NCAA Basketball Tournament - Indiana  v Kentucky

Coaches Top 25 poll released, Indiana is No. 1

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The USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll was released this afternoon, and, frankly, there’s not a whole lot in there to quibble with.

Missouri and St. Joseph’s are far too low, but that’s just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.

Usually, preseason polls — especially the coaches poll — provides us with ample blog fodder. But this year, the folks that voted (let’s be honest, it was probably a group of SIDs and graduate assistants) did a pretty decent job.

Here’s the top 25 in its entirety:

1. Indiana (21) 761
2. Louisville (5) 738
3. Kentucky (5) 718
4. Ohio State 617
5. Michigan 605
6. North Carolina State 581
7. Kansas 563
8. Duke 516
9. Syracuse 502
10. Florida 422
11. Arizona 411
12. North Carolina 401
13. UCLA 396
14. Michigan State 391
15. Creighton 325
16. Memphis 307
17. Missouri 289
18. Baylor 266
19. UNLV 203
20. San Diego State 196
21. Wisconsin 191
22. Gonzaga 166
23. Notre Dame 122
t24. Florida State 61
t24. Texas 61

Others receiving votes: Saint Louis 58, Virginia Commonwealth 40, Cincinnati 33, Murray State 30, Kansas State 13, Saint Mary’s 11, New Mexico 10, Tennessee 10, Minnesota 9, Pittsburgh 9, Marquette 8, Stanford 7, Oklahoma State 6, Butler 6, Colorado State 4, Middle Tennessee 3, Saint Joseph’s 2, Drexel 2, Georgia 2, Miami (FL) 2, Marshall 1

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.