By Luke Winn
February 20, 2013

After a rare road win at Michigan State, the Power Rankings' preseason No. 1 is looking very much like it could be the end-of-season No. 1, too:

College Hoops Power Rankings
1 Indiana <a href=Hoosiers" title="Indiana Hoosiers">
Last Week: 1
Tuesday night's heroics in East Lansing only further solidified the argument that Victor Oladipo, and not Cody Zeller, has been Indiana's most valuable player this season. But all the attention on Oladipo has obscured the fact that Zeller is still having a historically great offensive season. From 2008-present, only six major-conference players have posted an season offensive rating of 125 or better while using at least 25 percent of their team's possessions ... and Zeller is the only one to do it twice:

Zeller isn't going to win the Naismith or Wooden Awards, but he's not exactly having a down year.

(Chart data through Monday's games, from

Next three: 2/26 at Minnesota, 3/2 vs. Iowa, 3/5 vs. Ohio State
2 Miami <a href=Hurricanes" title="Miami Hurricanes">
Last Week: 2
The two seasons Kenny Kadji spent at Florida were unremarkable, but for one stat: He played 470 minutes and attempted just one three. Only after transferring to Miami did the 6-foot-11 forward emerge as a legitimate three-point threat -- one who kept the 'Canes undefeated in the ACC by hitting a clutch trey against Clemson on Sunday. Just over a quarter of Kadji's points at Miami have come from beyond the arc:

Next three: 2/23 at Wake Forest, 2/27 vs. Virginia Tech, 3/2 at Duke
3 Gonzaga <a href=Bulldogs" title="Gonzaga Bulldogs">
Last Week: 7
Continuing the "historically great offensive seasons" conversation from the Indiana section ...

Kelly Olynyk is having one of those seasons, too -- and he's getting more attention for it than Zeller is, because nothing was expected of the Zags' redshirt center this year. Across Division I from 2008-present, just three players have posted offensive ratings of 125 or better with a usage rate of at least 28 percent, according to

That chart should establish two things: That Olynyk is a legit first-team All-American, and Trey Burke, despite Michigan's recent losses, is still the best pick for national player of the year.

Next three: 2/20 vs. Santa Clara, 2/23 vs. San Diego, 2/28 at BYU
4 Syracuse <a href=Orange" title="Syracuse Orange">
Last Week: 5
Although we've done plenty of obsessing over Jeff Withey's blocks, Syracuse actually blocks a higher percentage of shots (a national-best 20.0) than Kansas does (18.6, good for second place). As the distribution chart below shows, this is because five members of the Orange's rotation average more than one swat per 40 minutes, while the Jayhawks' blocks nearly all come from one guy:

Next three: 2/20 vs. Providence, 2/23 vs. Georgetown, 2/25 at Marquette
5 Duke <a href=Blue Devils" title="Duke Blue Devils">
Last Week: 3
When the Terrapins upset Duke on Saturday, they came in with a plan to attack Mason Plumlee, All-American and anchor of the Blue Devils' thin frontcourt. "We said Plumlee doesn't want to guard you," Maryland guard Seth Allen told the Washington Post. "He averages two fouls per game. Just go at him. Every play. That's what [center Alex Len] did. He didn't do any fadeaways. Just took it right to [Plumlee's] chin."

Plumlee stayed foul-free in the first half, but was whistled five times in the second, resulting in his first DQ of the season. Plumlee was remarkably good at foul-avoidance during the first six ACC games, but teams seem to be attacking him more of late. I used play-by-play data to calculate the average game time* of each of his fouls, and came up with some striking splits:

(*In games where the second, third, fourth or fifth fouls were not committed, I used 40 minutes as the foul time. So the 40.0 figures in the top line of the chart translate to a clean sheet.)

Next three: 2/21 at Virginia Tech, 2/24 vs. Boston College, 2/28 at Virginia/td>
6 Florida <a href=Gators" title="Florida Gators">
Last Week: 4
Earlier I looked at Kenny Kadji's long-range production, but he's not the Oversized Three-Point King of the Sunshine State, much less college hoops: That would be 6-11 Gators forward Erik Murphy, who's more accurate from deep (making 50.0 percent of his treys, to Kadji's 36.5) and scores more than half of his points on threes. But Murphy didn't have the green light early in his career, either, attempting zero threes as a freshman and only 30 as a sophomore. Now he's the best pick-and-pop big man in the game:

Next three: 2/23 vs. Arkansas, 2/26 at Tennessee, 3/2 vs. Alabama
7 Georgetown <a href=Hoyas" title="Georgetown Hoyas">
Last Week: 12
If Otto Porter Jr. isn't on your shortlist for first-team All-Americans, you haven't been paying attention to his incredible January-February surge. Ever since teammate Greg Whittington was ruled academically ineligible following a Jan. 8 loss to Pittsburgh, Porter's role in the Hoyas' offense has been trending into major-usage territory. This chart shows his running five-game averages:

When a player's usage skyrockets, his offensive rating usually takes a hit, because it's harder to maintain efficiency as shot volume increases. But in Porter's case, his efficiency has trended into star territory:

If that's not convincing enough, Porter is also the leader in defensive rebounding and steal percentages for the nation's No. 6 defensive team. His all-around value is immense.

Next three: 2/20 vs. DePaul, 2/23 at Syracuse, 2/27 at UConn
8 Michigan State <a href=Spartans" title="Michigan State Spartans">
Last Week: 6
Keith Appling's shooting woes against Indiana have become a story, but the overall shooting rollercoaster of the Spartans' starting backcourt is even more interesting. Freshman Gary Harris has been the better shooter all season (according to effective field goal percentage), but even he suffered a dip at the start of Big Ten season, before trending into hyper-efficient range. Appling hit rock-bottom in January, then turned it around, but is he headed for a double-dip recession?

Next three: 2/24 at Ohio State, 3/2 at Michigan, 3/7 vs. Wisconsin
9 Michigan <a href=Wolverines" title="Michigan Wolverines">
Last Week: 8
More fun with splits:

Michigan freshman Glenn Robinson III has made a habit of destroying lesser Big Ten teams while no-showing against the conference's elites. The chart below divides his offensive numbers into three categories: non-conference, lower Big Ten (vs. Penn State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa and Illinois) and upper Big Ten (vs. Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota). The Lil' Dog's points per 40 minutes drop by nearly 10, and his true shooting percentage is cut in half:

(I wonder if this trend will carry over into the NCAA tournament, with Robinson having a huge performance in the 1-vs.-16 or 2-vs.-15 game, only to assume a small role in later rounds.)

Next three: 2/24 vs. Illinois, 2/27 at Penn State, 3/2 vs. Michigan State
10 Kansas Jayhawks
Last Week: 10
Lowly TCU's seismic upset of the Jayhawks on Feb. 6 suggests they have the biggest egg-laying potential of any 1-3 seed in the NCAA tournament. Which means it's a good thing that Kansas is likely to play its first two tourney games in front of a partisan crowd in Kansas City (as is the case in Andy Glockner's latest mock bracket). During the seeded era of the NCAAs, the Jayhawks are 8-1 all-time in their home state (plus Kansas City):

1. 3/13/81: KU (7) over Mississippi (10)*
2. 3/15/81: KU (7) over Arizona State (2)*
3. 3/21/86: KU (1) over Michigan State (5)^
4. 3/23/86: KU (1) over NC State (6)^
5. 4/2/88: KU (6) over Duke (2)^
6. 4/4/88: KU (6) over Oklahoma (1)^
7. 3/24/95: Virginia (4) over KU (1)^
8. 3/19/04: KU (4) over Illinois-Chicago (13)^
9. 3/21/04: KU (4) over Pacific (12)^

* In Wichita, Kan.
^ In Kansas City, Kan.

Next three: 2/20 at Oklahoma State, 2/23 vs. TCU, 2/25 at Iowa State
11 Louisville <a href=Cardinals" title="Louisville-Cardinals">
Last Week: 16
The following GIF is quintessential Louisville, pressure and ridiculousness wrapped into the same play. It comes from Sunday's win over South Florida, just before the eight-minute mark of the second half, and the circumstances are as follows:

* During the preceding press-break, Bulls point guard Anthony Collins was poked in the eye by Louisville's Kevin Ware and had to go to the bench.

* Collins, who plays 35.4 minutes per game and is a reliable ballhander, was replaced at the point by Mike McCloskey, who averages just 3.6 minutes per game and is a walk-on. Before action resumed, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino gave a signal for some kind of tweak to their 2-3 zone.

* The Cards acted as if everything was normal -- but then sprang into action and trapped McCloskey's first pass to the wing, with Ware stepping up as an interceptor. Bulls forward Jawanza Poland promptly freaked out and threw the ball into the backcourt.

* It appeared to be going out of bounds until, well, watch what Chane Behanan did:

Around the back and into the hands of Russ Smith, whose advanced powers of ridiculousness-anticipation allowed him to know exactly how it would all go down.

(GIF source: ESPN)

Next three: 2/23 vs. Seton Hall, 2/27 at DePaul, 3/2 at Syracuse
12 Oklahoma State <a href=Cowboys" title="Oklahoma State Cowboys">
Last Week: 14
When the Cowboys host Kansas on Wednesday in what's looking like the Big 12 game of the year, they should feel good about their ability to score. Their upset of the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 2 represented KU's worst defensive performance of the season, at 1.18 points per possession allowed. Freshman point guard Marcus Smart had his signature performance, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight offensive rebounds. Oklahoma State's overall dominance of the offensive glass may have been the biggest factor; its 45.2 offensive rebounding percentage in that game was the best by any KU opponent this season, and it was State's top rate in any Big 12 game, too.

Next three: 2/20 vs. Kansas, 2/23 at West Virginia, 2/27 at TCU
13 Colorado State <a href=Rams" title="Butler Bulldogs">
Last Week: 13
I'm starting to suspect that Rams coach Larry Eustachy has invented a new version of the pick-and-roll, one in which the roll man rolls with only one thing in mind: grabbing the offensive rebound of the guard's intentionally missed shot, and making the higher-percentage putback. Colorado State has so many offensive-glass beasts that this actually works, or at least it did in the final minute of their victory at Nevada on Feb. 6. This is a GIF of Colton Iverson's game-winning pick-and-putback, in which he screens for Dorian Green on the left wing, then beelines to the block for his 16th board of the game:

There was a shove during that rebound scrum, but hey -- you don't get to be the nation's best all-around rebounding team without doing some dirty work.

(GIF source: CBS College Sports)

Next three: 2/20 at UNLV, 2/23 vs. New Mexico, 2/27 vs. Fresno State
14 Arizona <a href=Wildcats" title="Arizona Wildcats">
Last Week: 9
Here's a development that could hurt Kevin Parrom's chances of winning any Sixth Man of the Year awards: He's become a starter. And this is a good thing for Arizona, because it gets their most efficient, auxiliary scoring option (and not to mention, a solid offensive rebounder) on the floor for crucial stretches. Coach Sean Miller promoted the senior swingman to the starting lineup against Utah on Sunday in place of freshman Brandon Ashley, and Parrom's presence helped the Wildcats end a string of slow first- and second-half starts. Parrom is expected to stay in this role for Arizona's Wednesday game against Washington, which, according to the Tucson Citizen, would represent his first back-to-back starts since his sophomore year, during the Pac-10 tournament. If Parrom's promotion sticks, I suppose that puts Syracuse's James Southerland in the clear as the country's best source of off-the-bench offense.

Next three: 2/20 vs. Washington, 2/23 vs. Washington State, 2/27 at USC
15 Butler Bulldogs
Last Week: 13
Sophomore guard Alex Barlow plays a curious role in the Bulldogs' offense. He is known as an unlikely hero, due to his game-winner against Indiana, but he sure does pick his spots to shoot, taking just 6.4 percent of Butler's attempts when he's on the floor. That's an incredibly low figure, considering that an equally balanced team would have everyone at 20 percent. I could only find one (occasional) starter from a ranked team who takes fewer attempts: Gonzaga's Mike Hart, a superglue guy whose shot percentage is just 4.8. In offenses where Rotnei Clarke and Kelly Olynyk are taking enough shots for two guys, someone has to sacrifice -- and Barlow and Hart seem content to provide the bulk of their value on defense.

Next three: 2/22 vs. St. Louis, 3/2 at VCU, 3/7 at UMass
16 Wisconsin <a href=Badgers" title="Wisconsin Badgers">
Last Week: 15
Harvard Sports Analysis Collective's John Ezekowitz, a collaborator on my "Analyzing Michael Jordan's College Years" piece from last week, more recently took to debunking the NCAA's claim that the RPI is the best predictor of tournament success. What he found was that Ken Pomeroy's Pythagorean formula was better at predicting winners, Final Four teams and champions over the past six NCAA tournaments. One of the most interesting RPI-vs.-KenPom gaps this season is Wisconsin, which is 28th in the NCAA's preferred metric and eighth in adjusted efficiency. The RPI would probably peg the Badgers as a one-or-two wins and done team in the tournament, while Kenpom suggests they have Elite Eight/Final Four potential.

Next three: 2/20 at Northwestern, 2/26 vs. Nebraska, 3/2 vs. Purdue

The Next 16: 17. New Mexico, 18. Notre Dame, 19. Marquette, 20. Kansas State, 21. Oregon, 22. St. Louis, 23. Missouri, 24. Ohio State, 25. Memphis, 26. Akron, 27. UNLV, 28. VCU, 29. Creighton, 30. Illinois, 31. NC State, 32. Middle Tennessee, 33. San Diego State

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