College Basketball Power Rankings

 By: Kels Dayton

 1. Florida (14-2, 4-0, SEC)- No team has been hotter than the Gators, who smoked No. 17 Missouri at home on Saturday, 83-52. Since Florida lost to Kansas State on Dec. 22, the Gators have won by 17, 21, 33, 22, 21, and 31. They embarrassed Texas A&M in College Station one game after the Aggies went into Rupp Arena and knocked off Kentucky. More impressively, they held Elston Turner, who went off for 30 against the Wildcats, to just four points. The Gators’ defense has been amazing, clamping down on teams and wreaking havoc. They’re giving up just 51.3 points per game, and again, what they did to Missouri was just criminal. If Florida continues to play like this, it’s going to run roughshod over the rest of the mediocre SEC.

  2. Kansas (16-1, 4-0 Big XII)- The Jayhawks survived a scare at Texas, and still haven’t lost since an opening-week setback against Michigan State. Kansas looked downright venerable in late November when they hammered Colorado and Richmond and beat Ohio State on the road.  But they’ve looked vulnerable since in near-losses to Temple, Iowa State and Texas. The road game at Kansas State on Tuesday will be a big test. Still, freshman sensation Ben McLemore (16.4 ppg) and senior Jeff Withey (13.1 ppg, 8.2 rig, 4.6 bpg) will make the ‘Hawks a scary team come March. Kansas has so many weapons.

 3. Syracuse (17-1, 5-0 Big East)- The ‘Cuse stole a win on the road at Louisville on Saturday after making more plays than the Cardinals down the stretch. Syracuse is crazy-deep, talented, and has the perfect personnel for its 2-3 zone. 6-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams has really given this team a lift, scoring 16 points, dishing out 7 assists and coming up with 4 steals at Louisville. Throw in Brandon Triche (14.6 ppg, 3.5 apg),  James Southerland (13.6 ppg) and C.J. Fair (13.6 ppg), and this team looks like a legit Final Four contender.

 4. Duke (16-1, 3-1 ACC)- The Dukies own one of the most impressive resumes in the nation, having defeated Louisville, Minnesota, Ohio State and VCU. The loss at N.C. State was understandable, and Duke came back from a sluggish first half to vanquish Georgia Tech on Thursday. The inside-out combination of Mason Plumlee (17.4 ppg, 11.5 rpg) and Seth Curry (16.9 ppg) just might be the best one-two punch in the country. Plumlee has an early lead in the race for the National Player of the Year award. The injury to Ryan Kelly is a concern, and Duke will need more from the rest of its supporting cast, but it would be a surprise if the Blue Devils didn’t earn a top-2 seed come March.

 5. Arizona (16-1, 4-1 Pac-12)- Arizona has won its share of close games, and the Wildcats seem to have the magic down the stretch. The loss at Oregon ten days ago is looking better and better, with the Ducks starting out 5-0 in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats have a showdown with UCLA on Thursday, but the schedule is favorable the rest of the way. It’s a shame they won’t have a rematch with the Ducks, because that Mark Lyons (15.2 ppg) has been one of the best guards in the country this season.

 6. Michigan (17-1, 4-1 Big Ten)- Trey Burke (18 ppg, 7.2 apg) is the best point guard in the country and has already made his case for National Player of the Year. The Wolverines go four-deep with star players, with Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Glenn Robinson III (12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg), and Nik Stauskus (12.6 ppg, 49% 3-point FG). Burke took too many hero shots down the stretch of the Ohio State game, but he’ll learn to trust the offense in close games from now on. Michigan’s 83-75 win at Minnesota was very impressive. Can’t wait for that showdown at Indiana on Feb. 2.

 7. Louisville  (16-2, 4-1 Big East)- Louisville probably should have won the game against Syracuse on Saturday, but a two-point loss to the Orange won’t cause Rick Pitino to panic. Russ Smith (19.3 ppg) has emerged as the team’s go-to-guy, and Pitino was upset when the Cards weren’t able to get him the ball on the final possession. The big question for Louisville is going to be whether or not the Cards can find a consistent third scorer. Chane Behanan, Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock all have that potential, but none have stepped up the way everyone expected they would this season. The backcourt is also very small.

 8. Indiana (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten)-Wisconsin continues to have the Hoosiers’ number, winning at Assembly Hall on Jan 15 and running their win streak against Indiana to 11 games. But that doesn’t mean that IU fans should start panicking. Cody Zeller (16.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) has been every bit as good as advertised this season. Victor Oladipo (13.5 ppg) has been better than advertised. An eight-day stretch from February 2-10 could very well determine whether or not Indiana is going to win the Big Ten title this season. The Hoosiers face Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State in that span. Unfortunately, they won’t get another shot at the Badgers unless they match up in the conference tournament.

 9. Butler (16-2, 3-0 A-10)- Who needs Jimmy Chitwood? Roosevelt Jones’ game-winning runner at Hinkle on Saturday was about as good as it gets in college basketball. Butler beat Gonzaga, 64-63, after Jones stole an inbounds pass from David Stockton and took it all the way for the gamer. The Bulldogs have continued to win despite losing star guard Rotnei Clarke (16.3 ppg) to a scary-looking neck injury on Jan. 12. (Clarke is aiming for a return on Jan. 26 against Temple). The Bulldogs have plenty of talent, with five guys averaging in double figures. Butler has now won 13 in a row and owns wins over Marquette, Indiana and Gonzaga. Whether it’s the Horizon League or the Atlantic 10, the Dawgs know how to put together long win streaks. And of course, they’ve got one of the best coaches in the game in Brad Stevens.

 10. Minnesota (15-3, 3-2 Big Ten)- The Gophers blew their first two chances to earn a top-quality conference win, losing back-to-back games to Indiana and Michigan. Their only other loss this season is to Duke. Still, the Jan. 26 game at Wisconsin could go a long way towards determining whether or not Minnesota is going to be a legitimate contender for the Big Ten title. The Gophers have top-10 talent, but they’ve got to put it together in the form of a signature win.





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