SBNation's College Basketball Power 16: The Debut Edition

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SBNation's College Basketball Power 16: The Debut Edition

Hello and welcome to SB Nation's College Basketball Power 16. I am your host, err, vote counter Nick Fasulo. I write SBNation's national college basketball blog Searching For Billy Edelin. The former Syracuse guard is in upstate New York allegedly working in the records department at Onondaga County Court if you're wondering, but I think the name remains clever.

Anywho, because beat writers carry a bias and coaches just don't watch enough college basketball, we will be providing a Power 16 each Thursday. Bloggers are the most trustworthy purveyors for Division I rankings. I am sure of it.

Below is our first stab, as voted by a solid chunk of the college writers here at SBNation. College football ends tonight, so there's no excuse not to begin watching the college hoops season unfold with conference play officially underway.

Be sure to check back each Thursday leading up to Selection Sunday, and supplement your basketball intake by frequenting my blog, and our resident bracketologist Chris Dobbertean. Joe Lunardi is so out this season.


1. Kansas Jayhawks (10 first place votes)

I've never hated on the Jayhawks. I've always respected the program and the rich tradition that fills Allen Fieldhouse every winter. They have great fans too. Over at Rock Chalk Talk, there's a poll asking if KU's second team could win the Big 12. Surely, you would expect followers from the country's top team to be a bunch of myopic homers and overwhelmingly believe that a group of bench players could be conference champions. Thankfully though, these fans do have a clue and roughly 80 percent know that while their team is great, they're not that great.

The point though is that because this poll was even posted is proof that, with 10 players seeing 10 minutes or more of playing time, you're looking at one of the historically deep teams in all of college basketball

The Jayhawks currently sit in the top five of 10 major statistics, all good indicators of a championship caliber team. Expect their top ranking to remain unchallenged (ed note: Cornell, yikes!) until February 8th, when they travel to Austin in the most anticipated regular season game of the year.

This week: 1/10 @ Tennessee; 1/13 @ Nebraska


2. Texas Longhorns (6)

Damn Longhorn fans. Defeat Alabama tonight in the BCS National Championship game and you have two-and-a-half months to dream about concurrently holding national crowns in both football and basketball. Lose to the Crimson Tide tonight (don't jump off that ledge!) and ... well I hear that basketball team of yours is pretty alright.

Rick Barnes's crew has yet to really be challenged this season, with deft contributions coming at all positions on the floor. Freshmen are contributing, seniors are leading, and Dexter Pittman is  providing confidence in America's youth.  

The only significant flaw to note on this team is a free-throw percentage of 63 percent. But when you're blowing teams out by 25 per, who cares right?

This week: 1/9 vs Colorado; 1/13 @ Iowa State


3. Purdue Boilermakers

After two seasons of waiting, Boilermaker fans are getting the sort of return on investment they had been hoping for from that stellar 2007 recruiting class. Sitting at 14-0, Matt Painter's club has matched Gene Keady's ‘93-‘94 club for the best start in program history. The preeminent team, for now in the trendy Big 10, Purdue wins by an average margin of 18 points and has won all but a single game by more than 10 points.

This week: 1/9 @ Wisconsin; 1/12 vs. Ohio State


4. Kentucky Wildcats (2)

They're not quite the best team in the world, but ever since John Calipari signed on in Lexington -- bringing John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and later Eric Bledsoe with him -- there's no doubt that the Wildcats are at least the most interesting team in the world.

We still don't know how great this team could be. They're young and potentially fragile, so their SEC road games should be interesting to watch. Currently sitting at 15-0, it's been interesting to listen to Calipari describe his own win/loss system for his team. I'd say that right now, based on the self-deprecating Cal's parameters, the Cats are 9-6.

This week: 1/9 vs. Georgia; 1/12 @ Florida


5. Duke Blue Devils

The most efficient offensive team, Coach K has modified his offensive approach a bit with more size up front, but that hasn't prevented them from launching those threes. Jon Scheyer has assimilated himself into a ball-handling role better than anyone could have expected. Not only has he improved his scoring and three-point shooting percentage from last season, he's leading the country with a 4.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.

This week: 1/9 @ Georgia Tech; 1/13 vs. Boston College


6. Syracuse Orange

Led by #WESGODDAMNJOHNSON, the ‘Cuse are a likable bunch with a fresh image after shedding those two enigmas who were subjects of a few likely maligned posts by yours truly last spring.

We're always cautious to anoint transfers as saviors, but the aforementioned Johnson is just that. Leading the Orange in points, rebounds, blocks, minutes and undergraduate groupies, and a 50 percent three-point shooting percentage to boot he's currently moving towards, dare I say,  "‘Melo status."

This week: 1/10 vs. South Florida; 1/13 @ Rutgers


7. West Virginia Mountaineers

The sexy pick over the summer, West Virginia has at least sustained a level of intrigue for all the pundits, but are confounding everyone as they remain #1 in the RPI rankings. I mean, did I dream the 15-point loss to an unblemished Purdue on New Year's Day?

Nonetheless, fans of Ken Pomeroy statistics are undoubtedly fans of the Mountaineers. Bob Huggins club currently sits as the sixth most efficient team in the country, highlighted by 1.13 points-per-possession.

This week: 1/9 @ Notre Dame; 1/13 @ South Florida


8. Villanova Wildcats

"So much for this being a down year in the Big East." That's per Magician and SBNation editor Sean Keeley.

Hey Pac-10 fans, are you feeling nauseous yet?

The Wildcats sort of slept through their non-conference schedule, winning the Puerto Rico tip-off but then sticking close to home until having to head to Milwaukee last Saturday, where they squeaked past Marquette. It's no secret this team has been playing with a thin frontcourt but has enough guards they could lose a few swine flu and make-out OK. The recent return of Reggie Redding and freshman Mouphtaou Yarou gives this team some additional and much-needed muscle as they embark through the always harsh Big East schedule.

This week: 1/9 vs. Marquette; 1/11 @ Louisville


9. Georgetown Hoyas

As we give you a fourth consecutive Big East team, the Hoyas are not getting much love this season. Why are we overlooking this two-loss team that boasts a 14-point scoring margin? Let's attribute it to their occasional apathetic approach and - yawn - offense. Many ask Greg Monroe to assert himself more. But I say who cares? This guy is comfortable in his own skin and has a first-team all Big East plaque waiting for him when the season concludes.

As for that offense? Well the Hoyas have a respectable 58 percent true shooting percentage. Go marinate on that haters.

This week: 1/9 vs. UCONN


10. Kansas State Wildcats

"Has Kansas State not realized that they're supposed to suck?" was the sentiment I got from Buckeye Battle Cry. They're right. The 13-1 Wildcats have hurdled past overachieving and solidified themselves as legit, and the third best team in the Big 12. Back in August, you said Denis Clemente, well in January I say Jacob Pullen. The six-foot junior guard has become a threat nearly anywhere on the court and has improved his numbers in each of his three seasons.

Delve a bit further and you realize, though, that the stellar backcourt should be thanking their burly big-men, as this year's Cats offer a balanced inside-out attack, according to The Manhattan Mercury's Cole Manbeck.

This week: 1/9 @ Missouri; 1/12 vs. Texas A&M


11. Michigan State Spartans

There should be no need to fret, yet, in East Lansing. Traditionally, the Spartans of December and January look nothing like the Spartans of March, and this season appears to be no different.

From a distance however, it may be slightly concerning that neither Delvon Roe or Raymar Morgan have developed into more consistent offensive threats, but Draymond Green has been a pleasant surprise in the frontcourt.  Luckily, last night's win over Wisconsin prevents me from disregarding the final tally and switching the Spartans with the #12 Badgers.

This week: 1/9 @ Iowa; 1/13 vs. Minnesota


12. Wisconsin Badgers

I applaud my fellow college bloggers, as I wasn't sure if the Badgers would get enough votes to crack the top 16. Thankfully we are aware that this team was tragically overlooked coming into the season. With their stymie play and invincibility at the Kohl Center, Bo Ryan has his team primed once again to be a dangerous tournament team.

My favorite stat about the Badgers: they've gone over 70 points eight times this season, one more than all of last year. Uptempo basketball in Madison...catch the fever!

This week: 1/9 vs. Purdue; 1/13 @ Northwestern


13. Ole Miss Rebels

I'm just an Italian-American kid from the Northeast, so what's the protocol here? Ole Miss or Mississippi? Regardless, I like this team. Five players score in double figures, and in a weak SEC, which just got a bit weaker, the Rebels should handle the West division with ease. A February 2nd trip to Lexington aside the schedule is fairly weak, so [INSERT AL DAVIS MOTTO HERE] and the Rebels will remain in the conversation.

This week: 1/9 vs. Mississippi State; 1/13 @ Georgia


14. North Carolina Tar Heels

It's funny how a loss to College of Charleston can leave you on the back end of our Power Rankings. After coming up short against the Cougars, a few Heels players nearly got swept up in the rising tide of CofC undergrads. What's worse, a handful of voters left the Heels out of the top 16 completely. I am not ready to dismiss this team, because they still boast a formidable front court and to use a cliché, have a roster full of winners. Except for Tyler Zeller, I had him pegged as a tool loser since he was in high school.

This week: 1/10 vs. Virginia Tech; 1/13 @ Clemson


15. New Mexico Lobos

Coming out of the starting gates hot the Lobos 12-0 start is laudable, but do they have staying power? That remains to be seen for the now 14-2 team. As part of a Mountain West Conference, which has four teams with RPI rankings of 40 or higher, New Mexico is seeking their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1999. Yes, that would be the Kenny Thomas era. This year's team features combo-guard Darington Hobson, the team's leader in points, assists and rebounds. Please note his slumping field-goal percentage though. Steve Alford's coaching staff may need to address that.

This week: 1/9 vs. UNLV; 1/13 vs. Utah


16. Connecticut Huskies

Let's admit it, there was a group of us who thought UCONN was a top 10 team this season based solely on their reputation from stellar play over the last 15 years. It's OK, I've also mistakenly agreed to watch The Time Travelers Wife with my girlfriend. Everyone is prone to bad judgment. As we have already seen, this team's speed and athleticism - sprinkled with intimidation - will keep them in many games. But conversely, immaturity and a thin bench will be what does these Huskies in. Calhoun's kids somehow snuck in here.

This week: 1/9 @ Georgetown; 1/13 vs. Pittsburgh


Knocking on the door

Pittsburgh's last two wins give make them a top-16 team easily.  Their only bad loss (Indiana) was when Jermaine Dixon was coming off an injury and when Gilbert Brown was ineligible. 
            --- Slipper Still Fits

Somebody needs to give BYU a little love, so it might as well be me. They might not be as good as their #6 Pomeroy rating, but they're not far behind. They've got one thing that every team wants: An explosive scorer in Jimmer Fredette. He's awesome. Will people believe after they slap around UNLV and UTEP?
            --- Coug Center

They didn't garner a single vote this week, but if Evan Turner is indeed healthy then Ohio State is good enough to compete for the Big 10 title, giving the conference three elite teams.
            --- Searching for Billy Edelin

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