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NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Mon, 01/17/2011 - 4:59pm

We finally have a new #1 following Duke’s loss at Florida State. Despite some recent struggles, the Ohio State Buckeyes lay claim to our top spot. Kansas moves to #2 despite recent struggles of their own. Expect to see more movement this week as four games feature two top 10 teams. Now it’s time for the rankings:

Rank (Last Week)
Record
Comment
1. Ohio State (2)
18-0
The Buckeyes ascend to #1 in our Power Rankings for the first time this season, but they haven’t been playing their best since Big Ten play began. After winning their first 14 games by at least 11 points, their last 4 games have all been within 5. The biggest concern is slippage on the defensive end. Ohio State held their non-conference opponents to 0.86 points per possession, but through 5 Big Ten games they are allowing 1.06 points per possession. Is it a mid-season lull or an ominous sign? We may find out when the Bucks travel to Illinois on Saturday.
2. Kansas (3)
17-0
Similar to Ohio State, Kansas climbs to #2 for the first time this season, while struggling over its last three games. Unlike the Buckeyes, it’s KU”s offense that has struggled. Turnovers (15.7 per game), rebounding and outside shooting (25% 3-pt percentage) have hurt the Jayhawks over the last three games. They’ll need to get back on course quickly as they travel to Baylor Monday night and host Texas on Saturday.
3. Duke (1)
16-1
Duke’s loss to Florida State is an example of why it’s so difficult to go undefeated in today’s college basketball. The Blue Devils had one bad shooting night, 11-35 from 3-pt range and 8-26 from inside the arc, and it cost them. That being said, we’re not ready to drop them out of the top 3, because they are still the only team that ranks in the top 5 nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency.
4. Pittsburgh (4)
17-1
You could certainly make the argument that undefeated Syracuse should be ranked ahead of Pitt, but we think the Panthers are simply the better team. Jamie Dixon’s club has the most efficient offense in the nation due to their excellent shooting and ability to pound the offensive glass. We think offensive rebounding could be the difference when they face Syracuse Monday night.
5. Syracuse (5)
18-0
Many pundits, including us, questioned Syracuse’s slow start that included close wins against William & Mary, Michigan and Georgia Tech. But it’s time to get past that, because Jim Boeheim’s team has been playing as well as anyone over the past month. While Pitt has the best offense in the Big East, Syracuse has the best defense. The Orange will have a chance to vault up the rankings with games at Pitt and home against Villanova this week. Making things more difficult, Syracuse will be without leading scorer Kris Joseph when they travel to Pitt.
6. Villanova (6)
16-1
Much like Syracuse, Villanova has a huge opportunity to vault up the rankings this week with games at UCONN and at Syracuse. The Wildcats are coming off of an excellent week in which they earned big wins against Louisville and Maryland. As usual Villanova has an excellent backcourt with Corey Stokes, Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher. However, the thing that makes this year’s team so dangerous is the balanced play from their frontcourt. Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou have added a physical interior presence to blend with Nova’s strong guard-play.
7. San Diego State (7)
19-0
The Aztecs came up big facing their toughest week of the season-to-date. They survived a knock-down drag-out game with UNLV and then put an impressive performance together with a road win in an always tough environment at New Mexico. Kawhi Leonard was an absolute beast this week, averaging 17 pts and 16 rebounds. They’re one win away from a huge showdown with BYU on the 19th.
8. BYU (9)
17-1
The Cougars continued to roll last week by dismantling Utah on the road. Jimmer Fredette is making a serious case for national player of the year as he piled up 47 points on 16-28 shooting, including 6-9 from 3-point range. He passed Kemba Walker to become the nation’s leading scorer at 26.1 ppg. The Cougars are more than a one-man show, but Fredette is capable of carrying his team to a deep tournament run similar to Steph Curry in 2008.
9. Connecticut (11)
14-2
UConn took care of business last week with wins against Rutgers and DePaul, while Kemba Walker and Alex Oriakhi continue to carry the team. The Huskies are entering the most difficult stretch of their schedule and it remains to be seen if two players are enough to contend in the rugged Big East.
10. Texas (13)
14-3
The Longhorns have an opportunity to gain the upper hand in the Big 12 with games against Texas A&M and Kansas this week. Rick Barnes’ young team has been playing outstanding defense, ranking 5th in the country in adjusted points per possession allowed. They’re a serious threat to Kansas in the Big 12 after holding their own through a tough non-conference schedule.
11. Texas A&M (15)
14-1
After facing questions about a weak non-conference schedule, it looks like Mark Turgeon’s team is for real. The Aggies picked up big conference wins last week against Oklahoma State and Mizzou. Sophomore forward Khris Middleton came up huge with 28 pts, 7 rebs and 4 assists in the OT thriller against Mizzou. A&M is one of the best teams in the country at getting to the free throw line and that was the difference against the Tigers. The road doesn’t get any easier as the Aggies travel to Texas and host K-State this week.
12. Kentucky (16)
14-3
This year’s Kentucky squad is flying under the radar compared to last year’s team. That can be attributed to last year’s 19-0 start and the phenomenon that was John Wall. Despite three early-season losses, the numbers say that this year’s team might be better. Their offensive output is up 3.0 points per 100 possessions, while their defensive efficiency is equal to last year. John Wall received more hype, but [Player: Terrance Jones’] production has been just as good averaging 18.6 ppg and 9.0 rpg. This team could still challenge for a #1 seed before all is said and done.
13. Missouri (12)
15-3
It’s tough to penalize Mizzou too much for a controversial OT loss on the road to Texas A&M. The Tigers seemed to get the short-end of a few questionable calls late in that game. That being said, they weren’t able to turn the Aggies over with their high pressure defense. That inability combined with being outscored by 20 pts from the free throw line, cost them. The Tigers are now 1-2 in the conference, a bad place to be while trying to contend with the likes of Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor.
14. Purdue (8)
15-3
The Boilers fell victim to two very difficult road environments in losses to Minnesota and WVU last week. Purdue actually held late second half leads in both games, but they couldn’t come up with key buckets down the stretch. JuJuan Johnson was terrific in both outings, averaging 27.5 pts and 9 rebounds. His outside shot continues to improve and it’s going to earn him playing time at the next level. As for the Boilers, they’ll look forward to returning to West Lafayette this week to host Penn State and Michigan State.
15. Wisconsin (NR)
15-4
Like several other Big Ten teams, the Badgers have been tough to place this year. They own several quality wins over the likes of Marquette, Minnesota and Illinois. While their losses have all been close versus good teams. Bo Ryan’s style of play engenders itself to close contests. Wisconsin is so fundamentally sound, they will very rarely beat themselves. Not to mention, 6-10 senior forward Jon Leuer is a difficult matchup for any big man due to his ability to stretch the floor. His 3-point shooting percentage increased from 39.1% last season to 46.3% this season, despite averaging 2.9 more attempts per game.
16. Louisville (NR)
14-3
We really struggled to find a team for the final spot in this week’s Power 16. After the first 14 teams, you’ll find a lot of similar résumés. Louisville gets the nod here for now thanks to their 3-1 start in the Big East. A typical Pitino team, the Cardinals rely on guard play and pressure defense. If you can handle their pressure and contest their outside looks, you’ll have a reasonable chance of beating them. Preston Knowles is having an excellent senior season and he had another good week, averaging 20.5 pts and 4.5 rebounds against Villanova and Marquette.

Dropped out: Notre Dame (10), Illinois (15)

Email questions or opinions to Josh: [email protected]

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