SBNation's College Hoops Power 16: Kansas, Purdue Take The Tumble

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SBNation's Hoops Power 16: Kansas, Purdue Take The Tumble

In a week where it seemed like everyone took a hit on the chin, only two undefeateds remain and protecting home court could be the prevailing theme in this college basketball season.  Texas slips into our number one spot, but has a tough stretch of games to close out January. Purdue suddenly seems mortal, nobody quite seems immortal, and Villanova somehow has only one loss.  Basically, nothing is determined (except that the Pac-10 is horrible) with two months until Selection Sunday.

Be sure to check out Searching For Billy Edelin and Blogging the Bracket for more college basketball coverage.

1. Texas Longhorns (12 first place votes) (+1 from last week)

In similar fashion to rival Kansas, which went unchallenged with unexciting victories as the No. 1 team, Texas quietly slips into the top spot after a weekend of hellish losses to a bevy of top 10 teams. Sure the Longhorns were given a bit of a scare at Arkansas last week, but they significantly out rebounded the Razorbacks and shot an astounding 59 percent from the field.  The deepest team in the country, 11 Longhorn players sees 10 or more minutes a game, meaning each position has a reliable back-up in the event of an unforeseen injury. Hey, we know Mack Brown didn't have that luxury.

This week: 1/16 vs. Texas A&M; 1/18 @ Kansas State


2. Kentucky Wildcats (5) (+2)

I have an admission of guilt to make. No, I didn't take PEDs back in the late 90s and my transgressions are minor and infrequent, but I was completely unaware of the dance craze sweeping the Bluegrass state. After reading Grant Wahl's piece on John Wall, I was introduced to the Shizz. And while Wahl wove the motif into the feature piece just the way you would expect from a thirtysomething white male with an affinity for soccer, it did get me YouTubeing.  Upon the completion of my search, I discovered that there are young Wildcat fans out there whose parents need to better monitor their children's after school activities, because this, for example, is absolutely tragic:


This week: 1/16 @ Auburn


3. Kansas Jayhawks (-2)

So what exactly knocked the Jayhawks off the top rung in Knoxville? Well, for a team that relies on other team's mistakes, Tennessee only turned the ball over nine times and came within two percentage points of snapping KU's 88 consecutive games streak for holding opponents under 50 percent. Like I said following the game, UT just coming close to 50 percent is laudable. So suddenly, just after one loss, Jerry Palm and SBNation's Chris Dobbertean, insert KU as...wait for it.... TWO seeds as part of the field of 65! Blasphemous! As you catch your breath, enjoy a barrage of creative half court makes at Allen Fieldhouse:


This week: 1/16 vs Texas Tech; 1/20 vs. Baylor


4. Syracuse Orange (+2)

Please refrain from the played out jokes on the home bodied Syracuse. We get it, this team hates traveling. Wednesday night they began a three-game road-trip with a ho-hum victory over Rutgers. In all seriousness though, this team has entered their toughest stretch until the Big East tournament. Morgantown on Saturday followed by South Bend just two days later, if the Orange finish unscathed, let's bronze Wes Johnson and "crown they ass" right now.

In the meantime, get some real knowledge from upstate New York gem Kenny Haas. In my next life I will be sure to orchestrate a MMA-style match between Haas and Kige Ramsey. It will be broadcast on public access in select television markets.

This week: 1/16 @ West Virginia; 1/18 @ Notre Dame


5. Purdue Boilermakers (-2)

Admittedly, one voter gave the Boilermakers a first place nod. And because it was submitted before Tuesday night's shocking loss to Ohio State Evan Turner, I had to sacrifice a bit of accuracy and fudge the numbers a bit. Oddly it seems that we're willing to give Matt Painter's club a bit of a pass for both the loss to Wisconsin (good luck leaving the Kohl Center with a W) and Ohio State (good luck stopping a healthy Evan Turner). The Big 10 is deeper than it ever has been and Purdue remains one of the conference's premier teams. Plus, Robbie Hummel is still a freak on offense.


This week: 1/16 @ Northwestern; 1/19 @ Illinois

6. Duke Blue Devils (-1)

To piggy back off Blogger So Dear's weekly ACC Power Rankings, a loss to a talented Georgia Tech team shouldn't spark any sort of angst in Durham:

They're still the most efficient offense in the country and play great defense. Sure, they have flaws and Coach K is playing his starters way too many minutes, but he did get into his bench a little more on Saturday. This won't be Duke's last loss in conference by far, but they still have the edge right now.

Agreed; and thanks for 58 words on our sixth ranked team.

Blue Devil fans should be comfortable about this team's defined roles. Finally, after a few years of questions at point guard and no real hierarchy with the frontcourt players, fans are at least being treated to the same starting five each game, even if they are being overworked like outsourced customer service reps.

This week: 1/17 vs. Wake Forest; 1/20 @ NC State

7. Villanova Wildcats (+1)

Halfway through the season, Villanova has taught us numerous lessons in how to win ugly while somehow staying grouped with the nation's upper-echelon teams. I almost threw up after the first half of their game against Louisville. Seriously, I had to turn the heat down after suddenly breaking out into a sweat. This team looked completely blindsided when blitzed by the Cardinals full-court press, until Scottie Reynolds mimicked Michael Jordan in the critically acclaimed Space Jam and did everything for his team en route to a comeback victory.

The frontcourt is shaky at best, Corey Stokes's numbers are down from last season, and the heralded freshman class has been fairly underwhelming to date. At this time, I see a lot of instability despite the 15-1 record.

This week: 1/17 vs. Georgetown; 1/20 @ Rutgers


8. Michigan St. Spartans (+3)

It appears that sophomore Draymond Green is quickly becoming a fan-favorite up in East Lansing. He's a big guy who can pass - loves to pass - and is even  being considered as an NBA player. 

The Spartans are like the interscholastic version of the San Antonio Spurs, maybe even Boston Celtics. Don't worry too much about their regular season play. Tom Izzo is a tournament coach who always has his team ready when it really matters.

On a semi-related topic,  I suggest you subscribe to this guy. As you can see, he's giving us a glimpse of what the next phase of non-traditional news reporting will look like.


This week: 1/16 vs. Illinois; 1/20 vs. Iowa


9. Georgetown Hoyas (--)

Who would have thought that this team, with such a maligned offense, would overcome a 15-point first-half deficit by dropping 47 in the second session to save face at home and defeat UCONN? It happened, and it was shocking. The biggest contributor was Austin Freeman. Dropping 28 of his 33 in the second half, Freeman - who if you're following on twitter, please do yourself a favor and unfollow immediately; he's killing all the neurons in your brain - seemed to single handedly breathe new life into this Hoya team. They better feel refreshed with three games in the next week, including two daunting roadies.

This week: 1/14 vs. Seton Hall; 1/17 @ Villanova; 1/20 @ Pitt


10. Tennessee Volunteers (NR)

Just when you think that life ain't worth livin' in The Marble City, and that Lane Kiffin t-shirt you bought last summer makes you feel like a fool, I offer a solution: replace it with a "Rocky Chalked" shirt to celebrate the team's victory over then No. 1 Kansas. Oh I bet your insides feel better already!

There's no doubt the Vols are reformed and just might become America's team after a little addition by subtraction. Leading scorer Tyler Smith is gone, but Melvin Goins and Cameron Tatum could soon be reinstated after passing drug tests. You depressed football fans will need something to believe in through the winter, so I suggest you start having some faith in Bruce Pearl.


This week: 1/14 vs. Auburn; 1/16 vs. Ole Miss; 1/19 @ Auburn

11. West Virginia Mountaineers (-4)

Is it possible that West Virginia is not who we thought they were coming into the season? Should I poison myself for referencing Dennis Green twice in these rankings? SBNation's Smoking Musket proposes such an idea (on the forward, of course) and it seems like we're all guilty of placing unreasonably high expectations on this team.  In short, the Mountaineers aren't aggressive enough. I know the mid-range jumper is a lost art, so thank you Bob Huggins for emphasizing it in your offense, but 13 free-throw attempts a game is just not going to cut it through Big East play. Upcoming games against Syracuse and Ohio State should be telling in the potential of this team.

This week: 1/16 vs. Syracuse; 1/20 @ Marshall

12. Wisconsin Badgers (--)

There's further proof that the Kohl Center is arguably the most uncomfortable place for opponents to enter and get a win. The Lady Badgers, currently unranked and nowhere in sight of the top 25, are a near perfect 8-1 at home with the lone loss coming against No. 17 Green Bay. The place frightens me, and I am just a lame blogger.
Surely some are thinking that the loss of Jon Leuer, the team's second leading scorer, will have a significant adverse affect, but the Badgers should be fine. Bo Ryan told the media there will be no whining, "that's not allowed,"  he said. I expect him to reshuffle his rotation appropriately.

This week: 1/16 @ Ohio State; 1/24 vs. Michigan


13. Kansas St. Wildcats (-3)

As close as it was, K-State never had a chance last weekend against Mizzou. With the Tigers 30-game home winning streak coupled with a 111-4 mark posted by Big 12 home teams entering the game , the Wildcats were up against monstrous odds the casual college basketball fan was probably unaware of. Surely something has to give at some point, or we're going to be looking at a bunch of 8-8 teams at the end of conference play. But the Wildcats Saturday tilt against Colorado should not be tagged as a cupcake.

Regardless, Frank Martin's club rebounded nicely with a win over a thin Texas A&M team, and remain the third best team in the conference.

This week: 1/16 @ Colorado; 1/18 vs. Texas


14. Pittsburgh Panthers (NR)

The Panthers and Cougars tied for points, but Pitt gets the more impressive road win against UCONN so they check in at No. 14. Jamie Dixon is on track to be this year's coach of the year. He's lost 67 percent of his offense from last season, is turning role players in to go-to-guys (I'm talking about you Ashton Gibbs) and has no real standout freshman to speak of. What's more, they just finished a three-game road trip with wins over Syracuse, Cincinnati and UCONN. This coming when protecting home court is all the rage in college basketball.

We're looking at one of the top 10 programs in college basketball right now, and I would love to hear your case that counters that.

This week: 1/16 vs. Louisville; 1/20 vs. Georgetown

15. BYU Cougars (NR)

Sorry, BYU does not begin and end with Jimmer Fredette. Out with a mild case of mono last weekend, his teammates picked up the scoring load for one of the nation's top shooters in a victory over UTEP. The Cougars should not be taken lightly. They're the top team in a deep Mountain West Conference (currently sixth in RPI) and even cracked Luke Winn's top 10 this week. Fredette seems to have recovered, and at full-strength this is an at-large lock talented enough to play in the second weekend of March Madness.

This week: 1/16 vs. Colorado State; 1/20 vs. Wyoming

16. North Carolina Tar Heels (--)

Just what is this team doing here? It's pretty obvious they crack the top 16 because of brand recognition.  I am not terribly interested in elaborating on this team's deficiencies, so just enjoy one of the many highlights of Tyler Hansbrough's storied UNC career.


This week: 1/16 vs. Georgia Tech; 1/20 vs. Wake Forest

On the radar
Missouri Tigers
Clemson Tigers
Gonzaga Bulldogs

Dropped out
New Mexico Lobos
Mississippi Rebels
Connecticut Huskies

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