College basketball power rankings

College basketball power rankings

Published Mar. 6, 2012 10:08 a.m. ET

By Jesse Temple

The NCAA Tournament picture is becoming even clearer, but there’s still some business to be sorted out this week in conference tournaments across the country. Who knows whether the favorites will pull through? That’s why they called it March Madness. Here’s a look at the Week 17 power rankings:

How special is this Wildcats team? Kentucky set the school record for wins in the regular season, doing so while polishing off just the third perfect mark in SEC play since 1956.

Here’s an ominous statistic for every other team in the nation: Syracuse finished 19-0 at home this season. The only other Orange team to accomplish that feat since the Carrier Dome opened for basketball in 1980 was the 2002-03 team that won a national title.

What Kansas coach Bill Self has accomplished down in Lawrence is remarkable. The Jayhawks won their final eight games of the regular season to take sole possession of the Big 12 crown. It’s the eighth straight time they’ve shared or won the title outright.

The Tar Heels put a Tobacco Road beatdown on rival Duke in the regular-season finale. North Carolina’s 88-70 win represented the biggest margin of victory for UNC at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 23 years.

Guard Marcus Denmon deserves serious props for being a first-team All-Big 12 selection. The senior is averaging 18.0 points per game and has improved as a player every year in the program. It’s always good to see that kind of success

Duke is certainly licking its wounds following a disappointing night against North Carolina. But here’s the good news for the Blue Devils: They’ll probably get another chance to make amends in the ACC championship game this week.

The biggest mover in the power rankings is Ohio State behind the strength of a thrilling 72-70 victory against Michigan State. William Buford’s last-second jumper gave the Buckeyes a share of their third straight conference title.

What do Kentucky, Syracuse and Murray State have in common? Those are the only three teams with 30 victories at this stage of the season. With an Ohio Valley Conference tournament title and victories against Memphis and Saint Mary’s, the Racers have shown they’re for real.

The Spartans added injury to insult following a 72-70 loss against Ohio State when it was announced that starting freshman forward Branden Dawson tore his ACL during the game. Dawson averaged 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds, and his absence is a severe blow to the team’s national title hopes.

Never have Michigan players and fans cheered harder for Ohio State than on Sunday. When the Buckeyes knocked off Michigan State, it allowed the Wolverines to earn a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1986.

The Golden Eagles clearly have the senior leadership necessary to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder combined for 43 points on Senior Day in a victory against Georgetown.

We’re not sure what to make of the Bears. They began the regular season 17-0 and closed it just 8-6 to fall into fourth place in the Big 12. Baylor had better regroup in a hurry. The Bears play Kansas State on Thursday in the Big 12 Tournament.

Another season, another top-four finish in the Big Ten. That makes 11 straight seasons in the top four since Bo Ryan became head coach. Do the Badgers have enough to knock off the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan? We’ll find out this week in Indianapolis.

It’s not often that a 6-foot-10 center leads a team in assists, but that’s exactly what Henry Sims is doing for the Hoyas. The senior averages 11.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and a team-best 3.4 assists per game. That’s versatility.

The Hoosiers’ senior class went out in style with an 85-74 victory against Purdue in Bloomington. They’ve certainly earned success this year after three straight losing seasons, which included a 6-25 record as freshmen.

Florida gave Kentucky a brief scare before falling back to earth in a 74-59 loss during the teams’ regular-season finale. It marked the Gators’ third straight loss, which probably isn’t the way coach Billy Donovan envisioned entering tournament play.

Forward Mike Moser got back on the right track with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort against Wyoming. The Rebels’ leading scorer had been held to single digits in his past four games.

Gaels guard Matthew Dellavedova ranks 10th in the nation in assists per game at 6.5. Not bad considering he’s also the team’s leading scorer at 15.4 points per game.

Maybe the Aztecs just have a thing for playing overtime games. They blew an 18-point lead to TCU, only to win 98-92 in the extra session. San Diego State is 4-0 this season in overtime and has won 14 of its last 15 OT games overall.

Two victories last week helped the Seminoles finish 12-4 in ACC play — good enough for third place behind basketball bluebloods North Carolina and Duke. The last time Florida State went 12-4 was way back in 1992-93, a team that featured eventual Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward.

Doug McDermott continued his dazzling scoring display with 33 points in Creighton’s 83-79 overtime victory against Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game. McDermott ranks third in scoring nationally at 23.2 points per game.

The Shockers probably hurt their NCAA Tournament seeding by failing to reach the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament final. Wichita State lost 65-64 in the semifinal to an Illinois State team that isn’t even heading to the big dance.

Temple earned its first outright Atlantic-10 regular-season title in 22 years by beating Fordham 80-60. Every Owls starter scored in double figures, which is exactly the kind of balance they’ll need in the coming weeks.

It’s never a good sign when a team is backing into postseason play. The Cardinals have lost four of six games — although two have come to Syracuse — as they enter the Big East Tournament.

Fred Hoiberg earned co-Coach of the Year honors in the Big 12 with Kansas’ Bill Self, and rightfully so. The Cyclones, picked to finish eighth in the conference, knocked off Baylor last week to take third place.