Fresh off a road victory at Cincinnati, New Mexico makes its season debut in our Power 24. It backs up solid victories over Connecticut and Davidson at home, and makes the home loss to South Dakota State look more like a blip on the radar. The Lobos’ win at Indiana State is beginning to look better, too.
Duke continues to headline the rankings. The Blue Devils are followed by Louisville, Michigan, and Kansas in the top four positions. Those four teams would be your No. 1 seeds if we were updating the bracket today. The only team to fall from the Power 24 is Pittsburgh – now at No. 26 on the s-curve. The Panthers haven’t lost since falling to Michigan on November 21, but Pitt’s best wins to date are Lehigh and Detroit. Fortunately, Pittsburgh can change its resume quickly as Big East play arrives.
It was a close call for spot No. 24. We’re sticking with Notre Dame for now. Wichita State is making a renewed push, and an early win at VCU continues to shine. The Shockers put an impressive win over Northern Iowa together Sunday with several regulars missing. With Illinois State and Indiana State in the mix, Valley teams could grab three or four bids come March.
It’ll be a great week of hoops. Happy New Year!
In four days, it’ll be 2013, and the race to Selection Sunday begins takes on added meaning. But these four days are packed with key games. Here’s a look at some games we’ll be paying close attention to through New Year’s Eve …
Friday, December 28
Baylor at Gonzaga – The last time Gonzaga hosted a potential NCAA team on its home floor, Illinois left The Kennel with an 11-point victory. And while the visiting Bears have a headscratching loss to College of Charleston (and one at home to Northwestern), they do have a road win at Kentucky.
Missouri at UCLA – Will this be a season-changing moment for UCLA? The Bruins have largely underachieved, and have yet to post a high-caliber victory (Texas is questionnable – although the Indiana State win looks better). Missouri’s new pieces are coming together and Jabari Brown has added some outside scoring punch. Come March, it’s not a stretch to think this Mizzou team could actually be better than last year’s.
Saturday, December 29
Kentucky at Louisville – One of the nation’s best rivalries. That said, this game will tell us more about where UK is than Louisville. The Wildcats’ best win is over Maryland in November, and while there are no “bad” losses, Big Blue Nation grew a bit restless after falling to Baylor at home. Gorgui Dieng is expected to return for the Cardinals.
Virginia Tech vs. BYU (at Salt Lake) - A defacto home game for the Cougars, this has mid-season bubble-game written all over it. Tech has the better overall resume to date, but the Hokies have lost three of five – including a home game to Georgia Southern. Read more…
It’s the Christmas Eve edition of our Power 24. Which in this case means merry times for Michigan and Kansas. The Wolverines and Jayhawks have climbed to spots No. 3 and No. 4 on the s-curve; No. 1 seeds if we were updating the bracket. For those keeping track, KU was No. 4 in our preseason rankings. Regular weekly bracket projections begin in two weeks. Here’s to a great two weeks of Holiday hoops.
Duke remains No. 1 overall, and the Blue Devils continue to boast the nation’s best overall resume. If this were Selection Sunday, there’s little doubt Duke would be the top overall seed with a spot atop the East Regional. Louisville comes in at No. 2. The Cardinals’ lone loss was to Duke at the Battle for Atlantis – the game in which center Gorgui Dieng injured his wrist. In his absence, U of L has kept winning, and the Cards will be primed to meet rival Kentucky later in the week.
Arizona and Missouri continue to climb as well. Both are firm two-seeds right now – holding spots No. 6 (Arizona) and No. 7 (Missouri) on the seeding curve. Indiana is fifth after the loss to Butler and Syracuse is No. 8 after falling to Temple in New York. As always, conference play will play a big role from here on out. Most BCS conferences begin league play around New Year’s Day.
No new teams this week. Miami-FL would have slid into the No. 25 spot had they beaten Arizona late Sunday in Hawaii. The Hurricanes were largely overmatched, however, and currently sit at No. 27 on the curve. A full s-curve will be released with our regular brackets this year. A preview of that - including the Top 96 s-curve teams – will be released New Year’s Day.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Some surprise teams add a little Holiday hoops cheer to our first in-season bracket projection. Not many of us anticipated seeing Boise State, Wyoming, Oregon, Oregon State, or Illinois in a bracket at this point in time. Nor did we anticipate seeing teams like UCLA, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Florida State, West Virginia, and even St. Mary’s on the outside looking in. Of course, it’s important to remember that it’s still early. Teams have a lot of miles ahead of them on the Road to Selection Sunday.
One of the true oddities of the current s-curve is that eight ACC teams fall within the seeding range. That likely won’t be the case in March. But the current bracket is a quick snapshot of where the landscape is through games played on Sunday, December 9. Several important non-conference games remain between now and the opening of conference play. And conference play tends to sort out contenders and pretenders. Keep in mind, teams earn bids, not conferences. So while it would be tempting to simply remove an ACC team because eight bids is unrealistic, that’s not the way the Selection Committee puts a bracket together.
Duke is the No. 1 overall seed. The Blue Devils have put together an impressive resume during the first month of the season. Indiana comes it at No. 2 on the s-curve. Louisville and Syracuse grab the final two No. 1 slots. Next in line: Michigan, Florida, Ohio State, and Kansas. It’s very likely those eight teams will remain in contention for high seeds. Kentucky has struggled early, but it won’t be surprising to find the Wildcats back in the mix for a protected seed by February. There’s simply too much talent in Lexington.
If history is any indication, we’ll lose a few teams that appear solid in mid-December. And a few new surprises will appear. That’s one of the great parts of college hoops. Enjoy the on-court action. Regular bracket updates begin in January.
We’re just over a month into the season. A new bracket (our first one of the regular season) is on it’s way. As you review the latest Power 24, keep in mind that it reflects the current s-curve as of the date of publication. In other words, it represents spots 1-24 on the s-curve (which are seeds 1-6). At this juncture, Duke and Indiana remain in the top spots.
Reasonable minds can differ, of course. IU has done nothing to hurt its preseason No. 1 slot. Rather, Duke has – by a wide margin – put together the most impressive resume. Whether accurate at the time or not, the Blue Devils have beaten three Top 5 teams, only one of those (Ohio State) on their home floor. If the Selection Committee were debating those two teams today, it’s likely Duke would get the edge as the No. 1 overall seed. At least that’s a hunch.
It’s a light week of hoops. Catch your breath before it gears back up during the Holidays.