Every Friday during the season, Daniel Martin of CSNBaltimore.com and Greg Crawford of CSNNW.com will come together to give you the NCAA Hoops East/West Power Rankings, a ranked list of the nine best teams from the West and the nine best teams from the East and Midwest in college basketball. Below is this week’s edition.
9. Cincinatti - Can the Bearcats finally get some love? At 16-2, they win with defense and we know how good defenses tend to fare when it counts--pretty well.
8. Ohio State - Weeks don’t get much rougher than the one Ohio State endured. After losing a hard-fought game to Michigan State, the Buckeyes stumbled at home against an admittedly tough Iowa team, but then lost one they should have won against Minnesota. Ouch.
7. Iowa State - The Cyclones dropped their first game to Kansas this week, but Andrew Wiggins played like a Player of the Year candidate and they had no answer for Joel Embiid inside. Still a really quality basketball team.
6. Florida - It’s really, really difficult to beat Florida at home. That’s why this next stretch will be a test for the Gators, who head on the road for three of their next four. The good news? Those three games are against Auburn, then Alabama, then Mississippi State.
5. Wichita State - Missouri State pushed the Shockers to the brink, but Gregg Marshall’s team prevailed in overtime. Their biggest conference matchup of the season so far will be tomorrow vs. Indiana State. If they win that, expect the buzz about running the table to pick up.
4. Villanova - The Wildcats escaped vs. Butler in overtime, but rolled to two straight big wins before outmuscling St. John’s. They will have had a full week off before taking on DePaul on Saturday.
3. Wisconsin - Wisconsin suffered its first loss of the season, but that doesn’t mean they should drop very far. This is a different type of Badgers team than we’ve seen in the past and one that, it appears, could be built for a long NCAA tournament run.
2. Michigan State - The scary thing about Michigan State is that they’re this good, but they’ve still yet to be fully healthy. There’s not really such a thing as coasting in the Big Ten, but they should win their next three games before a big test vs. No. 14 Iowa.
1. Syracuse - When you don’t lose, you stay put. Their win over UNC was part of a rough day for the state of North Carolina, with UNC, Duke, and NC State all losing. Nothing but good things in upstate New York, though.
9. No one earned this spot this week, it will be up for grabs from here on out, but on occasion, there just are not nine good teams out west that deserve the status of appearing in the now famous East West Power Rankings.
8. U.C. Irvine - Tied for the lead in the Big West, one of the top nine nicknames in college basketball (Anteaters) and winners of five in row, best start in the Big West in eight years.
7. BYU - Shaky start to season, but seemed to have settled down now. At this point could be a battle all year long with Gonzaga as to who wins the WCC regular season.
6. St. Mary's - Seems like with the losses, that St. Mary's is 5-13, but they are at 13-5. Not the strongest St. Mary's team of all time, but one constant which will never make them bad, they have a strong coach in Randy Bennett.
5. Gonzaga - In a WCC rut I am, with three teams in a row. Hard team to figure out, Zags go to Portland and get crushed by the Pilots, come right back and crush Pepperdine on the road. Still a powerful WCC team, not sure if national force.
4. UCLA - Bruins missed a golden opportunity, losing at home to Arizona, but have bounced back nicely, with a big win at Colorado in Boulder on Thursday night where the visiting teams rarely win. Probably the second best team in the Pac-12 all year long.
3. California - Overachieving, but so what. Nothing new for a Mike Montgomery team. 4-0 in Pac-12, including sweeping the Oregon schools on the road and win on Wednesday night at home against an improving Washington Huskies squad.
2. San Diego State - Broken record, but one loss all year to Arizona. No one in the country outside of San Diego can name three players on the team, but this team could really damage many teams come March in the Big Dance.
1. Arizona - Keep passing big tests, so deserve number one. Now we might have to look at the Wildcats running the table in the Pac-12 regular season, which is not unrealistic.
Follow Greg Crawford on Twitter: @wchoops