Posts Tagged ‘kentucky wildcats’


Weekly College Basketball Rankings

December 6, 2010

Last week’s rankings in brackets:

TOP 25

1. Duke (8-0): Writers are already starting to make “Will Duke go undefeated posts?” Seems overboard to me, but this is clearly the best team in the country. They could arguably lose a game and still be ranked #1. They were a near consensus preseason favorite, they’re undefeated, and they’ve already beat four teams that are almost certainly tournament bound. No one else in the country can say that. [1]

2. Ohio State (6-0): Well, at least the Buckeyes have been up on a couple solid teams from Florida. [2]

3. Pittsburgh (9-0): Pitt has been untested since a tough early schedule and I’m not even sure they’re the best team in the Big East anymore. [3]

4. Kansas (7-0): Josh Selby is eligible next week, an addition that could arguably make Kansas the #2 team in the country. [4]

5. Kansas State (7-1): Washington State tested them, but KSU is a gritty, grind-it-out squad. [5]

6. Connecticut (7-0): Well, UCONN didn’t shock the world this past week but they did add two more wins to their resume and Kemba Walker continued to display his brilliance with a triple-double. [6]

7. Syracuse (8-0): Maybe this will end up being a great team because of all the wins they picked up in close games against mediocre teams. Their signature win so far this season is vs. North Carolina State–a fringe tournament team–and they were getting beat almost the entire game. I was shocked to see them get the win. I just doubt The Orange are even a top 15 team after they get through the Big East schedule. [8]

8. Georgetown (8-0): The Hoyas went surging up my rankings this week with wins over ranked Missouri (pulling off the upset based on national polls) and a Utah State team that’s heavily favored to win their conference. With Old Dominion and NC State already falling to Georgetown, the Hoyas have one of the more impressive early season resumes. [14]

9. Memphis (7-0): Memphis is cruising right now, but Conference USA could be more of a challenge for them than expected: UTEP, Southern Miss, and UCF could all be solid. [10]

10. Tennessee (6-0): It’s arguable that the Vols could be at #9, but if I didn’t rank them above Memphis last week, I don’t have any reason to now. [15]

11. Illinois (8-1): For whatever reason, the Illini have been unfairly ranked by the national polls the past couple weeks, but after posting wins over North Carolina and Gonzaga this past week, their national standing should improve immensely. [13]

12. Baylor (6-0): Arizona State is the best team they’ve beat. They have the talent to be top ten good, they just haven’t really proved much yet. [12]

13. Michigan State (6-2): The widely picked preseason #2 team in the country was easily handled by #1 Duke. [7]

14. San Diego State (8-0): Can’t wait to see how the Aztecs hold up against the good Mountain West teams. So far they have shown dominance as the best non-Big 6 Conference team in the nation with wins over St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, and Wichita State. [21]

15. Villanova (6-1): Wildcats improve their ranking with an uneventful week. [17]

16. Kentucky (6-2): Kentucky takes another loss, this time to North Carolina. This is a talented team, but clearly not as good as last year’s squad. [11]

17. Purdue (7-1): Purdue rebounded from last week’s loss to Richmond with a win over Virginia Tech. [18]

18. Washington (5-2): Washington continued to display its dominance over teams that aren’t nationally ranked with blowouts over Long Beach State and a Texas Tech team that beat them last year. I think it’s a question of confidence with this team… they destroy the teams they should beat and find a way to lose against teams that are supposed to beat them. [20]

19. Minnesota (7-1): After a surprisingly strong start, the Golden Gophers lose to a Virginia team that is picked to finish last in the ACC. [16]

20. Missouri (5-1): Missouri lost their first game of the year and still moved up in my rankings. Why? Because they showed they can play against good teams taking Georgetown to the buzzer. [22]

21. Florida (6-2): Florida took one of the more embarrassing losses of the year in a game against UCF, which sends them tumbling down my rankings and possibly out of the national polls. [9]

22. BYU (8-0): Jimmer Friddette and BYU continue to dominate the non-conference schedule. [24]

23. UNLV (8-0): Yes… that’s three teams from the Mountain West that remain undefeated and ranked in the top 25. Anyone think the PAC-10 is still the better conference this year? [25]

24. Notre Dame (8-0): The Fighting Irish nearly made my top 25 last week and find a spot now thanks to Gonzaga’s early struggles. [Unranked]

25. Texas (6-2): Texas can be pretty inconsistent. Remember how they were ranked #1 at one point last year and had to fight for a spot in the NCAA tournament? Well, they started this season playing solid against ranked Illinois and Pittsburgh, but lose to a subpar USC team last night. Could be more of the same for the Longhorns in 2010-11. [23]


Gonzaga (4-3): Credit the Bulldogs for playing a tough schedule, but they need to beat some of these teams to stay in the top 25 and that’s not happening so far. It could be March before these guys find themselves ranked again.


*It was tempting to drop Texas out of the top 25, but the teams I have on the bubble aren’t really screaming at me to crack the rankings. Oklahoma State (7-1), Vanderbilt (7-1), Cleveland State (10-0), Louisville (6-0), and Cincinnati (7-0) all have impressive records, but none of them have faced a tough schedule. Cleveland State hasn’t even played a team from a Big 6 Conference, let alone a ranked team. Louisville has beaten Butler and Vanderbilt took out North Carolina, but neither of those teams are as good as originally thought. I still like Texas’ performance a bit better so far.


NCAA College Basketball Preseason Top 25

October 21, 2010

I’m already in full college basketball mode and today we had our first official coach’s poll, which has inspired me to make my own list, along with the nagging of one of my co-workers. Along with my rankings, in parentheses I have the rankings from various publications in order of my perceived level of validity: Coach’s Poll, ESPN’s Andy Katz, Sporting News, and Lindy’s Sports. I wanted to post my full list, but i’ll add synopsis as time goes on, leading up to the opening game.

1. Duke (1, 1, 2, 1): Here’s your consensus preseason favorite and for good reason. Last year’s champs lose only two key components from this past season in point guard Jon Scheyer and center Brian Zoubek. Zoubek’s absence could be felt as the only knock on Duke is the lack of a big man to roam the post and grab rebounds. I doubt many people would rather have Scheyer over incoming freshman Kyrie Irving though, plus the Blue Devils add former Liberty guard Seth Curry, who averaged over 20 points a game as a freshmen and has bloodlines on his side. Most importantly, Duke returns the services of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, both of whom are legitimate All America candidates, with Singler a possibility for Player Of The Year honors. Duke’s backcourt is absolutely loaded and with Singler on the wing, this is the team to beat in 2011.

2. Michigan State (2, 2, 1, 3): It’d be silly to rank Tom Izzo’s Spartans much lower than this as they’ve reached the Final Four in consecutive seasons and they’ve consistently burned me in my own brackets. The Spartans return all five starters from last year’s Final Four team and Raymar Morgan is their only significant loss. Kalin Lucas has been dealing with an Achilles injury during the off-season and should be ready to play in November. A return to 100% may take some time for Lucas, but at any rate, he should be full speed by March, which is always when Izzo’s teams play their best. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding senior guard Durrell Summers taking a significant leap forward in production, while Delvin Roe, Draymond Green, and Korie Lucious round out a ridiculous starting five.

3. Ohio State (5, 5, 5, 7): No one has ranked OSU as high as I have here, yet everyone seems to think that incoming freshman big man Jared Sullinger is going to make a major impact in his only college season. While no one was as crucial to his team’s success as Evan Turner was last year, the same could ring true of Sullinger in the 2010-2011 season. Losing Turner is a major blow, but his run as Player Of The Year overshadowed an otherwise well-rounded team. Junior William Buford (14.4 ppg, 5.6 rbg, 3.1 apg) put up numbers that look a lot like Turner’s sophomore season and joins fellow guard Jon Diebler as a deadly 3-point duo. The Buckeyes return their other two starters in the frontcourt with seniors Dallas Lauderdale and David Lighty. The depth of this team remains a question mark as it relies heavily on untested freshman, but with Sullinger dominating the inside and Buford and Diebler bombing from outside, this team is going to be trouble for just about anyone.

4. Kentucky (10, 11, 8, 14): Again, another team I have ranked higher than anyone else, but betting against John Calipari has proven to be a mistake. No one recruits better than Coach Cal and this year’s class is again the best in the nation. This ranking is highly dependent on the eligibility of freshman center Enes Kanter, whose status is still in question. Much like Sullinger, Kanter has the ability to be a complete game-changer and his availability is probably the difference between a top 5 team and a top 15 team. Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb round out this ridiculous freshman class, while returning players Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins continue to provide support while playing a background role.

5. Kansas State (3, 4, 6, 4): Giants nation and closer Brian Wilson have popularized “Fear The Beard” this baseball season, but Jacob Pullen and Kansas State could argue they originated the concept in early 2010. Pullen returns as the Wildcats biggest offensive threat and should probably get some All America consideration this season. Losing Denis Clemente could be a big blow, but it sounds like Pullen is going to run the point (similar to how Evan Turner ran Ohio State’s offense last year) and that’s not so bad. Curtis Kelley was dominant in the NCAA tournament last year and the Wildcats are going to need him to continue putting up that kind of production to hold onto this ranking. Wally Judge’s development might be even more critical to the team’s success. Highly touted out of high school, Judge was a disappointment in his freshman season, but should look to take a big step forward in the upcoming season. Jamar Samuels was big in a reserve role last year and should move into the starting lineup this season. With Pullen at the helms and continued maturation from Kelley and Judge, KSU shouldn’t be too far off from their dominant showing last year.

6. Kansas (7, 6, 4, 17): Another team ranking that largely depends on the eligibility of one player. For Kansas, that player is point guard Josh Selby, #1 on’s list of incoming freshman. Like Kentucky, Kansas has top 5 potential with Selby playing a full slate, but is probably a top 15-20 team without him. Kansas did lose three players to the NBA draft and graduation, so the question is who is going to step up and replace the production that Sherron Collins, Cole Aldritch, and Xavier Henry, who combined for 40.2 points and 16.3 rbg, provided last year. One obvious answer is junior Marcus Morris, who improved immensely as a sophomore and made Sporting News’ First Team of preseason All Americans. Look for Morris to improve on the numbers (14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds per game) who put up in conference play last year. Outside of Morris and Selby, the Jayhawks will need a legitimate third scoring threat. Tyshawn Taylor averaged 7.2 points a game last year and will probably be the third option this year, with the other Morris twin, Markieff, crashing the boards and providing an additional inside threat. The Jayhawks have enough talent and depth to compete for the Big 12 title, but a lot of that success depends on if Selby is playing or not.

7. Purdue (8, 23, 3, 2): A few weeks ago, there were three teams that clearly stood atop the college basketball landscape: Duke, Michigan State, and Purdue. Owning three seniors with All America potential, the Boilermakers looked poised to make a run at a Big Ten title and a trip to the Final Four. And then Robbie Hummel blew out his ACL… again. The question is: how important is Hummel to Purdue’s success? With a skill set that is somewhat similar to Duke’s Kyle Singler, the answer is: pretty damn important. Hummel has had a solid college career, but has constantly been hampered by injuries and one wonders what he and Purdue could have achieved if he was consistently healthy. While the Hummel injury is a huge blow, I’m not so sure the team should go diving in the rankings (ESPN dropped them from #2 all the way down to #23). Most teams would be happy to have two potential All Americans and Purdue still has that in guard E’twaun Moore and center JaJuan Johnson. I’ve been keeping tabs on Johnson ever since he dominated Washington in the 2009 NCAA tournament and he lived up to that performance last year by averaging 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and over 2 blocks a game…. still building strength on what used to be a pretty wiry frame, he can build on those numbers. Moore will aide Johnson in providing leadership and will probably be asked to do the bulk of the scoring with Hummel out. He’s got a great jump shot and will be asked to step up his defensive game with the departure of Chris Kramer. Outside of the big two, Purdue is deep, but inexperienced. Outside of the three seniors, no returning player averaged more than 3.4 points a game and this year’s roster has ten underclassmen. Moore and Johnson have enough talent to keep Purdue in the top ten, but without Hummel it’s extremely unlikely this team has a shot at winning the conference and making a run past the Elite 8.

8. North Carolina (9, 14, 9, 6): I feel risky saying that UNC will be a top ten team after their implosion last year. However, last year they didn’t have freshman Harrison Barnes, a ridiculously athletic wing that received more attention in high school than any other incoming recruit. Barnes is unlikely to experience the growing pains that plagued last year’s freshman class and should make an immediate impact in the ACC. Speaking of last year’s freshmen, no one on the team will be asked to produce more than big man John Henson. Henson averaged 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds a game playing behind departed Ed Davis and Deon Thompson, but will have to carry a much larger load now that they’re gone. It’s not difficult to imagine Henson becoming the ACC’s Most Improved player and he has enough talent potential to be a lottery pick next June. The Tarheels have enough potential star in seven footer Tyler Zeller, who has had some injury problems so far in his career. Even though the Wear twins transferred to UCLA, the Heels still have plenty of McDonalds All American depth on the bench and another potential freshman star in Reggie Bullock. If Henson and Zeller live up to their potential and Barnes is as good as advertised, Duke could have a run for their money in the ACC.

9. Pittsburgh (4, 3, 6, 4): A consensus top five team that I’m not as sold on. Left off everyone’s radar last year, Pittsburgh turned out to be a team to be reckoned with. Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker sort of came out of no where to provide some pretty ridiculous numbers. Both those guys are back this year and sophomore Dante Taylor looks to prove that his disappointing freshman season was a fluke. Pittsburgh will be a tough team this year, and probably good enough to win the Big East, but while it’s usually a mistake to underestimate the Panthers, I don’t really see them as a Final Four squad.

10. Gonzaga (12, 8, 14, 16): Gonzaga won’t open the season as a top ten team, but as a nationally relevant mid major school, they’ll be there after running through conference play. The loss of Matt Bouldin hurts, but is easily relieved by the return of Elias Harris, who most projected as a lottery pick after his first week in college. Harris averaged 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds a game as a frosh and is probably the most talented and athletic player in Gonzaga’s history (sorry John Stockton, the game has changed). The Zags have plenty of experience returning with center Robert Sacre and guard Steven Gray providing enough of an offensive threat to keep opposing defenses from zeroing in on Harris. The point guard position is the biggest question for Gonzaga. Demetri Gooden has proven to be unreliable, so JuCo transfer Marquise Carter may be asked to take the reigns. While the WCC has some solid teams from St. Marys and Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga could still run through league play undefeated… but the days of being the tournament’s Cinderella are over and the Bulldogs need to take advantage of what is likely the last year for Harris.

11. Syracuse (13, 10, 7, 21): The Orange return a solid core and add 7 foot freshman Fab Melo to the middle. Also, Kris Joseph could be this year’s Wesley Johnson.

12. Washington (17, 17, 23, 10): This is my team so I’m going to write a bit more about them. First off, the Dawgs are the best team in the Pac-10 and should run through conference play. Then again, I thought that last year and had they to fight tooth-and-nail for a NCAA berth. Losing Quincy Pondexter hurts, but UW recovered from the loss of Jon Broxton last year, and I’m looking for more improvement from Matthew Bryan-Amaning this year. He won’t provide Quincy’s production, but he should improve across the board. The backcourt is still crazy. Isaiah Thomas is underrated nationally, but he does have some glaring flaws. While he’s a great slashing guard, his decision-making needs work. Too many times I saw him drive hopelessly to the basket and come up empty, trying to force a basket through three defenders. If he can learn to dish out when he can’t get off a good shot and improve his outside game, he could be a beast. Venoy Overton is UW’s secret weapon. He’s known as a defensive pest, but he can also score when we need him to. Abdul Gaddy is still a question mark. Watching him as a freshman was painful most of the time. He showed flashes of brilliance every once in a while, but he usually looked uncomfortable on the court. He’s still regarded as one of the best NBA prospects in the Pac-10 and I think it all boils down to confidence for him, so if he can find that, he could be the difference-maker for this club. I don’t know much about Terrence Ross, but word is that he’s going to be a player for us. The Huskies have some depth on the bench. Justin Holliday is another underrated player that is solid defensively and I’m not sure what to expect from 7 foot center Aziz N’Diaye. If he has any type of talent in the middle, the Huskies could be a lot more dangerous than expected.

13. Florida (11, 9, 20, 11): Kenny Boynton had a great freshmen year and the Gators are long on experience and talent.

14. Villanova (6, 7, 11, 13):
15. Memphis (19, 15, 12, 34)
16. Butler (18, 18, 19, 8)
17. Illinois (16, 13, 15, 9)
18. Tennessee (20, 20, 22, 12)
19. Baylor (14, 16, 16, 15)
20. Georgetown (21, 19, 17, 27)
21. Virginia Tech (23, 26, 21, 18)
22. Missouri (15, 12, 13, 33)
23. Wisconsin (24, top 40, 18, 32)
24. Texas (25, top 40, unranked, 20)
25. BYU (27, top 40, unranked, 25)


Calipari To Coach Kentucky in ’09-10???

March 30, 2009

It’s kind of a big news day for college basketball, but nothing is bigger than John Calipari possibly taking the head coaching position at the University of Kentucky. This is a somewhat shocking development in my opinion. My first instinct was that there is no way he’d even consider taking the job, but I was playing poker when I heard the news and the chatter at the table was that he’d be an idiot not to take it. Plus, ESPN was running a blurb saying that Calipari met with Memphis officials and players and everybody left the meeting with the feeling that Calipari was going to take the Kentucky job. We all know that Kentucky is one of the most storied programs in college basketball history and Calipari is certainly going to make more money coaching an SEC team.

Here’s what I don’t understand though:

Memphis has a better basketball program than Kentucky: Yeah, not historically, but over the past 3-4 years Memphis has developed into a powerhouse. Kentucky was a one and done team in 2008 and broke a string of 17 straight NCAA tournament appearances this year when they were relegated to the NIT. Meanwhile, Memphis has posted three straight undefeated seasons in Conference USA and have made it to the Sweet 16, Championship Game, and two Elite 8s over the past four seasons.

Memphis might have the best recruiting class of all-time for the 2009-2010 season: Calipari has already inked two of the top three recruits in DeMarcus Cousins and Xavier Henry. John Wall, the #1 high school player in the nation (according to, also has shown a strong interest in going to Memphis. So Memphis has already signed two players that are ranked higher in this year’s incoming freshman class than Tyreke Evans was in last year’s (arguably weaker) incoming class… with the potential of landing the top high school player in the nation on top of that. It’s scary to think of what those three players could accomplish together. On top of that, Memphis has signed three other four-star recruits. Despite being young, that core of players would probably make Memphis the favorites for a national championship next year… and Tyreke Evans hasn’t even declared for the draft yet. Yikes.

Of course, all of this is subject to change if Calipari decides to jump ship. If that happens, surely John Wall will play elsewhere. I’m not sure what the ruling on backing out of a Letter Of Intent is, but who knows how Cousins and Henry will react when the coach that recruited them is no longer a part of the picture. Personally, despite the financial security and exposure that an SEC head coaching job will bring, I think Calipari would be wise to stay in Memphis. He has the potential to build a dynasty type of program there and I’d hate to see him walk away from it.