NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Sun, 12/20/2009 - 9:47pm

By Josh Cochran and Joel Steiner
NCAA Power 16: December 21st

At this point in the college basketball season you can throw out the pre-season hype and look at what these teams have done on the floor. Right now it looks like the top nine teams in the Power 16 are legitimate Final Four contenders but the top five are National Championship caliber. Ole Miss, Kansas State and New Mexico have played their way into our Power 16, but it will be interesting to see how they fare during the grind of conference play.

Rank (Last Week)
1. Kansas (1)
Xavier Henry is a great scorer and his offensive game is NBA ready.  The defensive effort he put up against Manny Harris is going to have scouts taking note about his all-around game.  Interesting game Tuesday night against Cal who is now at full strength.  This may be the biggest test the Jayhawks face before they see Texas.
2. Syracuse (2)
Syracuse does not have much going on until Big East play opens up with Seton Hall.  Interesting Syracuse stat from they are 3rd in the country at blocking shots but are also 3rd in the country at not getting their shots blocked.
3. Purdue (3)
Why is Purdue ahead of some of the big name programs like Texas and Kentucky? The Boilermakers are more experienced than those teams and based on the last two champions, Kansas and UNC, experience is an important factor in winning the title.
4. Texas (5)
Finally Texas showed why they were ranked so high with their manhandling of UNC. Getting 56 rebounds against the Heels is just ridiculous, but can they rebound like that when Michigan State comes to town Tuesday Night? I expect going forward that Avery Bradley garners more attention as Texas plays more marquee games. Bradley has the potential to be a lock down defender at the next level.
5. Kentucky (4)
The main reason Kentucky is not ranked higher is because they are not as good defensively as the four teams above them. Focus seems to be an issue with the Wildcats as well, but this should be correctable by March.
6. Duke (8)
The first half of the Gonzaga game was just brutal to watch with all of the TOs by both sides. I never thought I’d say this, but Duke might be underrated. I can’t remember over the past few years when Duke had a roster with this type of depth in the frontcourt.
7. West Virginia (6)
Did Cleveland State expose WVU’s lack of ball handlers or was this just a finals week hangover? The Mountaineers are loaded with talented guard-forward hybrids, but PG play could limit this team as the season progresses.
8. Villanova (9)
Nova moved up by default this week as their schedule is light until Big East play opens.
9. Michigan State (12)
Has any team played two tougher road games than Sparty this season? After losing at UNC earlier in the season the Spartans will be looking to make a statement at Texas Tuesday night. Rebounding will be key in the game and Roe, Green and Morgan will have to out rebound the Texas frontline to pull off the upset.
10. Kansas State (16)
Why are they the biggest mover in the rankings? Your answer: wins over Dayton, Washington State, Xavier, UNLV and Alabama with the closest game in that group coming by 12 points. Yes, we have Ole Miss ranked lower despite the head-to-head win, because the Wildcats have been on a roll since that game.
11. North Carolina (10)
The Tar Heels have played a grinder of an out-of-conference schedule the past two months. Right now we know this team is not elite and probably not a final four contender due to the lack of consistent backcourt play and it showed against Texas.
12. Ole Miss (15)
Ole Miss will be looking to make a statement Wednesday night against WVU. Old pals Bob Huggins and Andy Kennedy will get together in Morgantown. If you like tough physical play this will be a game for you to watch.
13. New Mexico (14)
The MWC is going to be a grind this year with BYU, San Diego State, UNLV and Utah all sporting solid squads. So don’t hate on any team from the MWC because they will be tested over the next three months.
14. Tennessee (7)
Flat out embarrassed by an average Southern Cal team. Hopefully this had something to do with finals week, but that was never a game.
15. Georgetown (11)
Many people were stunned that Old Dominion went to Georgetown and won, but you shouldn’t be. The CAA is for real and ODU may be the best of the bunch. Expect the Hoyas to bounce back from that loss.
16. Temple (NR)
The Owls find themselves in the Power 16 for the first time this year due to a slew of solid non-conference wins. They notched another one this week on the road against previously undefeated Seton Hall.

The Next Five: Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Florida, UConn, Florida State

Games to Watch:

Dexter PittmanDexter PittmanMonday December 21st 

UTEP vs Oklahoma – As NBA Draft fans, this is a game to watch.  Arnett Moultrie, Derrick Caracter, Willie Warren and Tiny Gallon will be on display in the Ford Center. 

Tuesday December 22nd

Michigan State at Texas – The Longhorns looked the part of a Final Four contender when they blasted Carolina Saturday.  Can Sparty prove they belong in that conversation or will Texas further separate the top 5 from everyone else? 

California at Kansas – Cal is finally healthy with the return of Theo Robertson and they’ll need him while battling the Jayhawks in Phog Allen Fieldhouse.  We should see some exciting guard/wing play as Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson challenge Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry. Cal's lack of depth could be exposed.

Texas A&M at Washington – The Aggies have another chance to gain a solid non-conference win on the West Coast as they travel to Seattle to face the Huskies.  The match up certainly favors Washington on paper, but A&M has pulled a few surprises already this season.     

Wednesday December 23rd

Ole Miss at West Virginia – Santa delivers another battle of Power 16 teams this week as Andy Kennedy takes on his mentor Bob Huggins.  Questions about West Virginia’s guard play may come to the forefront with this match up against Chris Warren and Terrico White.  Coach Huggins was none too pleased with his team’s effort against Cleveland State on Saturday, so expect the Mountaineers to come out with fire in front of their home crowd.   

Illinois vs Missouri – The annual non-conference border rivalry could become more intense as Missouri’s name has been mentioned among schools targeted for Big Ten expansion.  Breaking an eight-game losing streak to the Illini would serve the Tigers well come selection Sunday.   

Saturday December 26th

West Virginia at Seton Hall – The college slate is very light from Christmas Eve through the weekend.  However, Big East play gets underway as the Mountaineers travel to New Jersey to take on the surprising Pirates.  Santa may be delivering a lump of coal to Seton Hall, as they will face WVU and Syracuse during the week following Christmas.

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DEXX is a better nickname

DEXX is a better nickname

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