Beyond the Top 25 - A College Hoops Weekly
by Taylor Jordan - Strike Point Sports - 1/31/2012
The Top 10 is looking as flimsy as ever. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, there isn’t a clear-cut No. 1 team and it stays shaky after that. But Kentucky is my pick as the nation’s top team and has been since the season began and they are holding down the top spot.
To have so many evenly-talented teams atop the national rankings creates drama and enough storylines to last the rest of the regular season, along with some good hype going into the Big Dance and arguments revolving around who legitimately has a chance to cut down the nets in New Orleans in April.
Murray State has cracked the Top 10 and is ranked ninth this week. It is hard to see them losing to another Ohio Valley squad. And if they can top St. Mary’s in their BracketBuster matchup on Feb. 18 they could achieve an undefeated regular season. And that should create another interesting plot come seeding day for the NCAA Tournament.
Here is a deeper look at the teams on the outside of the Top 25 looking in for Week 13:
Iowa State, 13-6 (10-7 ATS)
I know the Cyclones do not have the most impressive record on paper. But when you look at where this ISU team has come from last season alone, it is very impressive. Iowa State is coming off an upset win over Kansas and they are 6-2 ATS in Big 12 play to boot. Fred Hoiberg’s team hosts Kansas State on Tuesday prior to two road games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the next week.
Kansas State, 15-5 (8-8 ATS)
Here is another Big 12 school that is worthy of some headlines. The Wildcats have a resume win over Baylor as well as road wins at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. They face previously mentioned Iowa State to begin the week, and then host Texas A&M this weekend. KSU isn’t ready for the Top 25 just yet, but a couple more wins and maybe an upset sprinkled in there could do the trick.
Gonzaga, 17-3 (9-11 ATS)
The Bulldogs aren’t making money for backers. But Mark Few will gladly trade covers for outright victories this time of year. Gonzaga has now won four straight and nine of its last 10. They have away dates against BYU and Pepperdine to begin February before their all-important home game against WCC leaders St. Mary’s.
Vanderbilt, 16-5 (9-8 ATS)
The Commodores did just enough to remain on the doorstep of the Top 25. Vandy bested in-state rivals Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State this past week, and now a more daunting task waits in the form of road dates at Arkansas and Florida this week. The Gators have been a beast of a team in Gainesville, so that test will particularly be of some use to decide whether or not the ‘Dores are a worthy SEC contender.
Nevada, 18-3 (13-4 ATS)
I think it is about time these Wolf Pack got some shine. Yes, the WAC isn’t really that strong this season, and rarely ever is, but Nevada is racking up wins left and right. They won back-to-back road games last week, besting Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, and they continue to keep up the team’s perfect mark inside conference play. A tricky test is upcoming against Utah State at home and this one might be more difficult than it looks on paper, not to mention more road tests that beckon in the next couple of weeks.
Connecticut, 14-6 (6-10 ATS)
Three straight losses will definitely usher you outside the national rankings. That was exactly the case for the Huskies with losses to Cincinnati, Tennessee and Notre Dame. Three of the last five results have been setbacks, so Connecticut has been on the decline for the last month or so. Still, UConn will be able to set right back up to the batter’s box and swing away, having big-time opportunities at Louisville and at Syracuse in the first couple weeks in February.
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