Guard Ryan Evans #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers battles for a rebound during the first half against forward Melsahn Basabe #1 of the Iowa Hawkeyes on January 19, 2013 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.
Will Kentucky put it together?
Without a signature win, Kentucky already was on shaky footing. Then the Wildcats gave up 40 points to Elston Turner in an 83-71 home loss to Texas A&M, a team that lost to Southern on Dec. 22. Kentucky is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament only a year removed from the national title. John Calipari’s young team will need to put together a winning streak against Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama and LSU to stay on the right side of the bubble.
How will any team win on the road in the Big Ten?
Here are the teams that have lost Big Ten conference games at home: Illinois, Iowa (twice), Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern (three), Nebraska, Penn State (twice) and Purdue. Not a lot of tournament teams in that group other than Minnesota and perhaps Illinois and Iowa.
How will Duke win without Ryan Kelly?
Duke is 3-3 in the past two seasons without Ryan Kelly, who missed his first game of the season with a foot injury in the Jan. 12 loss to NC State. Duke will need to find some way to replace the 6-foot-11 senior, who will be out “indefinitely.” Amile Jefferson may have been the best fill-in (10 points in 12 minutes against NC State) so far. Duke’s injury problems could be further magnified if Seth Curry is playing through pain, as the guard did late against the Wolfpack.
How will Syracuse adjust to absence of James Southerland?
Syracuse so far has weathered the loss of forward James Southerland, having since defeated Villanova 72-61 and handed No. 1 Louisville its second loss of the season, 70-68. But will it last? The Orange’s third-leading scorer has been declared ineligible, and his return is in question. Southerland is a matchup problem with his ability to shoot from outside and is a key spark off the bench.
How many bids for Mountain West, A-10 and WCC?
Someone has to fill the spots in the NCAA tournament, but will the committee opt for more questionable teams in the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC or more teams in the Mountain West, Atlantic 10 and West Coast Conference, all of which are deeper than they’ve been in recent seasons? Ole Miss or Boise State? Miami or Charlotte? Arizona State or Wyoming? This is going to be a good year for those blind résumés.