RTC Top 25: Week 3Posted by KDoyle on December 3rd, 2012
The Top 10 in this week’s poll went relatively unchanged—aside from Kentucky plummeting 12 spots to #20—but nine of the other teams held their positioning for the most part. Gonzaga makes their first appearance in the single digits by checking in at #9. Tremendous movement occurred from #11-#25 as four teams departed the Top 25 and the average movement was a shade above five spots. Two teams remain true: #1 Duke and #2 Indiana. Both continue to impress and earned all votes of “1” or “2” in this week’s 25, with the exception of a single “3” that Indiana picked up.
This week’s QnD after the jump…
Quick ‘n Dirty Analysis.
- Duke at #1 For Second Week—There was no letdown for Duke after returning home from the Battle 4 Atlantis as they added another win to their already impressive résumé by beating Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and then disposed of Delaware with ease later in the week. Mason Plumlee is looking like a legitimate NPOY candidate, and the underclassmen duo of Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon are seamlessly fitting into Coach K’s system. Duke will have another opportunity for a good win against an undefeated Temple team this weekend; the Owls beat Duke last year 78-73.
- High Risers and Big Droppers—Minnesota and New Mexico both rose nine spots, while Kentucky and North Carolina dropped a ridiculous 12 spots. Prior to scrutinizing Cal and Roy, let’s give some credit to the Golden Gophers and Lobos. Minnesota posted a convincing win over Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last week—although, that win lost a bit of its punch following the ‘Noles loss to Mercer over the weekend—while New Mexico continues to pile up wins. In a competitive Mountain West Conference, Steve Alford has a record of 134-46 since the 2007-08 season—he has built a tremendous program in Albuquerque. Conversely, two of the biggest names in college basketball have early season red flags shooting up left and right. In their losses to Notre Dame and Baylor this past week, it became painfully obvious that Kentucky lacks a point guard and leader on the floor. Their loss to Baylor broke a home winning streak of 55 games at Rupp Arena. North Carolina fell out of the Top 25 completely as the Heels were run out of the gym by Indiana in losing 83-59; this coming just two games after Butler really took it to them in Maui. Like Kentucky, North Carolina is a young team who graduated four starters from last year’s elite squad. In our preseason poll, Kentucky checked in at #2 and North Carolina #14.
- Where to Rank… Creighton?—After losing to an upstart Boise State team, Creighton rebounded nicely with a dominating win over a good St. Joseph’s team, winning 81-50. As a result of the up-and-down week, the Bluejays continue to baffle our 10 pollsters. Two have them ranked #13, yet two others have them out of the Top 25 altogether. Perhaps the 13-point loss at home to Boise State will prove to be an early season wake-up call for Creighton.
- Duke the Lone ACC Team—Has there been a more disappointing conference to begin the year than the ACC? You’d be hard-pressed to find one. Aside from the Blue Devils, who has been nothing short of exceptional, NC State, North Carolina, and Florida State have all gotten out to slow starts out of the gate. This trio is out of the Top 25, leaving Duke as the lone ranked ACC team. It is worth mentioning, however, that Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Maryland have all posted impressive wins and are on the outskirts of the Top 25.
- Defending Their Poll—This week, Brian Otskey (BO) will defend his.Some may have taken a look at my rankings last week and did a double take after seeing I rated Baylor #21 even after losing two of its last three games to Colorado and Charleston. There’s no doubt those losses gave me some concern about the Bears. After all, I’ve said that nobody does less with more than Scott Drew. In spite of that, however, the talent on this team is undeniable and it was on display this past Saturday against Kentucky. Baylor handed John Calipari his first home loss as Kentucky’s head coach, UK’s first loss at Rupp Arena since falling to Georgia on senior day nearly four years ago. Does this say more about Kentucky than Baylor? That’s a fair question but when a team hasn’t lost at home in almost four years, you have to take note of what happened on Saturday afternoon. Whether it’s Pierre Jackson, who I think is the best point guard in the country, the potential of Isaiah Austin, or the marksmanship of Brady Heslip, I have such a hard time leaving this team out of the Top 25. I don’t think Baylor can be an elite team, but the Bears are good enough for a top 15 ranking (at least for this week).
Game of the Week.—#9 Gonzaga vs. #20 Illinois. A relatively weak slate of non-conference games as Gonzaga hosts Illinois in the only game of the week pitting ranked teams against each other. The Zags have yet to be truly tested, and we will officially find out if Illinois is for real. The Illini may be the best three-point shooting team in the country—something to keep an eye on against Gonzaga.
Keep Tabs On—#1 Duke vs. Temple, #5 Florida @ Florida State, #10 Kansas vs. Colorado, #14 Minnesota vs. South Dakota State, #16 Creighton vs. Akron
Four new faces—Notre Dame and Baylor began the season in the Top 25, but took a brief hiatus after early losses. New Mexico and Wichita State, however, are making appearances for the first time.
Also Receiving Votes—11 teams comprise the “ARV” category this week. North Carolina and NC State were on the verge of cracking the Top 25, but are on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, UCLA picked up just one vote this week.
Conference Call— Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (3), Mountain West (3), Big 12 (2), Pac-12 (2), Missouri Valley (2), ACC (1), West Coast (1)