Monday, February 22, 2010
One man's take on the latest poll
By Andy Katz
Barring something unforeseen, the top four teams in the current poll should end up being the four No. 1 seeds.
Kansas should be the overall No. 1, getting St. Louis as a Midwest Regional home. Kentucky (No. 2 in the poll) will likely be seeded in the East and go to Syracuse. Syracuse, the No. 4 team in the current poll, can’t play at the Carrier Dome as a host, meaning the Orange will likely go to Houston as the South’s top seed. The fourth No. 1 isn’t firm yet, but as of now, it’s hard to argue against the No. 3 team in the current poll, Purdue, which has now won at Ohio State and at Michigan State and has the inside track to win the Big Ten.
Here’s a breakdown of the rest of this week's ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll:
No. 5 Duke: The Blue Devils have clearly proved they are the best team in the ACC and are a possible No. 1 seed.
No. 6 Kansas State: The Wildcats continue to win road games in the Big 12 and are looking like a solid No. 2 seed.
No. 7 West Virginia: Interesting the Mountaineers are here after losing at Pitt the week before. Beating Connecticut on the road Monday would help their seeding cause.
No. 8 Villanova: Nova fans think I’m hard on this team, but I’m about results and as of late the Cats have lost a few. I’m not sure I’ve seen a team slide down only a few spots after losing two games in a week. This is too high for this week.
No. 9 Ohio State: The Buckeyes did lose at home to Purdue, but then won at Michigan State. Ohio State should be in front of Nova.
No. 10 Butler: Love the Bulldogs' spirit, the play of Gordon Hayward, and beating Siena without Willie Veasley. But the Bulldogs haven’t beaten enough quality teams to be ranked No. 10.
No. 11 BYU: I’ve been on the BYU bandwagon from day one. This team continues to win big games in the Mountain West and has a road win at UTEP that will come in handy.
No. 12 New Mexico: I’m still having a hard time digesting how well the Lobos are doing. Steve Alford and Craig “Noodles” Neal have found quite a blend of talent that went under the radar. The Lobos deserve this high ranking and it could be argued they should be ahead of the Cougs since they beat them at home. Circle the major showdown Saturday in Provo between these two teams.
No. 13 Georgetown: The Hoyas lost to Syracuse last week at home. Should they be higher? Maybe. This feels right.
No. 14 Michigan State: It’s still hard to see the Spartans slide so far down in the polls and look like a third-place Big Ten team. Seeing MSU, one of my Final Four picks, at No. 14, doesn’t make sense, but it is justified.
No. 15 Gonzaga: The Zags lost another WCC road game, this time at LMU. I know the Zags are better than they’re showing, but pushing them further down in the polls would've been fair.
No. 16 Pitt: Let me get this straight. Pitt beat West Virginia at home in triple overtime, won at Syracuse earlier and just knocked off Villanova at home. Why are the Panthers at No. 16 again? Please move them up.
No. 17 Tennessee: The Vols picked up a huge win over South Carolina. I picked it as an upset. I was wrong. I like the Vols here.
No. 18 Temple: The Owls will find out soon enough if they’re the best in the A-10. They are getting mileage out of the win over Nova. This is too high for me.
No. 19 Wisconsin: The Badgers barely beat Northwestern at home and lost at Minnesota. Sorry, but Wisconsin could be pushed down a few pegs this week.
No. 20 Vanderbilt: I know the Commodores lost at home to Kentucky but they were coming off a win at Ole Miss. I would have had no problem moving Vandy up a few spots.
No. 21 Texas: The Longhorns lost Dogus Balbay, but won at Texas Tech. That saved face for them after losing at Missouri. I know this team is more talented than it’s showing, but I wouldn’t have had a problem not ranking Texas this week.
No. 22 Northern Iowa: The Panthers get props for winning games, but still haven’t beaten anyone major outside of the win over Old Dominion last Friday. If they weren’t ranked I wouldn’t scream.
No. 23 Texas A&M: The Aggies couldn’t close out Kansas, but then won at Iowa State. We’ll find out more about this squad with a game at Baylor. Aggies should be up a few notches.
No. 24 Richmond: The Spiders are playing better basketball than Temple, so at least swap those teams in the rankings.
No. 25 UTEP: Finally. The Miners deserved to be ranked as they steamroll through Conference USA. The win over Tulsa spoke volumes as to why they should be the team to beat going forward. Derrick Caracter and Randy Culpepper have been big-time players for them this season.
I would have seriously considered putting in Maryland, Virginia Tech, Baylor and Xavier this week. There would have been some tough calls, but I might have tried to find a home for at least two of them, most notably the Terps.