The Story: After a nine week run, which began with the preseason rankings, Kansas is back on top of both polls. The Jayhawks were able to move into the No. 1 spot after previously unbeaten Kentucky lost at South Carolina. The Wildcats drop to No. 3. Led by Villanova, No. 2, the Big East has four teams ranked in the top eight. Syracuse (No. 3/ 4), West Virginia (No. 6), and Georgetown (No. 7/ 8) are the others. Texas, ranked No. 1 two weeks ago, fell from No. 6 to No. 9/ 10 and have lost 3 of their last 5 games. Purdue has climbed five spots to No. 7 in the Coaches’ poll, while Gonzaga after losing to San Francisco, falls five spots to No. 13. After its impressive win over Texas, Connecticut has lost three straight conference games, and went from No. 19 in both polls, to unranked. Mississippi and Clemson join the Huskies in falling off of this week’s Coaches’ poll. New Mexico, Baylor, and Cornell are the newcomers in the Coaches’ poll this week. Butler and Northern Iowa replace Connecticut and UAB in the AP poll.
Ryter’s Block: Every year there are debates on what conference is the nation’s best. Every year analysts, writers and ‘experts’ try to go against the grain and pick against the Big East. Coming into the season I was convinced that this would be a down year for the usual elite conference. I talked myself into the ACC and the Big 12, but now there is no doubt that the Big East reigns supreme. The Big East highlights five teams in the Top 25, with four of them in the top eight. Aside from Rutgers and DePaul, any team can win on any given night. South Florida used to be in that discussion, but Dominique Jones and the Bulls are riding a 3 game winning streak. Jones has scored 37, 28, and 46 in the past 3 games.
How far have UConn and UNC fallen? Both teams are considered bubble teams for the tournament. Although UNC, 13-8 (2-4), is relatively young and lost a ton of talent off of last year’s NCAA Champion squad, it would be a great disappointment if they didn’t get an at large bid. The Tarheels need to turn things around fast. They were a bit overrated to start the season; however I still believe that they will bounce back and have no problem earning a bid to the Dance.
BYU and Temple are coming off of a loss last week and are ranked too high this week. Even though Vanderbilt lost to Kentucky, they should be ahead of Temple in both polls. I love seeing the small schools get a shot at the rankings and this week features Cornell at No. 25 in the Coaches’ poll. The Big Red are 18-3 (4-0), with their three losses coming from Kansas, Syracuse, and Seton Hall.
Games to watch this week…
Tuesday, February 2:
#5 Michigan State at #16 Wisconsin
Wednesday, February 3:
#21 Pittsburgh at #6 West Virginia
Wichita State at #21 Northern Iowa
Thursday, February 4:
#19 Georgia Tech at #9 Duke
Saturday, February 6:
#2 Villanova at #8 Georgetown
#12 BYU at UNLV
South Carolina at #14 Tennessee