Thursday January 7th, 2010

NCAA Basketball Power Rankings
9Kansas State Wildcats
Last Week: 11
SI.com's Bracketologist, Andy Glockner, has the Wildcats as a No. 3 seed in his latest projections, which falls in line with their No. 9 position in the Power Rankings. The two-seed line currently features West Virginia, Syracuse, Purdue and Villanova -- all teams with at least one signature win, which is something that K-State lacks. It has quality wins over Dayton, Xavier and UNLV, but the two major-conference clubs the 'Cats have beaten, Washington State and Alabama, are likely to miss the NCAA tournament. There's little chance they'll go undefeated in January, with games against Missouri, Texas A&M, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas -- but if Frank Martin's club were to emerge from that stretch 5-2, including an upset of either the Longhorns or Jayhawks in Manhattan, it would have to be given serious consideration for a No. 2 seed.

Next three: 1/9 at Missouri, 1/12 vs. Texas A&M, 1/16 at Colorado
 
10Brigham Young Cougars
Last Week: --
Storming the Floor has a weekly feature called The God Shammgod Watch List, which, as the blog says, is essentially a ranking of the "best players with funny names." The leader as of Week 6 is none other than Cougars point guard Jimmer Fredette, who's also a legit candidate for All-America teams that include players with non-amusing names. I agree with Fredette's placement at No. 1 but think Oklahoma's Tiny Gallon (currently No. 7) needs to be higher: Somehow he dropped two spots from the previous list despite shattering a backboard on New Year's Eve. (Gallon is 290 pounds, but he might have had some help on the shattering: The Oklahoman did some digging and found out that Spokane Arena, where it occurred, had outdated equipment. "Since the arena in Spokane only hosts a handful of basketball games each year," the paper said, "it did not have an updated, sturdier direct-mount system, which attaches to the goal with two bolts on the top two corners, as well as a large metal beam that's driven through the glass.")

Next three: 1/9 at UTEP, 1/13 at Air Force, 1/16 vs. Colorado State
 
11Mississippi Rebels
Last Week: 10
It can be difficult to get folks to care about hoops in the SEC West. Example: An Ole Miss beat writer for the Clarion Ledger posts a blog entry analyzing Rebels guard Chris Warren's chances of breaking the school's all-time scoring record. Three readers leave comments. The first comment is a link to a story about Tommy Tuberville's candidacy for the Texas Tech football job; the second (amazingly!) is about Warren and game tempo; and the third is about a three-star running back recruit committing to play for the Rebs' football team. Folks, you've got a better team on the hardwood in Oxford than you do on the gridiron ... might be time to pay attention. Even if Warren really has no shot at breaking the scoring record -- the C-L says that Warren would need to average 25.4 points from here on out to pass leader John Stroud. Unless Terrico White and Eniel Polynice stop taking shots altogether and leave the offense entirely in Warren's hands, Stroud's record is safe.

Next three: 1/9 vs. Mississippi State, 1/13 at Georgia, 1/16 at Tennessee
 
12Michigan State Spartans
Last Week: --
In the Big Ten, teams expect to get roughed up. Coming into Wednesday's meeting with Wisconsin, Spartans point guard Kalin Lucas said of the Badgers, "They're dirty. They're going to be grabbing us and pulling us, but we're going to do it back." State proceeded to win a 54-47 game that was brutally ugly, with both sides (as he predicted) having to grind out buckets in half-court situations. While the game made for bad TV on the Big Ten Network -- even Gus Johnson couldn't save it -- it came on the heels of the Spartans' rout of Northwestern in Evanston and was a sign that they may finally be gelling into the team most of us expected to contend for a conference title. Shooting guard Chris Allen has come on strong in the past four games, shooting 9-of-15 from long range and leading State in scoring against the Badgers with 16 points.
 
13Pittsburgh Panthers
Last Week: --
Tiny Gallon's backboard-breaker on New Year's Even inevitably led to a discussion of famous shatterings in the Oklahoman, which inevitably led to me watching the "Send It In, Jerome" YouTube from Jan. 25, 1988, for approximately the 500th time. It never gets old. Back in November (and even early December) this seemed like a season in which Panthers fans would have to tolerate a mediocre present and reminisce about the past -- to last year's Elite Eight run, or even all the way back to Jerome Lane's days, when the team had better jerseys and Bill Raftery was in his prime. Then Jamie Dixon's boys went and beat Syracuse and Cincinnati in back-to-back away games, giving them more quality true road wins than most of the teams in the Power Rankings, and making it clear that they need to be taken seriously. With a healthy backcourt of Jermaine Dixon, breakout star Ashton Gibbs and Gilbert Brown, the Panthers' offense is no longer atrocious, and they look like a team headed for an above-.500 finish in the Big East.

Next three: 1/13 at UConn, 1/16 vs. Louisville, 1/20 vs. Georgetown
 
14Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 15
From the house-music heckling department: The Detroit News reports that, during warmups at Michigan State's Breslin Center on Wednesday, Badgers players were subjected to Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red over the loudspeakers. In my mind the song is forever linked with American Psycho, as Patrick Bateman plays the cassette on his Walkman during the movie, and it's fitting to have Bateman linked with a Big Ten game that could've been described as gruesome. It's a shame, though, that the Badgers didn't put Phil Collins' Invisible Touch on the Kohl Center speakers while Duke was warming up in December. In American Psycho, shortly after delivering his famous "That's a fine chardonnay you're not drinking" line, Bateman tells his lady friends, "Do you like Phil Collins? I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that I really didn't understand any of their work. It was too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. ... I think Invisible Touch is the group's undisputed masterpiece."

Next three: 1/9 vs. Purdue, 1/13 at Northwestern, 1/16 at Ohio State
 
15Northern Iowa Panthers
Last Week: --
I'm partial to having at least one below-the-red-line school in the Power Rankings, and now that the Panthers have won 12 in a row, including road games at Iowa State, Creighton and Southern Illinois, their resume is attractive enough to crack the top 16. (I'm willing to chalk up a November loss to a certain Big East team as an aberration.) UNI possesses one of the rare 7-footers in the college game, senior center Jordan Eglseder, who's third in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage behind Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins and Duke's Brian Zoubek. Eglseder also happens to be a rare center who can shoot free throws at a reasonable clip: He's shooting 73.2 percent from the stripe and drawing an average of 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes.

Next three: 1/9 at Illinois State, 1/12 vs. Bradley, 1/16 vs. Indiana State
 
16Temple Owls
Last Week: 14
Owls guard Juan Fernandez, in addition to being the only college hoopster with a set of islands named after him, has a great family story: According to the New York Daily News, Fernandez gets inspiration from his 16-year-old brother, Gustavo, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a childhood accident. Gustavo persevered to become a wheelchair tennis star who's ranked No. 3 in the under-18 age bracket. "He's shown you can overcome any obstacle if you put your mind to it," Juan told the paper. Gustavo's profile page on the ITF Wheelchair Tennis site shows that he's ranked 43rd in world men's singles (of all ages) and was the champ of this year's Brazil Open.

Next three: 1/10 at Rhode Island, 1/13 at Pennsylvania, 1/16 vs. UMass

The rest: 17. UConn. 18. Georgetown. 19. UAB. 20. North Carolina. 21. New Mexico. 22. Ohio State. 23. Tennessee. 24. USC. 25. Gonzaga. 26. Florida State. 27. Baylor. 28. Wake Forest. 29. Texas Tech. 30. Butler. 31. Rhode Island. 32. Washington.

(If you'd like to send the Power Rankings a note, I'm here.)

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