NCAA Top 25 Poll
By Kevin Duffy
Team (Record) AP Poll Rank / ESPN/USAToday Rank
[img_assist|nid=3581|title=Kyle Singler|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=389]1. North Carolina (9-0) 1 1
Tyler Hansborough and the ‘Heels put a hurt on Rutgers (91-73) last week, and unless UNC suffers a setback against Nicholls State, UC Santa Barbara, Nevada, Kent State, or Valparaiso, the No. 1 ‘Heels won’t be tested until they face off against Clemson on January 15.
2. Memphis (8-0) 2 2
The Tigers are receiving 19 of 72 first-place votes in the AP Poll, but only 4 of 31 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The coaches clearly don’t like this team as much as the sportswriters do, and that could be the result of the Tigers’ “pick-up” style that can be prone to turnovers and poor shot selection. With that being said, Memphis may be able to earn some more votes from the coaches if it can upend 4th ranked (nationally) Georgetown on December 19.
3. Kansas (10-0) 3 3
The Jayhawks upcoming schedule is so easy that it makes the KU football team cringe. Kansas has a legitimate chance to be 24-0 when it faces No. 5 Texas on February 11. There are a few tricky games in there, however. Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush and Co. can’t look past Boston College or Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and Kansas State if they want to be remain undefeated for the showdown with the Longhorns.
4. Texas (10-0) 4 5
Anyone who is not a believer should be now. The Longhorns are receiving first-place votes in both polls and are playing perhaps the best basketball of any team in the country. If there were no pre-season polls and the voting started a week or two into the season (a method that seems like a more fair assessment of ranking teams), there is reason to believe Texas would be ranked No. 1 right now. AJ Abrams and DJ Augustin form the best backcourt duo in the nation and don’t look now, but former McDonald’s All-American man-child Damion James is averaging 11.8 points and 10 rebounds per game.
5. Duke (9-0) 6 7
You think they’re overrated? Maybe so, but I’ve been more impressed with this team so far than I have with Georgetown. Duke spreads the court with five guys that can shoot the three effectively and the Blue Devils have two dynamic slashing athletes in Gerald Henderson and DeMarcus Nelson. It will be interesting to see how they fare against a gritty Pittsburgh squad on December 20.
6. Georgetown (8-0) 5 4
The Hoyas may have been a little angry about their drop in the rankings. G’Town took out their frustration on Jacksonville and Radford, winning by 32 and 59 points respectively. John Thompson’s squad will need mega-recruit Vernon Macklin (3.6 ppg) to start contributing if it is going to knock off Memphis on Saturday and come out on top in a difficult Big East.
7. UCLA (9-1) 8 8
The Bruins finish up with a few cupcakes over the next few weeks (Yes, that includes Michigan…sorry John Belien) before they get into the nitty-gritty of the Pac-10. While they’re ranked No. 8 in both polls, I refuse to put Washington State ahead of them until Wazzou beats UCLA. Both have quality wins, but the Bruins victory over Michigan State was more impressive than the Cougars tight win over Gonzaga.
8. Washington State (9-0) 7 6
Washington State may indeed be the most well-rounded team in the nation. The Cougars have four players scoring in double figures and one, senior forward Robbie Cowgill, who averages 9.6 points per game. Wazzou has nowhere to go but up in the rankings as it faces The Citadel, Idaho State, and North Carolina A+T before the New Year.
9. Michigan State (9-1) 9 8
If there was ever a time for Drew Neitzel to lead this team—it’s right now. State hosts No. 4 Texas on Saturday and a win could catapult the Spartans near the Top 5. You better believe the “Izzone” will be rockin’ for that huge non-conference matchup.
10. Tennessee (9-1) 12 12
Most would consider this to be a little high for Tennessee, as the Vols are ranked No. 12 in both polls. They can justify this ranking with two road wins vs. Xavier this Saturday and vs. Gonzaga on December 29. Last week marked the Vols debut of Tayshawn Prince's lil cousin JP (Arizona transfer) who had a solid first game 8 pts and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes.
11. Pittsburgh (10-0) 11 9
The Panthers almost made Sean Sutton pass out (that would be twice in two years) after a nationally-televised thrashing of Oklahoma State last week. Pitt will play perhaps its biggest non-conference regular season game ever on Thursday when it squares off against No. 5 Duke at home. We’ll learn a lot about both teams in this one.
12. Indiana (9-1) 13 14
As dominant as Michael Beasley has been at Kansas State, Eric Gordon has been equally impressive for the Hoosiers. The freshman stud is averaging 24.4 points per game and has to be the favorite to win Big 10 Player of the Year at this point. He is making a strong push to be a Top 3 pick in next years NBA Draft and by the way- has Indiana playing its best basketball in years.
13. Texas A&M (9-1) 14 11
The coaches really respect the Aggies. The media doesn’t. A&M is ranked No. 11 in the coaches poll but No. 14 in the media poll.. The Aggies will probably climb into the Top 10 of both polls in the coming weeks because they don’t face a ranked opponent until they host Texas on January 30. A January 16 match-up at Texas Tech could be a trap game for this talented A&M squad, however.
14. Marquette (6-1) 10 13
Like A&M, Marquette is ranked much lower in one poll than the other. The case with the Golden Eagles, however, is that the media ranks them a lot higher than the coaches. I’m with the coaches on this one. As well as Dominic James has played over the last two weeks or so, beating then No. 23 Wisconsin isn’t as big a win as people made it out to be. The Badgers did not deserve to be ranked, although this certainly helped their cause among college-age voters: http://youtube.com/watch?v=BAFKGhHiLII.
15. Arizona (6-2) 21 22
Jerryd Bayless is one of the best point guards in the country, regardless of age or class. As the leader of this Wildcat team, he cannot afford to look past UNLV and San Diego State this week before a huge match-up with Memphis next Saturday.
16. Gonzaga (8-2) 18 20
The Bulldogs got a lift from last year’s Washington State Player of the Year Steven Gray, who scored 12 points vs. Northern Colorado in his collegiate debut after he missed the team’s first 11 games with a fractured wrist suffered early in the year. He gives the Zags yet another shooter on the perimeter and makes this offense even more potent than it was before. The next two weeks will determine if Gonzaga becomes a consensus Top 15 team or drops out of the rankings entirely. The Bulldogs have two games until the New Year- at Oklahoma on Thursday and vs. No. 10 Tennessee on December 29th.
17. Villanova (8-1) 20 16
The ‘Cats are ranked 20th in the AP Poll, but have garnered a great deal of respect from the coaches, coming in at No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll. This may not be Allen Ray, Randy Foye, and Kyle Lowry, but Nova’s current backcourt trio of Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, and Malcom Grant is not too shabby. Wait until sharpshooting freshman Corey Stokes (3.3 ppg) realizes his potential. This team will be scary.
18. Vanderbilt (9-0) 20 21
Barring a major upset, Vandy will get to 16-0 before facing Kentucky on January 12th and No. 10 Tennessee on January 17th. This team is too talented to suffer a Clemson-like meltdown once it reaches conference play. You can pencil in Shan Foster, Andrew Ogilvy and Co. for a NCAA berth at this point.
19. West Virginia (6-1) NR 25
First John Belien, now Rich Rodriguez. Rumors are swirling that Michigan is going to swoop in and snatch away longtime WVU Gymnastics coach Linda Burdette.
20. Butler (9-1) 16 18
After losing to Wright State, the Bulldogs responded well by handling Florida State 79-68 last week. That’s the good news. The bad news: AJ Graves is shooting a despicable 90 percent from the free throw line this season.
21. Clemson (8-0) 15 15
Clemson, off since December 5, has had 15 days to prepare for its next opponent- Puerto Rico Mayaguez. PRM lost to Virginia by just 7 points, but even so, if the Tigers play anything remotely close to their best game over the next few weeks, they’ll likely be undefeated when they travel to Alabama on the first day of 2008. If they can get by the Tide there, Clemson will put their unblemished record on the line when it hosts No. 1 North Carolina on January 6th.
22. Miami (FL) (9-0) 22 22
Since when did Miami become a basketball school? Since the ‘Canes earned the No. 4 RPI ranking after some quality non-conference wins and since Miami football decided it no longer needed to recruit good quarterbacks.
23. Xavier (8-2) NR 24
The Musketeers suffered a serious setback in a 22-point loss to Arizona State on Saturday. But based on its overall body of work thus far, Xavier still deserves a spot in the Top 25. This Saturday’s match-up with Tennessee will truly determine the Musketeers fate in the polls for the coming weeks.
24. Brigham Young (9-2) 21 23
BYU keeps rolling along after 22 and 21 point wins over Lamar and Pepperdine last week. Because of their soft schedule and the toughness they showed in close losses to UNC and Michigan State early in the season, BYU should be a constant in the Top 25 for the rest of the year.
25. Oregon (8-2) 23 21
Losing 88-79 to Nebraska, a team that lost to Western Kentucky earlier in the year, will not look good on the Ducks resume come March. Oregon is lucky to hold onto a Top 25 spot, and they do so on sheer talent. Malik Hairston, Tajuan Porter, Bryce Taylor, and Marty Luenen can outscore any team in the country and are sure to come up with some big wins in the ulta-competitive Pac-10.
Dropped out: Saint Mary’s, Boston College