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College Basketball Talk’s latest Top 25

Mar 3, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT

source: AP

AP

Virginia is the perfect example of why unbalanced schedules as a result of conference expansion is lame.

The three teams that the ‘Hoos played twice during ACC play were Florida State, Maryland and Notre Dame. They didn’t have to play at North Carolina or at Syracuse. So while I certainly respect that the only loss that Tony Bennett’s club has taken since that 35-point beatdown at Tennessee on Dec. 30th was at Duke, it’s hard to truly sit here and say Virginia is a Final Four contender and the best team in the ACC.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Cavs. With the length and athleticism that they have this season, that packline defense is just stifling. London Perrantes has been one of the nation’s most underrated freshman, and the development of Malcolm Brogdon into a first-team all-ACC performer is something no one expected.

But this is a group that had one quality win in the non-conference (SMU) and is just 3-1 against tournament teams in league play. That’s not exactly a murderer’s row.

THE TOP 25

1. Florida (27-2, LW: No. 1): The Gators just keep on winning, and that won’t likely change if Dorian Finney-Smith can keep hitting from the perimeter. When he’s shooting well, it adds another dimension for Billy Donovan’s group offensively.

2. Wichita State (31-0, LW: No. 2): All you need to know about Wichita State and their undefeated regular season can be read here and here.

3. Arizona (26-2, LW: No. 5): Right now, I’m not sure any team is playing better basketball anywhere than Arizona. They’ve beaten the breaks off of three straight tournament teams. Now there are now 120 minutes of this new, uptempo Arizona on film. Who finds a way to slow them down?

4. Kansas (22-7, LW: No. 3): 22 turnovers in a loss to Oklahoma State is concerning, but not exactly unexpected. Joel Embiid’s back problems are a much bigger issue.

5. Duke (23-6, LW: No. 4): The Blue Devils blew out Virginia Tech in their only game this week. It’s wild when you think about the fact that Duke is actually tied for third in the ACC.

6. Virginia (25-5, LW: No. 15): The Cavs blew out Syracuse over the weekend to earn the outright ACC title. They currently lead a conference that includes the Orange, Duke and North Carolina by two full games. Say what you will about unbalanced schedules, that’s still impressive.

7. Creighton (23-5, LW: No. 7): Creighton lost to a better-than-you-think Xavier team in the Cintas Center on Saturday. Not exactly ideal, but I’m not exactly concerned, either. The bigger concern is that Isaiah Zierdan, who has given them good minutes off the bench in recent games, is done for the year with a knee injury.

8. Syracuse (26-3, LW: No. 6): The Orange lost on the road to a very good Virginia team in a game where they were essentially playing without Jerami Grant. In a vacuum … whatever. The problem is that it came at the end of an extended cold streak. Can the Orange turn around these struggles on the offensive end of the floor?

9. Villanova (26-3, LW: No. 12): The Wildcats smacked around Marquette on Saturday and look like they are going to be headed for the Big East regular season title.

10. Louisville (24-5, LW: No. 9): If Louisville doesn’t blow an eight-point lead in the final minutes at Memphis, we’re having a very different conversation about them right now. Louisville’s seed might not reflect it, but this team seems to be peaking at the right time.

11. San Diego State (25-3, LW: No. 11)
12. Wisconsin (24-5, LW: No. 13)
13. Michigan (21-7, LW: No. 16)
14. Cincinnati (24-5, LW: No. 10)
15. Iowa State (22-6, LW: No. 17)
16. North Carolina (22-7, LW: No. 19)
17. UConn (23-6, No. 24)
18. Memphis (22-7, No. 23)
19. Saint Louis (25-4, No. 14)
20. New Mexico (23-5, No. 25)
21. Michigan State (22-7, No. 18)
22. SMU (23-6, LW: UR)
23. Texas (21-8, LW: No. 23)
24. Oklahoma (21-8, LW: UR)
25. VCU (22-7, LW: UR)

  1. mt10425 - Mar 3, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    SDSU hosed again. Not in the top 10? Kansas continues to lose and that powerhouse (sarcasm) creighton loses. Now, we may lose again to New Mexico at home, but until that happens, rank us appropriately.

  2. wahooee - Mar 3, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Yes, UVa is “just 3-1 against tournament teams in league play,” but that is better than those teams did against the same measure.

    Sure, they didn’t chalk up alot of nonconference wins, but you can’t question that this is a different team since the calendar changed to 2014. They would be undefeated this year (and in the league) except for an amazingly lucky bounce with 30 seconds left at Duke in January.

    But who else has come close to beating ‘Cuse by 19? Duke needed a very close call from the officials just to win, period. Right now no question that UVa is tops in the league, and it isn’t close.

  3. shockertalk - Mar 3, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    How do you seed Wichita State University?

    1. Coaches opinion – No. 2 in the country (ESPN rankings) so, no. 1 seed, eh?
    2. History – Final Four last year
    3. Quality of players THIS year – 7 of 9 players in last year’s Final Four are back. Added no. 4 spot Juco Transfer that is now starting. Point guard is better this year and go 3-deep in point guards!
    4. Stats – One of only two teams in the country that are “top 15″ in BOTH defense and offense.
    5. Point guard – Fred VanVleet has better stats than Wilbeken, Arizona’s (forget his name), or Ennis. Also a top 25 candidate for Robertson and Cousy awards.
    6. Record this year – UNDEFEATED
    7. Teams beat – 5 (maybe 6) NCAA bound teams. 1979 Larry Bird team only beat one NCAA bound team (twice).
    8. Cool opinions – Bobby Knight says there is no team with a better defense than WSU.
    9. Record away from home – Best record in “road victories” in NCAA over the last three years.

    So, yes, it is PARTIALLY a matter of WHO you played, but it is equally (and in the end probably more) a matter of HOW you played. How have they played? 31-0

  4. justice1096 - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:17 AM

    But here is a key for this genius and any thinking like him. We are 13-0 in conference vs non-tourney teams.
    Duke has 2 losses to non- tourney teams;
    Duke is 4-4 in the ACC on the road; Two of the road losses came to teams combined for a 15-20 ACC record.
    Duke is 3-2 vs ACC tourney teams ( Last I checked .750 winning % was better than .600)
    The only reason Duke is over .500 vs ACC tourney teams is the unbalanced schedule, They avoided an ACC loss to UVA. (Does anyone think if they cant win at ND or Clemson they can at JPJ?
    So is the argument that they should be ACC champs? Or is it that their resume is more impressive? Really? They beat us by, 3, we all know they got a rebound because of our D forcing an air ball, then a lucky bounce on Sulliamon’s shot.

    As for Syracuse, we played them with the title on the line and won by 19.
    They lost at home to a team that is 4-12 in Conference Play
    That is enough to eliminate them as deserving of anything other than what they are-second place.

    UNC- A little late to the party, boys!! Those first 5 games counted.
    There is no logical argument against us.
    ]if you state a fact, it still needs to be backed up with what makes it relevant.

    Duke shouldn’t go to the NCAA Tourney. I saw them play Jan 4 and 11, they lost. ( Yea, pointless facts seem stupid when they come from me , too.

  5. beachlokal - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    In Virginia’s 17 conferance games, only two have been close in the final minute. The game at Duke where Duke hit the three with the crazy bounce and the win at Pitt where Brogdon hit a 3 to break open a tie game at the buzzer.

    Of Virginia’s 16 conferance wins: 13 were by at least 8 points, 12 were by at least double digits, 9 were by at least 15 points, 7 were at least by 19 points. Virginia had games early on in conferance play where they were deep into their bench before halftime due to 20 point halftime leads.

    Duke has nine double figure conferance wins. Syracuse has six double digit conferance wins. North Carolina has seven double figure conferance wins. Yes, UVa has as many 19 point wins, as UNC and Cuse have 10 point wins.

    Virginia beat Cuse by 19 and UNC by 15.

    In Virginia’s past five games, five different players have led the Cavs in scoring and two other players have been in double figures.

    So did someone benefit from the ACC’s unbalanced schedule? Yes. Absolutely. The ten conferance teams that only had to play UVa once.

  6. chrisco716 - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Smack don’t matter now. This ain’t a Russian figure skatin’ contest or college football. Thank goodness all the top teams get to play and make their case on the court. Last one standin’ gets to talk. Let’s see what UVA or WSU has to say, if anything, on April 7th!

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