NCAA power rankings: Shocker alert
We were tempted last week to move Florida to No. 1. And that was before Syracuse lost to Boston College and Duke. We were tempted because the Gators seemed to be playing the best basketball in the land. Our opinion hasn't changed much, but Florida hasn't overwhelmed its most recent opponents.
So, here at the Power Rankings, we've made a bold decision. It's time to honor perfection. It's time to give credit to the team with the 30-0 record -- the first team in Division I history to post a 30-0 record in the regular season. Wichita State accomplished that Tuesday night with a 69-49 victory at Bradley. The Shockers haven't lost a game since last year's Final Four. Debate their strength of schedule, but the name of the game is winning and Wichita State has done that every time it has taken the floor.
The pressure will be on during the postseason, but congratulations to our new No. 1 -- the Wichita State Shockers. Here are the latest power rankings:
The Shockers can complete their perfect regular-season run with a win over Missouri State Saturday at Charles Koch Arena. Argue, if you will, that they have done it in the Missouri Valley Conference. But then give them credit for all the things they do so consistently well.
Yes, we realize how hard it is to win on the road -- even in the lowly SEC. Yes, we realize the Gators haven't lost since that trip to UConn back on Dec. 2. But those close calls at Ole Miss and at Vanderbilt made us reluctant to elevate Florida to No. 1.
It's hard to make a statement bigger than the one Arizona made at Boulder, Colo., on Saturday. The Wildcats held Colorado without a basket for more than 10 minutes in the first half, and then shot 84.6 percent in the second half.
Bill Self's Jayhawks now have won or shared 10 consecutive Big 12 regular season championships. And since coming to Lawrence in 2003, Self has only lost nine games at Allen Fieldhouse. Call that dominance. Call it amazing.
After living dangerously at the end of so many games, the Orange finally paid the price. They lost to Boston College at home, then on the road against Duke. (Maybe you caught Jim Boeheim's dance and protest.) The losing streak almost reached three, but Syracuse held off Maryland.
Russ Smith's 18-foot jumper might have been the best way to silence the critics who wanted a signature win from the Cardinals. Smith's shot lifted Louisville over Cincinnati on the road and gave the defending national champs their sixth consecutive win.
The Blue Devils picked up four victories in that brutal stretch between Feb. 15 and Feb. 25. The only loss came in the big rivalry game at North Carolina. Duke backed up that emotional win over Syracuse with a 66-48 rout of Virginia Tech.
If you think this team is all about Doug McDermott, you haven't watched the Bluejays play a game this season. Creighton leads the Big East because the Bluejays are the most difficult team in the nation to defend, they are experienced, and unselfish.
The Wildcats went all retro in their 57-54 victory over St. John's. "That was old-school, Big East basketball," coach Jay Wright said. "Ugly. Great defense. Physical." Villanova's next two games are home, against Butler and Marquette.
It's no fluke that the Cavaliers are in first place in the ACC. It all starts on defense, and Virginia leads the nation by allowing just 55.3 points per game. The John Paul Jones Arena will be rocking Saturday when Syracuse visits Charlottesville.
The Billikens know what they do best, and they keep on doing it. Saturday they held George Washington to 59 points on 32.8 percent shooting. The defensive formula has led to 19 consecutive wins.
Things certainly got more interesting in the Mountain West Conference when the Aztecs lost at New Mexico. That was unfortunate for San Jose State, however. San Diego State bounced back with a 90-64 win over the Spartans.
Bo Ryan and Badgers believe in their system. They proved that again on Tuesday, rallying from a 29-19 halftime deficit to defeat Indiana in Madison, Wis. Sam Dekker (16 points) led the way as Wisconsin shot 62 percent after halftime and won 69-58.
The Cyclones truly reflect the toughness of coach Fred Hoiberg. Iowa State has won three in a row and cooled off the red-hot Texas Longhorns to pull into a tie for second place in the Big 12. The Cyclones would love a third shot at Kansas in the league tourney.
The battle for first place in the American escalated a notch when Russ Smith shot down the Bearcats. Cincinnati pays a visit to Connecticut on Saturday, then closes out the regular season with a home game against Memphis and a trip to Rutgers.
Nik Stauskas is the guy the Wolverines look to when they need a lift. Sunday he scored 25 points in that big victory over Michigan State. That gives Michigan the inside track to the Big Ten regular-season championship.
Still think that storming the court was embarrassing for a program like UNC, but what a great week for the Tar Heels, who haven't lost since Jan. 20. The win over Duke was huge, but scoring 105 points against Wake Forest sent a message too.
This team still has Final Four potential. The question is do the Spartans have enough time to get their act together before tournament time? Branden Dawson will return soon and coach Tom Izzo can get to work on the puzzle with all his pieces.
Call it luck, good fortune, or just the old Kentucky way, but the Wildcats probably should have lost to LSU on Saturday. Instead they pulled out a 77-76 overtime victory to remain in second place in the SEC -- a spot they will likely hold to the end.
The Tigers survived their excellent adventure against Temple, pulling out an 82-79 victory. Memphis couldn't avoid a loss in that home game, not with Louisville, Cincinnati and SMU still on the schedule in the American Athletic Conference.
The problems for the Hawkeyes continued Tuesday night when they fell at Minnesota, 95-89. Minnesota needed the win and had its best shooting performance of the season. What that does is increase the concerns about Iowa at this point in the season.
San Diego State made such a big noise to begin the season, everyone went to sleep on New Mexico out of the Mountain West. The Lobos delivered a wake-up call to the nation by beating the Aztecs.
The Buckeyes have gotten back to playing tough, tough defense, holding Illinois to 39 and Minnesota to 46 points. Ohio State has won six of its last seven and has road games against Penn State and Indiana before a big finale at home against Michigan State.
Larry Brown knows what it takes to impress the NCAA selection committee and the Mustangs got what they needed with a victory at UConn Sunday. SMU is actually talking about playing Final Four home games in Dallas.
The Huskies struggled with their shooting touch and didn't show much patience on offense against SMU. It's a rarity when Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright can't get things going on the same day. UConn has a big one Saturday against Cincinnati.