There has been widespread inconsistency throughout this season in college basketball and no team has been able to assert itself as the dominant team. While top 10 teams are falling on a weekly basis, the on-the-bubble-David who just slayed a Goliath has its own issues to deal with.
Jordan McRae and the Vols can't afford a loss this weekend.
I dub thee the “Hangover Syndrome.”
It will be interesting to see if Minnesota and Tennessee (coming off of wins over Indiana and Florida respectively) will be able to avoid a downer this weekend as they both are desperately trying to land consideration from the NCAA Tournament committee. In fact, the geniuses at team rankings run thousands of computer simulations to compute what the effects those victories had on the Gophers’ and Volunteers’ chances for the tournament.
The computers show that the Minnesota’s win has made it virtual lock for the NCAA tourney at 99.7 percent. The number isn’t as high for Tennessee, but the win has given the Vols a real chance - jumping from under 10 percent to a workable 35.6 percent. Road games at Georgia and Auburn are must-wins and the percentages can take a significant jump with a victory against fellow tourney hopeful Missouri. The Vols have won six in a row and the Gophers now have Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue to finish the slate. It is as close to a dream trip as you could ask for in the Big Ten.
The fear is that these teams will be unable to sustain the energy, focus and execution that nailed down the big victory and they could fall victim to the “Hangover Syndrome.”
This season is ripe with such instances.
In early January, Virginia beats North Carolina then a couple days later lost a close one to Wake Forest 55-52, then a few days later lost to Clemson. Just a few days ago, Wake Forest beat Miami and then followed that impressive win over a top five team with a loss at an inconsistent Florida State. Also in mid-February, Missouri beat Florida and then lost to a Kentucky team that has been wildly erratic.
In short, an upset win can wake up the top-ranked team and perhaps humble them. But for the team who comes away with the upset, it can be a distraction from their eventual postseason goals.
This weekend we will find out if Minnesota and Tennessee can utilize their big victories to punch Dance tickets and avoid the “Hangover Syndrome”. If history tells us anything this season, it won’t be easy.
Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to 247Sports.com’s coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein
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