Hallmark programs Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA are out of the latest Busting Brackets Top 25, which covers the week of November 26 through December 2. N.C. State, the preseason No. 3 team in the Busting Brackets Top 25, dropped out of the rankings as well following its loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor while Colorado tumbled from No. 16 into the outside-looking-in column. Four newcomers occupy the poll for the first time, including a trio of teams that came into the season with modest expectations. Notre Dame returns to the Top 25 for the first time since Week 1. The complete rankings:
(Last Week: No. 1; W vs. Ohio State, W vs. Delaware)
Duke has defeated teams ranked second, third and fourth in a span of two weeks. The kicker: by season’s end, wins over VCU and Minnesota could look just as impressive. Don’t get your résumé clumped in the same file as these guys.
(Last Week: No. 2; W vs. UNC, W vs. Coppin State)
Since the overtime scare in Brooklyn against Georgetown, it’s been smooth sailing for the Hoosiers. IU has won its last three games—including one against overmatched North Carolina—by an average of 36 points.
(Last Week: No. 3; W vs. N.C. State, W @ Bradley)
Who would have thought Nik Stauskas would be the top performer thus far of Michigan’s heralded recruiting class? He’s hit 21 of his 33 3-point shots and has been the nation’s most impressive freshman wing player to date.
(Last Week: No. 4; W @ Arkansas)
SU survived a bit of scare in Fayetteville thanks to James Southerland’s 3-point shooting barrage (9 treys, 35 points in all). Meet the early frontrunner for national sixth man of the year. He’s finally living up to the name “Big Game James.”
(Last Week: No. 6; W vs. Marquette)
Duke has the best résumé, Indiana the most acclaimed starting-5, but Florida could just as easily stake claim as college basketball’s most impressive team to this point. The Gators are balanced, star-heavy and have yet to be challenged.
(Last Week: No. 8; W vs. Lewis Clark State, W vs. Pacific)
The cat (in this case bulldog) has been let out of the bag on America’s best kept secret. These Zags are lethal offensively and sound defensively. This is Mark Few’s best team yet in Spokane, which speaks volumes.
(Last Week: No. 15; W vs. N. Arizona, W @ Texas Tech)
Nick Johnson is much improved, Solomon Hill is steady as always, Mark Lyons has provided a lift and Kevin Parrom is off to a smoking hot start. The Cats will get their first real test on Saturday at Clemson, then again one week later vs. UF.
(Last Week: No. 7; W vs. Illinois State)
The Cards survived a close call against the Redbirds last Saturday. Louisville is certainly not naïve to early-season head-scratchers. Just ask Drexel, Western Carolina or Western Kentucky. Is one to come without Mr. Dieng?
(Last Week: No. 10; W vs. San Jose State, W vs. Oregon St.)
If Kansas doesn’t do a better job defending opposing guards, this team is in trouble. Ahmad Starks (Oregon State) had a field day with KU’s perimeter D. Wait until Pierre Jackson, Steven Pledger and Marcus Smart get their cracks.
(Last Week: No. 5; L @ Duke, W vs. Northern Kentucky)
LaQuinton Ross has been quite effective despite limited touches. For a team searching for a legitimate secondary scorer behind Thomas, OSU needs Ross to assume a larger role. Fellow sophs Scott and Thompson aren’t ready for one themselves.
(Last Week: No. 12; W vs. Alabama)
Alabama provided Cincy its biggest test until Cashmere Wright saved the day. Even on nights when the Bearcats shoot less than 40-percent, they’re hard to beat. Tough Cats, huh? Cheikh Mbodj’s interior presence is a big reason why.
(Last Week: No. 18; W vs. Georgia Tech)
Brandon Paul might be the best overall guard in a Big Ten conference replete with good ones. The Illini are loaded in the backcourt with Richardson, an improved Adams and Bertrand off the bench, but do they have the frontcourt play to hold up?
(Last Week: No. 21; W @ Florida State, W vs. N. Florida)
The Gophers are assembling a nice little résumé, owning neutral court wins over Memphis and Stanford and a drubbing of FSU in Tallahassee. Their only loss—to the No. 1 team on this list on a night when Duke’s offense didn’t skip a beat.
(Last Week: No. 17; W vs. Mercer, W @ Indiana State)
UNLV and SDSU get all the love in the MWC, but UNM is the only unblemished team remaining of the three. Five of New Mexico’s first eight games have been decided by single digits. Kendall Williams is why the Lobos have won all five.
(Last Week: No. 20; W vs. Appalachian State)
Michael Dixon is out of the equation, which means Keion Bell, Earnest Ross and Oregon transfer Jabari Brown (eligible 2nd semester) must step up to take the pressure off Pressey. Laurence Bowers has been spectacular, Mizzou’s best player.
(Last Week: No. 9; L vs. Boise State, W vs. Saint Joseph’s)
A puzzling loss and quality win all in the same week. The Blue Jays can expect repeat performances until their defense stabilizes. Creighton is fifth in the nation in tempo-free offensive efficiency, so scoring won’t be the problem.
(Last Week: NR; W vs. Chicago State, W vs. Kentucky)
These Irish don’t go down easily at home. Just ask Kentucky, which knows a thing or two about home court dominance. Cooley is a rock and Grant is more efficient as a scorer, but ND is a different beast with this new & improved Eric Atkins.
San Diego State
(Last Week: No. 23; W vs. UCLA)
It’s safe to say San Diego State won’t see another defense like Syracuse’s again this season. The upshot: a surge in scoring. If you haven’t paid attention to the season Jamaal Franklin is having so far, start noticing.
(Last Week: NR; W vs. Tulsa, W @ Air Force)
This should shock you. The Shockers are the only remaining unbeaten in the Missouri Valley Conference despite losing their top five scorers from last season’s league championship team.
(Last Week: NR; W vs. Oklahoma Sstate)
Picked to finish near the bottom of the ACC under first-year coach James Johnson, the Hokies are 7-0 after knocking off previously unbeaten Oklahoma State. Tech’s top player, Erick Green, is second in the nation in scoring. This won’t last, so enjoy the feel-good story in Blacksburg while you can.
(Last Week: NR; W vs. Howard, W vs. Detroit)
Pitt gave Michigan a game in its only loss of the season and has been impressive in handling solid mid-major competition. The Panthers are one of the most unselfish teams in college hoops, ranking fourth nationally in assists (19 per game).
(Last Week: No. 19; W vs. Tennessee)
They won their only test of the week, but that’s not to say the Hoyas played like winners. Georgetown scored just 37 points in an unsightly win over Tennessee on Friday in D.C. For the sake of college basketball, let’s hope there’s no copycat performance.
(Last Week: NR; W vs. UTSA, W vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff)
Oregon clocked Vanderbilt, upset UNLV in Las Vegas and gave Cincinnati a scare in the Global Sports Classic finals. The Ducks will need to play better defense to seriously contend; if they do, this is the Pac-12 dark horse.
(Last Week: No. 25; W vs. UC Irvine, W vs. Hawaii)
UNLV took care of UC Irvine with ease, which shouldn’t be taken lightly with UCLA needing overtime to thwart the Anteaters. Freshman Anthony Bennett is a budding star, but the Rebels must get more from their established one: Mike Moser.
(Last Week: No. 13; L @ Virginia Tech)
Oklahoma State must shoot the ball better to maximize its potential. All-world freshman Marcus Smart, who’s taken college basketball by storm, has been a culprit himself. He’s shooting just 37-percent and 23-percent from long range.