by Dallas Jackson - 12/08/2005
December is here, which means the games are going to start to matter. Conference play tips off in a month and that's when we will separate the men from the boys. Right now, this is a testing the waters period trying to see what type of team you have. Before we get into it, here are my four thoughts from the last two weeks of college hoops.
1) Duke almost got the cookie jar closed on them. Looking ahead to Texas, they forgot about VTech. Sort of like how VTech forgot about Florida State in football…
2) Washington is finally getting some national coverage. Obviously the AP writers checked my last poll and moved Washington up from 25 to 13 like I did.
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3) I am worried about the Big Ten. Collectively they have lost to: Northern Iowa, Indiana St., Hawaii, Garnder-Webb and Evansville. I know in hoops you can afford losses, but you are giving Mid-Majors signature wins that could keep you out of the dance.
4) Does anyone else think it is weird there are only two Big 12 teams ranked? No, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech or Missouri?
Drum roll please...
1) Duke (7-0, 1-0): They would have stayed No. 1 even with a loss to VT. Although, I am a little bitter that we had to watch that half court shot as though it was Laettner Part II.
2) Texas (8-0): Duke and Memphis on the schedule in the next month, we'll see just how good Daniel Gibson is.
3) Villanova (5-0): The guard play is silly good. Foye and Ray are both over 20 a night; with Lowry and Nardi to compliment them.
4) UCONN (6-0): Cupcake schedule before opening Big East play. I hope the soft competition doesn't hurt them once conference play opens. The Big East is better than, UMASS, New Hampshire, Morehead St., Stony Brook and Quinnipiac.
5) Memphis (6-1): May be too big of a jump for Memphis, but, they won't lose in conference play, and a three-point loss to Duke is a nice statement.
6) Louisville (4-0): Not blowing out teams the way you'd like a top 10 team to do. Less than 100 points combined versus Richmond. I know the Spiders like to slow things down, but still.
7) Oklahoma (4-1): Blown up by Nova. Coppin State and WVU will be tests before they get to Alabama at the end of the month. Kevin Bookout needs to step up; his 7 ppg isn't going to cut it.
8) Boston College (6-1): Took a little slide in my rankings. I do not like what I am seeing from Smith and Dudley. They aren't playing with passion or "owning" the boards. They seem disinterested so far.
9) Illinois (8-0): Locking people down on defense. I really like what Illinois is doing up there, 65 points, by South Dakota State, was the most scored on them all season. Oh, they also played Rutgers, UNC and Xavier since then.
10) Gonzaga (4-2): I still hate having them in my top 10! Hopefully, the Zags will lose to Memphis in three weeks, and I can bump them down because their conference is a joke. Four ranked teams the first six games is aggressive but necessary.
11) Washington (7-0): They will be in my top 10 in two weeks. Beating Gonzaga should entitle them to be above the Zags, but that is only one ranked win; the Zags have two.
12) Florida (8-0): Billy Donovan starting the season strong? Where is the drama in that? The Gators usually have to perform miracles in the conference tourney to get invited to The Dance, starting 12-0 before conference play opens will have them at 20 wins, no problem.
13) Michigan State (6-2): Beating Arizona and Boston College during the past two weeks makes you forget they lost by 22 to Hawaii. (sort of)
14) Kentucky (6-2): Took a bad loss at home to a young North Carolina team. Next two games are measuring stick games versus Indiana and Louisville. Both are at home, so they better hold down the fort.
15) UCLA (6-1): Being from Pittsburgh, I have seen too many Ben Howland games, UCLA doesn't score enough and that worries me, but it worked at Pitt. Memphis rolled them up for 88 points; Michigan and Nevada are on the schedule next, we'll see what the Bruins can do.
16) Iowa (7-2): Third time in a row Iowa lost at Northern Iowa. Up five with three minutes left, you have to be able to close the door. Four games in the next 13 days, time for the Hawkeye's to get things straight.
17) Nevada (5-0): Could have been higher. I love Nick Fazekas. Wins on the road, versus three 2005 tournament teams -- Vermont, Kansas and Pacific -- is impressive.
18) George Washington (5-0): Where did the A-10 go? The Colonials up ended Maryland at home. Their five wins have all be in the past 13 days, not a bad run.
19) Wake Forest (7-1): Still finding their groove without Chris Paul. Justin Gray is good. Games versus DePaul, Princeton and Richmond should turn into W's for Wake.
20) Alabama (4-1): Got throttled by Memphis (who hasn't), and hasn't really played anyone of consequence, this is a pick based on potential.
Others receiving consideration: Maryland, Indiana, UNC, and Houston.
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The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's college basketball picks service.