Trey Burke

Dan Hanner’s rankings released

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Dan Hanner, one of college basketball’s leading stat gurus, released his complete rankings for the 2012-2013 basketball season over at Basketball Prospectus today.



He ranked every team in the country. That’s impressive.

I do have come quibbles, however, although Hanner addressed a number of them while discussing the rankings in the link above.

First and foremost, Michigan is not the 44th best team in the country. I understand why his projection model has them slotted there, and I get that projection models are going to have some gaps. I will admit that I have my own doubts about the Wolverines. I think they are a bit overrated in the top five, and I have concerns about where I placed them in my own rankings (at No. 9). But still: Michigan brings back an all-american point guard, an all-conference caliber two-guard and teams them with a group of promising freshmen. They are better than the 44th best team in the country.

San Diego State, who is ranked 41st, is too low, as well, especially when you consider the fact that New Mexico and UNLV are both in the top 15. I think the Aztecs are the best team in the Mountain West. Along those same lines, I struggle to see how Iowa State, without Royce White, is expected to have the same record in a loaded Big 12 conference as Kansas State, who returns almost everyone from a team that finished the season as an eight seed.

Other thoughts: Louisville (10th) and Cincinnati (52nd) are too low while Tennessee (17th) is too high.

But the beauty of rankings like this?

They make me question things I thought were a given.

Louisville, who is a consensus top three team in the polls, returns nothing but inefficient scorers. As good as their defense is, will that be enough to win games? Michigan really will be relying on a lot of freshmen and a lot of players not suited for John Beilein’s system. Are we overrating them? Is everyone sleeping on New Mexico again?

And, in the end, that’s the point of putting out a rating system like this. Nothing is exact, no Dan Hanner’s computer, not Kenpom’s calculator and not my opinion. But it creates discussion and arguments and differing opinions and, in the end, isn’t that what makes sports great?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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.