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College Basketball Power Rankings

Hmm, think the folks who run college basketball might know what they’re doing?

Just a day after the NFL season ended, college hoops is set to roll out its most exciting week of action yet. Honestly, look at the schedule:

Villanova-West Virginia and Texas-Kansas on Monday.

Purdue-Michigan State and Tennessee-Vanderbilt on Tuesday

On Wednesday, you’ve got Syracuse-UConn, Duke-North Carolina and New Mexico-UNLV (the totally underrated game of the entire slate)

West Virginia-Pittsburgh on Friday.

And a whole two days of wall to wall excitement on Saturday and Sunday.

If this week doesn’t get you into college basketball season, I’m not sure anything will.

1. Kansas (22-1, 8-0): It wasn’t the prettiest week for the Jayhawks, but they did what they needed to do to beat Colorado and Nebraska and stay atop the Power Rankings. Things will quickly get tricky though, starting with a mega-showdown with Texas on Monday night.

2. Syracuse (23-1, 10-1): Add two more double-digit wins to the resume of college basketball’s hottest team, after Syracuse dominated both Providence College and Cincinnati in the last 10 days. As hard as it may be to believe, after 30 years in business, and over 600 wins to his credit, this is Jim Boeheim’s best coaching job yet.

3. Kentucky (22-1, 7-1): Question: With DeMarcus Cousins recording his sixth straight double-double, and 15th straight game with double figures in scoring, is it time to start talking about Kentucky’s other freshman for the SEC Player of the Year?

4. Villanova (20-2, 9-1): Villanova’s 11 game win streak had to end at some point, but few expected it to come to the screeching halt it did Saturday at Georgetown. With Monday’s trip to West Virginia, can a team who hadn’t lost in close to six weeks now lose twice in a row?

5. West Virginia (19-3, 8-2): To steal a line from the movie Major League, with Syracuse and Villanova ahead of them in the Big East standings, West Virginia is just, “lying in the weeds.” To gain the national respect that the Mountaineers crave, they’ll need a home win against Villanova Monday night.

6. Purdue (19-3, 7-3): Remember a few weeks back when Purdue had lost three in a row and we were wondering what the heck was wrong with the Boilermakers? Well after five straight wins, Purdue is playing fast and loose, but will having their biggest test of the season, Tuesday at Michigan State.

7. Georgetown (17-5, 7-4): Yes, the Hoyas lost to South Florida in the middle of last week, but if Saturday’s win against Villanova proved anything, it’s that this team can beat anyone in the country. They should continue to roll, with two winnable games against Providence and Rutgers this week.

8. Duke (19-4, 7-2): Well, well, well, looks like the Blue Devils might not be left for dead after all. While this team has its deficiencies, Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech proved that Duke might be mentally tougher then we give them credit for.

9. Kansas State (19-4, 6-3): Let’s give some praise to K-State. It’s never easy to win on the road in the Big XII, which is exactly what they did twice last week, with wins at Nebraska and Iowa State. And with Colorado and Nebraska at home coming up, look for them to continue to creep higher in these rankings.

10. Wisconsin (18-5, 6-3): The Badgers once again proved that the Kohl Center is a house of horrors for Big 10 opposition, as Michigan State lost their first conference game of the season last Tuesday in Madison. Once again, Bo Ryan has his team peaking at just the right time.

11. Tennessee (18-4, 6-2): Here’s the good news if you’re a fan of Tennessee basketball: Your team just won two more games, and welcomed back Brian Williams after a month’s suspension. Here’s the bad news: You’ve got trips to Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the next seven days…Uh oh…

12. Michigan State (19-5, 9-2): The Big 10 schedule makers did the Spartans no favors with back to back road trips to Wisconsin and Illinois last week, games that both ended in losses. Although Michigan State will be back at the Breslin Center Tuesday night, it doesn’t get any easier, as No. 6 Purdue comes to town.

13. Ohio State (18-6, 8-3): It seemed like just another ho-hum week for the Buckeyes, as they notched two more wins, both by double-figures. And oh by the way, Evan Turner averaged 29.5 points in those two victories. Can someone say National Player of the Year?

14. Texas (19-4, 5-3): And juuuuust when we were ready to jump back on the Longhorns bandwagon, they got embarrassed Saturday afternoon, by an embarrassing Oklahoma team in its own right. Texas is still looking to regain their early season mojo. Needless to say, a win over No.1 ranked Kansas on Monday night would do just the trick.

15. Gonzaga (17-4, 7-1): I’ve got to admit, as recently as a week ago, nobody was more weary of Gonzaga than I was. But for the Zags to come out on Thursday night, dominate a good Portland team, then fly across country and beat Memphis 36 hours later, I now know that while some teams may have more talent than Gonzaga, no one has more heart.

16. Northern Iowa (21-2, 12-1): It’s still hard to say what exactly we should make of Northern Iowa, as they won two games last week by a combined six points, with both games at home. Then again, dating back to November 21, the Panthers have won 20 of their last 21 games. Maybe we shouldn’t be questioning them at all.

17. New Mexico (21-3, 7-2): If you remember back a few weeks, the Lobos were a fixture in these Power Rankings, until a surprising two game slide in early January. Well, they’ve now won seven games in a row, and could be here to stay. Well, if they can get a win at UNLV on Wednesday night anyway.

18. Butler (20-4, 13-0): Guess who’s baaaaack? After some early season struggles, the Bulldogs are making their usual mid-season romp through the Horizon standings, and have now won 12 in a row. No one in college basketball is hotter right now.

19. Georgia Tech (17-6, 5-4): Some days, Georgia Tech sure looks like they can beat anyone in the country. Last Thursday was not one of those days, as they got run out of the gym at Duke. It’ll be very curious to see what this talented (but young) team does with road trips to Miami and Wake Forest this week.

20. BYU (22-3, 7-2): After getting as high as No. 14 in these rankings two weeks ago, BYU has now lost two of their last four games. While it’s hard to blame the Cougars for losses at New Mexico and UNLV, it is easy to blame their effort on Saturday, as they gave up 56 first half points in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the 88-74 final score might indicate.

New to the Power Rankings: Northern Iowa, New Mexico, Butler

Dropping Out: Baylor, Vanderbilt, Temple

Aaron Torres
With a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Connecticut, Aaron Torres has covered a number of different sports for several different media outlets in the northeastern United States. You can find more of his writing at www.aarontorres-sports.com and you can follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/Aaron_Torres).
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