Sunday, February 20, 2011

Upset Special Saturday and Top Ten Preview

After a weekend of crazy upsets and top teams falling, the college basketball world has been shocked, and with only two more weeks until the conference tournaments begin, teams have picked up some big wins to help their resumes. So in the midst of this pre-March madness, what does that top ten look like? The rankings will come out tomorrow, but as a preview, I’ll share with you my thoughts of what teams will be on top, and what order they’ll be in.

10. Georgetown 21-6 (10-5) Last Wednesday, the Hoyas saw their eight game winning streak come to an end. However, it was on the road against one of the better teams in the country, so the Hoyas shouldn’t be too ashamed. They did what they had to do last night by beating South Florida, and only drop one spot. They are a very good team filled with talented players like Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Julian Vaughn. Don’t be surprised to see them make a deep run in both the Big East Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament. With two games against Cincinnati left and one against Syracuse, the Georgetown could win out and improve its resume, eventually leading to a #2 seed.

9. Notre Dame 21-5 (10-4) The Irish have been a pleasant surprise all year, and are playing the definition of team basketball. Ben Hansborough is a candidate for conference player of the year for not only his scoring, but his excellent defense as well. Notre Dame also saw its winning streak come to an end after they fell to West Virginia on the road yesterday. They had won their previous seven. While their remaining schedule is not easy, they should be up for the challenge. A lot of people said the Irish would falter in the tournament due to their lack of a superstar, but Hansborough seems to be fitting into that role nicely. Expect them to bounce back and finish strong.

8. Purdue 22-5 (11-3) A preseason favorite until star forward Robbie Hummel went down, the Boilermakers seem like the real deal. They dynamic duo of JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore has combined to make one of the most dominant frontcourts in the country. Moore went off for 38 points against a team who many thought was the best in the country, Ohio St. Purdue beaten some very good teams, and they looking to keep rolling with a relatively easy schedule to end the season. If the upsets continue and Purdue has a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament, they could wind up as a #1 seed.

7. Pittsburgh 24-3 (12-2) The Big East continues to make appearances in the top ten, but none of them right now are in the top five. After dropping a nail biter against St. John’s, the Panthers drop a few spots, and for good reason too. A lot of people will argue that Pitt should be given a break since it was a one point road loss to a red hot St. John’s team. But the Panthers just kept letting them getting back in the game. They had too many turnovers, and didn’t give enough help to Ashton Gibbs. That game was not the performance of a #1 seed. Luckily for the Panthers, they are a much better team than that, and with their depth, should thrive down the stretch. However, they may have played themselves out of that coveted #1 seed.

6. BYU 25-2 (11-1) The Cougars had one game this week, a win yesterday over lowly TCU. But with all of the top teams losing, they were able to move up a spot. Jimmer Fredette is my pick for National Player of the Year. BYU is a very good team and with Fredette, they have the capability of beating anyone. A #1 seed is not out of the question, as they have a very exciting matchup against rival San Diego St. next Saturday, whom they beat at home. But before they face the Aztecs, they play Colorado St. on Wednesday, which will not be a cupcake. As the season comes to a close, look for Fredette to be the barometer on the Cougars’ success, as well as how deep they go in the tournament.

5. Ohio St. 25-2 (12-2) I thought Ohio St. would retain the top spot, but a road loss to a tough Purdue team will prevent that from happening. The Buckeyes still have the talent to be a #1 seed and make a deep run in March. William Buford is playing at a high level right now, and with the help of three point shooters Aaron Kraft, Jon Diebler, and David Lighty, Ohio St. is elite. Throw in stud freshman Jared Sullinger and losses to two ranked in-conference rivals don’t seem so bad. I expect the Buckeyes to win out, win the Big Ten Tournament, and ultimately grab a #1 seed.

4. Kansas 25-2 (10-2) The loss to Kansas St. doesn’t seem so bad when you consider that the Wildcats were ranked coming into the season. But even on the road, a double digit loss to a lesser team is really unacceptable. Kansas still has a very talented and deep team that crushed Colorado yesterday thanks to superb performances by the Morris twins. Kansas still has some tough games on the schedule, including a road season finale at Missouri, but the Jayhawks should continue to play the way they did yesterday and be the top team in the respected tournament region.

3. San Diego St. 27-1 (11-1) The Aztecs continue to roll, beating a New Mexico team on Wednesday that knocked off rival BYU. San Diego St. gets a big bump because of all of the upsets, and is currently in a position to take a #1 seed. That’s what makes the February 26th matchup against BYU so enticing. I feel that the winner of that game will receive a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while the loser may wind up with a #3 seed. Both teams are the real deal despite not playing in a power conference. I’m very excited to see how the Aztecs do in the tournament and determine just how good they really are.

2. Texas 23-4 (11-1) Despite having four losses, the Longhorns are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the country. The combination of Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton are a nightmare for opposing teams. The reason I chose Texas as the team to not fall due to their loss is because it was only a three point road loss to a pretty good Nebraska team. Look for the Horns’ to continue their Big 12 dominance, and sit comfortably at a #1 seed. Their last two games against Kansas St. and Baylor, as well as the Big 12 Tournament, will tell us just how strong Texas as,

1. Duke 24-2 (11-1) Do I think Duke is the best team in the country? No. They will be number one because they did something that none of the other top teams could do: win all of their games this week. Considering they were against Virginia and Georgia Tech, that’s not that impressive. But they did what they had to do. I feel that the Blue Devils will ultimately fall back to that number five spot and receive a #2 seed in the tournament. They would be in the conversation for nation’s best team if they had Kyrie Irving. But Duke has not done much aside from beating up mediocre ACC competition. Yes, they had a big win over North Carolina, but aside from that, Duke really hasn’t beaten any really good teams. They have a daunting schedule to end the season so if they really want to hold the top spot, they’ll have to earn it.

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