college hoops power rankings

By Ken Davis

Not much movement in this week’s Power Rankings. The schedule has been limited by final exams. Illinois was the big winner, moving up two spots after winning at Gonzaga, a loss that cost the Bulldogs four spots. We welcome a Pittsburgh team that can no longer be ignored. And we say goodbye to UNLV, even though the Runnin’ Rebels have continued to win. Too many close games for UNLV and now Mike Moser is sidelined with a dislocated elbow.

1 Indiana Hoosiers 9-0

Guard Matt Hunter put up 40 points against the Hoosiers, but Central Connecticut State still lost 100-69 in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are loaded with offensive weapons. Indiana lost sophomore Austin Etherington with a fractured kneecap, but Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will be coming off nine-game NCAA suspensions Saturday.

2 Duke Blue Devils 9-0

After Duke took care of business against Temple, coach Mike Krzyzewski said Marshall Plumlee might be read to make his debut when the Blue Devils play Cornell on Dec. 19. If Duke has a weakness, it is rebounding – especially on the offensive end. Plumlee brother No. 3 really could help in that department.

3 Syracuse Orange 8-0

The march toward career victory No. 900 continues for coach Jim Boeheim. It is a remarkable accomplishment and should happen on Monday against Detroit. But don’t overlook this Orange team and how good it is becoming. By the end of the season, Boeheim could have a great shot at a second national championship.

4 Louisville Cardinals 8-1

Coach Rick Pitino is so happy, he’s even answering reporters’ cell phones during postgame press conferences. And he is handing out nicknames, calling Russ Smith “Russ-diculous” for his streakY play and quirky personality. But when Smith scores 31 points, as he did against UMKC, he is simply sensational.

5 Michigan Wolverines 10-0

The Wolverines are 10-0, their best start since 1988-89 when they won the national title. And Trey Burke is building a strong case for national player of the year honors.

6 Florida Gators 7-0

The Gators chomped down in Tallahassee and came away with a 72-47 victory, giving Florida seven wins in seven games. The first big test comes Saturday when the Gators play Arizona at the McKale Center.

7 Ohio State Buckeyes 6-1

Coach Thad Matta was looking for scorers other than Deshaun Thomas against Long Beach State. LaQuinton Ross (16 points), Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (14) and Sam Thompson (13) all responded in an 89-55 win. Matta has three more games to experiment before a Dec. 22 showdown with Kansas.

8 Kansas Jayhawks 7-1

The Jayhawks put on a dazzling display of team basketball during an easier-than-expected victory over Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse. Freshman Ben McLemore leads KU in scoring and defense gets the Jayhawks going in transition.

9 Arizona Wildcats 7-0

Sean Miller’s team answered some questions by rallying to defeat Clemson on the road. The big one still is coming as Florida pays a visit to the McKale Center.

10 Cincinnati Bearcats 9-0

The Bearcats are averaging 84.2 points per game. That’s fourth in the nation. They are destroying opponents on the boards and they share the ball. Looking forward to those back-to-back games against New Mexico (Dec. 27) and Pittsburgh (Dec. 31).

11 Illinois Fighting Illini 11-0 +2

The Illini just keep winning. There was little letdown after Saturday’s big win at Gonzaga, as Illinois backed that up with a 64-54 win over Norfolk State on Tuesday night. Brandon Paul had 14 points, eight rebounds, one assist, three steals and a block.

12 Missouri Tigers 8-1

The Tigers are doing well against the Ohio Valley Conference, with consecutive victories over Southeast Missouri State and Tennessee State. Laurence Bowers had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Alex Oriakhi had 15 and 10 in the win over Tennessee State.

13 Minnesota Golden Gophers 11-1 +1

Coach Tubby Smith picked up his 500th career victory Saturday. On Tuesday night the Gophers defeated North Dakota State as Trevor Mbakwe (18 rebounds) and Rodney Williams (19 points) both had career highs.

14 Gonzaga Bulldogs 9-1 -4

It’s rare to see the Bulldogs hit a spell of cold shooting at home, but Gonzaga hit only 38 percent against Illinois after halftime. It was an important game for both sides and the Illini came away with the impressive win. Gonzaga drops in our rankings, but the Bulldogs are still very much in the national picture.

15 Creighton Bluejays 9-1

Doug McDermott is averaging 22.7 points, shooting 55 percent from the field and 52 percent from 3-point range. The Bluejays have intriguing tests coming up at Cal and against Tulsa, both before Christmas.

16 Georgetown Hoyas 8-1

The Hoyas are averaging 65.2 points, which ranks 220th among Div. I teams. Yet Georgetown takes an 8-1 record into Saturday’s game against Western Carolina. The Hoyas find a way to win.

17 San Diego State Aztecs 7-1 +1

Jamaal Franklin, a junior guard, is a one-man wrecking crew for the Aztecs. He leads San Diego State in scoring, rebounding and assists. San Diego is next up for the Aztecs.

18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 8-1 +3

Coach Mike Brey isn’t a dummy. He used Notre Dame’s 84-57 victory over Brown to use some new player combinations and give some of his reserves experience. That’s a move that will pay off down the road. Seven players got 16 or more minutes during the win.

19 New Mexico Lobos 10-0

Steve Alford’s squad forced 22 turnovers in a victory over Valparaiso. The Lobos are perfect so far, including that nice win over Connecticut.

20 Michigan State Spartans 8-2

The Spartans needed a 22-9 run at the start of the second half to hold off Loyola of Chicago. The final score was 73-61 after Loyola closed to within three. “We didn’t play great. We didn’t play bad,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. Um, OK.

21 North Carolina State Wolfpack 6-2 +1

The Wolfpack are pulling it together and looking better. Richard Howell followed up on his UConn performance with 17 and 10 in a win over Cleveland State. C.J. Leslie is looking steady and freshman T.J. Warren is contributing.

22 Oklahoma State Cowboys 7-1 +1

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? The Cowboys will be playing Gonzaga. If you need a ticket, just get in touch with T. Boone Pickens. He bought the last 4,000.

23 Wichita State Shockers 9-0 +1

The Shockers put their 9-0 record on the line Thursday against Tennessee, on the road at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols are 4-3, but a game like that still will provide a good gauge for Wichita State.

24 Pittsburgh Panthers 9-1 (unranked last week)

Back in October, at Big East media day in New York, I picked the Panthers as my sleeper team in the conference. There’s nothing sleepy about Jamie Dixon’s team. The Panthers are efficient offensively, take care of the ball and shoot it extremely well.

25 North Carolina Tar Heels 7-2

Roy Williams and the Tar Heels have a home date against East Carolina on Saturday. They follow that with a trip to Texas to play Rick Barnes’ struggling team.