College Basketball Power Rankings: February 4

By: Kels Dayton

The AP poll is scientific. The poll is not. But, it’s better. We asked Sports Information Directors from around the country to rank the Top 10 teams in college basketball. Then we scrapped those results and came up with these ourselves. We can do that…we own the website.

1. Florida- Indiana may be the new No. 1 in the AP poll, but the Gators retain the top spot in our RoundballDaily rankings because they’ve been straight rolling kids. Florida has not played a close game since December, and has spent the last month absolutely mauling everyone in the SEC. Check out some of these scores: 75-36 over South Carolina, 82-47 over Miss. State, 83-52 over Missouri, and 77-44 over Georgia. The Gators handled No. 16 Mississippi at home on Saturday, coasting to a 78-64 victory. Florida is tremendously balanced, with four players averaging in double figures in scoring (Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario, Patric Young). They’ve been tougher to score on than A.C. Green. It’s hard to believe that AP voters still favor Indiana over the Gators.


BOLD PREDICTION: Florida will run through the SEC unbeaten, much like Kentucky did last season. This Gators team is even more dominant  in the SEC than the ‘Cats were in 2012.


2. Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)- Gotta give the Hoosiers their props for handling Michigan at home. Even though preseason National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller has not had quite the impact he expected to have this season, he’s still leading the team in scoring at 16.3 points per game. Zeller was big on Saturday night, putting up 16 and 10 boards and pacing Indiana down the stretch. There’s no question that the Hoosiers are one of the nation’s best teams, and they are rolling through the best conference in the country. This team is a legitimate national title contender.


BOLD PREDICTION: The Hoosiers will win in Columbus and run their record to an impressive 11-1 in the rugged Big Ten.


 3. Michigan (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten)-No shame in losing to Indiana at Assembly Hall. Michigan hung in with the Hoosiers and could have easily been in position to steal that game. National Player of the Year candidate (and really, the favorite at this point) Trey Burke went off, scoring 25 points, dishing out 8 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. There’s no debate; he is the most complete player in the country. If Michigan is going to crash the Final Four in Atlanta, Burke is going to be the reason why. He gives the Wolverines a distinct advantage over other teams come Tournament time, because no other point guard in the nation is as good a playmaker. NBA scouts liken Burke’s game to Chris Paul’s, and although he’s not going to be that good, he should overcome his lack of height and land a spot in the lottery come June.


BOLD PREDICTION: This is a huge week for the Wolverines, who must traverse the toughest part of their schedule. The road game at Wisconsin might prove to be the most difficult of the three. It’s tough to see Michigan coming out of this stretch without at least one loss.


 4. Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big XII)- This is where things get tricky. Kansas had won 18 straight games before losing at home (unheard of!) to Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Jayhawks had been hanging on to their 33-game home winning streak by a thread, having nearly lost to both Temple and Iowa State in January. In fact, Kansas could have lost three of its last four games. The bottom line? This is not a vintage Kansas team. It’s good enough to win the Big XII and roll to a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. It’s good enough to make a run to the Final Four and even win the national championship. But it is also mediocre enough to get beat by a 9-seed in the second round. Just a fair warning. We should also warn you about Ben McLemore, who is leading the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game and is on the fast track to becoming the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.


BOLD PREDICTION: Kansas won’t lose again until February 25, when it travels to take on Iowa State in Hilton. If anyone ever beats Florida again, the Jayhawks will have a shot at being ranked No. 1 in the polls by the Big XII Tournament.


5. Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 WCC)-This has truly been a banner year for the Zags, who have feasted on an admittedly easy schedule and rolled their way to a 21-2 record. Still, 2013 Gonzaga has the feel of a team that can finally break through and reach the Final Four. ‘Zags fans would probably settle for a trip to the Elite Eight, a place the team hasn’t been since 2006. That year, they were led by an unathletic white guy with long, floppy hair (Adam Morrison). And guess what? This year, they’re led by an unathletic white guy with long, floppy hair (Kelly Olynyk). As Ray Lewis might say, “GAWWD IS AMAZING!!!”


BOLD PREDICTION: This isn’t exactly bold, but we think Gonzaga has a decent shot to run the table and win the rest of its games. The game at Saint Mary’s (what else is new) will be the toughest test.


  6. Miami (FL) (17-3, 8-0 ACC)- Jim Larranaga has earned the slow-clap treatment from Miami fans with the job he’s done this season. The Hurricanes were a middling ACC program when he reached Coral Gables, the kind that hangs Jack McClinton’s jersey in the rafters. But this season, Miami has emerged as a tour de force, coming into full form during its epic beatdown of Duke on January 23 and continuing the momentum from there. How many top-10 teams have lost to Florida Gulf Coast? Miami did on November 13, but that was when they were just a tropical storm. They’re a full-fledged Hurricane now, having reeled off nine straight wins and marched out to an 8-0 record in the ACC. And they’ve done much of this without stud forward Reggie Johnson, who battled injury issues early in the year. Four players, including Johnson, average in double figures, led by Durand Scott at 14 ppg. Shane Larkin (son of MLB Hall of Famer Barry) has had a terrific season at the point, averaging 13 points and 4 assists per game.


BOLD PREDICTION: The ‘Canes will be 11-0 in league play come February 17. Even though North Carolina isn’t the same this season, it’s always big for everyone other than Duke to beat them. If the Hurricanes get it done at home, they’ll have taken another big step.


  7. Arizona (19-2,  7-2 Pac 12)- The Wildcats keep scratching and clawing their way to victories. There haven’t been many easy wins, but Arizona has somehow found its way to a 19-2 record and a first-place spot in the Pac-12. That kind of late-game resilience should bode well come Tournament time. The Pac-12 has been nutty this season, but Arizona might be the class of the conference. Mark Lyons is in a dead-heat race with Shabazz Muhammad for the conference’s player of the year award, and should be getting more attention nationally.


BOLD PREDICTION: The ‘Cats will rise above the rest of the murky Pac-12 and become the clear-cut team to beat.


 8. Duke (19-2, 6-2 ACC)- The AP poll ranks Duke at No. 4, but you’re not going to lose by 27 and then retain a top-5 ranking in the RD Poll. Duke was embarassed at Miami, and has not looked like the team that beat Louisville, Ohio State and VCU in November. The Blue Devils could have also lost at Wake Forest on Wednesday. This team is still among the most talented in the nation and could make a deep run in the NCAAs, but it’s going to have to fix some serious defensive issues if it wants to do so. Mason Plumlee is one of the frontrunners for the National Player of the Year award, averaging 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Seth Curry (16.3 ppg) has also been terrific this season.


BOLD PREDICTION: Duke will get swept by NC State. The Wolfpack are in need of a big-time win, and although it’s almost impossible to win in Cameron Indoor Stadium, this isn’t a vintage Duke team (see: Kansas).

9. New Mexico (19-3, 6-1 Mountain West)- The Lobos crash this spot instead of Syracuse because the Orange lost two straight to Villanova and Pittsburgh and lost James Southerland to an NCAA investigation. New Mexico has won six of seven and came away with a five-point win over Colorado State in another classic Mountain West showdown. Three Lobos are averaging in double figures, led by Kendall Williams (13.8 ppg, 4.5 apg). But this team is winning because of its defense. Steve Alford preaches defensive intensity, and no team in the nation is as tenacious in the half-court as New Mexico. Sure, the 55-34 loss to San Diego State was more unsettling than that Bar Refaeli-Nerd kiss, but we’re chalking it up to an aberration.


BOLD PREDICTION: New Mexico will earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The AP poll doesn’t respect the Mountain West like it should; that conference is clearly one of the best in the country and has a sweet deal with CBS and NBC Sports that puts it on center stage in prime time several nights a week. The Lobos will benefit from that exposure, as will the rest of the conference.


 10. Michigan State (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten)- The Spartans have won seven of eight. Their only loss was a 75-70 defeat in Assembly Hall, a game that they easily could have won. We all know that Tom Izzo is an incredible coach, but this has to go down as one of his best coaching performances in a while. There’s no Draymond Green, and Keith Appling leads the team in scoring at 14 ppg. Michigan State already owns wins over Kansas, Ohio State and Wisconsin, and has a chance to really make a move in the Big Ten if it can navigate the next month of its tough schedule.


BOLD PREDICTION: The Spartans have a huge month ahead of them, with two games against Michigan, a game at Ohio State and a home date with Indiana on the docket. Our guess is that Izzo will guide MSU to a solid finish and maybe even a Top 10 national ranking.


Kels Dayton is the Editor of He also writes for SLAM Magazine and Hit him up on Twitter @RoundballDaily.

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