College basketball power rankings
By Jesse Temple
The nation’s best teams continued winning last week, making for little to no movement in the top 10. It looks as though the rest of the college basketball teams across the country have some catching up to do. Here’s a look at the Week 15 power rankings:
1 Kentucky Wildcats 26-1
Coach John Calipari sure knows how to ingratiate himself with Kentucky’s fan base. With a 77-62 waxing of Mississippi last week, the Wildcats are 49-0 at home since Calipari took over the program three seasons ago.
2 Syracuse Orange 27-1
What makes the Orange so scary is how many offensive weapons they have at every position. The latest player to display his scoring prowess was 6-foot-8 sophomore forward C.J. Fair, who tallied a career-high 21 points in a victory against Rutgers.
3 Missouri Tigers 25-2
The game of the Big 12 season takes place Saturday when Missouri ventures across the border to play at Kansas. It could be the Tigers’ last trip to Lawrence given the bad blood between the programs with Missouri’s impending departure to the SEC.
4 Duke Blue Devils 23-4
Yes, the Blue Devils are in line for a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed if they continue to win. But you have to wonder about them given so many unpredictable results. Duke trailed by 20 points before rallying to squeeze past North Carolina State on Thursday.
5 Kansas Jayhawks 22-5
Here’s guessing the Jayhawks can’t wait to exact a measure of revenge on Missouri when the teams play Saturday. A victory will put Kansas in position to win or share its eighth straight Big 12 regular-season title.
6 North Carolina Tar Heels 23-4
Few players clean the glass like Tar Heels forward John Henson. The 6-11 junior leads the ACC with 10.3 rebounds per game. He’s also contributing 14 points per outing.
7 Michigan State Spartans 22-5
The Spartans have suddenly taken over first place in the Big Ten standings by a game over Ohio State and Michigan. The conference winner might not be decided until the final day of the season, when Michigan State plays host to Ohio State.
8 Marquette Golden Eagles 22-5 +3
How good is Golden Eagles senior Jae Crowder? The junior-college transfer dropped a season-high 29 points and 12 rebounds on Connecticut last week. Despite being a 6-6 forward, he’s second on the team in 3-pointers made with 50.
9 Florida Gators 21-6 +3
The Gators dropped the hammer on Arkansas in Fayetteville last week. Florida pounded Arkansas 98-68 to end the Razorbacks’ 17-0 start at home this season. It also marked the worst defeat in Bud Walton Arena since it opened in 1993.
10 Georgetown Hoyas 20-5 +3
John Thompson III is a hard coach to please. Georgetown held Providence to 25.9 percent shooting in a 63-53 victory last week, yet Thompson still wasn’t satisfied. “In spite of the 26 percent, we can be better,” he said.
11 Ohio State Buckeyes 22-5 -3
Is there cause for concern in Columbus? Ohio State scored a season low 48 points in a loss to Michigan State and then scored just 51 in a loss to Michigan. The Big Ten plays a different brand of basketball, but the Buckeyes were supposed to be the cream of the conference crop.
12 Michigan Wolverines 20-7 +5
Wolverines guard Trey Burke was introduced as “The Pride of Columbus, Ohio,” before Saturday’s home game against Ohio State. He represented for his city while leaving folks in Columbus feeling blue by scoring a team-high 17 points in Michigan’s victory.
13 Baylor Bears 23-5 -3
Maybe Baylor isn’t that scary, after all. The Bears lost 57-56 at home against Kansas State and now sit in a tie for third place in the Big 12 with Iowa State at 9-5. Perry Jones III, a projected NBA lottery pick, scored four points and fouled out in the loss.
14 Murray State Racers 26-1 +5
The Racers picked up a big-time, NCAA Tournament-validating victory at home against Saint Mary’s in a Bracket Busters game last weekend. Isaiah Canaan scored 23 points and continues to sparkle for Murray State as an under-the-radar national player of the year candidate.
15 Louisville Cardinals 21-6 -1
Louisville pushed Syracuse to the brink in a 52-51 loss last week. The Cardinals nearly collapsed in their next game but overcame a 17-point deficit to beat DePaul 90-82 in overtime.
16 UNLV Rebels 22-6 -7
Unfortunately for the Runnin’ Rebels, they discovered how to lose in different ways last week. UNLV’s up-tempo machine put up 97 points in a five-point overtime loss against TCU. Then, the Rebels lost 65-45 against New Mexico. They scored just 18 second-half points. Ouch.
17 Florida State Seminoles 19-7 +6
Does Michael Snaer have a flair for the dramatic or what? The Seminoles guard drilled the game-winning 3-pointer against Virginia Tech with 2.6 seconds remaining last week. Snaer is the same player who hit the game-winning 3 against Duke back on Jan. 21.
18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 19-8 (unranked last week)
It’s about time we gave the Fighting Irish the respect they deserve. Notre Dame has won eight consecutive games in the rugged Big East, including victories against Syracuse and Marquette. The latest win required a 20-point comeback against Villanova, but the Irish got the job done again.
19 New Mexico Lobos 22-4 (unranked last week)
The Lobos break into the power rankings on the strength of back-to-back victories against San Diego State and UNLV. It’s New Mexico’s Mountain West Conference to win with a two-game lead and four regular-season games remaining.
20 Wisconsin Badgers 20-7 -2
Josh Gasser doesn’t receive the same publicity as fellow guard Jordan Taylor, but his play may be just as important if the Badgers are to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. Gasser drilled three 3-pointers in 83 seconds and scored a team-best 15 points during a victory against Penn State.
21 Wichita State Shockers 24-4 +4
The Missouri Valley Conference ranks as the eighth-toughest conference in the RPI this season and trails only the Mountain West and Atlantic-10 among non-BCS conferences. Wichita State is clearly the best in the MVC and deserving of a spot in the power rankings.
22 Temple Owls 21-5 (unranked last week)
Some might remember when Temple shocked Duke 78-73 on Jan. 4. But the Owls are more than just a one-game wonder. They’ve won 10 straight and lead the Atlantic-10 with four regular-season games left.
23 Indiana Hoosiers 20-7 -3
The Hoosiers are productively using a break in Big Ten action this week to take on North Carolina … Central. That game against a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foe should certainly help erase the sting of Indiana’s 78-66 loss at Iowa.
24 St. Mary’s (CA) Gaels 23-5 -8
We can understand losing to Murray State in front of a rowdy fan base on the road in a Bracket Busters game. But how do you lose by 15 at home against Loyola Marymount? Shooting 6-for-28 on 3-point attempts probably doesn’t help.
25 Virginia Cavaliers 20-6 -3
Mike Scott has put together one of the best individual campaigns in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. He’s averaging 17.2 points — third-best in the conference — to go with 8.2 rebounds and has the Cavaliers on the brink of reaching their first NCAA Tournament since 2007.