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1. Kentucky (63)
Last week was another easy walk through the SEC for the Wildcats. This is the time of the season when malaise sets in though, so watch out for the upset.
2. Syracuse (2)
The Orange won both of their games last week, but the absence of Fab Melo was evident. Unresolved academic issues have not allowed him to play since Jan. 16, but it looks like he will be able to return on Saturday. If it turns out that that is not the case and he can’t return this season, you can write Syracuse off as a contender for the national championship.
3. Ohio State
While the Big Ten has been very good this year, the Buckeyes have still only been tested a couple times. With home-and-homes remaining against #9 Michigan State and No. 19 Wisconsin, they have a lot of work to do. As it is now though, they are far and away the class of the league.
With the home game against No. 8 Kansas this week, the Tigers get to show how good they are. They won’t win the game at Allen Fieldhouse down the road, but they can win at home. Despite the flaws they’ve shown, most glaringly their inability to slow down the tempo, winning this game would say a lot.
5. North Carolina
The Tar Heels have been lingering here for a while and seem to have been energized since the thrashing at Florida State. Watch for them to really come on as February begins.
9. Michigan State
10. Murray State
The Racers! In the top ten! With a Bracke tBusters game against No. 18 Saint Mary’s! I almost can’t contain my excitement at an OVC school being undefeated and ranked this highly. Moreover, I’m glad they will be able to break up the monotony of playing schools with abbreviations like SEMO, SIUE, and EIU. They are without a doubt the best team in Kentucky. Take that Louisville!
Given Florida’s past tournament history and the fact that this year’s Gators are on the fringe of the contenders, I think they are the perfect dark horse pick to go to the Final Four.
17. San Diego State
18. Saint Mary’s
Did you know that Virginia’s three losses this season are by a combined seven points? They don’t often blow teams out, but they stifle them defensively. They held Georgia Tech to 38 points a couple weeks ago. Because of that, they are going to give Duke and UNC a run for their money (er, scholarships?) in the ACC race. They may not be as talented, but they’re such a tough out that they will give both teams problems.
21. Florida State
22. Mississippi State
Vanderbilt was launched into the rankings after a victory over Sun Belt-leading Middle Tennessee. That’s an awfully strange non-conference game to have at this point in the season, but it fits them.