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January 12, 2010
Around the Rim
Northern Iowa Joins The List

by John Perrotto

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The Associated Press Poll has caught up with Basketball Prospectus’ The List this week.

Texas moved into the No. 1 spot in The AP rankings for the first time in school history, a week after the Longhorns ascended to No. 1 in The List. Rounding the top five this week in The List are Kansas, Duke, Purdue and Syracuse.

Keep in mind that The List differs from The AP poll. We are ranking teams on the basis of how strongly we believe their chances are of winning the national championship than strictly on record and rely on a cross-section of five computerized rankings - Ken Pomeroy’s Pomeroy Ratings at kenpom.com, the Jeff Sagarin ratings for USA Today at usatoday.com, RealTimeRPI at realtimerpi.com, Team Rankings at teamrankings.com and Kyle Whelliston’s State of Basketball rankings at basketballstate.com.

The biggest gainer this week is Northern Iowa, which moves into The List at No. 16 week after not being ranked last week. The biggest loser is Mississippi, which drops out of the top 25 after being No. 16 a week ago.

1.Texas
Record: 15-0
Last week’s ranking: 1
Last week: Defeated Arkansas 96-85 and Colorado 103-86.
This week: at Iowa State on Wednesday, Texas A&M on Saturday.
Information: Freshman guard Avery Bradley had career highs of 29 points and nine rebounds against Colorado.

2.Kansas
Record: 14-1
Last week’s ranking: 2
Last week: Defeated Cornell 71-66, lost to No. 14 Tennessee 76-68.
This week: at Nebraska on Wednesday, Texas Tech on Saturday.
Information:: Senior guard Sherron Collins scored a combined 55 points against Cornell and Tennessee but missed three shots in last minute of the loss to the Volunteers.

3.Duke
Record: 13-2
Last week’s ranking: 3
Last week: Defeated Iowa State 86-65, lost to Georgia Tech 71-67.
This week: Boston College on Wednesday, No. 25 Wake Forest on Sunday.
Information: The Blue Devils have averaged 70 points in their two ACC games after averaging 85 points a game in non-conference games.

4.Purdue
Record: 14-1
Last week’s ranking: 4
Last week: Defeated Minnesota 79-60, lost to No. 10 Wisconsin 73-66.
This week: Ohio State tonight, at Northwestern on Saturday.
Information: The Boilermakers haven’t won the Big Ten regular-season title since capturing three in a row from 1994-96.

5.Syracuse
Record: 15-1
Last week’s ranking: 7
Last week: Defeated Memphis 74-57 and South Florida 82-65.
This week: at Rutgers on Wednesday, at No. 6 West Virginia on Saturday.
Information: Freshman guard Brandon Triche had 10 points and five assists off the bench against South Florida for his best performance in a Big East game.

6.West Virginia
Record: 12-2
Last week’s ranking: 5
Last week: Defeated Rutgers 86-52, lost to Notre Dame 70-68.
This week: at South Florida on Wednesday, No. 5 Syracuse on Saturday.
Information: The Mountaineers allowed Notre Dame to shoot 53 percent from the field.

7.Brigham Young
Record: 16-1
Last week’s ranking: 11
Last week: Defeated UNLV 77-73 and UTEP 83-77.
This week: at Air Force on Wednesday, Colorado State on Saturday.
Information: Guard Jimmer Fredette, who leads the Mountain West Conference in scoring with a 20.7 average, sat out the UTEP game with mononucleosis and there is no timetable for his return.

8.Kentucky
Record: 16-0
Last week’s ranking: 8
Last week:Defeated Georgia 76-68.
This week: at Florida tonight, at Arkansas on Saturday.
Information: The Wildcats led Georgia by just two points with 1:05 left before pulling away in a game that included nine ties and 12 lead changes.

9.Kansas State
Record: 13-2
Last week’s ranking: 6
Last week: Lost to Missouri 74-68.
This week: Texas A&M tonight, at Colorado on Saturday.
Information: Frontcourt starters Curtis Kelly, Dominque Sutton and Luis Colon combined for just 10 points against Missouri.

10.Tennessee
Record: 12-2
Last week’s ranking: 14
Last week: Defeated Charlotte 88-71 and No. 2 Kansas 76-68.
This week: Auburn on Thursday, Mississippi on Saturday.
Information:: Walk-ons Skylar McBee, Josh Bone and Steven Pearl played a combined 45 minutes against Kansas with four players either dismissed or suspended after being arrested on New Year’s Eve.

11.Wisconsin
Record: 13-3
Last week’s ranking: 10
Last week: Lost to No. 15 Michigan State 54-47, Defeated No. 4 Purdue 73-66.
This week: at Northwestern on Wednesday, at Ohio State on Saturday.
Information: Sophomore point guard Jordan Taylor scored a career-high 23 points against Purdue.

12.Villanova
Record: 14-1
Last week’s ranking: 12
Last week: Defeated DePaul 99-72 and Marquette 78-76.
This week: Defeated Louisville 92-84 on Monday, No. 13 Georgetown on Sunday.
Information: The last time the Wildcats won their first three Big East games was 2002-03 and they wound up going just 8-8 in the conference that season.

13.Georgetown
Record: 12-2
Last week’s ranking: 13
Last week: Lost to Marquette 62-59, defeated No. 23 Connecticut 72-69.
This week: Seton Hall on Thursday, at No. 12 Villanova on Sunday.
Information: Austin Freeman scored 28 of his 33 points against Connecticut in the second half, making 11 of 17 shots from the field in the final 20 minutes.

14.Pittsburgh
Record: 13-2
Last week’s ranking: 18
Last week: Defeated Cincinnati 74-71.
This week: at No. 22 Connecticut on Wednesday, Louisville on Saturday.
Information: Swingman Gilbert Brown, who sat out the first semester while concentrating on his academics, scored a game-high 17 points off the bench against Cincinnati.

15.Michigan State
Record: 13-3
Last week’s opening ranking: 15
Last week: Defeated No. 4 Purdue 54-47 and Iowa 71-53.
This week: Minnesota on Wednesday, Illinois on Saturday.
Information: Sixth man Draymond Green leads the Spartans in rebounding (7.9 a game) and is second in scoring (11.3).

16.Northern Iowa
Record: 14-1
Last week’s ranking: NR
Last week: Defeated Southern Illinois 61-49 and Illinois State 59-44.
This week: Bradley tonight, Indiana State on Saturday.
Information: The Panthers’ 13-game winning streak is one away from the school record set during the 1962-63 and 1963-64 seasons.

17.Temple
Record: 13-3
Last week’s ranking: 17
Last week: Defeated St. Joseph’s 73-46 and No. 21 Rhode Island 68-64.
This week: at Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Massachusetts on Saturday.
Information: The Owls are off to their best start since 1993-94.

18.New Mexico
Record: 14-3
Last week’s ranking: 9
Last week: Lost to San Diego State 74-64 and UNLV 74-62.
This week: Utah on Wednesday, at Wyoming on Saturday.
Information: The Lobos set a season low for points against San Diego State and then again against UNLV.

19.Missouri
Record: 13-3
Last week’s ranking: NR
Last week: Defeated Savannah State 74-45 and No. 6 Kansas State 74-68.
This week: at Texas Tech on Wednesday, at Oklahoma on Saturday.
Information: Guard Zaire Taylor scored 14 points against Kansas State, including making 9 of 10 free throws and hitting a three-pointer that broke a 66-66 tie and proved to be the game-winner.

20.Baylor
Record: 13-1
Last week’s ranking: NR
Last week: Defeated Morgan State 79-63 and Oklahoma 91-60.
This week: at Colorado tonight, Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Information: The Bears broke a 30-game losing streak against Oklahoma.

21.Clemson
Record: 13-3
Last week’s ranking: NR
Last week: Defeated Boston College 72-56.
This week: North Carolina on Wednesday, at North Carolina State on Saturday.
Information: The Tigers held Boston College to 37-percent shooting from the field.

22.Connecticut
Record: 11-4
Last week’s ranking: 23
Last week: Defeated Seton Hall 71-63, lost to No. 13 Georgetown 72-69.
This week: No. 14 Pittsburgh on Wednesday, at Michigan on Sunday.
Information: The Huskies are 0-3 this season against teams ranked in The Associated Press top 25.

23.Florida State
Record: 13-3
Last week’s ranking: 25
Last week: Defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 94-54, lost to Maryland 77-68.
This week: North Carolina State tonight, Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Information: The Seminoles had trouble containing Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez, who had 22 points.

24.Minnesota
Record: 12-4
Last week’s ranking: NR
Last week: Lost to No. 4 Purdue 79-60, defeated Ohio State 73-62.
This week: at No. 15 Michigan State on Wednesday, at Indiana on Sunday.
Information: Junior guard Blake Hoffarber had a career-high 27 points and made 7-of-9 three-point attempts against Ohio State.

25.Wake Forest
Record: 11-3
Last week’s ranking: 20
Last week: Lost to Miami (Fla.) 67-66.
This week: Maryland tonight, at No. 3 Duke on Sunday.
Information: The Demon Deacons will try to avoid losing consecutive games for just the third time in the last two seasons when they play Maryland.

Dropped out: No. 16 Mississippi, No. 19 California, No. 21 Rhode Island, No. 22 Washington, No. 24 North Carolina.

Teams to watch: California (10-5), Gonzaga (12-3), Miami, Fla. (15-1) North Carolina (12-4), Vanderbilt (12-3).

Volunteers Shock Kansas

Tennessee seemed ready to implode at this time a week ago after coach Bruce Pearl suspended senior forward Tyler Smith along with three other players, junior guard Melvin Goins, junior center Brian Williams and sophomore forward Cameron Tatum, indefinitely after they were arrested on New Year’s Eve on weapons, marijuana and alcohol charges. Smith was subsequently thrown off the team while the others remain suspended.

Yet the Volunteers are 2-0 since the suspensions, winning non-conference home games against Charlotte and Kansas, which was ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll and No. 2 by Basketball Prospectus. Tennessee’s prospects certainly look brighter now as the Vols get set to host Auburn in its SEC opener on Thursday night.

Tennessee has just nine players on its roster, including the three walk-ons in McBee, Bone and Pearl. However, the Volunteers also still have their two leading scorers in sophomore forward Scotty Hopson and senior forward Wayne Chism. Hopson is averaging 13.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 26.4 minutes a game while Chism has an 11.2/5.6/0.8/21.9 line. Hopson is 95th nationally with a 59.5 effective field goal percentage.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl feels that in addition to the depth of talent in his program, the character of some of his former bench players has made a difference.

“I don’t know if we can sustain this because we have no margin for error,” Pearl said. “The lesson here, though, is how opportunity has knocked and we’ve had three or four kids who weren’t playing who were there to answer. They are being put in a situation where a lot more is being asked of them. They were not playing and were in a situation where they could have been pouting, let their attitudes get negative, transferred, decided to do something else or just quit and missed this opportunity. They deserve a lot of credit for staying ready and our coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for keeping them ready.”

Miami Earns AP Ranking

Miami (Fla.) hasn’t cracked the BP Top 25 yet, though it is getting close. The Hurricanes moved into The AP poll at No. 23 this week and have now been ranked in three consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

Miami is 15-1 overall and 1-1in the ACC yet coach Frank Haith has been criticized for avoiding strong competition in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Pomeroy Ratings justify the criticism, ranking Miami’s strength of schedule 312th out of the 347 Division I teams.

Haith admits that getting ranked in The AP poll is a good feeling but that his team isn’t consumed by public perception.

“You’re always driven by it,” Haith said of earning national respect. “We talk about it all the time. If you do something for a living, you want to be the best but if no one is talking about you, there’s nothing you can do but continue to do what you do. I don’t want us sitting here, worrying about not being talked about on Jam or SportsCenter or whatever. That will come if we continue to do what we’re doing.”

Senior forward Dwayne Collins leads Miami with 12.9/8.6/1.3/22.4 averages while ranking seventh nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (17.2), 29th in defensive rebounding percentage (25.9) and 30th in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (7.9). Senior guard James Dews is 19th in effective field goal percentage (64.9), 35th in offensive rating (126.2) and 39th in true shooting percentage (64.9) with a 12.3/2.6/1.6/27.3 line.

Southern Miss' Bolden Standing Out

Southern Mississippi has lost its first two Conference USA games and four of its last five games overall to fall to 9-6 after an 8-1 start. However, the Golden Eagles believe they have a special player in sophomore forward Maurice Bolden, who has a 12.3/6.8/0.8/26.3 line while his 62.8 true shooting percentage is 91st nationally.

“Guarding him is the worst thing ever,” senior swingman Sai’Quon Stone told the Hattiesburg American. “He’s ‘unguardable’ in practice. He can handle the ball. He can dribble. He can shoot anywhere on the court. He makes free throws, so you can’t foul him. He rebounds on both ends.”

Southern Mississippi coach Larry Eustachy thinks Bolden is on the cusp of stardom.

“He’s special,” Eustachy said. “He’s going to be really good. He’s got as much potential as anybody who has been here in a long time. He really works hard.”

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Tuesday Truths (01/12)
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Around the Rim (01/15)
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