I’m a couple days late on the power rankings this week, but there is no truth to the rumor that I went on a five-day bender following IU’s win over Kentucky. In case you forgot what happened, here’s the video. And in case you want to see a complete moron preview the game, here’s another one.
College Basketball Power Rankings
1. Syracuse (10-0, Previous Ranking: 3)
The Orange held on to beat a tough Marshall squad and steamrolled George Washington last week, and thanks to losses by Kentucky and Ohio State, they move into the top spot. Dion Waiters continues to excel off the bench with 19 points, six steals, five rebounds, and four assists in just 21 minutes against GW.
2. Ohio State (9-1, Previous Ranking: 2)
It’s hard to penalize the Buckeyes for losing at Kansas without Jared Sullinger, so I didn’t. The sophomore big man returned in a comfortable win over USC Upstate, and quite frankly the Buckeyes probably don’t need him to win their remaining non-conference games.
3. Kentucky (8-1, Previous Ranking: 1)
After losing their first road test to the Hoosiers, Kentucky has four winnable games before a New Year’s Eve date with Louisville. Terrence Jones continues to be an enigma after his no-show against the Hoosiers, but the good news is that the light seemed to come on for Marquis Teague during the second half with 15 points and no turnovers against IU.
4. North Carolina (8-2, Previous Ranking: 4)
The Heels routed Evansville early in the week and then trailed at the half before coming back to beat Long Beach State on Saturday. Against the 49ers, Kendall Marshall dished out 16 assists, while John Henson posted another double-double and Reggie Bullock came off the bench to score 15 points. Based on their schedule, don’t expect UNC to lose again in 2011.
5. Louisville (9-0, Previous Ranking: 5)
Surprisingly the Cardinals made it a week without anyone getting hurt, and they even got Rakeem Buckles back against IUPUI, although he didn’t play against Fairleigh Dickinson. The schedule gets tougher in the coming weeks with home games against Memphis and Georgetown as well as a trip to Rupp Arena remaining in December.
6. Duke (9-1, Previous Ranking: 6)
After knocking off Washington at Madison Square Garden, the Blue Devils have just two games over the last 16 days of the month, both of which they should win handily. Austin Rivers has continued to build on his solid performance against Ohio State with 35 points in last week’s two wins, while backcourt mate Andre Dawkins posted 32 in those victories.
7. Baylor (8-0, Previous Ranking: 7)
The Bears had the week off before pounding Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday, but their remaining non-conference schedule has some challenging matchups with games coming up at BYU, at home against Saint Mary’s and West Virginia, and in Dallas against Mississippi State.
8. Xavier (8-0, Previous Ranking: 8)
What a difference a week makes. Last time around I was raving about X’s wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, and even though the Musketeers dominated Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout, the late-game brawl dominated the headlines. With three starters suspended, Sunday’s game against Oral Roberts will be a challenge.
9. Connecticut (8-1, Previous Ranking: 9)
Led by 18 points from Jeremy Lamb and another double-digit effort from Ryan Boatright, the Huskies took care of Harvard at home last week. Two non-conference games remain for UConn, then Big East play (and Jim Calhoun’s suspension) begins.
10. Marquette (9-0, Previous Ranking: 10)
A last-second three-pointer from Jae Crowder gave the Golden Eagles a neutral court win against Washington and led me to profess my love for them on Run the Floor. Big man Chris Otule sustained a knee injury in the win over the Huskies, but even though they were short-handed, Marquette took care of Green Bay to remain unbeaten.
11. Missouri (9-0, Previous Ranking: 11)
Following wins over Vanderbilt and Navy, the Tigers are still undefeated and boast one of the nation’s most efficient offenses. A pair of winnable games stand between Mizzou and a date with unbeaten Illinois for their annual Braggin’ Rights tilt.
12. Kansas (7-2, Previous Ranking: 13)
The Jayhawks took advantage of Sullinger’s absence to pick up a big win at home. Guard Tyshawn Taylor dished out 13 assists while playing with a torn meniscus, and he’s expected to miss up to three weeks after undergoing surgery earlier this week. Even though Kansas doesn’t have a ton of depth, the schedule is manageable without him.
13. Florida (7-2, Previous Ranking: 12)
After blowing a late lead against Arizona, the Gators bounced back to win in overtime. However, with Patric Young dominating inside, the guard-heavy attack failed to force feed him the ball, which was a concern for me heading into this season. Upcoming games against Texas A&M and Florida State will be solid tests before SEC play begins.
14. Georgetown (8-1, Previous Ranking: 16)
The Hoyas won their lone game of the week against Howard, but the schedule starts to get tougher with a home game against Memphis and a road trip to Louisville among their next three contests.
15. Pittsburgh (9-1, Previous Ranking: 17)
Wins over VMI and Oklahoma State extended Pitt’s win streak to seven games. Even with Tray Woodall sidelined, that streak should continue to grow with winnable games remaining in the non-conference and four manageable games to start Big East play.
16. Mississippi State (10-1, Previous Ranking: 18)
Despite playing without starters Arnett Moultrie (knee tendinitis) and Brian Bryant (suspension), the Bulldogs hung on to beat Florida Atlantic on Tuesday. Freshman Rodney Hood continues to impress with 19 points and 10 boards while playing all 40 minutes against FAU. They have now won nine straight games since losing to Akron with a trip to Detroit looming this weekend.
17. Wisconsin (9-2, Previous Ranking: 20)
Even though Jordan Taylor continues to struggle with his shooting, the Badgers beat UNLV by 11 last weekend and picked up a road win against a solid Milwaukee team on Tuesday. Other players have picked up the slack though, with Ben Brust going off for 25 against the Rebels and Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans combining for 33 against Milwaukee.
18. Indiana (9-0, Previous Ranking: N/A)
The Hoosiers’ win over Kentucky vaults them into the Top 20, and a 12-0 non-conference record is within reach if they can avoid a post-big win hangover against Notre Dame on Saturday. IU will need plenty of confidence when they open Big Ten play with games against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan, but Christian Watford has been a different player since the second half of the NC State game.
19. Harvard (9-1, Previous Ranking: 19)
There’s no shame in losing on the road at UConn, so I’m leaving the Crimson here. I\Even though it was their last chance to pick up another marquee win, this is still a Top 20 team.
20. Illinois (10-0, Previous Ranking: 21)
The Illini remained unbeaten after grinding out a win over St. Bonaventure, and they hit 10 three-pointers against Coppin State to keep their perfect record intact. They will need more production from their bench with games against UNLV and Missouri on the horizon, but both of those matchups will be good measuring stick games for the surprising Illini.
21. Michigan (8-2, Previous Ranking: 24)
Sophomore Evan Smotrycz tallied 36 points in wins over Oakland and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and his continued development gives the Wolverines another threat on the offensive end. Michigan has two winnable non-conference games remaining before opening the Big Ten season.
22. Michigan State (8-2, Previous Ranking: N/A)
The Spartans have now reeled off eight straight victories after losing their first two games. Senior Draymond Green went off for 34 of Sparty’s 74 points in a road win at Gonzaga last Saturday, and MSU should be 11-2 before starting conference play against Indiana on December 28th.
23. Alabama (8-2, Previous Ranking: 14)
Their offensive woes were on display in a surprising double-digit loss to Dayton, but the Tide bounced back to beat Detroit over the weekend. Freshman Nick Jacobs made his first start again the Titans and acquitted himself well with 13 points. He gives Alabama another frontcourt option, but they really need a consistent outside threat to improve on their 25.3 percent three-point shooting.
24. UNLV (10-2, Previous Ranking: 22)
The Rebels’ road loss to Wisconsin was their second defeat in three games, but upcoming games against Illinois and Cal will help to determine whether UNLV’s big win over North Carolina was a fluke or not. For now, I’m still a believer.
25. Creighton (7-1, Previous Ranking: 15)
A road loss to Saint Joseph’s was disappointing, and while the Bluejays can score with just about anyone, their defense and rebounding need some work. Creighton closes out non-conference play against Northwestern next week in what should be an interesting game.