Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House
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. Iowa State - Baylor is also very good and is likely No. 10 on this list (if we had one), but someone needs to give the Cyclones some respect. They’re the only remaining unbeaten team in the Big 12. They’re the top scoring team in the country at 91.7 points per game. Give Fred Hoiberg & Co. some credit. Good test coming Friday night against Iowa.
8. Oklahoma State - The Cowboys bounced back from a loss by beating South Carolina this week. They were only a shade outside of the Top 9 a week ago and now wiggle their way in. You want points? How about 90.4 of them? Marcus Smart is a Top 5 pick. Markel Brown and Phil Forte aren’t slouches, either.
7. Connecticut- The Huskies remain undefeated after beating Maine. They have a big layover for finals and don’t play again until Dec. 18, but they’ll need to come out with energy against Stanford.
6. North Carolina - Saturday provides the P.J. Hairston-less Tar Heels another chance to defy logic and beat a Top 25 team. The young Kentucky Wildcats come to Chapel Hill on Saturday. Marcus Paige, Marcus Paige, Marcus Paige.
5. Villanova - Still undefeated and fresh off a win over Big 5 rival St. Joe’s--and it wasn’t close. They have another Big 5 matchup this weekend, this time against La Salle. A big (now non-conference) test awaits on Dec. 28 against Syracuse. Weird.
4. Michigan State - Not much Michigan State could during a finals layover. Oakland and North Florida should get the Spartans back and rolling before facing Texas.
3. Wisconsin - The Badgers flexed their muscle again by beating in-state rival Marquette. Sam Dekker had a big 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in that game. Watch out.
2. Ohio State - Buckeyes keep rolling with wins over small New England schools. Down goes Central Connecticut State. Down goes Bryant. Now to the Midwest with North Dakota State awaiting, a team that just beat Notre Dame.
1. Syracuse - The schedule says “at St. John’s” but Madison Square Garden is essentially Carrier Dome South. If the Orange avoid a trip-up game against the Red Storm, they too will be looking forward to that Dec. 28 date with Villanova.
9. Pacific - Their only loss this season has been to the Oregon Ducks. One of the surprising teams in the country, obviously with a rich west coast basketball culture, they are a terrific addition to the West Coast Conference.
8. UCLA - The Bruins are very good, deserving of a top nine, but the loss to Missouri was a game they played poorly in. Zach LaVine moving towards becoming another great player to come out of the Seattle metro area and will help the Bruins much more that predicted this season.
7. New Mexico - Attention basketball fans, if you have not followed the Lobos, this year and before start paying attention. New Mexico is a perfect example of building a culture, which creates a coach to come right in and take over for a successful coach ahead of him who has left. They do not appear to be missing Steve Alford one bit running the show.
6. San Diego State - Is there any doubt that Steve Fisher, the head guy of the Aztecs belongs in the basketball hall of fame. He loses players, some to the pros and he replaces them with even better players. One terrific coach and pretty good team.
5. Gonzaga - After the Dayton loss, the Zags have bounced back well. with a huge win over West Virginia on the road. Gonzaga one of these years, seems like I keep saying that, is going to shock everyone and make the Final Four. Probably when we least expect it.
4. St. Mary's - Randy Bennett, Randy Bennett, Randy Bennett. The more I watch him coach, the more impressed I am. On the outside this appeared not to be the year, on the inside the Gaels are undefeated and rolling along per usual.
3. Oregon - Big game coming up in Portland, Oregon Saturday night against Illinois. The next week another big game against BYU in Eugene. Who would have have thought that on January 1st, the Oregon basketball team would have a better record than the football team, but that is shaping up to happen and so is Top 10 for the Ducks real soon.
2. Colorado - I don't care if Kansas might be a little off. Kansas has big time players, pro players, but the Buffs have an excellent team and a chance right now to finish very high in the Pac-12, even win the league. Biggest question facing Colorado right now is if they can keep Tad Boyle coaching in Boulder for a few more years after this season.
1. Arizona - No surprise here, the Wildcats are really good, I mean national championship good. They will need to be good in the Pac-12 this year as well, cause the league is as good as it has been in several years and playing the goofy unbalanced schedule, the UCLA Bruins do not have to play in Tucson, always a huge obstacle for even the best of Bruin teams. Right now, Arizona is my national champion.
Follow Greg Crawford on Twitter: @wchoops