NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Sun, 01/24/2010 - 10:00pm

By Josh Cochran and Joel Steiner
NCAA Power 16: January 25th

We have a new #1 in’s Power 16, the Kentucky Wildcats. It obviously wasn’t a very difficult choice as they are the only undefeated team remaining after Texas dropped two road games last week. Which brings us back to our old theme: it’s just not easy to win on the road in college basketball. We wrote about this a few weeks ago when several Power 16 teams lost games away from their friendly confines. Well, the theme held true last week as Texas lost two on the road and Duke, Tennessee, Pitt and Ohio State all dropped one. That being said, there were no new entrants in our top 16 as “Next Five” teams, Northern Iowa, Clemson and Georgia Tech also dropped road games as well. Going forward, it will be fun to see how Kentucky responds to playing with a big target on its back.

Rank (Last Week)
1. Kentucky (2)
Smoked a sub .500 Arkansas club at home in their only game of the week. Now the Cats are Number #1 and will have a major target on their backs, so it will be interesting to see how they handle it. This week will not be easy with a trip to South Carolina and a home game against Vandy. The South Carolina game matches the two quickest PGs in the country with Aaron Brooks’ clone, Devan Downey, going up against John Wall. By the way Vandy has lost to Kentucky one time the past three years, so they should have the Cats attention.
2. Syracuse (3)
Won last week on the road at Notre Dame and at home against pesky Marquette. Wesley Johnson continues to impress with another big week exhibiting the ability to take over games when they need him to. They look forward this week to a match-up with Greg Monroe as Georgetown visits the Carrier Dome.
3. Kansas (4)
Kansas is now the last undefeated team left in the Big 12 and nobody in the league has played more than five games. They can put an early stranglehold on the race if they win at home against Mizzou and at Kansas State, both difficult tasks. Xavier Henry has not scored more than 15 since December 12 against LaSalle, and just looked off against Iowa State going 2 for 10 from the field. He needs to get back on track this week.
4. Villanova (5)
Another solid week for Nova with two road wins. A good way to describe this Wildcat squad is “solid”. They are better at rebounding and scoring inside than you think because most people consider them a guard-oriented team. They have the makings of the ’05-’06 squad that had great chemistry like this year's version.
5. Texas (1)
Rick Barnes is probably scratching his head today after going 0-2 last week. I understand going to Manhattan and losing but blowing a ten point lead at UConn is a little concerning. The key to beating Texas the last two games has been attacking the rim as they sent their opponents to the line a combined 69 times. Texas is back home next week and hopes to get back on track against Baylor and Texas Tech.
6. Michigan State (8)
Michigan State does not always win pretty as you might have noticed this week with wins over Iowa and Minnesota. Sparty already has a two game lead in the Big Ten with a trip to Ann Arbor and a home date against Northwestern this week. The only thing you have to question about this team is that its best win on the road to date was at struggling Minnesota.
7. Georgetown (12)
Monster road win this week at Pittsburgh, followed up with a blow out over Rutgers. Coaches and scouts have noticed the aggressiveness in Greg Monroe’s play, as his play has looked dominant of late. Austin Freeman will need to be a zone buster this week with a match-up against Syracuse. Freeman has been lights out behind the arc in the past month shooting 58% in January.
8. BYU (11)
Won a big road game Saturday night at San Diego State with Fredette getting 33 points. The win streak is at 15 in a row as they visit New Mexico this week at “The Pit” where win streaks go to die. BYU has a two game lead in the MWC so this will be a key game if New Mexico wants to stay in the league race.
9. Kansas State (9)
K-State had a coming out party with a big win against Texas but couldn’t hold serve at home against Oklahoma State. Jacob Pullen struggled this week shooting the ball with two sub par performances. If the Wildcats thought last week was tough then they better strap it up because they go to Baylor this week and then get Kansas at home. This team’s fortunes in the Big 12 could turn in a hurry this week, good or bad.
10. Duke (6)
Losing on the road happens against good teams but NC State is 2-4 in the ACC. Winning at Clemson is a good road win as they let Booker get his 20 points and limited everyone else Saturday night. The heavy reliance Duke places on Scheyer, Singler and Smith to score will put tremendous pressure on these players as the season wears on.
11. West Virginia (14)
The Mountaineers picked a good time to take a break from Big East play and they wound up with two wins against quality teams (Marshall and Ohio State). Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones are the leaders of this team in terms of energy and production, but they need Devin Ebanks to live up to his potential in order to be an elite ball club. Also, as we mentioned in our game notes, look out when WVU gets Deniz Kilici back from suspension.
12. Gonzaga (13)
It will be tough to be critical of Gonzaga during league play with no real challengers left to play on the road. Other than an upcoming game at Memphis, I don’t know if I see this team losing a game. Elias Harris continues to put up big numbers after averaging 21 points in two games this week.
13. Teneessee (7)
Tennessee reinstated Tatum and Goins but they played limited minutes against Georgia, scoring a combined three points. Like Kentucky found out, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie can really play as they dominated the game giving Bulldog fans something to cheer about. This week the Vols will need Tatum and Goins against rivals Vandy and Florida.
14. Purdue (16)
Last week we said get the ball to JaJuan Johnson and work inside out. Johnson gets 11 attempts against Illinois and 17 attempts against Michigan and Purdue gets two wins. This week Purdue has Wisconsin and Penn State at home. Without Leuer I don’t see Purdue losing to Wisconsin at home and Penn State should be an easy one.
15. Pittsburgh (10)
The Panthers finally fell back to Earth last week with tough losses to Georgetown and Seton Hall. Things get a little easier with St. John’s at home and South Florida on the road this week. Pitt only shot 22.9% from 3-point range last week, while they’re shooting 34.7% for the year. They’ll need to return to normal in order to hold serve this week.
16. Ohio State (15)
The Buckeyes battled in Morgantown only to lose a close one. Evan Turner and William Buford are studs, but Ohio State wins and losses are often predicated on the play of Jon Diebler. Their schedule gets a little easier with 3 of the next four against Big Ten bottom feeders.

The Next Five: Wisconsin, Temple, Butler, Georgia Tech, Northern Iowa

Games to Watch:

DeMarcus CousinsDeMarcus CousinsMonday January 25th

Georgetown at Syracuse – Big Monday gives us an important game in the Big East and two potential NBA lottery picks in Wes Johnson and Greg Monroe. While Kentucky is undefeated and deserving of the #1 ranking, we think Syracuse might be the best team in the country. Look for them to pick up a key win at home.

Missouri at Kansas - Kansas got back on track at Iowa State by getting the ball inside to Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris. They would be wise to attack the post against Missouri, whose tallest player is 6’9”. The Tigers are a bit underrated, but winning at Allen Fieldhouse is a tall order.

Tuesday January 26th

Kansas State at Baylor – Kansas State had a big letdown against Oklahoma State after knocking off #1 Texas last Monday. They have a huge week coming up starting with a tough road test at Baylor. The Bears’ big three of LaceDarius Dunn, Ekpe Udoh and Tweety Carter will look to lead their team to an important home win.

Wednesday January 27th

Vanderbilt at Tennessee – This is a key match up in the SEC East and a fun in-state rivalry. The Commodores have won 9 in a row after a surprising loss to Western Kentucky on December 11th. However, this game will be played in Thompson-Boling Arena where Vandy hasn’t won since 2005. Expect the Volunteers to get back on track in this one.

BYU at New Mexico – The Cougars may be the best team outside of the BCS conferences as they’ve won 15 in a row. They would gain big time respect if they can knock off Darington Hobson and company in the Pit. The Lobos need a win in order to keep pace in the Mountain West.

Thursday January 28th

Wake Forest at Georgia Tech – This is a key ACC match up and it features three of the best frontcourt players in the country. You’ll want to watch this game to see Al-Farouq Aminu battle Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal.

Wisconsin at Purdue – The Boilers will be looking for payback after the Badgers handed them their first loss of the season in Madison. Matt Painter’s club finally went back to JaJuan Johnson in the post last week, which is a recipe for success. They’ll look to do it again against Wisconsin who will be playing without their best big man, Jon Leuer.

Saturday January 29th

Duke at Georgetown – The Hoyas have a huge opportunity to make their mark this week. They’ll play two top ten teams in Syracuse and Duke, and could vault in the rankings with two wins. The Blue Devils are 1-3 in true road games this season, but a win in DC would be a big boost to their confidence. This is a tough one to call, but we think Greg Monroe could be the difference.

Kansas at Kansas State – As if Bramlage Coliseum wouldn’t be raucous enough, ESPN’s College Gameday crew will be in town for the Saturday night intra-state showdown. K-State gets to the free throw line at a tremendous clip, leading the nation with 33.8 attempts per game. Too bad they only shoot 65.6% when they get there.

Sunday January 30th

Minnesota at Ohio State – The Buckeyes have navigated the most difficult part of their regular season schedule and they will be looking for a little payback at home against Minnesota. The Gophers put forth a strong defensive effort in a home win versus Ohio State on January 9th. They’ll need a stronger effort if they plan to get a win in Columbus. Tubby Smith’s club needs this game as they are 1-5 against the RPI top 50 and find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Virginia at North Carolina - Honestly we’re not sure how good either one of these teams are right now, but this is a very important game with NCAA bubble implications. Yes we said it; Carolina is actually on the bubble. Ole Roy’s club is 12-7 overall, 1-3 in the ACC and 0-3 on the road. They need this game badly. Meanwhile, UVA is tied atop the ACC at 3-1. A win at Chapel Hill would place the Cavaliers squarely in the conference title race.

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