college hoops power rankings

By Ken Davis

Indiana remains at the top of our power rankings, even though Miami has made a very convincing case in recent weeks. The Hurricanes are playing terrific basketball and March is right around the corner. Miami and everyone else can prove themselves then. As for the bottom of the rankings, we were holding a spot for Kentucky but the Wildcats were dominated at Florida and now await the news on Nerlens Noel’s injury. Best wishes to the talented freshman. We hope it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

1 Indiana Hoosiers 21-3

Yes, the Hoosiers were upset at Illinois since we posted our last power rankings. Yes, the Hoosiers let a lead get away and fell asleep on the final play. Stuff happens, especially this season. Going back on the road and winning at Ohio State keeps Indiana on top.

2 Miami Hurricanes 19-3 +1

Not sure that any team has played more consistent basketball than the Hurricanes since Jan. 1. The winning streak is 11 games after that 87-61 destruction of North Carolina on Saturday. Remember, when Reggie Johnson and Durand Scott have been healthy, Miami hasn’t lost.

3 Florida Gators 20-3 +2

The Gators have bounced back from that stunning loss at Arkansas with impressive home wins against Mississippi State and Kentucky. The 69-52 victory over Kentucky was especially impressive. Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young may have been the stars but Casey Prather was just outstanding.

4 Duke Blue Devils 21-2 +4

There was a lot of talk about the Blue Devils moving back to No. 1. After coming so close to a loss at Boston College, that possibility simply didn’t exist. Duke might have deserved a loss but won without playing its best. Good teams must do that from time to time.

5 Gonzaga Bulldogs 23-2 -1

There’s no doubt the Bulldogs are a very good team. At this time of the season it is hard to rank Gonzaga because the competition isn’t strong in the West Coast Conference. That changes Thursday night when Gonzaga plays at second-place Saint Mary’s, an 83-78 loser to Gonzaga on Jan. 10.

6 Michigan State Spartans 21-4 +5

It seems as if the Spartans have been struggling to define themselves since that season-opening loss to Connecticut back on Nov. 9. Well, maybe the search is over. Tom Izzo’s team has shifted gears, won four consecutive games and put together a signature 75-52 victory over in-state rival Michigan.

7 Syracuse Orange 20-3 +5

James Southerland has returned from his suspension and that just makes Jim Boeheim’s team more dangerous again. With Southerland back, the Orange have four players averaging 12.4 points or more. Syracuse is averaging 40.3 rebounds with a margin of plus-5.5.

8 Michigan Wolverines 21-4 -6

The Wolverines ran into a bulldozer in East Lansing Tuesday night, losing to Michigan State 75-52. Michigan has lost three of four and was held to season-low point total. It was one of those nights. Tim Hardaway Jr. had two points, as did Glenn Robinson III.

9 Arizona Wildcats 20-3 -2

The Wildcats tumble a couple of positions in the rankings after that 77-69 loss to Cal. Allen Crabbe torched Arizona for 31 points but more importantly the Wildcats now find themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the Pac-12 with Oregon and UCLA.

10 Kansas Jayhawks 20-4 -4

With Kansas State visiting Lawrence and the Jayhawks trying to shake off a three-game losing streak, the Kansas student newspaper pulled out all the stops with a front page photo of Bill Self. “In Bill We Trust” was the headline. KU won 83-62 behind Ben McLemore’s 30 points.

11 Butler Bulldogs 20-4 +3

The transition to the Atlantic 10 continues to go smoothly for the Bulldogs, who have rolled off three consecutive victories. Big games against Saint Louis and VCU are on the horizon, but first the Bulldogs must take care of business against Charlotte, Fordham and Duquesne.

12 Louisville Cardinals 19-5 -2

When St. John’s pays a visit on Thursday, we will find out how Louisville responds to that five-overtime loss at Notre Dame Saturday. Coach Rick Pitino made a brief statement and didn’t answer questions immediately after the game, so we know he wasn’t happy.

13 Ohio State Buckeyes 17-6 -4

Keeping your footing in the Big Ten is a little like walking on all the black ice in New England after last weekend’s blizzard. Ohio State was encouraged by an overtime loss to Michigan. Five days later the Buckeyes fell and couldn’t get up against Indiana.

14 Oklahoma State Cowboys 17-5 +2

If the Cowboys can pick up their sixth straight win, Wednesday night at Texas Tech, they will pull into a three-way tie for first with Kansas and Kansas State. Markel Brown and Marcus Smart are making it happen.

15 Georgetown Hoyas 18-4 +5

The Hoyas can make opponents look bad, and Georgetown’s defense did that again Monday night. Marquette turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 24 points for Georgetown in a 63-55 victory. Otto Porter leads the Hoya offense, which seems to be improving.

16 Kansas State Wildcats 19-5 +2

The polls came out Monday and Kansas State celebrated a move into the Top 10. The party didn’t last long. The Wildcats boarded a bus and made the journey east to Lawrence, where they were dominated by a hungry Kansas squad. No need to panic. K-State remains dangerous.

17 Pittsburgh Panthers 20-5

Back in October we labeled Pitt as a sleeper in the Big East race. It took the Panthers longer than expected to wake up, but they’ve won seven of eight. That run included 10-point victories over Syracuse and Cincinnati.

18 Wisconsin Badgers 17-7 (unranked last week)

More often than not, it is hard on the eyes to watch the Badgers with their methodical, grinding style. That wasn’t the case when Ben Brust hit that half-court shot on the way to victory over Michigan in the Kohl Center. Big road game at Minnesota is next.

19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 19-5 (unranked last week)

Notre Dame has been in the power rankings mix before, but now the Irish have unveiled their secret weapon – Garrick Sherman. He had 17 points and six rebounds in that five-OT win over Louisville – but didn’t even play in regulation. Good stuff.

20 New Mexico Lobos 20-4 -5

The Lobos continue to struggle on offense, averaging just 67.5 points and shooting 41.5 percent from the field (259th in the nation). But New Mexico remains on top in the Mountain West, even after that 64-55 loss to UNLV.

21 Virginia Commonwealth Rams 19-5 +2

After consecutive losses to Richmond and LaSalle, the Rams have put together a three-game winning streak. UMass and George Washington are up next, but the big game ahead is against Butler on March 2.

22 Colorado State Rams 19-4 (unranked last week)

These Rams play in the Mountain West and they are hanging tough in the standings with New Mexico, just ahead of San Diego State and UNLV. Here’s the important part: Colorado State leads the nation in rebounding, averaging 42.4 per game.

23 Creighton Bluejays 20-5 -10

The Bluejays take a dramatic fall after losing to Indiana State and Illinois State. We will find out what Doug McDermott and his teammates are made of with road games at Northern Iowa and Evansville coming up next.

24 Virginia Cavaliers 18-6 (unranked last week)

We’ve been hard on the ACC this season, but Miami is scripting a remarkable story and Virginia really deserves credit for its recent run. The Cavaliers have won seven of their last eight. Road games against North Carolina and Miami are next.

25 Marquette Golden Eagles 17-6

Despite the loss at Georgetown Monday night, the Golden Eagles remain in the Big East race. Coach Buzz Williams hurt his team with a technical foul, but he apologized later. Marquette’s aggressive approach can make games ugly. Saturday’s home game against Pitt will be a battle.