Every Monday during the season, Daniel Martin of CSNBaltimore.com and Greg Crawford of Alford/Crawford East West Hoops 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. Virginia - Time to shake things up a bit. AAC teams have the benefit of a weaker bottom of their conference, so with Virginia humming along in the ACC, it’s time to recognize the Cavaliers. They’ve won nine in a row after a close loss to Duke back in mid-January.
8. Villanova - Creighton is the thorn in their side, but the Wildcats are still dangerous. Their last non-Creighton loss was Dec. 28 to Syracuse.
7. Saint Louis - Beating VCU was a statement, helping to separate themselves from the No. 2 team in the conference. Amazing to think that this team hasn’t lost since Dec. 1.
6. Creighton - Man, Doug McDermott and Creighton have a penchant for dominating Villanova. Facing a team with length (like St. John’s showed twice this season) will be the Bluejays’ biggest obstacle.
5. Duke - Maryland ran Duke to the wire, but a team that can score like this continues to be a threat. If they meet a team with size, they’re going to have trouble.
4. Kansas - There’s only so much that you can fault a team for losing on the road at Kansas State, as the Jayhawks did. They stay even because they still appear to be coming together at the right time.
3. Florida - Bradley Beal and John Wall made a bet during Florida-Kentucky and Wall now has to wear a set of onesie pajamas because the Gators beat the Wildcats. This team hasn’t lost since Dec. 10.
2. Wichita State - They, too, remain undefeated. No remaining regular-season opponent for the Shockers has a winning record in the conference.
1. Syracuse - We’ll say it again: unbeaten, unmoved. Tyler Ennis helped the Orange escape Pitt in dramatic fashion and C.J. Fair did the same against NC State. They will likely lose at some point. The question is when.
9. Weber State - Easily are going to win the the Big Sky regular season, now they have to prove just how good they are, by winning the Big Sky tournament, which will be played on their home floor.
8. UC Irvine - Somewhat of a surprise team out west, have won four games in a row, really play well as a team passing the ball and will have a big showdown game on Thursday night in Honolulu against Hawaii.
7. UNLV - They make number seven on the basis of David Rice is doing a wonderful job of coaching and at 17-8 on the season, are capable of destroying teams on any given night. Big challenge here, will they make the NCAA tournament?
6. UCLA - Even though Arizona appears to be the best team in the Pac-12, UCLA is my pick to win the Pac-12 tournament. Just too many good players and coached by Steve Alford, who still is horribly underrated as a basketball coach.
5. New Mexico - Having a splendid season, one game back of San Diego State for the Mt. West title and all eyes will be on the Lobos/Aztec match up on February 22nd in Albuquerque, the first meeting of the two basketball powers this year.
4. Arizona State - A good season, actually an even better season than people thought, at 19-6, with a big win over Arizona this past Friday night, setting the Sun Devils up for a real good shot to make the NCAA tournament.
3. San Diego State - Losing in Laramie by six points this past week, does not make a season, but it does drop you from one to three in the power rankings. Aztecs are still a powerful team, that no one wants to draw in the NCAA tournament.
2. Arizona - Two losses all year, both in the Pac-12 to California and Arizona State. The Wildcats come to Eugene and Corvallis this week, which could drop them to four losses in the Pac-12, or could get some much needed confidence back.
1. Gonzaga - On yes, the Bulldogs move to number one, for the first time this year. 23 wins, much better than anyone projected and now must complete the WCC regular season with four straight on the road, including games against St. Mary's and BYU.