1. DUKE (1) (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Idle
THIS WEEK: vs. Cornell (12/19); vs. Elon (12/20)
The Dukies were idle idle during finals week (STUDENTS!), but make up for it by playing on back-to-back nights this week against...Cornell...and Elon.
Also, Seth Curry's lingering lower leg injury is something to keep an eye on. After going 8-for-11 against Minnesota in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, Curry didn't have the same lift on his shot the next two nights when he went a combined 6-for-20 in Duke's wins over VCU and Louisville. He sat out the team's next game against Delaware, then came back and promptly dropped 23 on Temple. The luxury of extra rest isn't going to be an option once ACC and NCAA Tournament time rolls around.
2. MICHIGAN (4) (11-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat Binghamton (67-39); Beat West Virginia (81-66)
THIS WEEK: vs. Eastern Michigan (12/20)
The last time the Wolverines started a season 11-0, they won the 1989 national championship. The last time they found themselves ranked second in the nation was the 1992-93 season in which the Fab Five led UM to its second consecutive title game appearance. Expect both the ranking and the undefeated mark to stick around until a brutal nine-game stretch that starts Jan. 13 at Ohio State.
3. LOUISVILLE (6) (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Memphis (87-78)
THIS WEEK: vs. Florida International (12/19); vs. Western Kentucky (12/22)
Cardinal fanatic "VillenHD" is the king of fan highlight videos. A sampling from U of L's most recent triumph:
4. OHIO STATE (7) (8-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Savannah State (85-45); Beat UNC-Asheville (90-72)
THIS WEEK: vs. Winthrop (12/18); vs. No. 9 Kansas (12/22)
As the season goes along, it will be interesting to see whether or not Thad Matta makes the move to insert LaQuinton Ross into the starting lineup. Ross has led the team in rebounding in three of its last four games, and is the Buckeyes' third leading scorer (10.3 ppg) despite averaging just a little over 20 minutes per game. His 6'8 frame and crazy length should make him a serious matchup problem on both ends of the floor once Big Ten play rolls around. It's also worth noting that in OSU's only loss this season (to Duke), Ross played just 11 minutes.
5. SYRACUSE (5) (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat Canisius (85-61); Beat Detroit (72-68)
THIS WEEK: vs. Temple (12/22)
Lost in all the hubbub of Jim Boeheim's 900th win was the fact that his team nearly blew a 20-point lead over the game's final five minutes. I suppose you can chalk it up to not handling a big moment well and move on...you know, if you're a Syracuse fan. It will be interesting to see how the Orange fare against a Temple team that looked completely overmatched when it hosted Duke 10 days ago.
6. INDIANA (1) (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Butler (88-86, OT)
THIS WEEK: vs. Mount St. Mary's (12/19); vs. Florida Atlantic (12/21)
Saturday's loss was the most obvious example, but the Hoosiers haven't looked especially comfortable carrying the weight of being the nation's No. 1 team since the start of the season. I've always been 100 percent against the "good loss" theory, but "good drop in the polls" is something I can get on board with. Indiana should roll for the next three weeks.
7. ARIZONA (10) (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat No. 5 Florida (65-64)
THIS WEEK: vs. Oral Roberts (12/18); vs. East Tennessee State (12/22)
How important was Saturday's crazy comeback win over Florida? The Wildcats don't have another team on their schedule that is currently ranked.
8. KANSAS (8) (8-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Belmont (89-60)
THIS WEEK: vs. Richmond (12/18); At No. 7 Ohio State (12/22)
The Jayhawks have quietly been as impressive as any team in the country the past two Saturdays, blowing out the formidable duo of Colorado and Belmont in consecutive weeks. A win in Columbus in four days will be impossible for anyone to ignore.
9. FLORIDA (3) (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to No. 8 Arizona (65-64)
THIS WEEK: vs. Southeastern Louisiana (12/19); vs. Kansas State (12/22)
Florida should have won at Arizona by 7-10 points and wound up losing by one. That statement should be equally comforting and disconcerting if you're a Gator fan. A team with that much experience, especially in the backcourt, should never collapse in the final minute of a game the way UF did, even if it is December.
10. ILLINOIS (9) (12-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat Norfolk State (64-54); Beat Eastern Kentucky (66-53)
THIS WEEK: At No. 12 Missouri (12/22)
It's a little crazy that a program as high-profile as Illinois can still be so doubted (including here) despite being unbeaten, having defeated a now legitimized Butler team in the championship game of the Maui Invitational, and having won at then undefeated Gonzaga. A win at Missouri and any "don't pass the eye test" talk will be shelved for the holidays.
11. CINCINNATI (11) (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat Marshall (72-56)
THIS WEEK: vs. Xavier (12/19); vs. Wright State (12/22)
The Bearcats head to US Bank Arena this week for a neutral site showdown with Xavier, in what is usually a pretty clean and quiet rivalry game. It's also a series where the underdog has historically been very successful, especially in years where UC has been highly-regarded.
12. (12) MISSOURI (8-1)
LAST WEEK: Idle
THIS WEEK: vs. South Carolina State (12/17); vs. No. 10 Illinois
Playing in his first game since Nov. 17, 2011, when he was a freshman at Oregon, Jabari Brown scored 12 points in Missouri's 102-51 win over South Carolina State on Monday. The former five-star recruit is expected to help fill the void left by Michael Dixon's unexpected dismissal from the team.
13. NEW MEXICO (14) (11-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat New Mexico State (73-58)
THIS WEEK: At New Mexico State (12/19); vs. South Dakota State (12/22)
14. (13) MINNESOTA (11-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat North Dakota State (70-57)
THIS WEEK: vs. Lafayette (12/22)
Rodney Williams: fully capable of dunking on a 10-foot goal.
I'm just gonna say what everyone else is thinking: it would have been so much cooler if he'd just stuck the landing.
15. GEORGETOWN (15) (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Western Carolina (81-68)
THIS WEEK: vs. American (12/22)
Few coaches in college basketball have their teams more prepared to hit the ground running at the start of a season than John Thompson III. Barring something unforeseen happening against American on Saturday, this will be the sixth consecutive Christmas where the Hoyas have celebrated with either one or no losses.
16. OREGON (NR) (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Nebraska (60-38)
THIS WEEK: At UTEP (12/19); vs. Houston Baptist (12/22)
I'm not exactly sure what else the Ducks need to do in order to impress the voters for the APand coaches' polls. Their only loss is to undefeated Cincinnati, and they're the only team in the country to have tasted victory against No. 21 UNLV. That win was also the only one of Oregon's nine that has come in single digit form.
DROPPED OUT: Wichita State (16)
ON THE CUSP: Creighton, San Diego State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Butler, Wyoming.