I spent the morning arguing with Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com for his decision to include SMU in his Top 25.
You can see it here. SMU is sitting right there at No. 25 despite the fact that, just six days ago, the Mustangs lost to South Florida at South Florida.
His justification, more or less, is that the Mustangs have (mostly) beaten who they’re supposed to beat, and they also have wins over two teams that are all-but locks for the NCAA tournament in UConn and Memphis, both of who can be found in both my top 25 and his top 25.
And at this point, that’s actually a resume that’s worth consideration for being ranked, because once you get past the top 22 or 23 teams, there is a whole lot of mediocrity out there. Me? I have New Mexico ranked 24th mostly because they beat Cincinnati back in December and because they have been steam-rolling the Mountain West despite missing starting center Alex Kirk of late.
The MWC is down this year and UNM might be better without Kirk because it forces them to actually defend.
I have Pitt ranked 25th despite the fact that they’ve beaten absolutely no one of note — unless you are enamored with Penn State or Stanford — simply because I think that they are better than some of the other teams in consideration. You want to put UMass or Gonzaga or Wisconsin there? It’s not all that crazy.
Neither is ranking SMU.
Because, as ridiculous as this sounds, whipping up on this Memphis team — at home, nonetheless — is enough to set SMU apart from some of the other dreck that will find its way into the ‘others receiving votes’ pile, even if it came four days after a loss to South Florida.
THE TOP 25
1. Syracuse (21-0, LW: No. 2): If C.J. Fair is going to play like a superstar, like he did on Saturday, Syracuse really is one of the best teams in the country.
2. Arizona (20-1, LW: No. 1): I’m leaving Arizona at No. 2 for now, but I think that this injury to Brandon Ashley is really going to hurt the Wildcats.
3. Florida (19-2, LW: No. 3): Wanna talk defense? Florida has given up 128 points in their last three games.
4. San Diego State (19-1, LW: No. 8): SDSU is one of nine teams in the last nine-plus seasons to win at Phog Allen, and their only loss came by single-digits at Arizona. That’s strong.
5. Kansas (16-5, LW: No. 4): Kansas got embarrassed at Texas, but the Longhorns are a tough matchup for this group. I’m still buying the Jayhawks.
6. Wichita State (22-0, LW: No. 7): Big week for the Shockers: at Indiana State and at Northern Iowa. Win these two, and they might actually go undefeated in the regular season.
7. Michigan State (18-2, LW: No. 6): A banged up team lost a non-conference game at Madison Square Garden in February. I’ll put more stick in the win at Iowa five days earlier.
8. Cincinnati (19-2, LW: No. 12): The Bearcats are legit. Winning at Louisville should convince you. This team can really, really defend.
9. Villanova (19-2, LW: No. 9): I’m not ready to bump Villanova up past anyone of the teams in front of them, but rest assured, three road wins in their last three games didn’t go unnoticed.
10. Michigan (16-5, LW: No. 5): Indiana was able to stop Nik Stauskas. Was that just the result of a great performance from Yogi Ferrell, or is it a blueprint for the rest of the Big Ten?
11. Duke (17-5, LW: No. 19)
12. Texas (17-4, LW: UR)
13. Creighton (18-3, LW: No. 20)
14. Kentucky (16-5, LW: No. 10)
15. Iowa (17-5, LW: No. 13)
16. Iowa State (16-4, LW: No. 15)
17. Saint Louis (20-2, LW: No. 18)
18. Virginia (17-5, LW: UR)
19. Louisville (18-4, LW: No. 17)
20. Oklahoma (17-5, LW: No. 24)
21. UConn (17-4, LW: No. 21)
22. Memphis (16-5, LW: No. 22)
23. Oklahoma State (16-5, LW: No. 11)
24. New Mexico (17-4, LW: UR)
25. Pitt (18-4, LW: No. 16)