NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:41pm

What a wild week. A number of our Power 16 teams took losses in the last week, so there's definitely some shakeup. Still, never overreact to nonconference losses.

Rank (Last Week)
1. Duke (1)
Last week, we pointed out how much better the Blue Devils are because of Kyrie Irving. Well, now that he may be out for the entire season, it will be interesting to see how Duke holds up. Nolan Smith has finally adapted to a playmaking role, though, and Duke has enough talent in its backcourt that it should be just fine.
2. Ohio State (2)
Jared Sullinger is a monster, and he proved that again this week with a 40-point outburst. The Buckeyes are loaded everywhere thanks to the emergence of Aaron Craft as a viable point guard option off the bench, something the team was desperate for last season.
3. Kansas (4)
The 9-0 record is pretty, even if some of the actual games haven't been. The Jayhawks are a flawed team, but they'll be helped big time by the addition of Josh Selby, who at the very least can provide stability at point guard.
4. Kansas State (5)
Best one-loss team in the country? Even with Jacob Pullen not playing as well as some (including this prognosticator) expected, the Wildcats have the depth and talent to challenge for the national title. They're a more complete team than Kansas, albeit potentially without the upside the Jayhawks will have when Selby joins the fold.
5. Syracuse (13)
Has their been a more impressive win this season than the beatdown the Orange put on Michigan State last week? Rick Jackson may be college basketball's best rebounder since Paul Millsap's run of dominance at Louisiana Tech. Factor in the much-improved play of Scoop Jardine at point guard and the expected continual improvement of a freshman-heavy supporting cast, and there's no reason Syracuse can't be in it til the end this season.
6. Connecticut (6)
Connecticut does not have another test until they play at Pittsburgh on Dec. 27, but this team more than earned its stripes at Maui. Kemba Walker is drawing all the headlines for good reason -- at this point, he's the clear front runner for national player of the year recognition -- but don't underestimate the contributions of rebound machine Alex Oriakhi or the seven players averaging between 10-25 minutes per game.
7. Baylor (7)
LaceDarius Dunn is back, and man, does that make this team tough to beat. The top of the Big 12 is loaded this season, with both Kansas squads and Baylor looking the part of legitimate national championship contenders. But the Bears have one edge that shouldn't be overlooked -- Perry Jones is only getting better and he already looks like the best NBA prospect in the land.
9. Pittsburgh (3)
If Kansas State is the nation's best one-loss team, Pitt is a close second. The Panthers are stacked at every position with a roster that perfectly fits what coach Jamie Dixon is trying to do. They're a tough, tough bunch, and they'll unquestionably bounce back just fine from a neutral-court loss to Tennessee.
9. San Diego State (11)
As great a player as Kawhi Leonard has developed into, the Aztecs' heart and soul comes from a terrific senior class. Billy White, D.J. Gay, Malcolm Thomas and Brian Carlwell give this team an edge that few other elite squads have -- veterans at key positions. There's no doubt at this moment that San Diego State is the best mid-major in the nation.
10. Tennessee (8)
The Volunteers are full of flaws, not the least of which being the cloudy future hanging over coach Bruce Pearl. But a strong collection of wing players allows this team to run with anyone in the country on any given night. A loss to Oakland really hurts this team's profile, but don't underestimate how big a factor playing the game after avenging an Elite Eight loss against one of the nation's best teams (Michigan State) had in the Oakland shocker.
11. Michigan State (10)
A colleague described Michigan State as "the best NBA team in college basketball," referencing not the high caliber of players or a joke about Tom Izzo paying his stars, but the fact that, like so many NBA teams, Michigan State waits until the last possible second to really turn things up. Three losses this early in the season is a bit of a disappointment, but don't be lulled into believing the Sparrtans are no longer a very, very serious threat to win the national title.
12. Villanova (12)
Even though LaSalle is much better this season than in years past, the Wildcats should have beaten the Explorers by more than just three points. Villanova is not a good shooting team and turnovers have plagued twin point guards Corey Fisher and [Player Maalik Wayns], but there's still a lot to like about having just one loss at this point in the season.
13. Illinois (16)
The most senior-heavy top team in the country is getting the job done game after game. Sure, the overtime loss to Texas still stings a bit, but since that game, star freshman Jereme Richmond has begun to come out of his shell. One of the things that makes the Illini so dangerous is their combination of players and remarkable balance. The team is shooting 42 percent on 3-pointers and has Richmond and Mike Davis cleaning up inside.
14. Brigham Young (NR)
The Cougars needed a signature win and got just that against an Arrizona team that appears to be NCAA Tournament-bound. When Jimmer Fredette has an off night, this team is beatable. But how often does that actually happen? Don't make the mistake of devaluing the supporting cast, either, particularly Fredette's backcourt-make Jackson Emery
15. Georgetown (8)

A three-point loss to Temple is hardly an embarrassment, but the Hoyas are clearly a flawed team that relies too much on their guards for scoring. Still, with Jason Clark and Austin Freeman shooting the way they have, who can blame John Thompson III?

16. Missouri (NR)
Marcus Denmon is one of this season's breakout stars, and Ricardo Ratliffe may be the best junior college transfer in the country. Still, Tony Mitchell's eligibility would be a boon for a team that could use his athleticism and size. Mitchell could thrust Missouri into the discussion with Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor for the best team in the Big 12.

Dropped out: UNLV (14), Texas (15)

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