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1. Syracuse (54)
The Orange played the eclectic duo of Bucknell and Tulane last week, and they will get started with Big East play this week. They will play a school almost exclusively associated with Big East basketball (Seton Hall) as well as a school that people often forget is in the Big East (DePaul). I’m looking forward to seeing how they will handle the grueling conference schedule.
2. Ohio State (5)
The Buckeyes open conference play this week, and after steamrolling Northwestern, they will have a tasty matchup with No. 13 Indiana. While Jared Sullinger’s health is still not totally certain, this should be a fantastic game and will give us a much better sense of where these two teams are right now.
3. Kentucky (4)
This week, the Wildcats will play Lamar and No. 4 Louisville. This is interesting for a host of reasons. First is my sympathy for Lamar, who lost to Ohio State last week. Perhaps most interesting to me, Lamar and Louisville are known as the Cardinals, which is weird. Most importantly though, Kentucky-Louisville is going to be a fantastic game.
4. Louisville (2)
The Cardinals will open conference play this week by playing Georgetown and No. 3 Kentucky. Wait… that’s not right. They will open conference play against Georgetown, immediately jump out of it to play a fantastic game against Kentucky, and then jump back in next week. I’m excited.
5. North Carolina
The Tar Heels will play my former future Alma mater Elon this week in what should be a walkover. The Phoenix don’t have much of a basketball program – my most distinct memory is that I was once 20 feet away from Stephen Curry when Davidson came to play.
He looked like a child. Nothing noteworthy has happened in the Southern Conference since he left, and I would imagine some SoCon schools miss being “the random school Steph Curry just torched.” That’s life in a low-major conference.
The Bears beat something called Paul Quinn 95-54 last week. As best I can tell, Paul Quinn is an HBCU (the only one west of the Mississippi) that is associated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and has had accreditation problems in recent years.
More importantly, it is an NAIA school. I can’t think of any reason this game would even be worth it to Baylor. Wouldn’t a scrimmage be better? What could possibly be gained from playing a school from the Red River Athletic Conference?
15. Mississippi State
The Hoosiers won their two games last week by an average margin of 49.5 points. 49.5 points! Mediocre teams that they were (Howard and UMBC), that’s still a lot of points. Indiana is really good (also, undefeated), but we’re still a few days away (the aftermath of the Ohio State game) from hearing about them as national title contenders. It will happen though, and they deserve to be in the discussion.
16. Michigan State
20. Murray State
The Racers beat Tennessee-Martin last week and will play Eastern Illinois this week. They play teams like that for the rest of the season. I said it last week, but I’ll say it again. This team has a really good chance to be undefeated in the regular season. I have no idea what that would mean for tournament seeding, but it would definitely be cool.
25. San Diego State
After a wonderful season last year, the Aztecs have joined the rankings again this year. There is no reason to doubt them either, with their two losses coming against No. 6 Baylor and No. 21 Creighton. However, we won’t know any more about them until they play No. 19 UNLV in a couple weeks. In the meantime, they will play such schools like Redlands and San Diego Christian. Again, wouldn’t scrimmages be more productive?