NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Tue, 11/16/2010 - 5:29am

The college basketball season is underway and nearly every team has given us a glimpse of what's to come. While it's early and important not to be over-reactive to early games, here's a first look at our weekly Power 16.

Rankings are based largely on our preseason rankings, found here.

Rank (AP Rank)
1. Michigan State (2)
Freshmen Keith Appling and Adreian Payne were great in their regular season debuts, shooting a combined 8-for-12 from the field. In addition, Kalin Lucas picked up right where he left off last season in a 96-66 win against Eastern Michigan. A case can be made for either Duke or Michigan State at the top.
2. Duke (1)
This Blue Devils team is faster than last year's version, and Kyrie Irving already looks like the real deal, as if anyone thought he wasn't. But those frontcourt depth issues weren't exactly solved and neither Plumlee brother played particularly well in their new starting roles. A near unanimous #1 pick 58 of 65 AP and 29 of 31 Coaches Poll first place votes.
3. Ohio State (4)
We don't want to overreact to one game, but what a game. The Buckeyes scored 102 points on the strength of huge games from freshmen Jared Sullinger (19 points, 14 rebounds), Deshaun Thomas (24 points, 8 rebounds) and -- perhaps most importantly -- point guard Aaron Craft (8 points, 9 assists, 2 turnovers). Ohio State is the big riser this week.
4. Pitsburgh (5)
After a less-than-pretty opener against Rhode Island, the Panthers picked it up with two huge blowouts. Bradley Wanamaker's development makes this team especially scary, and redshirt freshman Talib Zanna has adjusted very well to his starting role.
5. Kansas State (3)
Holding James Madison star Denzel Bowles to just 11 points was impressive, but Wally Judge needed a good start to the season. A 1-for-6 shooting performance with four turnovers and four fouls was not that. Still, a lot to love in Manhattan, Kan.
6. Syracuse (10)
This team held Northern Iowa to just 27.3 percent from the field in Game 1, then "slipped" to allow 34.3 percent shooting to Canisius. The defense is scary good, as was the production from unheralded Oak Hill product Baye Moussa Keita on the boards (15 against Canisius). Backcourt depth and Fab Melo's production are concerns early, but the answers are there for Jim Boeheim.
7. Villanova (6)
This team should have blown out Bucknell. The bench may be a bigger concern than initially believed. Mouphtao Yarou didn't do a whole lot in 23 minutes as a starter, and fellow sophomore Maalik Wayns racked up 6 turnovers. Jay Wright will figure this out, but the performance warrants a slight drop in the rankings.
8. Baylor (17)
Sure, Perry Jones was not as impressive as hoped in the team's 87-52 demolition of Grambling State. But he'll come around. The bigger news is that LaceDarius Dunn will only be suspended for the season's first three games, which gives Baylor a huge lift as their preseason ranking was based on a team without the best returning scorer in the country.
9. Florida (9)
It was very encouraging to see freshman Scottie Wilbekin come through with 5 assists and 4 steals in 17 minutes off the bench. The veteran frontcourt played like veterans in a 17-point win against UNC-Wilmington. Will the offense run through Chandler Parsons or was Kenny Boynton just a bit off?
10. Missouri (15)
Accounting for the fact that they've yet to play a game, it seems fair to say Missouri holds steady in its spot for now.
11. North Carolina (8)
John Henson had 17 points and 7 boards against Lipscomb. So that was nice. Harrison Barnes didn't light up the world, but he was solid in his debut, and Kendall Marshall was more productive in 11 minutes than Larry Drew II was in 29 at point. It won't be long before Marshall is starting.
12. Washington (17)
McNeese State was woefully overmatched, but you can't help but be impressed by Matthew Bryan Amaning's 28-point, 13-rebound opener. The 118-64 score suggests this team may move up quickly.
13. Illinois (13)
Again, we're trying not to overreact to early games, but it's refreshing to see Demetri McCamey playing so efficiently -- he has 24 assists and just 6 turnovers so far. Brandon Paul may lead this team in scoring when all is said and done.
14. Kentucky (12)
Our preseason rankings were based on what Kentucky would look like without Enes Kanter, but it certainly hurts that he's been declared ineligible officially. Still, Terrence Jones had a huge debut with 25 points and 12 rebounds against East Tennessee State, and he can carry this team.
15. Arizona (not ranked)
The Wildcats showed off their unbelievable depth (15 players used) and efficiency on both ends (shooting 59.6 percent from the field while holding Idaho State to 28.1 percent) in a blowout win. These are very good signs, but the opposition only gets tougher.
16. Kansas (7)
A pair of blowout wins against inferior competition showed one very important thing: This is Marcus Morris' team. Tyshawn Taylor still scares us as a starting point guard in big games, but he's clearly worked on his playmaking.

Games to watch

(All times are Eastern Time Zone)

Tuesday, Nov. 16

Keith ApplingKeith ApplingVirginia Tech at Kansas State (4 p.m.) -- Two of the nation's best scoring guards, Hokie star Malcolm Delaney and Wildcats player of the year candidate Jacob Pullen, go head to head. It doesn't get much better than this in terms of a matchup to watch, and it helps that both teams are ranked.

Ohio State at Florida (6 p.m.) -- Another rematch of the 2007 national championship game, except this time, all things seem to be relatively equal. Florida's veteran frontcourt will take on Ohio State's rookie bigs Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas.

San Diego State at Gonzaga (11 p.m.) -- Two of the five best mid-majors in the country face off. On a neutral court, I'd take the Aztecs. But no one wins in Spokane except the Bulldogs (or Zags, if you prefer).

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Vermont at Connecticut (7 p.m.) -- One of these teams went to the NCAA Tournament last year, and it wasn't Connecticut. This year's Huskies are tough to get a read on, and while the Catamounts are down this year, this could be a fun test.

Thursday, Nov. 18

Pittsburgh vs. Maryland in New York (7 p.m.) -- These are the kinds of matchups you love this early in the season, with two promising power conference teams that have already played three games facing off on a neutral court. Maryland's guards are young and will be heavily tested.

Illinois vs. Texas in New York (9 p.m.)-- The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic nightcap features two ranked teams with deep benches. The Illini may expose the Longhorns' inexperience in this one.

Friday, Nov. 19

Kentucky at Portland (10:30 p.m.) -- Terrence Jones goes home and will light the Pilots up in the Rose Garden, home of the Blazers.

Saturday, Nov. 20

Wisconsin at UNLV (7 p.m.) -- Not sure why Bo Ryan scheduled this one, but good for him. This is a real trap game, and UNLV is widely underrated and overshadowed by fellow Mountain West standouts San Diego State and Brigham Young.

Sunday, Nov. 21

Memphis at Louisiana State (5 p.m.) -- It's a slow Sunday, true. But there's some intrigue in this one after Memphis almost lost to Miami in a midnight game Tuesday morning.

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