College Basketball Power Rankings: Week of Februrary 20th

With just three weeks left until Selection Sunday, this week’s Top 25 stayed relatively stable with just one new squad making their way onto the list.  Regardless, once March Madness 2012 starts, lists like this won’t be necessary, as the debate can be settled on the floor over some of the best weeks in all of sport.

College Basketball Power Rankings

1. Kentucky (26-1, Previous Ranking: 1)

The Wildcats played just once last week, beating Mississippi by 15 on Saturday.  Terrence Jones notched his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 boards, and the team drilled 10-of-18 from beyond the arc.

Kentucky has now won 18 straight and are 12-0 in the SEC with just four regular season games left.  This week they travel to reeling Mississippi State before hosting Vanderbilt on Saturday.

2. Syracuse (27-1, Previous Ranking: 2)

Road wins at Louisville and Rutgers moved the Orange to 14-1 in the Big East with three games remaining.  It seems as though there’s a different hero each week for Syracuse, and this week it was C.J. Fair.  He had 13 points against the Cardinals, including the game-winner, and he led the team with 21 points and eight boards versus the Scarlet Knights.

The Orange host surprising South Florida this week and then head to UConn to face a Huskies team in dire need of another quality win.

3. Missouri (25-2, Previous Ranking: 3)

With wins over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, the Tigers extended their winning streak to seven games to remain tied atop the Big 12.  Kim English led the way against the Aggies with 21 points, six rebounds, and four steals, and he was one of five Tigers in double figures versus the Cowboys.

kim-english-missouri-college-basketball-power-rankings

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

This is a huge week for Mizzou, as they get a chance at revenge when they host Kansas State on Tuesday and then head to Kansas on Saturday with the league lead on the line.

4. Kansas (22-5, Previous Ranking: 4)

Like Missouri, the Jayhawks took care of business this week to move to 12-2 in the Big 12.  They picked up a solid road win at Kansas State and blew out Texas Tech at home.  Against the Wildcats, Jeff Withey came one block short of a triple-double with 18 points, 11 boards, and nine rejections, while pretty much everyone got into the act against the Red Raiders.

After a winnable road game at A&M, Kansas hosts conference co-leader Missouri in a game that will likely decide the regular season champ.

5. Michigan State (22-5, Previous Ranking: 5)

Following 14-point wins over Wisconsin and Purdue, the Spartans are in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten at 11-3.  Draymond Green continued his solid play with 40 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 assists during the week, which should tighten his grip on the Big Ten Player of the Year Award.

Michigan State has a pair of winnable games this week when they got to Minnesota and host Nebraska.

6. Duke (23-4, Previous Ranking: 7)

The Blue Devils came back from a 20-point deficit to beat North Carolina State on Thursday and beat lowly Boston College by 25 points on Sunday.  Seth Curry had a huge week, with 21 of his 26 points coming in the second half versus the Wolfpack and 18 more against BC.

Duke remains in a three-way tie for the ACC lead with four games remaining.  The Devils travel to Florida State on Thursday before hosting Virginia Tech on Saturday.

7. North Carolina (23-4, Previous Ranking: 8)

Harrison Barnes had an impressive week, scoring 47 points in wins over Miami and Clemson.  He also grabbed 13 rebounds and hit 18-of-37 from the field, including six three-pointers.  The only bad news was that John Henson had his five-game double-double streak snapped against Clemson when he finished with 13 points and eight boards.

The Heels play three of their last four games on the road, starting with trips to North Carolina State and Virginia this week.

8. Georgetown (20-5, Previous Ranking: 9)

In their only game of the week, the Hoyas held Providence to 25.9 percent shooting from the field and won by 10 points.  Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark each had 13 points, with Thompson grabbing 10 rebounds and Clark adding six boards and four assists.

Georgetown is currently in fourth place in the Big East at 10-4, and it’s worth noting the top four seeds receive a double-bye in the conference tournament.  This week they travel to Seton Hall and host Villanova as they try to hang onto that spot.

9. Ohio State (22-5, Previous Ranking: 6)

For the second straight week, the Buckeyes went 1-1, winning by 10 at Minnesota and falling on the road at Michigan on Saturday night.  Deshaun Thomas came up big against the Wolverines with 25 points and 13 rebounds, but Aaron Craft and William Buford combined for only 10 points.  Ohio State also got nothing from their bench, which has some people questioning their validity as a title contender.

The Buckeyes play their final two home games this week, with Illinois and Wisconsin visiting Columbus.

10. Michigan (20-7, Previous Ranking: 12)

The Wolverines made the most of the only game of the week, beating Ohio State by five on Saturday night.  Jordan Morgan held his own against Jared Sullinger with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but once again Trey Burke made a number of huge plays down the stretch, finishing with 17 points and five assists.  In fact, one of the best race’s left might be the one between Burke and Zeller for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Michigan is now 10-4 in Big Ten play, but three of their last four games are on the road, starting with a trip to Northwestern this week followed by the home finale against Purdue.

11. Marquette (22-5, Previous Ranking: 14)

As usual, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom did most of the heavy lifting for Marquette this week, as they combined for 53 of the team’s 79 points against Connecticut.  Crowder played a fantastic all-around game with 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and had three steals, while DJO hit four three-pointers in the first half to get the Golden Eagles off to a hot start.

Marquette is tied in the race for second place in the Big East with four games to play.  They host Rutgers on Wednesday before a quick turnaround when they head to West Virginia on Friday.

12. Baylor (22-5, Previous Ranking: 10)

The Bears split a pair of home games this week, beating Iowa State by 15 but losing by one against Kansas State.  Baylor jumped out to a nine-point first half lead again the Wildcats, but the enigmatic Perry Jones III wound up with just four points and four rebounds before fouling out.  The team also had 18 turnovers and got just four point from their bench, as they lost their first game to someone other than Kansas and Missouri.

Baylor will need to bounce back quickly for a Monday trip to Texas before hosting Oklahoma next weekend.

13. Wisconsin (20-7, Previous Ranking: 15)

For the second straight week, the Badgers went 1-1, as they lost by 14 at Michigan State and took care of business at home against Penn State.  Ryan Evans scored 17 points in a losing effort against Sparty and was one of four Badgers with at least 11 points versus the Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin hits the road for games at Iowa and Ohio State this week, as they look to hold onto fourth place and a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

14. Notre Dame (19-8, Previous Ranking: 17)

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Irish managed to extend their winning streak to eight games.  They crushed Rutgers at home behind 22 points and 18 boards from Jack Cooley, but Notre Dame managed to fall 20 points behind a Villanova team missing two starters.  However, a barrage of three-pointers from Pat Connaughton brought them back, as they eventually won in overtime.

The Irish are tied for second place with Marquette, and this week they host West Virginia before traveling to St. John’s.

15. Florida State (19-7, Previous Ranking: 19)

Florida State needed a miracle comeback and last-second three-pointer from Michael Snaer to win at home against Virginia Tech, but the Noles turned in a terrific performance on Saturday in a rout of North Carolina State.  Ian Miller and Okaro White were fantastic off the bench against the Wolfpack with 27 points, and Miller was also the lone double-digit scorer versus the Hokies.

A relatively tough three-game stretch awaits FSU, as the ACC co-leaders host Duke on Thursday before playing at a desperate Miami squad next weekend.

16. Wichita State (24-4, Previous Ranking: 18)

The Shockers had a pair of convincing wins this week, beating Missouri State and Davidson by a combined 32 points.  Big man Garrett Stutz led the way against the Bears with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but guard and fellow senior Joe Ragland had one of the best performance of the weekend.  He hit 11-of-14 from the field to score 30 points while also grabbing seven rebounds.

Wichita State finishes regular season play with games at Illinois State and home against Drake, and they need just one more win to clinch the regular season MVC title.

17. Florida (21-6, Previous Ranking: 21)

Road wins at Alabama and Arkansas have the Gators back on the rise.  Their 30-point blowout of an Arkansas team that had not lost at home all year was very impressive, as Erving Walker drilled five three-pointers and scored 31 points.  Kenny Boynton and Brad Beal combined for 46 more points, which moved Florida to 9-3 in the SEC.

The Gators need to win games against Auburn and Georgia this week before closing out the season versus Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

18. Murray State (26-1, Previous Ranking: 24)

If there were any lingering questions about the Racers’ tournament worthiness, they were answered in an impressive 14-point win over Saint Mary’s in the BracketBusters.  As has become customary, guard Isaiah Canaan led the way for Murray State with 23 points, including five three-pointers.  Earlier in the week when Canaan struggled against Southeast Missouri State, Donte Poole picked up the slack with 25 points.

The Racers close out the regular season with road games this week against Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

19. New Mexico (22-4, Previous Ranking: N/A)

No team had a better week than the Lobos, who opened up a two-game lead in the Mountain West by winning by 10 at San Diego State and crushing UNLV at home.  They have now won seven straight and 20 of their last 22.  Drew Gordon was outstanding in both games, posting 17 points and 17 boards against the Aztecs, only to outdo himself with 27 points and 20 rebounds against the Rebels.

New Mexico’s profile really had just one quality win heading into the week, but these two wins validated their position as a tournament lock.  Tuesday’s road game at Colorado State is the toughest one left on UNM’s schedule, which they follow up with a trip to TCU.

20. Louisville (21-6, Previous Ranking: 20)

After rallying to take a five-point lead on Syracuse, the Cardinals went scoreless over the last few minutes of the game and snapped their six-game winning streak.  Louisville was sluggish at times against DePaul on Saturday but won in overtime after trailing by as many as 17 earlier in the game.  Kyle Kuric hit five three-pointers and scored 25 against the Blue Demons, while Chris Smith and Russ Smith combined for 36 more points.

The Cardinals face a tough road game at Cincinnati on Thursday before hosting Louisville over the weekend.

21. Temple (21-5, Previous Ranking: 25)

The Owls extended their winning streak to 10 games with wins over St. Bonaventure and Duquesne.  Khalif Wyatt continued his solid play with 17 points against the Bonnies and a team-high 24 points versus the Dukes on 11-of-17 shooting.

Temple holds a slim one-game advantage over Saint Louis with four games remaining.  Three of those games are on the road, including this week’s trips to La Salle and Saint Joseph’s.

22. UNLV (22-6, Previous Ranking: 11)

After losing at TCU and New Mexico, the Rebels have now dropped three straight on the road, and they are now just 2-4 in conference road games with both victories coming in overtime against Boise State and Air Force.  UNLV blew an 18-point lead against TCU, as they allowed the Horned Frogs to hit 14 three-pointers and got crushed on the glass.  Against the defensive-minded Lobos, UNLV struggled mightily on offense, hitting just 31.1 percent from the field.

Luckily for the Rebels, they play both of their games at home this week, with Boise State and Air Force visiting Vegas.

23. San Diego State (20-6, Previous Ranking: 13)

The Aztecs have now dropped three straight after losing ato home to New Mexico and falling on the road at Air Force.  They struggled from three-point range as well as defensively against the Lobos to suffer just their second home loss of the year.  SDSU faced the Falcons without leading scorer Jamaal Franklin, who hurt his ankle against New Mexico, and big man Garrett Green also got hurt early in the second half.  Still, they nearly doubled up Air Force on the boards, but poor shooting and turnovers proved to be their undoing.

A pair of home games this week against Wyoming and Colorado State await the Aztecs, as they look to get back on track.

24. Indiana (20-7, Previous Ranking: 16)

It was an uneven week for the Hoosiers, as they beat Northwestern by five at home but played one of their worst games of the season in a road loss to Iowa.  Juniors Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford both had their struggles during the week.  Hulls went just 1-of-8 in the two games and scored just two points, while Watford was held to one point against Iowa.

This week the Hoosiers face a non-conference game against North Carolina Central before a road trip to Minnesota on Sunday.

25. Virginia (20-6, Previous Ranking: 23)

The Cavaliers started the week with a surprising 12-point loss at Clemson but bounced back to crush Maryland as outscored the Terps 40-13 in the second half.  Mike Scott led the way with 25 points against Maryland, but the fact remains the Virginia has lost three of their last five and has not beaten a team safely in the tournament since late November.

The Hoos have a chance to change that when North Carolina comes to Charlottesville this weekend, but first they need to take care of business on the road against Virginia Tech.

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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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