With most schools in the midst of final exams, few meaningful games were played this past week, hence there is little change in our College Basketball Power Rankings. But with the semester done, the on the court tests begin, as many teams are challenging themselves out of conference this coming week:
1. North Carolina (9-0, 0-0): The Tar Heels played only once this past week, another ho-hum win against Oral Roberts. They did however give up 86 points on 44 percent shooting, so the question has to be asked: are last years sloppy defensive habits slowly coming back?
2. Connecticut (8-0, 0-0): UConn hasn’t played in over a week, and has just a tune-up tonight before taking on Gonzaga Saturday. Luckily for Huskies fans, an already loaded squad welcomes back Stanley Robinson- a starter on last years 24 win team- after a first semester suspension.
3. Pittsburgh (9-0, 0-0): With upcoming games against Siena (an NCAA Tournament team last year) and Florida State (9-1), we should know a bit more about the Panthers at this time next week. The biggest question? With Big East play upcoming, who’s going to contribute for this team off the bench?
4. Oklahoma (10-0, 0-0): The Sooners proved they can win without a major contribution from Blake Griffin, who had 11 points, all on made free throws against Utah Saturday. The other four starters stepped up, each scoring double figures for an Oklahoma team that is 10-0 for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.
5. Texas (8-1, 0-0): Texas put together their best defensive effort of the year Tuesday, holding an undefeated Villanova team to 38 percent shooting in a comfortable win. If the season ended today, A.J. Abrams (20.2 ppg) would be a 1st Team All-American.
6. Gonzaga (7-1, 0-0): Gonzaga finally got the effort they’ve wanted out of Austin Daye (22 points) on Sunday; unfortunately it ended in their first loss of the season. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Zags host UConn Saturday afternoon, in what could be a Final Four preview.
7. Duke (8-1, 0-0): The Blue Devils haven’t taken the court since their loss at Michigan on December 6. They’ll have their hands full this Saturday, when they welcome undefeated Xavier to Cameron Indoor Arena.
8. Louisville (6-1, 0-0): Wins continue to pile up for Louisville, but few have been impressive. One guy who hasn’t disappointed is freshman Samardo Samuels (17 points and 6 rebounds per game), the Cardinals most consistent player.
9. Syracuse (9-0, 0-0): The Orange keep winning, but may be without guard Eric Devendorf for the rest of the year, as he is appealing a suspension from the university. Syracuse cannot afford to be short-handed in their next big test, Saturday at Memphis.
10. Xavier (9-0, 0-0): Xavier improved to 9-0 the hard way, beating cross-town rival Cincinnati, in a physical and emotional game that saw a combined six technical fouls. Going to Duke this Saturday will be the Musketeers biggest challenge yet.
11. Ohio State (6-0, 0-0): Ohio State had a quiet week, winning a close game against Butler Saturday night. Evan Turner (16.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is sky-rocketing up NBA Draft boards every time he laces up his sneakers.
12. Wake Forest (9-0, 0-0): Want a team that’s sky-rocketing every time they lace up their sneakers? How about Wake Forest? The youthful Demon Deacons (their top three scorers are either freshmen or sophomores) are 9-0, but can’t overlook a road trip to Richmond this Friday night.
13. Davidson (8-1, 1-0): Stephen Curry continues to show the heart of a champion, scoring 13 of Davidson’s last 15 points in their win over West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic. The Wildcats road show continues this Saturday with a trip to Purdue.
14. Georgetown (7-1, 0-0): Georgetown never wins pretty, but a victory against Memphis Saturday showed the Hoyas can beat teams that may have more size and athleticism. While his stats don’t jump out at you (14 ppg), DaJuan Summers is as good as any wing in college basketball.
15. Villanova (10-1, 0-0): The Wildcats dropped a few spots, but can’t be blamed too much for their loss to a very good Texas team. But if Villanova wants to compete in the Big East, they’ll need better play out of Scottie Reynolds, who was just 2-7 from the field against the Longhorns.
16. Baylor (8-1, 0-0): Although a 27 point win over Prairie View A&M doesn’t say much, Baylor is the best team in college basketball no one is talking about. With their next five games at home before opening Big XII play on January 10, the Bears could see themselves much higher in these rankings.
17. Marquette (8-1, 0-0): The Golden Eagles returned to the Power Rankings after wins over cross-state rival Wisconsin and IPFW. But will they stay after their game at Tennessee Tuesday night?
18. Notre Dame (7-2, 0-0): Luke Harangody had his fifth double-double in seven games played this year, in a come from behind victory over Boston University. For the Irish to compete in the Big East this season, they’ll need better contribution from his supporting cast.
19. Michigan (7-2, 0-0): Don’t look now, but John Beilein’s boys are 7-2 and already have wins over UCLA and Duke. It’s been 11 years since the Wolverines have gone to an NCAA Tournament, a streak likely to end this year.
20. Michigan State (6-2, 0-0): It’s not the Final Four, but the Spartans will take a 118-60 win against Alcorn State that saw five players in double figures and 16 seeing playing time. With a trip to Texas this weekend, Michigan State can either make a big statement, or fall back out of the Power Rankings, one week after returning.