Posts Tagged ‘ncaa’

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College Basketball MacRankings: November 14th, 2011

November 14, 2011

TOP 25:

1. North Carolina (2-0)
Key Wins: (n)MSU
Key Losses:
Last Week: #1
Comments: The Tarheels didn’t exactly destroy their opponents this week, but they did cruise to two relatively easy wins. Their four biggest stars also all managed to post eye-popping single game numbers: Tyler Zeller (27 points), Kendall Marshall (15 assists), John Henson (9 blocks), and Harrison Barnes (17 points in both games).

2. Kentucky (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #2
Comments: Kentucky has looked dominant so far. After winning two exhibition games by 124 total points, UK crushed Marist by 50 in the season opener. All four of the Wildcats’ stud freshmen had strong performances, with Anthony Davis leading the way with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Kentucky faces Kansas on Tuesday, a game that could help define how good both teams really are.

3. Ohio State (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #3
Comments: Jared Sullinger picked up right where he left off with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the season opener. OSU faces a tough challenge against Florida on Tuesday.

4. Connecticut (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #4
Comments: Jeremy Lamb exploded for 30 points and Shabazz Napier added 21 and 8 assists, answering the question of who will fill the scoring void left by Kemba Walker. Super freshman Andre Drummond had a disappointing debut with 0 points in 12 minutes and Alex Oriakhi also struggled.

5. Syracuse (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #5
Comments: Nothing too illuminating in the opener for Syracuse. Kris Joseph had the kind of game you’d expect (16 points, 5 rebounds), but the two big freshman, Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas had underwhelming debuts.

6. Florida (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #8
Comments: All four of Florida’s star guards scored in double figures and X-Factor Patric Young pitched in with a monster game in the Gators’ 40 point stomping of Jackson State. If this is a sign of things to come, Florida has been underrated coming into the season.

7. Duke (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #6
Comments: Duke struggled to beat Belmont, at home, in the season opener, but still managed to get Coach K his 902nd career win a few days later, tying him with Bob Knight for the most division I wins of all-time. Not many teams can come to Cameron Indoor Stadium and give Duke a game, let alone a team—even a good one—from a low major conference like Belmont. Austin Rivers is off to a solid start for the Blue Devils and it looks like Ryan Kelly might emerge as its third go-to scorer off the bench.

8. Memphis (0-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #9

9. Baylor (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #10
Note: Perry Jones suspended five games.
Comments: Freshman Quincy Miller has got off to a sizzling start, scoring 34 points total in Baylor’s first two games.

10. Pittsburgh (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #11
Comments: After averaging 6.4 points a game last year, Travon Woodall has averaged 21 points, 10 assists, and 6.5 rebounds in Pitt’s first two games. Nasir Robinson added 22 on 9 of 10 shooting from the field today and it looks like opposing teams are not going to be able to hone in on star Ashton Gibbs.

11. Louisville (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #12
Note: Wayne Blackshear ineligible for the year.
Comments: Freshman Chane Behanan already has two double-doubles under his belt.

12. Xavier (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #13
Comments: Xavier posted a win without their superstar Tu Holloway, who was suspended for one game.

13. Kansas (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #18
Comments: Kansas destroyed Towson in the opener and look like they might have powerhouse potential. I was a little skeptical about their roster, but they showed some depth with 7 players scoring at least 8 points. Thomas Robinson showed off his All American talent with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

14. Vanderbilt (1-1)
Key Wins: (n)Oregon
Key Loses: Cleveland State
Last Week: #7
Note: Sr. C Festus Ezili suspended six games
Comments: Wow, even with one of its key players out (listed above), Vanderbilt shouldn’t be losing to a Cleveland State team that lost its best player to the NBA earlier this year. One of the most shocking upsets of the early season.

15. Alabama (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses
Last Week: #15

16. Wisconsin (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #16

17. Washington (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #19
Comments: Washington narrowly edged Florida Atlantic tonight, but had some promising performances from their players in the first two games. C.J. Wilcox averaged 20.5 points and knocked down 8 3-pointers; Aziz N’Diaye notched 20 boards and 8 blocks; Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy had solid numbers but also combined for 8 turnovers a game; and it’s only a matter of time before Terrence Ross explodes.

18. Marquette (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #20

19. Michigan (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #21

20. Michigan State (0-1)
Key Wins:
Key Losses: (n)UNC
Last Week: #14
Comments: An optimistic ranking from me in the preseason, it didn’t take long for MSU to lose their first game. They played #1 North Carolina pretty tough for the first ten minutes or so, but UNC took control of the game from that point on and survived a late run by the Spartans. A loss to the top team in the country isn’t bad, but a #14 ranking would have looked a lot better if they played a closer game. On the bright side, Draymond Green had 13 points and 18 rebounds and freshman Branden Dawson had a good debut with 10 points and 7 boards to go along with 2 blocks and 2 steals.

21. Arizona (3-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #22
Comments: The Wildcats posted three wins last week but haven’t looked all that dominant. The return of Kevin Parrom helps, but freshman Josiah Turner, a preseason favorite for PAC-12 Rookie Of The Year has been a non-factor so far.

22. Temple (0-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #23

23. Texas A&M (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #24
Comments: The Aggies posted two wins with star Khris Middleton sidelined. Junior Ray Turner dropped 20 points in both games after averaging 4 points a game last season.

24. Gonzaga (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Last Week: #25

25. California (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Comments: Cal moves into the top 25 after strong starts from sophomore Allen Crabbe (22.5 ppg), Jorge Gutierrez (13 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 6 apg), Justin Cobbs (10 ppg, 4.5 apg), and Harper Kamp (8.5 ppg, 8 rpg).

DROPPED OUT:

17. UCLA (0-1)
Key Wins:
Key Losses: Loyola Marymount
Last Week: #17
Comments: That’s a pretty gross loss to Loyola Marymount and makes all the questions about the Bruins in the preseason all the more accurate. Josh Smith managed only 5 points in 16 minutes and point guard Lazeric Jones shot 1 of 11 from the field.

NEXT FIVE:

BUBBLE:

Cincinnati (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:

Florida State (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:

Creighton (2-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:

New Mexico (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:

UNLV (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:

Missouri (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:
Note: Laurence Bowers out for season.

Purdue (1-0)
Key Wins:
Key Losses:

Mississippi State (2-1)
Key Wins:
Key Losses: Akron

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2011-2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Preview

November 7, 2011

PRESEASON TOP 25
*Numbers in parentheses are a cumulative ranking based on preseason rankings in various publications: the AP poll, the ESPN/Coaches Poll, Rivals.com, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s Magazine, and Sporting News.

1. North Carolina (1.17): This team is sickly talented this year. Harrison Barnes could be National Player Of The Year, Tyler Zeller is a likely All-American, and John Henson and James McAdoo are both projected to go in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft. And that’s just the frontcourt. The backcourt is loaded too. Kendall Marshall emerged as one of the top point guards in the nation after taking over for departed Larry Drew Jr. and there’s plenty of depth in the backcourt with Mickey D’s experience. This team is stacked enough and the ACC is down enough that the Tarheels have the possibility of going the distance at #1.

2. Kentucky (2.17): At this point, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that John Calipari has once again recruited the best freshman class in the nation. Impressively enough, this may be his best class and team yet. Not only did Calipari snare three of the top 10 recruits in the nation in Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but he also returns two future pros in guard Doron Lamb and forward Terrence Jones. Jones looked like a Player Of The Year candidate early on in his freshman year before his production tailed off as the season progressed. He would have been a lottery pick in last year’s draft, but comes back to UK after averaging 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game as a freshman. Lamb averaged almost 13 points a game and shot a ridiculous 48.6% from 3-point land. UK has a couple other pieces that should make meaningful contributions, but it’s the underclassmen that will give them the best shot at cutting down the nets in March. Five of those players could go in the first 20 picks of the next NBA draft. This team probably has more talent than anyone in the nation and the only things that can hold them back is maturity and gelling together as a team.

3. Ohio State (2.83): Ohio State might have been the best team in the nation last year, and while the Buckeyes graduated three important senior leaders, OSU returns its most important players. The team’s nucleus is back: Jared Sullinger is another Player Of The Year candidate, William Buford is one of the best shooters in the nation, and Aaron Craft averaged nearly five assists a game coming off the bench. Sophomore Deshaun Thomas should have a breakthrough year after averaging 7.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg playing only 14 minutes a contest. The freshman class is pretty loaded too, ranking amongst the top 10 nationally and featuring two McDonald’s All-Americans (Shannon Scott & Amir Williams). Ohio State will surely enter the tournament with a #1 seed and, with Sullinger, have a strong enough frontcourt to challenge North Carolina for a title.

4. Connecticut (4.5): The surprise decision from Andre Drummond to pass up his last year of prep school and play for the Huskies this year changes things quite a bit. UCONN goes from a potential 2 or 3 seed to a likely #1. Drummond was one of the most highly regarded preps in next year’s class, but has enough talent to be considered top 3 in this class and has already been projected as the #1 overall pick in the next NBA draft. Drummond already plays like a dominant big man and could be a legitimate NBA center some day. Think Kemba Walker had that kind of upside? Sure, Walker had the most remarkable college basketball season most of us have ever witnessed last year and he’s gone, but the majority of that national title team were freshmen and those guys are all back with championship experience under their belt. Guard Jeremy Lamb had a solid freshman year that was mostly overlooked because of Walker’s dominance, but Lamb made a name for himself by averaging 16.2 ppg in the NCAA tournament and then led Team USA in scoring at the U19 World Championships. He’s gone from Kemba’s sidekick to preseason All-American. Alex Oriachi had a bit of an up and down sophomore year: but his ups were pretty tremendous: he had 15 or more rebounds 5 times; 4 or more blocks 7 times; and the Huskies lost only one game all season when he had at least ten rebounds. Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith both contributed significantly to a championship team as freshmen. This team is young and dominated by under classmen, but Drummond is a major addition to a nucleus that already has a championship under their belts. Think Big East champs and Final Four trip.

5. Syracuse (6): The Orange return the core of a team that had 27 wins and went 12-6 in a loaded Big East. The departure of Rick Jackson hurts, especially on the boards, but Syracuse has some talented bigs that are still developing. 7-footer Fab Melo was a serious disappointment as a freshman (2.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg), but was highly touted out of high school and still has NBA potential. If he turns out to be a total bust, freshman Rakeem Christmas, a McDonald’s All American, is next in line to take over. Senior Kris Joseph is a future NBA player and could have an All American type season. Scoop Jardine, Brandon Tiche, and freshman Micahel Carter-Williams give the Orange a loaded backcourt. This team has a serious amount of talent and could be a powerhouse if Melo or Christmas turn into dominant players.

6. Duke (5.5): I was tempted to rank Duke lower. After all, the Blue Devils don’t return a single player that averaged more than 9 points a game. Kyrie Irving bolted for the NBA and Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith both graduated. Those are significant losses, but Duke still has plenty of talent and arguably the best coach in college basketball. Austin Rivers joins the team as possibly the most hyped freshman in the nation; he’s a pure scorer with a supreme amount of confidence and could be the latest freshman to garner First Team All America honors. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rivers and junior Seth Curry combine to score more than 40 points a game. They might need to. The frontcourt now features three brothers from the Plumlee family, but none of them are big scorers. Someone is going to need to emerge as the third scoring option if this team is going to make a deep run in March and challenge UNC in the ACC.

7. Vanderbilt (7.17): The Commodores return all five starters from a team that won 23 games last season, went 9-7 in SEC play, lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and probably walked away from the season feeling disappointed. With so many experienced and talented veterans back, Vandy has the talent and depth to make a deep run in March. Seniors Jeffrey Taylor and Festus Ezeli and junior guard John Jenkins all probably have NBA futures.

8. Florida (8.5): The Gators have serious guard talent this year. Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker are already established SEC stars and this year they will be joined by Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario (who torched the Big East for 16+ ppg in his first two years) and highly touted freshman Bradley Beal, a likely lottery pick in the next NBA draft. Florida need some serious help in the frontcourt, however; Alex Tyus, Chandler Parsons, and Vernon Macklin all moved on, leaving sophomore Patric Young as the most experienced big man on the team and he put up some pretty weak numbers (3.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg) in 17.8 minutes a game last year. Florida’s backcourt is obviously loaded, but if someone doesn’t step up in the frontcourt, it’s hard to imagine the Gators contending with teams that have productive big men.

9. Memphis (10.67): With a team dominated by talented, but untested freshmen, Memphis had to fight tooth and nail to get its way into the NCAA tournament last year, but then pushed Elite 8 bound Arizona to the buzzer in the first round. All those freshmen are back this season and have a year of experience and maturing under their belt. Memphis is loaded with talent and depth and should run through Conference USA relatively unscathed and could wind up a #2 seed by season’s end. Memphis’ version of the Fab 5 (Antonio Barton, Will Barton, Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, and Tarik Black) will be joined by top 10 recruit Adonis Thomas, a 6’6″ forward that should make Memphis a sound inside-out team. Memphis should cruise through conference play and contend for the Elite 8 this year and might have a chance at a national title if this group sticks together for the next two years.

10. Baylor (11.83): This pick is my biggest question mark in the top 10. The talent is there; Perry Jones and Quincy Acy are proven producers in the Big 12 and are joined this year by super frosh Quincy Miller. Last year, however, Baylor had both Jones and Acy, as well as LaceDarius Dunn, a senior guard that averaged almost 20 points a game, and were considered a top 15 team heading into the season. Yet that team still managed to finish with a losing record in conference play. Perhaps it’s Dunn’s departure that will mark the turnaround for the Bears, as his selfishness and poor shot selection is often cited as a reason for Baylor’s struggles. The success of this team largely rides on the shoulders of Pierre Jackson, a JuCo transfer that plays the point and was National Junior College Player Of The Year, and how effectively he can distribute the ball inside to Jones and Acy. Miller is an inside-out threat that can play the 3 and gives Baylor serious size in the frontcourt. Many consider Jones’ freshman year a disappointment and that’s scary considering he averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game; he clearly has All-American potential. With Kansas in the midst of rebuilding and no other strong contenders in the Big 12, Baylor should be heavy favorites to win the conference.

11. Pittsburgh (9.5): At first glance, Pitt seems depleted having lost 3 starters from last year’s team that dominated Big East play. At second glance, it would be unwise to doubt the Panthers considering their track record; head coach Jamie Dixon has won more games in his first eight seasons than any coach in history and is also the only current coach to score a win in each of the last six NCAA tournaments. Senior guard Ashton Gibbs is the heart and soul of the team. The sharp shooter averaged 16.8 points a game last year and shot nearly 50% from 3-point land. He will find himself on one of the postseason All-America teams. After Gibbs, Nasir Robinson is the second leading returning scoring at 9.4 points a game. No one else on the roster is a proven scorer, but Pitt has many interesting pieces, lots of depth, and quite a few players that could have breakout seasons. Freshman Khem Birch is Pitt’s most highly rated recruit in 25 years and should have an impact immediately. Pittsburgh always fields tough teams that get it done and this year’s roster should be no different.

12. Louisville (11.5): Louisville is one of the more interesting teams heading into the season. Last year, they continually overachieved throughout Big East play and then suffered the biggest first round upset in the NCAA tournament by losing to Morehead State. The Cardinals return a good amount of talent from that team, including leading scorer Kyle Kuric and point guard Peyton Siva, but no one is a proven superstar. Louisville already lost one of its star freshmen for the year (Wayne Blackshear), but Chane Behanan has received high praise from coach Rick Pinito who claims Behanan is “as good a freshman as I’ve coached since (Jamal) Mashburn.” Siva, Kuric, and Behanan are a solid nucleus and Louisville has some depth if the players can stay healthy (which has been a struggle recently), but I’m going on the record now and saying there’s no way this is an Elite 8 team this year.

13. Xavier (16.17): I have Xavier ranked higher than either of the polls or any publication I’ve read, but the Musketeers have arguably the most talented senior in the nation in Tu Holloway and play in the Atlantic 10, a conference where they’ve posted a 29-3 record over the past two seasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went undefeated in league play this year and Holloway (19.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.4 apg last year) becomes a first team All-American. Xavier returns two other starters, Kenny Frease, a 7’0″ center that can score, rebound, and alter shots, and Mark Lyons, a junior guard that averaged 13.6 points a game last year. Xavier doesn’t have much proven depth, but with Holloway running the show and a favorable conference schedule, the Musketeers could find themselves as high as a #3 seed come March.

14. Michigan State (27): Looks like someone’s in the minority. Michigan State was picked to be a national title contender in the preseason last year by just about everyone and wound up being one of the most disappointing teams in college basketball instead, going 19-15 overall, 9-9 in conference play, and getting bounced by UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Not exactly the typical resume for a Tom Izzo coached team. But Izzo has a serious track record of success and enough talented players returning that a repeat of last season is probably unlikely. Draymond Green, a do-it-all senior will be the star of the team, but there will be plenty of opportunity for other players to emerge. Keith Appling was a highly rated recruit and shot 41% from 3-point land as a freshman. He will be relied upon more heavily to carry the scoring load with all the departed seniors. Brandon Wood is a senior transfer from Valparaiso that once dropped 30 points against North Carolina and averaged 16.7 points a game as a junior. Branden Dawson, Travis Trice, and Dwaun Anderson form an interesting freshman class that should contribute this year. Challenging for the Big 10 title is unlikely, but so are 15 losses. Look for a big bounce back season from MSU.

15. Alabama (20): Established SEC stars JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell, and Trevor Relaford are joined by a Top-15 recruiting class. The Tide are thin on proven depth, but didn’t lose much from a team that lost in the finals of the NIT last year. I’d be surprised if Alabama challenges Kentucky, Vanderbilt, or Florida in the SEC standings, but they won’t be getting snubbed from the NCAA tournament this year and have enough talent to make a run to the Sweet 16.

16. Wisconsin (17.5): It’s hard to see where the Badgers’ production will come outside of standout point guard Jordan Taylor, but Taylor is to this team what Jimmer Fredette was to BYU last year. The 6’1″ guard averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists a game as a junior and will probably have to carry even more of the scoring load in the absence of Jon Leuer (18.3 ppg) and Keaton Nankivil (9.7 ppg). He will be up for the challenge though and is a common pick for preseason All-America honors. Taylor will have some help in the backcourt from sophomores Josh Gasser and Ben Brust, but the entire frontcourt is still a work in progress. This team beat a #1 ranked Ohio State last year and should finish in the top 3 or 4 of the Big 10, but the lack of frontcourt experience leaves some serious question marks heading into the season.

17. UCLA (20.67): The PAC-12 is wide open and I’m not entirely convinced that UCLA is the preseason favorite, but they have such a loaded frontcourt that I’m giving them the edge for now. Reeves Nelson is a proven star, Josh Smith is a rising one, and this year they are joined by 6’10” twins (and former North Carolina recruits) Travis and David Wear. Lazeric Jones is the only player in the backcourt with productive experience and UCLA has one of its rare recruiting classes that fails to crack the top 25 nationally. On paper, they look like the favorites for the inaugural PAC-12 title, but Arizona, Washington, and California could all vie for that same spot.

18. Kansas (15.17): This seems low for the Jayhawks, but they are as depleted as they’ve ever been. Not only did lottery picks Marcus and Markieff Morris move on to the NBA, but Kansas has already had two important freshmen (Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor) ruled ineligible for the entire season. That leaves Kansas with one returning starter, Tyshawn Taylor, who had a 9.3 ppg scoring average that leads all returning players. Junior Thomas Robinson is ready to explode this season after playing in the shadow of the Morris twins the past two seasons. In limited action, Robinson put up serious numbers as a sophomore, averaging 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds a game in 14.6 minutes. In a starring role this season, those numbers could easily double and put him in the All America conversation. Outside of Robinson and Taylor, the Jayhawks have a lot of question marks. Juniors Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, and Elijah Johnson will all have expanded roles this season and will need to take a big step forward in productivity; none of them averaged more than 3.7 points and 1.8 rebounds a game last year. With McLemore and Traylor sidelined, no one is really expected to emerge from this year’s recruiting class. They Jayhawks have some huge question marks, but the one constant for Kansas is coach Bill Self, a proven winner that has led his team to seven straight conference titles.

19. Washington (27.9): Yes, this is a homer pick, but at look at some of the other teams I could put here and I don’t see the potential that UW has. Isaiah Thomas’ ridiculous decision to enter the NBA draft hurts this team a ton, but even with his departure, the Huskies still have one of the most loaded backcourts in the nation. Terrence Ross is a rising star that showed he has the ability to take over games and become the team’s go to scorer. C.J. Wilcox also impressed as a freshman, shooting over 40% from 3-point land and scoring 15+ points on six occasions last year, including a 24-point second half outburst against UCLA. Abdul Gaddy is one of this team’s many X-factors. After a miserable freshman year, Gaddy was showing some breakout promise last year (8.5 ppg, 3.8 apg, 40.6 3FG%) before going down with a knee injury after 13 games. Those three are joined by highly touted point guard Tony Wroten, a top 25 recruit with ridiculous dishing skills and the ability to score. Where the Huskies struggle is in the frontcourt. Ross, who should be playing on the wing at 6’6″, will probably be their best power forward, leaving the team severely undersized. Aziz N’Diaye is a 7′ center that can alter shots, but plays erratically and gets in foul trouble, has no offensive game, and also possesses some of the worst hands I’ve ever seen. The man simply can’t hold on to a basketball. Any reasonable step forward from N’Diaye this year would all but ensure the Huskies a top 20 ranking. If someone in the freshman class can step up and become a dependable regular in the frontcourt, N’Diaye shows some improvement, Gaddy stays healthy and continues to develop, and the rest of the backcourt flourishes, this team should find itself contending for another PAC-12 title. Lots of questions, lots of potential.

20. Marquette (20.83): Marquette returns four players that started at least 12 games from a team that made a run to the Sweet 16 last year. Darius Johnson-Odom is the team’s best player, a 6’2″ man-child that averaged 15.8 points a game last season. Jae Crowder made a smooth transition from the JuCo ranks and posted 11.8 points a game, but could improve a bit on his 3-point shooting (35.9%). Vander Blue started 12 games as a freshman, but most disappointed, shooting 39.4% from the field, 60.8% from the free throw line, and 16% from long distance. Junior Cadougan should be in line to take over point guard duties after averaging 3.2 assists a game in 19.8 minutes last year. OJ Mayo’s brother Todd headlines a small freshman class. If they can get any help at all from their teammates, Johnson-Odom and Crowder are good enough to give this squad another shot at a Sweet 16 this year.

21. Michigan (18.17): Oh, what could have been. Had Darius Morris (15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 apg) returned after a ridiculous freshman season, Michigan would have been one of the most exciting teams to watch this year. Even with his departure, I’ve seen the Wolverines ranked as high as #7 in the preseason (by Lindy’s magazine). Michigan returns four starters from a surprise team that made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament and had one of the most productive freshman classes last season. Tim Hardaway Jr. is an emerging superstar and will probably be a future lottery pick. He averaged 13.9 points and 3.8 rebounds a game as a freshman and should improve on those numbers drastically this year when he becomes the team’s first option on offense. Forwards Evan Smotrycz and Jordan Morgan also put up respectable freshman numbers (15.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg between them). Stu Douglass and Zack Novak add depth and leadership in the backcourt and will stretch defenses with their ability to knock it down from long distance. The biggest question mark facing the Wolverines will be who replaces Morris at the point guard position. Freshman Trey Burke is a top-100 recruit and probably the favorite for the job. Michigan has enough rising talent and depth to repeat the success of last season.

22. Arizona (17.67): I feel like Arizona’s been one of the more overrated programs in the preseason. Their run to the Elite 8 last season seems to be clouding everyone’s judgment and those same people seem to be forgetting that Arizona was actually a surprise last year, even with one of the nation’s best players on their roster… and how important was Derrick Williams to the Wildcats’ success? Well, Williams is gone. So is second-leading scorer Lamont Jones. That leaves senior Kyle Fogg with the best returning scoring average at 8.1 points a game. Arizona is not without talent, however, as Fogg will be joined by returning regulars Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Jesse Perry. Out of that quartet, Parrom probably has the best chance to have a breakout season. The success of the Wildcats this season probably depends most on its freshman class, a group that is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson are both top 30 recruits that could start immediately and Angelo Choi should also make meaningful contributions. Arizona lost its star, but has a group of returning players that gained a lot of postseason experience last year and a studly freshman class. Arizona has been heading most of the preseason PAC-12 polls, but with no established leader on the team and a preseason loss to a Division II team, I’m saying: prove me wrong.

23. Temple (30.5): Temple isn’t getting much love in preseason rankings and it doesn’t make much sense. The Owls return four starters and only lost one key player from a team that went 14-2 in Atlantic 10 play and won a game in the NCAA tournament. Lavoy Allen is a big loss, but Temple is a well-rounded squad with four players returning that averaged at least 10 points a game last year. Team leader Juan Fernandez could bounce back after playing through a knee injury last year. His shooting percentages dipped considerably from his sophomore year. Even with Allen gone, Temple has a talented squad riddled with experienced upperclassmen and could challenge Xavier for the A10 crown once again and do some damage come March.

24. Texas A&M (23): A&M returns a solid group from a team that kind of surprised last year by posting 24 wins. Forward Khris Middleton developed into a future NBA player, doubling his scoring average and taking over games at times. The Aggies get some help in the backcourt from Washington transfer Elston Turner, a solid long range shooter, and freshman Jamal Branch, a top-50 recruit. Dash Harris returns at the point, but really struggled from the field last year, shooting an unforgivable 28.6% overall and 16.7% from 3-point land. With Middleton’s star rising and a good team around him, A&M shouldn’t see much of a drop off from last season, if any.

25. Gonzaga (21.4): Gonzaga has the potential to be much better than this ranking, but they enter the season with some serious challenges ahead of them. The Zags lose two starters, including leading scorer Steven Gray, from a team that got pounded by BYU in the NCAA tournament and struggled to get there in the first place. To make matters worse, BYU joins the WCC this year and will join Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara in the quest to knock Gonzaga off the conference pedestal. Elias Harris looked like an NBA lottery pick after his freshman year, but saw his production decrease across the board as a sophomore. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t bounce back to form this season and he’ll team with 7′ senior Robert Sacre to form a formidable frontcourt duo. The Bulldogs will need key contributions from incoming freshman Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos, both of whom could start immediately. Gonzaga suffered some questionable losses in conference play last year and this season should be even tougher. Still, they should be the class of the WCC and could rise up these rankings quickly if Harris becomes the player it looked like he would and one or two of the freshman make an impact.

BUBBLE:

California: Cal returns the best trio in the PAC-12 with Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kemp, and Allen Crabbe, but don’t have the depth or potential of the conference teams ranked ahead of them.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats return five of their top seven players from a team that had no business making the NCAA tournament last year, let alone winning a game in it. Yancy Gates has star potential, but Cincinnati might have had the easiest non-conference schedule of any team to make the tournament last year. This is a team on the rise, but has yet to prove it can play consistently with the big dogs.

Missouri: If I snubbed anyone in my top 25 rankings, it’s gotta be Mizzou. The Tigers return a ridiculous amount of depth and plenty of scoring prowess. What Missouri lacks is defense and rebounding. The Tigers were the 10th highest scoring team in the nation last year and still managed to lose 11 games. New coach Frank Haith will probably try and slow down the team’s tempo down. With so much experience and talent back, if the Tigers can improve their weaknesses, this team could be a Sweet 16 threat.

Creighton: Creighton is poised for a monster season. If I had to pick a preseason Cinderella, I’d have to go with the Bluejays. Floor leader Antoine Young and his 13.1 points and 5 assists a game are back, as is Gregory Echenique, a junior that averaged 10.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. Most important, however, is sophomore Doug McDermott, a superstud that averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game and then went on to lead Team USA’s U-19 in scoring over the summer, a team that had many more highly touted players on its roster. The 6’7″ forward and son of coach Greg McDermott could garner All America attention as early as this season.

Florida State: The Seminoles lost their two most important players, but return six guys with starting experience and pedigree for playing ridiculously tough defense.

Purdue: If Robbie Hummel is healthy and at 100%, Purdue should make the NCAA tournament. If not, it will be a long year for the Boilermakers.

New Mexico: Senior Drew Gooden and sophomore Kendall Williams lead an experienced team that should contend with UNLV for the Mountain West title.

UNLV: Chace Stanbeck leads a Running Rebels that are preseason favorites in the MWC.

Mississippi State: Lots of interesting pieces here. Will Renardo Sidney finally put together a full season of domination?

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Macrankings: College Basketball Top 25 – February 28th, 2010

February 28, 2011

TOP 25:

1. Kansas (27-2)
Key Wins: Arizona, UCLA, Memphis, USC, @Cal, UNT, @Michigan, @Iowa St, @Baylor, @Colorado, KSU, Mizzou, Colorado, OkSU
Key Losses: Texas, @KSU
Last Week: #1
Comments: I’m one of the few people making rankings that don’t have to adjust their #1 slot this week. I thought Kansas had the nation’s best resume last week and nothing happened this week to change that. 16 wins over the top 100 RPI remains tops in the nation. Ohio State was ranked above Kansas in the AP Poll, so it’s likely they’ll be #1 tomorrow after winning out this past week, but that’s the wrong call.

2. BYU (27-2)
Key Wins: Utah St., St. Mary’s, @Vermont, Arizona, UTEP, @UNLV, @Colorado St, SDSU, UNLV, Colorado St, @SDSU
Key Losses: @UCLA, @New Mexico
Last Week: #2
Comments: Perhaps I was bold by putting BYU at #2 last week, but the rest of the nation is going to be catching up to me now. At worst, BYU will be #4 tomorrow, but there’s really no excuse for ranking Duke ahead of them. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, BYU is #1 in the RPI now, had several quality wins in their non-conference schedule, and has now beat San Diego State, a top 5-7 team most of the year, twice. Also, BYU has played a tougher schedule than Duke, plays in (arguably) the tougher conference this year, and has more top 50 wins than anyone in the country. Stop the East Coast madness!

3. Ohio State (27-2)
Key Wins: @Florida, @FSU, South Carolina, Oakland, Minnesota, @Michigan, Penn St, @Illinois, Purdue, N’western, @Minnesota, MSU, Illinois
Key Losses: @Wisconsin, @Purdue
Last Week: #5
Comments: Probably your #1 team tomorrow and they’re definitely good, but I don’t think their resume stacks up to Kansas or BYU right now. As far as losses go, Ohio State has taken the most forgivable ones, on the road vs. Purdue and Wisconsin, both top 15 teams. However, the Big 10 has turned out to be a lot softer than we all thought it was going to be. With the exception of OSU, Purdue and Wisconsin, everyone else has been rather unremarkable, so they’ve only posted six top 50 wins, while BYU has 9.

4. Duke (26-3)
Key Wins: Marquette, Kansas State, MSU, Butler, Miami, UAB, Maryland, @NC St, BCU, @Maryland, NC St, UNC, @Miami, Temple
Key Losses: @FSU, @SJU, @VTU
Last Week: #3
Comments: Overrated last week for obvious reasons and losing to Virginia Tech yesterday puts them where they belong. I’ll probably take Duke further in my bracket than BYU, especially if Kyrie Irving comes back, but at this point the Blue Devils are clawing for that last #1 seed.

5. Pittsburgh (25-4)
Key Wins: Maryland, Texas, UCONN, Marquette, @Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincy, @WVU, @Villanova, WVU
Key Losses: Tennessee, NDU, @SJU, @Louisville
Last Week: #7
Comments: Oddly enough, Pitt moves up in my rankings after taking a loss today. Of course that loss was on the road vs a top 25 team in overtime, so that’s not a terrible thing. Pitt may have four losses, but they also have four wins over top 15 teams while San Diego State has none. I could even buy an argument for Pitt at #4 over Duke, but I’ll keep it like this for now.

6. San Diego State (27-2)
Key Wins: @Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Wichita St., @Cal, UNLV, @New Mexico, Colorado St, @UNLV, New Mexico
Key Losses: @BYU, BYU
Last Week: #4
Comments: I took a fair amount of heat last week for my San Diego State ranking. “How can you have BYU ranked ahead of them?” Hopefully that debate has been put to rest now.

7. Purdue (24-5)
Key Wins: Oakland, @V-Tech, @Michigan, N’western, @Penn St, Penn St, MSU, Minnesota, @Illinois, Wisconsin, OSU, @MSU
Key Losses: @Richmond, @Minnesota, @WVU, @OSU, @Wisconsin
Last Week: #8
Comments: Purdue looks like they’re going to end up where I had them projected in my preseason rankings (post-Hummel injury). They’ve proven most of their doubters wrong, showing they can win consistently without one of their star players. And why wouldn’t they? How many teams can say they have two seniors as talented and experienced as JuJuan Johnson and E’twaun Moore? Hummel probably makes this team a #1 seed, but those guys are plenty good on their own merit. Purdue has momentum on their side right now, rolling on a six game win streak that includes victories over OSU, Wisconsin and a 20-point blowout at Michigan State.

8. Notre Dame (23-5)
Key Wins: Cal, Georgia, @Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown, UCONN, SJU, Cincy, Marquette, @Pitt, L’ville
Key Loses: @Kentucky, @Syracuse, @Marquette, @SJU, @WVU
Last Week: #11
Comments: Solid if unremarkable, Notre Dame stands alone at second place in the brutal Big East.

9. Texas (24-5)
Key Wins: Illinois, @UNC, @MSU, Arkansas, A&M, @Kansas, @Ok St, Mizzou, @A&M, Baylor, OkSU
Key Losses: @Pitt, @USC, UCONN, @Nebraska, @Colorado
Last Week: #6
Comments: My #1 team two weeks ago and NCAA favorite at the time, Texas has losses in back-to-back weeks to middle-of-the-pack Big 12 teams and has seen their stock drop tremendously.

10. Florida (22-6)
Key Wins: @FSU, KSU, Xavier, RIU, Ole Miss, @Tennessee, Arkansas, @Georgia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, @SCU, Tennessee, Georgia
Key Losses: OSU, @UCF, Jacksonville, SCU, @Miss St, @Kentucky
Last Week: #10
Comments: Beating Georgia and losing at Kentucky keeps Florida on even ground this week.

11. Syracuse (24-6)
Key Wins: MSU, NC State, Notre Dame, @St. John’s, Cincinnati, @UCONN, WVU, @Nova, @G’town
Key Losses: @Pitt, Villanova, Seton Hall, @Marquette, G’town, @L’ville
Last Week: #17
Comments: Another momentum shift: Syracuse appears back on track after losing 6 of 8, reeling off four straight victories, including three against ranked teams…

12. Georgetown (21-8)
Key Wins: NC State, @ODU, @Missouri, Utah State, @Memphis, SJU, @Villanova, L’ville, @Syracuse, Marquette
Key Losses: @Temple, @Notre Dame, @St. John’s, WVU, Pitt, @UCONN, Cincy, Syracuse
Last Week: #9
Comments: …meanwhile, the Hoyas have dropped 3 of 4, including back-to-back home games. They hold strong in the top 15 with a #1 strength of schedule ranking and 8 top 50 wins.

13. Wisconsin (22-6)
Key Wins: @BCU, NC State, @Marquette, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, Purdue, MSU, OSU, Penn St, @Michigan, N’western
Key Losses: @UNLV, Notre Dame, @Illinois, @MSU, @Penn St, @Purdue
Last Week: #13
Comments: Still threatening to make the Big 10 tournament a 3-team race.

14. Connecticut (21-7)
Key Wins: Wichita State, MSU, Kentucky, @Texas, Villanova, Tennessee, @Marquette, G’town, @Cincy
Key Losses: @Pitt, @NDU, L’ville, Syracuse, @SJU, @L’ville, Marquette
Last Week: #12
Comments: How good is the Big East? UCONN ranks #14 in the nation, but a mere tie for 7th in their own conference… and they’re tied with four other teams.

15. North Carolina (22-6)
Key Wins: Kentucky, @Virginia, V-Tech, Clemson, @Miami, NC St, @BCU, FSU, @Clemson, BCU, @NC St, Maryland
Key Losses: Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, @Georgia Tech, @Duke
Last Week: #15
Comments: Don’t rule UNC out as your ACC champion. UNC struggled during their non-conference schedule, but seem to have matured and grown as a team in conference play. I wouldn’t rule out a run to the Sweet 16 or beyond.

16. Louisville (22-7)
Key Wins: Butler, UNLV, Marquette, SJU, WVU, @UCONN, Syracuse, UCONN, Pitt
Key Losses: Drexel, Kentucky, @Villanova, @Providence, @G’town, @NDU, @Cincy
Last Week: #20
Comments: I don’t think I’ve been as wrong about a team this year as I have been about Louisville. From the jump, I’ve been saying Louisville is not a top 25 team… just wait for Big East play to start, right? Well, they’ve gone 11-5 in the Big East and have remained a constant in the top 25 all year, actually improving their stock as the season has progressed. Rick Pitino deserves some love in the Coach Of The Year race.

17. St. John’s (19-9)
Key Wins: Northwestern, @WVU, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UCONN, @Cincy, @Marquette, Pitt, @Villanova
Key Losses: @St. Mary’s, St. Bonaventure, @Fordham, @Notre Dame, Syracuse, @Louisville, Cincy, @Georgetown, @UCLA
Last Week: #19
Comments: Dubbed the Giant Killers and rightfully so… but anyone that can go 11-5 in the Big East has to be considered more than that. Often referred to as inconsistent, SJU is currently riding a 6-game win streak against tough competition and should finish Big East play with two more wins. Yes, the two losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham are the absolute worst that any top 25 team has taken, but it’s March now and St. John’s has been beating very good teams for two months straight. Steve Lavin might as well start clearing some space for all the Coach Of The Year awards that are about to come pouring in.

18. Vanderbilt (21-7)
Key Wins: UNC, Marquette, Georgia, Ole Miss, St. Mary’s, @Miss St, SCU, Alabama, Kentucky, @Georgia
Key Losses: WVU, Missouri, @South Carolina, @Tennessee, Arkansas, @Florida, Tennessee
Last Week: #18

19. Arizona (23-6)
Key Wins: @NC State, @Oregon, ASU, @WSU, UCLA, USC, @Cal, WSU, UW
Key Losses: @Kansas, @BYU, @Oregon St, UW, @USC, @UCLA
Last Week: #15
Comments: I expressed my doubts about Arizona two weeks ago and they went 0-2 this week. Derrick Williams is an absolute beast, but I still don’t think this is the best the PAC-10 has to offer. UCLA and Washington both have more talent on their rosters. I’m calling it now, Arizona doesn’t win the PAC-10 tournament. Arizona is now 2-4 against top 50 teams, the only squad in my top 20 that has a losing record there.

20. Kentucky (20-8)
Key Wins: @Portland, Washington, Notre Dame, @Louisville, @SCU, Georgia, Tennessee, Miss St, S.Carolina, Florida
Key Losses: @UCONN, @UNC, @Georgia, @Alabama, @Ole Miss, @Florida, @Vanderbilt, @Arkansas
Last Week: #21
Comments: For a few days, I dropped Kentucky out of my top 25, but then they come back and beat top ten Florida. Call St. John’s inconsistent if you want, but I doubt Steve Lavin is pulling out his hair as much as John Calipari is.

21. Villanova (19-8)
Key Wins: UCLA, Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville, Maryland, @Syracuse, Marquette, WVU
Key Losses: Tennessee, @UCONN, @Providence, Georgetown, @Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, SJU
Last Week: #14
Comments: Is any good team falling faster than Villanova? On January 15th, the Wildcats were 16-1. They’ve gone 3-7 since and close out their regular season with two extremely tough games on the road at Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. Yikes.

22. Xavier (22-6)
Key Wins: Butler, @RIU, Dayton, Temple, @Richmond, @Georgia, @Duquesne, @Dayton
Key Losses: ODU, Miami (OH), Gonzaga, Florida, @Cincy, @Charlotte
Last Week: #22
Comments: Temple remains ahead of Xavier in the national polls, which is perplexing so I’m just going to reiterate the reasons for all my new readers: Xavier beat Temple, rank 1st in the A-10, higher in the RPI, and have played a significantly tougher schedule and posted a even record against top 50 teams while Temple is 2-4. Ridiculous I say!

23. Utah State (26-3)
Key Wins: @Nevada, @SMC
Key Losses: @BYU, @Georgetown, @Idaho
Last Week: #25
Comments: Yawn. Who knows how good this team really is? We really only have three games to measure their actual ability level, so let’s take a look at those. They recently won on the road against a St. Mary’s team that was recently ranked by the national polls (not me). That’s great. All the way back in November they played a close game against #23 BYU on the road, a team that now stands as my #2 team in the nation. A loss, but that’s still really impressive. And finally, they got beat easily on the road by Georgetown. That’s bad, but understandable. While it pains me to put a team with such little evidence of being amongst the best in the nation in my top 25, my guess is this is a team that can win a game in the NCAA tournament and possibly make a surprise run to the Sweet 16.

24. Texas A&M (22-6)
Key Wins: Temple, Washington, Arkansas, OK St, Missouri, KSU, @Colorado, @OkSU
Key Losses: BCU, @Texas, @Nebraska, Texas, Baylor, @Baylor
Last Week: #23
Comments: Did anyone really believe in Texas A&M as a top ten team? I know I expressed my doubts at the time and they now look like a good, but not great team… they got swept by a Baylor team that has struggled this year. I dunno, something about the Aggies doesn’t do it for me, but they haven’t fallen off enough yet to drop them out of the rankings.

25. Kansas State (20-9)
Key Wins: Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, @WSU, Baylor, @Iowa St, Kansas, @Nebraska, Mizzou
Key Losses: @Duke, @Florida, UNLV, @OK St, Colorado, @Mizzou, @A&M, @Kansas, @Colorado
Last Week: Unranked
Comments: Okay, so I’m sort of betting on the come here. Kansas State probably doesn’t deserve this ranking right now, but I feel the momentum building. They’ve looked laughable at times this year, but KSU has won 6 of 7, including victories over Kansas and Missouri. They face off against Texas on the road tomorrow/today, a game that should help define if this team is back for real or not. Put me on record for the upset.

DROPPED OUT:

24. Missouri (22-7)
Key Wins: @Oregon, Vanderbilt, Illinois, ODU, KSU, Iowa St, Colorado, Baylor
Key Losses: Georgetown, @Colorado, @Texas A&M, @Texas, @OkSU, @Kansas, @KSU
Last Week: #24

NEXT FIVE:

George Mason (25-5)
Key Wins: @Charlotte, Drexel, @JMU, Hofstra, ODU, JMU, @VCU, @UNI
Key Losses: @NC St, @Wofford, @Dayton, @Hofstra, @ODU

Old Dominion (24-6)
Key Wins: Xavier, Clemson, Richmond, Dayton, George Mason, @VCU, Cleveland St, @JMU
Key Losses: Georgetown, @Delaware, @Missouri, @Drexel, VCU, @George Mason

Missouri (22-7)
Key Wins: @Oregon, Vanderbilt, Illinois, ODU, KSU, Iowa St, Colorado, Baylor
Key Losses: Georgetown, @Colorado, @Texas A&M, @Texas, @OkSU, @Kansas, @KSU

Temple (22-6)
Key Wins: Georgetown, @Georgia, @Maryland, @RIU, @Dayton, Richmond
Key Losses: @Cal, @Texas A&M, @Villanova, @Duquesne, @Xavier, @Duke

UNLV (22-7)
Key Wins: @Murray St., Wisconsin, @Virginia Tech, @KSU, New Mexico, @Colorado St, @New Mexico
Key Losses: @Louisville, UCSB, BYU, @SDSU, Colorado St, @BYU, SDSU

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College Basketball MacRankings – February 21st, 2010

February 21, 2011

I was sick this whole weekend, so while I followed all the scores across college basketball, I didn’t put much thought into my rankings until tonight. On top of being sick, this has been the toughest week to update with all the top teams losing and all the parity in college basketball in general. Not much commentary this week but I felt like I owed some explanation to the top spots.

TOP 25:

1. Kansas (25-2)
Key Wins: Arizona, UCLA, Memphis, USC, @Cal, UNT, @Michigan, @Iowa St, @Baylor, @Colorado, KSU, Mizzou, Colorado
Key Losses: Texas, @KSU
Last Week: #2
Comments: Wait… Kansas lost and moved up to #1? Seems weird, but who else do you put here? Ohio State, Texas, and Pitt all lost. Duke’s a candidate and will probably get votes, but I personally can’t put them #1 with a SoS of 39th and playing against a weak ACC. BYU or San Diego State? It’s getting close, but the world isn’t ready for a Mountain West team at the top of the rankings yet. Kansas is #1 in RPI, top ten in strength of schedule, and have 15 wins over top 100 teams–more than anyone in the country. Enough said.

2. BYU (25-2)
Key Wins: Utah St., St. Mary’s, @Vermont, Arizona, UTEP, @UNLV, @Colorado St, SDSU, UNLV
Key Losses: @UCLA, @New Mexico
Last Week: #6
Comments: Call me crazy, but BYU deserves to be here. They may play in the Mountain West, but they rank higher in strength of schedule than Pitt, Duke, and Ohio State. And they have more than twice as many wins against top 50 teams than San Diego State. And they have the best player in the country.

3. Duke (25-2)
Key Wins: Marquette, Kansas State, MSU, Butler, Miami, UAB, Maryland, @NC St, BCU, @Maryland, NC St, UNC, @Miami
Key Losses: @FSU, @SJU
Last Week: #5
Comments: I wouldn’t be surprised if Duke was #1 tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s justified. The ACC doesn’t compare to the Big 10 or the Big East or the Big 12 this year… or even the Mountain West. If Kyrie Irving had been healthy all year, Duke would probably be #1. But he’s been out and they’ve lost a couple games and their resume doesn’t quite stack up to BYU’s or Kansas’. Look at those quality wins… pretty good, but only one win over a currently ranked team.

4. San Diego State (27-1)
Key Wins: @Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Wichita St., @Cal, UNLV, @New Mexico, Colorado St, @UNLV, New Mexico
Key Losses: @BYU
Last Week: #7
Comments: The only team in the country with one loss… so how could they possibly be #4? Well, for one, they lost to BYU, and two, their strength of schedule doesn’t
compare to the other teams. I think the biggest difference between BYU and SDSU has been how well their out of conference opponents have performed. BYU beat St. Mary’s, Utah State, Arizona, UTEP, and Vermont. St. Mary’s, Utah State, and Arizona have all been top 25 teams for the past couple weeks, Vermont has 22 wins, and UTEP is first in Conference USA. SDSU had some great wins out of conference, but Gonzaga isn’t the team we expected and Wichita State is good, but struggling to win its own conference, and California is a middling PAC-10 team. Doesn’t quite match up. I’ll take BYU for now, but we’ll see what happens when the two teams square off again on the Aztecs’ turf.

5. Ohio State (25-2)
Key Wins: @Florida, @FSU, South Carolina, Oakland, Minnesota, @Michigan, Penn St, @Illinois, Purdue, N’western, @Minnesota, MSU
Key Losses: @Wisconsin, @Purdue
Last Week: #3

6. Texas (23-4)
Key Wins: Illinois, @UNC, @MSU, Arkansas, A&M, @Kansas, @Ok St, Mizzou, @A&M, Baylor, OkSU
Key Losses: @Pitt, @USC, UCONN, @Nebraska
Last Week: #1
Comment: I gave Texas a pass on the USC loss and put them @ #1 last week even though they had three losses. Well, losing to Nebraska in February isn’t the same as losing to USC in November. It was a startling loss, but the Cornhuskers aren’t nearly as bad as they were supposed to be. Regardless, with four losses, including a recent one to a relatively weak team, Texas has to drop. I’d still take them in my top 2 picks if I was drafting for the NCAA tournament though. Don’t sleep.

7. Pittsburgh (24-3)
Key Wins: Maryland, Texas, UCONN, Marquette, @Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincy, @WVU, @Villanova
Key Losses: Tennessee, NDU, @SJU
Last Week: #4

8. Purdue (22-5)
Key Wins: Oakland, @V-Tech, @Michigan, N’western, @Penn St, Penn St, MSU, Minnesota, @Illinois, Wisconsin, OSU
Key Losses: @Richmond, @Minnesota, @WVU, @OSU, @Wisconsin
Comments: Purdue had a monster week. First they beat an extremely hot Wisconsin team and then followed that by toppling Ohio State. Granted, both wins were at home after losing to both those teams on the road, but impressive nonetheless.
Last Week: #13

9. Georgetown (21-6)
Key Wins: NC State, @ODU, @Missouri, Utah State, @Memphis, SJU, @Villanova, L’ville, @Syracuse, Marquette
Key Losses: @Temple, @Notre Dame, @St. John’s, WVU, Pitt, @UCONN
Last Week: #9

10. Florida (21-5)
Key Wins: @FSU, KSU, Xavier, RIU, Ole Miss, @Tennessee, Arkansas, @Georgia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, @SCU, Tennessee
Key Losses: OSU, @UCF, Jacksonville, SCU, @Miss St
Last Week: #12

11. Notre Dame (21-5)
Key Wins: Cal, Georgia, @Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown, UCONN, SJU, Cincy, Marquette, @Pitt, L’ville
Key Loses: @Kentucky, @Syracuse, @Marquette, @SJU, @WVU
Last Week: #8

12. Connecticut (20-6)
Key Wins: Wichita State, MSU, Kentucky, @Texas, Villanova, Tennessee, @Marquette, G’town
Key Losses: @Pitt, @NDU, L’ville, Syracuse, @SJU, @L’ville
Last Week: #11

13. Wisconsin (20-6)
Key Wins: @BCU, NC State, @Marquette, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, Purdue, MSU, OSU, Penn St
Key Losses: @UNLV, Notre Dame, @Illinois, @MSU, @Penn St, @Purdue
Last Week: #10

14. Villanova (19-6)
Key Wins: UCLA, Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville, Maryland, @Syracuse, Marquette, WVU
Key Losses: Tennessee, @UCONN, @Providence, Georgetown, @Rutgers, Pitt
Last Week: #14

15. Arizona (23-4)
Key Wins: @NC State, @Oregon, ASU, @WSU, UCLA, USC, @Cal, WSU, UW
Key Losses: @Kansas, @BYU, @Oregon St, UW
Last Week: #15

16. North Carolina (20-6)
Key Wins: Kentucky, @Virginia, V-Tech, Clemson, @Miami, NC St, @BCU, FSU, @Clemson, BCU
Key Losses: Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, @Georgia Tech, @Duke
Last Week: #16

17. Syracuse (22-6)
Key Wins: MSU, NC State, Notre Dame, @St. John’s, Cincinnati, @UCONN, WVU
Key Losses: @Pitt, Villanova, Seton Hall, @Marquette, G’town, @L’ville
Last Week: #17

18. Vanderbilt (20-6)
Key Wins: UNC, Marquette, Georgia, Ole Miss, St. Mary’s, @Miss St, SCU, Alabama, Kentucky, @Georgia
Key Losses: WVU, Missouri, @South Carolina, @Tennessee, Arkansas, @Florida
Last Week: #18

19. St. John’s (17-9)
Key Wins: ASU, Northwestern, @WVU, @Providence, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UCONN, @Cincy, @Marquette, Pitt
Key Losses: @St. Mary’s, St. Bonaventure, @Fordham, @Notre Dame, Syracuse, @Louisville, Cincy, @Georgetown, @UCLA
Last Week: #21
Comments: Giant killers. Maddeningly inconsistent, but they can beat anyone on any given day, especially at home.

21. Louisville (20-7)
Key Wins: Butler, UNLV, Marquette, SJU, WVU, @UCONN, Syracuse, UCONN
Key Losses: Drexel, Kentucky, @Villanova, @Providence, @G’town, @NDU, @Cincy
Last Week: #20
Comments: I never thought Louisville would last in the top 25, but with roughly four games left in the regular season, I think it’s time to admit they belong here. Peyton Siva has definitely blossomed as a sophomore (Seattle stand up!) and has become a true leader and go-to player for this team.

22. Kentucky (19-7)
Key Wins: @Portland, Washington, Notre Dame, @Louisville, @SCU, Georgia, Tennessee, Miss St, S.Carolina
Key Losses: @UCONN, @UNC, @Georgia, @Alabama, @Ole Miss, @Florida, @Vanderbilt
Last Week: #19

22. Xavier (20-6)
Key Wins: Butler, @RIU, Dayton, Temple, @Richmond, @Georgia, @Duquesne
Key Losses: ODU, Miami (OH), Gonzaga, Florida, @Cincy, @Charlotte
Last Week: #22

23. Texas A&M (21-5)
Key Wins: Temple, Washington, Arkansas, OK St, Missouri, KSU, @Colorado, @OkSU
Key Losses: BCU, @Texas, @Nebraska, Texas, Baylor
Last Week: #23

24. Missouri (21-6)
Key Wins: @Oregon, Vanderbilt, Illinois, ODU, KSU, Iowa St, Colorado
Key Losses: Georgetown, @Colorado, @Texas A&M, @Texas, @OkSU, @Kansas
Last Week: #24

25. Utah State (25-3)
Key Wins: @Nevada, @SMC
Key Losses: @BYU, @Georgetown, @Idaho
Last Week: Unranked
Comment: It kills me to do it, but Utah State has been manhandling everyone they’ve played and they embarrassed St. Mary’s on the Gaels’ home turf… and St. Mary’s has been in the national top 25 for a couple weeks now. So while the Aggies are still mostly untested, that win proves they at least have some reason to be sniffing the top 25 and hints they might be able to win a game or two in the tournament.

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Mac’s College Basketball Rankings – Valentine’s Day Edition

February 14, 2011

TOP 25:

1. Texas (22-3)
Key Wins: Illinois, @UNC, @MSU, Arkansas, A&M, @Kansas, @Ok St, Mizzou, @A&M, Baylor
Key Losses: @Pitt, @USC, UCONN
Last Week: #3
Comments: I’ve been on the Texas bandwagon for a few weeks now, so it should come as no surprise that I bumped them to #1 now that Ohio State has finally taken an L. I’m kind of expecting Kansas to be #1 tomorrow and I can see the reasoning there: they were #2 last week and are currently #1 in the RPI rankings, so if we ignore all other factors, it seems like an obvious choice to move them into the top spot. Texas will get some first place votes though because I can’t imagine I’m the only person in the nation that can’t ignore the glaring fact that Texas beat Kansas by 9 in Kansas. Sure, Texas has three losses and there’s no excuse for getting blown out by USC, but if you look at Texas’ other two losses they happened by a whopping combined total of 3 points at the hands of two top ten teams (Pitt & UCONN). I can see the argument for Kansas, but Texas has that huge road victory over the Jayhawks and all the momentum right now.

2. Kansas (24-1)
Key Wins: Arizona, UCLA, Memphis, USC, @Cal, UNT, @Michigan, @Iowa St, @Baylor, @Colorado, KSU, Mizzou
Key Losses: Texas
Last Week: #2
Comments: Just to add to my comments above, I don’t really understand how Kansas is #11 in Strength of Schedule and Texas is #17. They play in the same conference and Kansas’ non-conference schedule included Memphis and… well, the Pac-10, while Texas played Pitt, UCONN, Michigan State, Illinois, and North Carolina (all five of which have been ranked this season, two of which are still in the top ten) … uhhh… okay.

3. Ohio State (24-1)
Key Wins: @Florida, @FSU, South Carolina, Oakland, Minnesota, @Michigan, Penn St, @Illinois, Purdue, N’western, @Minnesota
Key Losses: @Wisconsin
Last Week: #1
Comments: I think a lot of people saw that first loss coming this weekend. Wisconsin is a good team that plays even better at home. It was bound to happen. OSU should still snag some first place votes and certainly won’t fall any lower than this.

4. Pittsburgh (23-2)
Key Wins: Maryland, Texas, UCONN, Marquette, @Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincy, @WVU, @Villanova
Key Losses: Tennessee, NDU
Last Week: #4
Comments: The Panthers have long made it clear that they’re the team to beat in the Big East, but added an exclamation point to the statement with road wins over West Virginia and Villanova this week.

5. Duke (23-2)
Key Wins: Marquette, Kansas State, MSU, Butler, Miami, UAB, Maryland, @NC St, BCU, @Maryland, NC St, UNC, @Miami
Key Losses: @FSU, @SJU
Last Week: #5
Comments: Okay… Duke takes the first round at home against North Carolina, but the Tarheels showed it could be a different story when Duke comes to their house. Isn’t it funny how Duke went from the consensus best team in America to having almost no buzz at all now? Blame it on the rest of the ACC… and Kyrie Irving’s injury. I still don’t know the timetable for Irving to come back, but if he’s healthy when the tournament starts, don’t forget about Duke.

6. BYU (24-2)
Key Wins: Utah St., St. Mary’s, @Vermont, Arizona, UTEP, @UNLV, @Colorado St, SDSU, UNLV
Key Losses: @UCLA, @New Mexico
Last Week: #6

7. San Diego State (25-1)
Key Wins: @Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Wichita St., @Cal, UNLV, @New Mexico, Colorado St, @UNLV
Key Losses: @BYU
Last Week: #7

8. Notre Dame (21-4)
Key Wins: Cal, Georgia, @Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown, UCONN, SJU, Cincy, Marquette, @Pitt, L’ville
Key Loses: @Kentucky, @Syracuse, @Marquette, @SJU
Last Week: #8
Comments: I remember when UCONN shocked the world by knocking off Wichita State, Michigan State and Kentucky way back in November… they made a historic jump up the rankings, going all the way from unranked to the top 5. Well, Notre Dame has taken a much longer road, but the end result is no less stunning. This was a team that might make the tournament this year after losing star Luke Harongody and now finds itself firmly in the top ten… a place I can’t remember them ever reaching with their previously mentioned superstar. Crazy.

9. Georgetown (20-5)
Key Wins: NC State, @ODU, @Missouri, Utah State, @Memphis, SJU, @Villanova, L’ville, @Syracuse, Marquette
Key Losses: @Temple, @Notre Dame, @St. John’s, WVU, Pitt
Last Week: #10
Comments: The hottest team in the nation outside of Texas continues its assault on the Big East knocking off Syracuse on the road and then beating Marquette at home.

10. Wisconsin (19-5)
Key Wins: @BCU, NC State, @Marquette, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, Purdue, MSU, OSU
Key Losses: @UNLV, Notre Dame, @Illinois, @MSU, @Penn St
Last Week: #14
Comments: Another team that has really been gaining momentum in the past couple weeks made the biggest statement of the week by handing Ohio State its first loss; and it was a gutsy performance to boot: Wisconsin was down 15 at one point in the second half. Oh, the Badgers also beat some team called Michigan State this week… by 30.

11. Connecticut (19-5)
Key Wins: Wichita State, MSU, Kentucky, @Texas, Villanova, Tennessee, @Marquette
Key Losses: @Pitt, @NDU, L’ville, Syracuse, @SJU
Last Week: #9

12. Florida (20-5)
Key Wins: @FSU, KSU, Xavier, RIU, Ole Miss, @Tennessee, Arkansas, @Georgia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, @SCU, Tennessee
Key Losses: OSU, @UCF, Jacksonville, SCU, @Miss St
Last Week: #16
Comments: Florida started the year looking pretty inconsistent, posting a mixture of great wins and some bad losses. Things have since evened out for the Gators and they’ve started to take on the look of one of the best teams in the country. It’s taken a while for their actual ranking to catch up to their RPI standing, but at 11-2 against top 100 teams and a #6 ranking in SoS, you can’t ignore this team anymore.

13. Purdue (20-5)
Key Wins: Oakland, @V-Tech, @Michigan, N’western, @Penn St, Penn St, MSU, Minnesota, @Illinois
Key Losses: @Richmond, @Minnesota, @WVU, @OSU, @Wisconsin
Last Week: #13

14. Villanova (17-6)
Key Wins: UCLA, Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville, Maryland, @Syracuse, Marquette, WVU
Key Losses: Tennessee, @UCONN, @Providence, Georgetown, @Rutgers, Pitt
Last Week: #11
Comments: The Wildcats had a tough week with two losses and a particularly bad one against Rutgers, but Villanova manages to avoid a freefall down the rankings due an overall impressive resume.

15. Arizona (21-4)
Key Wins: @NC State, @Oregon, ASU, @WSU, UCLA, USC, @Cal
Key Losses: @Kansas, @BYU, @Oregon St, UW
Last Week: #18
Comments: Arizona has earned their way into the top 15, but I’m not entirely sold on this team. They’re 1-3 against the top 50 and can’t really claim any great wins on their resume. They played Kansas relatively close, but BYU destroyed them. Mark me down as skeptical.

16. North Carolina (18-6)
Key Wins: Kentucky, @Virginia, V-Tech, Clemson, @Miami, NC St, @BCU, FSU, @Clemson
Key Losses: Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, @Georgia Tech, @Duke
Last Week: #15
Comments: Pretty much a break even week for UNC. No one really expects them to win @Duke and a road win @Clemson takes a lot of heat off that loss. Their momentum hit a road block, but I still consider this a team on the rise.

17. Syracuse (20-6)
Key Wins: MSU, NC State, Notre Dame, @St. John’s, Cincinnati, @UCONN
Key Losses: @Pitt, Villanova, Seton Hall, @Marquette, G’town, @L’ville
Last Week: #12
Comments: Syracuse lost two games in the same week for the third time this year and now hold a 4-4 record against top 50 teams. I was pretty skeptical about the Orange earlier in the year and then they started to make me look stupid… well, now they’re sitting about where I always expected they would.

18. Vanderbilt (18-6)
Key Wins: UNC, Marquette, Georgia, Ole Miss, St. Mary’s, @Miss St, SCU, Alabama, Kentucky
Key Losses: WVU, Missouri, @South Carolina, @Tennessee, Arkansas, @Florida
Last Week: #25
Comments: The Commodores beat Kentucky and a pretty decent Alabama team and finally had the breakthrough week they’ve been looking for after hanging around the top 25 bubble for most of the season.

19. Kentucky (17-7)
Key Wins: @Portland, Washington, Notre Dame, @Louisville, @SCU, Georgia, Tennessee
Key Losses: @UCONN, @UNC, @Georgia, @Alabama, @Ole Miss, @Florida, @Vanderbilt
Last Week: #17
Comments: Kentucky is still one of the strongest teams in the RPI rankings, but the rest of the SEC doesn’t seem to care too much about all that: Kentucky is now 5-5 in conference play and tied for 4th in the SEC East. There’s a ton of talent on this team, maybe the most in the nation, but it seems like they’re still figuring out how to win as a team and having a bit more growing pains than last year’s similarly young roster.

20. Louisville (19-6)
Key Wins: Butler, UNLV, Marquette, SJU, WVU, @UCONN, Syaracuse
Key Losses: Drexel, Kentucky, @Villanova, @Providence, @G’town, @NDU
Last Week: #19

21. St. John’s (15-9)
Key Wins: ASU, Northwestern, @WVU, @Providence, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UCONN, @Cincy
Key Losses: @St. Mary’s, St. Bonaventure, @Fordham, @Notre Dame, Syracuse, @Louisville, Cincy, @Georgetown, @UCLA
Last Week: Unranked
Comments: I almost didn’t rank St. John’s because of the nine losses, but they also have a pretty stellar resume. They’ve posted wins over Notre Dame, Georgetown, and UCONN: all ranked in my top 11… and they beat West Virginia on the road, a team I’ve had ranked for weeks now. SJU is inconsistent and unpredictable, but they’re tied with Villanova, Connecticut, and West Virginia in the Big East standings and are half a game ahead of Syracuse, so they’ve certainly proved they can hang with the best teams in the nation.

22. Xavier (18-6)
Key Wins: Butler, @RIU, Dayton, Temple, @Richmond, @Georgia, @Duquesne
Key Losses: ODU, Miami (OH), Gonzaga, Florida, @Cincy, @Charlotte
Last Week: #22
Comments: For some reason, the Atlantic 10 is represented in the AP top 25 by Temple, while Xavier finished 34th in votes last week. Xavier is 19th in the RPI, Temple is 33rd. Xavier is 29th in SoS, Temple is 99th. Xavier is 9-4 against the top 100, Temple is 7-5. And this probably isn’t important, but Xavier BEAT Temple. Really???

23. Texas A&M (19-5)
Key Wins: Temple, Washington, Arkansas, OK St, Missouri, KSU, @Colorado
Key Losses: BCU, @Texas, @Nebraska, Texas, Baylor
Last Week: #21
Comments: I’ve been harsh on A&M in recent weeks. It’s not like they’re losing a lot of games they shouldn’t be. Hell, 40% of their losses are to the team I now have as #1 in the nation and they have a handful of quality wins under their belt. The only crime A&M has committed is that their momentum has kind of gone stagnant in a Big 12 Conference that isn’t as good as everyone thought it would be, while everyone else is gaining steam while playing tougher schedules.

24. Missouri (19-6)
Key Wins: @Oregon, Vanderbilt, Illinois, ODU, KSU, Iowa St, Colorado
Key Losses: Georgetown, @Colorado, @Texas A&M, @Texas, @OkSU, @Kansas
Last Week: #20

25. West Virginia (16-8)
Key Wins: Oakland, Vanderbilt, Cleveland St., @Georgetown, Purdue, @Cincy
Key Losses: Minnesota, @Miami, St. John’s, @Marquette, Marshall, @Louisville, @Villanova, Pitt
Last Week: #23

DROPPED OUT:

24. Minnesota (17-8)
Key Wins: @UNC, @West Virginia, Purdue, @Michigan, N’western
Key Losses: Virginia, @Wisconsin, @MSU, @OSU, @Purdue, @Indiana, OSU, Illinois
Last Week: #24

Other Notes:

-To continue my bashing of Utah State (currently #21 in the nation and rising), here’s another statistic: 19 of their 23 wins have come against teams ranked #151 or worse. I don’t want to give the impression that I think this team sucks–they’ve been the best team in their conference for years now–I just think it’s silly to rank them with the top teams in the nation when there’s absolutely no basis for it. They do face St. Mary’s next Saturday, which is by far their toughest game of the year, but it’s feasible they could finish the year 27-4 and ranked inside the top 20… and what kind of seed will that get them in the NCAA tournament? A 4 or a 5 seed? No… at best they’ll get a 7 seed, but more than likely they’ll be a #10 and enter the first round as an underdog to a team they finished ahead of in the national rankings.

-For a moment today, before doing my final edits, I had George Mason in my top 25. They are currently in the top 25 of the RPI and sitting atop of a Colonial Conference that boasts six teams that are at least sniffing at large berths. Obviously that’s not going to happen, but I think George Mason, Old Dominion, and VCU are all in right now. Yes, the Colonial Conference has more tournament prospects than the PAC-10. Gross.

-Kansas State is still firmly in the at large picture, but I just can’t help but toss this stat out there: 0 wins, 7 losses against teams in the top 50.

-UCLA can be considered amongst my teams that are currently on the rise. The Bruins have been okay against the nation’s best teams (4-5 against the top 100), but they’ve reeled off 9 wins in their last 10 games (including a win over St. John’s) and have gone from the NCAA tourney bubble to nationally relevant.

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Weekly College Basketball Rankings 12/27

December 27, 2010

I’ve been sick this past holiday weekend, so I’m just doing a fast update today. No team-by-team analysis. I copied and pasted the rankings from my Word document, so I have every team’s important wins and losses listed as well. Last Week’s Ranking in brackets:

Top 25

1. Duke (11-0)
[1]
Key Wins: Marquette, Kansas State, MSU, Butler
Key Losses:

2. Ohio State (12-0) [2]
Key Wins: Florida, FSU, South Carolina, Oakland
Key Losses:

3. Kansas (11-0) [3]
Key Wins: Arizona, UCLA, Memphis, USC, Cal
Key Losses:

4. Connecticut (10-0) [4]
Key Wins: Wichita State, MSU, Kentucky
Key Losses:

5. Syracuse (13-0) [5]
Key Wins: MSU, NC State
Key Losses:

6. Georgetown (10-1) [6]
Key Wins: NC State, ODU, Missouri, Utah State, Memphis
Key Losses: Temple

7. Pittsburgh (12-1) [7]
Key Wins: Maryland, Texas
Key Losses: Tennessee

8. San Diego State (14-0) [9]
Key Wins: Gonzaga, St. Mary’s,Wichita St., Cal
Key Losses:

9. Villanova (10-1) [10]
Key Wins: UCLA
Key Losses: Tennessee

10. Kentucky (9-2) [11]
Key Wins: Washington, Notre Dame
Key Losses: UCONN, UNC

11. Minnesota (11-1) [14]
Key Wins: Siena, W.Kentucky, UNC, West Virginia
Key Losses: Virginia

12. Missouri (11-1) [15]
Key Wins: Vanderbilt, Illinois
Key Losses: Georgetown

13. BYU (12-1) [18]
Key Wins: Utah St., St. Mary’s, Arizona, UTEP
Key Losses: UCLA

14. Purdue (11-1) [13]
Key Wins: Oakland, Virginia Tech
Key Losses: Richmond

15. Texas (10-2) [22]
Key Wins: Illinois, UNC, MSU
Key Losses: Pitt, USC

16. Notre Dame (11-1)
[21]
Key Wins: Cal, Georgia, Wisconsin, Gonzaga
Key Loses: Kentucky

17. Texas A&M (11-1) [23]
Key Wins: Temple, Washington, Arkansas
Key Losses: BCU

18. Kansas State (10-3) [8]
Key Wins: Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, WSU
Key Losses: Duke, Florida, UNLV

19. West Virginia (8-2) [25]
Key Wins: Oakland, Vanderbilt, VMI, Cleveland St.
Key Losses: Minnesota, Miami

20. Memphis (9-2) [12]
Key Wins: Miami, LSU
Key Losses: Kansas, Georgetown

21. Illinois (10-3) [16]
Key Wins: Maryland, UNC, Gonzaga
Key Losses: Texas, Ill.Chicago, Missouri

22. Louisville (10-1) [unranked]
Key Wins: Butler, UNLV, W.Kentucky
Key Losses: Drexel

23. UCF (11-0) [unranked]
Key Wins: Florida, Miami
Key Losses:

24. UNLV (11-2)
[unranked]
Key Wins: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, KSU
Key Losses: Louisville, UCSB

25. Tennessee (8-3) [17]
Key Wins: VCU, Villanova, Pittsburgh
Key Losses: Oakland, Charlotte, USC

Dropped Out:

19. Baylor (8-3)
Key Wins: ASU
Key Losses: Gonzaga, WSU, FSU

20. Michigan State (8-4)
Key Wins: Washington, Oakland
Key Losses: UCONN, Duke, Syracuse, Texas

24. Florida (9-3)
Key Wins: FSU, KSU
Key Losses: OSU, UCF, Jacksonville

Bubble:

Boston College (10-2)
Key Wins: Texas A&M, Cal, Maryland
Key Losses: Wisconsin

Butler (9-4)
Key Wins: Siena, Stanford, FSU, WSU
Key Losses: Louisville, Evansville, Duke, Xavier

Old Dominion (9-2)
Key Wins: Xavier, Clemson, Richmond, Dayton
Key Losses: Georgetown, Delaware

Temple (9-2)
Key Wins: Georgetown, Georgia, Maryland
Key Losses: Cal, Texas A&M

Washington (8-3)
Key Wins: Texas Tech, Portland
Key Losses: MSU, Kentucky, Texas A&M

Washington State (10-2)
Key Wins: Gonzaga, Miss. St., Baylor
Key Losses: Kansas State, Butler

Notes:

-College basketball was mostly dormant this weekend, but the first half of the week saw a lot of top 25 teams taking losses, which lead to major shuffling in the rankings.

-What’s it going to take for Michigan State to fall out of the national rankings? They were #12 last week with 3 losses… what does 4 losses get you?

-Biggest losers of the week were Tennessee, Kansas State, and Baylor. Who knows what’s going on with the Volunteers, but at least KSU can point to the absence of their top two scorers. They are both on the verge of falling out of the rankings, but these are both teams I’d have a hard time betting against in March. Same goes for MSU. Baylor was a team I’ve had question marks about all season. Heading into this past week, they were ranked #15 in the national polls, but didn’t even crack the top 100 of the RPI. They’ve played three good teams and taken three losses. Consider them exposed.

-Biggest winners of the week were Texas and Butler. Texas knocked off Michigan State and Butler won the tournament in Hawaii, taking down Florida State and Washington State in the process. Texas could be as high as #12 in the national rankings and I wouldn’t be surprised if Butler found itself ranked again. Butler cracks the top 10 of the RPI and rank #3 in strength of schedule; not bad for a team that was having columns written about its dismal tournament chances a couple weeks ago. For now, Butler is good enough to be at the top of my bubble.

-When I updated my rankings in the middle of the week, I had Washington State @ #19. They’ve been impressive lately, but they got smoked by Butler on Christmas and cost themselves a top 25 spot. If they win that game, they probably get a national ranking.

-With Baylor, Tennessee, Illinois, and Florida all possibly exiting the top 25, there’s a chance Washington cracks the national rankings today. They were 27th in votes last week, and if four teams drop out, it’s likely they take a spot. Personally–even as a homer–I don’t think they deserve it. Much like Baylor, Washington has played against three good teams and lost all three games. One difference, Washington was in all three of those games until the last couple minutes. I still think UW is a top 15 team when it comes to talent and depth, but I’m basing my rankings on performance, not potential, and Washington has been disappointing so far.

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College Basketball 2009-2010 ACC Preview

October 21, 2009

Okay, so I scrapped my idea of giving an analysis of the top 25 teams… instead, I’m going to give conference previews of the Big 6 (ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC). Standings and national ranks are courtesy of Athlon Sports. Analysis and awards are courtesy of me.

ACC

1. #5 North Carolina – Not many teams can overcome losing four players to the NBA draft, but the Tar Heels always have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and this year is no different. John Henson is a top 5 recruit and Leslie McDonald, Dexter Strickland, and David & Travis Wear are all good enough to start on plenty of college teams. Ed Davis is back and is going to be a beast as a sophomore after playing second fiddle to last year’s studs… he will be a lottery pick in the next NBA draft. Deon Thompson will provide leadership and solid numbers and defensive whiz Marcus Ginyard is back after missing almost all of last year. So yes, the Heels lost plenty, but they are still loaded enough to win the ACC.

2. #13 Georgia Tech – Tech looks to be the most improved team in the nation after suffering through a 2-14 ACC debacle thanks to the signing of #1 recruit Derrick Favors and a solid returning core. Junior Gani Lawal (15.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) is back after passing on the NBA draft. Iman Shumpert is a solid scoring guard and the rest of the recruiting class is nationally ranked. Going from last in the ACC to 13th in the nation is a pretty big leap, but GT just might have the parts to do it.

3. #18 Duke – Gerald Williams went pro and Elliot Williams transferred out, but Kyle Singler is back and he’s as good as anyone in the ACC. Even though Singler will be NBA ready after this season, Duke’s stud white boys have a tendency to stay four years, so I kind of expect him back for his senior year. John Scheyer will play the point this year and isn’t a bad scorer. Nolan Smith hasn’t progressed as expected and Miles Plumlee was irrevelant as a freshman last year and both players could be passed up by stud freshmen Ryan Kelly and Miles’ brother Mason. Duke isn’t as good as they were last year, but with Singler and a solid freshman class, they will be competitive in the ACC.

4. #22 Maryland – Almost all of the key components from last year’s squad that made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament return, but none more important than Greivis Vasquez, a stud that put up 17.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 5.0 apg as a sophomore. Vasquez should compete with Kyle Singler and Ed Davis for Conference Player Of The Year and is a legitimate triple-double threat. The recruiting class is limited to two players, but both should find significant playing time. Vasquez is good enough to make Maryland the most underrated team in the ACC.

5. #24 Clemson – The Tigers lost three key players from last year’s squad, but return it’s most productive player in Trevor Booker (15.3, 9.7). Clemson is going to be young this year, but they don’t lack talent. A national ranking might be a bit overboard though.

6. Florida State – Toney Douglas and his 20+ ppg are gone, but 7’1″ center Solomon Alabi blocked 73 shots as a freshman and averaged 8.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg in 22.3 minutes; look for those numbers to improve with more playing time and experience. The Seminoles have a respectable squad and Athlon predicts them to make the tournament, but they look like a bubble team to me.

7. Boston College – BC returns everyone from a team that made the NCAA tournament last year… except their best player and leader Tyrese Rice. The Eagles didn’t sign any recruits, but they return a better core of players than FSU, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish higher in the ACC.

8. Virginia Tech – The Hokies lost their top scorer but return a couple of solid juniors in Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen. The supporting cast is weak and the recruiting class is middle of the pack for the conference, so those two juniors are going to be shouldering a big load this season.

9. Wake Forest – No team was hurt more by the NBA Draft than the Demon Deacons; stars Jeff Teague and James Johnson both bolted. With that said, Wake was ranked as high as #1 nationally last year and return a more respectable team than some of the squads ranked ahead of them. Al-Farouq Aminu put up great numbers as a freshman and should be a lottery pick in the next draft. The recruiting class is weak, but I think Wake is underrated and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them finish as high as 6th in the conference.

10. Miami – The Hurricanes lost three starters, including All-Conference player Jack McClinton. Dwayne Collins is their only solid returner, but the recruiting class is decent. This should be a year of growing pains for Miami.

11. Virginia – Sophomore Sylven Landesberg is a proven stud after averaging 16.6 points and 6 rebounds per game in his rookie season. The Cavaliers also stole Tony Bennett away from Washington State and have some decent experience returning. It’s questionable whether or not that is going to be enough to make them competitive this year.

12. North Carolina State – NC State lost its three best players from a team that finished 6-10 in conference play last year. Outlook: not good.

All ACC First Team

Ed Davis, So., F, UNC
Al-Farouq Aminu, So., F, Wake Forest
Kyle Singler, Jr., F, Duke
Greivis Vasquez, Sr., G, Maryland
Sylven Landesberg, So. G, Virginia

Player Of The Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Freshman Of The Year: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech