RTC Top 25: Week SevenPosted by Walker Carey on December 30th, 2013
The last week of primarily non-conference play has wrapped up and both of its remaining premier match-ups took place on Saturday with top 10 Villanova taking its undefeated record to Syracuse and the Battle for the Bluegrass in Lexington between preseason top three teams Louisville and Kentucky. Both games saw the home team prevail, as Syracuse weathered an early Villanova run and dominated the second half to cruise to a 78-62 victory, while Kentucky’s youth movement gelled very well and treated Big Blue Nation to a 73-66 win. With conference play in many leagues set to begin this week, it will be interesting to see how quickly and substantially the impact of playing familiar foes has on future polls. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this week’s poll is after the jump.
Quick n’ dirty analysis.
- Arizona Remains the Consensus #1 Team. For the third straight week, the Wildcats are the consensus top team in America, as they took care of business in defeating Northern Arizona in its only game of the week. The start of Pac-12 play looks to be kind for the Wildcats, as they have home games against bottom-tier conference foes Washington State and Washington on its docket next weekend.
- Syracuse is Now the Consensus #2 Team. Over the past few weeks, Syracuse, Louisville, and Ohio State had each earned votes among our pollsters at #2, but after Saturday’s impressive win in the Carrier Dome over previously undefeated Villanova, the Orange gained the pollsters’ attention and are now firmly locked in behind Arizona.
- Two New Teams. The #24 and #25 spots in the poll have new holders this week, as #24 Missouri and #25 Pittsburgh took over the positions previously held by Michigan and Florida State. None of those four teams suffered a defeat this week, but the changes illuminate how flexible the bottom half of the poll is at this point in the season.
Poll Defense. RTC pollster Shane Connolly took the opportunity to defend his reasoning behind ranking #10 Kansas ahead of #14 Villanova even though the Wildcats defeated the Jayhawks in November and have only one loss compared to Kansas’ three defeats.
Kansas is an extremely young and talented team. You can see the team’s improvement with every game. The Jayhawks are a better team, though, on December 29 than they were on November 29. They will be better on January 29 than they are today. That is the nature of young, talented teams. The Jayhawks led in that November match-up with under a minute to go. I think now they are able to close it out. I hate punishing Villanova for dropping a road game to a great team like Syracuse, but Iowa State and Kansas have looked like top 10 teams more recently and I wanted my poll to reflect that.
Game of the Week. #18 Iowa vs. #4 Wisconsin. Iowa and Wisconsin both really impressed in non-conference play. These two teams will open Big Ten action by battling each other in Madison on Sunday. Iowa features an up-tempo style of play that ranks third in the country with an 88.7 PPG average. The Badgers, on the other hand, once again have a reputation as a sound defensive squad. In this battle of contrasting styles, it will be quite entertaining to see which team’s preferred way to play basketball will prevail.
Keep Tabs On. Toledo vs. #10 Kansas, Purdue vs. #3 Ohio State, UCF vs. #12 Louisville, Butler vs. #14 Villanova, Colorado State vs. #22 San Diego State, Utah vs. #7 Oregon, Indiana vs. #5 Michigan State, Notre Dame vs. #10 Duke, Kansas State vs. #6 Oklahoma State, Cincinnati vs. #20 Memphis, Providence vs. #14 Villanova, #21 Colorado vs. #7 Oregon, #22 San Diego State vs. #10 Kansas.
Conference Call: ACC (4) Big Ten (4) Big 12 (4), AAC (3), Pac-12 (3), SEC (3), Big East (1), Missouri Valley (1), Atlantic 10 (1), Mountain West (1).