NCAA Top 25 Poll
By Kevin Duffy
Team (Record) AP Poll Rank / ESPN/USAToday Rank
It’s Christmas time, which means the polls have a special feature or two. Neither the AP Poll nor the ESPN/USA Today Poll provides you with a Christmas wish list of each ranked team, but NBADraft.net is here to provide that. Here are this week’s rankings, complete with what each team hopes Santa will bring. Merry Christmas!
[img_assist|nid=1942|title=Derrick Rose - AP Photo/Tom Uhlman|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=397]1. Memphis (10-0) 2 2
The Tigers move up to the top spot after making mincemeat of then No. 4 Georgetown on Saturday. They’ve already taken care of half of their brutal non-conference schedule- Oklahoma, Connecticut, USC, Cincinnati, and G’Town. Still to come: Arizona on December 29, Gonzaga on January 26, and Tennessee on February 13. Because of their easy Conference USA schedule, the possibility of an undefeated season is becoming a possibility. Now the question is—What’s more impressive, the Patriots going 16-0 or Memphis potentially going 31-0?
All Memphis wants for Christmas is: Conference USA to get three additional teams in the NCAA Tournament and thus boost Memphis’ RPI.
2. North Carolina (10-0) 1 1
When was the last time a team won by 35 and then dropped from the No. 1 ranking? Well, this week. The ‘Heels handled UC Santa Barbara 105-70, but couldn’t hold off Memphis in our poll. The polls should be based on season achievement to this point and not influenced by any preseason bias. Because UNC was the preseason No. 1, voters in the AP and ESPN polls are reluctant to move them down until they lose a game. I’m not saying that the ‘Heels haven’t been impressive this season, but they have not been as impressive as Memphis, and that is why they drop a spot in this weeks poll.
All North Carolina wants for Christmas is: The NBADraft.net Poll not to be considered by the Selection Committee. (Probably a safe bet).
3. Kansas (10-0) 3 3
The Jayhawks are still stealing away a total of 3 first-place votes in both polls. At 12-0, they have the best record in the country and even though Memphis is loaded with talented players and athletes, its tough to argue against Kansas as the most talented squad in the nation.
All Kansas wants for Christmas is: For Sherron Collins to recover from his foot injury quickly and give the Jayhawks the 30 minute of production that they are used to.
4. UCLA (10-1) 5 5
Look who’s back in the Top 5? After defeating Michigan by 15, the Bruins have moved up three spots in this week’s poll thanks largely in part to losses by Duke, Texas, and Georgetown. We keep them above Washington State right now because the Bruins are a more talented team across the board and have already played two top ten teams in Michigan State and Texas. Though Wazzou beat Gonzaga, they haven’t had played nearly the same competition.
All UCLA wants for Christmas is: To make the third time the charm and not only reach the Final Four this season but win the whole shebang!
5. Washington State (11-0) 4 4
Sorry Cougar fans. I still don’t believe this team is better than UCLA, but we will find out for sure on January 12 when Wazzou hosts the Bruins.
All Washington State wants for Christmas is: Some respect.
6. Pitt (11-0) 6 6
Hey America- Meet DeJaun Blair. Pitt’s 6-foot-7 265 lb freshman made a name for himself after a 15 point, 20 rebound, 3 block domination of Duke last week under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. The Panthers are a mentally tough squad with good size, athleticism, and depth.
All Pitt wants for Christmas is: To go back in time and take senior Mike Cook out of the game before he tore his ACL.
7. Michigan State (11-1) 7 7
The Spartans received a breakout performance from freshman point guard Kalin Lucas (18 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) in a big win over Texas. Lucas teams with senior leader Drew Neitzel and All-Conference talent Raymar Morgan to make State a legitimate Final Four contender.
All Michigan State wants for Christmas is: For Dexter Strickland, the No. 1 PG in the class of 2009 according to Scout.com, to sign with the Spartans. Right now, Florida and Michigan State are listed as Strickland’s top two teams.
8. Texas (10-1) 9 9
The Longhorns finally came back down to Earth, right? Wrong. This team is still among the nation’s elite and its only a matter of weeks before AJ Abrams and DJ Augustin shoots Texas back into the Top 5.
All Texas wants for Christmas: A Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State. After all, it’s still football season in Austin.
9. Duke (10-1) 10 10
Duke was a Levance Fields’ step-back three away from defeating Pitt and moving up into the Top 5 in both polls. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t bounce the Devils’ way, but there is still a lot to like about this team.
All Duke wants for Christmas is: For Dick Vitale to recover as soon as possible. (Not that we don’t all want that, but Duke really, really wants it.)
10. Tennessee (10-1) 12 12
Despite being ranked 12th in both polls, the Vols are the only Ten-I-See. JP Prince exploded for 23 points in a victory over an underrated Xavier squad. Prince’s sudden emergence gives the Vols yet another weapon to team with Chris Lofton, and the three Smiths. Side Note: Chris Lofton’s three-point attempt with 7 seconds on the shot clock late in the Xavier game was perhaps the deepest shot not taken at the buzzer ever attempted by a college basketball player.
All Tennessee wants for Christmas is: For a slimmed-down Bruce Pearl to paint himself for the SEC Tournament.
11. Georgetown (8-1) 8 8
Perhaps this is a little far to drop the Hoyas, but they have not impressed me as much as Tennessee, Texas, or Duke this season. Luckily for G’Town fans, the Hoyas have a chance to earn some signature wins during conference play.
All Georgetown wants for Christmas is: Vernon Macklin to finally realize his potential.
12. Indiana (9-1) 13 14
The Hoosiers begin Big 10 play on January 2 against Michigan. They figure to receive little competition in the conference outside of Michigan State. From a talent standpoint, Indiana has everything it takes to win the conference, but the team will need to gel a bit more before it hosts Michigan State on February 16.
All Indiana wants for Christmas is: For Eric Gordon to decide he needs another year of seasoning and announce that he is returning to Bloomington for his sophomore campaign.
13. Texas A&M (11-1) 14 11
The Aggies maintain their position in all three polls (NBADraft.Net’s included) after blowout wins vs. Detroit and UC Irvine.
All Texas A&M wants for Christmas is: For DeAndre Jordan to stop taking free throw lessons from Chris Dudley. (Jordan is currently shooting a horrid 29.8% from the stripe)
14. Marquette (9-1) 12 13
Tom Crean’s Golden Eagles tumbled two spots in the AP Poll despite winning two games last week by 24 and 47 points, respectively. They stick at No. 14 here, but will drop far if they fall victim to two boobie trap games to open conference play- Providence and West Virginia.
All Marquette wants for Christmas is: A rematch with Duke in the NCAA tournament.
15. Arizona (9-2) 17 18
The ‘Cats are moving up rapidly in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Polls. They could potentially leap into the top ten if they beat Memphis on the road this Saturday.
All Arizona wants for Christmas is: Lute Olsen to re-cooperate and return to the sidelines next year.
16. Villanova (9-1) 18 16
‘Nova continues to rise in the polls despite playing against fairly inferior competition. Case in point: The Wildcats lone game next week is vs. Lasalle. We will truly be able to gauge how good this team is when it goes up against several fringe Top 25 teams in the Big East such as West Virginia, Connecticut, Providence, Syracuse, and dare I say…Louisville.
All Villanova wants for Christmas is: A Division I football team.
17. Vanderbilt (11-0) 15 15
Shan Foster is one of the best swingmen in the SEC, and perhaps in the entire country. Andrew Ogilvy is among the top young centers in the college game. This duo makes Vandy even more dangerous than it was last year when the Commodores reached the Elite Eight behind NBA draftee Derrick Byars.
All Vandy wants for Christmas is: The stands to be moved closer to the court in their arena.
18. West Virginia (10-1) 23 23
West Virginia finally cracked the AP Top 25, debuting at No. 23 this week. Bob Huggins’ squad rises one spot in our poll all the way to No. 18, and could justify that ranking in a big non-conference game vs. Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday. "No ordinary Joe" Alexander is quickly becoming one of the top forwards in the country.
All West Virginia wants for Christmas is: For Michigan to stop stealing all of their coaches.
19. Butler (11-1) 16 17
The Bulldogs still come in a bit lower in our poll than they do in the AP and Coaches, but I still have a lot of respect for this Butler team. The Bulldogs’ perimeter shooting and gritty defense makes them a threat to beat anyone, but as the season progresses, their once stellar resume of non-conference wins over Ohio State, Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech doesn’t look so impressive anymore.
All Butler wants for Christmas is: Those three teams to start winning so the Bulldogs have some quality wins to put on their tournament resume.
20. Miami (FL) (11-0) 19 19
Siena transfer Jack McClinton is looking like an All-League player for the ‘Canes. The junior point guard currently averages 14.4 points and 3 assists per game for Miami, who’s best wins came against two former Big East teams in Providence and St. Johns.
All Miami wants for Christmas is: A Division I football team…oh wait.
21. Brigham Young (10-2) 20 21
All of the sudden BYU’s win at “No. 6” Louisville isn’t too big a deal. It seems everyone is beating the Cardinals these days. Though the Cougars played tough against North Carolina and Michigan State, they could really use another signature win or two.
All BYU wants for Christmas is: The Mountain West to turn out some unexpected teams so BYU doesn’t get cheated out of a good seed by the tournament committee because of a weak schedule.
22. Ole Miss (11-0) 22 24
A week ago, who knew the Rebels were undefeated? After an upset win over then unbeaten Clemson, Ole Miss has garnered some national attention. But then again, no one truly knows how good Clemson is because it hasn’t played anyone tough thus far. The same goes for Ole Miss, who has eeked out single digit wins over DePaul, Lasalle, Winthrop, New Mexico, Central Florida, and South Alabama. Right now, the Rebels are ranked with caution.
All Ole Miss wants for Christmas is: Nothing. Being ranked 23rd is enough of a present.
23. Saint Mary’s (11-1) NR NR
There’s no question the Gaels are among the top mid-major teams in the nation, but do they really deserve to be ranked? We’ll find out for sure when they travel to Austin to take on the No. 8 Texas Longhorns on January 5.
All St. Mary’s wants for Christmas is: To take away the WCC Crown from Gonzaga.
24. Rhode Island (11-1) 25 25
URI has jumped out to an 11-1 record after beating down in-state rival Providence 77-60 and by winning at Syracuse 91-89. The Rams also beat South Florida earlier in the year and their only loss came was a 76-72 defeat at Boston College. The best URI team since the Lamar Odom-Cuttino Mobley days is led by in-state junior point guard Jimmy Baron and by 6-foot-8 senior forward Will Daniels, who leads the Rams with 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. URI also has stolen two athletic youngsters from UConn, as New Haven, Conn. native Keith Cochran and Hamden, Conn.’s Lamonte Ulmer have given the Rams big performances in crunch time. Ulmer posted a double-double against Syracuse and Cochran opened the season with back-to-back 17 point outbursts.
All Rhode Island wants for Christmas is: More land.
25. USC (8-3) 24 NR
The Trojans lost to Mercer to open the season and to two extremely talented teams in Memphis and Kansas. Despite a relieance on freshmen, they have a great deal of talent, and experience with older freshmen Davon Jefferson and OJ Mayo plus Super-junior Taj Gibson (he's 22) and point guard Daniel Hackett. Hackett is really developing into a star, and the team runs better through him than Mayo. Mayo and Hackett's ability to mesh together will likely determine the team's tournament success.
All USC wants for Christmas is: OJ Mayo to improve his decision making and shot selection and deliver on all the hype.
Dropped out: Clemson, Xavier, Oregon, Gonzaga
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