RTC Top 25: Week 8Posted by KDoyle on January 7th, 2013
Non-conference play is a beautiful thing: it marks the start of a new season, is littered with many early season and holiday tournaments in places where one would more likely find a beach and surfboard than basketball hoop, and pits teams against one another that would otherwise never play. However, there is nothing quite like the beginning of conference play as rivalries are rekindled and teams seemingly play with a little extra juice. Duke remains atop the RTC25 for the seventh consecutive week, while Michigan closely follows as the Wolverines picked up nine #2 votes—it is very clear to pollsters who the top two teams in America are. A disappointing team that continues to fall each week is Ohio State, who may be one more loss away from dropping out of the RTC25 altogether.
- Top Seven Remain Unchanged. From #1 down to #7 Syracuse and the five teams between, all remained constant in the Week 8 poll. It is interesting to note when looking at the average ranking of each team that there is a fairly wide divide between Syracuse and Gonzaga. Also, Indiana, Kansas, Arizona, and the Orange are all closely bunched together. Expect the rankings to fluctuate.
- High Risers and Big Droppers. Notre Dame and Kansas State both shot up the rankings as the Irish are on the cusp of breaking into the Top 10, while Kansas State jumps into the rankings after a big win against Oklahoma State. On the contrary, two teams from the state of Ohio — Ohio State and Cincinnati — are dropping fast. The Buckeyes lost for the second time in four games in resounding fashion against Illinois. They played a very weak non-conference schedule, lost in their only two tests (Duke and Kansas), and were blown out by the Illini in their second Big Ten conference game. A whole lot of question marks in Columbus. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, the Bearcats were unable to follow up their big road win at Pittsburgh with a win at home against St. John’s. Once 12-0 and a Top 10 team, Cincinnati is now 13-2 and has fallen to #23.
- How to Rank Virginia Commonwealth? Ever since VCU’s two near-upset wins over Duke and Missouri in Atlantis, the Rams have run off nine straight wins and look like the top team in the Atlantic 10 — talk about taking a conference by storm. Still, all pollsters are not entirely sold yet on VCU. Three have VCU ranked inside the Top 20, while three others have them unranked.
Game of the Week. #4 Indiana vs. #9 Minnesota. This is a contest between one team who was supposed to be ranked in the Top 5 (Indiana) and another that was a borderline Top 25 team (Minnesota) in the preseason. The Golden Gophers certainly look like a legitimate Top 10 team with a 14-1 record and 2-0 start in Big Ten action. Their next three games will test their mettle, though: #15 Illinois, #4 Indiana, and #2 Michigan. Quite the stretch for Tubby Smith’s club.
Keep Tabs On. #1 Duke at #21 NC State, #2 Michigan at #19 Ohio State, #9 Minnesota at #15 Illinois, #11 Notre Dame at #23 Cincinnati
One New Face. Kansas State. The Wildcats made an appearance in the RTC25 earlier this season — albeit a very brief one — after beginning 5-0, but a loss to Michigan and then Gonzaga had them on the outside looking in. Recent wins over Florida and, most recently, Oklahoma State has Kansas State back as they check in at #20 this week. I guess that Bruce Weber still knows a thing or two about this game.
Conference Call. Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (3), ACC (2), Atlantic 10 (2), Big 12 (2), Mountain West (2), Missouri Valley (1), Pac-12 (1), West Coast (1).