FOXSports.com’s college basketball power rankings
1. Michigan State 7-1 —
How can you tell that the Spartans have bought in to Tom Izzo’s
system? One stat tells the story. Michigan State leads the nation in
assists per game, with an average of 22.0. With all that sharing going
on, the Spartans should handle North Carolina Wednesday night at the
2. Arizona 8-0 +1
Arizona’s Nick Johnson was named tournament MVP of the NIT
Season Tip-Off, prompting him to tell everyone after the Wildcats
defeated Duke that “We’re a good team and we can play with anybody.”
Yes, they are and yes, they can. Coach Sean Miller has a national
contender on his hands.
3. Syracuse 8-0 +6
Jim Boeheim has always preferred snowy Syracuse to exotic
Hawaii, but the Syracuse coach had nothing to complain about as the
Orange crushed the competition in the Maui Invitational. Syracuse
returned to the Carrier Dome and simply dominated Indiana on Tuesday
4. Kentucky 7-1 +1
The Wildcats haven’t had a true test since losing to Michigan
State back on Nov. 12, but that’s about to change. Kentucky faces Baylor
Friday to begin a scheduling stretch that includes Boise State, North
Carolina, Belmont and Louisville before the end of December.
5. Kansas 6-1 -3
The Jayhawks traveled to the Bahamas, took a giant step
backward, and finished third in the Battle 4 Atlantis. “We are not as
good as we were 17, 18 days ago,” coach Bill Self said. “We played one
decent half and five crappy ones.” Give Villanova and UTEP credit for
attacking the Jayhawks and then holding on.
6. Louisville 7-1 +1
Not sure that we will learn anything new about Rick Pitino’s
Cardinals until Dec. 28. That’s when Louisville clashes with Kentucky
for bragging rights in the Bluegrass State.
7. Ohio State 7-1 -1
The Buckeyes get to play their Big Ten/ACC Challenge game at home
against Maryland in the Value City Arena. Ohio State’s top four scorers
each average 11.0 or 11.3 points per game.
8. Wisconsin 9-0 +2
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge will give us a barometer to measure the
Badgers – at long last. Wisconsin travels to John Paul Jones Arena in
Charlottesville to take on Virginia.
9. Oklahoma State 7-1 -5
Memphis got the best of Oklahoma State the second time around
and took the championship of the Old Spice Classic. Keep in mind Marcus
Smart had a virus and was held to 12 points but Smart gave the Tigers
credit for their scouting report. Second chances sometimes do pay off.
10. Connecticut 8-0 +1
Guard Shabazz Napier doesn’t wear a big “S” on his chest, but he
did want to be Superman when he was growing up and his game-winning shot
against Florida night kept the Huskies undefeated at 8-0. Kevin Ollie
says it’s all about heart.
11. Wichita State 8-0 +1
Pat Roberts, the senior U.S. senator from Kansas, called the
Shockers the “best basketball team in the state of Kansas” on Tuesday.
Of course, he said this a luncheon meeting of the Wichita Metro Chamber
of Commerce. We are assuming he would have made a different statement in
12. Duke 7-2 -4
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team returned to outstanding
defense Tuesday with a 79-69 win over Michigan at Cameron Indoor
Stadium. The Wolverines missed 17 of their first 21 shots and never
13. Oregon 7-0 +1
The Ducks are undefeated and average 88 points a game, but a
couple of big tests are ahead for Oregon – Ole Miss on Dec. 8 and
Illinois on Dec. 14. Ole Miss, undefeated champions of the Barclays
Center Classic, is getting stronger and more mature play from Marshall
Henderson and Jarvis Summers.
14. Iowa State 6-0 +3
The Cyclones are fourth in the nation in points per game and
recorded 90 or more points in four of their six victories. Iowa State’s
lowest point total came in a 77-70 victory over Michigan.
15. Villanova 8-0 —
Who knew Jay Wright would have the Wildcats playing this well so
early in the season? Villanova traveled to the Battle 4 Atlantis and
shook things up with victories over Kansas and Iowa. James Bell was
tournament MVP but Wright’s team has depth.
16. Memphis 5-1 +5
Strange twist in the schedule allowed theTigers to avenge their
only loss in quick fashion. Memphis and Oklahoma State are now 1-1
head-to-head after Josh Pastner’s team won 73-68 in Orlando.
17. UCLA 8-0 +1
Road trip coming up for the Bruins. UCLA heads to Columbia, Mo.,
to play Missouri on Saturday. Not sure if the school administration
will allow the Antlers in Mizzou Arena for this one — or just wait to
kick them out at halftime. But this will be the first road test for
Steve Alford’s team.
18. Massachusetts 7-0 +2
The Minutemen wrapped up the Charleston Classic championship with a
victory over Clemson. Cady Lalanne remains on fire, with 20 points and
12 rebounds against Clemson. BYU visits the MassMutual Center on
19. Baylor 7-1 —
The Bears took their best shot at Syracuse in the Maui
championship game but came up short. No reason to penalize Baylor for
that. Syracuse is playing so well right now.
20. Florida 6-2 -7
Coach Billy Donovan could use some good news from the trainer’s
room, but now senior guard Scottie Wilbekin is out indefinitely with a
high ankle sprain. The Gators may have to play Kansas without a true
21. Iowa 8-1 +1
The Hawkeyes led by 15 in the first half of the Battle 4 Atlantis
championship game. But Villanova, coming off that monster win over
Kansas, rallied to beat Iowa in overtime. Now Iowa is 8-1 after bouncing
back with a 98-93 victory over Notre Dame.
22. Gonzaga 7-1 —
The Bulldogs fell to Dayton in the opener at the Maui
Invitational, but the Flyers have earned our Top 25 respect. Gonzaga
takes a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s home game against New
23. Pittsburgh 8-0 —
The Panthers trailed Penn State 59-58 with 5:15 remaining Tuesday
night but walked away with a 78-69 victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Pitt’s schedule will be questioned until the ACC season begins, but
Jamie Dixon’s team has balance and depth.
24. San Diego State 5-1 —
The Aztecs break into the rankings for the first time this season
after defeating Creighton and Marquette in the Wooden Legacy. Junior JJ
O’Brien is averaging 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds.
25. Dayton 7-1 —
The temptation was there to move the Flyers into last week’s power
rankings, but we just couldn’t pull the trigger. After further review,
Dayton gets in with those wins over Gonzaga and California. This is a
team worth watching.