RTC Top 25: Week EightPosted by WCarey on January 6th, 2014
Conference play started with a bang last week, featuring a good number of upsets. Of last week’s top 10, the group of #6 Oklahoma State, #7 Oregon, #10 Duke, and #10 Kansas failed to avoid the upset bug over a very interesting weekend. On Saturday, the Cowboys and Blue Devils rediscovered just how difficult it is to win on the road in conference play, losing to suddenly hot Kansas State and Notre Dame, respectively. Oregon fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Sunday when it lost to #17 Colorado in Boulder, while Kansas suffered its first non-conference home defeat since 2006 when it was outdone by #14 San Diego State. While these four teams were remain in this week’s RTC25, neither of previously #17 Connecticut and #20 Memphis were as fortunate. The Huskies’ foray into AAC play started out poorly by falling at Houston on Tuesday and at SMU on Saturday. The Tigers also suffered a setback in their first AAC contest as they dropped one to a surging Cincinnati squad. If last week serves as any indication, conference play this season will be full of great excitement, surprises and a rather fluid RTC25 each week the rest of the way. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this week’s poll is after the jump.
- Arizona Remains the Consensus #1 Team. For the fourth straight week, the Wildcats come in as the top team in the country, as they opened Pac-12 play with victories over Washington State and Washington over the weekend. Arizona’s slate this week will be quite a bit more difficult, as it will go on the road to play UCLA on Thursday and USC on Sunday.
- Wichita State Continues Its Swift Climb. The undefeated Shockers rose from #12 to #6 in this week’s poll, as they opened Missouri Valley play with two dominant victories at Southern Illinois and at home versus Northern Iowa. With the team likely to be favored in every one of its remaining conference games this season, Wichita State is definitely a team to keep an eye on as it chases a potential undefeated regular season.
- Differing Opinions on Louisville and Colorado. There is usually a good amount of variance when it comes to our pollsters, and this week is no different and the two teams that highlight this notion are Louisville and Colorado. The #10 Cardinals were ranked as high as #6 by one of our pollsters and as low as #18 by another. The #17 Buffaloes were ranked as high as #10 and as low as #22 this week. Which is closest to reality?
- Three New Teams. #21 Creighton, #23 Michigan, and #25 Illinois enter the rankings this week after they all began their conference slates at 2-0. The Bluejays were victorious over Marquette on Tuesday and Seton Hall on Saturday. The Wolverines scored a road win over Minnesota on Thursday and defended their home court with a big victory over Northwestern on Sunday. The Illini showed their home court advantage in wins over Indiana on Tuesday and Penn State on Saturday.
Poll Defense. RTC pollster Brian Otskey took the opportunity to defend his reasoning behind ranking Colorado at #23 despite the team’s strong wins over Kansas, Harvard, and Oregon.
I did not have Colorado ranked last week (I have not ranked it in any week this season) but I do feel moving the Buffaloes into the Top 25 at No. 22 is very fair after beating Oregon on Sunday. Colorado is 13-2 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play but all of its quality wins have come at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. The Kansas win, while great, does not look quite as good as it once did, and Oregon is a team that I have not been all that high on, despite its previously undefeated record. While Harvard is a good team, beating the Crimson at home is something that is par for the course and nothing more than that if you want to be ranked in the Top 25. Tad Boyle has a good basketball team but I would like to see more from it before I fully buy in. The best team Colorado has beaten away from its home court (elevation: 5,345 feet) is Colorado State, a team ranked well outside the top 100 in the Pomeroy ratings. Colorado is solid defensively but I am concerned about its ability to score, especially away from home. Four of CU’s next six games are on the road so we will find out in short order if Colorado is for real. For now, I believe a resume that includes taking care of business at home in conference against Oregon, a decent win over Harvard and a great win over Kansas is worthy of a spot in the No. 20-25 range, despite being rated No. 30 in Pomeroy’s ratings.
Game of the Week. #3 Ohio State vs. #5 Michigan State. Two of the nation’s premier teams will meet in East Lansing on Tuesday night, as the undefeated Buckeyes will invade the Breslin Center to take on the once-beaten Spartans. Both teams enter the game hot, as Ohio State blew out Nebraska on Saturday and Michigan State went to Assembly Hall and throttled Indiana on the same day. The match-up to watch in this game will be the battle between two elite point guards with Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Michigan State’s Keith Appling.
Keep Tabs On. #15 Baylor vs. #7 Iowa State, #25 Illinois vs. #4 Wisconsin, Texas vs. #9 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma vs. #18 Kansas, UCLA vs. #1 Arizona, Memphis vs. #10 Louisville, California vs. #13 Oregon, North Carolina vs. #2 Syracuse, Minnesota vs. #5 Michigan State, St. John’s vs. #10 Villanova, Oklahoma vs. #7 Iowa State, Kansas State vs. #18 Kansas, #19 Iowa vs. #3 Ohio State, SMU vs. #10 Louisville, Stanford vs. #13 Oregon.
Conference Call: Big Ten (6), Big 12 (4), ACC (3), Pac-12 (3), SEC (3), Big East (2), AAC (1), Missouri Valley (1), Atlantic 10 (1), Mountain West (1).