Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poll Dancing

Raining enough for ya out there? At least you don't have to shovel it.

My top 25 this week has a few teams shifting positions in the upper half. I've got Syracuse jumping up seven spots, from 12 to 5 -- and not because they brushed their teeth with Colgate on Saturday (46-8 halftime lead? Went to a men's game and a women's game broke out ...) It was the Orange's 72-58 beatdown of Michigan State that impressed me the most. Boy, Syracuse is looooong and athletic. The Orange will be a very tough matchup for UConn on Feb. 2 in Hartford.

Now, you could make the argument that beating Michigan State isn't the feat it once seemed to be. You could say the same about UConn's win over Sparty in Maui a couple of weeks ago. MSU is now 7-3. Granted, those three losses came against top 10 teams (No. 1 Duke is the other). That's all well and good. But struggling to beat Oakland the other night by a point? That's Oakland, Mich. That's not good.

Had the Spartans lost, they'd be out of my top 25 altogether. But they won, and you can't really fault a team for winning (too much), so I've still got 'em in there. At 15. I guess that means that one basket was worth at least 10 spots in my poll. Bottom line: we've seen Tom Izzo's teams struggle early in the past, but they always seem to get it together come March. There's enough talent in East Lansing to assume they'll do the same this year.

Elsewhere: UConn hangs in at No. 6. Pitt falls from 3 to 8, after their home loss to Tennessee. The Huskies will likely be the higher-ranked team for that Dec. 27 showdown at The Pete. Will they be the favorite? Doubt it.

Conversely, I've grudgingly bumped Bruce Pearl's Vols up 13 spots, from 20 to 7. Can't argue with their on-court success, though Pearl's off-court transgressions are distasteful.

Only one team (7-3 Washington) gets the boot this week. I've replaced them with the team that just beat them, Texas A&M. The 9-1 Aggies haven't allowed an opponent to score more than 67 points in a game this season, including Washington, the nation's highest-scoring (95.5) team.

Here's what I submitted to the AP on Sunday night:

1. Duke 10-0
2. Ohio State 8-0
3. Kansas 9-0
4. Kansas State 9-1
5. Syracuse 10-0
6. UConn 8-0
7. Tennessee 7-0
8. Pittsburgh 10-1
9. Illinois 10-1
10. Missouri 8-1
11. Brigham Young 10-0
12. Villanova 8-1
13. San Diego State 10-0
14. Kentucky 7-2
15. Michigan State 7-3
16. Memphis 7-1
17. Baylor 6-0
18. Georgetown 9-1
19. Louisville 8-0
20. Purdue 9-1
21. Minnesota 9-1
22. UNLV 9-1
23. Texas A&M 9-1
24. Florida 7-2
25. Notre Dame 9-1


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