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Quick Takes: Michigan on a roll


Welcome back to Quick Takes! Let’s get started.

Michigan is on quite a roll. The Wolverines thumped Minnesota in Ann Arbor to move to 5-0 in the Big Ten. Looking ahead, the schedule is favorable for Big Blue, too. Michigan only has to play Iowa, Illinois and Rutgers once, all three at home. That’s the type of advantage that could bring a regular season B10 title to Crisler Arena.

Additional Quick Takes:

  • Minnesota is now 10-0 at home – with wins over Saint Louis, Iowa and Michigan State – and 0-3 away from Williams Arena; the Gophers have not played a neutral-court game.  In its three road losses, Minnesota has been outscored by 60 points, an average of 20 per game.  Four of the Gophers’ next six are on the road, starting at Iowa this weekend.
  • Louisville outlasted Virginia Tech to improve to 8-1 and 3-0 in the ACC.  The Cardinals are yet to be at full strength, just something to keep an eye on.
  • Baylor continues to impress, dropping Oklahoma on Wednesday.  The Bears’ have an upcoming Big 12 stretch that includes West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas, and Oklahoma State.  
  • Tennessee outlasted Arkansas in Knoxville, a nice bounce-back after falling at home to Alabama.  Still, it’s been a uneven (albeit short) stretch; the Volunteers looked like No. 1 seed material against Missouri in Columbia, less so that past two outings.  Then again, everything is topsy-turvy these days.
  • Meanwhile, Arkansas – which raced to a 9-0 record against a rather pedestrian schedule – fell to 1-2 in the SEC.  In terms of conference play, the Hogs get Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss before January ends, so opportunities await.
  • Still unsure about what to make of Duke.  The Blue Devils understandably looked rusty against Boston College, barely surviving the Eagles in Durham.  After a scheduled date with Wake Forest this weekend, Duke has three straight road games (Va. Tech, Pittsburgh, Louisville).  We’ll know more about where the the Blue Devils stand soon.
  • Clemson is quietly 9-1 after holding on against NC State Monday. The Tigers’ non-conference wins include Mississippi State, Purdue and Alabama.
  • Houston’s win over Wichita State moves the Cougars back into a first place tie atop the American Athletic Conference.  And it’s possible the Cougars will not be challenged again until return dates with SMU and WSU.
  • Michigan State looked more like the Spartans we expected against Rutgers in East Lansing.   Three of MSU’s next four are at home; it could be moving time for Time Izzo’s crew.
  • Since losing at home to Western Kentucky, Alabama has won four straight – including three in the SEC with a huge road trophy at Tennessee.  Can the Tide keep rolling?
  • Then we have Pittsburgh, which rallied late to knock off Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.  Other than an opening head-scratcher against St. Francis, the Panthers have knocked off Northwestern – to go along with ACC road wins at Miami and Syracuse.  Pitts lone loss since the opener is to Louisville.
  • With the loss, Syracuse’s best win is probably Boston College.  

On a closing note, schedule disparities remain an unfortunate reality.  Villanova, for example, hasn’t played since December 23 and has been paused again.  How the Big East (and other leagues) manage re-scheduling remains to be seen; it could put a hefty burden on someone down the road.  Then there’s the matter of how the Selection Committee will manage its team comparisons given this year’s outliers. 

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