Defending NCAA champion Louisville headlines our preseason Power 24 rankings. The Cardinals return a host of talent from last year’s title team, and a third straight trip to the Final Four is certainly within reach. Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Arizona are the other early favorites to contend for No. 1 seeds.
Great storylines await when the season tips-off on Friday, November 8. Will ultra-talented Kentucky emerge as a dominant team? Will Andrew Wiggins lead the Jayhawks to another title? Will Tom Izzo guide Michigan State back to the Final Four? Will we have another Final Four surprise? We can’t sleep on Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Throw in conference re-alignments, and we have a virtual re-make of the college hoops landscape.
The team in our preseason Power 24 that might surprise some: Iowa. Call it a hunch, but the Hawkeyes were playing like an NCAA team at the end of the last season. Some early stumbles and a poor non-conference schedule ultimately hurt their NCAA resume. Most of their talent returns. Iowa has the depth and talent to finish as a Top 4 team in the Big Ten. Will it happen? We’ll see.
The good news: All of this will be settled on the court. Preseason projections are fun. They prompt discussions. But none of us knows how the journey will develop. That’s the beauty of college basketball.
Several teams – including Florida, North Carolina and Oregon (announced late Tuesday this week) have suspension and/or injury issues. How those scenarios play out will impact each of those squads. It’s just too early to know.
Those just missing the preseason Power 24? Creighton, Notre Dame, New Mexico, Indiana, Baylor, Virginia, Saint Louis, and Harvard. You could make a case for any of those teams to be included. The season is almost here. Let’s enjoy the ride.
Through the first two months of the college basketball season, no team has accomplished more than Duke. Thus, the Blue Devils hold the top spot on the s-curve and the No. 1 overall seed in our first bracket projection of 2013. For what it’s worth, Duke is No. 1 in the RPI, has played the nation’s third best schedule, is 10-0 vs. the RPI Top 50, and has wins over Louisville, Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, Temple, and Ohio State. That’s about as good as it gets. The other No. 1 seeds are Louisville, Michigan, and Kansas.
As expected, the lower half of the current bracket is quite fluid. Even some national headliners have suspect resumes to this point: Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina come to mind. Of those three, Kentucky seems most likely to push for a significantly higher seed come tournament time. We also have teams whose non-conference schedules could prove costly in March: Virginia (No. 329), Maryland (No. 323), Georgia Tech (No. 302), Charlotte (No. 300), Wyoming (No. 281), Iowa (No. 276), Pittsburgh (No. 255), and St. Mary’s (246) are just a few. How these teams – and others – handle conference play will define their seasons because their non-conference numbers won’t help much. (SOS numbers are from ESPN’s Insider RPI).
Quick note: The current bracket is for games played through Sunday, January 6. It does not include games played Monday (Jan. 7). Notre Dame’s win at Cincinnati will be included in the next bracket and s-curve update.
Here are some related links as part of first 2013 bracket:
The race to Selection Sunday is underway. It should be a fun ride. Early brackets are much like the weather. If you don’t like it, just wait. It’s sure to change.
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!
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.
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.