NCAA Top 25 Poll
By Kevin Duffy
Team (Record) AP Poll Rank / ESPN/USAToday Rank
[img_assist|nid=3485|title=Derrick Rose - Icon SMI |desc=|link=none|align=right|width=350|height=501]1. Memphis (25-0) 1 1
Chris Douglas-Roberts bailed Memphis out with a three-point play to give the Tigers a one-point win over a feisty UAB squad. Memphis seems to be headed for an undefeated record in Conference USA now that it has taken care of Houston and UAB. The Tigers’ overall undefeated record will hinge on Saturday’s match-up vs. No. 2 Tennessee (9 PM ET ESPN), which is being hyped as the Game of the Year. Between the athleticism and non-stop pace of both teams, it won’t disappoint.
2. Tennessee (23-2) 2 2
Even Bruce Pearl isn’t sure the Vols are the No. 2 team in the country. Are they really better than Kansas and UCLA? We won’t find that out until March, but luckily we’ll get to see who rules the state of Tennessee on Saturday.
3. Kansas (24-2) 4 5
The Jayhawks rebounded from a tough loss to Texas with a 24-point beating of Colorado last week. Out of all the elite teams in the country, Kansas is receiving the least attention. But with the Jayhawks experience, depth, and athleticism, they have a legit shot to cut down the nets in San Antonio.
4. North Carolina (23-2) 3 3
Carolina, who’s Achilles heal all season long has been defense, took offense (no pun intended) to the criticism and responded by holding Virginia Tech to 52 points on 25 percent shooting.
5. Duke (22-2) 5 4
The Devils finally went cold. Duke converted just 8 of 28 three-point attempts and went down in flames vs. a fired-up freshman led Wake Forest squad last week. DeMarcus Nelson and Co. have the capability to make a Final Four run, but if they run into a difficult match-up, the Devils could be bounced as early as the second round.
6. UCLA (23-3) 6 6
With LRMM back, the Bruins thoroughly dominated cross-city rival USC and OJ Mayo last week, as Russell Westbrook suffocated the freshman sensation on the defensive end. Mayo shot just 2 for 8 from the field for 4 points and committed 10 turnovers in the loss. UCLA may not look pretty at all times, but it gets the job done and has all the ingredients to make the third time the charm in the tourney this year. Westbrook has NBA scouts a buzz and is considered a possible lottery pick if he comes out this year.
7. Texas (21-4) 7 7
In terms of quality wins, no one in the country can touch the Longhorns. Their latest victim: Texas A&M, who came into Austin and got stomped, 77-50. Though the Aggies blew out the Longhorns earlier in the year, it’s pretty clear Texas is on another level at this point. If Texas can win the Big 12 title, it would be tough to give it anything less than a No. 1 seed.
8. Stanford (21-4) 9 9
The Cardinal had a rough week, losing to Arizona State in OT and barely escaping vs. Arizona, but they only fall one spot in our poll because other teams around them lost as well. Of all the four loss teams (excluding Texas), Stanford has the best resume and thus deserves this ranking.
9. Xavier (21-4) 10 12
Xavier has established itself as the cream-of-the-crop in a very competitive A-10. While the Musketeers have a squad talented enough to compete with the big-time teams, it will be interesting to see where the committee places them on Selection Sunday.
10. Georgetown (20-4) 12 10
I’ve said all year that the Hoyas are overrated. Well, they are to an extent, but now that they’ve fallen into the 10-12 range in the polls, they no longer are. G’Town may win ugly at times, but it is still at the top of the Big East and that’s no easy feat.
11. UConn (20-5) 13 13
If it weren’t for a Roy Hibbert three in the waning seconds of an early conference match-up, the Huskies would be on top of the Big East and in the top ten of the national rankings. Regardless, there isn’t a hotter team right now. The big question becomes what to do with Jerome Dyson when he returns from his suspension. Craig Austrie, who gave UConn an overtime victory over South Florida on a runner with 0.2 seconds remaining, is riding a wave of confidence and has been phenomenal in filling the role at shooting guard.
12. Butler (24-2) 8 8
The Bulldogs continue to ascend in the polls, but eventually they’ll have to drop. Despite their record, they’re tournament resume is not impressive at all. Butler hasn’t beaten one NCAA-worthy team all year long (they lost to Wright State, who is the only other NCAA worthy team they’ve even played).
13. Washington State (20-5) 17 19
The Cougars dropped in the rankings fast with a flurry of losses in a short amount of time, but have since rebounded fairly well to grab a strong hold onto third place in the Pac-10. Though they are ranked lower than the Big 10’s “big three,” the Cougars are the better team.
14. Indiana (21-4) 15 14
The Hoosiers have the difficult task of remaining focused on basketball while the Kelvin Sampson recruiting saga continues to unfold. This huge distraction will end up hurting Indiana come tournament time.
15. Louisville (21-6) 18 23
The Cardinals fell out of the rankings quickly because of injuries, but have remained under the radar despite becoming fully healthy a month ago. Louisville’s 11-3 conference record ties it for first-place in the Big East with Georgetown, and makes them one of the most underrated teams in the nation.
16. Purdue (21-5) 14 15
Oh, the Big Ten. The Boilermakers hold an impressive 12-1 conference record, but is anyone convinced they can do damage in the NCAA tournament?
17. Wisconsin (21-4) 11 10
As interesting as it will be to see Xavier’s seed on Selection Sunday, it will be equally interesting to see how high of a seed Wisconsin gets, especially because of the bad rap the Big 10 has received this year.
18. Vanderbilt (22-4) 20 16
After losing three of four, Vandy has reeled off five straight SEC wins to position themselves back into the middle of the rankings. Perhaps its most impressive win came a week ago when the Commodores ripped apart Kentucky 93-52 on national television. The Wildcats couldn't buy a basket in the first half finishing with just 11 points, before Vandy pulled their starters in the second half.
19. Kansas State (18-6) 24 25
K-State fell victim to Pat Knight and Texas Tech last week (boy, that sounds weird). So how did Beasley and Co. respond? How about a 100-63 beatdown of Missouri. Oh by the way, Beasley scored 40 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the win.
20. Michigan State (20-5) 19 17
State really hurt itself when it fell flat on its face against a struggling Indiana squad last week. There are some people who believe Michigan State still is the class of the Big 10, but there’s not much right now to support that theory.
21. Notre Dame (19-5) 21 21
Luke Harangody has established himself as an All-American candidate. A bit of a poor man’s Tyler Hansbrough, Harangody combines bullish strength with finesse post moves to torch anyone who lines up against him. Case in point: Harangody dropped 32 points and 16 rebounds on UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet.
22. St. Mary’s (22-3) 23 20
If the Gaels can go into Spokane and knock off Gonzaga for a second time on March 1, they’re likely looking at three regular season losses, which is too impressive to keep them from earning anything less than a four or five seed.
23. Mississippi State (17-7) NR NR
Miss. State is in control of its own destiny in the SEC West after defeating Arkansas last Saturday. The Bulldogs are currently 8-2 in the SEC and are looking at a 7 or 8 seed at this point.
24. Texas A&M (20-6) 22 22
A&M took a big hit when it got blown out in Austin on Monday. Though the Aggies certainly have talent, they lack the toughness and resilience to be considered an elite team.
25. Marquette (18-6) 25 24
The Golden Eagles climbed back into our rankings after thoroughly beating previous No. 25 Pittsburgh 72-54. Dominic James was held to four points, but his 12 assists orchestrated Marquette’s offense and he did a lockdown job defensively.