College Basketball Power Rankings

Just when we thought we were figuring out this whole college basketball thing, we realized in fact we knew nothing at all.

Over the weekend both No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Kansas lost, and No. 4 Purdue was crippled by a devastating, season altering injury.

Yet despite all that, one team remained impressive and then some, and for the first time this season, they headline our Power Rankings…

1. Syracuse (27-2, 14-2): No one in college basketball has had a more dominating victory against a better opponent than Syracuse’s win over Villanova Saturday night. While Kansas and Kentucky get all the love nationally, this is the team that no one wants to play come tournament time.

2. Kansas (27-2, 13-1): Want to know the biggest reason for Kansas’ loss on Saturday to Oklahoma State? The Jayhawks, a team that allows opponents to shoot just 37 percent from the field, allowed the Cowboys to shoot over 60 percent in their game. That won’t happen again Wednesday, against No. 5 Kansas State.

3. Duke (25-4, 12-2): Has any Duke team over flown the farther under the radar, this late in the season? Either way, the Blue Devils have won eight games in a row, and could very well be closing in on their first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed since 2006.

4. Kentucky (27-2, 12-2): Kentucky hasn’t been playing very good basketball for awhile now, and were finally nipped Saturday afternoon at Tennessee. If the Wildcats aren’t careful, they could get upset again Wednesday night at Georgia, a team that’s just 13-14, but has already beaten three ranked teams this season.

5. Kansas State (24-4, 11-3): With their cross-state rival ranked No. 1 for most of this season, Kansas State continues to just win games, and stay under the radar. We’ll find out whether or not they’re ready for the big-time on Wednesday, when they go to Allen Fieldhouse, to take on that rival, the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks.

6. Ohio State (23-7, 13-4): Ohio State has now won nine of their last 10 games, and is line to win at least a share of the Big 10 title, despite starting off conference play 0-2 without Evan Turner. But for those of you who think this team is simply just Turner, think again. William Buford, Jon Diebler and David Lighty can all play. And they just may be playing in the Final Four in a few weeks.

7. Purdue (24-4, 12-4): The entire Hoops Addict community would like to send our sincerest regards to Purdue, who lost not only one of their best players, but their leader, when Robbie Hummel went down for the year with an ACL injury. This team can still make a deep run in the tournament, but will need everyone- especially E’Twaun Moore- to step up.

8. Villanova (23-5, 12-4): If you’re Villanova, you’ve got to look at Saturday’s loss at Syracuse with a ‘half is glass full approach;’ basically, that there isn’t a team in college basketball (and maybe a few in the NBA too) who would have beaten the Orange the way they played Saturday night. On the other hand, one fact is indisputable after that loss: Villanova simply isn’t good enough inside, to beat the country’s best teams.

9. New Mexico (27-3, 13-2): It cannot be emphasized enough: New Mexico’s win at BYU on Saturday wasn’t a good win, it was a great one. The Lobos have become the proverbial team that no one will want to play come tournament time.

10. West Virginia (22-6, 11-5): West Virginia had a week Bob Huggins would like to forget, as not only did they struggle with Cincinnati on Saturday, but lost to UConn earlier in the week too. The Mountaineers play Georgetown Monday night, and may have caught a major break, as it appears Austin Freeman won’t suit up for the Hoyas.

11. Butler (26-4, 18-0): Butler was able to survive Friday night against Valparaiso, despite having leading scorer Gordon Hayward sit out with a back injury. But for the Bulldogs to win the Horizon League, and more importantly, do damage in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need everyone- especially Hayward- healthy.

12. Michigan State (22-7, 12-4): You know what’s funny about Michigan State? All year we question them for their inability to beat many of the top teams they’ve played, yet here they are, the first week of March, and they’re No. 12 in the country and in line to share another Big 10 championship. For what might be considered a “down,” year, Michigan State is still playing pretty well, huh?

13. Gonzaga (24-5, 12-2): Like Michigan State, Gonzaga is right where they always are at the end of the season, despite the doubts of many to start the season (Myself included). A home date with Cal-State Bakersfield concludes their regular season on Tuesday, before they play the West Coast Conference tournament this weekend.

14. BYU (26-4, 11-3): We can’t knock the Cougars down too far (if at all) for losing to New Mexico, since the truth is, there aren’t many college basketball teams who can beat the Lobos right now. Could we be headed for a third matchup in this epic trilogy during the Mountain West Tournament?

15. Vanderbilt (22-6, 11-3): With Kentucky and Tennessee getting all the love across the SEC, its Vanderbilt that just keeps winning games. Even with a tricky trip to Florida on Wednesday, expect them to stay hot into the SEC Tournament and beyond.

16. Tennessee (21-7, 9-5): We’re not sure exactly how they do it, but Tennessee just keeps beating good teams, as they’ve now defeated both Kentucky and Kansas this year. Could it be the Magic of Bruce Pearl’s orange blazer?

17. Wisconsin (21-7, 11-5): With only two games left on the schedule, we’re still waiting for Wisconsin to get a quality win away from the Kohl Center. They’ve got one more chance, Sunday at Illinois.

18. Georgetown (19-8, 9-7): We’re not ready to give up on the Hoyas just yet, considering they’re able to beat just about anyone when they’re playing well (see wins earlier in the season against Duke and Villanova). But with Austin Freeman sitting out of Monday night’s showdown with West Virginia, could they be headed for their fourth loss in five games?

19. Temple (24-5, 12-2): While no one who actually watches Temple would call them overly “impressive,” they just keeping wining ballgames. And whether it’s pretty or ugly, going 24-5 in the Atlantic 10 isn’t exactly easy.

20. Pittsburgh (22-7, 11-5): With Notre Dame beating Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, all of a sudden the Panthers loss to the Irish earlier in the week doesn’t seem so bad. The Panthers are good, but might struggle with a high-scoring Providence team which comes to the Peterson Events Center on Thursday.

To read all of Aaron’s writing, make sure to check him out at www.aarontorres-sports.com. And for his thoughts on all things sports, add him on Twitter, @Aaron_Torres

About the Author

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).

Comments (5)

  1. Potter

    A month ago, Baylor (16-4) was “the best team you don’t know about yet…”

    Now, they’re 23-6 and stuck behind inferior Big East teams like Georgetown and Pittsburgh.

    What gives? Why so little love for the conference with the best RPI in the nation?

  2. Paul-

    If Baylor wins over the weekend against Texas and finish the regular season 24-6 it’d be hard to keep them out.

    I moved them out of the Power Rankings earlier in the year after a loss to Texas A&M, one that doesn’t look nearly so bad considering what A&M has done lately, and that the Bears responded with a subsequent win in their second game against the Aggies.

    Personally, I would have liked to see more convincing wins by Baylor against Nebraska (55-53) and Oklahoma (70-63, with a late run), but at the end of the day they’re wins which is all that matters.

    Also, I think along with Baylor you could make a pretty strong case for A&M in these Power Rankings as well. For my money, I truly believe the Big XII is better than the Big East, even though I might be the only one who feels that way.

    Either way, the conference will have several teams to watch out for come tournament time.

    Thanks for reading.

    Aaron

  3. Potter

    I think that the two conferences are actually pretty comparable… the Big East has a little more “depth” but they also have 4 more teams total.

    But what gets me is the seemingly uneven treatment given to the two conferences in the polls (and don’t argue that they’re not important, because they are for a bunch of reasons)…

    When teams in the Big East beat up each other in conference, they seem to get the benefit of the doubt and people say “look at how strong the Big East is” but when the same thing happens in the Big XII, teams take a tumble in the polls.

    Lets compare two teams with identical records:
    Texas & Pittsburgh are both 23-7 overall.

    Texas Losses: (RPI in parenthesis)

    Kansas (1)
    @ K-State (5)
    Baylor (10)
    @ Texas A&M (12)
    @ Mizzou (31)
    @ UConn (49)
    @ Oklahoma (105)

    Pitt Losses:

    @ West Virginia (6)
    Georgetown (14)
    Texas (26)
    @ Notre Dame (61)
    @ Seton Hall (63)
    @ South Florida (67)
    Indiana (218)

    Analysts are talking about Texas like they can’t beat Chaminade, but if you look at losses, UT seems to have the more tolerable L’s on its schedule. While Pitt does have 3 big wins (@ Syracuse, W. Virginia, and Villanova), those are their only 3 wins over RPI top 30 teams. On the other hand, Texas has 5 RPI top-30 wins, including a win over Pitt.

    I’m not saying that Texas is better than Pitt…they actually look very comparable. If you look at the polls however, Pitt is comfortably in the teens (18/17) while Texas is barely hanging on (25/26).

    Or what makes Georgetown better than Baylor or A&M (or Oklahoma St.)?

    Or why does Marquette get more top-25 votes than Mizzou?

  4. Paul-

    Thank you for the kind words, truly appreciate it.

    I want to let you know that I’m agreement. While I think that the “worst,” teams in the Big East (i.e. Rutgers, DePaul) could beat the worst of the Big XII (Think Nebraska), I think the core middle teams, like Baylor, A&M, Ok State, Missouri are better in the Big XII. While I think the day-to-day grind in the Big East might be a little tougher from top to bottom, the fact that Kansas almost went undefeated in conference play is as impressive, if not more, than Syracuse finishing Big East play with just two regular season losses.

    As a general rule there are several reasons that I think the Big East is given a little TOO much credit, mainly that history shows us that they’re the best conference (of course that’s a stupid way to look at things, especially at the rate college hoops teams turnover), and two, they are simply on television so much more than everyone else. If you’re a Hoops fan, it’s almost impossible not to catch Georgetown/Louisville/UConn/Villanova/Notre Dame/Pittsburgh at least once a week.

    It seems like every time the Big XII is on TV, Kansas or Texas is playing, and you’ve actually (in a lot of cases) got to work to find Baylor/K-State/A&M games. That works great for conference perception when Kansas and Texas are absolutely rolling through teams, but when Texas struggles, it reflects poorly on the whole conference unfortunately.

    As a general rule, take Missouri. I’ve seen them, and I like them. They play a fun brand of basketball. They were in the Elite Eight last year. But when was the last time they were on ESPN’s Monday or Wednesday night coverage? I know they’re playing Kansas on CBS this weekend, but still it’s been awhile. How many casual college basketball fans can name one player on their team? How many casual hoops fans can name 2-3 on UConn or Louisville? For my money, Missouri would beat either on a neutral court.

    And it’s because of reasons like that, that I think the Big XII doesn’t get the respect nationally it deserves.

    As I mentioned, I like Baylor. I like Texas A&M a lot. I think it’s totally feasible that those two teams could join Kansas and Kansas State in the Sweet 16.

    Your sentiments have been a complaint of the Pac-10 for years, too much Big East and ACC basketball shoved down our throats. And I don’t disagree.

    Luckily over the next five weeks everything gets settled on the floor.

    Thanks again for sharing your analysis and thoughts.

    (Sorry I didn’t address your Pitt and Texas comparison, but truthfully it’s hard to, since Pitt didn’t have a bunch of players in the beginning of the year, and the same with Texas late. Do you like either going forward? Because I’m not much of a fan of either)

    Aaron

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