We have some movement in the top 10 of this week’s Power 16 following several big conference match ups. Texas let the nation know that they are a serious Final Four contender after two wins versus two Power 16 opponents. Pitt also showed that they are a legitimate top four team after its impressive victory against undefeated Syracuse. We should learn more this week as #1 Ohio State puts its unblemished record on the line against #11 Purdue and #8 San Diego State travels to #9 BYU. Can Ohio State separate itself from the pack? Can San Diego State prove that they belong with the top teams in the nation? We’ll find out soon enough, but for now it’s time for the Power 16:

Rank (Last Week)
1. Ohio State (1)
Ohio State survived a battle at Illinois on Saturday. Jared Sullinger carried the Buckeyes with 27 pts, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks against the tall front line of Illinois. He’s such a physical presence and his basketball IQ is extremely high for a freshman. Once again, freshman PG Aaron Craft’s contribution can’t go unnoticed. His box score line may be unimpressive, but he played a huge part in holding Demetri McCamey to 2-11 shooting and 5 points. Ohio State will have its hands full again on Tuesday when they play host to Purdue.
2. Duke (2)
Since the loss of Kyrie Irving the Blue Devils have become somewhat of a two-man show with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler accounting for 49.6% of Duke’s scoring. We tend to think less of Purdue and UCONN for their reliance on two players. However, the stats are similar. Purdue’s dynamic duo accounts for 51.3% of the team’s scoring, while UCONN’s pair accounts for 47.9%. This is why the loss of Irving is such a big deal. Duke is still among the favorites to reach the Final Four, but they are no longer the prohibitive favorite to win the national championship.
3. Pittsburgh (4)
The Panthers put one of the most impressive team performances of the season against Syracuse last Monday. You can’t focus on stopping any one player in particular with this team. This was evident against Syracuse when Nasir Robinson scored a season-high 21 pts. One other item was very clear in this game: Pitt is a great rebounding team. They hammered Syracuse on the glass 41-27, which was the difference in the game. With wins over UCONN and Syracuse, Pitt now has the upper hand in the tough Big East race.
4. Kansas (2)
Kansas’ typically strong defense let them down in the second half against Texas. Bill Self’s club couldn’t stop the Longhorn’s 54-point second half barrage, blowing a 12-point halftime lead in the process. Josh Selby’s up-and-down season continued as he followed up a solid game against Baylor with a clunker against Texas. The Jayhawks will need better play from him to take pressure off of the Morris twins as the season progresses.
5. Connecticut (9)
Maybe this isn’t just a two-man team. Kemba Walker is a candidate for national player of the year. He and Alex Oriakhi have carried UCONN through the first half of the season. While we questioned the Huskies’ reliance on those two players, their supporting cast stepped up in two big games last week. Jeremy Lamb posted 14 big points against Villanova and 16 against Tennessee. The supporting cast kept them in both games, but Walker came up clutch once again with his second game-winner against a top ten team in two weeks.
6. Texas (10)
No team had a bigger week than the Longhorns. After pummeling #11 Texas A&M by 21 points, the Longhorns ended Kansas’ 69-game home winning streak. Rick Barnes’ club now has the surprising upper hand in the Big 12. Jordan Hamilton’s name should be mentioned among national player of the year candidates. He led the Longhorns this week, averaging 22 pts and 8.5 rebounds.
7. Villanova (7)
The Wildcats acquitted themselves very well on the road against two top 10 teams last week. They came within a Kemba Walker game-winner of winning both of those games. Nova’s guards Maalik Wayns, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes led a characteristically balanced scoring attack against Syracuse. It was an unfamiliar lack of balance that hurt them in the loss against UCONN. Still, this is a very balanced team on both sides of the floor and they are capable of winning the Big East and making a run to the Final Four.
8. San Diego State (7)
After a 33-point romp over Air Force, the stage is set for the game of the year in the Mountain West as SDSU travels to BYU Wednesday night. We dropped the Azetcs a spot in the rankings this week through no fault of their own. Texas’ was too impressive in their two big wins to ignore. That being said, Steve Fisher’s team could make a huge statement and a big leap in the rankings with a win in Provo this week.
9. BYU (8)
Jimmer Fredette dropped his 2nd 40-point game in two weeks as the Cougars held off Colorado State Saturday night. The Aztecs couldn’t slow down Fredette last year as he averaged 29.5 pts in their two meetings. Expect a well-played game with few turnovers. We think BYU’s shooting ability and home court advantage will be the difference in this one.
10. Syracuse (5)
Coming into the week I thought Syracuse was the third or fourth best team in the Big East and they didn’t prove me wrong. They had an opportunity to make a huge statement against the Big East’s two best teams, Pitt and Villanova, but the Orange came up short. Unfortunately, they were missing Kris Joseph against Pitt, but I’m not sure it would have made a difference as they were out rebounded by 14. This is still a good team and as long as Joseph and Rick Jackson are healthy, they will be dangerous in the tournament.
11. Purdue (14)
After struggling over the last two weeks, E'twaun Moore came back to life with 26 pts against Michigan State. The Boilers are a team that typically relies on defense, but it was their offense that carried them to a sweet win against the Spartans in primetime Saturday night. JaJuan Johnson continued his stellar season with 20 pts against Sparty, while Lewis Jackson threw in a season-high 19. Set your DVRs for Tuesday night’s battle between Johnson and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.
12. Missouri (13)
The Tigers bounced back from a tough OT loss at Texas A&M last week, winning in dominant fashion against Kansas State and Iowa State. Along with Pitt, Mizzou is one of the most balanced scoring teams in the nation. Mizzou has five players averaging double-digits and last year’s leading scorer, Kim English currently ranks 5th in scoring on this year’s team. The Tigers have an opportunity to keep themselves in the Big 12 race with a road game at Texas next Saturday.
13. Texas A&M (11)
The Aggies ran into a buzzsaw in Austin Wednesday night. The Longhorns dominated them in every facet of the game, en route to a 21-point victory. However, Mark Turgeon’s team bounced back with a solid win against struggling Kansas State on Saturday. The Aggies get to the free throw line at a higher rate than anyone in the Big 12 and their 16-point advantage at the charity stripe was the difference against K-State. Despite the blowout loss in Austin, Texas A&M looks like they’re going to hang around in the Big 12.
14. Kentucky (12)
Last week I touted the talent of this Kentucky team and how they matched up favorably versus last year’s Wildcat squad. However, one thing statistics cannot measure is leadership and maturity. The lack of those two ingredients may keep UK from reaching its potential. There’s no denying the raw talent of Terrance Jones, but the freshman phenom drew the ire of Coach Calipari in a loss at Alabama last Tuesday. Jones broke off the final play intended for Doron Lamb and Cal also thought his freshman forward responded poorly to Alabama’s physical play. Leaders need to step up for this team or they may be a surprise disappointment in the SEC.
15. Wisconsin (15)
In typical Wisconsin fashion, the Badgers put together two solid performances in wins over Indiana and Northwestern last week. Bo Ryan’s club leads the nation with the lowest turnover percentage and they have only turned the ball over 27 times in the last four games. This, combined with their frustratingly slow tempo, makes the Badgers very difficult to beat. The problem is they don’t have the overall talent to reel off multiple victories against top-flight teams in an NCAA tournament setting.
16. Washington (NR)
The Huskies staked claim as front-runners in the Pac-10 with a big 17-point win against Arizona. Isaiah Thomas has been on a tear the last seven games, averaging 20.2 pts and 9.2 assists. He is a key reason why the Huskies rank 2nd in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. Washington can shoot, rebound and they don’t turn the ball over. Despite some early season losses to good non-conference foes, this will be a very dangerous team in March.

Dropped out: Louisville (16)

Email questions or opinions to Josh: [email protected]


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