Every Monday 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. Louisville - There’s a certain sort of reluctance to putting the Cardinals here. Why? Yes, their four losses have all come to good teams. The other side of that, though, is that their best win of the season is against Southern Methodist.
8. Iowa - A lot of close losses to a lot of good teams--Villanova, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Michigan State--means the Hawkeyes deserve to be in the Top 9. But those close losses need to turn into wins down the stretch in the Big Ten.
7. Cincinnati - Mick Cronin continues to do a superb job with the Bearcats, who are continuing to look like the class of the AAC. Feb. 6 matchup against Connecticut is important.
6. Villanova - After a hiccup against Creighton, Villanova is back on track. A rematch with Creighton looms on Feb. 16, but they can’t overlook Xavier coming up next.
5. Michigan State - Injuries are what hurts the most for Michigan State. If this team could avoid that bug, they remain a serious Final 4 contender.
4. Kansas - Coming together at the right time is the key. Despite a loss on the road to a tough Texas team and Andrew Wiggins’ struggles in that game, the Jayhawks are indeed coming together. The fact that Oklahoma State is running into troubles of its own only helps their cause.
3. Florida - As if the Gators needed anymore wind in their sails, freshman Chris Walker has been cleared to play by the NCAA. Another boost for a team that is on a roll.
2. Wichita State - It has been said, but it’s worth repeating. This team is really built to make a run in the tournament. They did it last year and now everyone is a year older, with only a few personnel losses on the roster. Watch out.
1. Syracuse - The Orange survived a heck of a fight from Duke, so they deserve to remain at the top this week. They take over the AP’s No. 1 spot, too, after Arizona’s loss.
9. UNLV - This is the one team in the Mt. West that could beat New Mexico or San Diego State on any given night. Tremendous road team and playing well right now.
8. BYU - BYU still gets to play Gonzaga at home, but the chance to catch them will be tough in the WCC regular season. No one at present in any league could stop BYU star Tyler Haws from scoring big numbers.
7. New Mexico State - It will be surprising if the Aggies do not get the AQ from the WAC Conference. Always well coached and really tough to beat on home floor.
6. UCLA - Despite losing to Oregon State in Corvallis this past weekend and barely squeaking by Oregon, the Bruins are still powerful and one of the best teams out west. Kyle Anderson will have a long career in the NBA.
5. New Mexico - Five wins in a row in the powerful Mt. West, including a road sweep at Colorado State and Utah State, always tough places to play. Will do damage in the NCAA tournament as well, with their well balanced team.
4. California - If you are having a good year and then you beat the number one team in the country, who was undefeated you better be high in the East West Power Rankings.
3. Gonzaga - Have to admit, the Zags are playing better than I thought they would this year, with only three losses and one league loss. Passed a big test by defeating San Francisco on the Dons' home floor this past Saturday.
2. Arizona - Would have stayed at number one in the East West Power Rankings, but the loss of Brandon Ashley, possibly for the season with a foot injury will really hurt the Wildcats.
1. San Diego State - Without question, the Aztecs and Arizona are the two best teams on the west coast. The last loss for San Diego State, was November 14th to Arizona in Tucson, by nine points. 19-1 and rolling in the underrated Mt. West Conference.