Re: ISH Top 25
1. Duke (10-0) I don't think they win the national title if Kyrie Irving doesn't come back, but I wouldn't rule it out. Andre Dawkins needs to break out as a scorer on the wing because Nolan Smith will have to run the point. And because Nolan Smith, while an excellent college player, isn't a true point guard nor as dynamic of an athlete as Irving, his scoring will suffer running the offense. So they're going to have be a lot more deliberate than they have been, and Dawkins/Curry are gonna have to bring it.
2. Ohio State (8-0) William Buford is too talented to be blending in the way he has been, only averaging 11 points. Jared Sullinger is their go-to guy, sure, but Buford needs to be more assertive for this team to reach their full potential.
3. Tennessee (7-0) Can't ignore a second convincing win away from home against another Big East powerhouse. Scotty Hopson is a scoring machine right now and they out-toughed the toughest program in college basketball.
4. Kansas (9-0) No team in college basketball is more efficient offensively right now. You almost wonder if Josh Selby's arrival in six days might screw them up a little bit because what they have right now is working so perfectly. And it might be a little bit of a transition, but he's too talented for it to not be a big upgrade. None of their last five nonconference games should present a major challenge and should give him ample time to get up to speed before Big XII play starts.
5. Kansas State (9-1) They played at Loyala of Chicago to give Jacob Pullen a game in his hometown before he graduates and it almost bit them in the ass, as they didn't put the Ramblers away until the final minute. Something that I can't put my finger on is missing from this team. Stay tuned on the Wildcats, it could be a weird season for them. Just a gut feeling.
6. UConn (8-0) What's so impressive- and what makes it hard to fathom that it'll continue- about Kemba Walker's scoring run is how incredibly efficient he's been: shooting percentages of .533/.884/.426, averaging 8.6 FT attempts a game and only 2.0 TOs a game? That's about as efficient as you can play basketball, especially when you're pretty much the entire offense.
7. Baylor (6-0) Hard to say if this ranking is right or not- moreso than most teams- because they've played no one. Still, they're playing terrific defense, at No. 7 in defensive efficiency.
8. Pitt (10-1) Offensively they've been terrific behind Gibbs and Wanamaker but their defense hasn't been awesome. Good? Yeah, but not Pitt-level good. It finally cost them against Tennessee. But they're kind of lucky that it didn't cost them against Rhode Island, Maryland or Texas.
9. Syracuse (10-0) Well, they made me look like a jackass in tearing apart Michigan State. Rick Jackson is playing like an All-American, averaging 12.5 boards a game. He's completely transformed himself physically and looks like a pro.
10. Georgetown (9-1) No shame in a close road loss to a quality Temple team, but it did illustrate how dependent they are on Austin Freeman to make perimeter shots: 6-15 from the floor and 1-5 from the arc in the loss to the Owls.
11. San Diego State (10-0) The way they put away Cal, in Berkeley, was pretty impressive. Down two points with 17 minutes left, they outscored the Bears 44-22 the rest of the weay.
12. Illinois (10-1) A pair of underwhelming victories this week, though one of them might qualify as a quality win eventually: Oakland is pretty good. Still, they've brought it defensively against every good team they've played so far this season.
13. Villanova (8-1) Corey Stokes has lit up the Big 5 in the last week: 66 points on 12-26 three-point shooting in wins over St. Joseph's, Penn and La Salle.
14. Michigan State (7-3) I know this little game, Izzo. I'm not fooled. Not again. Not ever again.
15. Missouri (8-1) Are they the cardiac kids of college hoops? OT loss to Georgetown, three-point wins at Oregon and against Vandy.
16. Minnesota (9-1) I can't wait for Minnesota at Ohio State on Jan. 9. Trevor Mbakwe against Jared Sullinger in the paint is going to be a war.
17. Brigham Young (10-0) The Cougars got a convincing signature win over Arizona, with Jimmer Fredette scoring 33 points and putting himself in the national player of the year conversation.
18. Purdue (9-1) Moore and Johnson are scoring over half of Purdue's points. It's not like it was a secret it was going to be this way, but they were probably hoping someone was going to step up as a complimentary scorer. Hasn't happened.
19. Louisville (8-0) With a pair of convincing wins against Butler and UNLV, the Cards have looked legit in the preseason. We'll see for sure in a tough-as-usual Big East. Preston Knowles looks like a go-to scorer.
20. Kentucky (7-2) Who knew Josh Harrellson was this kind of rebounder? He's like this year's Brian Zoubek, averaging 9.0 offensive boards a game, 4.0 of them offensive. They don't have a post presence in terms of scoring but at least he's giving them some size and a terrific pair of rebounders along with Terrence Jones. So, uh....I'm sorry about saying "He's not good" about you last week, Josh.
21. UNLV (9-1) Wouldn't worry too much about a road loss to Louisville.
22. Notre Dame (9-1) They fought Kentucky hard in a loss and got another quality win against Gonzaga. Ben Hansbrough might be the most skilled player in his family. What a shooter.
23. Texas(7-2) Cory Joseph is starting to put it together, which makes this team a Big XII contender.
24. Wisconsin (8-2) A solid road win over Marquette. Jordan Taylor has emerged as the sidekick to Jon Leuer, averaging 15.6 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds.
25. Central Florida (8-0) I see no reason to move them out of this spot after putting them here last week.