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. Wichita State - This is the first appearance in the rankings for Gregg Marshall’s team and it is well-deserved. The question now is whether the Shockers can run the table in conference play--which would mean an undefeated season. Would I put money on it? Not in that crazy Missouri Valley.
8. Florida - To Florida’s credit, they’ve played a tough schedule. Losses this season are to Wisconsin and Connecticut, of course not slouches. Casey Prather has really emerged.
7. Oklahoma State - Guard play wins games and Oklahoma State’s cup overfloweth with guard play. Conference play starts tomorrow vs. Kansas State.
6. Villanova - You can only penalize a team so much for losing to the top-seeded team in these rankings. They took on a challenge against Syracuse and lost, but that doesn’t mean they’re not the favorite in the Big East.
5. Iowa State - Keep sleeping on the Cyclones. I dare you. We’ll truly see Jan. 7 when they take on Baylor if they can pass the biggest test of the season, but offenses like the one Fred Hoiberg has are tough to stop.
4. Michigan State - They move up by virture of Villanova’s loss, though no big wins happened over the past week. Ohio State on Jan. 7 still circled.
3. Wisconsin - Iowa is coming up on Sunday, Wisconsin’s first real test since the first week of December. Unlikely hero Nigel Hayes helped the Badgers to a blowout win over Northwestern.
2. Ohio State - They opened conference play with a win over Purdue, so there’s no need to move them out of the No. 2 spot with their undefeated record. Michigan State still sits on the horizon Jan. 7.
1. Syracuse - We wanted to know how Syracuse would (Fair) against one of the nation’s best in Villanova and they answered resoundingly with a win. Find me five better point guards in the country than Tyler Ennis. It’ll be tough.
9. Hawaii - Yes, great place to visit, but might not be for visiting basketball teams. This is the best Rainbow team in many years and they are going to be hard to keep out of the top spot in the Big West Conference.
8. UNLV - The Runnin Rebels had a less than impressive start to the season, but now have won seven in a row. They will be tested hard Saturday as they face a vastly improving Air Force team in a Mt. West Conference game.
7. UCLA - No big wins this year to speak of, but it still is UCLA and they have so many talented players, plus one of the most underrated coaches in all of college basketball in Steve Alford.
6. Utah - Yes, even losing to a great Oregon team will keep the Utes in the top nine. It was a game that probably should have been won by Utah, but the loss in overtime to Oregon is nothing to be ashamed of and Utah could become an NCAA tournament team before the season is done.
5. Colorado - Biggest test of the year coming up on Sunday when undefeated Oregon visits. Tad Boyle in his three plus years at Colorado has lost only six home games, so Sunday is a national game to watch.
4. Gonzaga - Fourth place might be a lack of respect for the Zags, as they are off to a great start in the WCC, winning the first three including dismantling their tough opponent in the WCC year in and out, St. Mary's. When they hit the road soon, we will see how the Bulldogs play without talented guard, Gary Bell, who is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand.
3. San Diego State - This is the best team out west that no one is talking about. They are not only 10-1, with their only loss coming to Arizona, but they really have no super-stars, which makes their season look even better. The Mt. West league play will be tough, but this is a powerful basketball team.
2. Arizona - Even with the destroying of Washington State on Thursday night, holding the Cougars to 25 points (not a typo), the Wildcats drop out of the top west spot this week, but I feel there is a valid reason, called the Oregon Ducks.
1. Oregon - Undefeated, have passed every exam so far, including beating a once defeated Utah team on the road in the Pac-12 opener. And what is scary about the Ducks is the fact they can win a game at any tempo as they proved in Utah. If they win at Colorado on Sunday, then they might be top five in the country.