By Luke Winn
February 23, 2012

It's been 19 days since the adidas JS Wings "Stars and Stripes" came out, and no one's been bold enough to wear them in a game. We're looking at you, three-stripe teams (Kansas, Baylor, UCLA, Michigan, Wisconsin)! Wings might just be your only way to one-up the Platinum Army.

NCAA Basketball Power Rankings
1 Kentucky Wildcats
Last Week: 1
The last stage in the Wildcats' quest for world domination is freshman Marquis Teague becoming a reliable, pass-first point guard, and over their past four games, he's been getting close to that, dishing out 28 assists while committing just 12 turnovers. His SEC assist-turnover ratio is now up to 1.9. Who's been benefiting the most from Teague's passing during league play? The leading recipient is lob collector Anthony Davis, who accounts for 23.4 percent of Teague's assisted field goals. Backup Kyle Wiltjer, meanwhile, is the guy who depends on his point guard most to create offense: 40.9 percent of Wiltjer's SEC makes have been Teague-assisted (TAFG%, on the awkwardly arranged chart below).

Next three: 2/25 vs. Vanderbilt, 3/1 vs. Georgia, 3/4 at Florida
2 Syracuse Orange
Last Week: 2
How much does Syracuse's defensive-rebounding deficiency matter? The Orange are spectacularly bad on the defensive glass, allowing opponents to grab 38.3 percent of available boards, a rate that ranks 337th in the country. Zone anchor Fab Melo likes to block shots or take charges, activities that positively impact overall defense but take him out of rebounding position, and forwards Kris Joseph and C.J. Fair aren't great at crashing the glass from the wings. The Orange still rank No. 13 in defensive efficiency because they create turnovers and lock down the paint, but no team in the efficiency era has reached a Final Four with such a low defensive-board percentage.

These are the worst defensive-rebounding teams to reach the Final Four in each year of the efficiency era:

Year   Team              DOR%    Rank
2011 VCU 36.5 321
2010 Duke 32.1 149
2009 North Carolina 31.7 121
2008 Memphis 29.2 36
2007 Georgetown 33.9 191
2006 Florida 33.1 126
2005 North Carolina 31.5 64
2004 Duke 36.8 282
2003 Syracuse 36.6 274

(That 2008 Memphis team tried to defy a different statistical hurdle -- by nearly becoming the worst free-throw shooting team to ever win a title. But you know what happened: Derrick Rose missed a free throw.)

Only four teams have made the NCAA tournament with a worse DOR% than Syracuse's current 38.3, and none has won a game:

Year   Team (Seed)       DOR%    Rank
2004 L-Lafayette (14) 39.2 316
2006 UAB (9) 40.7 331
2008 Coppin St. (16) 38.6 333
2010 Houston (13) 38.5 338

Next three: 2/25 at UConn, 3/3 vs. Louisville, Big East tournament TBD
3 Michigan St. Spartans
Last Week: 4
Draymond Green is an anomaly -- not a David Brooksian non-anomaly anomaly, but a statistical outlier. Green is the rare player who dominates the defensive glass (grabbing 26.7 percent of available boards) but does a good share of his offensive work on the perimeter (26.3 percent of his field-goal attempts are threes). In the matrix below, I plotted out the 15 best defensive rebounders from multi-bid leagues, and only UNLV's Mike Moser comes close to Green's rebounding/gunning profile.

Next three: 2/25 vs. Nebraska, 2/28 at Indiana, 3/4 vs. Ohio State
4 Duke Blue Devils
Last Week: 7
Can you solve the Power Rankings' first Visual Quiz of the season? The grid below shows the hand position of eight elite three-point shooters, all of whom play for teams in the Power Rankings' top 32. (One guy's face is crystallized to hide his identity.) Tweet your answers to @lukewinn; the first to name all eight correctly gets a prize*.

(*Up for grabs is a paperback copy of David Woods' Butler book Underdawgs, for which I wrote the new foreword.)

Next three: 2/23 at Florida State, 2/25 vs. Virginia Tech, 2/28 at Wake Forest
5 Missouri Tigers
Last Week: 3
Ratliffe Watch continues! Missouri's hyper-efficient big man leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 71.7, in part because he sticks to what he does best -- scoring point-blank baskets on feeds from the Tigers' guards. Ratliffe's full Big 12 shot chart (as hand-plotted from available video clips) is below, and you'll notice that just four of his 119 attempts have come with both feet outside of the lane ... and he's missed all four. That streak is still alive, but he broke a different one, by scoring his first back-to-the-basket post-up field goal on something other than a right hook. Against Oklahoma on Feb. 6, Ratliffe got his man off-balance on a hook-fake, and lunged forward for a right-handed layup (getting fouled in the process). Inexplicably, the game was not stopped for a celebration.

Next three: 2/25 at Kansas, 2/29 vs. Iowa State, 3/3 at Texas Tech
6 Kansas Jayhawks
Last Week: 5
A Mizzou fan asked me last week, if you're going to track Ratliffe's range restrictions, how 'bout doing the same for Jeff Withey? It turns out that KU's breakout star has an even more concentrated shot chart than Ratliffe's, but Withey has, in fact, made a shot outside the paint: a pull-up jumper against Iowa State on Jan. 14. His other 46 makes have come from much closer to the rim.

Next three: 2/25 vs. Missouri, 2/27 at Oklahoma State, 3/3 vs. Texas
7 North Carolina Tar Heels
Last Week: 8
Giving the same (ugly) chart treatment to Kendall Marshall that I did to Marquis Teague in the Kentucky blurb ...

... shows us that Tyler Zeller is Marshall's favorite target in ACC play, but that Reggie Bullock depends on Marshall more than anyone else to get open shots. Harrison Barnes is at the opposite end of the spectrum: Almost 80 percent of his field goals are created either by himself, or from sources other than Marshall.

Next three: 2/25 at Virginia, 2/29 vs. Maryland, 3/3 at Duke
8 Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 6
In case you missed it, and would like to file it away as the link to make me look bad in April, my Magic Eight Ball column dropped on Tuesday. Ohio State made the pool of eight teams from which I guarantee the national champ will emerge, as did their Big Ten peers Michigan State and (more of a stretch) Michigan. The league's teams have beaten each other up enough that it may not produce a No. 1 seed despite being the nation's strongest conference, and I pity the No. 1s who land the Buckeyes and Spartans in their regionals. Andy Glockner's latest Bracket Watch pairs Missouri with Ohio State in the Midwest and Duke with Michigan State in the West. This could be the weakest Duke team, statistically speaking, to ever earn a No. 1, but its non-conference fearlessness is paying off once again. Remember that the Blue Devils beat Belmont, Michigan State, Davidson, Michigan, Kansas and Washington before ACC play began. That's an incredible resume of quality wins.

Next three: 2/26 vs. Wisconsin, 2/29 at Northwestern, 3/4 at Michigan State
9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last Week: 9
From the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton (with a hat-tip to ESPN) we learned that Power Rankings favorite Jack Cooley is having his breakout season because he found the will to give up video games. Particularly the bottomless pit that is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

"Never get 'SkyRim,'" Cooley advised, sounding vaguely somber. "You'll never stop playing it."

Cooley gave his games away to a friend, put the free time he had toward basketball, and now he's a candidate for Big East Player of the Year. Last year, I took similar measures, ejecting my copy of FIFA soccer out of my PS3 after a demoralizing, five-hour run, and snapping it in half so it would be out of my life. The result is that I've had more time to do all these graphs. Which (I guess?) is a good thing.

Next three: 2/25 at St. John's, 2/27 at Georgetown, 3/2 vs. Providence
10 Marquette Golden Eagles
Last Week: 14
Declaring Cooley as the rightful frontrunner in the Big East POY race may have been shortsighted -- and not because I'm coming back around on West Virginia's Kevin Jones. His numbers are great, but a POY shouldn't come from a non-NCAA tournament team with a sub-.500 league record. The reason is that Jae Crowder, according to the latest Value Add figures, is having the second-most valuable season of any player in college basketball. John Pudner released his top 200 at Cracked Sidewalks earlier this week, with Kentucky's Anthony Davis at No. 1 and Crowder at 2. (Kansas' Thomas Robinson, the National POY frontrunner, is No. 7, while Cooley is 27th). Value Add isn't an end-all metric, and I'm hesitant to buy into its defensive approximations, but there is no doubt that Crowder's having a monster season. If the Golden Eagles stay even with Notre Dame in the Big East standings, he's probably the best available option for league POY.

Next three: 2/24 at West Virginia, 2/29 at Cincinnati, 3/3 vs. Georgetown
11 Wichita State Shockers
Last Week: 15
The Shockers also made my Magic Eight, in part because they're one of the most efficient mid-majors of the decade -- and if you don't count Gonzaga as a mid-major*, then Wichita State is No. 1. The table below includes the highest-ranked mid-major from each season of the efficiency era, and indicates that the 2012 Shockers are stronger than the two best mids to break through to the Final Four, 2010 Butler and 2006 George Mason:

(*I excluded the A-10 and Mountain West from the mid-major discussion, but included the Zags because the WCC is most definitely a mid-major league. It's a shame that 2009 Gonzaga team had to run into North Carolina in the Sweet 16; those Bulldogs were even better than the Adam Morrison versions, and had a real shot at the Final Four.)

Next three: 2/25 vs. Drake, Missouri Valley tournament TBD
12 Temple Owls
Last Week: 13
There's still room on the Owls bandwagon, as they're wildly underrated at No. 22 in the AP poll. How can voters not be swayed by an 11-game win streak, plus non-conference victories over Wichita State and Duke? Not only that, but the return of center Michael Eric has been huge, as they're 13-1 with him on the floor. In Wednesday's overtime win at La Salle, which kept Temple in sole possession of the A-10 lead, all Eric did was score 18 points, grab 12 boards and block six shots. The Owls are likely to finish the regular season on a 14-game winning streak, which translates into serious momentum heading into the NCAA tournament.

Next three: 2/25 at St. Joe's, 2/29 vs. UMass, 3/3 at Fordham
13 Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: 20
The Wolverines went three-point crazy -- even by their standards -- in Tuesday's win at Northwestern, which may have crushed my alma mater's hopes of ending its all-time NCAA tournament drought. The season-high 38 threes Michigan attempted made up 68 percent of its overall shots, whereas on the season 44.7 percent of the Wolverines' attempts have been from long range. According to, there are only seven likely NCAA tournament teams whose ratio of 3PA/FGA is at 40 or above:

1. Florida: 44.8%
2. Michigan: 44.2%
3. Iowa State: 42.2%
4. Vanderbilt: 41.4%
5. Wisconsin: 40.3%
6. Weber State: 40.1%
7. Valparaiso: 40.0%

Next three: 2/25 vs. Purdue, 3/1 Illinois, 3/4 at Penn State
14 Florida State Seminoles
Last Week: 17
The Seminoles host Duke Thursday night, but how much of an advantage do they hold in Tallahassee? ACC home-court advantage is the weakest of any multi-bid league this season, with road teams winning a surprising 41.3 percent of games. The conference that's been holding serve the best is the SEC:

Next three: 2/23 vs. Duke, 2/26 at Miami, 3/1 at Virginia
15 Baylor Bears
Last Week: 12
The drop-off between the No. 1 line in Glockner's Bracket Watch (Kentucky, Syracuse, Mizzou, Duke) and the No. 2 line (Ohio State, Michigan State, Kansas, North Carolina) is almost nonexistent, but there's a chasm between the 2s and 3s (Baylor, Marquette, Michigan, Georgetown). In last year's tournament, this was not the case, as the No. 3s (UConn, Syracuse, BYU, Purdue) were as good or better than the 2s (San Diego State, Florida, Notre Dame, North Carolina). After a couple of unpredictable tournaments, you wonder if the quality consolidation at the top of this year's field will lead to a Final Four of all 1s and 2s.

Next three: 2/25 vs. Oklahoma, 2/27 vs. Texas Tech, 3/3 at Iowa State
16 Georgetown Hoyas
Last Week: 11
Who do you side with in the Georgetown-Maryland Cold War? The smarting Terps, whose AD Kevin Anderson is taking a hard-line stance against scheduling the Hoyas in any sport until a basketball agreement is reached ... or the obstructionist Hoyas, whose disinterest in the rivalry is stopping it from happening? While I love the quotes from John Thompson III ("I find it extremely odd that a competent athletic director would choose that method to try to schedule a game") and his father ("You definitely don't make a habit of bending to threats, do you?") ... we'd all be better off if Georgetown just capitulated and let the damn game happen. All college hoops seems to be doing these days is letting rivalries die (see Kansas-Mizzou, or the dissolution of the Big East), and it would be nice if someone stepped up and rekindled one for a change.

Next three: 2/25 vs. Villanova, 2/27 vs. Notre Dame, 3/3 at Marquette

The Next 17: 17. New Mexico, 18. Indiana, 19. Wisconsin, 20. Florida, 21. Louisville, 22. Murray State, 23. St. Louis, 24. Virginia, 25. UNLV, 26. Gonzaga, 27. San Diego State, 28. Saint Louis, 29. Cal, 30. Memphis, 31. Creighton, 32. Washington, 33. Harvard

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