NCAA Top 25 Poll
[img_assist|nid=3514|title=DeMarcus Nelson - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=351]Team (Record) AP Poll Rank / ESPN/USAToday Rank
1. Memphis (19-0) 1 1
The Tigers put on an absolute dunk contest in their 81-73 win over Gonzaga that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. When Derrick Rose is running the show like he did Saturday and Joey Dorsey and Chris Douglas-Roberts are finishing at the rim, Memphis is about as close to perfect as we’ve seen in years.
2. Kansas (20-0) 2 2
It’s amazing that Kansas is narrowing the gap considering how well Memphis is playing. The Jayhawks received 11 of the 31 first-place votes in the Coaches Poll and 26 of the 72 in the AP. They will be tested for the first time in a while when they pack their bags for Manhattan to take on a dangerous Kansas State squad on Wednesday.
3. North Carolina (19-1) 4 4
The ‘Heels sit at No. 4 in both polls, but they deserve to be ranked ahead of their Tobacco Road counterparts. Tyler Hansbrough continued to make a case for National Player of the Year with a 35-point (15-16 FTs), 8-rebound performance in a rout of up-and-coming Miami.
4. Duke (17-1) 3 3
The Blue Devils have been involved in some high-scoring affairs this year, but they’ve emerged victorious in all but one. Duke’s incredible bevy of three-point shooters coupled with do-everything guard DeMarcus Nelson, one of the most unsung stars in all of college basketball, make it a threat to contend for a 1 seed. We’ll see how the Dukies fair against teams with size however (UNC on February 6).
5. UCLA (18-2) 5 5
UCLA, who survived its trip to Oregon with solid shorthanded wins over the Ducks and Beavers last week, has a brutal schedule coming up. The Bruins next three opponents: Arizona State, Arizona, and Washington State. If UCLA continues to roll through the Pac-10, it will certainly see the No. 1 next to its name on Selection Sunday.
6. Tennessee (17-2) 7 8
Last weekend’s loss to Kentucky dropped the Vols a bit in both polls, but they stay at No. 6 here simply because they deserve the ranking more than two-loss teams such as Georgetown, Washington State, Indiana, and Michigan State. The Vols aren’t quite on the level of the top five teams, but they are talented enough to outscore anyone on any given day.
7. Michigan State (18-2)8 7
Meet the Spartans: Drew Neitzel is among the top point guards in the nation and Raymar Morgan is his perfect running mate. The Big 10 is down this season, but State is taking care of everyone on its schedule (except UCLA and Iowa). This is another solid Tom Izzo team that will be a tough out come March.
8. Washington State (17-2) 9 9
For the first time this year, I’ve given Wazzou a higher ranking than it earned in both polls. The reasoning has less to do with the Cougars and more to do with Georgetown, who is the most overrated team in the country (ranked No. 6 in both polls). Wazzou dropped a game at Arizona last week and then narrowly escaped the James Harden show to oust Arizona State 56-55.
9. Georgetown (16-2) 6 6
Georgetown has won three recent conference games by 3 points or less. Their controversial one point win over West Virginia on Patrick Ewing Jr's last second block was close but probably the correct call.
10. Texas (16-3) 10 10
Damion James had a rare off-day vs. Texas Tech last week, but it hardly mattered. DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams combined for 35 points in the 73-47 rout of Tech that put the Longhorns back on track after a few lackluster games.
11. Indiana (17-2) 11 11
I am very reluctant to put the Hoosiers this high, especially after an embarrassing performance against an undermanned Connecticut team on Saturday. Eric Gordon’s shot-selection was nothing short of pitiful and the entire team lacked effort and enthusiasm for most of the game. With that being said, Indiana is still among the most talented teams in the country and should use that game as motivation for the rest of the year.
12. Butler (18-2) 12 12
The Bulldogs haven’t been overly convincing in Horizon league play, but as long as they continue to win, they will continue to rise in the polls. The AJ Graves Free Throw watch: A disappointing 83 percent.
13. Xavier (17-4) 15 15
Small conference, big talent. Xavier loses some votes in the AP and Coaches poll because of the schedule it plays, but the Musketeers have already proved they can play with the big boys. I would take them over so-so major conference teams like Wisconsin and Stanford any day.
14. Stanford (16-3) 14 14
The Cardinal has reeled off three straight wins and stands a respectable 5-2 in the fiercely competitive Pac-10. Brook Lopez (17.8 points and 7.9 rebounds) is quietly making himself a potential Top 5 pick in next year’s draft.
14. Florida (18-3) 20 19
After two close wins over Kentucky and USC, the Gators absolutely opened a can on Vandy, beating the Commodores 86-64 at home. Billy Donavan’s squad continues to gel and even though they are young, you cannot underestimate Donavan’s postseason coaching and Nick Calathes’
ability to do everything on the court.
15. Wisconsin (16-3) 13 13
The Badgers suffered a tough road loss at Purdue on Saturday, but will have the opportunity to make up for it on Thursday when they host Big 10 powerhouse Indiana on ESPN.
16. Vanderbilt (17-3) 19 18
Vandy is just 2-3 in the SEC, but I’ll give the Commodores the benefit of the doubt because they have played a tough in-conference schedule so far. They must come out with wins in their next four games, which are vs. Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina.
17. Drake (19-1) 16 17
The Missouri Valley isn’t what it has been in years past, but you can’t deny the Bulldogs spotless conference record. Drake continues to rise in the polls not only because of its record, but because most other ranked teams are losing.
18. Pittsburgh (16-4) 18 18
Once ranked as high as No. 6, the Panthers have fallen due to injuries to Mike Cook and Levance Fields. Though they are no longer considered the class of the Big East (no one really knows who truly is), Sam Young and Co. are still a gritty team capable of winning the conference. We’ll find out a lot this week as Pitt takes on Villanova and UConn.
19. Mississippi State (14-5) NR 25
The Bulldogs started off slow (losses to South Alabama, Miami (Ohio), and Southern Illinois), but have jumped out to a 5-0 start in the SEC. Mississippi State will have a chance to jump even higher in the polls when it takes on Tennessee this Saturday following a 20-point thrashing of Ole Miss last week.
20. Kansas State (14-4) 22 24
K-State has arguably the best 1-2 punch in the nation with Michael Beasley and Bill Walker able to dominate inside and out. The ‘Cats could jump near the Top 10 if they can knock off unbeaten Kansas at home this Saturday in the game of the week.
1. Baylor (16-3) 25 NR
The Bears’ 6-point loss to Oklahoma last week was excusable considering it came just three days after the longest game in conference history, a 116-110 5-OT marathon win over Texas A&M. Curtis Jerrells, who scored 36 points in that win, has proved to be one of the dominant guards in all of college basketball this season.
22. Texas A&M (16-4) 23 23
Mark Turgeon’s crew is barely hanging onto a ranking after recently dropping three straight games, including a 5-OT heartbreaker vs. Baylor that saw sophomore forward Bryan Davis go for 30 points and 14 rebounds. The Aggies survived a close call last week against Oklahoma State to get back on the right track, but they’ll have to really put everything together quickly because they face No. 10 Texas at home on Wednesday.
23. UConn (15-5) NR NR
Two of the Huskies best players- Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins- were suspended, but that didn’t stop them from knocking off then No. 7 Indiana and Louisville last week. AJ Price has put this team on his back and Hasheem Thabeet continues to get better every day on both ends of the floor. The road doesn’t get any easier, however, as UConn plays host to Pitt on Saturday.
24. Ole Miss (15-3) 24 22
The Rebels failed their first big test against cross-state rival Mississippi State, but will have the opportunity for redemption against Vandy this week. Ole Miss cannot afford to fall to 2-4 in the SEC.
25. Marquette (15-4) 17 16
Another Big East team that is vastly overrated. Dominic James is playing well after a brief slump, but the Golden Eagles still have not been impressive of late. They’ve beaten some of the lower-tier Big East teams (DePaul, South Florida, Seton Hall, Providence) and lost to the likes of UConn, Louisville, and West Virginia.
*Note: Poll was released after Saint Mary’s Monday night loss to San Diego.