Posted: Thursday January 25, 2007 11:15AM; Updated: Friday January 26, 2007 1:50AM
Welcome to the latest edition of the Power Rankings, where Big Wins and Big Mo' matter most. That's why you'll see Badgers (who have beaten Marquette, Pitt and Ohio State), Ducks (Georgetown, UCLA and Arizona) and Bruins (Kentucky, Texas A&M, Washington State and Arizona) before Gators in the top five. And why you'll see streaking squads without glamorous records, such as Virginia Tech (recent victims: Duke, UNC and Maryland), Vanderbilt (Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and LSU) and Texas Tech (Kansas and Texas A&M) in surprisingly high places. Dig in.
How do you know you've officially hit the big-time, Alando Tucker? When Dickie V says you're the Player of the Year? Nope. It's when a local radio station re-makes an ABBA song in tribute to your basketball prowess. Madison's "Great Oldies" station, WOLX, recently turned ABBA's Fernando into Alando, with such verses as:
Now it's time to play, Alando Since the last big game I haven't seen a man like you so great Can you hear the band, Alando Do you still recall the fateful night we beat Ohio State I could see it in your eyes how proud you were to fight for Bucky, 'twas our fate
Download the song here. Next up, I hope, is a re-interpretation of Springsteen's version of Old Dan Tucker.
Next three: 1/28 at Iowa, 1/31 at Indiana, 2/3 vs. Northwestern.
The Duck who hit game-winning shots against Arizona (YouTube it) and UCLA (YouTube it) will be watching Thursday's game against Washington from his mom's house in Seattle. Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks is suspended from the game due to an incident from last year's Pac-10 tournament, when he hit Huskies guard Ryan Appleby with a forearm shiver that required six stitches in Appleby's upper lip. Although barred from setting foot in Hec Ed, Brooks traveled with the team to his hometown of Seattle and will participate in all non-game activities. Said coach Ernie Kent (to The Seattle Times), "I'll let [Brooks] go home and get some of mom's good cooking during the game, and watch us on TV and meet us at the hotel when it's done."
Next three: 1/25 at Washington, 1/27 at Washington State, 2/1 at UCLA.
Dikembe Mutombowas mentioned by name in President Bush's State of the Union Address on Monday, and was shown on TV sitting next to first lady Laura Bush. Not because he's a part of the U.S.' new defense strategy -- rather because of his heroic charity work for his native Congo. UCLA's Alfred Aboya has similar potential to cross over from sports into world politics. His life goal is not to be a pro hoopster, but rather the president of Cameroon. "I want to have a political career," he told the L.A. Daily News last February. "People think that being president of Cameroon is as superfluous thing, that I just say it to amuse people. But I really think about it. I want to run the country." In the meantime, Aboya has come up big in fellow Cameroonian Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's absence, grabbing 11 boards in a start against Arizona.
Next three: 1/25 at Cal, 1/28 at Stanford, 2/1 vs. Oregon.
There are no perfect teams this season. And part of the deal of being No. 1 -- as the Gators are in the AP, or Wisconsin is in these rankings -- is that the public dwells on your flaws. Like, the fact that Florida, even though it's undefeated in the SEC, isn't shooting free-throws particularly well. The Gators were second-to-last in conference FT shooting at 60.2 percent through Tuesday -- mostly because frontcourt stars Jo Noah and Al Horford have hit a combined 54.2 percent. Wisconsin, meanwhile, was shooting a miserable 21.9 percent from beyond the arc in Big Ten play, including a 3-of-16 clanker at Illinois on Saturday. And yet, if forced to choose now, I'd still put them both in the Final Four.
Next three: 1/27 at Auburn, 1/31 vs. Vanderbilt, 2/3 vs. Tennessee.
For all the praise (including SI's) being heaped on the Pac-10, let us not forget the nation's two stingiest defensive teams reside in the ACC. The Tar Heels, with a kenpom.com adjusted efficiency rating of 0.813 points per possession through Tuesday, are No. 2, while Duke, at an incredible 0.779, is No. 1. The Blue Devils are on an historic pace; no team in the four seasons for which Ken Pomeroy has data has yielded fewer than 0.840 points per possession. UNC, meanwhile, has greatly improved from last season's DEff. rating of 0.904. At the Tar Heels' breakneck speed of 73.3 possessions per game, that equates to 6.67 fewer points per game scored by their opponents.
Next three: 1/27 at Arizona, 1/31 vs. Miami (Fla.), 2/3 at N.C. State.