Big 12 Hoops Top 25: Week 2

 

 

Duke (3-0) is playing unbelievable basketball at both ends of the floor.  The Blue Devils are first in both Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offense and defense.  They'll get a couple of real tests this week against Marquette and either Kansas State or Gonzaga as a part of the CBE Classic in Kansas City.

2. Ohio State (3-0) moves up two spots in the rankings after an impressive blow-out of a highly ranked Florida team on the road.  Aaron Craft looks ready to take on the primary ball-handling responsibilities and eviscerated Florida's press, usually resulting in a free dunk for uber-frosh Jared Sullinger (if you're looking for the best newcomer so far, look no further) or threes from David Lighty, William Buford or Jon Diebler.  They aren't perfect, but the Buckeyes look like a team that should make a major splash in March.

3. Michigan State (2-0) gets leaped by Ohio State after an unimpressive win against South Carolina.  While the Spartans looked great in the first half, turnovers and mistakes started piling up in the second, nearly letting the Gamecocks back in the game.  This looks like another Izzo team that will take a few losses in December and January, but come on strong in March (when it matters).  Given, that can be said of almost all Izzo teams.

4. Pitt (5-0) will never be the most impressive team in the nation.  But they'll win.  Jamie Dixon's squad had close calls against Maryland and Texas, but found ways to win both.  It'll be interesting to see if the Panthers continue their winning ways if the games are close.  I suspect they'll quietly remain in the top five or top ten all season.  They should get some blowouts this week, as they enter a cupcake part of the schedule.

5. Kansas State (3-0) is coming off a dominating performance against a top 25 team.  They're undefeated.  I moved them down because of an ugly showing against Presbyterian and sloppy play in general.  The Wildcats have a couple of big games against Gonzaga and then either Duke or Marquette this week to make a case for moving back up.  Curtis Kelly is back though, so that should help up front.

6. Villanova (4-0) has had its share of cupcakes to start the season, and I am ready to see them play some real games.  They play UCLA this Wednesday, but it's not until late December that they have a date with anyone in the top 25 (Temple, December 22nd).  They're certainly not perfect, but it's tough to really judge them poorly when they're blowing bad teams out.

7. Missouri (2-0) had a tough game against Western Illinois, but played a solid game (read: second half) against North Florida.  So far they aren't living up to my hopes, but I expect this team to only get better as the season progresses.  They'll have a real watermark for their season against Georgetown November 30th.

8. Baylor (3-0) should be thrilled LaceDarius Dunn is coming back.  So far, Quincy Acy and Perry Jones have lead the way, combining for a whopping 32 points and 19 rebounds a game.  With a big time scorer like Dunn to help spread out the opposing defense, their frontcourt should have even more chances to shine.

9. Kansas (3-0) looks ready to make me eat my words.  Not only was Josh Selby declared eligible (after paying back impermissible money and sitting out nine games), the Morris twins are playing extremely efficiently (Marcus is shooting 73% from the field averaging 20 points a game, and Markieff is shooting 57% from the field averaging 13 points a game).

10. Purdue (3-0) is number ten in the country?  But Robbie Hummel got hurt...  This speaks volumes about how good E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson are, as well as the parity in college basketball (especially below the top four or five).  Well, Purdue has responded accordingly, though their first real test won't come until December 1st when they play at Virginia Tech.

11. Temple (2-0) feels overrated here.  They beat Seton Hall and Toledo so far but face a difficult schedule over the next couple of weeks.  If Lavoy Allen doesn't take a more prominent offensive role, the Owls could lose two of their next four games (at Maryland and against Georgetown).  If they win, they'll prove they deserve such a lofty ranking.

12. Memphis (4-0) also feels a little high here.  The Tigers are very young, and their inexperience shows.  The problem is, after the first four or five teams (Kansas State still needs to prove they belong in that category), the teams are virtually interchangeable.  Expect the Tigers to drop to a more natural spot in the high teens as the season progresses (or they could play better).

13. Kentucky (2-0) will get a coveted chance to prove its worth this year.  Calipari's newest recruiting haul should get big time games against Washington (can't you just feel the bad blood over the Terrence Jones controversy?) and probably Michigan State.  I'm not sure the Wildcats are ready for an experienced team like the Spartans, but they've got the talent to do some major damage.

14. San Diego State (4-0) proved its top 25 worthiness and more by beating mid-major and western rival Gonzaga in Spokane.  The Aztecs look like the best team in the West this year behind Kawhi Leonard and Billy White.  It's super early, but don't forget about them when you're thinking about possible cinderellas.

15. Syracuse (4-0) falls because Jim Boeheim says so.  He rarely minces words, and after the Orange eked out a win over William and Mary Sunday, he sounded unimpressed with his team's shooting so far.  I'd agree.  I'd also point out that not many people realized just how much of a project Fab Melo would be.  Syracuse is still very good, but they need to hit their open looks.

16. Washington (2-0), like most of the top schools, hasn't seen anyone even remotely close to an at-large team.  Nor will they for quite some time...  Oh wait, that's because they play in the Pac 10.

17. Florida (3-1) got exposed by Ohio State.  The Gators lack a true point guard, and their press seems to give up far more points than it creates.  This was the first case of "they weren't that good last year, but they bring back all their players this year, so they must be great" syndrome that tends to distort early polls (other cases already diagnosed: Virginia Tech and Illinois to a lesser extent).  Florida should still be a tough team to beat this year (especially if you can't handle their pressure), but the SEC East is wide open.

18. Tennessee (3-0) gets a modest test against VCU this week.  Hopefully it will give them enough preparation to make a real game in Pittsburgh the following week.

19. Texas (3-1) proved worthy of the top-25 with an impressive showing in the 2k Classic.  The Longhorns beat an "underrated" Illinois team, and took Pitt down to the last possession.  Tristan Thompson continues to develop, but still needs to work on his consistency and physical presence on defense.  I don't want to speak too soon, but it looks like Rick Barnes may have found his team's chemistry.

20. Georgetown (5-0) looks impressive so far, at least the backcourt.  After finishing the first half tied with NC State, the Hoyas took advantage of Tracy Smith's absence to win by 15.  I'm still concerned with lack of experience, also known as Greg Monroe, in the interior, but so far it has appeared a nonfactor.

21. Virginia Tech (2-1) got exposed by Kansas State.  Even without their best players Curtis Kelly (suspension) and Jacob Pullen (foul trouble), the Hokies could never get much going.  So far it looks like Malcolm Delaney is just trying to do too much with too little, and the Hokies have some depth issues.  I still think Virginia Tech is a top 25 team, but they really need to show they're better than last year's team (that didn't get invited to the Big Dance).

22. Minnesota (5-0) has seen a huge leaps in expert polls after wins against UNC and West Virginia.  While I'm convinced they're a tournament team, I'm definitely not ready to move them into the top ten until I see them win a few more games.


23. UNLV (3-0) has Tre'Von Willis back after a minor suspension.  They just snuck past a sneaky good Wisconsin team that could be nearly impossible to beat in Madison (although this meeting was in Vegas).


24. Brigham Young (3-0) should be one of the top teams in the west (notice I've used that phrase twice, and neither time in reference to the Pac 10).  Jimmer Fredette is having another All-American type season.


25. Illinois (4-1) may have lost to Texas, but the trip to New York still wasn't a total failure.  The Illini were really hurt when McCamey didn't step up in the big moments.  For now, it looks like people overrated them, but they definitely still have a very high ceiling (and the development of Jereme Richmond will have a major affect on how quickly they improve).

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