NCAA Top 25 Poll
By Kevin Duffy
Team (Record) AP Poll Rank / ESPN/USAToday Rank
[img_assist|nid=3495|title=Brook Lopez - AP Photo/George Nikitin|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=336]1. Memphis (23-0) 1 1
If the Tigers can get by Tennessee on February 23rd, it looks like clear sailing for an undefeated regular season. Wednesday night’s match-up versus Houston is a serious trap game for Memphis, however.
2. Duke (20-1) 2 2
Duke is No. 2 almost by default. I wanted to put Kansas in this spot, but the Jayhawks lost and Tennessee didn’t deserve to move up after an ugly 47-45 victory over lowly LSU. There’s no question Duke can stretch you out, shoot the ball, and attack the basket, but its glaring lack of a post scorer will prevent the Devils from making a title run in March.
3. Tennessee (21-2) 4 4
After dismantling Florida 104-82, the Vols nearly suffered a catastrophic let-down versus LSU. They still move up in the polls because of UNC, UCLA, and Kansas losses. With Chris Lofton back in last year’s form and Tyler Smith playing superb all-around basketball, Tennessee is a legitimate Final Four contender.
4. North Carolina (21-2) 5 5
Ty Lawson's high ankle sprain and time missed has proven just how valuable he is to this team. Carolina fell at home to Duke without its stud floor leader and then needed two overtimes and 39 points from Tyler Hansbrough to oust Clemson. The ‘Heels can’t wait to get revenge against the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 8 with a healthy Lawson.
5. Kansas (21-3) 3 3
Because this poll came out after the Jayhawks defeat at Texas, they drop a few spots in the poll. In fact, if this poll had been released on Monday I would have had Kansas at No. 2. The Jayhawks are certainly a National Championship contender, especially with Sherron Collins back to full strength. Though he scored only two points versus the Longhorns, Collins averaged a stellar 12 points per contest in his previous five.
6. UCLA (21-3) 6 6
Just a week ago, everyone was saying this was the best team in the country. A disturbing 10-point road loss to Washington has sparked some doubt. There is no question the Bruins can contend for a national championship, but UCLA clearly isn’t invincible either. The value that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute brings to this team cannot be overlooked as two of their losses (USC and Wash.) have come without the benefit of LRMM's defense. As valuable as Kevin Love is to this team on the offensive end, he is a liability defensively and the Bruins should look to Loranzo Mata-Real more often when they need stops.
7. Stanford (19-3) 7 7
The Cardinal have to be considered the surprise team of the year thus far. After the top six, there is a drop-off, but Stanford has done everything to convince the voters that it deserves this No. 7 spot over several more hyped teams like Georgetown and Michigan State.
8. Texas (19-4) 11 11
Who would have thought that AJ Abrams and DJ Augustin could shoot a combined 6-26 from the field and the Longhorns could prevail over Kansas? Well, that’s exactly what happened, thanks largely in part to Damion James’ 14 points and 13 rebounds.
9. Georgetown (21-3) 8 8
First of all, the Hoyas have to thank Jonathan Wallace for his 15 points Monday versus Villanova. Secondly, the Hoyas owe special congratulations to the referee for making one of the worst calls in recent memory. Ok, so Corey Stokes bumped Wallace a little bit. There was about 0.2 seconds left and the bump took place 80 feet from the basket. Referees ARE suppsed to take situation into account and there’s no way a game should be decided like that. As bad as Villanova got screwed, it couldn't touch the way the women's Rutgers team lost to Tennessee (on the same night) due to a clock malfunction and foul call which came a full second after the game ended. How this play didn't go to replay is anyone's guess.
10. Butler (21-2) 9 10
The Bulldogs are quietly taking care of business, but havent’ played a major-conference team since Florida State in mid-December. Butler may struggle against the athleticism of the big teams if it draws a tough match-up come March.
11. Xavier (20-4) 12 13
Xavier has established itself as the premier team in a competitive Atlantic 10 conference. The Musketeers have the depth, talent, and experience to make a serious run in the NCAA tournament. Remember, this was the team that nearly knocked off Ohio State in the second round last year.
12. Texas A&M (20-4) 16 16
The Aggies rebounded from that three-consecutive-loss disaster with five straight convincing conference wins. Next Monday’s showdown in Texas will really tell us what A&M is made of.
13. UConn (19-5) 17 17
Hasheem Thabeet is growing up before our eyes. Thabeet’s shot-blocking prowess combined with AJ Price’s leadership have engineered a remarkable turnaround for the Huskies, who have won 7 straight and already two more games than they did all of last season.
14. Indiana (20-3) 13 12
Despite struggling at times, the Hoosiers are 9-1 in conference and in position to secure a high seed in the NCAA tournament. Eric Gordon better have called glass, A prayer of a three-pointer that banked in saved Indiana from a huge loss at Illinois. The karma gods apparently had their hands full after last weekend's New York Giant Superbowl victory. However, allegations of "major violations" against Coach Sampson and Indiana are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.
15. Michigan State (20-4) 9 10
Michigan State ran into the freight train that is the Purdue Boilermakers. Though they are now 8-3 in the Big 10 and lost to Purdue, the Spartans stay above them because they have a better overall record and the game was at Purdue. If the Boilermakers had gone into the “Izzone,” the result may have been different.
16. Kansas State (15-5) 18 22
Kansas State is one of the most underrated teams in the nation. With the most talented player in the country in Beasley, the Wildcats are currently first in the Big 12 with a 7-1 record and have the firepower to take down any team on any given day.
17. Purdue (19-5) 19 23
Robbie Hummel went bananas in the Boilermakers’ win over Michigan State. The lanky swingman knocked in four 3-pointers and totaled 24 points, as Purdue put itself on the national map in a big way. Don’t look now, but the Boilermakers are 11-1 in the Big 10.
17. Drake (23-1) 14 15
The Bulldogs have jumped out to an impressive 13-0 start in the Missouri Valley Conference, which may sound a bit more impressive than it really is. The conference is down this year and we won’t truly be able to gauge how good Drake is until tournament time.
18. Wisconsin (19-4) 15 14
The Badgers, vastly overrated in both polls in recent weeks, fell seven spots in the AP poll and six in the Coaches poll after falling victim to Purdue. Wisconsin, a slightly above average Big 10 team, is still a bit overrated in the mid-teens.
20. Washington State (18-5) 21 20
Wazzou rebounded from a big-time midseason slump with a convincing 74-50 victory at home vs. USC. Though they are just 6-5 in the Pac-10, but don’t expect the Cougars to be down in the 20s for too long.
21. Notre Dame (18-4) 20 18
After holding on against Marquette, the Irish head to Storrs for a Wednesday night showdown versus UConn with second place in the Big East on the line. Luke Harangody was man-handled by UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet the first time these two teams met, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Brey drag Harangody out of the paint in order to take away Thabeet’s shot-blocking ability around the rim.
22. Louisville (18-6) 23 NR
The Cardinals have reeled off four straight wins, including a College Gameday victory over Georgetown at home on Saturday night. David Padgett has come on strong of late, averaging 19 points per game in his last two outings.
23. St. Mary’s (19-3) 25 21
St. Mary’s was able to stay in the rankings with a 54-50 victory over Santa Clara. The Gaels have flown under the radar all season, but will finish the season with an outstanding record and likely earn a high seed.
24. Vanderbilt (20-4) 24 19
The Commodores continue to roll after a slow start in the SEC after a 93-52 shellacking of Kentucky on Tuesday night. The dynamic duo of Andrew Olgilvy and Shan Foster combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds in the win.
25. Pittsburgh (19-5) 22 24
After easily beating Providence, Pitt has a brutal schedule coming up (Marquette, Notre Dame, Louisville) that could make or break its postseason hopes.