Duke takes over the top spot in the ranking based on an impressive early season resume and a beneficial on paper matchup with the Hoosiers. But Indiana and Tom Crean will surely be heard from before the year is out.
This ranking doesn’t look like what’s in the AP Poll or the Coach’s poll. This ranking is based on how teams are built to succeed long term this season rather than on a one week sample size, prestige, or preseason hype.
1.)Duke Did I mention that freshman Rasheed Sulaimon is going to be a beast? That Mason Plumlee already is a beast? Blue Devil PG Quinn Cook has played a who’s who of the country’s point guards early on and outperformed each one. As Coach K said after the Ohio State game “This team is MUCH better than last year’s team.” The best team in the country right now, by accomplishment.
2.) Indiana Get ranked behind Duke because of resume, and that they don’t match up well with the Blue Devils. Duke is used to stopping transition (playing UNC twice a year) and have two superb and savvy senior forwards (Plumlee and Kelly) to defend Cody Zeller. Not to mention Cook’s ability to pressure freshman Yogi Ferrell on the outside. Indiana would struggle to guard Sulaimon and Seth Curry. (One would have a mismatch.) That being said, if Indiana continues to dominate others as they have been thus far the conversation is going to continue to be heavily debated.
3.) Ohio State The Buckeyes have dropped on a lot of folks radars after their loss to the Blue Devils. Not mine. They are the second best team in the best top half conference in the country. Defense doesn’t take a night off, and Anthony Craft is the best in the business. He struggled against Duke, but expect him to give teams nightmares getting into their offense. If Deshaun Thomas continues to play at this level the final four could be calling the Buckeyes.
4.)Florida Finally getting some of the respect they deserve. They are now the class of the SEC (thanks to the problems up in Lexington). We’ll see how the Gators and Billy Donovan handle the prosperity now.
5.)Louisville There is nothing to be ashamed of in a close loss to Duke without your number 1 big man (Gorgui Dieng) available to play. The Cardinals had a predictable let down and were almost upset by an Illinois State squad. That’s going to happen at times to the Cardinals this year, just because they aren’t going to shoot well enough. They need Dieng, but Pitino and company will be the best of the group in the gauntlet that is Big East play. Their guards can play both sides of the court.
The rest of the top 10:
6.) Michigan – Wasn’t sold on them early on. (I’m still not sold) But their resume warrants their ranking. Especially considering what’s behind them. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke have each performed as expected, with 16.6 points per game each.
7.)Syracuse – I said they’d be better than advertised and they are. Taking advantage of a soft schedule early, we will learn a lot more about Jim Boeheim and company come conference season.
8.)Gonzaga – Saturday’s contest against Illinois will be the first interesting test. Regardless, Mark Few’s team has dismantled folks early on with all but one of their victories coming by double digits.
9.)Cincinnati – Things begin to get foggy here. There are about 10 teams that could fight for the last two spots, but Cincinnati can rebound and they can rebound well. Like Syracuse, we’ll find out more about the Bearcats once conference season rolls around, but if Cincinnati can control the boards as they have early on they will take care of business.
10.)Georgetown – The utter ugliness that was the Tennessee contest aside, the Hoyas look very talented. Freshman Markel Starks and sophomore phenom Otto Porter have been great for this team. If you can forget how unwatchable the Tennessee game was this team begins to look like they deserve this ranking. Being able to grind out a win isn’t a bad trait to have either come March. (Butler anyone?)