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College Basketball Talk’s Latest Top 25

Feb 17, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT

source: Getty Images

When it’s late-February, you play in the ACC and you’re undefeated, you’re the No. 1 team in the country.

That’s just the way that it works.

But does that mean that Syracuse is the best team in the country? Well, that’s a different story.

I hate using the term “luck” when it comes to sports. There’s nothing lucky about the fact that Tyler Ennis has been absolutely dominant in crunch-time. There’s nothing lucky about the fact that he’s a terrific basketball player with the mental toughness to handle the pressure that comes with the final minutes of close games. The numbers that he was putting up weren’t sustainable — against N.C. State, he missed just his second shot and committed his first turnover in the last five minutes of a one-possession game — but calling that kind of execution “lucky” is wrong.

What is “lucky”, however, is winning a game because you hit a running 35-footer, as Syracuse did at Pitt. It might also be considered lucky when you beat N.C. State at home thanks to the refs deciding against giving T.J. Warren an and-one and the Wolfpack turning the ball over on the ensuing possession.

The last three bigs wins for the Orange have come by a combined five points. That’s not exactly sustainable.

THE TOP 25

1. Syracuse (25-0, LW: No. 1): The Orange stay in the top spot thanks to a pair of one possession wins. Given the number of games that Tyler “Ennions” Ennis has won for the Orange down the stretch, he’s vaulted himself into the conversation for National Player of the Year.

2. Florida (23-2, LW: No. 3): For my money, right now, I think Florida is the best team in the country. They can give you so many different looks defensively and Scottie Wilbekin has spent the last month doing his best Tyler Ennis impression in close game.

3. Wichita State (27-0, LW: No. 6): The Shockers are that much closer to finishing the regular season undefeated. They beat Southern Illinois and Evansville this week.

4. Duke (20-5, LW: No. 10): We’re going to find out just how good the Blue Devils are next week. They pay a visit to North Carolina, a game that was snowed out last week, on Thursday before hosting Syracuse on Saturday.

5. Arizona (23-2, LW: No. 2): The Wildcats lost at Arizona State on Friday night, a game where they scored just 66 points in double-overtime. This team has some serious question marks offensively without Brandon Ashley.

6. Kansas (19-6, LW: No. 5): The Jayhawks bounced back from a loss to Kansas State by blowing out TCU. Joel Embiid’s scheduled to play on Tuesday as well.

7. San Diego State (22-2, LW: No. 4): SDSU lost at Wyoming, which is always a tough road trip to make given that Laramie is in the middle of nowhere and the elevation there is problematic for the sea level-bound Aztecs. But that doesn’t change the fact that this team relies too heavily on Xavier Thames for offense.

8. Cincinnati (23-3, LW: No. 9): The Bearcats handled Houston on Saturday thanks to another ridiculous performance from Sean Kilpatrick.

9. Creighton (21-4, LW: No. 19): The Bluejays now own a pair of wins over Villanova by a combined 49 points. That’s … ridiculous.

10. Michigan State (21-5, LW: No. 7): The Spartans still are not healthy, but that doesn’t exactly excuse them from a home loss to Nebraska on Sunday.

11. Kentucky (19-6, LW: No. 11)
12. Villanova (22-3, LW: No. 8)
13. Saint Louis (23-2, LW: No. 13)
14. Virginia (21-5, LW: No. 14)
15. Louisville (21-4, LW: No. 15)
16. Iowa State (19-5, LW: No. 12)
17. Wisconsin (21-5, LW: UR)
18. Iowa (19-6, LW: No. 16)
19. Texas (20-5, LW: No. 18)
20. UConn (20-5, LW: No. 22)
21. Memphis (19-6, LW: No. 21)
22. Ohio State (20-6, LW: No. 25)
23. Michigan (18-7, LW: No. 17)
24. North Carolina (17-7, LW: UR)
25. UCLA (20-5, LW: UR)

  1. loguidgs - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    How can anyone say this is a legit article when you spend the first few paragraphs discounting what the Orange have done. I guess they let anyone publish articles these days. You don’t get to 24-0 in the ACC without earning it. Yeah the Ennis half court shot against Pitt was lucky, but if you actually took the time to watch the whole game instead of the last few seconds you would of seen an obscene amount of bad calls from the refs which helped put Syracuse in that situation. What about the long 3 Duke made against them with no time left to go to overtime, was that considered skill instead of luck?

    For whatever reason it seems as though everyone is biased against the Orange. Saying that Florida is better than them is completely ridiculous. The Orange have had a tougher schedule and Florida has 2 losses. I think it’s about time that some give Syracuse some respect.

    • gcheadley - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Actually, according to the RPI, Syracuse strength of schedule is 50th in the country and Florida is 24th. Kind of irresponsible to just make a claim that Syracuse has a harder schedule without backing it up.

  2. mt10425 - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Kansas? Are you kidding me? I guess they have to drop to .500 before they’re removed from the top 10. Wasn’t it that 22-2 team you have behind them who beat them at home?

  3. floriojr - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    I agree, Syracuse schedule hasn’t been as tough as Florida’s schedule. They also haven’t lost “YET” . Does that mean that Syracuse would beat Florida on a neutral site? I don’t know. Syracuse needs to get Keita back because they badly need front court depth.

    I will also point out that Rob Dauster has posted 2 separate videos after Syracuse wins complaining about calls or non calls. Not sure if he is a Duke fan or just has a Ax to grind against the Orange but its definitely apparent he is not a fan.

  4. Florio_Jr. - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Wow. You blowhards can’t move SLU up for ANYTHING?!?! How’s your TV service under the ROCK you live under!

    • bo1210 - Feb 18, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      Hilarious! Losing to the only two teams ranked at the time? Beating a garbage Vandy team on the road? A 2-point home squeaker against a now-struggling VCU? You’re lucky to be where you are as it is.

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