College Basketball Power Rankings: ‘Murray State Races In’ Edition

Since last week’s installment of the power rankings, Illinois, Marquette, and Xavier have fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten, leaving just six teams with an unblemished record.   One of those teams, Murray State, makes their debut in the Bottoms Line College Basketball Power Rankings this week.

College Basketball Power Rankings

1. Syracuse (12-0, Last Week: 1)

The Orange passed their first road test with a 16-point win at North Carolina State led by another big game from Dion Waiters, who scored 22 points off the bench.  Few (if any) teams in the nation can rival their depth, and they have ratcheted up the defensive intensity, as evidenced by the third best turnover rate and top-ranked steal percentage in the country.

2. Ohio State (11-1, Last Week: 2)

Jared Sullinger suffered a foot injury against South Carolina, but DeShaun Thomas came to the rescue with a career-high 30 points.  He now has 89 points over his last four games, hitting 36-of-57 (63.2%) from the field and 10-of-21 (47.6%) from three-point range during that span.

deshaun-thomas-college-basketball-power-rankingsImage credit:  Jim Davidson the-Ozone.net

Sullinger returned for OSU’s game against Lamar, but the Buckeyes’ next big test won’t come until a New Year’s Eve trip to Bloomington.

3. Kentucky (10-1, Last Week: 3)

The Wildcats blew out Chattanooga and Samford in their first games since losing to Indiana, but forward Terrence Jones dislocated his pinky and missed the Samford contest.  Doron Lamb tallied 50 points in the two victories, but they’ll need Jones on New Year’s Eve when they host Louisville.

4. North Carolina (10-2, Last Week: 4)

Appalachian State and Nicholls State were sacrifical lambs for the Heels during the last week, with Tyler Zeller going off for 31 points against the Mountaineers.  UNC takes on Texas on Wednesday but should enter ACC play at 13-2 based on their remaining non-conference schedule.

5. Louisville (11-0, Last Week: 5)

The Cardinals won a track meet against Memphis and came used a late flurry against College of Charleston to move to 11-0.  Against the Tigers, seven Louisville players scored in double figures, led by Russ Smith with 24 and Gorgui Dieng with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and six blocks.  Kyle Kuric was the hero against the Cougars, as his play in the middle of the Charleston zone was the difference in the game.  Freshman Kevin Ware has joined the squad, and the team is getting closer to being at full strength, which is good news with games against Georgetown and Kentucky before the end of the month.

6. Duke (10-1, Last Week: 6)

After crushing UNC Greensboro, the Blue Devils are off until a December 30th date with Western Michigan.  Mason Plumlee posted 15 points and 13 boards in the victory, which was his fifth straight game in double figures and his third double-double over that span.

7. Baylor (10-0, Last Week: 7)

The Bears picked up a huge road win at BYU on Saturday.  Perry Jones III was dominant with 28 points and eight boards, while Brady Heslip canned six three-pointers and 5-foot-10 Pierre Jackson secured the win with a huge block in the closing seconds.  Their remaining non-conference schedule is relatively tough with upcoming games against Saint Mary’s, West Virginia, and Mississippi State.

8. Connecticut (9-1, Last Week: 9)

If Andre Drummond’s performance against Holy Cross is a sign of things to come, look out.  The freshman big man went 11-of-12 from the field for 24 points to go with eight boards and five blocks.  Obviously you have to consider the level of competition, but he has started to show signs of the ability that made him such a highly regarded recruit in recent weeks.  As it stands, he’s already in the Top 15 in offensive rebounding and block percentage.

9. Missouri (11-0, Last Week: 11)

The Tigers won their last two games by a combined 75 points and continue to fire on all cylinders offensively.  They boast the top effective field goal percentage in the country as well as the nation’s lowest turnover rate.  Guard Marcus Denmon is one of the most underrated players in college hoops and is having a phenomenal season so far.

10. Xavier (8-1, Last Week: 8)

Without the suspended Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, and Dez Wells, the Musketeers were beaten soundly by Oral Roberts.  It’s tough to hold this against them given the fact that they were playing short-handed, but I decided to penalize them two spots.  I, too, can dole out questionable punishments.

11. Florida (9-2, Last Week: 13)

The Gators got off to a hot start and hung 50 points on Texas A&M in the first half.  Kenny Boynton led the way with six three-pointers, and the backcourt trio of Boynton, Erving Walker, and Brad Beal combined for 54 points.  Still, the fact Patric Young got just two shots is concerning.

12. Georgetown (9-1, Last Week: 14)

After averaging just 3.6 points last season, center Henry Sims is playing like an All-Conference performer.  The 6-foot-10 senior is leading the team with 3.9 assists per game to go with 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks.  The Hoyas will need him to continue his improved play with games coming up against Memphis and Louisville.

13. Marquette (10-1, Last Week: 10)

The Golden Eagles were unable to knock down long-range shots against LSU and lost to the Tigers on the road.  After serving a one-game suspension, Darius Johnson-Odom returned to score 16 points while Jae Crowder continued his recent scoring binge with 22.  Crowder is averaging 20 points over the last four contests.

14. Pittsburgh (11-1, Last Week: 15)

Freshman big man Khem Birch has decided to transfer, but the Panthers won two more games to extend their winning streak to nine.  Dante Taylor grabbed six offensive boards and scored 14 points against St. Francis (PA), and Pitt will need more of the same from him as Big East play begins.  Lamar Patterson is also becoming a consistent contributor for the Panthers with three straight double-digit scoring efforts.

15. Kansas (7-3, Last Week: 12)

The Jayhawks followed up their win over Ohio State by shooting poorly in a loss to Davidson.  Thomas Robinson had 21 points and 18 rebounds for KU but struggled to get consistent touches down the stretch.  Tyshawn Taylor returned from knee surgery to score 15 points, but he also had five turnovers.  Bench play remains a concern as the Jayhawks approach the conference season.

16. Mississippi State (11-1, Last Week: 16)

The Bulldogs picked up a solid road win at Detroit last weekend led by 17 points and 13 boards from Arnett Moultrie.  He and Renardo Sidney are learning to play well together, with Sidney tallying 44 points over the last three games.  Next Wednesday’s matchup with Baylor will be a measuring stick game for MSU.

17. Wisconsin (10-2, Last Week: 17)

After another defensive clinic against Savannah State, the Badgers are now the top-rated team in the Pomeroy Ratings.  They still need preseason All-American Jordan Taylor to find his shooting stroke, but given their schedule, they should be 13-2 when Sparty comes to town in early January.

18. Indiana (11-0, Last Week: 18)

The Hoosiers won an ugly game with Notre Dame before dismantling Howard early this week.  They now lead the nation in three-point shooting and are 11-0 for the first time since their undefeated season in 1975-76.  Cody Zeller has been phenomenal and boasts Top 50 rankings in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, steal percentage, and overall offensive rating.

19. Harvard (9-1, Last Week: 19)

Tommy Amaker’s squad took the week off, but they should be favored in every game left on their schedule.  That sounds great on the surface, but it also means virtually any loss will hurt their seed come March.

20. Michigan State (10-2, Last Week: 22)

Make it 10 straight wins for the Spartans, who are starting to get things figured out offensively.  They have scored at least 1.04 points per possession over their last seven contests, and they continue to be one of the top defensive teams in the country.  Their next test will come when Indiana visits the Breslin Center next week.

21. Michigan (9-2, Last Week: 21)

Forward Evan Smotrycz has 53 points, 28 boards, and eight steals over the last three games, which is huge for a team looking for reliable frontcourt production.  Their recent level of competition hasn’t been great, so we won’t find out more about the Wolverines until Big Ten play tips off.

22. UNLV (12-2, Last Week: 24)

Even with Chace Stanback scoring just two points, the Rebels won handily against Illinois led by 17 points and 11 board from Mike Moser.  Quintrell Thomas had a big game as well with 13 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.  Friday’s game against Cal gives them another chance at a solid non-conference win.

23. Creighton (9-1, Last Week: 25)

Doug McDermott poured in 35 points in a road win against Tulsa and now ranks second in the nation in scoring at 25.2 points per game.  Defense continues to be a potential concern for the Bluejays, and a visit from Northwestern this week should challenge them in that regard with John Shurna and Drew Crawford both playing well.

24. Murray State (12-0, Last Week: Not Rated)

The Racers lost their coach and two of their top three scorers, so naturally they are undefeated.  Remember the name Isaiah Canaan, who is leading Murray State with 19.3 points per game and shooting 48.1 percent from beyond the arc.

isiah-canaan-murray-state-college-basketball-power-rankingsImage credit: Jacobsohn/Getty Image via Bleacher Report

Like Harvard, the Racers will be favored in all of their remaining regular season games, which should be a fun storyline to follow as the season progresses.

25. San Diego State (10-2, Last Week: Not Rated)

SDSU’s only losses have come on the road at Baylor and by two points at home against Creighton.  Guard Chase Tapley is averaging 17.7 points and 2.3 steals while knocking down a ridiculous 52.4 percent from long range.  With four very winnable games up next on the schedule, the Aztecs should be 14-2 when they open conference play against UNLV.

**********

Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops, and check out the latest edition of the Bottoms Line podcast.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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