1. Kansas Jayhawks (12) (--)
Winners of their last 13, KU is straight gellin' at the top spot, to the point where we're running out of suitable Jayhawk themed AP photos to post on here. A big in-state rematch against Kansas State looms, but because it's being held in Allen Fieldhouse (where Kansas has won their last 58), we don't see them being replaced next week.
2. Kentucky Wildcats (4) (--)
It's been fascinating to see the national media shift their attention from one freshman phenom (John Wall) to another (DeMarcus Cousins). The season started with Wall being an immediate sensation, and Cousins a work-in-progress who needed to curb his childish behavior. Now, Cousins seems to be the team's go-to guy, while Wall somehow "quietly" wins games on his own (see below), not missing a beat. Can't we just pair them together and brand them as one of the best newcomer duos in recent memory? Yes, that's much better.
3. Syracuse Orange (1) (--)
I can't believe I am letting this trump a thorough breakdown of Saturday's heavyweight match-up between the Orange and Villanova Wildcats, but there's a new funnyman on twitter, with the intent of giving a true voice to Andy Rautins' hair. Appropriately titled, followers are coming in bunches to get the scoop on just what makes Hair Canada's do so effing cool.
Do yourself a favor and jump on board now before this guy hits it big.
The injury to Robbie Hummel is such a bummer. Rarely do we get to watch a team progress over the course of three seasons with a core of players, but that's what the Boilermakers have treated us to. There's a few different schools of thought (here and here) on the impact this ACL injury will have, but the pessimist in me says it doesn't look good. At the very least, Matt Painter has three regular season games remaining to determine his plan going forward, and how to adjust without the services of his best all-around player.
5. Kansas St. Wildcats (+4)
Unless you're a Wildcat undergrad or alum, you probably haven't noticed that this team has won their last six since losing to Kansas, and done so by an average of margin of 13 points. It's crazy to consider, but this team is fast becoming a lock for a #2 seed.
6. Duke Blue Devils (--)
Last night the Blue Devils played one of those teams that Coach K loves to schedule late in the season to give his players a taste of what a first or second round tournament team could look like. The Conference USA preseason favorite, Tulsa probably won't be one of the 65 teams called on Selection Sunday, but certainly did exactly what was needed for Duke, by challenging them for about 30 minutes.
7. Villanova Wildcats (-3)
How do you remedy a two-game losing streak in the Big East? It appears that hosting wanna-be bubble team South Florida does the trick. The Wildcats shot around 45 percent in losses to UConn and Pittsburgh, but gave up 32 offensive rebounds and a lot more second-chance points. If they do that Saturday against Syracuse, in front of a record crowd and as the premier game of the weekend, then everyone is going to get critical on this club.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers (-1)
Bob Huggins is quite the polarizing figure, so when he was ejected Monday in a loss to UConn (surprisingly just the third early exit of his career), the college basketball world began tweeting furiously...
@OSULighty23: "Huggins a goon lol........... he always let the refs know whats on his mind."
@goodmanonfox: "Bob Huggins might have set the record for most F-bombs dropped on a ref and he tossed with two technicals."
@WildcatBlueBlog: "Cousins and Bledsoe combined cannot hold a candle to Huggins and his temper. What a mess."
@ESPNAndyKatz Bob Huggins just used mother and you know what right in Mike Stuart's face. Stuart listened and finally tossed him.
(H/T: John Wise)
9. Ohio St. Buckeyes (+1)
Now that Purdue is Robbie Hummel-less, am I ready to anoint the Buckeyes as the best team in the Big Ten? I'll give it a week, but I am casting my vote for Evan Turner's year as the best ever by an Ohio State player. The combo guard has exceeded expectations following a broken back, and his teammates will soon have to jump on that back as Turner looks to carry this team deep into March. If you need a team to adopt for the tournament, look no further.
10. New Mexico Lobos (+4)
Well lookie here, a pretty little feature on the Steve Alford's club in USA Today. With an emphasis on chemistry, the Lobos haven't lost since early January, are tops in the Mountain West and have a national top ten ranking for the first time in more than a decade. What does that mean? Everyone is impulsively purchasing Lobo garb!!!
11. BYU Cougars (+1)
On Saturday, the Mountain West Conference's top two teams square off in a game that will put place- and likely the MWC regular season crown - on the line. If you're Versus, you're salivating at this, right? You would think, only there's no explicit mention of the game anywhere on the main page of their website. After a few carefully selected click-throughs, you're given a link to read a preview from one of the network's college basketball analyst. But that link is broken, and Versus wants you to feel like a complete idiot for their webpage FAIL.
12. Georgetown Hoyas (-4)
After a major slip-up against Rutgers, and falling too far behind early against Syracuse, you wouldn't be in the minority if you called out the 9-6 in Big East play Hoyas for simply letting the long season catch-up to them. Each of their remaining three regular season games will be telling: Can they put a stop to Notre Dame's bubble hopes? Can they compete against the aggressive Mountaineers? Can they bury the Bearcats? There's a real chance these guys could finish with a pedestrian .500 record in conference play.
13. Butler Bulldogs (NR)
Are they really deserving of this spot? Probably not. Going undefeated in the power-less Horizon does little to mask non-conference losses to Minnesota, Clemson and UAB. The victory over Siena didn't bowl me over, either. With that, I might be in the minority though, after reading this glowing post from Roto Arcade:
Balanced, experienced and battle-tested, Butler is a team to be feared. Interior stalwart Matt Howard, though occasionally plagued by foul trouble, is an outstanding post player. Meanwhile, versatile guards Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack routinely stuff stat sheets with their excellent all-around play.
14. Vanderbilt Commodores (NR)
Our own Andrew Sharp got me thinking when he noted A.J Ogilvy's frosted tips over the weekend. Take a look at this GQ like transformation since the Aussie stepped onto campus two years ago...
A.J arrives in Nashville, looking unassuming and focused on not deviating from a strict regimen that focuses on improving post moves and footwork.
Sophomore year, his experimental phase. Everybody had one (or five) in college, and A.J is just looking to find himself.
A.J Ogilvy, now a junior and ready to break character, has actually lost his mind.
15. Michigan St. Spartans (-2)
Last year Tom Izzo, always one for theatrics, preformed in "Izzo Goes to Broadway," which "celebrated the 'winning spirit' with an evening of song, dance and inspiration featuring the consummate showman." Well, the show was such a hit, that the Spartans coach will giving an encore 12 months in the making, breaking a leg in May at Grand Rapids' DeVos Performance Hall. Proceeds will benefit scholarships for Michigan State students and arts education programming in West Michigan. I won't be able to make it, so I hope this makes its way onto YouTube.
16. Gonzaga Bulldogs
After last night's victory over Santa Clara, the Zags have now clinched at least a share of the West Coast Conference title for the last 10 years.