The JW Top 25

The JW Top 25
Jan 01, 2007, 10:07 pm
Other Articles This Week
12.31 Saturday Quick Shots
12.27 JW's Non-Conference All-Americans

Not much change at the top, but it continues to be a massacre outside the Top 10. It really isn't fair to stop at 25 this week, with at least five more teams just as worthy of a spot as anybody outside the Top 15. As conference play begins, we should really start to get a feel for who is going to be a factor in March.

1. Florida (12-2; win UAB, NC) – Nobody said UAB couldn't be a dangerous team, but it was still a bit disturbing to see the Gators’ porous defense. I’m certainly less willing to move UCLA up to the top spot than almost anybody, and I still had to think long and hard before I left things alone at the top. (1/6 @Georgia)

2. North Carolina (12-1; win over Dayton, NC) – I really think the Heels end up as the best team in the country, they just haven’t gotten a chance to prove it yet. In case you missed the game on Saturday, it is very possible that everybody’s preseason NPOY Tyler Hansbrough isn’t even the 2nd best player on his own team anymore.(1/7 Florida State)

3. UCLA (13-0, 2-0, wins over Washington State and Washington, NC) – Wow. Saturday’s destruction of Washington was the second most impressive victory of the season, right behind Florida over Ohio State. When Arron Afflalo is shooting the ball like that, the Bruins can beat anybody in the county. While UCLA has yet to go on the road, the Bruins don’t have to play @Arizona or @Washington until mid-February, so Ben Howland has a very good chance to be undefeated for at least another month and a half. If Florida or UNC plays poorly even in a win, UCLA may jump. (1/4 @Oregon State, 1/6 @Oregon) State)

4. Kansas (12-2; no significant results, NC) – This team should be better, which is scary, because they are already damn good. Bill Self now has experience in the backcourt and a healthy Sasha Kaun in the frontcourt. This team can play slow or fast (better fast), and it should be a long season for the rest of the Big XII. (1/7 @South Carolina)

5. Ohio State (11-2; no significant results, +1) – I have been hesitant to drop the Buckeyes because they really haven’t had a chance to prove themselves yet. It isn’t fair to drop this young group for losing @UNC and @Florida, and there haven’t been any teams in that 5-50 range on the schedule. We find out more tomorrow night, with a huge road trip to Illinois and then Wisconsin looming (1/2 Indiana, 1/6 @Illinois)

6. Wisconsin (14-1; win @Georgia, +1) – It sure doesn’t seem fair to keep the Badgers ranked here after another huge win over the weekend. Alando Tucker continues to shoot the living crap out of the ball, and the Badgers are going to be Top 5-caliber as long as this continues. (1/6 Minnesota)

7. Arizona (11-1, 2-0; wins over California and Stanford, -2) – The Wildcats continue to play well, but continue to show that they are vulnerable to size. The Lopez twins ran roughshod all over Lute Olson’s frontcourt. The infamous Washington road trip is up next, and tougher than usual. The Wildcats probably haven’t earned this spot until unless they are undefeated at this point next week (1/4 @Washington, 1/6@Washington State)

8. Duke (12-1, no significant results, NC) – Not really much to add here. The Blue Devils appear to be rounding into form and should have no trouble with Temple tomorrow (1/2 Temple, 1/6 Virginia Tech)

9. Texas A&M (11-2; no significant results, NC) – Is anyone else dying to what happens Aggies play somebody halfway decent at home? That takes place this week, with Winthrop and K-State coming to town. But somehow, 99% of us won’t be watching Bill Walker’s introduction to elite division one defense (in case you didn’t quite catch it, that’s a shot at whoever decided national audiences didn’t want to watch this game) (1/2 Winthrop, 1/6 Kansas State)

10. Alabama (13-1; win over Oklahoma) – It isn’t that Alabama is playing particularly dominant basketball right now, but more about the fact that they are beating decent teams with Ronald Steele severely limited at the moment. This wouldn’t have been a 5-win team without a Steele a season ago. Davidson and Hendrix the most underrated post duo in the country? The SEC West begins with a bang, as the Crimson Tide trip to Arkansas this weekend and host LSU shortly thereafter (1/6 @Arkansas)

11. Pittsburgh(12-2; no significant results, +1) Have lost two tough road games and smoked two decent teams at home. Big game @Syracuse to kick off conference play. (1/4 @Syracuse, 1/7 South Florida)

12. Oklahoma State (13-1; no significant results, +2) Not much change for a team that has clearly joined the upper tier in the Big XII. (1/6 Baylor)

13. Tennessee (12-; no significant results, +2) – Nothing new here, this looks like a team that could win or lose to just about anybody on a given night. I’ll bet on this team winning most nights, though. (1/7 Mississippi State)

14. Nevada (12-1, win @Gonzaga) – This was a big one, folks. Fazekas, Sessions and Kemp represent a trio that can match just about any power conference team’s top 3. The only loss of the year so far came when Fazekas was hurting. (1/6 Idaho)

15. Washington (10-3, 0-2; losses to USC and UCLA, -5) – The Huskies got a rude awakening on their first trip out of state, but are clearly going to adjust eventually. Spencer Hawes’ buzzer beater against USC would have been one of the plays of the year had Washington gone on to win in OT. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier. Arizona is in town this week. (1/4 Arizona, 1/7 Arizona State)

16. Connecticut (11-1, 0-1; loss @West Virginia, -3) – The young Huskies are in a bit of a rough spot here, with a trip to LSU this weekend and Marquette coming to town as soon as they get back. Over the long term, it still makes sense to tout this team. They are young, but showed quite a few good things against West Virginia. We’ll find out what they learned in Baton Rouge (1/6@LSU)

17. Notre Dame (12-1; no significant results, -1) – Nothing new here. Russell Carter continues to drain 3’s, but the Fighting Irish drop a spot because of Nevada’s big win.

18. Syracuse (11-3, no significant results, +2) – The Orange are still a work in progress defensively, but the upside is too high for me to ignore. We start finding out if I am right this week.(1/4 Pittsburgh, 1/7 @Marquette)

19. Marquette (13-2, no significant results, -2) – The Golden Eagles continue to struggle against teams they have no business struggling against. It all depends on how the guards are shooting the ball. When the outside shots aren’t falling, this team is going to lose. Nasty stretch to start conference play. (1/4 @Providence, 1/7 Syracuse)

20. Air Force (13-1, win over George Washington, win @Santa Clara, NR) – It is time to give credit where credit is due. Air Force doesn’t have a win over a legit Top 25 team, but have blown out solid Stanford and Texas Tech teams. George Washington has done nothing this year, but winning by 30 @Santa Clara is absolutely a quality win. (1/3 @Colorado State, 1/6 UNLV)

21. LSU (10-3, no significant results, +3) – Nothing new to report, other than teams ahead of the Tigers losing. Connecticut coming to town, this is a big one. (1/6 Connecticut)

22. Oregon (13-0, 1-0; win @Oregon State, +2) – The Ducks didn’t look particularly impressive on the road against the Beavers, but are clearly a different team from a year ago. They keep their spot in the Top 25 because Malik Hairston’s return could make this team a lot better. The LA teams are in town this week, and we learn a lot more about Oregon (1/4 USC, 1/6 UCLA)

23. Clemson (14-0, win over Georgia, NR) – No, Georgia probably isn’t a Top 25-caliber team at this point. But they are good, and if Clemson was undefeated simply because of a weak schedule, the Bulldogs wouldn’t have lost. I love this team’s energy and athleticism, and James Mays continues to fly under the radar. This week should be telling g (1/3 @Florida State, 1/6 Georgia Tech)

24. Drexel (9-2, 1-0, win over George Mason, NR) – The CAA isn’t going anywhere and it appears the Dragons will lead the charge in 06-07. December was phenomenal, with double-digit wins over Saint Joe’s, Temple and George Mason, as well as road wins over Villanova and Syracuse. Perhaps it is a bit early, but it appears this team is really coming together around big man Frank Elegar. (1/3 @Georgia State, UNC-Wilmington)

25. Missouri State (10-3, 1-1; loss @Creighton, -4) – A bit disturbing that this team continues to find ways to blow close games, but there is no shame in losing a close one @Creighton. The MVC is going to be a war this year!

Dropped out: 18 Wichita State; 22 Boston College; 25 Gonzaga

On the cusp: Butler, Washington State, Villanova, Georgetown, Kentucky

Recent articles

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop