Because I got bored, and have no life, I decided to make my own top 25 Men's College Basketball ballot. Any thoughts on my picks? I personally feel that Tennessee is maybe a spot too high, all things considered, and maybe Syracuse and Kansas should be flopped. But, hey, I've written it up and I ain't changing, and this is more awesome anyways.
1. Kentucky (18-0) - no question about it, the Wildcats are the nation's last unbeaten team so they have to go here. Two nice wins against then top 25 foes in UNC and UConn are nice, but what does concern me is that neither of those games were true road games (UNC was played at Rupp - and we've all seen UNC's recent road woes, and UConn was in Madison Square.) and the Huskies have struggled mightily of late as well, so we'll see if the young Wildcats will be able to consistently produce in really hostile situations. Of course, March Madness doesn't have true road games, so ....
2. Kansas (16-1) - Of all the 1-loss teams, I rank Kansas up here for two reasons: one, they lost to the best team of the bunch in Tennessee, the game was an emotionally-charged game, and we've seen Tennessee increase their play since the ... whateverthisoneis-gate. How has Kansas responded to the loss? A 12 point win at Nebraska and a 20+ point win at home against Texas Tech.
3. Syracuse (18-1) - Wins earlier this season over Cal (then #12), at UNC (then #4), and Florida (then #11) really don't look all that impressive given the terrible slide of those three teams, but considering that they beat those teams by an average of 14 points .. yeah, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Their lone loss came in the form of a 10 point oucher against Pitt, but Pitt is looking very, very strong so far this season. The ‘Cuse also only shot 7.7% from 3-land in that game. Still, it was at home, and top-10 teams should never lose to lower-ranked teams by 10 at home. Consider this an official warning, Syracuse.
4. Texas (17-1) - Honestly, I haven't been all that impressed with Texas to date, but they are certainly a team deserving this spot. They come fresh off a 9 point loss at Kansas State, in a game where their biggest lead of the night was - wait for it - 6-2. However, one thing that jumps out to me about this game, just looking at the boxscore, is that Texas was called for 27 fouls, 7 more than their average. This translated into Kansas State shooting 10 more FTs than Texas. Of course, that really didn't matter. Think that we have Free Throw problems? Texas shot just 9-22 for an astounding 41%.
5. Villanova (16-1) - You beat Ole Miss. Woo. You beat Georgetown. Horray. You beat .. uhm .. Maryland. Shoop da Whoop. You also lost by 10 to Temple, and that makes you the worst of the big 1-loss teams. The Vanilla cupcake early will hopefully prepare Villinova for the last 9 games of its schedule: 6 of those games are against top 25 opponents, and 4 of those are are the road.
6. Tennessee (15-2) - This team is better without Tyler Smith. There, I said it, and others have said it as well. A very disappointing 22 point loss on the road to U$C hurts, and a 1 point loss to Purdue seems a bit less impressive after Purdue's recent 3 game skid, but wins over then #1 Kansas and #23 Ole Miss have been pretty nice, and the Vols are 5-0 since New Years. If Tennessee continues to play with this level of energy and continues to get big-play out of key seniors Wayne Chism (PF) and Bobby Maze (PG) along with the people who can score in bunches (Scotty Hopson, JP Prince) and continued production from the rest of the rotation.. this is a team that can really give Kenturkey a run for its money. And we all know Bruce Pearl knows how to beat Memphis.
7. Duke - (15-2) - Is Duke really the highest ranked ACC team? Really?? It seems so: their two losses come at Wisconsin (where no one can possibly win) and at Georgia Tech, both losses by just 4 points. Their best wins, though, are against Gonzaga and Clemson, so it's hard to rank them higher. The ACC is a brutal league, and we'll see if Duke can come out on top - something that they might need to do this year, lest they let the giant of UNC rebuild.
8. Kansas State (16-2) - Losses to Ole Miss and Missouri will certainly be overlooked by many given KSU's recent win over then #1 Texas, perhaps for good measure, but I'm certainly not too sold on this team. Did you know that they only beat Fort Haynes State by seven?? Still, a win is a win is a win. We'll see if they can validate their top-10 ranking further. You'll beat a lot of top-teir teams when the other guys only shoot 40% from the FT line.
9. Pittsburg (15-2) - They lost early to Texas by 16. We'll give them a pass on that one. They lost 10 to Indiana. Ouch. But what they have done is win 8 in a row since that loss, and 3 of their last 4 games have been this: Win @ #3 Syracuse, Win @ Cincinnati, Win @ #XXX UConn. Teams that win on the road against big-time competition will do well, at this team is doing well. Which is important, given that OMG BIG EAST IS BEST CONFERENCE IN NCAA 15 SELECTIONS 4 DEM WIN!!!!
10. BYU (18-1) - They lost at Utah State (13-6) by 10, and haven't beaten anybody, but what they have done is win 95% of their games, which still means something. The problem is, they could run the table and they still might not go up at all. Their schedule is like the granddaddy of cupcakes.
11. Purdue (15-3) - This same team that everyone is jumping off of did beat Tennessee and West Virginia, and none of their losses were down right horrible: a 7 point loss at Wisconsin (we've established that no one gets to win there but Wisconsin), a 4 point home loss to Ohio State, and an 8 point road loss to Northwestern. Okay, they should have beaten Northwestern, no doubt .. but look! They beat Tennessee. OMG they must be good.
12. Michigan State (15-3) - Why in the Sam Hell many people have this team hovering around the top 5 is a mystery that I will never understand. Was the 3 point win over Gonzaga that impressive? Was the 7 point massacre at home against Wisconsin, the only top 25 team they have beat, that sweet? Sure, whatever. Here, how about I go play ball against a 5-chimp crew of banana-eaters , win 15 of them, and then maybe people will call me talented.
13. Georgetown (13-3) - I don't like the fact that they lost to Old Dominion at home, but a 5 point road loss against #5 Nova ain't bad, and a 3 point loss to Marquette ain't to ugly either. What they do have is wins against Butler and Temple, though both were close games. Those two wins against top 25 teams puts them here.
14. Gonzaga (14-3) - Two of their Three losses came to teams higher on this list (@ Michigan State, Duke) and their third came by 2 points at home to Wake Forest.. but the only other game that was against anybody reasonably good was a 13 point win against Wisconsin. A road game against Memphis is the only game that jumps out on the rest of the schedule as being tough.
15. Georgia Tech (14-4) - They lost to Georgia. Soak that in for a second, a team that I am ranking in the top 15 lost to Georgia. GEORGIA!! And they lost to Dayton. And they loss to Florida State. And Virginia. So why are they here? Well, they beat Duke and they beat Clemson, and I think this team has got "it" - for whatever reason, I think these guys will make a run at Duke to win the ACC. Oh, and look: they beat U$C WHO BEAT TENNESSEE OMG THEY MUST BE THE 1337!!!
16. Temple (15-3) - A big win against Villanova does wonders for this team, as does their record against a pretty good front-half of their schedule. They got blown out by Kansas, sure, and lost by 1 to Georgetown .. but this team might very well run the rest of their schedule. That doesn't mean they will go up in these rankings either, though.
17. West Virginia (13-3) - After starting out 11-0, West Virginia has lost 3 of their last 5, including dropping games to Purdue and Syracuse. Their best win was a home game against Ole Miss, which is proving to not mean that much anymore.
18. Clemson (15-4) - Woo!! You beat UNC. Bout freaking time. And you beat Butler, yes. But Clemson also has losses to Texas A&M and Illinois to go along with L's to Duke and G-Tech. Their next game, home vs Duke, is monstrous but the rest of their schedule seems pretty vanilla right now. They could cruise to a pretty nice seed in the ACC tourney.
19. Baylor (14-2) - A game tonight on the road against Kansas will show if this Baylor team is truly legit top 25 or not. I think they are (but I don't think that they'll win.) as their only losses are to Alabama (by 3) and on the road against Illinois. 3 of their next 4 games are against top 10 competition. It'll be tough for them to prove me right.
20. Ohio State (14-5) - This team has not done well on the road. They lost to Butler earlier in the season, and during a terrifying 4 game stretch lost to Wisconsin (wait, everybody loses there), Michigan, and Minnesota on the road they certainly fell from favor, but have responded with a win on the road against Purdue and a home stand against Wisconsin. How they perform in their final 6 road games will be crucial to how good this team can do.
21. Wisconsin (14-4) - Some very good home wins (they are the only ones allowed to win at home) have been offset by some ugly road losses - including a loss to Green Bay (and Green Bay didn't even have Favre!!) Still, 3 of their 4 losses have been against top 25 teams, so they might deserve better than this. They can earn a higher ranking if they don't go .500 in their next 4 games, like they did their last 4. The good news? 7 of their last 12 games are at home, so they will win 7 games for sure.
22. Vanderbilt (14-3) - I hate Vanderbilt. A lot. But what Vandy has very quietly done after early losses to Cincinnati, Illinois, and Western Kentucky is win 8 in a row, including 3 SEC wins. They'll get a winnable home game against Auburn before we really see how good the Commodores are - they'll travel to Knoxville and Lexington over a 3 day span to wave farewell to January.
23. Butler (14-4) - A bad, 10-point road loss to UAB and a dropped early-tourney loss to Minnesota by 9 mar a decent enough record for Butler. They beat Ohio State, lost to Clemson by 1, but have also fallen to Georgetown, making them 1-2 against teams on this list. They will play 4 in a row on the road now, but if they can get through those games unblemished (which they should) then I don't see them losing the rest of the year.
24. Northern Iowa (16-2) - An early loss to Depaul was offset by N. Iowa winning their next 15 games, but they recently lost to Wichita State on the road. We'll see if they can win their next 15, which would definitely be impressive. Still, weak schedule...
25. Appalachian State (10-7) - The 25th spot is reserved for whatever team I fancy this week. As some might know, I attended App State for a very glorious year where I got to experience the euphoria of defeating Michigan in football, a football National Championship, and one of the best basketball seasons at ASU at 25-8, including wins over Virginia and Vanderbilt. So I'm giving out props to my boy Donald Simms, a junior guard who is averaging 19.1 ppg, is shooting 95% from the FT line, 44% from beyond the arc, and 48% from the field. This, in Buzz Peterson's first year returning to coach the Mountaineers. Go Apps!