Inspired by my Hoosiers epic match-up last night, I have decided to shed a little light on the college basketball season thus far. I've never really understood the reason why it was always a "Power 16". Why not a "Power 15, or 20". Well, I figured, screw tradition, I'm doing a "Power 10". Why 10? Well, mostly because I am at work and that is all I have time to do.
1.) Memphis Tigers (16-0)
I don't think there is a single team out there that is playing better "team" basketball than the Tigers. Of course, it helps playing in a weaker conference like the C-USA. None the less, this team has consistently come out and proven it belongs at or near the top of all rankings. Keep in mind they handily put away Georgetown and Arizona back to back earlier this season. A big match-up with perennial mid-major power Gonzaga looms to test this team.
Next 3: vs. Southern Miss, @ Tulsa, vs. Gonzaga
2.) Kansas Jayhawks (17-0)
Other than my utter hatred for the ACC (and more specifically, UNC and Duke), I put Kansas in at #2 due more to UNC's recent struggles to squeak out victories. My biggest beef with Kansas is that they really haven't played anyone of merit other than beating an overrated Georgia Tech and USC teams, but a 30 point drubbing of Oklahoma cannot be ignored.
Next 3: @ Missouri, vs. Iowa State, vs. Nebraska
3.) UNC Tarheels (18-0)
When you are undefeated in a "BCS" conference like UNC is, you just can't rank them any lower than another team with 1 loss (as much as I would like to). Still, the Tarheels are starting to look like a vulnerable team, with wins of only 2 points vs. Clemson, 8 vs. UNC-Ashville, and 1 vs. Georgia Tech. I still like this team's chances to win the ACC, but this team needs to step up the defense (which is allowing a paltry 70.7 PPG) in order to continue dominating in the postseason.
Next 3: vs. Maryland, @ Miami, vs. BC
4.) UCLA Bruins (16-1)
This one was actually tougher than it seems, as this begins the barrage of 1 loss teams that could easily claim to be the 4th best team in the land. Look at the facts: their one loss is to a jumpstart Texas team, they have beaten both Michigan State and (more recently) former #5 Washington State, and they are allowing a ridiculous 56.1 PPG. This week will do wonders to determine if they really are the best 1 loss team in the nation.
Next 3: vs. USC, @ Oregon, vs. Oregon State.
5.) Duke Blue Devils (14-1)
Tennessee or Duke? Tennesse or Duke? If I were to base it solely off last night, I would say UT after they vanquished Vanderbilt. However, Duke's single loss came to Pitt (back when they were fully healthy) by 1 point. Now, I hate Duke as much as anyone else, and I think Greg Paulus has far too much sand in his vag to be playing any type of organized sport. But when you look at the overall resume, Duke is consistently taking out the competition, paving the way for another UNC-Duke battle for ACC supremacy (wa-hoo... FUCK DUKE!).
Next 3: vs. Clemson, @ Virginia Tech, @Maryland
6.) Indiana Hoosiers (15-1)
I know in the section for Duke I was between Duke and Tennessee for the 5 spot, so logically, the other would go in the 6 spot. But you know what, I gotta show some love for my Hoosiers (and it's my power rankings). Other than the undefeateds, show me a team that has been hotter than the Hoosiers, winners of 11 straight, and 3 straight on the road in conference play. The Hoosiers are as deep as any team in the nation, playing tight defense and (normally) smart basketball (we are ignoring 24 TOs last night). The biggest negative at this point is the lack of schedule strength that could hurt the Hoosiers in the long run. A lot of questions will be answered in the next few weeks as IU faces a brutal stretch in early Feb.
Next 3: vs. Penn State (WIN), vs. Iowa (WIN), vs. Connecticut (WIN)
Good Lord, I am so biased.
7.) Tennesse Volunteers (15-1)
Them Vols are playing as well as anyone in the country at this point. A nationally televised BEAT DOWN over Vandy last night will do wonders. And the craziest part about it is that they are doing it without spectacular play from Preseason National POY candidate Chris Lofton. The biggest factor playing against the Vols in these rankings? I bleed Cream and Crimson, not Orange and White. Sorry Tennesse fans.
Next 3: vs. Ohio State, @ Kentucky, vs. Georgia
8.) Washington State Cougars (15-1)
Let's talk about defense. If defense wins championships, than WSU has the title within their grasps. Allowing a dismal 52.1 PPG, this team has been the definition of defensive basketball. I'm sorry, what did you say? Their schedule has been softer than Greg Paulus (I hate that little bitch), complete with a tough two game tour of Idaho (Idaho and Idaho State) and playing more teams with A&T, State, West/East/Northen than schools in the south, this team still has a lot to prove to be considered "elite". They have the chance to do it this week with a rough conference schedule.
Next 3: vs. Oregon, @ Arizona, @ Arizona State
9.) Michigan State Spartans (15-2)
Oh Sparty, what can I say about you. If you were to ask me a week ago who I thought would win the Big 10, I'll be honest, I would have said MSU. Their lone loss was to UCLA in a close, well fought game. Fast forward to now, and I believe that Linas Kleiza scored more points last night for the Denver Nuggets than the Spartans scored against Iowa as a team. I understand it was a conference game, but you cannot expect to succeed in the Big 10 or the NCAA putting up paltry performances like that. I am willing to let it slide for now, mostly out of respect for Tom Izzo and the Izzone, but I need to see some dominating perforamance before I am sold on the Spartans again.
Next 3: @ Minnesota, @ Northwestern, vs. Michigan
10.) Georgetown Hoyas (13-2)
So Georgetown only has two losses, both of which coming to ranked and very good opponents (Memphis and Pitt). So this team is playing at an obviously very high level, right? Uhhh... maybe? Their next toughest opponent would be UConn, where they barely scrapped by with a W. Other than that, they have beaten the likes of American, Radford, Fairfield, and William and Mary. So why am I still giving them the 10 spot? Because I think it is only a matter of time before Mr. Roy Hibbert comes out of his shell and starts dominating the boards.
Next 3: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Syracuse, @ West Virginia
Also receiving votes/respect: Pittsburgh, Texas, the UGA Football team and Knowshon Moreno, Wisconsin, and my ability to drink 3/4 of a bottle of Jim Beam last night and still make it to work on time
Not receiving any votes/respect: Butler (losing to Cleveland St.), Bruce Pearl (and his orange jacket - love the color orange, just not in a jacket), the UGA Basketball team, and Young Knuckleballer