Tag Archives: 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship

Week 15 NCAA men’s basketball power rankings

During Week 15 of last year’s college basketball season, it was evident that the Kentucky Wildcats were the premier team in college basketball and UK’s freshman center Anthony Davis was the best player in the country. The Wildcats had  a 25-1 record, with their only slip up being a 73-72 loss at Indiana early in December that will forever be remembered for the “Wat Shot.” Kentucky lost only one more game, the SEC Championship, the rest of the season and lived up to expectations by winning last year’s NCAA Tournament.

There is no Kentucky this year. In the past six weeks, the No. 1 team has changed five teams. No one has separated from the pack and any team that enters the top five seems to play hot potato with the No. 1 spot by losing. Last week, four of the top five teams–Indiana, Florida, Michigan and Kansas–in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll lost at least once. Kansas dropped consecutive games for the first time since November 21-22, 2005. Every team in the latest AP Poll has at least two losses, the average number of losses per top 25 team is slightly over four and No. 20 Wisconsin has seven.

So what does it all mean?

A) The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are going to have a difficult time determining the field of the 68 teams that make it to the Big Dance.


B) Once the teams and seeds are finalized, the national championship is truly up for grabs.

Without further adieu, here are my NCAA men’s basketball power rankings for Week 15:

1. Miami Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0)-Miami is the only team in one of the power six conferences to have a perfect conference record. The Hurricanes’ 10-0 record in ACC play has given Miami a two-game cushion over Duke. The Hurricanes have proven that they can run traditional college basketball powerhouses out of the gym as seen by their 27-point win against Duke and 26-point victory over North Carolina.

The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)
The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)

2. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2)-Indiana let an 11-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Illinois slip away, which could been a major concern for the Hoosiers if it wasn’t for IU’s bounce back win at No. 10 Ohio State. The 81-68 victory was Indiana’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and kept the Hoosiers atop the AP Poll.

3. Michigan Wolverines (21-3, 8-3)-If Ben Brust’s half-court prayer didn’t force overtime in Madison, Wisc. and eventually lead to a Badgers victory, Michigan would likely be No. 1 team in the country. The Big Ten’s abundance of tournament-bound teams has taken its toll on the Wolverines, who are tied for third in the conference with Wisconsin.

4. Duke Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2)-The Blue Devils have finally gotten their feet under them after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury. Duke lost two of its first three games without Kelly but have rattled off five straight wins as the team sits in second place in the ACC.

5. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)-Don’t look now but the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. The Spartans still have to play Michigan twice as well as Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin a second time; if Sparty can survive the gauntlet, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed in March.

6. Florida Gators (19-3, 9-1)-The Gators should not be judged too harshly for their 80-69 loss to Arkansas. Every team has off nights and Florida showed that their lone conference loss was a fluke. They returned to their prior form by beating Mississippi State by 25 on Saturday.

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0)-Barring a horrible loss or two, Gonzaga seems destined for a No. 2 seed with an outside chance to be a No. 1 if the teams in front of them don’t finish the regular season on high notes. The Bulldogs are a major question mark because of their weak conference schedule. They aren’t tested on a nightly basis the way that ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 teams are. Gonzaga played against three ranked opponents and lost two of those matchups, which could hint at an early exit in the tournament.

8. Syracuse Orange (20-3, 8-2)-If Syracuse can settle senior forward James Southerland’s eligibility issue, then the Orange may be the favorite to win the Big East and ‘Cuse could match last year’s Elite Eight appearance.

9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3)-Last week may have been the darkest period in the history of Kansas basketball with three losses. Texas Christian University’s first Big 12 win, an unexpected 62-55 upset of the Jayhawks, was sandwiched by Kansas losses to unranked Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. With four teams within one game of the conference lead, Kansas doesn’t have any more room for error in a wide open Big 12.

10. Arizona Wildcats (20-3, 8-3)-Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country and arguably the best team out West early in the season with wins against No. 5 Florida, Miami (Fla.) and No. 17 San Diego State during its 14-0 start. However, the Wildcats have started to show their true colors and fade from the spotlight with losses to unranked Oregon, UCLA and California.

Is this year’s Kentucky team the worst in the Calipari era?

For the first time in the John Calipari era at Kentucky, the Wildcats have fallen out of the rankings. UK’s plummet from the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll comes after consecutive losses for only the second time during Calipari’s tenure in Lexington.

The Wildcats have had a tumultuous start to the season and this year’s team has more losses than last year’s national championship squad. They squeaked by Maryland in their season opener 72-69. Kentucky was not so lucky in its second game of the season when the Wildcats lost to Duke, who is now ranked second in the country. Calipari & Co. then strung together three wins against Lafayette, Morehead State, and LIU Brooklyn. UK was not supposed to beat Notre Dame even though the Fighting Irish were unranked. It was the first true road test for a young team. Notre Dame was 46-0 at home in November with Mike Brey as the team’s head coach. There was a “black out” at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame’s football team had just completed a 12-0 season and secured a spot in the BCS National Championship. Manti Te’o and the rest of the football team lined the court to cheer on their fellow Notre Dame athletes. While the Wildcats only lost by 14 points, they were down by as many as twenty halfway through the second half. UK then had a quick turnaround to play Baylor, who made it to the Elite Eight last season. Pierre Jackson’s 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals lead the Bears to a 64-55 win–Kentucky’s first home loss since John Calipari took over in 2009.

Notre Dame knocks off #8 Kentucky, who made the greatest fall out of the rankings in the history of college basketball. Courtesy of http://www.indystar.com/viewart/20121129/SPORTS/121129040/Notre-Dame-beats-eighth-ranked-Kentucky-64-50.
Notre Dame knocks off #8 Kentucky, who made the greatest fall out of the rankings in the history of college basketball. Courtesy of http://www.indystar.com/viewart/20121129/SPORTS/121129040/Notre-Dame-beats-eighth-ranked-Kentucky-64-50.

Kentucky’s 2012 recruiting class was once again one of the best in the country. They brought in four of the top players on the Rivals 150 Prospect Ranking. The individual talent is clearly present on the Wildcats roster. Archie Goodwin: 16.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg. Alex Poythress: 15.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg. Nerlens Noel: 11.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg. Willie Cauley-Stein: 8.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg. However, the team lacks leadership and experience. UK has eight players in its rotation, four of whom are freshmen and two are transfers in their first season at Kentucky. Kyle Wiltjer is the team’s only returning player with any significant number of minutes as a Wildcat and he was the seventh man on last year’s national championship team.

In the past, John Calipari has had more players with experience at Kentucky. Last year’s team had sophomores in Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, as well as senior Darius Miller, all of whom played at least 25 minutes per game.

The Kentucky Wildcats are not short on talent–they have four players who are projected to be drafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, including three top ten picks. However, UK has not developed the team chemistry necessary to be a ranked team at this point in the season. Of course, eight games into the season is way too early to sell on Kentucky. There is no doubt that their young players will greatly improve by next spring when the truly important games are played. Although, all things considered, the 2012-13 Wildcats do not appear to have the ceiling of the past three John Calipari teams, who have gone to the Elite Eight, Final Four, and won the National Championship, respectively.

From the Press Box–April 4th, 2012

After an extended leave of absence from writing, due to finals, college visits, and scholarship applications, I’m finally on Spring Break. So much has happened since my last post on March 18th, both for me personally and in the world of sports. I finally experienced world renound Chicago-style pizza at Giordano’s, was accepted to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and had a great campus visit (followed by being notified in the mail that the first year in Evanston would be upwards of $60,000 and I lost any interest I had in the school), officially became a second semester senior, and most importantly, decided on Indiana University for college and can not be happier about it. A month’s worth of sports headlines have taken place in the past eighteen days; the Major League Baseball season officially kicked off in Asia, the Kentucky Wildcats won their eighth national championship, Nike released the new NFL uniforms, and Mohammed El Akkari, an International Basketball Federation player for Moutahed of Tripoli, allegedly scored 113 points in a single game.

March Madness

Going into the NCAA Tourney, UK was clearly the best team in the country and I picked them to win the National Championship, yet it was so difficult to choose the Wildcats because of the reservations I had about them. Coach Cal had choked in his previous appearance in the title game as well as Kentucky was relying on freshmen and sophomores to not crack under the pressure riding on them to win it all. Not to mention that UK entered the NCAA Tournament on a one-game losing streak after being defeated by Vanderbilt in the SEC Championship.

Coach Calipari and the University of Kentucky needed the National Championship to validate their one-and-done focused program. In each of Cal’s previous six seasons, going back to his tenure at Memphis, his worst postseason finish was in the Sweet Sixteen. His teams were eliminated three times in the Elite Eight, once in the Final Four, and once in the National Championsip in 2008 (Memphis later had its entire 2007-2008 season vacated due to Derrick Rose’s misconduct regarding his false SAT score). If he had fallen to Kansas, many of his critics would question his ability to close out a season. No one can argue his greatness from November through February, but if UK would have lost in the NCAA Tourney a part of Big Blue Nation would have been ready to show him the door out of Lexington.

Overall, this was an ideal tournament for college basketball. There were some major upsets, with #2 seeds Duke and Missouri exiting in the first round, and three double-digit seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, but no “Cinderellas” made it to the Elite Eight. It was exciting to watch the likes of Xavier, Ohio, and North Carolina State challenge major powers in college basketball, but at the end of the day, the best matchups are between the premier teams. The 2011 National Championship between UConn and Butler may have been the ugliest college basketball game I’ve ever seen. Upset-minded md-majors and Cinderellas can make the first two weekends of the NCAA Tournament two of the best weeks of the year, but once the Final Four rolls around, basketball powerhouses are the only teams who can guarantee high-quality basketball that is enjoyable to watch.

Jared Sullinger to the NBA

I can’t argue with his decision to leave because there is a direct correlation between the number of years of college and when a prospect is drafted. Sully has nothing left to prove in college. He’s averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds for his two years of college, with a shooting percentage above 50%. He has lead Ohio State to the Elite Eight and Final Four in consecutive years and the Buckeyes have sixty-four wins in that time span. However, don’t expect him to be dominant in the NBA as he is in college. While he is physically big at 6’9″ and 265 lbs., he lacks the height and the jumping ability to average a double-double immediately at the next level. If he can develop a consistent outside jumper, he can become a very nice role player. He shares the size and stature of Indiana Pacers forward David West, who has career averages of sixteen points per game and seven rebounds per game. The longer he stayed at OSU, the more NBA teams would begin to see him plateau at the college level and it could only hurt his draft prospects.

Joe Flacco Thinks He’s the Best QB in the NFL

On WNST 1570 in Baltimore earlier this week, Joe Flacco said that he believes he is the best quarterback in the NFL. I have no problem with him thinking this. If I were an NFL owner or coach, I want a QB who thinks that he is the best every single snap. However, his thoughts about how he stacks up compared to the rest of the starting quarterbacks in the league should not leave a four inch radius in his brain. He is only opening himself up to more criticism than he already deserves and his resumé does not warrant him being a top five quarterback, let alone the best one in the NFL. Last season he threw for 3,610 yards and 20 touchdowns while Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,643 and 45, Eli Manning threw for 4,933 and 29, and Tom Brady threw for 5,235 and 39, to name a few of the league’s elite quarterbacks. Of course, statistics alone do not define a player and Flacco’s two AFC Championship Games help his case but still not enough. If I rank all of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL, he is thirteenth on my list. Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings, Aaron Rodgers has one, Tom Brady has three, Ben Roethlisberger has two, Peyton Manning has one, and Drew Brees has one. Until Flacco gets some jewelry on his hand, he is not in the conversation and should be careful about publicizing questionable statements.

Ubaldo Jimenez Beans Troy Tulowiztki

The pitch was by all means intentional, especially considering the bitter feelings Jimenez has towards his former club. It’s a shame that he was willing to plunk Tulo in the preseason. He deserves his five-game suspension, but he still may be able to make his scheduled start if the MLB hasn’t responded to his appeal in time. Hopefully Jimenez does not start for the Indians if they face the Rockies this season because there is a high likelihood that Colorado would get revenge in some form or fashion.

FIBA Player Drops 113?

It is highly unlikely that a story like this could be completely fabricated but part of me is still skeptical. Mohammad El Akkari averaged just under eight points per game heading into his three-point shooting contest that happened to occur in the middle of the Lebanese Division A League Final Eight game. Maybe it’s that basketball overseas is different than what we’re accustomed to in the NBA and there were 314 total points in the game, but Akkari’s performance is out of the ordinary by all means. There are only three players in the modern era of the NBA who I could rationalize their taking of sixty-nine shots in a game–Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Monta Ellis. To make 40 of 69 shots from the floor and 32 of 59 from behind the arc is beyond comprehension. I’m not sure who his team was playing that night, possibly a team of local nuns or fifth-grade rec basketball team, but his performance goes down in history nontheless.

Joey Votto’s Contract

It is great to see that the Cincinnati Reds are committed to winning and have a “World Series or Bust” mentality. However, the 10-year, $225 million dollar contract should raise an eyebrow. The Reds have no idea how good Votto will be in ten years, but if the first baseman can lead Cincy to a World Series, then it won’t matter as much. The 2010 N.L. MVP’s price tag makes it difficult to re-sign second baseman Brandon Phillips, which is very hard to swallow since Phillips is one of the best Reds on and off of the field. The contract extension tops off the biggest offseason in Cincinnati Reds history and is a great way to kick off the season with their best player under contract until 2023.

Mo Egger Interview

I got the chance to interview sports talk show host Mo Egger of ESPN 1530 tonight and it was fascinating listening to him talk about his career and Cincinnati sports. The interview will takes lots of editing but should be posted in the next week.

Matchup of the Day

St. Louis Cardinals @ Miami Marlins. Tonight’s game is Opening Day in America since the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners played in Japan last week and also is the first game played in Miami’s new stadium. Two excellent pitchers in Kyle Lohse and Josh Johnson face off in the National League matchup.

Video of the Day

Courtesy of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBMQ79NweQU