Articles By Mitch Light

Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-commodores-2013-spring-football-preview
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James Franklin has taken Vanderbilt where few thought it was possible for the program to go — to the middle of the pack in the SEC. After showing significant improvement in Franklin’s first season — the Dores won six games in 2011, two more than the previous two years combined — the program took an even bigger step forward in 2012. The Commodores went 9–4 overall and 5–3 in the SEC. The nine wins were the most since 1915, and the winning record in the league was the school’s first since 1982. Vanderbilt ended the season on a seven-game winning streak, with five of the seven victories coming by 14 points or more. There was nothing fluky about Vanderbilt’s breakthrough season — the Commodores ranked fifth in the league in total defense and a respectable eighth in total offense.  And while there are a few key personnel losses on both sides of the ball, there is more than enough returning talent to keep the Commodores relevant in the nation’s most difficult conference.

Vanderbilt Commodores 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 9-4 (5-3)

Spring practice dates: March 15-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Austyn Carta-Samuels, 14 of 25, 208 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Brian Kimbrow, 66 car., 413 yards, 3 TDs
Receiving: Jordan Matthews, 94 rec., 1,323 yards, 8 TDs
Tackles: Kenny Ladler, 90
Sacks: Kyle Woestmann, 6
Interceptions: Kenny Ladler and Andre Hal, 2

Redshirts to Watch: CB Brandon Banks, DT Ladarius Banks, P Colby Cooke, OL Barrett Gouger, OL Andrew Jelks, CB Torren McGaster, DE Stephen Weatherly, QB Patton Robinette

Early Enrollees to Watch: OL Sean Dowling, QB Johnny McCrary

JUCO Transfers to watch: TE Brandon Vandenburg

2013 Schedule

Aug. 29 Ole Miss
Sept. 7 Austin Peay
Sept. 14 at South Carolina
Sept. 21 at UMass
Sept. 28 UAB
Oct. 5 Missouri
Oct. 19 Georgia
Oct. 26 at Texas A&M
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Florida
Nov. 16 Kentucky
Nov. 23 at Tennessee
Nov. 30 Wake Forest

Offensive Strength: Vanderbilt boasts the SEC’s best pair of starting wide receivers in Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd. Matthews earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior after catching a league-best 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. Boyd’s numbers weren’t as gaudy (50 catches for 774 yards), but he has tremendous hands and is considered a legitimate NFL prospect.

Offensive Weakness: Vanderbilt is unproven at the quarterback position after losing Jordan Rodgers to graduation. Austyn Carta-Samuels, who started for two seasons at Wyoming, is the favorite, though redshirt freshman Patton Robinette will get a long look.

Defensive Strength: The Commodores feature three defensive ends who could play for any team in the league — a statement that can’t often be made with conviction. Senior Walker May is a bit undersized (6-5, 250) but has been a consistent playmaker for the past two seasons. Junior Kyle Woestmann was perhaps the best player on the defense in the latter half of the season, with six sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in the final seven games. And sophomore Caleb Azubuike recorded 4.5 sacks as a true freshman.

Defensive Weakness: Vanderbilt lacks depth at defensive tackle, with only three players returning who logged meaningful snaps at the position in 2012. To build some depth, the staff moved highly touted offensive lineman Adam Butler, a redshirt freshman, to defensive tackle in the spring, and also is looking at moving Azubuike inside on passing downs.

Spring Storylines Facing the Commodores

1. Replacing Jordan Rodgers. After a slow start, Jordan Rodgers enjoyed an outstanding senior season running the Vanderbilt offense. The biggest issue in the offseason is identifying Rodgers’ successor. Austyn Carta-Samuels, a two year-starter at Wyoming and the 2009 Mountain West Freshman of the Year, is the favorite. Carta-Samuels is a dual-threat who threw for 3,655 yards and rushed for 578 in his two seasons at Wyoming. He started one game last year for Vanderbilt, throwing for 195 yards in an easy win over Presbyterian. Carta-Samuels will be challenged by Patton Robinette, a redshirt freshman from East Tennessee who was once committed to North Carolina. Josh Grady, who was moved from quarterback to wide receiver last spring, is back at quarterback (for now). True freshmen Johnny McCrary and Chad Kanoff are long shots to play right away.

2. Sorting out the running back situation. Zac Stacy finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher. The Commodores will replace his production with a three-man committee — senior Wesley Tate and sophomores Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow. Tate emerged as a consistent No. 2 back last year after spending the 2011 season at wide receiver. He had 10 carries or more five times in the last eight games and scored one touchdown in six of the last seven games. He has decent size and good speed but did not have a run longer than 25 yards in 2012. Kimbrow, a highly touted recruit, was the Commodores’ second-leading rusher as true freshman, though more than half of his 413 yards came against Presbyterian and UMass. He has tremendous speed but lacks the size to be an every-down back. Seymour sat out last season as a redshirt while recovering from an injury. He was Stacy’s primary backup as a true freshman in 2011. Don’t be surprised if Seymour leads Vanderbilt in rushing next fall.

3. Finding a No. 2 cornerback. The Commodores have received strong play from the cornerback position in Bob Shoop’s two seasons as the defensive coordinator. Andre Hal, a second-team All-SEC pick in 2012, is back for his second season as the starter, but Vanderbilt must find a replacement for Trey Wilson. Steven Clarke, the primary nickel back last fall, and redshirt freshmen Torren McGaster and Brandon Banks are the top candidates. Shoop loves to bring pressure, so it’s important that he is comfortable leaving his cornerbacks in man coverage.

4. Colby Cooke’s leg. One of the underrated aspects of Vanderbilt’s breakthrough season was the play of the kicking specialists. Placekicker Carey Spear rebounded from a disappointing sophomore season to convert 20-of-24 as a junior, and punter Richard Kent was consistently strong all season long. Spear is back for one more season, but Kent, a three-year starter, must be replaced. Colby Cooke, the successor, has a big leg but has yet to prove himself in a game. The Commodores need him to be solid in 2012. 


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Teaser:
<p> Vanderbilt Commodores 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-basketball/2013-acc-tournament-preview
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March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big 12.

ACC TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. (ESPN)
First-round games:
No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech
No. 5 NC State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech
No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 Wake Forest
No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 11 Clemson

Byes to the quarterfinals:
No. 1 Miami
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Virginia

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big TenMountain West | Pac-12 | SEC

THE FAVORITE: Duke
The Blue Devils did not win the ACC regular-season title, but Duke looks like the best team in the league at this point of the season. Ryan Kelly’s return to the lineup has made the Blue Devils much more difficult to guard, and the senior forward also adds a presence on defense. Duke is 18-0 with Kelly in the lineup, holding opponents to 37.9 shooting in games with Kelly. Duke’s opponents shot 45 percent with Kelly out.

DARK HORSE: Florida State
Florida State has been a disappointment this season, but this is still a talented team with some strong veteran leadership. The Seminoles evened their league record at 9–9 by beating Virginia and NC State in the final week of the season. The Seminoles aren’t the defensive team they’ve been in the past, but Michael Snaer is one of the nation’s best in crunch time. Snaer has hit six game-winning shots in the last two seasons.

ATHLON’S PICK: Miami
Don’t forget about the Hurricanes, the 2013 ACC regular-season champs. Just two weeks ago, Miami lost at Duke by only three points even though starting center Reggie Johnson failed to score a point. The ‘Canes snapped out of a late-season funk by defeating Clemson 62-49 thanks to 23 points and 12 rebounds from Kenny Kadji and a late burst from Shane Larkin. When Miami has all its pieces working, the Hurricanes are a Final Four threat.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina

BUBBLE TEAM:
Virginia
The Cavaliers’ NCAA tournament case is one of the strangest for bubble teams. The Cavs are 4-2 against the top 50, including wins over Duke, North Carolina and NC State, plus Wisconsin on the road. Virginia also lost to three Colonial teams, including Old Dominion (5-25). Virginia’s late-season losses to Boston College and Florida State means the Cavs probably need to beat NC State and Miami in the ACC Tournament -- at least -- to be in the field.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 ACC Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 09:55
Path: /college-basketball/2013-big-ten-conference-tournament-preview
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March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big Ten.

BIG TEN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Chicago (CBS)
First-round games (All Thursday):
No. 8 Illinois vs. No. 9 Minnesota
No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 12 Penn State
No. 7 Purdue vs. No. 10 Nebraska
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Northwestern

Byes to the quarterfinals
No. 1. Indiana
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Wisconsin

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


THE FAVORITE: Indiana
The Hoosiers captured the outright Big Ten title in thrilling fashion, rallying to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor on the final day of the regular season. Indiana spent most of the season as the most efficient offensive team in the country. The Hoosiers still lead the nation with 1.15 points per possession, but they’ve struggled late in the season. Indiana shot less than 40 percent against Iowa and Ohio State and needed time to wake up in a 72-71 win over Michigan. The Hoosiers are averaging less than a point per possession in the last three games.

DARK HORSE: Illinois
Illinois is capable of making a surprising run to the Big Ten title if it shoots the ball well from the perimeter. Illinois won the Maui Invitational to start the season, defeating Butler in the final after cruising past USC and Chaminade. Tournament time worked well for first-year Illini coach John Groce, who won two MAC Tourneys in four years at Ohio.

ATHLON’S PICK: Michigan State
There are so many good teams in this league. All things being equal, you can never go wrong picking a Tom Izzo-coached team to win in March. The Big Ten could have a Final-Four caliber field, and a neutral court could be a great equalizer among the league's top five. If Keith Appling is playing at a high level, Michigan State will win plenty of postseason games.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Minnesota
The Gophers faded down the stretch after defeating Indiana on Feb. 26. Minnesota lost at Nebraska and at Purdue to fall to the ninth seed in the Big Ten Tournament. That may end up being a blessing. By drawing No. 8 seed Illinois, Minnesota won’t have a bad loss to diminish their Tournament hopes. With a top-25 RPI, Minnesota would have one of the highest ratings to be left out of the NCAA Tournament, but how much would you trust a team that lost three in a row before the Tourney? That is, if Minnesota loses to Illinois. The Gophers split the season series against Illinois and potential second-round opponent Indiana this season.

Iowa
With a strength of schedule ranked outside of the top 100 and an RPI outside of the top 75, Iowa doesn’t have an NCAA resume despite being the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten. Defeating Michigan State in the quarters and Ohio State in the semis might set up a compelling case for the Hawkeyes.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Big Ten Conference Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 09:50
Path: /college-basketball/2013-pac-12-conference-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Pac-12.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 13
Final: March 16 in Las Vegas (ESPN)
No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Arizona State
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Oregon State
No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 Utah
No. 6 Washington vs. No. 11 Washington State

First-round byes:
No. 1 UCLA
No. 2 Cal
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Arizona

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big 12 | Big East
| Mountain West | SEC

THE FAVORITE: UCLA
It hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but UCLA captured the outright Pac-12 title with a 13–5 record. The Bruins have a ton of talent, even if it hasn’t been the most cohesive group in the league. UCLA won the league outright, but the Bruins were hardly immune from the inconsistency throughout the league. In only the final week, the Bruins sleep walked through a loss to Washington. Facing a hungry Stanford or Arizona State team in the quarterfinals could be problematic.

DARK HORSE: USC
The Trojans played well after Bob Cantu took over for Kevin O’Neill on an interim basis in late January. In the 7-7 stretch under Cantu, USC has wins over UCLA and Stanford on the road and Washington and Arizona at home. The key is the play of Eric Wise. The senior went 9 of 12 in an upset of Arizona on Feb. 27 but went 4 of 16 with 14 points combined in back-to-back losses to the Washington schools to end the regular season.

ATHLON’S PICK: Cal
The Golden Bears ended the season on a down note — a home loss to rival Stanford — but had previously won seven straight games. Pac-12 player of the year Allen Crabbe is capable of carrying his team to the title. Fellow guard Justin Cobbs finished the season on a hot streak, but he must cut his turnovers.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Arizona State/Stanford: The five teams projected to be in the bracket for the Pac-12 appear to be pretty safe even if Cal, Colorado and Oregon lose their conference tournament openers. Arizona State and Stanford are marginal bubble teams, who will eliminate the other when they face each other in the first round. Things could get interesting if the Arizona State-Stanford winner knocks off No. 1 seed UCLA in the quarterfinal.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Pac-12 Conference Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 11:20
Path: /college-basketball/2013-big-12-conference-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big 12.

BIG 12 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 13
Final: March 16 in Kansas City (ESPN)
First-round games:
No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Texas Tech (Wednesday)
No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 TCU (Wednesday)
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Iowa State (Thursday)
No. 1 Kansas vs. West Virginia/Texas Tech (Thursday)
No. 2 Kansas State vs. Texas/TCU (Thursday)
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Baylor (Thursday)

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big East | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


THE FAVORITE: Kansas
Kansas has stubbed its toe on several occasions this season, but Bill Self’s club still managed to grab a share of the Big 12 title for the ninth straight season. Point guard will be worth watching as it has been all season. Elijah Johnson has scored 29 total points in three games since his 39-point outburst against Iowa State.

DARK HORSE: Baylor
Despite its 9–9 Big 12 record, Baylor might have the league’s most talented roster. The Bears showed what they are capable of on Saturday, rolling past Kansas 81–58 in the season-finale in Waco. We could see Pierre Jackson, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson reach the final... or just as easily lose to Oklahoma State in a rout.

ATHLON’S PICK: Kansas
Oklahoma State and Kansas State are both very good, but Kansas is a veteran team — the Jayhawks start four seniors — that will be playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The exception in the KU starting lineup may be the best freshman in the country in Ben McLemore.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Oklahoma
The Sooners were close to lock status back in mid-February, but it might be warranted to worry about OU. The Sooners lost on Feb. 27 at Texas in overtime and then joined Kansas as the only Big 12 teams to lose to TCU. A loss to Iowa State won’t knock the Sooners out, but two wins over Iowa State in the final weeks of the season would be a compelling case if OU ends up on the bubble.

Iowa State
The Cyclones picked up a resume-boosting win by defeating Oklahoma State on March 6. Like Oklahoma, Iowa State may be a Tournament team no matter what happens in its quarterfinal game against the Sooners, but the winner Thursday should feel secure while the loser will have to hope it doesn’t get caught in a number crunch.

Baylor
It was easy to give up on Baylor after the Bears lost to Texas on March 4 to fall below .500 in the league. Scott Drew’s team still needs to win a few games in the Big 12 Tournament to get into the field, but Baylor’s 81-58 win over Kansas on Saturday reinforced this team has the talent to make a run.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> Can Kansas claim another Big 12 Tournament title? Will Oklahoma or Iowa State pick up a crucial win?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-basketball/2013-mountain-west-conference-tournament-preview
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March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Mountain West.

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 12
Final: March 16 in Las Vegas (CBS)
First-round games:
No. 8 Wyoming vs. No. 9 Nevada (Tuesday)
No. 3 UNLV vs No. 6 Air Force (Wednesday)
No. 2 Colorado State vs. No. 7 Fresno State (Wednesday)
No. 1 New Mexico vs. Wyoming/Nevada (Wednesday)
No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 5 Boise State (Wednesday)

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big East


THE FAVORITE: New Mexico
The Lobos won the regular-season title by two full games, an impressive feat considering that five of the nine teams in the league are expected to make the NCAA Tournament. Kendall Williams had the 46-point explosion against Colorado State, but Alex Kirk has been more consistent down the stretch (17.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg in the last five).

DARK HORSE: Boise State
The Broncos are playing their best ball of the season, with wins in five of their last six games. They are well-coached under former Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice and have two outstanding scorers — Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks.

ATHLON’S PICK: UNLV
New Mexico had the best team during the regular season, but UNLV is blessed with the most talented roster. The Rebels didn’t always play like it, though. Perhaps losing at home to Fresno State in the regular season finale was a wake-up call. The Rebels also have to the advantage of playing the tournament on their home floor.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV

BUBBLE TEAM:
Boise State
The Broncos look pretty good for a bid after closing the season on a 5-1 run. During that span, Boise State defeated San Diego State and Colorado State at home. If the Broncos can add a second win over the Aztecs, this time on a neutral site, lock up their bid.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Mountain West Conference Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /college-basketball/2013-big-east-conference-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big East.

BIG EAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 12
Final: March 16 in New York (ESPN)
First-round games:
No. 12 Seton Hall vs. No. 13 USF (Tuesday)
No. 11 Rutgers vs. No. 14 DePaul (Tuesday)
No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Providence (Wednesday)
No. 5 Syracuse vs. Seton Hall/USF (Wednesday)
No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 10 St. John’s (Wednesday)
No. 6 Notre Dame vs. Rutgers/DePaul (Wednesday)

Byes to the quarterfinals:
No. 1 Georgetown
No. 2 Louisville
No. 3 Marquette
No. 4 Pittsburgh

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Mountain West


THE FAVORITE: Georgetown
The Hoyas, led by unanimous All-Big East first teamer Otto Porter, won 13 of their final 14 games — capped off Saturday’s 61–39 win over rival Syracuse. Georgetown’s prowess on defense will make it hard to beat at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas are also playing for a potential No. 1 seed if they can win their first Big East Tournament since 2007.

DARK HORSE: Villanova
Any team that can claim wins over Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette and Georgetown has to be considered a threat to win the Big East Tournament. A word of caution: Most of the Wildcats’ impressive wins this season have come at home.

ATHLON’S PICK: Louisville
The Cardinals have recovered from their puzzling late-January three-game slide. Louisville won 10 of its last 11 games, with the only setback coming at Notre Dame in five overtimes. Gorgui Dieng averaged 11.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in Big East play compared to 6.8 and 6.7 before his injury.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Villanova
The Wildcats are awfully close to lock territory with the marquee wins this season. Losses to Columbia, Providence (twice) and Seton Hall earlier this season mean Villanova needs to avoid a loss to 10th-seeded St. John’s in the first round.

Cincinnati
The Bearcats looked all but certain to be in the field to start February, but Cincinnati finished on a 3-6 slide. Cincinnati dodged a resume-killing loss to USF in the regular-season finale in overtime. Now the Bearcats have to prove they can defeat Providence. Through the Friars aren’t an at-large candidate, they have defeated Cincinnati already this season in addition to beating Notre Dame and Villanova.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Big East Conference Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 12:07
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-gonzaga-waits-no-1
Body:

Gonzaga may end up with the best seat in the house for the conference tournaments.

After defeating Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference finals, the Bulldogs will sit with their resume complete and their No. 1 ranking intact.

The only question is where Gonzaga will sit on Selection Sunday. With the nation’s best record, Mark Few’s team has a good chance to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If indeed Gonzaga gets one of those four coveted spots, the next questions is the other three teams on the top line of the bracket.

Conference tournaments will go a long way to determining those teams. The Big Ten, as it has been all season, is loaded, but Indiana may have a substantial edge with its win at Michigan on Sunday and an outright conference title.

Elsewhere, we’re curious to see how high Duke can climb. With Ryan Kelly back in the line up, the Blue Devils again look like a No. 1 overall team.

Related: Key stats from March 4-10

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: MARCH 12

1. Gonzaga (31-2, 16-0 West Coast)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference Tournament
Up next: NCAA Tournament
Buzz: Zags win WCC Tournament for 11th time since 1999. Does a No. 1 seed await?

2. Duke (27-4, 14-4 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 89-57, defeated North Carolina 69-53
This week: ACC Tournament
Buzz: Blue Devils could be the No. 1 overall seed in NCAAs despite not winning ACC regular season.

3. Indiana (26-5, 14-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Ohio State 67-58, defeated Michigan 72-71
This week: Big Ten Tournament
Buzz: Hoosiers capitalize on Michigan’s missed FTs to earn hard-fought win.

Debate: Zeller or Oladipo for Indiana's MVP

4. Georgetown (24-5, 14-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 67-57, defeated Syracuse 61-39
This week: Big East Tournament
Buzz: Hoyas outscore Syracuse by a combined 33 points en route to season sweep.

Related: Big East Tournament preview

5. Louisville (26-5, 14-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Notre Dame 73-57
This week: Big East Tournament
Buzz: Only one the Cards’ last seven opponents have scored more than 60 points. 

6. Michigan (25-6, 12-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 80-75, lost to Indiana 72-71
This week: Big Ten Tournament
Buzz: Wolverines will have trouble getting past the collapse against Indiana.

7. Miami (24-6, 15-3 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Lost to Georgia Tech 71-69, defeated Clemson 62-49
This week: ACC Tournament
Buzz: Here’s a surprise: Hurricanes’ win ACC title in hoops before football.

8. Kansas (26-5, 14-4 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to Baylor 81-58
This week: Big 12 Tournament
Buzz: KU loses at Baylor — must “settle” for a share of 12th straight Big 12 title with Kansas State.  

9. Michigan State (24-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 58-43, defeated Northwestern 71-61
This week: Big Ten Tournament
Buzz: Spartans win final two games as Gary Harris earnes Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

10. Ohio State (23-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Indiana 57-58, defeated Illinois 68-55
This week: Big Ten Tournament
Buzz: Buckeyes head to Big Ten Tournament riding a five-game winning streak. 

11. Florida (24-6, 14-4 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Vanderbilt 66-40, lost to Kentucky 61-57
This week: SEC Tournament
Buzz: Gators slog through final 10 with 6-4 record after 8-0 start in SEC play.

12. Marquette (23-7, 14-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 60-54, defeated St. John’s 69-67 (OT)
This week: Big East Tournament
Buzz: Golden Eagles share Big East title thanks to Vander Blue’s game-winner at MSG.

13. Oklahoma State (23-7, 12-5 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Lost to Iowa State 87-76, defeated Kansas State 76-70
This week: Big 12 Tournament
Buzz: Pokes close out regular season in style with a win over Kansas State. 

14. Kansas State (25-6, 14-4 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated TCU 79-68, lost to Oklahoma State 76-70
This week: Big 12 Tournament
Buzz: Kansas State earns a share of Big 12 title — its first league crown since 1977.

15. New Mexico (26-5, 13-3 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Nevada 75-62, lost to Air Force 89-88
This week: Mountain West Tournament
Buzz: Lobos ranked No. 2 in the RPI even after closing season with a loss to Air Force.

Related: Mountain West Tournament preview

16. Saint Louis (24-6, 13-3 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Lost to Xavier 77-66 (OT), defeated La Salle 78-54
This week: Atlantic 10 Tournament
Buzz: VCU’s loss to Temple gives Saint Louis the outright Atlantic 10 title. 

17. Pittsburgh (24-7, 12-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 81-66
This week: Big East Tournament
Buzz: Nice bounce-back season from Pitt; Panthers finish fourth in Big East. 

18. UCLA (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Lost to Washington State 73-61, defeated Washington 61-54
This week: Pac-12 Tournament
Buzz: Bruins’ first win at Washington since 2004 earns them the outright Pac-12 title.

19. Notre Dame (23-8, 11-7 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated St. John’s 66-40, lost to Louisville 73-57
This week: Big East Tournament
Buzz: Defensive issues could keep Irish from being much of a threat in postseason.

20. Arizona (22-7, 10-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Arizona State 73-58
This week: Pac-12 Tournament
Buzz: Wildcats stop the bleeding — two straight losses — by beating Arizona State.

21. North Carolina (22-9, 12-6 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Defeated Maryland 79-68, lost to Duke 69-53
This week: ACC Tournament
Buzz: One bad game vs. Duke doesn’t ruin Heels’ strong late-season showing.

22. Wisconsin (21-10, 12-6 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 58-43, defeated Penn State 63-60
This week: Big Ten Tournament
Buzz: Badgers avoid disaster by beating Penn State on a three-pointer at the buzzer.

23. Creighton (27-7, 13-5 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Drake, Indiana State and Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Tournament
Up next: NCAA Tournament
Buzz: Arch Madness ends with Creighton cutting down the nets.

24. Colorado State (24-7, 11-5 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Wyoming 78-56, defeated Nevada 77-66
This week: Mountain West Tournament
Buzz: Larry Eustachy on verge of second NCAA bid in two seasons with two different teams.

25. VCU (24-7, 12-4 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Richmond 93-82, lost to Temple 84-76
This week: Atlantic 10 Tournament
Buzz: Rams’ frenetic defense is tough to prepare for in a tournament setting.

Out: No. 14 Syracuse, No. 19 Oregon

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Power Rankings: Gonzaga waits at No. 1</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 11:25
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-gonzaga-takes-top-spot
Body:

Gonzaga will hope this isn’t the last time for firsts.

Mark Few’s team earned its first No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll this week, and the Athlon Sports power rankings will follow suit with the Bulldogs atop our weekly basketball power rankings.

Gonzaga completed an undefeated run through the West Coast Conference and hasn’t lost since a Jan. 19 defeat on a buzzer beater to Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse. This may be the best Gonzaga team under Few, giving the Zags a chance to reach their first Sweet 16 since 2009, or first Elite Eight since 1999 or first Final Four in school history.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Conference tournaments begin this week for Gonzaga and a handful of other conferences while the power conferences wrap up their regular seasons.

Opening the door for Gonzaga to take the top spot were a handful of head-scratching losses by top-10 teams: Duke to Virginia, Michigan to Penn State, Indiana to Minnesota and so on.

Related: Key stats from Feb. 25-March 3

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: MARCH 5

1. Gonzaga (29-2, 16-0 West Coast)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated BYU 70-65, defeated Portland 81-52
This week: West Coast Conference Tournament
Buzz: Pressure will be on Zags to live up to hype in NCAAs.

2. Duke (25-4, 12-4 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Lost to Virginia 73-68, defeated Miami 79-76
This week: Virginia Tech, at North Carolina
Buzz: Ryan Kelly’s return makes Duke very difficult to guard.

3. Indiana (25-4, 13-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Minnesota 77-73, defeated Iowa 73-60
This week: Ohio State, at Michigan
Buzz:Hoosiers closing in on first Big Ten title since 2002 and first outright title since 1993.

Debate: Zeller or Oladipo for Indiana's MVP

4. Georgetown (23-4, 13-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Defeated Connecticut 79-78 (2OT), defeated Rutgers 64-51
This week: at Villanova, Syracuse
Buzz: The Hoyas didn’t lose a game in February.

5. Michigan (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Penn State 84-78, Michigan State 58-57
This week: at Purdue, Indiana
Buzz: Trey Burke buckles down on defense against MSU.

6. Miami (23-5, 14-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 76-58, lost to Duke 79-76
This week: Georgia Tech, Clemson
Buzz: Canes battled back against Duke but lost a heartbreaker.

7. Kansas (26-4, 14-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa State 108-96 (OT), defeated West Virginia 91-65, defeated Texas Tech 79-42
This week: Texas Tech, at Baylor
Buzz: We still can’t believe this team lost to TCU.

8. Louisville (24-5, 13-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 79-58, defeated Syracuse 58-53, defeated Cincinnati 67-51
This week: Notre Dame
Buzz: The Cardinals are playing well at the right time of year.

9. Michigan State (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan 58-57
This week: Wisconsin, Northwestern
Buzz: Spartans need Keith Appling to play well to survive in March.

10. Florida (23-5, 13-3 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Lost to Tennessee 64-58, defeated Alabama 64-52
This week: Vanderbilt, at Kentucky
Buzz: Injuries have been a factor in Gators’ recent struggles.

11. Kansas State (24-5, 13-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Baylor 64-61
This week: TCU, at Oklahoma State
Buzz: Rodney McGruder came through in the clutch in Waco.

12. Oklahoma State (22-6, 12-4 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated TCU 64-47, defeated Texas 78-65
This week: at Iowa State, Kansas State
Buzz: Marcus is the Smart choice for Freshman of the Year.

13. New Mexico (25-4, 12-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated San Diego State 70-60, Wyoming 53-42
This week: at Nevada, at Air Force
Buzz: Red-hot Lobos have clinched the outright MWC title.

14. Syracuse (22-7, 10-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Louisville 58-53
This week: DePaul, at Georgetown
Buzz: Orange attack has been offensive during recent three-game slide.

15. Ohio State (21-7, 11-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 63-53
This week: at Indiana, Illinois
Buzz: Bucks finally have more than one double-digit scorer.

16. Marquette (21-7, 12-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Defeated Notre Dame 72-64
This week: at Rutgers, at St. John’s
Buzz: Buzz Williams working miracles in Milwaukee once again.

17. Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated St. Joseph’s 70-53, defeated George Washington 66-58
This week: at Xavier, La Salle
Buzz: Jim Crews hoping to make this a permanent gig.

18. UCLA (22-7, 12-4 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Arizona State 79-74 (OT), defeated Arizona 74-69
This week: at Washington, at Washington State
Buzz: Bruins hit the road for key games in Washington.

19. Oregon (23-6, 12-4 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Oregon State 85-75
This week: at Colorado, at Utah
Buzz: Dominic Artis’ return boosts Ducks’ postseason hopes.

20. Notre Dame (22-7, 10-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Lost to Marquette 72-64
This week: St. John’s, at Louisville
Buzz: Jack Cooley only player in Big East averaging a double-double.

21. Pittsburgh (23-7, 11-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated USF 64-44, defeated Villanova 73-64 (OT)
This week: at DePaul
Buzz: Pitt tops Villanova in its final home game in the Big East.

22. Arizona (23-6, 11-6 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to USC 89-78, lost to UCLA 74-69
This week: Arizona State
Buzz: Cats having trouble scratching out wins these days. 

23. North Carolina (21-8, 11-5 ACC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Clemson 68-59, defeated Florida State 79-58
This week: at Maryland, Duke
Buzz: Small ball working wonders for Roy Williams’ team.

24. Wisconsin (20-9, 11-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Nebraska 77-46, lost to Purdue 69-56
This week: at Michigan State, at Penn State
Buzz: Senior Night sadness as Badgers lose to Purdue.

25. VCU (23-6, 11-3 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Butler 84-52
This week: Richmond, at Temple
Buzz:Rams wreak havoc on overwhelmed Butler.

Out: No. 18 Memphis, No. 23 Colorado State, No. 24 Butler, No. 25 Connecticut

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Power Rankings: Gonzaga takes top spot</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 09:51
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-projections-and-bubble-watch
Body:

Selection Sunday is just a few weeks away, and the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is becoming more clear.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 20 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: FEB. 28

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Indiana
Duke
Gonzaga
Kansas

ACC (5)
In: Duke, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia
Worth a mention: Florida State, Maryland
Bubble notes: There hasn't been a ton of movement in the ACC of late. Virginia remains an interesting case study: The Cavs have a low RPI (65) and some very bad losses (six to teams ranked 120 or lower), but they have three top -25 wins (including one at Wisconsin) and are 6–2 vs. top-100 teams. UVa hosts Duke Thursday night. Maryland has one great win (vs. Duke at home), but only two other top-100 wns. The Terps' "best" win away from home is at Northwestern (RPI 133). Other than a season sweep of Maryland, Florida State is running low on quality ACC wins.

Atlantic 10 (5)
In: Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: Charlotte, UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: Temple rebounded from its crushing loss at home to Duquesne (RPI 215) by beating UMass and Charlotte on the road and La Salle at home. That's three top-65 wins to pad the Owls' profile. La Salle has a lofty RPI (35) and wins over Butler (RPI 27) and at VCU (RPI 34). UMass has hurt its chances over the last week with losses at VCU, at home vs. Temple and at St. Bonaventure. Xavier has four top-40 wins — but they are all at home — and five losses to teams ranked 135 or lower. The Musketeers are playing well of late but have too many warts on their resume. Charlotte has played its way out of the picture by losing five of its last six.

Big 12 (5)
In: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: Baylor
Bubble notes: Poor Iowa State. The Cyclones are so close to being an absolute lock. They have two painful losses in overtime to Kansas, a two-point loss at Oklahoma State and a three-point overtime loss at Texas. Iowa State only has two top-50 RPI wins (a low number for a team in a league projected to send at least five teams to the NCAAs), and both came at home. The loss at Texas Tech is troubling. As we've stated before, Baylor has a roster that is could enough to be in the NCAA Tournament, but the Bears' resume is lacking. They are 2–7 vs. top-50 teams and 4–9 vs. top-100 teams. Also, they have losses at home to Northwestern (RPI 133) and College of Charleston (150). Baylor might sneak in with home wins over Kansas State and Kansas in the final two weeks of the regular season. 

Big East (8)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova
Worth a mention: St. John’s
Bubble notes: It's tough to keep Villanova, which lost at Seton Hall, in the field this week, but it's also tough to keep out a team that has four top-35 RPI wins. The Wildcats will be in decent shape if they can split their final two regular-season games — at Pitt, vs. Georgetown. Cincinnati is struggling, with four straight losses and six in their last seven games. Only one of the losses, however, is to a team ranked outside the top-40 of the RPI — and that game was Providence, which is playing very well of late. The Bearcats are hanging their hat on three top-50 wins, two away from home, and no bad losses. St. John's has some decent wins (at Cincinnati, vs. Notre Dame, vs. UConn), but the Red Storm's RPI is 61, and they have three losses to sub-100 RPI teams. 

Big Ten (7)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Iowa
Bubble notes: Iowa was in the midst of mounting a late-season charge to the NCAA Tournament until the Hawkeyes lost at Nebraska 64–60 last weekend. They bounced back to beat Purdue on Wednesday, but this team still has a long way to go. With an RPI of 90, a non-conference strength of schdule of 321 and an overall record of 18–10, Iowa is in a tough spot. Win at Indiana this weekend and then we have something to talk about. Minnesota stopped the bleeding (four losses in five games) with a huge win over Indian on Wednesday. The Gophers' remaining schedule is soft by Big Ten standards — Penn State, at Nebraska and at Purdue. Barring an implosion, the Gophers are in great shape. 

Conference USA (1)
In: Memphis
Worth a mention: Southern Miss
Bubble notes: Southern Miss lost its only hope for an at-large bid by losing at Memphis last weekend. The Golden Eagles, with no top-80 wins, will need to win the C-USA Tournament. 

Missouri Valley (2)
In: Creighton, Wichita State
Worth a mention: Indiana State, Northern Iowa
Bubble notes: Creighton, with an RPI of 44 and three top-50 wins (two away from home), is still in decent shape, but the Bluejays missed a great opportunity with last weekend's loss at Saint Mary's. Indiana State had been flirting with a spot in the Tournament, but the Sycamores’ recent skid (four losses in their last five games) will be tough to overcome. Indiana State lost to RPI No. 212 Missouri State on Feb. 12 and No. 172 Bradley. Northern Iowa was building some late-season momentum (six straight wins), but the Pantheres lost at home to Denver last week in a BracketBusters game. They have no shot an at-large.

Mountain West (5)
In: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Air Force
Bubble notes: At first glance, Boise State might not have the most impressive profile, but keep in mind that this team has winning record in the nation's No. 2 RPI conference. The Broncos beat UNLV at home and won at Creighton — though that win isn't quite as impressive now. Air Force, too, has a winning record in the Mountain West, though the Falcons still have to visit San Diego State and play New Mexico State home. Their RPI is 64, 17 spots lower than Boise State's.

Pac-12 (5)
In: Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Arizona State, Stanford
Bubble notes: Arizona State was one of the final teams out this week. The Sun Devils have lost two straight, vs. Washington and at UCLA to fall to 9–7 in the league and drop their RPI to 88. They have four top-50 wins but two losses vs. teams ranked 175 or lower. They have a great chance to pick up a marquee win in their regular-season finale on March 9 at Arizona. Stanford played its way into the discussion a few weeks ago but has since lost four of five and five of seven. The home loss to USC on Feb. 14 was very damaging. With an RPI of 68 and 13 losses, the Cardinal will now need to win the Pac-12 Tournament. California has been playing very well. The Golden Bears have won five straight and now have four top-50 wins (including two on the road) on their resume. This team is in great shape. 

SEC (3)
In: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee
Bubble notes: The SEC is a mess. The league could end up with two teams — or five teams. Kentucky picked up a huge win at home over Missouri on Saturday night, but we still don't know how good this team can be without Nerlens Noel. The Wildcats only have one top-50 win. That's not good. What is good, however, is that UK has no bad losses. Tennessee, like last year, is making a late charge. The Volunteers' RPI is up to 51, and they now have three wins vs. top-50 teams. All three wins, however, are at home. Their best win away from home is against UMass (RPI 57) on a neutral court. Ole Miss beat Texas A&M at home on Wednesday night to improve to 10–5 in the league, but the Rebels still have work to do. They only have on top-50 win, though that number could be bumped to three if Tennessee (RPI 51) keeps winning. Ole Miss swept the Vols. The Rebs' RPI (currently 56) might not climb too much even if they win out. The schedule features Mississippi State (RPI 238), Alabama (62) and LSU (91). Alabama has a gaudy league record (11–4) but that was padded with a lot games vs. the bottom half of the league. The Tide's RPI is 62, and they have four losses to sub-RPI 100 teams (three at home). Arkansas should be mentioned for its wins over Florida and Missouri in recent weeks, but the Razorbacks still have a low RPI (81) and a dismal road record (1-8).

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s doesn't have much to excited about on its resume, but the Gaels also don't have many warts. Their RPI is solid (45), but they only have one top-100 win (Creighton). Saint Mary's can't do much to improve its standing the rest of the way (a win over Gonzaga would come in the WCC Championship Game, which would make the SMC an automatic qualifier). 

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Stony Brook MEAC Norfolk State
Atlantic Sun Mercer Northeast Robert Morris
Big Sky Montana Ohio Valley Belmont
Big South Charleston Southern Patriot Bucknell
Big West Long Beach State Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit North Dakota State
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech

Teaser:
<p> NCAA Tournament Projections and Bubble Watch: Kentucky sneaks in.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 09:45
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-gonzaga-georgetown-make-moves
Body:

For most of the season, the college basketball power rankings have been fairly consistent at the top: Two or three teams from the Big Ten, a team or two from the state of Florida, maybe Duke and/or Kansas every now and then.

Some of those trends remained true this week with Indiana and Michigan taking the top two spots and Miami sitting at No. 5. But the top four has a few newcomers.

After defeating Syracuse on the road, Georgetown shot up our rankings from No. 14 to No. 4. Beyond the rare win for a visiting team in the Carrier Dome, the Hoyas have won nine in a row since a perplexing loss to USF on Jan. 19. On Georgetown’s resume are wins over Notre Dame and Cincinnati on the road and Marquette and Louisville at home.

Making a smaller move, yet important nonetheless, is Gonzaga, moving up to No. 3. Mark Few's Bulldogs are making a case to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by reeling off 10 consecutive wins since the buzzer-beating loss to Butler on Jan. 19. The Zags haven’t played a game decided by single digits since defeating San Diego 65-63 on Feb. 2.

Related: Key stats from Feb. 18-24

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 26

1. Indiana (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Michigan State 72-68
This week: Iowa
Buzz: The Hoosiers lead the nation in offensive efficiency.

2. Michigan (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois 71-58
This week: at Penn State, Michigan State
Buzz: Trey Burke was at his best in big win over Illinois.

3. Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated Santa Clara 85-42, defeated San Diego 81-50
This week: at BYU, Portland
Buzz: The Zags are becoming a strong contender for their first No. 1 seed.

4. Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 90-66, defeated Syracuse 57-46
This week: at Connecticut, Rutgers
Buzz: The Hoyas have road wins over Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Syracuse.

5. Miami (22-4, 13-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia 54-50, lost to Wake Forest 80-65
This week: Virginia Tech, at Duke
Buzz: Despite loss to Wake Forest, the Hurricanes still control their own destiny in the ACC.

6. Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 88-56, defeated Boston College 89-68
This week: at Virginia, Miami
Buzz: Rasheed Sulaimon erupted for 27 against Boston College after scoring four points in the first meeting.

7. Arizona (23-4, 11-4 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington 70-52, defeated Washington State 73-56
This week: at USC, at UCLA
Buzz: Kevin Parrom scored a season-high 19 points vs. Washington State.

8. Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Missouri 63-60, defeated Arkansas 71-54
This week: at Tennessee, Alabama
Buzz: The Gators are closing on their fourth outright SEC title in school history. 

9. Michigan State (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Indiana 72-68, lost to Ohio State 68-60
This week: at Michigan, Wisconsin
Buzz: Michigan State succeeded in containing Deshaun Thomas, but not Aaron Craft.

10. Kansas (24-4, 12-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Oklahoma State 68-67 (2OT), defeated TCU 74-48, defeated Iowa State 108-96 (OT)
This week: West Virginia
Buzz: Will Elijah Johnson shed criticism after 39 points against Iowa State?

11. Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Providence 84-59, lost to Georgetown 57-46, lost to Marquette 74-71
This week: Louisville
Buzz: The Orange have lost five of their last nine. 

12. Louisville (22-5, 10-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 79-61
This week: at DePaul, at Syracuse
Buzz: A tough closing stretch (Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame) awaits the Cards.

13. Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 81-69, defeated Texas Tech 75-55
This week: at Baylor
Buzz: The Wildcats are eyeing their first league title since 1977.

14. Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Kansas 68-67 (2OT), defeated West Virginia 73-57
This week: at TCU, Texas
Buzz: Almost a quarter of Pokes’ points come from the free throw line.

15. Ohio State (20-7, 10-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Defeated Minnesota 71-45, defeated Michigan State 68-60
This week: at Northwestern
Buzz: Defeating Michigan State was a major statement win for the Buckeyes.

16. New Mexico (23-4, 10-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Colorado State 91-82
This week: San Diego State, Wyoming
Buzz: The Lobos seized control of MWC with huge win at Colorado State.

17. Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 67-46, lost to Villanova 60-56, defeated Syracuse 74-71.
This week: Notre Dame
Buzz: The Big East title still alive after Monday win over Syracuse.

18. Memphis (24-3, 13-0 Conference USA)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Houston 81-74, defeated Southern Miss 89-73
This week: at Xavier, at UCF
Buzz: The Tigers are closing on 16–0 run through Conference USA.

19. Wisconsin (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 69-41
This week: Nebraska, Purdue
Buzz:The Badgers haven’t lost a game in regulation since Jan. 29.

20. Saint Louis (21-5, 10-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated VCU 76-62, defeated Butler 65-61
This week: St. Joseph’s, at George Washington
Buzz: The Billikens all alone in first place in the Atlantic 10.

21. Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 62-41
This week: at Marquette
Buzz: Jack Cooley averaging a double-double for steady Irish.

22. Pittsburgh (21-7, 9-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated St. John’s 63-47
This week: USF, Villanova
Buzz: Panthers’ leading scorer Tray Woodall averaging only 10.9 ppg.

23. Colorado State (21-6, 8-4 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Lost to UNLV 61-59, lost to New Mexico 91-82
This week: Fresno State, at Boise State
Buzz: The Rams’ chance at a MWC title likely ended with two losses last week.

24. Butler (22-6, 9-4 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Duquesne 68-49, lost to Saint Louis 65-61
This week: at VCU
Buzz: The Bulldogs are finding A-10 grind a bit tougher than Horizon. 

25. Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 73-66 (OT), defeated DePaul 81-69
This week: Georgetown, at Cincinnati
Buzz: Kevin Ollie proving he is the right man for the job.

Out: No. 23 VCU

Teaser:
<p> Neither Gonzaga nor Georgetown have lost since Jan. 19, both enter top five of our power rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 09:40
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-indiana-michigan-state-square-top-three-matchup
Body:

Another week, another Big Ten showdown with national implications.

With a five-game win streak including last week’s 75-52 rout of Michigan, Michigan State has gone from sneaky Final Four contender to potential No. 1 seed. The Spartans, who moved from No. 9 to No. 3 in our rankings this week, will have their chance to test that in their second meeting with Indiana this season.

On Tuesday, Michigan State will face Indiana for the conference lead in yet another Big Ten game of national significance. The Spartans lost to Indiana 75-70 on Jan. 27 in Bloomington.

Beyond Michigan State and Indiana tied for Big Ten supremacy, other conference races were shook up by last week's action: Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State are tied for the Big 12 lead. Syracuse, Georgetown and Marquette are in their own three-way tie in the Big East.

Elsewhere in this week’s power rankings, two Atlantic 10 teams entered the top 25 with VCU at No. 23 and Saint Louis in No. 24. Both have a chance to strengthen their cases when they meet Tuesday. Saint Louis also visits Butler this week.

Related: Key stats from Feb. 11-17

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 19

1. Indiana (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Nebraska 76-47, defeated Purdue 83-55
This week: at Michigan State
Buzz: The Hoosiers swept rival Purdue by a combined 65 points this season.

2. Miami (21-3, 12-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Florida State 74-68, defeated Clemson 45-43
This week: Virginia, at Wake Forest
Buzz: The Hurricanes eked past Clemson on Sunday night to extend winning streak to 13 games. 

3. Michigan State (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Michigan 75-52, defeated Nebraska 73-64
This week: Indiana, at Ohio State
Buzz: The surging Spartans can start thinking about a No. 1 seed.

4. Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 72-52, defeated Penn State 79-71
This week: Illinois
Buzz: Trey Burke is averaging 7.0 assists and only 1.9 turnovers per game.

5. Florida (21-3, 11-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Kentucky 69-52, defeated Auburn 83-52
This week: at Missouri, Arkansas
Buzz: The Gators’ closest SEC win? By 14 points over Ole Miss.

6. Gonzaga (25-2, 12-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Saint Mary’s 77-60, defeated San Francisco 71-61
This week: Santa Clara, San Diego
Buzz: Gonzaga emerges from week on the road with nation-leading 25 wins.

7. Syracuse (21-4, 9-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Connecticut 66-58, defeated Seton Hall 76-65
This week: Providence, Georgetown
Buzz: The Orange rank 239th in nation in 3-point shooting (32.3 percent).

8. Duke (22-3, 9-3 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Defeated North Carolina 73-68, lost to Maryland 83-81
This week: at Virginia Tech, Boston College
Buzz: Maryland shot 60 percent from the floor in win over Duke.

9. Kansas (21-4, 9-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 73-47
This week: at Oklahoma State, TCU
Buzz: Redemption week upcoming for Kansas, but the Big 12 lead is also on the line.

10. Louisville (21-5, 9-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated St. John’s 72-58, defeated USF 59-41
This week: Seton Hall
Buzz: The Cardinals gave up a total of 79 points in two games against USF.

11. Arizona (21-4, 9-4 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Lost to Colorado 71-58, defeated Utah 68-64
This week: Washington, Washington State
Buzz: Wildcats needed win at Utah to snap a two-game losing streak. 

12. Kansas State (21-5, 10-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Baylor 81-61, defeated West Virginia 71-61
This week: at Texas
Buzz: Only two Wildcats average more than 8.3 points per game.

13. Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas Tech 91-67, defeated Oklahoma 84-79 (OT)
This week: Kansas, at West Virginia
Buzz: Marcus Smart is thriving in a leading role as a freshman.

14. Georgetown (19-4, 9-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 62-55
This week: DePaul, at Syracuse
Buzz: The surprising Hoyas move into a three-way tie for first in the Big East.

15. Marquette (18-6, 9-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated Pittsburgh 79-69
This week: at Seton Hall, at Villanova
Buzz: The Eagles improved to 14–0 at home with win over Pitt.

16. Wisconsin (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Lost to Minnesota 58-53 (OT), defeated Ohio State 71-49
This week: at Northwestern
Buzz: Closing Big Ten schedule favors Wisconsin.

17. Ohio State (18-7, 8-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 69-69, lost to Wisconsin 71-49
This week: Minnesota, Michigan State
Buzz: The Buckeyes’ 49 points against Wisconsin was a season low.

18. Butler (21-5, 8-3 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Lost to Charlotte 71-67, defeated Fordham 68-63
This week: Duquesne, Saint Louis
Buzz: Bulldogs are one game back in the chase for the A-10 title.

19. Colorado State (21-4, 8-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated San Diego State 66-60, defeated Air Force 89-86
This week: at UNLV, New Mexico
Buzz: This could be a make-or-break week for Colorado State’s goals of winning the Mountain West

20. Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Marquette 79-69, lost to Notre Dame 51-42
This week: at St. John’s
Buzz: The Panthers' hot streak has come to a halt, but the remaining schedule isn't daunting.

21. Memphis (22-3, 11-0 Conference USA)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated UCF 93- 71, defeated Marshall 71-59
This week: Houston, Southern Miss
Buzz: The Tigers’ C-USA’s foes are shooting only 40.8 percent on two-pointers. 

22. New Mexico (21-4, 9-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Fresno State 54-48, defeated Boise State 60-50
This week: at Colorado State
Buzz: The Lobos are getting it done on the defensive end.

23. VCU (21-5, 9-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated UMass 86-88, defeated George Washington 84-57
This week: at Saint Louis, at Xavier
Buzz: The Rams steal the ball on 17.7 percent of opponents’ possessions.

24. Saint Louis (19-5, 8-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Charlotte 75-58
This week: VCU, Butler
Buzz: Billikens are riding a seven-game winning streak ahead of huge week against VCU and Butler.

25. Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 82-78 (OT), lost to Providence 71-54, defeated Pittsburgh 51-42
This week: Cincinnati
Buzz: Notre Dame started 1 of 19 from the field but still managed to beat Pitt on Monday night.

Out: No. 23 Cincinnati, No. 25 San Diego State

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Power Rankings: Indiana, Michigan State square for top three matchup</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-projections-and-bubble-watch-feb-13
Body:

Selection Sunday is about a month away, and the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is becoming more clear.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 20 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: FEB. 14

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Indiana 
Miami
Duke
Michigan

ACC (5)
In: Duke, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia
Worth a mention: Florida State, Maryland
Bubble notes: Virginia is new to the field this week. The Cavs have one horrible loss, to Old Dominion (RPI 314), and five other losses to team ranked lower than 100 in the RPI, but this team has played very well since league play began and also has a win at Wisconsin (RPI 33). Virginia's RPI is troubling (71), but we are willing to overlook as long as the Cavs keep playing well. North Carolina is in the field, but the Tar Heels don't have too much to brag about other than a solid RPI (36) and a win at home over UNLV (RPI 25). It helps that five of their seven losses came against tems ranked in the top 20 in the RPI. 

Atlantic 10 (5)
In: Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: Charlotte, UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: No changes in the A-10 this week. UMass is getting close. The Minutemen have won four of five to improve to 6–3 in the league. They do, however, only have one top-75 RPI win, at No. 32 La Salle. Charlotte is making a late charge. The 49ers' RPI is up to 48 after Wednesday's huge win at Butler. They now have three top-50 wins and only of their losses, at George Washington is to a team outside the top 100. Temple has played three straight one-point games, with wins over Dayton and Charlotte and a loss to Saint Joseph's. The Owls' December win vs. Syracuse at MSG will keep them in the field barring a collapse. Saint Louis, with six straight wins, is in good shape. The Billikens will have an opportunity to improve their seed in the next few weeks, with a home game vs. VCU and a trip to Butler. 

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (6)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor has won two straight, but those have come against Texas Tech and West Virginia at home. Beginning on Saturday, the Bears have a three-game stretch with games at Kansas State, at home vs. Iowa State and at Oklahoma. They might need to win two of those three. Currently, Scott Drew's team has two top-50 RPI wins and has losses at home to Northwestern (RPI 98) and College of Charleston (RPI 140). Iowa State remained in the field desite losing at Texas (in overtime) on Wednesday night. The Cyclones still don't have a win away from home vs. a top-150 team. The do have two top-25 home wins and five of  their eight losses have come against teams ranked in the top 40.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Outside of that magical five-day stretch when Villanova beat Louisville and Syracuse, this team has done nothing to suggest its NCAA Tournament-worthy. They only have two other top-100 RPI wins, vs. St. John's (RPI 54) and Saint Joseph's (RPI 84). Their best road win is at No. 122 South Florida. St. John's is hanging around. The Red Storm have three top-50 wins, highlighted by the Jan. 5 vicory at Cincinnati. They already have nine losses, including two bad ones — at San Francisco (RPI 129) and vs. UNC Asheville (162).

Big Ten (7)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Iowa
Bubble notes: Illinois solidified its resume with two huge wins last week, vs. Indiana and at Minnesota. The Fighting Illini are only 4–7 in the Big Ten, but they have a strong RPI (27) and five top-25 wins, including three away from home. Minnesota continues to struggle — the Gophers have lost six of eight — but is still in solid shape. Tubby Smith's club has three top-35 wins and six of its seven losses have come against top-35 RPI teams. Iowa is 15–9 overall and 4–7 in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes' schedule softens up down the stretch. Don't be surprised if this team plays its way into the field. 

Related: Key stats from Feb. 4-10

Conference USA (1)
In: Memphis
Worth a mention: Southern Miss
Bubble notes: Southern Miss beat Tulane on Wednesday to improve to 16–6 vs. Division I teams, but the Golden Eagles have no top-100 wins. They will have to win the league tournament. 

Missouri Valley (2)
In: Creighton, Wichita State
Worth a mention: Indiana State,
Bubble notes: Indiana State will have one of the strangest resumes in recent memory. The Sycamores have four top-50 wins and four losses vs. teams ranked 150 or lower. That is hard to do. Their loss at Bradley on Tuesday knocked them out of the field for the week. Creighton is trending in the wrong direction. The Bluejays have lost three straight and now have five losses in the Valley. Their RPI is still solid, and they have still highly ranked by KenPom.com (23) and ESPN's BPI (18). 

Mountain West (5)

In: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Air Force, Wyoming
Bubble notes: Boise State is playing good basketball — the Broncos sandwiched wins vs. UNLV and Wyoming around a one-point loss at San Diego State — and snuck back into the field this week. They have an opportunity to solidify their resume this weekend at New Mexico, and still have dates with Colorado State at home and at UNLV. Wyoming has two solid wins (Colorado and San Diego State, both at home), but the Cowobys are 3–7 in the Mountain West. They need to finish strong. 

Pac-12 (4)
In: Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Arizona State, Cal, Stanford
Bubble notes: Colorado has solidfied its resume in the past few weeks with five wins in its last six games. The Buffaloes, coming off wins at Oregon and Oregon State, have a rock-solid RPI of 18. Arizona State played its way out of the field this week by losing at Utah. The Sun Devils have lost three of four and don't have any top-150 wins on the road. They do, however, play four of their final six games on the road — which could be good (if they win some) or bad (if they play their way out of the field). Stanford is making a late charge. The Cardinal have won four of five to improve to 6–5 in the league. They don't, however, have many quality wins — only one vs. a top-50 team (Oregon at home without Dominic Artis). Stanford can pad its resume in the next two weeks with a win at home vs. UCLA and at Oregon on Feb. 23. Cal deserves to be in the discussion after its upset win at Arizona last weekend. If the Bears (RPI 61, BPI 57) sweep UCLA and USC this weekend, they could sneak into the field.

SEC (4)
In: Florida, Kentucky Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama
Bubble notes: Kentucky was seemingly in great shape after winning five-straight games, but the Wildcats could be in a bit of trouble now that Nerlens Noel is out of action. Also, their "quality" win at Ole Miss doesn't look as impressive now. The Rebels have lost four of their last five and are playing their way back to the bubble. They only have one top-50 RPI win, but still have decent compture numbers (RPI 51, BPI 34, KenPom 37). Alabama has an impressive league record (8–3), but only one of those eight wins has come against a team ranked higher than 75 in the RPI. The Crimson Tide have to keep on winning to remain in the discussion.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has a great opportunity to solidify its spot in the field on Thursday night when Gonzaga comes to town. If the Gaels lose that game, they figure to be sweating on Selection Sunday.

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Stony Brook MEAC Norfolk State
Atlantic Sun Florida Gulf Coast Northeast Bryant
Big Sky Montana Ohio Valley Belmont
Big South UNC-Asheville Patriot Bucknell
Big West Long Beach State Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit Western Illinois
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech



 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday about a month away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-indiana-splits-week-stays-top
Body:

The fun water cooler debate of the top teams in college basketball keeps going.

Each of Athlon’s top four teams from last week took a loss last week. Kansas took two. Our No. 6 team from last week, Duke, had a near-miss against lowly Boston College. The changes at the top each week make rankings these teams difficult -- never mind the teams in the No. 20-25 range.

In other words, the NCAA Tournament selection committee will have some tough work ahead.

But we have to take a stand this week in our power rankings.

We kept Indiana and Michigan at Nos. 1-2 despite their losses last week. The Hoosiers lost on a broken defensive play at Illinois, and the Wolverines lost to Wisconsin in overtime thanks to a miracle shot at the end of regulation from Ben Brust.

Miami, which we ranked third, has a compelling case to be No. 1, but the Hurricanes aren’t rolling through the typical North Carolina teams. The Big Ten gauntlet is a bit of an equalizer between Miami and the top-ranked teams in the Big Ten.

Related: Key stats from Feb. 4-10

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 12

1. Indiana (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Illinois 74-72, defeated Ohio State 81-68
This week: Nebraska, Purdue
Buzz: Convincing win at Buckeyes counters late collapse at Illinois to keep Hoosiers at No. 1.

2. Michigan (21-3, 8-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Ohio State 76-74 (OT), lost to Wisconsin 65-62
This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Buzz: Michigan is 0-2 when Trey Burke takes 20 or more shots from the field (Indiana, Wisconsin).

3. Miami (19-3, 10-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Boston College 72-50, North Carolina 87-61
This week: at Florida State, at Clemson
Buzz: The Hurricanes’ undefeated start against ACC foes includes 4-0 mark against North Carolina, Duke and NC State.

4. Duke (21-2, 8-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated NC State 98-85, defeated Boston College 62-61
This week: North Carolina, at Maryland
Buzz: The Blue Devils dodged an embarrassing loss to Boston College to maintain five-game winning streak.

5. Syracuse (20-3, 8-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Notre Dame 63-47, defeated St. John’s 77-58
This week: at Connecticut, at Seton Hall
Buzz: James Southerland’s return (13 points) boosts Orange past St. John’s.

6. Arizona (20-3, 8-3 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Stanford 73-66, lost to Cal 77-69
This week: at Colorado, at Utah
Buzz: The Wildcats had a case to be No. 1 … before losing to Cal.

7. Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Pepperdine 82-56, defeated Loyola Marymount
This week: at Saint Mary’s, at San Francisco
Buzz: Regular season West Coast Conference title will be easier to win if Zags defeat the Gaels on Thursday.

8. Florida (19-3, 9-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Arkansas 80-69, defeated Mississippi State 83-58
This week: Kentucky, at Auburn
Buzz: The Gators won’t get through the SEC unscathed, but is the door open for a hot Kentucky team to swipe the conference title?

9. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated Minnesota 61-50, defeated Purdue 78-65
This week: Michigan, at Nebraska
Buzz: Guess who’s tied for first in the Big Ten? Sparty.

10. Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to TCU 62-55, lost to Oklahoma 72-66, defeated Kansas State 83-62
This week: Texas
Buzz: KU displaying serious point guard issues during three-game losing streak that ended with rout of K-State on Monday.

11. Louisville (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 68-48, lost to Notre Dame 104-101 (5OT)
This week: St. John’s, at USF
Buzz: After home date with St. John’s, Louisville faces easy part of Big East schedule against USF, Seton Hall and DePaul.

12. Kansas State (19-5, 8-3 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas Tech 68-59, defeated Iowa State 79-70, lost to Kansas 83-62
This week: Baylor
Buzz: The Wildcats lost sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with Kansas, but final stretch is manageable before regular season final Oklahoma State.

13. Ohio State (17-6, 7-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan 76-74 (OT), lost to Indiana 81-68
This week: Northwestern, at Wisconsin
Buzz: No shame in losing to Michigan and Indiana.

14. Pittsburgh (20-5, 8-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 62-52
This week: at Marquette
Buzz: Pittsburgh making a nice run in the Big East. Road trip to Marquette will show if Panthers can contend for title.

15. Butler (20-4, 7-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated St. Bonaventure 77-58, defeated George Washington 59-56
This week: Charlotte, at Fordham
Buzz: Rotnei Clarke averaging 19 points per game since return from injury.

16. Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Baylor 69-67 (OT), defeated Texas 72-59
This week: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma
Buzz: Freshman Marcus Smart leading red-hot Cowboys, who have won five in a row.

17. Georgetown (18-4, 8-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 69-63, defeated Marquette 63-55
This week: at Cincinnati
Buzz: Otto Porter is averaging 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds during the Hoyas' six-game win streak.

18. Wisconsin (17-7, 8-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa 74-70 (2OT), defeated Michigan 62-62 (OT)
This week: at Minnesota, Ohio State
Buzz: Wisconsin’s homecourt magic works wonders in two overtime wins last week. Badgers have shot at Big Ten title.

19. Notre Dame (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Louisville 104-101 (5OT)
This week: DePaul, at Providence
Buzz: Little-used Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman was the hero in OT against Louisville.

20. Marquette (17-6, 8-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated USF 70-47, defeated DePaul 89-78, Lost to Georgetown 63-55
This week: Pittsburgh
Buzz: Marquette's last five wins are over teams not likely to make the NCAA Tournament: Seton Hall, Providence, USF (twice) and DePaul.

21. New Mexico (20-4, 7-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Air Force 81-58, lost to UNLV 64-55
This week: at Fresno State, Boise State
Buzz: The Lobos have averaged 44.5 points in two MWC losses.

22. Colorado State (19-4, 6-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Nevada 73-69
This week: San Diego State, at Air Force
Buzz: The Rams are making a run at the Mountain West title. The two league losses are both on the road (San Diego State in overtime, New Mexico).

23. Cincinnati (18-6, 6-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Lost to Providence 54-50, lost to Pittsburgh 62-52
This week: Villanova, Georgetown
Buzz: The Bearcats a puzzling 2-3 at home in the Big East.

24. Memphis (20-3, 9-0 Conference USA)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated SMU 60-52, defeated Southern Miss 89-76
This week: UCF, at Marshall
Buzz: Memphis is 9-0 in C-USA for the first time since John Calipari’s last season after key win over Southern Miss.

25. San Diego State (18-5, 6-3 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boise State 63-62, defeated 75-53
This week: at Colorado State, at UNLV
Buzz: The Aztecs can get back into MWC contention with strong showing on the road this week.

Out: No. 17 Minnesota, No. 21 Oregon, No. 24 Creighton

Teaser:
<p> Top teams are falling all across the country, but Big Ten giants and Miami stay the course in the power rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-projections-and-bubble-watch-jan-31
Body:

Selection Sunday is about six weeks away, but the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is starting to take shape.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 20 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: FEB. 6

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Indiana 
Michigan
Duke
Miami

ACC (4)
In: Duke, Miami, North Carolina, NC State
Worth a mention: Florida State, Maryland, Virginia
Bubble notes: Maryland remains on the outside looking in. The Terps' RPI is 66, and their only good win is vs. NC State at home. Virginia had a four-game winning streak snapped at Georgia Tech last weekend. That was a troubling loss — the Cavs' sixth to team ranked 100th or worse in the RPI. North Carolina has only one top-50 RPI win, vs. UNLV at home. Florida State already has nine losses and only has one top-50 win (BYU).

Atlantic 10 (5)
In: Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: Saint Louis is new to the field this week. The Billikens crushed Butler last Thursday and followed up with a convincing win over Dayton. SLU's RPI is 57 and it has two top-50 wins. The loss at home to Rhode Island is the biggest blemish on the resume. La Salle bounced back from a loss at home to UMass on Thursday by winning at George Washington over the weekend. The Explorers have a strong RPI (27) and two top-50 wins. Barring a late-season slide, Temple should remain in the field thanks in large part to its win over Syracuse at MSG. The Owls have a couple of bad home losses — vs. Canisius in December and St. Bonaventure last week. UMass is in the discussion because of a realtively solid RPI (52) and that road win over La Salle last week. The Minutemen have a lot of work ahead of them.

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (5)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor remained in the field this week despite losing three straight — vs. OU, at Iowa State and at Oklahoma State in a heartbreaker Wednesday night. The Bears have some solid wins (at Kentucky, vs. Oklahoma State), and their RPI is a respectable 49. Iowa State padded its resume with wins over Baylor and Oklahoma to improve to 6–3 in the Big 12. The Cyclones' RPI is 36. With a win at Kansas in its back pocket, Oklahoma State should have nothing to worry about down the stretch — barring an implosion.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Villanova followed up its two wins at home vs. top-10 RPI foes (Louisville and Syracuse) by losing at Notre Dame and at home vs. Providence. The Wildcats (RPI 65) bounced back with a win at DePaul, but their resume has too many stains at this point. St. John’s beat UConn Wednesday night to improve to 7–4 in the league. The Red Storm (RPI 55) have one really good win (at Cincinnati) and several bad losses (at San Francisco and at home vs. UNC Asheville. Pittsburgh put itself in great position by beating Syracuse on Saturday (and not losing to Seton Hall on Monday).

Related: NCAA Tournament Report Card: Villanova

Big Ten (7)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue
Bubble notes: Iowa is good enough to play in the NCAA Touranment, but the Hawkeyes lack an NCAA Tournament resume. They dropped to 3–7 in the Big Ten with a loss on Wednesday at Wisconsin. They do have a home win vs. the Badgers, but their other two wins in the league came against Northwestern (on the road) and Penn State. Illinois is still in the field despite a 2–7 record in the league — but the Fighting Illini are on the thin ice. They have three top-20 RPI wins, including two away from home (Butler on a neutral court, at Gonzaga). Illinois hosts Indiana this weekend and then visits Minnesota. Winning one of those two would really help. Northwestern has a bad RPI (85) and a lot of losses (10), but the Wildcats are hanging around. Baylor's struggles have weakened Northwestern's resume (the Cats won in Waco). Purdue is 5–5 in the league with an RPI of 119 and only one top-80 win.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 21-27

Conference USA (1)
In: Memphis
Worth a mention: Southern Miss
Bubble notes: Southern Miss lost at UCF on Wednesday night, the Golden Eagles' first defeat in league play. It was enough to knock them out of the field. They are 16–4 against Division I opponents but have no wins against top-100 RPI teams. That is just tough to overlook. USM hosts Memphis this weekend. Memphis is 19–3 but lacks quality wins — but also has no bad losses.

Missouri Valley (3)
In: Creighton, Indiana State, Wichita State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: The Valley is a mess. Indiana State sandwiched huge wins over Wichita State (on the road) and Creighton (at home) around a loss at Drake (RPI 147). The Sycamores have eight losses, including four to teams ranked 130 or worse in the RPI, but they also have four top-50 RPI wins. Their profile is very interesting. Wichita State has lost three straight games but still has a solid RPI (38) and three top-60 wins. The Shockers, however, must start playing better ball.

Mountain West (4)

In: Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Boise State, Wyoming
Bubble notes: Boise State is out this week after losing three of its last four — including by one point at San Diego State on Wednesday night— to drop to 3–5 in the league. The Broncos' RPI is 53 and they have two top-40 RPI wins (at Creighton, 34; vs. UNLV, 20). A very weak non-conference schedule has hurt their profile. Wyoming has lost four straight in the league and its RPI is down to 63. The Cowboys also don't have a top-125 RPI win away from home. UNLV has been a disappointment, but the Rebels aren't in any danger of missing the field — yet.

Pac-12 (5)
In: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Washington
Bubble notes: Colorado is 4–5 in the league and lost at Utah over the weekend, but the Buffaloes still have a strong RPI (26) and five wins vs. top 70 RPI teams. They probably can't afford get swept this weekend by Oregon and Oregon State. Arizona State has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises. The Sun Devils are 6–3 in the Pac-12 and only have one bad loss, vs. DePaul at home. They might need to sweep Cal and Stanford at home to remain in the field next week. Washington is barely in the discussion. The Huskies are 5–4 in the league with an RPI of 69. They have lost four of five and play at UCLA on Thursday night.

SEC (4)
In: Florida, Kentucky Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama, Arkansas
Bubble notes: Kentucky is playing very well of late. The Wildcats have won four straight to improve to 7–2 in the SEC. The RPI is solid (43), but they are lacking in qaulity wins. UK still has two games with Florida, a home date with Missouri and a visit to emerging Arkansas on the slate. Alabama's resume took a huge hit Wednesday night with a loss at Auburn. The Crimson Tide also have three damaging losses at home — to Dayton (RPI 103), Tulane (166) and Mercer (173). Also, they have only one top-60 win, vs. Kentucky (46). Arkansas's RPI is up to 77 after Tuesday's big win over Florida. The Hogs have the talent to get on a roll in the month of the season, but they can't afford any bad losses to remain in the picture.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has decent computer numbers (60 RPI, 24 KenPom), but only one win vs. a top-90 RPI team (at BYU). The Gaels also have lost two games, on a neutral court, to teams ranked lower than 100th. They are in the field this week — barely. BYU only has two top-100 wins, both against Santa Clara (RPI 84).

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Stony Brook MEAC Norfolk State
Atlantic Sun Florida Gulf Coast Northeast Bryant
Big Sky Montana Ohio Valley Belmont
Big South Charleston Southern Patriot Bucknell
Big West Long Beach State Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit South Dakota State
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech



 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday less than two months away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-indiana-returns-top-spot
Body:

Another week, another No. 1 in the Athlon Sports college basketball power rankings.

For the third week in a row, we have a new team in the top spot following Duke two weeks ago, then Michigan. We return to an old friend at No. 1 in Indiana, who defeated the Wolverines 81-73 on Saturday.

Illustrating how closely matched the two Big Ten giants seem to be, Michigan dropped just one spot to No. 2 this week. In the marquee game of the week, the Wolverines fell behind by a wide margin early in Bloomington, but battled back to tie the Hoosiers in the second half before Michigan’s eventual loss.

Indiana may have been the No. 1 team regardless of other movement around the country, but Kansas’ stunning home loss to Oklahoma State made the decision an easy one.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine State is enjoying unparalleled success with both Florida and Miami in our top five this week. The Gators keep steamrolling through the SEC with their 14-point win over Ole Miss qualifying as a squeaker for Billy Donovan these days.

But the bigger story is in Miami, where Jim Larranaga continues to prove his credentials as a miracle worker. The Hurricanes used a late 8-2 run and a Reggie Johnson tip-in against NC State to remain undefeated in the ACC and two games ahead of Duke for the conference lead.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 28-Feb. 3

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 5

1. Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 97-60, defeated Michigan 81-73
This week: at Illinois, at Ohio State
Buzz: Indiana’s starters hit 23-of-38 from field vs. Michigan.

2. Michigan (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 68-46, lost to Indiana 81-73
This week: Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Buzz: Trey Burke needed 24 shots to score 25 points vs Indiana.

3. Florida (18-2, 8-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 75-36, defeated Ole Miss 78-64
This week: at Arkansas, Mississippi State
Buzz: The Gators are shooting 51.4 percent from the floor in SEC games.

4. Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Oklahoma State 85-80
This week: at TCU, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Oklahoma State ended Jayhawks’ 33-game home winning streak.

5. Miami (17-3, 8-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 73-64, defeated NC State 79-78
This week: Boston College, North Carolina
Buzz: First-place Hurricanes are 5-0 on the road in the ACC.

6. Duke (19-2, 6-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Wake Forest 75-70, defeated Florida State 79-60
This week: NC State, at Boston College
Buzz: The Blue Devils struggling from line in ACC games (61.9 percent).

7. Syracuse (19-3, 7-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Pittsburgh 65-55, defeated Notre Dame 63-47
This week: St. John's
Buzz: Orange only had three points from bench in loss to Pitt and seven in win over Notre Dame.

8. Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Loyola Marymount 88-43, defeated San Diego 65-63
This week: Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount
Buzz: Zags play five of final eight games at home.

9. Arizona (19-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington 57-53, defeated Washington State 79-65
This week: Stanford, Cal
Buzz: Wildcats back in race after sweep of Washington schools on the road.

10. Louisville (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Marquette 70-51
This week: at Rutgers, at Notre Dame
Buzz: Despite recent struggles, Cardinals only one game back in the loss column in Big East.

11. Michigan State (14-3, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois 80-75
This week: Minnesota, at Purdue
Buzz: Michigan State has three players averaging more than six boards.

12. Ohio State (17-4, 7-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 58-49, defeated Nebraska 63-56
This week: at Michigan, Indiana
Buzz: The Buckeyes are hanging around in Big Ten title chase. Will they still be after this week?

13. Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 83-57, defeated Oklahoma 52-50
This week: at Texas Tech, Iowa State
Buzz: The Wildcats’ padded NCAA Tournament resume with win at Oklahoma.

14. New Mexico (19-3, 6-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated Wyoming 63-59, defeated Nevada 75-62
This week: Air Force, at UNLV
Buzz: The Lobos are emerging as the team to beat in deep MWC.

15. Cincinnati (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Rutgers 62-54, Seton Hall 65-59
This week: at Providence, Pittsburgh
Buzz: The Bearcats' four losses have come by a total of 10 points.

16. Butler (18-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Saint Louis 75-58, defeated Rhode Island 75-68
This week: St. Bonaventure, at George Washington
Buzz: The Road in the A-10 has not been kind to Butler with losses to La Salle and Saint Louis.

17. Minnesota (17-5, 5-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Nebraska 84-65, defeated Iowa 62-59
This week: at Michigan State, Illinois
Buzz: Hollins and Hollins pulled Gophers out of a four-game losing streak.

18. Pittsburgh (19-5, 7-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Syracuse 65-55, defeated Seton Hall 56-46
This week: at Cincinnati
Buzz: Pitt has won seven of eight, with only loss by 3 at Louisville.

19. Georgetown (16-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 74-52, defeated St. John's 68-56
This week: at Rutgers
Buzz: Hoyas' opponents are shooting only 41.2 percent from two.

20. Marquette (15-5, 6-2 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Lost to Louisville 70-51
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: Eagles have already played three overtime games in Big East.

21. Oregon (18-4, 7-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Stanford 76-52, lost to Cal 58-54
This week: Colorado, Utah
Buzz: Ducks fall down to Earth with Bay Area-sweep

22. Oklahoma State (15-5, 5-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa State 78-76, defeated Kansas 85-80
This week: Baylor, at Texas
Buzz: Cowboys were 0-3 on the road in the Big 12 before rare win in Lawrence.

23. Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: Lost to Ohio State 58-49, defeated Illinois 74-68
This week: Iowa, Michigan
Buzz: Wisconsin shot 42 free throws in win at Illinois after shooting none in a loss at Ohio State.

24. Creighton (20-3, 9-2 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 91-77, defeated Bradley 75-58
This week: at Indiana State, Illinois State
Buzz: Bluejays back on track after two-game slide.

25. Colorado State (18-4, 5-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boise State 77-57, defeated Wyoming 65-46
This week: at Nevada
Buzz: The Rams have won their last three MWC games comfortably in time for stretch against San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV and New Mexico next week.

Out: No. 15 NC State, No. 16 Wichita State, No. 17 Ole Miss, No. 24 Missouri, No. 25 San Diego State

Teaser:
<p> The Hoosiers back at No. 1 after Michigan win, but Miami is in rare territory in the top five.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-michigan-takes-top-spot
Body:

Miami’s 90-63 drubbing of Duke last week shuffled the power rankings in more ways than one.

First, the Blue Devils’ loss means Athlon will have a new No. 1 this week. Our nod goes to Michigan, who is having its best season since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose were on campus. The Wolverines and John Beilein have a chance to either solidify their credentials for the No. 1 spot or open the door for another team when they visit Indiana on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Miami enjoyed the biggest boost in our rankings this week, moving from No. 21 to No. 10 after defeating Duke and Florida State by a combined 52 points last week. Keep in mind, the Hurricanes scored only 51 points in the second game of the season, a loss to Florida Gulf Coast. Miami’s staying power will be tested this week on the road against the nation’s leading scorer in Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and then against erratic NC State.

The biggest drop in this week’s power rankings came from Minnesota, which fell 10 spots to No. 19. The Gophers started 15-1, but they’ve lost four in a for in Big Ten play.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 21-27

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: JAN. 29

1. Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Purdue 68-53, defeated Illinois 74-60
This week: at Indiana
Buzz: The Wolverines top the Associated Press top 25 for first time since Fab Five days.

2. Kansas (19-1, 7-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Kansas State 59-55, defeated Oklahoma 67-54, defeated West Virginia 61-56
This week: Oklahoma State
Buzz: Kansas is riding an 18-game win streak.

3. Indiana (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated Penn State 72-49, defeated Michigan State 75-70
This week: at Purdue, Michigan
Buzz: Home date with Michigan on Saturday is Hoosiers only game at Assembly Hall in four games.

4. Syracuse (18-2, 6-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 75-71 (OT)
This week: at Pittsburgh
Buzz: Point guard Michael Carter-Williams has 16 turnovers in his last three games.

5. Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Miami 90-63, defeated Maryland 84-64
This week: at Wake Forest, at Florida State
Buzz: Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of slump to score 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field against Maryland.

6. Florida (16-2, 6-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Georgia 64-47, defeated Mississippi State 82-47
This week: South Carolina, Ole Miss
Buzz: The Gators are eyeing a perfect 18–0 record in the SEC.

7. Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated BYU 83-63, defeated San Francisco 66-52
This week: at Loyola Marymount, at San Diego
Buzz: Zags next four opponents are from the bottom half of the WCC before a Feb. 14 trip to Saint Mary’s.

8. Arizona (17-2, 5-2 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to UCLA 84-73, defeated USC 74-50
This week: at Washington, at Washington State
Buzz: Arizona allowed a season-high 84 points in loss to UCLA last week.

9. Louisville (17-4, 5-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Villanova 73-64, lost to Georgetown 53-51, beat Pittsburgh 64-61
This week: Marquette
Buzz: Louisville broke out of its three-game losing streak with win over Pittsburgh, but Peyton Siva remains in a slump (7 of 31 from the field in the last four games, four free throw attempts in the last six).

10. Miami (15-3, 6-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Duke 90-63, defeated Florida State 71-47
This week: at Virginia Tech, at NC State
Buzz: Veteran Hurricanes are in control of the ACC race. In basketball.

11. Butler (17-3, 4-1 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Lost to La Salle 54-53, defeated Temple 83-71
This week: at Saint Louis, Rhode Island
Buzz: Rotnei Clarke’s return against Temple makes Butler team to beat in A-10.

12. Michigan State (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Wisconsin 49-47, lost to Indiana 75-70
This week: Illinois
Buzz: Adreian Payne is emerging as intriguing veteran forward and NBA draft prospect.

13. Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Iowa 72-63, defeated Penn State 65-51
This week: Wisconsin, at Nebraska
Buzz: Deshaun Thomas is averaging 15.5 shots per game, most in the Big Ten and 16th-most nationally.

14. Oregon (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington State 68-61, defeated Washington 81-76
This week: at Stanford, at Cal
Buzz: Freshman point Dominic Artis is out with a foot injury.

15. NC State (16-4, 5-2 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Wake Forest 86-84, defeated North Carolina 91-83
This week: at Virginia, Miami
Buzz: Crazy week for the Wolfpack: Lose at Wake, crush North Carolina.

16. Wichita State (19-2, 8-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Missouri State 62-52, defeated Bradley 73-39
This week: Indiana State, at Northern Iowa
Buzz: The Shockers are all alone in first in the Valley.

17. Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Tennessee 62-56, defeated Auburn 63-61
This week: Kentucky, at Florida
Buzz: Marshall Henderson (19.2 ppg) is the most hated man in SEC.

18. Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Kansas 59-55, lost to Iowa State 73-67
This week: Texas, at Oklahoma
Buzz: Wildcats dealing with first back-to-back losses under Bruce Weber.

19. Minnesota (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Northwestern 55-48, lost to Wisconsin 45-44
This week: Nebraska, Iowa
Buzz: The Gophers have lost four in a row, all by eight points or fewer.

20. New Mexico (17-3, 4-1 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Colorado State 66-61, lost to San Diego State 55-34
This week: at Wyoming, Nevada
Buzz: The Lobos went 11 of 44 from the field and 3 of 15 from three-point range in loss at San Diego State.

21. Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 23
Last week’s results: None
This week: Rutgers, at Seton Hall
Buzz: Bearcats back in action Wednesday after an eight-day break since loss to Syracuse.

22. Marquette (15-4, 6-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated Providence 81-71, defeated USF 63-50
This week: at Louisville
Buzz: Marquette used a career-high 30 points from Vander Blue to defeat USF on Monday and move into a tie for first place in the Big East.

23. Wisconsin (14-6, 5-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 49-47, defeated Minnesota 45-44
This week: at Ohio State, at Illinois
Buzz: Badgers averaged 46 points and split the week.

24. Missouri (15-4, 4-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated South Carolina 71-65, defeated Vanderbilt 81-59
This week: at LSU, Auburn
Buzz: Tigers should be back at full strength very soon with return of forward Laurence Bowers.

25. San Diego State (16-4, 4-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Nevada 78-57, defeated New Mexico 55-34
This week: at Air Force
Buzz: The Aztecs continue to get it done on defense.

Out: No. 17 VCU, No. 20 Creighton

Teaser:
<p> Michigan is Athlon Sports' new No. 1 team in the power rankings with a key game against Indiana on the horizon. Miami moves into top 10.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-bracket-projections-jan-24
Body:

Selection Sunday is less than two months away, but the picture for who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA Tournament is starting to take shape.

In general, most of the 68 spots are fairly certain. Of the 32 conferences, we’ve tabbed 21 as being one-bid leagues, determined solely by conference tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum, at least 30 teams are safely in the field barring a total collapse between now and March 17.

That leaves the bubble, where every win and loss is magnified and every result from November and December takes on a renewed significance.

Here’s our look at the NCAA Tournament field for 2013. This is not intended to be a prediction, per se, but a snapshot at how the field may look right now.

We looked at RPI, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in our projections. You will also see references to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The selection committee does not use them as a reference, but we include them as an added resource.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET PROJECTIONS: JAN. 24

TOP FOUR SEEDS
Michigan
Syracuse
Kansas
Duke

ACC (5)
In: Duke, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State
Worth a mention: Florida State, Virginia
Bubble notes: Maryland was the last team in the field this week. The Terps have four losses, two on the road vs. NCAA teams (Miami and North Carolina), one on a neutral court (vs. Kentucky) and one at home (Florida State). Their only good win is vs. NC State, at home. North Carolina has a couple of losses that could come back to haunt it, at Texas and at Virginia. That late-December win at home vs. UNLV is the Heels’ only top-60 RPI win. Virginia has some good wins (at Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida State), but some troubling losses (Delaware, Old Dominion). Plus, the Cavs’ RPI is 131 (with a KenPom rating of 37). Florida State already has seven losses and only has one top-50 win (BYU).

Atlantic 10 (3)
In: Butler, Temple, VCU
Worth a mention: Charlotte, La Salle, Saint Louis, UMass, Xavier
Bubble notes: Barring a late-season slide, Temple should remain in the field thanks in large part to its win over Syracuse at MSG. The Owls have a couple of bad home losses — vs. Canisius in December and St. Bonaventure last week. La Salle has a solid RPI of 32 and picked up a big win on Wednesday night against short-handed Butler, but the Explorers resume still falls short. Xavier has wins over Butler and Temple, plus a 4–1 mark in the A-10, but the Musketeers lost to Pacific on a neutral court, Vanderbilt and Wofford at home and at Wake Forest. Saint Louis has wins over Texas A&M and New Mexico, but the Billikens have five losses and an RPI of 73.

Related: Key games with postseason implications to watch this week

Big 12 (6)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Baylor has a few puzzling losses (College of Charleston and Northwestern at home), but the Bears have solid computer numbers (RPI 38, KenPom 31). That win at Kentucky isn’t quite as impressive as we thought, but Baylor did beat a good Lehigh team before C.J. McCollum’s season-ending injury. Iowa State was good enough to take Kansas to the wire in Lawrence a few weeks ago but bad enough to lose at Texas Tech on Wednesday night. But he did, and the Cyclones lost in overtime. Oklahoma State isn’t in much danger, but the Cowboys only have one top-70 RPI win, vs. NC State on a neutral court. Four of their five losses have come against top-40 teams, including three on the road.

Related: This week's college basketball power rankings

Big East (7)
In: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Worth a mention: Rutgers, St. John’s, Villanova
Bubble notes: Rutgers is in the discussion due to a decent RPI of 56. But the Scarlet Knights are 101 in KenPom and don’t have any top-50 RPI wins. Beating Pittsburgh at home and winning at St. John’s is nice, but losing at home to St. Peter’s (RPI 271) is not nice. St. John’s won at Cincinnati and Rutgers, but has losses at San Francisco and at home vs. UNC Asheville. Villanova is playing its way into the discussion (a win over Louisville will look very good if this team is on the bubble), but the Wildcats had a lot of catching up to do. Pittsburgh feasted on a soft non-conference schedule, then got off to a rough start in the Big East, but has seemingly righted the ship. The Panthers have no bad losses and a nice win at Georgetown (and a potentially nice win at Villanova on the resume). Notre Dame is trending in the wrong direction but still has more than enough on its resume.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 13-20

Big Ten (8)
In: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Northwestern, Purdue
Bubble notes: Iowa might be a surprise to some. The Hawkeyes have a bad RPI (65) but are rated No. 33 by KenPom. Five of their six wins have come against teams with an RPI of 22 or better, and the sixth was at Virginia Tech in November when the Hokies were playing very well. They have wins over two NCAA teams, Iowa State and Wisconsin, and also beat Northern Iowa and Northwestern (on the road). Illinois had lost three straight before winning at Nebraska Tuesday night, but the Fighting Illini have three really good wins — Butler (neutral), Gonzaga (road), Ohio State (home). Northwestern has three wins over projected NCAA teams, including two on the road — Baylor and Illinois. Purdue can make a statement over the next week, with a trip to Michigan and home games against Iowa and Indiana.

Conference USA (2)
In: Memphis, Southern Miss
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: Surprisingly, Conference USA could be a two-bid league in 2013. Southern Miss was one of the last teams in the field. The Golden Eagles are 16–4 (thought two wins are against non-D-1 schools), and two of their losses are against Arizona and Wichita State, both top-15 RPI teams. The Eagles will need to beat Memphis at least once and avoid any bad losses in the league to remain in the discussion. Memphis is 15–3 but lacks quality wins — but also has no bad losses.

Missouri Valley (2)
In: Creighton, Wichita State
Worth a mention: Indiana State
Bubble notes: Indiana State has a decent RPI of 51 but is ranked 81st by KenPom. The Sycamores have a couple of solid wins on a neutral court (vs. Ole Miss and Miami) but have also lost on the road to Morehead State and Southern Illinois. They were in the field this week until losing at Illinois State on Wednesday night.

Mountain West (6)
In: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming
Worth a mention: None
Bubble notes: This is shaping up to be a banner year for the Mountain West. Boise State could earn its first at-large invitation. The Broncos have two top-40 road wins, at Creighton and Wyoming. That could be the difference on Selection Sunday. San Diego State has slipped up a bit recently, but the Aztecs have three top-50 RPI wins (UCLA, Indiana State and Colorado State) and all four of their losses have come against top-40 teams. Colorado State has an RPI of 17 and only one bad loss, at UIC.

Pac-12 (4)
In: Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
Worth a mention: Arizona State, Washington
Bubble notes: Colorado is off to a rough start in the Pac-12 (2–4), but the Buffaloes have two top-40 wins (Baylor and Colorado State) and no bad losses (depending on your opinion of Arizona State and Washington). Also, Colorado’s RPI is 21, though it’s 51 in KenPom. Arizona State has been a nice story this season, but two things on the Sun Devils’ resume stick out (in a bad way): only one win vs. an RPI top-75 team (Colorado at home) and a loss at home to DePaul (RPI 172, KenPom 127). Washington already has three road wins in the league, but only one overall win vs. a top-70 team, and the Huskies have four losses to teams ranked 119th or worse.

SEC (3)
In: Florida, Ole Miss, Missouri
Worth a mention: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas A&M
Bubble notes: Kentucky is more well-received by KenPom (No. 19) than the RPI (61). The Wildcats have one win against a top-90 RPI team, vs. Maryland (59) on a neutral court in November. They don’t have any horrible losses, though three of the six have come against teams outside the top 50. Alabama has won three straight, but the Crimson Tide have plenty of stains on their resume — losses at home to Dayton (RPI 95), Tulane (150) and Mercer (161). Also, they have no top-50 wins. Texas A&M can boast about a win at Kentucky, but right now that’s a win over an NIT team. The Aggies’ loss at home to Southern in late December is troubling.

West Coast (2)
In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Worth a mention: BYU, Santa Clara
Bubble notes: Saint Mary’s has decent computer numbers (66 RPI, 36 KenPom, but only one win vs. a top-90 RPI team (at BYU). The Gaels also have lost two games, on a neutral court, to teams ranked lower than 100th. They were among the last teams in the field this week. BYU likely would move into the field with a win at Gonzaga on Thursday night — but that’s a tall order. The Cougars have only one top-100 win, at Santa Clara.

One-bid conference projections

Conference Projected winner Conference Projected winner
America East Albany Northeast Bryant
Atlantic Sun Stetson Ohio Valley Belmont
Big Sky Weber State Patriot Lehigh
Big South Charleston Southern Southern Davidson
Colonial Northeastern Southland Stephen F. Austin
Horizon Valparaiso Summit North Dakota State
Ivy Harvard Sun Belt Middle Tennessee
MAAC Niagara SWAC Southern
MAC Akron WAC Louisiana Tech
MEAC Norfolk State    




 

Teaser:
<p> With Selection Sunday less than two months away, Athlon Sports projects the field for the NCAA Tournament, conference by conference</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-jan-22
Body:

The discussion for the top spot in college basketball continues to be a contentious one, but we’re sticking with the same No. 1 team we’ve had for several weeks — Duke.

Two weeks ago, the last four undefeated teams lost. A week ago, two other contenders for the top spot, Indiana and Louisville, also lost. Granted, Duke faced Georgia Tech last week while Indiana visited Wisconsin and Louisville lost to Syracuse. The Blue Devils had a much more manageable week against Georgia Tech, who is winless in the ACC.

While Duke remained No. 1, other teams saw major gains as Oregon defeated UCLA on Saturday, moving to 2-0 against the top two teams in the preseason in the Pac-12. The Ducks moved from No. 22 to No. 16. Butler, by defeating Gonzaga on a buzzer beater late Saturday, moved into the top 10.

Related: Key stats from Jan. 14-20

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: JAN. 22

1. Duke (16-1, 3-1 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Georgia Tech 73-57
This week: at Miami, Maryland
Buzz: Devils hold on to No. 1 ranking in rout of Georgia Tech.

2. Michigan (17-1, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Defeated Minnesota 83-75
This week: Purdue, at Illinois
Buzz: Michigan might be nation’s best offensive team.

3. Kansas (16-1, 4-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 64-59
This week: at Kansas State, Oklahoma
Buzz: Ben McLemore is getting Freshman of the Year buzz.

4. Syracuse (18-1, 6-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Defeated Louisville 70-68, defeated Cincinnati 57-55
This week: at Villanova
Buzz: Orange squeeze out wins vs. Louisville, Cincinnati.

5. Louisville (16-2, 4-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Connecticut 73-58, lost to Syracuse 70-68
This week: at Villanova, at Georgetown
Buzz: Peyton Siva struggles as Cards lose late lead vs. Syracuse.

6. Indiana (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Wisconsin 64-59, defeated Northwestern 67-59
This week: Penn State, Michigan State
Buzz: Hoosiers have lost 11 straight games to Wisconsin.

7. Arizona (16-1, 4-1 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Arizona State 71-54
This week: UCLA, USC
Buzz: Mark Lyons is averaging 19.4 points per game in Pac-12 play.

8. Florida (14-2, 4-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas A&M 68-47, defeated Missouri 83-52
This week: at Georgia, at Mississippi State
Buzz: Gators playing as well as any team in the nation.

9. Minnesota (15-3, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Lost to Indiana 83-75
This week: at Northwestern, at Wisconsin
Buzz: The Gophers’ three losses have come to Duke, Michigan, Indiana.

10. Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated Richmond 62-47, defeated Gonzaga 64-63
This week: at La Salle, Temple
Buzz: Bulldogs use some Hinkle Magic to top Gonzaga.

11. Kansas State (15-2, 4-0 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated TCU 67-54, defeated Oklahoma 69-60
This week: Kansas, at Iowa State
Buzz: Rodney McGruder (15.2 ppg) only Wildcat scoring in double figures.

12. Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Portland 71-49, lost to Butler 64-63
This week: BYU, San Francisco
Buzz: Late-game execution dooms Zags at Butler.

13. NC State (15-3, 4-1 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Lost to Maryland 51-50, defeated Clemson 66-62
This week: at Wake Forest, North Carolina
Buzz: Pack yet to show consistency needed to contend.

14. Michigan State (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Defeated Penn State 81-72, defeated Ohio State 59-56
This week: at Wisconsin, at Indiana
Buzz: Sparty has feasted on relatively soft Big Ten slate.

15. Ohio State (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Lost to Michigan State 59-56
This week: Iowa, at Penn State
Buzz: Buckeyes’ D among nation’s best at forcing turnovers.

16. Oregon (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated USC 76-74, defeated UCLA 76-67
This week: Washington State, Washington
Buzz: Ducks now own wins over Arizona and at UCLA.

17. VCU (16-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated St. Joseph’s 92-86 (OT), defeated Duquesne 90-63
This week: at Richmond, La Salle
Buzz: Rams rout Duquesne after OT scare vs. Saint Joe’s

18. New Mexico (16-2, 3-0 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated Bose State 79-74 (OT)
This week: Colorado State, at San Diego State
Buzz: Lobos the only unbeaten remaining in wild MWC.

19. Wichita State (17-2, 6-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois State 74-62, defeated Creighton 67-64
This week: at Missouri State, Bradley
Buzz: Shockers knock off Creighton in key Valley duel.

20. Creighton (17-2, 6-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Defeated Northern Iowa 79-68, Lost to Wichita State 67-64
This week: at Drake, at Southern Illinois
Buzz: Bluejays lead nation in three-point shooting (45.2 percent).

21. Miami (13-3, 4-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Boston College 60-59
This week: Duke, Florida State
Buzz: Duke visits Coral Gables for a huge ACC showdown.

22. Ole Miss (15-2, 4-0 ACC)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Vanderbilt 89-79 (OT), defeated Arkansas 76-64
This week: Tennessee, at Auburn
Buzz: Ole Miss is 4–0 in the SEC for first time in 76 years.

23. Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 75-70, defeated Marquette 71-69 (OT), lost to Syracuse 57-55
This week: Rutgers, at Seton Hall
Buzz: Late lead slips away in Monday matinee at Syracuse.

24. Marquette (13-4, 5-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 69-62, lost to Cincinnati 71-69 (OT)
This week: Providence
Buzz: Three of four losses have been by two points or less.

25. Wisconsin (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Indiana 64-59, lost to Iowa 70-66
This week: Michigan State, Minnesota
Buzz: Badgers shock IU in Bloomington then lose at Iowa.

Out: No. 13 San Diego State, No. 16 Missouri, No. 20 UCLA, No. 23 Connecticut

Teaser:
<p> Duke remained the No. 1 team in our power rankings while Oregon and Butler used signature wins this week to make major gains</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 14:14
Path: /college-football/fiesta-bowl-preview-and-prediction-oregon-vs-kansas-state
Body:

Kansas State and Oregon have proven that it is possible to change your standing on the college football food chain. Consider the following: These two programs have a combined 11 appearances in the final AP top 10 since 1995; they combined for one (Oregon in 1948) prior to ’95. Kansas State, in particular, was viewed by most as the worst major college program in the nation for several decades.

How things have changed. Both teams were one game away from playing for the BCS National Championship this season. Oregon lost by three points at home to Stanford on the same night that K-State lost at Baylor 52–24.

Fiesta Bowl — Kansas State (11–1) vs. Oregon (11–1)

Date and Time: Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. EST
Channel: ESPN
Location: Glendale, Ariz.

When Oregon has the ball:

Four the third time in the past three seasons, the Ducks rank in the top six in the nation in total offense (550.1 ypg) and top three in scoring offense (50.8 ppg). Oregon scored 42 points or more in all 11 of its wins but was held to 14 points and 405 total yards in the overtime loss to Stanford.  

The triggerman for the 2012 version of Chip Kelly’s attack is Marcus Mariota, a redshirt freshman from Hawaii who didn’t earn the starting nod until just a few weeks before the season began. Mariota led the Pac-12 in passing efficiency — thanks in large part to a 30-to-6 touchdown-to-INT ratio — and ran for 690 yards and four touchdowns.  He was at his best in the Ducks’ 62–51 win at USC, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns while adding 96 yards rushing on 15 attempts.

The Oregon offense is far from a one-man show. The Ducks are blessed with a host of playmakers to complement Mariota, most notably tailback Kenjon Barner and all-purpose threat De’Anthony Thomas. Barner ranks fifth nationally in rushing (135.3 ypg) despite averaging only 20.7 carries per game. He could have been a serious Heisman candidate with a bigger workload. Thomas, considered to be among the fastest players in college football, averages 7.6 yards per carry (second nationally among players with at least 90 attempts) and also leads the Ducks with 41 receptions.

Oregon ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (323.3) — ahead of option teams Georgia Tech and New Mexico — and first in yards per attempt (6.06). The Ducks have rushed for over 250 yards in all but three games.

Junior Josh Huff was the only wide receiver with more than 22 receptions. The 5’11 Houston native missed significant action with a knee injury but still caught 29 passes for 467 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Huff combined to catch 11 passes for 234 yards and five scores in consecutive weeks in early November.

Kansas State was solid for much of he season defensively but had trouble with both Oklahoma State (504 yards) and Baylor (580) in the final month. Baylor rushed for 342 yards and passes for 238 in its 52–24 win over the Cats. Baylor has good speed. Oregon has great speed.  

When Kansas State has the ball:

Kansas State translates rather ordinary yardage totals into a high volume of points because it does several things very well — win the turnover battle (first in the nation at plus-1.75 per game), convert in the red zone and excel on special teams (first in the nation in both kick and punt returns).

Quarterback Collin Klein is the heavy lifter on the Wildcats’ offense. The fifth-year senior has throwns for 2,490 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and added 890 yards rushing and 22 scores on the ground. Klein had over 250 yards passing and 100 yards rushing three times in 2012 — in wins over Kansas, Iowa Stat and Texas.

Tailback John Hubert has emerged as a productive sidekick for Klein in the Wildcats’ backfield in the past two seasons. Lightly recruited out of Waco, Texas — he had no other BCS conference offers — Hubert has rushed for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior after netting 970 yards as a sophomore in 2011.

K-State isn’t known for its playmakers on the outside, but the Cats feature three quality wide receivers who are capable of making big plays down the field. Chris Harper, who began his career as a quarterback at Oregon, leads the way with 50 catches and 786 yards. Tyler Lockett, a multi-purpose threat, is next with 40 receptions for 657, and Tramaine Thompson has 36 catches for 514 yards. All three have at least one 100-yard receiving game this season.

Statistically, this is the best Oregon defense of the Kelly era. The Ducks overall numbers aren’t great — they rank 47th in total yards allowed — but this is a defense that is on the field quite a bit because the Oregon offense scores so quickly. Broken down by yards allowed per play, the Ducks rank a respectable 27th in the nation at 5.06. Only two teams have scored more than 26 points against Oregon — Arkansas State had 34 (31 of which came after Oregon led 50–3) and USC scored 51.

Final Analysis

Despite the fact that Oregon is favored by nearly 10 points, this is considered by most to be the most attractive of the non-title BCS bowls. Both teams hovered near the top of the polls for most of the season and — as stated above — both teams were one win away from playing in the title game.

Kansas State has made a habit out of proving its doubters wrong over the past two seasons, but Oregon has the superior roster. The Ducks’ prowess on offense is well known, but this is also a very strong defensive team that will be as healthy — especially on the front seven — as it’s been since the beginning of the season. Kansas State will score some points, but not enough to beat the high-flying Ducks.

Prediction: Oregon 38, Kansas State 21


Related College Football Content

A Very Early College Football Top 25 for 2013
Top 5 Performances in the Fiesta Bowl of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Fiesta Bowl Preview and Prediction: Oregon vs. Kansas State</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/top-5-fiesta-bowl-performances-bcs-era
Body:

With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Fiesta Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, 2011
Blackmon capped off a terrific three-year career at Oklahoma State with a brilliant performance in the Cowboys’ 41–38 overtime win over Stanford. The senior caught eight passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns to lead a receiving corps that torched the Stanford secondary for 399 yards. Blackmon’s first two scores went for 43 and 67 yards, respectively, and helped the Pokes recover from an early 14–0 deficit. His final touchdown, a 17-yard pass from Brandon Weeden, tied the game at 31–21, early in the fourth quarter.

 

4. Alex Smith, QB, Utah, 2005
Running Urban Meyer’s spread option offense to near perfection, Smith led Utah to a 35–7 win over Pittsburgh that completed a perfect 12–0 season. The future No. 1 pick of the San Francisco 49ers completed 29-of-37 passes for 328 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and added 68 yards on the ground. The Utes were the first team from a non-BCS conference to earn a spot in a BCS bowl.

3. Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon, 2002
Oregon was ranked No. 2 in the nation in both major polls but got squeezed out of the BCS National Championship Game in favor of Nebraska. Harrington and the Ducks’ offense took their frustrations out on Colorado, ranked No. 3 in both polls, in a surprisingly lopsided 38–16 win. Harrington completed 38-of-42 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns, including a 79-yard strike to Samie Parker that tied the record for longest pass reception in Fiesta Bowl history.

2. Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 2008
A true dual-threat quarterback, White abused the Oklahoma defense with 150 yards rushing on 25 carries and 176 yards passing as the Mountaineers rolled up 525 total yards en route to a 48–28 win over the Big 12 champs. West Virginia was coached by Bill Stewart, who stepped in for Rich Rodriguez, who bolted for the top job at Michigan after the regular season.

1. Jared Zabransky, QB, Boise State, 2007
In what will always be remembered as one of the most exciting bowl games in history, Zabransky and the upstart Broncos stunned heavily favored Oklahoma, 43–42 in overtime, after converting a Statue of Liberty play into a two-point conversion on their first possession of the extra session. Zabransky finished the game with 262 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Fiesta Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/top-5-sugar-bowl-performances-bcs-era
Body:

With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Sugar Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Brian Johnson, QB, Utah, 2009
In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Sugar Bowl, Utah rolled past Alabama, 31–17, with surprising ease. Johnson, a senior quarterback, completed 27-of-41 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns as the Utes completed a season with a perfect record for the second time in five years. Utah finished 2008 with an undefeated 13-0 record.



4. Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia, 2006
West Virginia, from the lightly regarded Big East, surprised favored Georgia with its speed as the Mountaineers outlasted the Bulldogs, 38–35, in Sugar Bowl that was moved to Atlanta in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Slaton, WVU’s diminutive tailback, led the way with 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 26 carries. The Mountaineers finished 11-1 after the win.



Or his second touchdown run...

3. Josh Reed, WR, LSU, 2002
Reed set Sugar Bowl records with 14 receptions and 239 yards receiving to lead LSU past Illinois, 47–34, in the highest-scoring Sugar Bowl in history. Reed also added two touchdown catches from quarterback Rohan Davey, who set a Sugar Bowl record with 444 passing yards. LSU, the SEC Champions, finished the season 10-3.

2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida, 2010
Tebow was nearly flawless in his final game in a Florida uniform. The dual-threat quarterback completed 31-of-35 passes for 482 yards and added 51 yards rushing and another score in the Gators’ 51–24 victory over Big East champ Cincinnati. “They couldn't stop Superman,” Gators guard Carl Johnson said. “They needed some kryptonite.” After losing the SEC title game to Alabama, Florida uncorked its venegnce upon the poor Bearcats to finish the season 13-1.


1. Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State, 2000
Weinke outdueled Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Michael Vick by passing for 329 yards and four touchdowns as the Seminoles topped the Hokies, 46–29, in the first Sugar Bowl of the new millennium. With the win, Florida State completed the first perfect season of Bobby Bowden’s career as a head coach and secured the Noles’ second national championship.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Sugar Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/gator-bowl-preview-and-prediction-mississippi-state-vs-northwestern
Body:

It’s the one blemish on an otherwise stellar résumé for Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: The Wildcats are 0–4 in bowl games in his six-plus seasons as the boss at his alma mater. The former All-America linebacker, named to the top job at Northwestern in 2006 after Randy Walker passed away, is 49–39 overall and a more-than-respectable 26–30 in Big Ten games. But he has yet to break through in the postseason, losing to Missouri in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, Auburn in the 2009 Outback Bowl, Texas Tech in the 2010 TicketCity Bowl and Texas A&M in the 2011 Texas Bowl. To be fair, Northwestern’s bowl struggles pre-date Fitzgerald’s tenure as the head coach. The Wildcats are 1–9 all-time in bowl games, with their lone win coming over California in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in 1949.

The Cats have a great opportunity to snap that streak in the Gator Bowl against a Mississippi State team that limps to Jacksonville having lost four of its last five games. The Bulldogs went 8–4 overall, but none of their eight wins came against teams that are playing in a bowl game. Northwestern, on the other hand, defeated four bowl teams.

Gator Bowl — Northwestern (9–3) vs. Mississippi State (8–4)

Date and Time: Jan. 1 at Noon EST
Network: ESPN
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.

When Northwestern has the ball:

Northwestern is one of the few teams nationally that won at a high level while playing two quarterbacks on a consistent basis. Both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian played in all 12 games (though Colter did not attempt a pass in the loss at Penn State), with Colter serving as a true dual-threat and Siemian operating as a pro-style quarterback. Colter, who completed just under 70 percent of his passes and rushed for 820 yards and 12 touchdowns, was the primary quarterback down the stretch and figures to get the bulk of the snaps in the bowl game. The strong-armed Siemian, however, will be more than ready in relief if Colter struggles.

For the first time since Tyrell Sutton graduated in 2008, Northwestern featured a legitimate Big Ten-caliber threat at the tailback position. Venric Mark, who carried the ball 15 times in his first two seasons on campus, emerged as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons — both as a running back and return specialist — in the nation. Mark, a 5-8, 175-pound Texas native, ranked third in the league in rushing with 1,310 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. He broke through with 123 yards in a key Week 2 win over Vanderbilt and topped the 100-yard mark seven more times the rest of the season.

Mississippi State struggled to stop the run for most of the season. The Bulldogs rank 58th in the nation in rushing defense and gave up 200 yards or more four times in 2012 — 230 to Troy, 213 to Tennessee, 361 to Texas A&M and 248 to Ole Miss. This is not a good matchup for the Dogs.

When Mississippi State has the ball:

Mississippi State changed its identity in 2012, morphing from a run-based attack in the first three years in the Dan Mullen era into an offense that was better — at least statistically — throwing the ball (50th in the nation) than running (85th). The reason for the new-look was the emergence of junior Tyler Russell as a quality drop-back quarterback. Russell, one of Mullen’s key early recruits, threw for 2,791 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. One of the benefactors of State’s newfound passing attack was senior wide receiver Chad Bumphis, who set career highs in catches (55), yards (904) and touchdowns (12).

Junior LaDarius Perkins stepped into the role as primary tailback that was handled quite well the previous two seasons by current Indianapolis Colt Vick Ballard. Perkins, considered by some to be too small to be an every down back, carried the ball 186 times for 940 yard and eight touchdowns. He had 100 yards or more in four of the first seven games, but wasn’t quite as effective down the stretch as the schedule became more difficult.

The Bulldogs’ offense feasted on a soft early schedule, averaging 416.9 yards en route to a 7–0 start. State however, was held to under 360 yards in four of the final five games, including 333 in a season-ending 41–24 loss to rival Ole Miss.

Final Analysis:

Northwestern won nine games and held double-digit second-half leads in all three of its losses yet finds itself as a two-point underdog to a Mississippi State team whose best win was either against Middle Tennessee or Tennessee — both at home. Yes, the SEC is better than the Big Ten, but the Wildcats aren’t getting enough credit for what they accomplished in 2012. Northwestern should have plenty of success running the ball and will do a better job than most expect of slowing down the Mississippi State offense. Only four teams scored more than 20 points against the Cats in 2012.

Prediction: Northwestern 28, Mississippi State 17  


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A Very Early College Football Top 25 for 2013
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Rose Bowl Preview and Prediction: Stanford and Wisconsin

Orange Bowl Preview and Prediction: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State

Teaser:
<p> Gator Bowl Preview and Prediction: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/music-city-bowl-preview-and-prediction-vanderbilt-vs-nc-state
Body:

Vanderbilt enters postseason play riding a six-game winning streak — the longest at the school since 1955. The Commodores are also playing in a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time ever. It’s safe to say that James Franklin is getting things done in Nashville.

Tom O’Brien, on the other hand, didn’t do enough in Raleigh — in the opinion of NC State athletic director Debbie Yow — to save his job. O’Brien was fired after leading the Pack to a 7–5 record during the regular season. He had a winning record at State (40–35) but went 22–26 in the ACC and only had a winning league record once (5–3 in 2010). Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will coach the Pack on an interim basis before former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren takes over on a full-time basis.

Music City Bowl — Vanderbilt (8–4) vs. NC State (7–5)

Date and Time: Dec. 31 at noon EST
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Network: ESPN

When Vanderbilt has the ball:

After struggling to score points in the first half of the season, Vanderbilt averaged 42.4 points over its final five games. The Commodores feature a balanced attack and have a 1,000-yard rusher (Zac Stacy) and receiver (Jordan Matthews) in the same season for the first time ever.

Matthews, lightly recruited out of Madison, Ala., has emerged as one of the elite wide receivers in the nation over the last year-and-half. He had 100-plus yards in seven games this fall, and closed the season with 153 yards at Ole Miss, 115 against Tennessee and 144 at Wake Forest. Matthews, a junior, teams with sophomore Chris Boyd, to form the most productive one-two punch in the SEC. Boyd has caught 46 passes for 756 yards and four touchdowns. Stacy leads a rushing attack that ranked sixth in the SEC with 170.4 yards per game. The senior rushed for 1,058 yards, becoming the first Vanderbilt player to top 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

When NC State has the ball:

NC State quarterback Mike Glennon is getting some buzz as a potential first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The senior threw for 3,648 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions (four of which came in Week 1). He has good size, at 6-6, 232, and can make all of the throws. Glennon spreads the ball around to three veteran receivers — Quintin Payton, Tobias Palmer and Bryan Underwood each have more than 40 receptions and 600 yards. State will test a Vanderbilt secondary that ranks among the finest in the nation. The Commodores rank 10th in the nation in pass defense (175.8 ypg), fifth in pass efficiency defense and allowed only six passing touchdowns in 12 games.

The NC State running game is led by Shadrach Thornton, a true freshman who rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the last three games. The Pack, as a team, rank 106th in the nation in rushing (116.9 ypg) and only had two running plays of at least 30 yards for the entire season.

Final Analysis

Vanderbilt was hoping for an invite from the either the Gator Bowl or Chick Fil-A Bowl but will be forced to spend the holidays at home in Nashville. But don’t think the Commodores aren’t happy to be playing in the Music City Bowl. To paraphrase Franklin, there are “no bad bowls” when you are a program that has struggled historically like Vanderbilt.

Motivation has to be an issue for NC State. Yes, the players are saying the right things, but this is a program in transition that is playing with an interim coach. Nashville is a great city, but the goal for college football players is to spend the holidays in a warmer climate. NC State might not be the most motivated team on New Year’s Eve.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 30, NC State 17 

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Teaser:
<p> Music City Bowl Preview and Prediction: Vanderbilt vs. NC State</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/top-5-orange-bowl-performances-bcs-era
Body:

With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top Orange Bowl Performances of the BCS Era:

5. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia, 2011
West Virginia set a bowl record by scoring 70 points thanks in large part to a near-perfect night from Smith. The sophomore quarterback completed 32-of-43 passes for 407 yards with six touchdowns (a bowl record) and no interceptions. Smith, who also ran for a score, connected with Tavon Austin on four of his six touchdown passes in the Mountaineers’ 70–33 victory.

4. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa, 2009
Clayborn was sensational for an Iowa defense that shut down Georgia Tech’s feared option attack in the Hawkeyes’ 24–14 win. Clayborn recorded 11 tackles, including two sacks, as Iowa held the Yellow Jackets to a season-low 175 yards, almost 270 below their season average.

3. Tom Brady, QB, Michigan, 2000
Michigan outdueled Alabama, 35–34 in overtime, in a matchup between two of the most storied programs in college football. Tom Brady led the Michigan attack with an Orange Bowl record 369 yards passing and added a career-best four touchdowns in his final game in Maize & Blue. The Wolverines overcame two 14-point deficits on their way to the first overtime win in school history.

2. Torrance Marshall, LB, Oklahoma, 2001
It was only fitting that a defensive player was named the MVP of the lowest-scoring Orange Bowl in 30 years. Marshall, a senior linebacker, recorded six tackles and intercepted a pass to lead Oklahoma to a 13–2 win over Florida State to secure the first national title for the Sooners since 1985.

1. Matt Leinart, QB, USC, 2005
The Trojans staked a claim to their second straight national title with a surprisingly easy 55–19 win over No. 2 Oklahoma. Leinart completed 18-of-35 passes for 332 yards and tossed an Orange Bowl record five touchdowns without throwing an interception. Steve Smith was on the receiving end of three of Leinart’s TDs.

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<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best Orange Bowl performances of the BCS Era.</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 05:48

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