If anyone has any idea what to make of the teams outside of the top ten, please, let me know.
Because I don’t.
At this point, the difference between a team like Baylor and, say, UNLV or Texas A&M is miniscule. In other words, the way that I see it, there is a fairly clear-cut top 12. For my money, Xavier and Purdue are the only teams outside the top ten that really deserve consideration for the top ten.
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And that should make for an entertaining season. Anyone that turned off the disaster that was Sunday Night Football and watched Baylor come-from-behind to beat Vanderbilt or that enjoyed Arizona going into Spokane and beating Gonzaga will tell you. It’s going to be an unpredictable season.
But unpredictability makes it really difficult to do things like, you know, rank the top 25 teams in the country.
Anyway, here is our top 25:
1. North Carolina (7-1, LW: No. 3): I thought North Carolina was the best team in the country in the preseason, back before Marcus Paige was injured. And after watching them with Paige back in the fold, I’m pretty sure I was right.
2. Michigan State (9-0, LW: No. 4): Denzel Valentine was terrific once again in a win over Louisville, finishing with 25 points, seven boards and five assists. Sparty is the hottest team in the country and it’s not really close.
3. Kentucky (7-1, LW: No. 1): We can’t penalize the Wildcats too much for a road loss in December, particularly when Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis were injured. They do deserve to drop, however, and that’s mostly a result of continued inconsistency from Skal Labissiere and, to a point, Jamal Murray.
4. Maryland (7-1, LW: No. 2): After an atrocious first eight minutes, Maryland was sensational at North Carolina. Melo Trimble is ridiculous in ball-screens.
5. Kansas (6-1, LW: No. 5): The Jayhawks struggled a bit with Harvard and the strong Crimson front line. Cheick Diallo is clearly not ready to be a force at the college level just yet.
6. Villanova (7-0, LW: No. 6): We’ll have a much clearer feel for Villanova after they play Oklahoma on Monday night.
7. Iowa State (6-0, LW: No. 7): I can’t justify dropping the Cyclones just yet, but I will be curious to see what happens when they finally get tested. They’ll be squaring off with Iowa at home this week.
8. Oklahoma (5-0, LW: No. 8): See Villanova.
9. Duke (8-1, LW: No. 9): Duke is trending up after Brandon Ingram finally looked like Brandon Ingram against Indiana on Wednesday.
10. Virginia (7-1, LW: No. 10): Virginia picked up a nice win on the road without their starting point guard against Ohio State earlier in the week before struggling to put away William & Mary over the week.
11. Xavier (8-0, LW: No. 11)
12. Purdue (8-0, LW: No. 12)
13. Baylor (6-1, LW: No. 20)
14. Vanderbilt (6-2, LW: No. 13)
15. Miami (7-1, LW: No. 14)
16. Butler (4-1, LW: No. 21)
17. Providence (7-1, LW: No. 23)
18. Arizona (7-1, LW: UR)
19. West Virginia (7-0, LW: No. 24)
20. Gonzaga (5-2, LW: No. 17)
21. Oregon (6-1, LW: No. 18)
22. Cincinnati (7-1, LW: No. 19)
23. SMU (6-0, LW: No. 25)
24. Louisville (6-1, LW: UR)
25. UConn (5-2, LW: No. 22)
DROPPED OUT: No. 15 Syracuse, No. 16 Texas A&M