Click above for 1-5
|NCAA Basketball Power Rankings|
Indiana Hoosiers (17-1)
There have been two genuinely crazy three-point shooting barrages this season: the most recent was by Washington State, which hit seven threes in a one-minute, 21-second span at UCLA on Jan. 11, turning a blowout into a close game in the final two minutes. The other was a solo mission -- viewable on YouTube -- by Iowa's Justin Johnson, who nailed six threes in the final 1:56 of a loss to Indiana on Jan. 2. For the rematch between the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes on Wednesday, IU's Jamarcus Ellis, who guarded Johnson during the monsoon, said he was changing his defensive strategy to denial ("When you have a guy who is that hot, you just can't even let him touch the ball," Ellis told the Indy Star). It worked: Johnson attempted only six field goals, making just one, in a 65-43 loss.
Next three: 1/26 vs. UConn, 1/31 at Wisconsin, 2/3 vs. Northwestern
UCLA Bruins (16-2)
The hot question in the L.A. college basketball scene is, which would you rather be dealing with: concussions or infractions? Bruins forwards Lorenzo Mata-Real and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute may not play in the team's swing through Oregon and Oregon State this week due to blows suffered in a Jan. 19 upset loss to USC. Meanwhile, Trojans guard O.J. Mayo, who turned in an surprisingly unselfish performance against UCLA, possibly has gotten himself into hot water for accepting free Lakers-Nuggets tickets from pal Carmelo Anthony. Trojans coach Tim Floyd took the blame -- "I'll take the responsibility because I told the kid he could go to the game," he told the L.A. Times -- but Mayo could face a one-game suspension in the same way Arizona's Richard Jefferson did for taking airfare and tickets to an NBA Finals game from Bill Walton in 2000.
Next three: 1/23 at Oregon, 1/26 at Oregon State, 1/21 vs. Arizona State
Washington State Cougars (16-1)
The big reason not to think the Cougs will finish the same way they did last season -- that is, contend for the Pac-10 title and then slip quietly out of the NCAA tournament in the first weekend -- is that they've finally turned into an offensive force after being average scorers in '06-07. Here are the three biggest indicators of that change:
• That Wazzu's adjusted offensive efficiency has risen from 1.126 points per possession last season (ranking 54th in the country) to 1.166 this season (ranking 15th).
• The Cougs' effective field goal percentage (a stat that appropriately weights threes in the formula) has jumped from 52.0 percent last season (ranking 87th) to 56.6 (ranking sixth) this season.
• Their two primary three-point shooters, Derrick Low and Taylor Rochestie, are a combined 43.8 percent on the season, after shooting at a combined 39.7 clip last season.
Next three: 1/24 at Arizona, 1/26 at Arizona State, 1/31 vs. Cal
Georgetown Hoyas (15-2)
Who would have thought that the Hoyas' most efficient scorer by midseason would not be either of its senior stars, Roy Hibbert or Jon Wallace, but rather freshman Austin Freeman? His effective field goal percentage is a stunning 67.2, which makes him not only the Hoyas' best, but also the most-efficent-shooting freshman guard in the country, according to data compiled from bbstate.com:
Top Eff. Field Goal % By Freshman Guards, 07-08
Rk. Player Team EFG% PPG
1. Austin Freeman G'town 67.2 10.1
2. Steven Gray Gonzaga 67.0 8.8
3. Kyle Lewis Denver 64.6 9.2
4. Ben Botts IPFW 63.6 11.0
5. Alex Johnson UCSB 63.3 7.1
Next three: 1/26 at West Virginia, 1/30 at St. John's, 2/2 vs. Seton Hall
Wisconsin Badgers (16-2)
The Badgers are the biggest surprise team in this top 10 and the hardest to pin down, since there is truly no defined scoring star on the roster. In its first five Big Ten games -- prior to Tuesday's win over Michigan -- Wisconsin had five different 20-point scorers: Jon Leuer, Joe Krabbenhoft, Brian Butch, Marcus Landry and Travon Hughes. "I don't think [that] has ever happened in the history of the game," UW coach Bo Ryan told the Capital Times last week. "And if it has, I want to know the team, the year, and I'm going to call the coach." Ryan might have to put in calls, right off the bat, to Providence and Seton Hall, both of whom, according to a Times follow-up, pulled off the same feat in the non-conference portion of 2007-08. What the Badgers did was still impressive, though.
Next three: 1/26 at Purdue, 1/31 vs. Indiana, 2/3 at Minnesota
Click below for 11-16
2 of 3