Monday, February 25, 2008

Basketball Power Ranks - The Homestretch

1. 1. Tennessee. 25-2. They have now achieved the school’s highest ranking in history for the second week in a row(#2 then, #1 now). And they were able to end Memphis’ undefeated streak, guaranteeing the ’76 Hoosiers retain their record for at least another year. One of the biggest things to take away from their defeat of #1 Memphis: Chris Lofton only had to contribute 7 points.

2. North Carolina. 25-2. Even without Ty Lawson, the Tarheels manage to stay in the hunt for the ACC title, thanks in large part to Lawson’s stand-in, Quentin Thomas. The emergence of Thomas means they will become that much deeper when Lawson returns. And Hansbrough continues to lead his team in a way that, in my opinion, makes him the player of the year. If your team is on the bubble and isn't at least competing for your conference title, I don't think you deserve the award. UNC and Hansbrough are almost a guaranteed 1-seed, and should go into the final game of the year tied atop the ACC. Meanwhile, Michael Beasley and his K-State squad have work to do to get into the tourney, and are not on the Big 12 radar.

3. 3. Memphis. 26-1. They might have lost a game, but it is their only loss this season. Things like this are generally good for teams, though, as the higher you climb the harder you can fall (See: NE Patriots). Expectations can weigh heavily on an undefeated team; Memphis no longer bears that burden, but they still have a dangerous combo of talented guards and solid post play.

4. 4. UCLA. 24-3. Quite a few teams could occupy this spot, and of all these teams, UCLA has the more excusable losses. Losses to streaky cross-town rival USC and solid Texas, a freakish L at Washington, and 24 wins in the process is o.k. in a season that is anybody’s for the taking. They are still deep, talented, and battle-tested from previous Final Four runs.

5. 5. Duke. 23-3. Getting beat by a team for the first time in a half-century never looks good, but the Blue Devils can certainly regroup and should be able to welcome UNC to Cameron on March 8th for a de-facto ACC title game. Unfortunately for the Dookies, their team leaders in blocks and rebounds are a pair of 6-4 guards, so the question remains: where is their post presence?

6. 6. Kansas. 24-3. This very talented and athletic team has suddenly lost 3 of its last 7 games, and is looking up at Texas in the Big 12. Michael Beasley & Co. could conceivably roll into Lawrence and make some more history next week. Good thing they don’t actually play K-State in Africa. I don’t doubt they are still very good and very dangerous, but is this a flare-up of Bill Self Syndrome??

8. Indiana, 23-4 & Texas, 23-4. (TIE) Not very similar teams otherwise, but Aarmon Basset has been doing his best D.J. Augustin impression lately. IU’s stellar guard play, plus a post game that has been strengthened by the emergence of Kyle Taber and better contributions from DeAndre Thomas, will allow this team to go deep if they can focus their feelings about the Sampson situation and use it as motivation. Texas is now in the Big 12 driver’s seat, but they must still play K-State, and close out their season against OK State, who just upended Kansas.

9. Georgetown. 22-4. They have been overshadowed in the Big East by resurgent UConn and Louisville, but they still sit atop the conference and control their own destiny. The final two games of their season, at Marquette and home against Louisville, are must-wins if they want to win the conference outright. I truly believe that when Roy Hibbert is on, this team can play with anyone, easily. But that question is more easily asked that answered.

10. Xavier. 24-4. They may be a “mid-major” but their schedule looks like anything but. Playing games against Indiana, Tennessee, and Kansas State is no easy task for anyone, but Xavier boasts an outstanding resume right ahead of tournament time. Could their coach become a prime target for the Indiana faithful?


Young Swole said...

Beasley did only put up 44 and 12 on the road this weekend.

I'd really think about putting Louisville in the top 10 too, that team is gonna fuck around and end up in the elite 8 this year.

All said good list, IU is definitelly the wild card in this list, who knows where they will end up by march

Young Por 'que said...
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Young Por 'que said...

I gotta agree there. UL needs to be in the top 10 soon, probably over G-town (arguably the most overrated team on this list). Other than that, I think Memphis should stay #2, Texas should be above IU. That's about it.

Young Cicero said...

Honestly if this was a list of "Who has a legit shot to win it all" I think that L-Ville and G'Town would be higher, and Duke might not even show up.

I cannot imagine a scenario where a team with no legitimate big man/post presence can win 7 straight against increasingly more-difficult competition over a two-week span.

The Mike Davis-era of IU basketball is a case study on how good guard play is no substitute for the old-fashioned half-court set. Teams that live by the three usually die by the three.

Young Swole said...

Plus you know Greg Paulus is going to get eaten alive at some point in the tournament, further proving how bitchmade he is

Young Knuckleballer said...

G-town isn't making it past the second weekend. Like Porque said, they are mad overrated. Wisconsin also needs to be in there and I'd like to see Stanford get a little more love too. Texas would destroy IU on a neutral court right now too.

Young Knuckleballer said...

Oh, and Louisville being in the top 10 goes without saying, now that they're healthy, they're going to go on a real roll. Remember they were #6 at the beginning of the year before Padgett got hurt.