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.