NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Mon, 02/14/2011 - 8:51am

We have a shake up at the top of the Power 16 following Ohio State’s first loss of the season. However, the new look at the top might not be what you anticipated. We reevaluated our thought process around the rankings and focused on body of work to determine a pecking order. You could clearly make an argument for any of the top four teams to be #1, but here’s how we see it…

Rank (Last Week)
1. Ohio State (1)
The Buckeyes’ undefeated run came to an end at Wisconsin on Saturday. Thad Matta’s team let a 15-point second half lead slip away as they couldn’t overcome a barrage of three-pointers from the Badgers. There probably isn’t a team in the country that could win in the Kohl Center when Wisconsin shoots that well from the perimeter. That being said, we’re keeping the Buckeyes at #1, because a close loss at Wisconsin is a very minor blemish and their overall body of work (7-1 vs. the RPI top 50) is slightly stronger than Pitt, Texas and Kansas. We’ll see what Ohio State is made of this week as they host Michigan State followed by a road game at Purdue.
2. Pittsburgh (4)
Pitt posted two impressive road wins last week against West Virginia and Villanova. Making it even more impressive was the fact that they did it without their leading scorer, Ashton Gibbs. Pitt has more quality wins than any team in the country, as they stand 9-2 against the RPI top 50. They have separated themselves from the Big East pack, carrying a 2-game lead into the last three weeks of the season. Jamie Dixon’s club has done it with outstanding defense as they lead the conference in defensive efficiency at 0.97 points per possession.
3. Texas (3)
Texas continued their recent dominant play by embarrassing Texas A&M and handling Texas Tech last week. While not as effective on the offensive end as KU or Ohio State, the Longhorns have been absolutely dominant defensively. They have tremendous length and athleticism, led by Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton, and they use it to hold opponents to a national-best 39.9% effective field goal percentage. Similar to KU, Texas is fully capable of running the table in the Big 12, which would lock them into a #1 seed.
4. Kansas (2)
KU was dominant in two wins last week against Missouri and Iowa State. They’ve been rolling since the loss to Texas on January 22nd. The Jayhawks have done it on the shoulders of their twin big men, Marcus and Markieff Morris. In Big 12 play, Marcus is averaging 18.7 points and 8 rebounds, while Markieff is averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. KU leads the conference in offensive efficiency, while trailing only Texas on the defensive end. While KU has been statistically dominant, we dropped them to #4 because at 4-1 versus the RPI top 50, they just don’t have as many quality wins as the three teams ranked ahead of them.
5. Duke (5)
Nolan Smith put on a show in a comeback win against North Carolina Wednesday night. The national player of the year candidate scored 34 points, bringing the Blue Devils back from a 16-point deficit. More importantly, Seth Curry may be finding his stride. He posted 22 points against UNC and 16 against Miami. We’ve mentioned before that the Blue Devils have been too reliant on Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler since the injury to Kyrie Irving. Curry’s recent play is a good sign for Coach K’s ball club as they head into the season’s stretch run.
6. BYU (6)
BYU continued to roll as they dominated Air Force and Utah last week. Jimmer Fredette had a modest week for his standards, averaging 24 points and 5 assists in the two games. He received help from Jackson Emery who averaged 17 points and had 8 steals against Air Force and Utah. The Cougars are going to be in excellent position to earn a #2 seed in the Tournament and they could earn a #1 if some other teams slip. BYU is 5-1 versus the RPI top 50 and they’re 8-1 on the road.
7. San Diego State (7)
The Aztecs picked up another quality win by knocking off UNLV on the road Saturday night. They did it by playing stifling defense, which they have done all year. Steve Fisher’s team leads the Mountain West in defensive efficiency, allowing a miniscule 0.91 points per possession. Similar to their conference rival, BYU, the Aztecs are in position to earn a #1 or #2 seed. They’re 7-1 versus the RPI top 50 and 9-1 on the road. If they’re able to knock off BYU on the 26th and then win the MWC tournament, they’ll have a very good shot at a #1 seed.
8. Notre Dame (10)
The Irish picked up a huge win against Louisville in OT Wednesday night. Notre Dame didn’t play particularly well in regulation, but Carleton Scott led the charge in OT. The senior forward scored 9 points in the extra session, leading the Irish to a 10-point win. Notre Dame followed that up with a win against South Florida on Saturday. The two wins moved ND into 2nd place in the Big East all by themselves. They have a very tough challenge coming up next Saturday as they travel to Morgantown to take on WVU.
9. Georgetown (11)
The Hoyas may be the hottest team in the Big East as they’re riding a 7-game winning streak. That streak was a huge turnaround from their 1-4 start to Big East play. John Thompson’s team picked up two big wins against Syracuse and Marquette to move into third place in the Big East. If Georgetown hopes to continue this run, they’ll need to cut down the turnovers. They’re among the worst in the conference with a –41 turnover margin in Big East play.
10. Wisconsin (13)
Jordan Taylor put on a performance for the ages in the second half of Wisconsin’s comeback win against previously unbeaten Ohio State. Taylor scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half and he also added 6 assists. The Badgers struggled to find easy buckets in the paint against the Buckeyes, but 12 of 24 three-point shooting saved the day. Josh Gasser, a 28.3% 3-point shooter on the season, and Mike Bruesewitz (34.9%) were a combined 5-for-5 from downtown against OSU. The Badgers are nearly impossible to beat at the Kohl Center, but they’re a lackluster 5-5 away from home.
11. Connceticut (8)
The Huskies have really been struggling on the offensive end during Big East play. They’re averaging 1.00 point per possession in conference play, which ranks 12th in the conference. [Player: Kemba Walker’s] struggles have been well documented as he’s averaging 17.3 points on 33.8% shooting over his last eight games. Walker and the Huskies broke out of their slump against Providence, as he went 7-11 from the field for 22 points. Meanwhile, [Player: Jamal Coombs-McDaniel] poured in a career high 25 points. The Huskies find themselves in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Big East, but their remaining schedule is among the most difficult in the league.
12. Villanova (9)
What a disappointing week for the Wildcats. Villanova entered the week in a tie for 2nd and they had a Saturday night primetime opportunity to gain a game on 1st place Pitt. But a funny thing happened in Piscataway, NJ as Jonathan Mitchell’s four-point play resulted in a shocking upset for Rutgers. Perhaps Nova was still reeling a bit from that loss when they failed to capitalize on a home game against Pitt. The Wildcats actually outrebounded the Panthers, but they shot a terrible 36.0% from the field. Nova will have a chance to get back on track this week against Seton Hall and DePaul.
13. Purdue (15)
The Boilers kept themselves in the Big Ten race with a big road win over Illinois on Sunday. JaJuan Johnson and [Player: E’twaun Moore] led a second half comeback that saw Purdue outscore the Illini 54-38. Purdue has a huge opportunity this week as they host Wisconsin and 1st place Ohio State. Matt Painter’s team will be looking for revenge after a painful last minute loss to the Badgers and an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of the Buckeyes. They’ll need someone other than Johnson and Moore to step up in order to win either of those games.
14. Florida (16)
[Player: Erving Walker’s] game-winning layup against Tennessee gave the Gators a 2.5 game lead in the SEC East. Florida is doing it on both ends of the floor, ranking 2nd in the SEC in offensive efficiency at 1.08 points per possession and 3rd in defensive efficiency at 0.97 ppp. The Gators also have an impressive résumé with an 11-1 record against the RPI top 50.
15. Louisville (14)
The Cardinals came oh so close to having a huge week in the Big East. They couldn’t quite hold off Notre Dame in South Bend, eventually falling in OT. However, Rick Pitino’s team bounced back with a big win over Syracuse on Saturday. They couldn’t have done it with out the surprising performance from junior guard Kyle Kuric. He had an outstanding week averaging 25.5 points on 62.1% shooting, including 64.3% from 3-point range. Louisville faces stiff tests this week as they travel to Cincinnati and host UConn.
16. Arizona (NR)
Arizona makes their way into our Power 16 this week following a win at Arizona State. The Wildcats lead the Pac-10 with a 10-2 conference record and they’re riding a six-game winning streak. They’ve done it behind the outstanding play of Derrick Williams. The sophomore forward is averaging 19.8 points on 63.5% shooting in Pac-10 play. A huge showdown with Washington awaits next Saturday.

Dropped out: Syracuse (12)

Email questions or opinions to Josh [email protected].

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