Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who's No. 1 -- Syracuse or Florida?

So Syracuse barely gets by Pittsburgh and NC State (at home!), by a total of three points combined and more than a little bit of luck.

Florida, meanwhile, wins pretty convincingly at both Tennessee and Kentucky. I had Syracuse and Florida 1-2 last week, but do I flip them after their respective performances over the past week?

I strongly considered it, but ultimately, stuck with my fairly strict guidelines that I don't drop a team for winning, no matter how unimpressive those wins may be. I kept Syracuse No. 1, Florida No. 2 -- though right now, I'd have to say the Gators are the better team. Make sense? Probably not.

That said, I wouldn't at all be surprised if Florida is at No. 1 on my ballot a week from tonight. The Orange play at Duke on Saturday, and it would seem their tenuous hold on a perfect season would be seriously threatened there. If not there, then most likely the following week at Virginia. I just don't see any way this Syracuse squad remains unbeaten by the time the ACC tournament begins.

Speaking of unbeatens, Wichita State remains so (27-0), and I have zero problem moving the Shockers up from No. 5 to No. 3. Would they be unbeaten playing in a stronger conference? Almost certainly not. But would Arizona, San Diego State, Cincinnati, even Louisville or Kansas be unbeaten in the Missouri Valley Conference? Maybe, but I'd hardly be shocked if any of those teams found a loss or two along the way. Staying undefeated and winning conference road games with a target on your back is a tough thing to do, and the Shockers need to be rewarded for it.

Elsewhere, I tried to find a way to rank Creighton ahead of Villanova, whom the Blue Jays have now clobbered twice this season. But I had the Wildcats No. 6 last week and the Jays No. 19, and I just couldn't justify moving the two that far in either direction, despite Sunday night's results in Omaha.

As for UConn, it moves up two spots to No. 19 after home wins over USF and Memphis. I'm not penalizing the Tigers for losing in overtime in Hartford, either, keeping them at No. 22. But SMU, whom I had No. 20 last week, gets booted out after an inexcusable loss at Temple on Sunday. If nothing else, that loss may serve to ensure the Huskies don't take the Owls lightly on Thursday in their 9 p.m. matchup in Philly.

1.       Syracuse                                             
2.       Florida                                                 
3.       Wichita State                                    
4.       Arizona                                                
5.       San Diego State                                               
6.       Cincinnati                                           
7.       Louisville                                             
8.       Kansas                                                 
9.       Saint Louis                                          
10.   Duke    
11.   Villanova                                             
12.   Iowa                                                     
13.   Texas                                                   
14.   Virginia                                                
15.   Creighton                                           
16.   Michigan State                                 
17.   Kentucky                                            
18.   Iowa State                                         
19.   UConn                                                 
20.   Wisconsin                                           
21.   Michigan                                             
22.   Memphis                                            
23.   Gonzaga                                             
24.   UCLA                                                   
25. Arizona State                         


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