2 in 3-point percentage (46.8). That’s dangerous against a UK team that has given up a ton of 3s this season.
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