Here is a look at the teams that have earned ESPN.com Team of the Week honors during the 2004-05 season:
Week 14: Feb. 14-Feb. 20
Iowa State: The Cyclones sweep the honors this week with wins over Kansas State and at Kansas. Iowa State has won seven straight games after losing six straight. Wayne Morgan and his staff have done an admirable job getting this team turned around. But the players' commitment to defense and their overall effort should be rewarded. Iowa State's in-season turnaround is akin to what Washington did a year ago. The Huskies were 0-5 in the Pac-10, then earned a bid to the Dance by beating Arizona three times and handing Stanford its first loss of the season. Iowa State could be this year's Washington and land in an 8-9 game on Selection Sunday.
Week 13: Feb. 7-Feb. 13
Maryland: The Terps beat Virginia Tech and Duke last week to likely secure an NCAA berth. The sweep of Duke gives Maryland something that likely no one, outside of possibly Wake Forest, will claim this season. Maryland rose to the challenge of knocking off their archrivals Saturday night. The Terps played tough defense in the overtime, were aggressive in the paint throughout the game and got five Duke players to foul out of the game. Maryland gets plenty of credit for being one of the few teams that isn't intimidated by the Big Blue Machine.
Week 12: Jan. 31-Feb. 6
Texas Tech: Bob Knight is doing it again. There didn't seem to be any chance in the preseason that the Red Raiders would end up as an NCAA Tournament team. The Big 12 had four likely locks in Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma. Missouri was supposed to be right in line to get a fifth. The sixth potential spot was up for grabs, if it even existed, but the Red Raiders were supposed to be a rebuilding team without Andre Emmett. Well, construction works fast in Lubbock. The Red Raiders swept through Colorado and at Oklahoma last week to climb to 6-2 in the league, 14-5 overall. Texas Tech gets Kansas at home on Feb. 14 and don't be surprised to see the Jayhawks go down the way the Red Raiders are playing. Ronald Ross and Jarius Jackson are forming quite a 1-2 punch. Jackson scored 34 on the Sooners on Saturday. Texas is heading south, making the Red Raiders, not the Longhorns, potentially the best Big 12 team in the state.
Week 11: Jan. 24-30
Illinois: Why not? Shouldn't the best team in the country get credit for winning? Illinois ended Wisconsin's 38-game homecourt win streak last Tuesday night. The Illini took Wisconsin's best punch and laid the Badgers out in the final three minutes. Illinois then dispatched Minnesota rather easily on Saturday. Up next is Michigan State, but for last week, the Illini met every challenge once again and handled them without issue. The team is getting better and better throughout each week and finding new ways to win (how about getting two 3s from big man Jack Ingram?).
Week 10: Jan. 17-23
Duke: We were wrong. We admit it. The consensus here at the Weekly Watch was Duke could lose at least one of the two games last week at Miami or Florida State. The Canes were jacked to take down the Blue Devils. So, too, were the Seminoles. But the gap between the Florida schools and Duke is still cavernous. Duke smoked through the Sunshine State with a road sweep, something that will be tough for every other ACC team this season (just ask Wake Forest). Duke continues to reinvent itself this season as it deals with injuries and various hot hands. The most consistent pairs belong to J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. That inside-outside combo is playing well enough to carry Duke deep into March.
Week 9: Jan. 10-16
Syracuse: The Orange swept two road games in the Big East, winning at Notre Dame and at Providence. Syracuse hasn't lost since falling to Oklahoma State in the Jimmy V Classic in Dec. 7 in New York City. Syracuse has the look of a Final Four team and continues to lull teams into its zone, eating up offenses late in games. Sure, Syracuse doesn't blow people out, but the Orange simply keep winning.
Week 8: Jan. 3-9
Kansas: Picking the Jayhawks became an easier call as Sunday wore on and they got out of Lexington with a win. Kansas beat Kentucky with the same kind of grit they showed in upending Georgia Tech the previous week. Kansas is 3-0 since Wayne Simien went out with a thumb injury and none of the wins came without a struggle. On Sunday, coach Bill Self had to lean heavily on his deep bench, due to injuries throughout the game to Keith Langford, Christian Moody, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Alex Galindo. The expectation was Kansas would lose to Kentucky -- with or without Simien. The win proved that the Jayhawks don't need the comfy confines of Phog Allen to win. This is a legit undefeated squad that is getting better each game that Simien sits.
Week 7: Dec. 27-Jan. 2
West Virginia: We're not going to say we told you so, but earlier in the week the Mountaineers were dubbed America's mystery team. No more. The Mountaineers remained unbeaten by knocking off George Washington at home and then taking out N.C. State on the road Sunday. Sure, the Wolfpack were without Julius Hodge (ankle injury), but the Mountaineers still won a critical road game against an ACC team. West Virginia is a legit contender in the Big East. The resume looks pretty good so far for an NCAA berth with true road wins at LSU and N.C. State and a home victory against GW. The Big East is next for the taking for one of the better turnaround stories recently.
Week 6: Dec. 20-Dec. 26
Hawaii: The Warriors won the Rainbow Classic with a relatively close win over Long Beach State, a one-point win over Oral Roberts and a four-point win over USC in the title game. Now, none of these teams are ranked in the Top 25, but ORU is probably an NCAA team and USC has a shot. Regardless, the Warriors are a legit 8-0 with a road win at struggling Saint Louis. Hawaii is on a roll heading into the WAC, with road games later this week at Fresno State and Nevada -- the latter on ESPN2 on New Year's Day (Hawaii's only national televised game this season). Hawaii was considered a top-three WAC team in the preseason but has emerged as the league favorite. Coach Riley Wallace took a two-day practice break to have an angioplasty and didn't miss a single game in the Rainbow Classic. His toughness is exhibited through his team's methodical offense and rigid 'D' that makes this squad a potential NCAA team.
Week 5: Dec. 13-Dec. 19
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs pulled off the stunner of the weekend by beating Georgia Tech in the Las Vegas Showdown. Gonzaga's much-maligned defense was influential in the win over the Yellow Jackets. The Zags now own wins over Washington and Tech, two wins that should get them into the NCAAs, assuming the Bulldogs finish in the top two in the WCC. This was one of the most significant non-conference wins in Gonzaga history.
Week 4: Dec. 6-Dec. 12
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys made a huge statement last week with a neutral-court win over Syracuse in the Jimmy V Classic in New York and a home win over UAB three days later. Oklahoma State dusted off the Orange by rotating in six seniors in the final eight minutes. The Cowboys played smarter, tougher and were a much better defensive team down the stretch, making it abundantly clear that they are back and ready to mount another Final Four run. Remember, Oklahoma State, not Kansas, won the Big 12 regular-season and conference tournament a year ago. The Cowboys are poised to repeat, even though Kansas seemingly has been given a birthright to the league title. The win over UAB was another impressive effort at home, a place where the Cowboys simply don't lose.
Week 3: Nov. 29-Dec. 5
George Washington: This one was rather easy after witnessing it on Sunday. The Colonials looked, played and carried themselves like a top team in winning the BB&T Classic title in D.C. George Washington simply beat Michigan State and Maryland over the weekend. The Colonials didn't get lucky. They weren't the weaker team. They were the more polished, balanced, and certainly more entertaining squad. The Colonials should be in the top 25 for weeks to come and those who didn't vote for them should get a copy of these tapes. These two wins will have plenty of shelf life for the Colonials as they march forward toward an expected NCAA berth out of the A-10. GW doesn't have many marquee games left, save what could be a dangerous one at West Virginia. Unfortunately, there aren't going to be many high-profile games in conference play, if any at all, but if this team stays focused, it should be a lock to not only reach the NCAAs, but also to win a game or two.
Week 2: Nov. 22-Nov. 28
Washington: Our esteemed Midwest correspondent Jeff Shelman didn't have to put the pressure on me in his column from the Great Alaska Shootout. This one was rather easy. The Huskies had the most to prove this week of any team and came through with flying colors. The Huskies beat Utah, Oklahoma and Alabama to win the tournament. All three should be in the NCAA Tournament in March. Washington did this despite injuries to Tre Simmons and Brandon Roy. The Huskies were also the most exciting team to watch in the field, let alone on television all week. Washington still has a few national dates, notably against N.C. State on Dec. 19 in Seattle. But this team should steadily climb toward, if not in, the top 10 soon. It might be hard to dislodge them.
Week 1: Nov. 15-Nov. 21
Syracuse: The Orange looked like a Final Four contender, pulling away from Mississippi State and Memphis to win the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Connecticut's staff talked Saturday night about how experienced Syracuse looked during the two games in New York. That veteran leadership from Gerry McNamara, Hakim Warrick and Josh Pace will carry this team a long way. The Orange beat two ranked teams before December and did it away from the Dome. That alone should be cause for celebration in upstate New York. Jim Boeheim has faith that this team has a real shot to challenge for the title.