Beyond the Top 25 - A College Hoops Weekly
by Taylor Jordan - Strike Point Sports - 1/24/2012
You knew Syracuse was eventually going to have a setback. As well as the Orange were playing, combined with a down Big East, perhaps the thought of an undefeated season was beginning to kick in. The thing is, I doubt many thought it would be Notre Dame to deal Syracuse its first loss of the season. But that was the case last Saturday.
However, one of the teams just outside the Top 25 knocking at the door, Cincinnati, almost dealt Syracuse another defeat last night. But the Orange were able to recover in the second half and earn a tough road win. That game will likely keep them in the Top 5 and in the hunt for a No. 1 seed while keeping the Bearcats on the outside of the Top 25 looking in.
Syracuse’s weekend loss means that Kentucky is now in the poll position as the new top team in America. Missouri, courtesy of their road win at previously No. 3 Baylor, is the new No. 2. Ohio State climbs to the third spot and Syracuse, although still as tough as ever, is at No. 4. Kansas rounds out the Top 5 with Duke dropping to No. 6 after their shocking, last-second defeat at Cameron Indoor thanks to Florida State’s buzzer-beater heroics.
Here is a deeper look at the teams on the outside looking in for Week 12:
Florida State, 13-6 Straight Up (10-7 Against The Spread)
The overall record is just marginal. But when you have victories over North Carolina and Duke that automatically boosts the resume up a couple of notches. The Seminoles are currently third in the ACC standings and have only Virginia as their lone tough opponent in their next five conference games. The next two weeks should define the season and show if they are able to build off their top wins or if that was the height of this campaign.
Wichita State 17-3 (8-9 ATS)
Cracking the Top 25 is a difficult thing to do when you hail from the Missouri Valley Conference. What can you say except for that your league is extremely difficult and full of parity, so it is only so long until you get dealt a deserved loss? Well, that is not necessarily the case for the Shockers. Only Creighton is above them in the league standings and they have done well to stay ranked most of this year. Wichita has very winnable games in its next two before a road visit next week to Missouri State. This trio of games, if won, should see Wichita into the rankings.
Gonzaga, 16-3 (9-10 ATS)
The Bulldogs have been hovering around the outside of the national rankings for what seems like the entire season. The ‘Zags have won three straight and bounced back nicely after getting routed at St. Mary’s for its first conference loss of the season. The Zags have won nine of their last 10 and Mark Few continues to handle his business in Spokane. Three road games at Portland, BYU and Pepperdine are up next before Gonzaga host the Gaels on Feb. 9 for what could decide the WCC regular season title.
Vanderbilt, 14-5 (8-7 ATS)
The Commodores took the first step in getting back into the Top 25 with their road win in Alabama to begin this past week. However, a one-point OT loss at home to Mississippi State keeps them on the outside looking in for at least another week. In-state rival Tennessee is up next for Vandy to start this week, then fellow Tennessee school Middle Tennessee State comes to Nashville as well.
Nevada, 16-3 (12-3 ATS)
No one is talking about Nevada. Well, they should. The Wolfpack have been a cash cow this season and right now they sit atop the WAC standings. They have won 10 straight games and are an outstanding 9-1 ATS in those results. The toughest test of the season could be at New Mexico State and then they need to keep their heads depending upon the result when they visit Rustin to take on Louisiana Tech.
Southern Mississippi, 17-3 (8-8 ATS)
Memphis is the team that comes to mind when you think of Conference USA basketball. But this season, it’s the rest of the league that has been the story. And one of the teams is Southern Miss. Currently second in the standings behind Central Florida, the Golden Eagles only have a two-point loss at Memphis keeping them from a 14-game winning streak. They are still a bit low on the totem poll to be a legit Top 25 contender, but if Southern Miss wins its next two games (road tests at East Carolina and Central Florida), then we can begin to talk about national spotlight.
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