College Basketball Power Rankings

By Jon Harris

Cole Aldrich and the Kansas Jayhawks keep swatting away competition and retaining the number one ranking.

The regular season is winding down, and college basketball teams have to start wondering where their seeds in tournament brackets will be. Syracuse still sits pretty in fourth place, but they have to learn from their latest and second loss against Louisville. Meanwhile, other teams around the country are also worried about where they stand in relation to the other NCAA teams. Georgetown needs to show consistency and the ability to hold a team down consistently, and Michigan State needs its star player to have any hope to perform well this week.

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1. Kansas (24-1) The Jayhawks have won 10 straight since suffering their first loss of the season at Tennessee. They are the most complete team in the NCAA right now, and proved it last Monday when they made a mockery out of Texas, who had been ranked #1 this season. On Monday night, they face #23 Texas A&M with a potential upset. I look for Kansas to pull it out, however, as A&M cannot match up with Sherron Collins on the perimeter or Cole Aldrich inside.
2. Kentucky (24-1) If these rankings were based on the team with the most NBA-ready players, Kentucky would be my number one. John Wall is the most skilled player in college basketball, and DeMarcus Cousins is a force to be reckoned with down low. No one in the country can stop either of these players. What could possibly stop them are their attitudes. Cousins needs to tame his if Kentucky is going to expect anything down the road.
3. Villanova (22-2) Following the blowout loss to Georgetown, the Wildcats have rebounded nicely, beating West Virginia and Providence. Led by Scottie Reynolds, this team can shoot the lights out when they’re on point, making them near impossible to beat. They have two tough games this week, however, as they tangle with Connecticut Monday night and Pittsburgh this Sunday.
4. Syracuse (24-2) After winning 11 straight, the Orange fell to unranked Louisville Sunday 66-60. Let’s not get hung up on this loss too much though. Syracuse’s play has been slipping of late, and this loss might be wake-up call they needed before the big game against Georgetown looming in the near future. This Thursday, the Hoyas host the Orange and will be looking for revenge after Syracuse blew them out last time at the Carrier Dome.
5. Duke (21-4) The Blue Devils are back on track with a four-game winning streak despite a pathetic effort against Georgetown. Coach K’s team has the three most consistent players in the entire country: Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler put up a collective 53.2 points per game.
6. Purdue (21-3) After losing three straight, the Boilermakers have won their past seven games. Like Duke, Purdue has three big scorers which carry their team. E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson average 48.3 points per game.  They have their work cut out for them with a tough Illinois on Saturday, but the game to watch this week will be Wednesday when the Boilermakers travel to play the Buckeyes and their superstar, Evan Turner. Catch the game at 6:30.
7. West Virginia (19-5) Despite the back-to-back losses to Villanova and Pittsburgh, the Mountaineers are still one of the most explosive teams in the country. Their arsenal includes freak athletes Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks. It should be an easier week for West Virginia, as they travel to Providence and get Seton Hall at home.
8. Georgetown (18-6) The Hoyas are the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of college basketball. Sometimes they throttle top teams like Duke and Villanova. Other times, they flop in the second half. Like Villanova, when they’re on from outside, they are hard to beat. Guards Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark can shoot the lights out, while Greg Monroe can dribble down the court like Steve Nash or beat you up inside. Either way, there is no question that Georgetown is an extremely dangerous team.
9. Ohio State (20-6) This is a quick one. Evan Turner is an absolute freak athlete who can play anywhere and score from anywhere. That’s why Ohio State is #9 this week and why he should win National Player of the Year easily.
10. Kansas State (20-4) Led by guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, the Wildcats are as explosive as their fans that fill the seats in “The Octagon of Doom.” Of their remaining six games, only one looks like a questionable win. On March 3rd, they play Kansas again and plan to come out on top this time (Jan. 30: Kansas won 81-79 in OT).
11. Michigan State (20-6) Like Ohio State, the Spartans rely on one player, junior guard Kalin Lucas– which didn’t work out well when Lucas played little or not at all during their three-game losing streak. After beating Penn State, Michigan State has a couple big games ahead of them. This Sunday, they play Ohio State; next Sunday, they get Purdue. Sounds like fun for Tom Izzo and the Spartans, but it won’t even be close if Lucas re-injures his ankle.
12. Gonzaga (21-4) The Bulldogs might have a high ranking, but they lack the marquee win needed of all teams to get any higher than a five seed for the tournament. They were blown out by Duke and only lost to Wake Forest and Michigan State by a combined six points. The low seed won’t be a problem, however, as Gonzaga has plenty of tournament experience and a special guard in Matt Bouldin.
13. Vanderbilt (19-5) The Commodores are only one game back of Kentucky for the SEC lead. Vandy will get its chance this Saturday when John Wall and the Wildcats travel to Memorial Gym. (Is it just me, or is Vanderbilt’s gym constructed kind of odd? The players have to crawl onto the court like they are in trenches just to check into the game.)
14. Pittsburgh (19-6) Following a three overtime thrilling win versus West Virginia, the Panthers find themselves in third place in the Big East (8-4). This upcoming week, Pittsburgh gets Marquette on Thursday followed by a date with Big East rival Villanova.
15. Wisconsin (19-6) Bo Ryan’s team has really solid wins this season against some very good teams: Duke, Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan and Maryland. Don’t be surprised to see them finish out the regular season by winning their remaining five games, with Illinois being their biggest competition.

The Best of the Rest (16-25)

16. Tennessee (18-6)17. New Mexico (23-3)

18. Texas (20-5)

19. BYU (23-3)

20. Butler (23-4)

21. Wake Forest (18-5)

22. Baylor (19-5)

23. Virginia Tech (20-4)

24. Texas A&M (18-6)

25. Temple (20-5)

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