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Big 12 Hoops Top 25: Week 4

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Analysis after the jump.

Previous Weeks: 0 | 1 | 2 | 3

1. Duke (8-0) took care of Michigan State and Butler this week.  Both games were closer than Duke fans might have liked, but neither one ever felt like they were going to lose.  A lot of that credit goes to Kyrie Irving, who exploded for 31 points against Michigan State and had 15 in the second half against Butler.  If the Blue Devils want to keep up their undefeated ways, they'll need Kyle Singler to snap out of his slump: he's still averaging 15.6 points a game (including a 30 point explosion against Oregon), but his percentages are down. 

2. Ohio State (6-0) got a solid win against Florida State on the road.  The Seminoles held the Buckeyes to 32% from the floor, but the Buckeyes out-rebounded them handily.  Star freshman Jared Sullinger had 11 points and 13 rebounds (six offensive) in the win.

3. Pitt (9-0) took care of business against Duquesne and Rider this week.  Not a lot to say about those two games, but the Panthers have a quiet, but efficient offense thanks to great rebounding.

4. Kansas (7-0) showed some major weaknesses on their frontline this week.  Arizona and UCLA gave the Jayhawks all they could handle in Lawrence.  The Morris twins looked soft in both games allowing Arizona's Derrick Williams to go for 27 points and eight rebounds, UCLA's Josh Smith 17 points and 13 boards, and UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt 33 points and nine rebounds.  Those are three dominant performances from big men in three games.  The Jayhawks are going to need to fix this before conference play.

5. Kansas State (6-1) still hasn't totally come together.  The Wildcats were taken to the wire by Washington State on the road, but they came out with the win.  Preseason All-American Jacob Pullen still hasn't found his mojo, and until he does Kansas State is very vulnerable.

6. Baylor (6-0) is getting the job done.  They don't always win pretty, but so far they've always won.  LaceDarius Dunn has jumped right in as the focal point for Scott Drew's team and looks like one of the best shooters in the country.  Teams should also be terrified of the Bears' length and athleticism up front.

7. Georgetown (8-0) had a terrific win on a "neutral site" over Missouri in what probably was the best game of a young season.  Missouri definitely choked the game away, but give the Hoyas credit where credit is due.  They hit the big shots when they counted, and finished off the Tigers in OT.  They also followed that win with a great outing against Utah State.  The Hoyas have a very experienced and talented backcourt that will win a ton of games this season (though teams with strong post presence should be able to take advantage of Georgetown's interior).

8. Tennessee (6-0) didn't have much going on this week after they beat Middle Tennessee.  But look out: they've got a game at Pitt this Saturday that will be a real test for both teams.

9. Connecticut (8-0) had a real scare against the University of New Hampshire, but pulled through behind Kemba Walker's 30 points.  I'm positive this ranking is too high for the Huskies, but until the one man show hits a speed bump, it's hard to pick anyone above them with wins against Michigan State, Kentucky, and Wichita State.

10. San Diego State (8-0) may have locked up the "Best in the West" title after taking down Saint Mary's and Wichita State this week.  Their best competition probably comes from conference foes UNLV or Brigham Young, which are three teams to keep a close eye on this season.

11. Michigan State (6-2) lost a really tough game to Duke on the road.  Frankly, I didn't want to drop them (if anything that performance was deserving of a jump in the rankings), but that's just how things go sometimes.  I fully expect the Spartans to make their way back into the top five by the end of the conference season, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're second, especially once they're healthy.

12. Memphis (7-0) hasn't looked spectacular so far, but they're winning games.  They get a chance to make a major statement this Tuesday at the Jimmy V Classic when they take on Kansas.

13. Missouri (6-1) lost a heartbreaker to Georgetown this week, but they showed a lot of promise.  While it sounds unlikely, if Mike Anderson can find a way to get Tony Mitchell eligible this December, look out.  Missouri would have the size and talent inside to really make a run for the last weekend in April.  Even without him the Tigers will be a very good team, especially if Kim English can find his groove.

14. Villanova (6-1) has an easy road until the end of the month.  Barring a major slip-up, the Wildcats shouldn't be challenged until they take on Temple the game before conference play begins.

15. UNLV (8-0) has a chance to make a statement at Louisville this week.  Their win against Wisconsin is looking better and better.

16. Syracuse (8-0) somehow manages to keep falling without losing any games.  A close home win against a N.C. State team Wisconsin beat by 39 (still without their best player) is not the way to impress people.  Syracuse gets a chance to redeem themselves with a game against Michigan State Tuesday.

17. Illinois Fighting Illini (8-1) had a great week, destroying UNC at home and getting a great road victory against Gonzaga.  One concern is the Illini's reliance on the three, but so far they've been able to shoot well enough to make that concern unfounded.

18. BYU (8-0) has some solid wins this season, and beating Arizona this Saturday would definitely bolster their resume.  Jimmer Fredette is still lighting up the scoreboard, but they'll need strong interior defense to compete with Arizona sophomore Derrick Williams.  The fact that BYU is third right now is a testament to how strong the Mountain West looks this year.

19. Notre Dame (8-0) get a chance to prove their worth with games against Kentucky and Gonzaga (both coming off tough losses). 

20. Arizona (6-1) enters the top 25 after a tough loss to Kansas on the road.  The Wildcats should challenge Washington for the Pac 10 title (giving the league two at-large certainties in the process), and Derrick Williams is a monster down low.  This week he put up 27 points and eight boards against Kansas and 18 points and 10 rebounds at Rice.  If he keeps up this kind of production, he'll need to be in player of the year discussions.

21. Wisconsin (6-2) looks like their usual impossible-to-beat-at-home selves after totally dismantling (a slightly undermanned) N.C. State team this week.  Their last test before conference season is a trip to Marquette this week.

22. Minnesota (7-1) lost to Virginia at home...  I don't care how well Virginia shot the ball: that's unacceptable.  A "contender" in the Big 10 has no business losing to a bottom dweller in the ACC.  Period.

23. Kentucky (6-2) took one on the chin at Chapel Hill yesterday.  The Wildcats' shallow frontline was exposed by John Henson and Tyler Zeller.  John Calipari is going to have to find a way to keep his bigs out of foul trouble and on the court.  This Kentucky squad has plenty of talent, but several glaring holes without Turkish standout Enes Kanter.

24. Central Florida (7-0) debuts in the rankings this week after knocking off in-state rivals, Florida, 57-54.  The Knights also sport a victory over South Florida, and could be a sleeper to take Conference USA.

25. Texas was much higher until they went and got blown out by a USC team that has already lost to Bradley, Rider, Nebraska, and TCU.  Everyone sort of knew this was coming, but I know I wasn't expecting it here...  Rick Barnes needs to address this ASAP to keep this season from taking the same road as last year.