As J.J. Redickendured a shocking shooting slump the last two weeks, it became clear that Dukehas been winning with mirrors for some time. Redick has had one of the bestindividual seasons in recent memory, but the Blue Devils (27-3) have still hada lot of close games: Six of their eight wins in February came by fewer than 10points. And remember, the Blue Devils needed 41 points from Redick on Jan. 21just to stay close to Georgetown before losing 87-84. Outside of senior centerShelden Williams (above left, with Redick), none of the other Duke players hasemerged as a consistent scorer. Sophomore guard DeMarcus Nelson contributed 17points in last Saturday's loss to North Carolina, but freshmen Greg Paulus andJosh McRoberts and senior Sean Dockery scored a total of 18 points in lastweek's losses to Florida State and Carolina. Redick's brilliance may haveimpeded the progress of his supporting cast, which could end up costing Duke anational title.
People whocontinue to wonder why teams in the Missouri Valley Conference have higher RPIsthan those in some of the power conferences should take a look at thenonconference schedules of the MVC teams. According to CollegeRPI.com, the 10schools in the Valley have an average nonconference strength-of-scheduleranking of 133.9. Compare that to the averages of the Big 12 (146.4), Pac-10(153.5) and ACC (172.8). Some of the bubble teams in the major conferences arethe worst offenders: California (No. 168 in nonconference SOS), Texas A&M(252), Colorado (268) and Florida State (317). If the big boys are unhappy whentheir leagues get fewer bids than the Valley on Selection Sunday, perhaps theyshould think a little bigger when deciding on their early-season schedules.
1 UCLA could nab aNo. 2 seed. While Pittsburgh, Tennessee and West Virginia have stumbled downthe stretch, Jordan Farmar (left) and the Bruins (24-6) have won their lastfour games to take the Pac-10 regular-season title outright and are a heavyfavorite to win the league tournament.
2 Gregg Marshalldeserves a big-time job. During Marshall's eight years as the coach atWinthrop, the Eagles (23-7) have advanced to the NCAA tournament six times.They will dance again this season, courtesy of last Saturday's 51-50 win overCoastal Carolina in the Big South tournament final.
3 Michigan Stateis running out of gas. Having lost forwards Matt Trannon (broken jaw) andMarquise Gray (broken foot), the Spartans (20-10) must play their starters fortoo many minutes. They played listless defense in last Saturday's 75-68 loss athome to Illinois, allowing Dee Brown to score 16 second-half points.
For more HoopThoughts from Seth Davis, go to SI.com/collegebasketball.