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Gonzaga, Duke, Indiana lead latest edition of Power Rankings

The Power Rankings Harts the king of role players:

College Hoops Power Rankings
1Gonzaga <a href=Bulldogs" title="Gonzaga Bulldogs">
Last Week: 1
In Monday's West Coast conference title game, Zags small forward Mike Hart started and played 26 minutes. He did not attempt a single field goal, and finished the game with two points on two free throws. This was standard Hart.

In kenpom.com's database, there's only one starter in all of Division I who attempts a lower percentage of his team's shots than Hart does: Jackson State's Jonathan Lewis, at 4.1 percent. Hart takes just 4.5 percent of Gonzaga's. And therefore, the shot-percentage distribution of the Zags' starters does not look like that of the other projected No. 1 seeds:



Hart gets minutes because he's the WCC Defensive Player of the Year -- and because he's content to play a tiny offensive role, allowing center Kelly Olynyk and power forward Elias Harris to be volume shot-takers on the interior.
 
2Duke <a href=Blue Devils" title="Duke Blue Devils">
Last Week: 3
Last week's Power Rankings brought you visuals of the Ryan Kelly Effect on Duke's offensive floor-spacing. This week, I have the efficiency numbers. I went through the play-by-play data for Duke's last three games -- wins over Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina -- to isolate the possessions in which Kelly was on the floor. Those numbers are in the first orange column of the following chart. The second orange column is Duke's estimated efficiency in its ACC possessions without Kelly; the third column is the difference. The evidence shows that Kelly's impact, since the return, has been to lift the Blue Devils' offense to a crazy-good level (1.309 PPP!), while their defense is largely the same.

 
3Indiana <a href=Hoosiers" title="Indiana Hoosiers">
Last Week: 5
What we saw against Michigan on Sunday was the Full Cody Zeller -- the version that, had it been present all season, would have been running away with every Player of the Year award.

His route to 25 points against the Wolverines was impressively diverse. Here's my rough charting of Zeller-moves, with his growing point total in parentheses:

1. Right-handed drive from top of the key, layup through contact. (2)
2. Post-up on left block, turn right shoulder, dribble, spin, lefty lay-in. (4)
3. Mid-post on right baseline, turn right shoulder, dribble, leaner. (6)
4. Post-up on right block, face-up, drive middle. (8)
5. Foul while fighting for post position. (9).
6. Tip-in. (11)
7. Pick-and-roll, slip the screen, draw shooting foul. (12)
8. Post-up on left block, face-up, drive baseline. (14)
9. Mid-post on right baseline, face up, drive baseline, and-one. (17)
10. Post-up on right block, turn right shoulder, power through contact. (19)
11. Lefty drive from right wing, tip-back own missed layup. (21)
12. Pick-and-roll, roll to rim, draw shooting foul. (23)
13. Right baseline cut, layup. (25)

(Photo credit: Getty Images.)
 
4Georgetown <a href=Hoyas" title="Georgetown Hoyas">
Last Week: 2
When the Hoyas destroyed Syracuse 61-39 on Saturday, I imagine many of you were surprised that it happened with star Otto Porter scoring just 10 points -- his lowest total since a Jan. 8 loss to Pittsburgh. His offensive value, however, was immense. This is a GIF triptych titled Otto Porter, 2-3 Zone Flummoxer:

1. In which Porter flashes to the left elbow and draws the attention of as many as four Orange defenders, while Nate Lubick sets a flare screen that frees D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera for an open (and Porter-assisted) three:



2. In which Porter flashes to the right elbow, draws the attention of as many as five Orange defenders, and executes a perfect hi-low play with Moses Ayegba:



3. In which Porter screens the left side of Brandon Triche to set up a Smith-Rivera three-point look, then screens the right side of Triche to set up a Markel Starks three-point look:



Starks had 19 points and Smith-Rivera had 15 ... while Porter finished with seven assists, no turnovers, and many uncredited, shot-freeing screens.

(GIFs from ESPN broadcast.)
 
5Louisville <a href=Cardinals" title="Louisville-Cardinals">
Last Week: 4
The Forgotten Man in Player of the Year debates is Russ Smith, whose candidacy may have been derailed by the many crimes against sane basketball he committed during Louisville's five-overtime loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 9. But due to his super-high-usage, moderately efficient offensive profile and vital role in the nation's best defense, Smith is No. 1 in Ken Pomeroy's kPOY formula, which should offer solace when someone else wins the Wooden and Naismith Awards.

There are only eight guys who can realistically be shortlisted for those honors, and although my mind changes about this on an hourly basis, here's how I ranked them as of 5 p.m. Tuesday:

1. Otto Porter, Georgetown
2. Trey Burke, Michigan
3. Victor Oladipo, Indiana
4. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
5. Russ Smith, Louisville
6. Cody Zeller, Indiana
7. Doug McDermott, Creighton
8. Mason Plumlee, Duke
 
6Marquette <a href=Golden Eagles" title="Marquette Golden Eagles">
Last Week: 12
Love what Buzz Williams did at the end of the Golden Eagles' Big East title-clinching, overtime victory at St. John's on Saturday. Tie game, 7.4 seconds left in OT, ball in the hands of the Marquette guard who was obviously going to take the last shot, Vander Blue. Williams' chief concern was Johnnies center Chris Obekpa, who leads the nation in block percentage. Obekpa already had seven blocks on the day, but all of them were either on drives that came directly at him while he lurked under the rim, or in mano a mano post-defense situations.

Williams' solution was to make Obekpa run around and then chase the play, rather than have it come to him. While Blue handled the ball well above the top of the key, Marquette's Jamil Wilson set a brush screen on Obekpa, and then Obekpa's man, Davante Gardner, set a high ball screen for Blue. He drove down the right side of the lane, getting his left shoulder past Obekpa, who had to run a giant, 45-foot oval before trying to block the layup ... and missing it by just a fraction of an inch. If he's camped under the basket, he swats that shot with ease.



(GIF from ESPN footage.)
 
7Michigan <a href=Wolverines" title="Michigan Wolverines">
Last Week: 7
Dribbling tends to have a negative effect on Tim Hardaway Jr.'s jump shots. He's an excellent catch-and-shoot target for Trey Burke's passes, but when Hardaway puts the ball on the floor, his jumper efficiency nearly cuts in half:



For context, I should note that nearly every player's shooting efficiency goes down when they fire off the dribble -- just not as much as Hardaway's does. Burke's efficiency drops by 0.314 PPP, and Nik Stauskas' drops by 0.358 PPP. Hardaway's 0.569 PPP gap is in another league.
 
8Kansas <a href=Jayhawks" title="Kansas Jayhawks">
Last Week: 6
What has the world come to, when Kansas, whose look was once defined by simple blue-and-whites with an iconic western font (see Danny Manning, at left), is participating in adidas' latest camouflage clownshow? I understand why desperate-for-attention teams acquiesce to wearing this stuff (at right), but please, adidas, leave the bluebloods alone.



Under Armour is quietly doing a better job of creating alternate postseason options, like these "So-Flo" sunset shorts that USF will be wearing in the Big East tournament. Board-short basketball is better than bad-camo basketball:



(Photo credits: Manny Millan/SI [Danny Manning], adidas, Under Armour)
 
9Miami <a href=Hurricanes" title="Miami Hurricanes">
Last Week: 8
Awards discussion No. 2: Since I did a shortlist of eight POY candidates in the Louisville section, it seemed worthwhile to do the same thing for Coach of the Year. I'm more certain about my No. 1 pick here, given that he delivered the best season in his school's history, won the ACC title outright and is likely to earn a top-two NCAA tournament seed with a team that wasn't even ranked in the preseason AP poll:

1. Jim Larranaga, Miami
2. John Thompson III, Georgetown
3. Jim Crews, St. Louis
4. Mark Few, Gonzaga
5. Buzz Williams, Marquette
6. Tom Crean, Indiana
7. Bill Self, Kansas
8. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
 
10Ohio State <a href=Buckeyes" title="Ohio State Buckeyes">
Last Week: 14
Because this may be the last chance to run a Craft Turnometer this season, it makes an appearance for the second straight Power Rankings:



Ohio State's defense has been incredible over its past five games, holding each of its opponents (Minnesota, Michigan State, Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois) to under 0.950 PPP. If the Buckeyes maintain this momentum into the NCAAs, they could be a great sleeper pick as a No. 4(ish) seed.
 
11Florida <a href=Gators" title="Florida Gators">
Last Week: 9
Can Florida reheat its shooting-guard duo in time for the NCAA tournament? Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario have cooled off to the extent that their effective field goal percentages from the past five games (see chart) have dipped into the low 40s. They'll need to get back in the 50s for the jumper-happy Gators to make a serious run:

 
12Saint Louis <a href=Billikens" title="Saint Louis Billikens">
Last Week: 10
This is the week for paeans to the Big East, but what about the A-10, which could be decimated by the realignment departure of up to five of its best teams? The league's one-year boom should produce five NCAA tourney teams -- St. Louis (Andy Glockner has them as a No. 5 seed), VCU (6), Butler (7), Temple (11) and La Salle (12) -- that have a shot at matching the A-10's best year ever for Big-Dance victories. The conference won seven NCAA games in 1992-93, when John Chaney's Owls got to the Elite Eight as a No. 7, Mike Jarvis' GW team reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 12, and John Calipari's third-seeded UMass team was upset by Virginia in the second round. This season, St. Louis, VCU and Butler are viable sleeper picks to make the Sweet 16 or beyond. (And by next season, the Billikens and Bulldogs could be gone to the Big East.)
 
13New Mexico <a href=Lobos" title="New Mexico Lobos">
Last Week: 11
Glockner touched on the New Mexico seeding debate in a recent Bracket Watch: Are the Lobos a No.3, or have they done enough to warrant a No. 2? Some of their credentials say yes -- they won what's arguably the country's third-toughest league outright, and they're No. 2 in the RPI, with the No. 3 strength of schedule -- but their best wins are over UNLV and Colorado State (twice). That's where the two most vulnerable No. 2s have New Mexico beat. Michigan didn't win its league but has beaten K-State, NC State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Michigan State. Miami has been slumping, but it won the ACC outright and has beaten Michigan State, Duke and North Carolina (twice). I suspect that the Lobos will end up as a three if they don't win the Mountain West tourney -- but they'll be happy with being shipped out West into a regional with Gonzaga as the No. 1.
 
14Oklahoma State <a href=Cowboys" title="Oklahoma State Cowboys">
Last Week: 15
Awards discussion No. 3: Freshman of the Year. The shortlist only needs to be five deep, as there's a clear starting lineup of rookie stars:

1. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
2. Ben McLemore, Kansas
3. Gary Harris, Michigan State
4. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
5. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

McLemore was getting more All-America attention than Smart early in the season, but Smart has emerged as a clear choice for No. 1. His all-around contributions -- in scoring, point-guard play, elite defense and team leadership -- significantly exceed that of any other frosh.
 
15Kansas State <a href=Wildcats" title="Kansas State Wildcats">
Last Week: 13
Bruce Weber is having a sensational debut season at K-State, having led the Wildcats to a share of the Big 12 title (with a 14-4 league record) and what could very well be a No. 4 seed in the NCAAs. He's done quite well for himself after being fired from Illinois.

But here's a surprising fact: Weber's penultimate Illini team, which did not really get anyone excited, going 19-13 overall (9-9 in the Big Ten) while earning a No. 9 seed in the NCAAs, had a much better efficiency rating than his current K-State club.

The 2010-11 Illini ranked 18th in kenpom, while this year's Wildcats are 35th. Weber was perceived to be flailing in those final Champaign years, when in actuality, he had a decent team; now, he's perceived to be thriving with a less-efficient product. Life is better for him away from the Big Ten.
 
16Michigan State <a href=Spartans" title="Michigan State Spartans">
Last Week: 17
Part of the reason why Kansas' Ben McLemore and Michigan State's Gary Harris are Nos. 2-3 on my Freshman of the Year shortlist: They're two of just three rookies who score at least 1.200 PPP on spot-up shots:



(Chart data from Synergy Sports Technology. Minimum three spot-up possessions per game to qualify.)
 

The Next 16: 17. UCLA, 18. Pittsburgh, 19. Syracuse, 20. Arizona, 21. Notre Dame, 22. VCU, 23. Wisconsin, 24. Creighton, 25. Colorado State, 26. North Carolina, 27. Butler, 28. UNLV, 29. San Diego State, 30. St. Mary's, 31. Cal, 32. Belmont

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