|1||Ohio St. Buckeyes||1|
|5||Duke Blue Devils||-2|
|6||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||2|
|9||San Diego St. Aztecs||-5|
|11||North Carolina Tar Heels||4|
|15||St. John's Red Storm||8|
|22||George Mason Patriots||3|
|24||Texas A&M Aggies||--|
|Honorable Mentions: West Virginia Mountaineers, Utah State Aggies and Arizona Wildcats|
I hate this top 25. I don’t know why. Kansas is too high (best nonconference win is Arizona; don’t love conference resume either (beating Mizzou on the road will help); but the eye test puts the Jayhawks that high (again: ugh). Texas is too low, but the Longhorns have been miserable defensively, and--more importantly--I’m worried Jordan Hamilton is regressing. I’m still not convinced by BYU. Pros: the Cougars have the front-runner for NPOY, which means a lot. Cons: I don’t like wins over SDSU as much as most people. Duke is probably a little high, but I’m weighting Ken Pomeroy’s and Jeff Sagarin’s data fairly heavily as well. I don’t know how many times I can say it (which means, until they lose), the Fighting Irish are playing over their heads. I know this team has experience and a good coach, but I don’t think they’ll make the second weekend of the Big Dance (you can add a lot of the Big East to that mix...I think the conference peaks as a whole very early in the season**). Purdue has looked terrific recently, but not enough to make me forget Richmond. San Diego State is starting to feel a little bit shaky (can’t shoot). North Carolina is too high relative to its body of work. Saint John’s might be the hottest team in the country (it is not on the list of likely Big East upsets).
**This is just a personal theory. I don’t think it’s conference play that wears down the Big East: I just think the teams don’t improve significantly from the start/middle of the season to the end (credit good coaches for getting their teams ready). I could just be reading too much into a trend, but we’ll see. The other teams I put on this list (in order of rank): (Notre Dame), Louisville (no real stars; if you can figure out a way to score on its matchup zone and force them to take threes, you’re golden), Georgetown (I would have said this before Chris Wright went down, but his injury makes the situation even worse; Hoyas really struggle for large stretches in a lot of games and have an often porous defense), Syracuse (can’t shoot; hot team could hit 75% from beyond the arc against zone), UConn (Kemba Walker can single-handedly take down this team just as easily as he can carry them to victory), and Villanova (exposed recently for being very inconsistent on both ends of the floor).
Comments welcome as always. Tell me why I should like X team more or less.