We are just over the halfway point in the 2011 season, and things in college basketball are getting more and more interesting. I love it when we get into conference play as it really exposes teams. We find out if they are as good as advertised or not. Conference play is a grind, and the intensity just kicks up a notch or two. Let's get into the breakdown of what happened:
Iowa State Recap:
In a way, it is kind of a downer week. Jordan Railey got suspended, Christopherson got injured, and the team let a game slip away in Lincoln. Road conference games are very tough to win, and it just stinks to see the team lose the way they did. At the same time, what it really means is that the team needs to be sure to defend their homecourt and us fans need to do our part to make Hilton the tough environment to play in that it once was!
This week, Iowa State faces Kansas on Wednesday and Baylor on Saturday, both at home. I will be at both games, and I hope that you can make it to Hilton for these games as well if possible. The team does fight, does play hard, which is more than what I could say about the Cyclones last year. Regardless of the W-L record at the end of the this season, if they continue to play hard, it is going to be a good time.
Ken Pomeroy Ratings:
This week: #43 projected to go 20-11 (7-9)
Last week: #45 projected to go 20-11 (7-9)
The ranking here does not surprise me at all. This team was a 5 point dog in Lincoln and outperformed their expectation. At the same time, some of the struggles in the Big 12, didn't really make any team stronger.
Big 12 Power Ratings, Top 16, and TV Picks After The Jump!
1. Kansas (2-0 this week, 15-0 overall, #1 last week): KU survived a bit of a scare, beating Michigan in Ann Arbor 67-60 in OT. The Jayhawks open up conference play in our place on Wednesday night. It is my hope that the pure emotion of a night where Johnny Orr is going to be recognized pre-game will help spark some dormant Hilton Magic, and I can avoid listening to "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" at Hilton this year. They would then play the Huskers on Saturday.
2. Texas A&M (2-0 this week, 1-0 in Big 12, 14-1 overall, #2 last week): Now that football season is over for the Aggies, perhaps the citizens of College Station will now focus their attention to this overachieving team that faces both Oklahoma State and Mizzou at home. If you live in College Station, watch this team. They are good.
3. Texas (1-1 this week, 12-3 overall, #3 last week): Yes, they lost at home to UConn, but it was by 1 point in OT. UConn is a solid, team this year. With Mizzou losing to CU along with Baylor not showing anyone anything, and K-State struggling as well, Texas stays where they are at. Texas gets an easy week for them, with @Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
4. Baylor (2-0 this week, 1-0 in Big 12, 11-3 overall, #6 last week): The Bears picked up wins over Morgan State and @Texas Tech. They face Oklahoma, then come up to Ames. It is hard to get a feel for this team at this point in the season. All the teams you'd think would be interesting games (Gonzaga, Washington St., Florida St.), they lost. They have not beat a double-digit rated Ken Pomeroy team yet.
5. Oklahoma State (2-0 this week, 1-0 in Big 12, 13-2 overall, #8 last week): Another big mover in my power rankings. Preseason, I thought this was an NIT team. After beating K-State by 14 points, I am a believer that they are. In fact, depending on whether K-State recovers and whether Mizzou was exposed or just had a bad game, this is a team that could sneak in the NCAA tournament... But its too early for that right now. They've got two road games this week against Texas A&M and Colorado.
6. Kansas State (1-1 this week, 0-1 in Big 12, 12-4 overall, #5 last week): K-State gets the 6th spot ahead of Mizzou because I decided losing by double digits at Oklahoma State is not as bad as losing by double digits at CU. At least based on what we know about the teams this season. If Frank Martin can't rally the troops, this could be a longer season than fans in Manhattan asked for. It's early, but Pomeroy has this team going 7-9 in the Big 12. I think they will probably do better, but this season could slip if they are not able to fix what's wrong. The good news for K-State fans is they face Colorado and Texas Tech at home this week.
7. Missouri (1-1 this week, 0-1 in Big 12, 14-2 overall, #4 last week): The Tigers put up a stinker in Boulder this past weekend. Now, CU was expected to be much better this season than last year, and this really was the first game in which they played like that. It is hard to tell whether it was a bad game on Missouri's part, or a tremendous game on CU's part. I get the feeling it is a bit of both. The Tigers have Nebraska then go to A&M this week.
8. Colorado (2-0 this week, 1-0 in Big 12, 12-4 overall, #10 last week): Props to Burks for putting up 36 points against Mizzou. They played a great game, and their 12-4 record is better than what a casual basketball fan might expect. Some people may be saying "WTF" about me putting them below Mizzou, but the fact is this: it was a nice win, but this is still a team that lost to San Francisco and Harvard. They were both on the road, but neither was much of a game. I want to see the how the Buffs do this week when they go to K-State and play at home to Oklahoma State this week. It is a big week. In fact, the next two weeks are huge as they play 4 conference games that honestly could go either way.
9. Nebraska (3-0 this week, 1-0 in Big 12, 13-2 overall, #9 last week): It pains me to put the Huskers ahead of the Cyclones, but they won the game. I still think Iowa State is the better team, but they need to prove it on the court. The Huskers got roadies against Missouri and Kansas. Going to be a tough week for them.
10. Iowa State (1-1 this week, 0-1 in Big 12, 13-3 overall, #7 last week): I do not have a lot to add that hasn't already been said. The team faces a couple very talented teams, and it is going to be a challenging week for this group. If they can go 1-1 I'd be thrilled, but they are expected to be dogs in both games.
11. Texas Tech (1-1 this week, 0-1 in Big 12, 8-8 overall, #11 last week): Tech beat Delaware St and then lost by 12 to Baylor at home. Not a reason to move them up at all. They face Texas and go to K-State this week.
12. Oklahoma (1-1 this week, 0-1 in Big 12, 8-7 overall, #12 last week): They have a winning record at the halfway point in the season. That's pretty much the only positive thing I can say about this team right now. They lost to A&M by 18 at home and face Baylor and Texas on the road this week.
1. Duke (2-0 this week, 15-0 overall, #1 last week): With wins over UAB and Maryland this week, the Bluedevils keep rolling. I expect more of the same with games at Florida State and against Virginia.
2. Ohio State (2-0 this week, 16-0 overall, #2 last week): The Buckeyes did not play their best this week, winning @Iowa by only 5 and Minnesota by only 3. In the Minnesota game, they were a buzzer beater make away from going into OT.
3. Kansas (2-0 this week, 15-0 overall, #3 last week): Similar to Ohio State, the Jayhawks showed how hard it is to be at your "A" game week in and week out. Michigan gave them a scare, going to OT in Ann Arbor, but the Jayhawks pulled it out. They've go to Iowa State and then face Nebraska this week.
4. Pittsburgh (2-0 this week, 14-1 overall, #4 last week): Big East play has been good to the Panthers, as they have taken down UConn, Providence, and Marquette. This week they go to Georgetown and then face Seton Hall, before a HUGE game the following Monday against Syracuse.
5. Syracuse (1-0 this week, 16-0 overall, #5 last week): The Orange are having another fantastic season. To their fans, I guess it probably is just "business as usual" at this point. They will get tested this week, having to go to a tough St. John's team, and then playing Cincy at home.
6. BYU (2-0 this week, 16-1 overall, #8 last week): The Jimmers move up a couple spots after taking down a tough UNLV team on the road. BYU isn't going to be tested much in the MWC, so wins like that over UNLV are big. This week, they only have one game: @Utah.
7. San Diego State (2-0 this week, 17-0 overall, #7 last week): The Aztecs have not played anybody with a pulse in over a month. This week is big for them as they play UNLV and New Mexico at home.
8. Purdue (2-0 this week, 15-1 overall, #9 last week): The Boilermakers took care of business at Penn State and against Iowa. This upcoming week, they've got two road games: Minnesota and West Virginia. I think they can pull both of these off, and I also think they are the best team in the second best conference this season.
9. Villanova (2-0 this week, 14-1 overall, #11 last week): 'Nova keeps doing their thing, and not being a fan of anyone in the Big East in particular, I'm not mad at them! They're off to a 3-0 start in the Big East, after beating Cincy at home. This week they have a couple of home games that ought to be real fun: Louisville and Maryland.
10. Notre Dame (2-0 this week, 14-2 overall, #10 last week): Notre Dame. Top 10 team.... In basketball, not football.... According to me. I'm sure most of the Irish fanbase would gladly trade a .500 basketball team for a Top 10 football team, but they have it the other way around. The Irish have 6 wins over likely NCAA teams this year; some teams only have 1 or 2 right now. They've got two away games: Marquette and St. John's. We are going to find out what the Irish are all about this week, I think.
11. Kentucky (1-1 this week, 12-3 overall, #6 last week). Last time, I talked about how this was a young team and there would be some growing pains. Well, losing at Georgia was one of those pains. If preseason, you told me this, I wouldn't think it was that big of a deal. I thought Georgia would be a bubble team this year. It is just that the SEC is not very good, and Georgia did not play an especially interesting non-con, so its hard to say where they are going. For this Wildcat team though, it is just a bump in the road.
12. Texas A&M (2-0 this week, 14-1 overall, #12 last week): Had they played somebody in the Big 12 other than the worst team, I would have probably moved them up a slot or two.
13. UConn (1-1 this week, 12-2 overall, #15 last week): The Huskies lost at Notre Dame by 3, but made up for it with a road win over Texas by 1. They should pick up two more wins this week, as they face Rutgers and go to DePaul.
14. Wisconsin (1-0 this week, 12-3 overall, NR last week): Came out and beat a Michigan team by 18 points that ended up giving KU hell. Not a terrible way to make up for a tough loss to Illinois. The Badgers go to Michigan State and have a chance at revenge against Illinois this week.
15. Louisville (2-0 this week, 13-2 overall, NR last week): Similar to Wisconsin, Louisville bounced back after a tough loss the previous week to Kentucky. Also similar to Wisconsin is their schedule this week: they go on the road against a very good Villanova team, and play at home against a solid Marquette team as well.
16. St. Mary's (2-0 this week, 14-2 overall, NR last week): Some midmajor love this week. Always been a fan of the Gaels, and they are having another good season. Their two losses this year are a one point neutral site loss to BYU, and a tough 12 point loss to San Diego State. The WCC is just not that good of a conference, but I am having a hard time slotting a #16 team that I feel deserves it. Just due to the SOS, some other team is eventually going to step it up. I wanted to highlight a team having a good season that will likely make the NCAA tournament, and this is a good week for it.
Dropped Out: Texas, Georgetown, Missouri
Also Considered: Texas, Cincinnati, Washington, UNLV
Monday - 6pm CST, Notre Dame vs. Marquette, ESPN2
Tuesday - 6pm CST, Wisconsin vs. Michigan St., ESPN; 8pm CST, Florida vs. Tennessee (without Bruce Pearl)
Wednesday - 6pm CST, Louisville vs. Villanova, ESPN2; 8pm CST, Kansas vs. your Iowa State Cyclones!, ESPN2
Thursday - 6pm CST, Purdue vs. Minnesota, ESPN
Friday - NOTHING
Saturday - Noon CST, Missouri vs. Texas A&M, ESPN2; 2pm CST, Illinois vs. Wisconsin, Big 10 Network; 5pm CST, Baylor vs. Iowa State, ESPNFC.
Sunday - 12:30pm CST, Purdue vs. WVU, CBS