The great debate
Memphis, North Carolina, or Kansas at No. 1? That, as we roll out the football-season-is-finally-dead edition of the Power Rankings, is college hoops' hottest debate -- aside from the one about whether it's a good idea to teach profanity to your 21-month-old grandson, while simultaneously forcing him to sit, petrified, on the dais of a post-game press conference. Discuss the latter topic amongst yourselves. Here I just put the teams in order.
There is no right answer, yet, as to whom the best team is. It depends on what you value most:
• Statistically, Kansas has no peer. It's the only team in the country to rank in the top five in raw efficiency data on both offense (No. 4, at 1.191 points per possession) and defense (also No. 4, at 0.829 points allowed per possession).
• Aesthetically, Carolina looks the most like a No. 1. It has legitimate All-America candidates at power forward (Tyler Hansbrough), shooting guard (Wayne Ellington) and point guard (Tywon Lawson). And Sunday's comeback to stun Clemson on the road was nothing short of brilliant.
• Resume-wise, Memphis is the leader. The Tigers' high-quality victim list already includes Oklahoma, UConn and USC on neutral courts, and Georgetown and Arizona at home. Kansas (with only Arizona and USC) and UNC (with BYU, Clemson and Ohio State) don't stack up. These rankings are based, for the most part, on accomplishment, which is a good thing for the gang from 191 Beale Street ...
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ON THE CUSP, TIER 1:
Ole Miss (13-1): Consider it the official No. 15b along with Vandy. Wednesday's loss in Knoxville proved the Rebs are legit SEC contenders.
Wisconsin (12-2): The Badgers will finish no lower than third, but no higher than second, in the Big Ten.
Xavier (13-3): The Muskies have been killing of late. Soon enough we'll be able to ignore those three losses.
West Virginia (11-3): The 'Eers are deadly in Morgantown, but need to prove themselves on the road to make me a full believer. Winning tonight in Louisville would help.
ON THE CUSP, TIER 2: Villanova, Pitt, Notre Dame, Stanford, Oklahoma, USC, Drake, Baylor, Clemson, New Mexico, Arizona State, Sam Houston State, Gonzaga, Illinois State.
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