Allow me to be excused for dropping in late with this week's rankings. Indiana's misery needed to stay on center stage for a full 48 hours, so this Hoosier-free top 16 was put on hold:
|NCAA Basketball Power Rankings|
Memphis Tigers (24-0)
The Tigers' institution of higher learning changed its name from Memphis State to the University of Memphis in 1994, but there are still folks who can't get the old name out of their heads -- like this fellow, who's trying to sell "Memphis State vs. Tennessee" tickets for $2,000 on eBay. There are no doubt brand-conscious school officials who cringe every time they hear "State," perhaps the same way I do when this Web site gets referred to with the long-since-ditched title of "CNN/SI." And so it's unlikely that the Tigers will be sporting retro gear -- Penny Hardaway throwbacks, anyone? -- in the near future, despite the fact that Memphis-mania has created what would seem like a strong market for the stuff. A great vintage tee from the Tigers' 1985 Final Four trip, with a strangely worded "No. 1 of the top four" slogan, is getting some strong bidding on eBay; even a Memphis State "Toboggan" cap is hot. And if I were John Calipari, I'd go after these clip-on Memphis State suspenders. With those on, he'd surely be able to join Bruce Pearl in the Style Archive.
(Memphians: If you know of places -- specifically online -- to find Memphis State retro gear, drop us an e-mail and we'll spread the word.)
Next three: 2/16 at UAB, 2/20 at Tulane, 2/23 vs. Tennessee
Duke Blue Devils (22-1)
Kyle Singler is the Blue Devils' leading rebounder and, far more impressively, their leading stitch recipient: according to the Winston-Salem Journal, the freshman forward has already had 23 stitches this season. A UNC student who was standing near my press-row seat at the Feb. 6 game told Singler -- amid a string of expletives -- to "go play hockey" instead of hoops. I had interviewed a pre-stitches Singler for SI's preview issue back in October in Durham, and when I saw him in the locker room following that win over the Tar Heels, he looked incredibly different. Among the changes were a sewed-up chin, cuts above and under his eyes, and welts all over. Duke has earned a rep for flopping, but there's plenty of physical evidence that Singler is absorbing ungodly amounts of real contact.
Next three: 2/17 at Wake Forest, 2/20 at Miami, 2/23 vs. St. John's
Tennessee Vols (22-2)
Back to this retro theme. How amazing would it be if both Tennessee and Memphis went with '70s throwbacks for their much-awaited showdown on Feb. 23? The saloon-ish, western font on the jerseys of the Volunteers' Ernie (Grunfeld) & Bernie (Bernard King) Show -- shown here on a 1976 SI cover -- is phenomenal. On the Memphis side, the cursive from the jerseys Larry Finch's 1973 Final Four team wore is a classic. What say you, Adidas? How 'bout shelving the flashy modern unis you've provided for the current Vols and Tigers, and producing some of this historical garb on short notice? It's time to step it up for the big game.
Grunfeld (left)/Finch (right)
Next three: 2/9 at LSU, 2/13 vs. Arkansas, 2/16 at Georgia
North Carolina Tar Heels (23-2)
Tyler Hansbrough is averaging 22.8 points per game, many of them coming on his ungraceful signature move. "We like to think that is a jump-hook, but it is not," UNC coach Roy Williams told the Raleigh News & Observer in reference to a big Hansbrough bucket against Virginia on Wednesday. "Shotput, jump hook, Hansbrough Special, whatever you call it ... We went to him inside and, needless to say, he delivered for us and made a big bucket." Williams is right -- it's far more of a psychotic shot-put than it is a hook. Guys like Roy Hibbert and Vernon Macklin of Georgetown use the real hook, but Hansbrough has scored more points in his career than both of them combined.
Next three: 2/16 vs. Va. Tech, 2/20 at N.C. State, 2/24 vs. Wake Forest
Kansas Jayhawks (23-2)
The Kansas City Star recently ran a good Russell Robinson story that was essentially a blend of MTV's Cribsand a basketball feature. In it, we learned that:
• Robinson's apartment is decorated in what he calls a "Chinese theme," which includes bamboo blinds and Chinese letters on the wall
• He likes Lawrence so much that he's only been back to his old stomping ground, the Bronx, for a grand total of one month over the past four years
• He color-coordinates his bathroom towels. "I'm not anal about it," he told the Star. "I just need it to look nice."
Next three: 2/16 vs. Colorado, 2/23 at Oklahoma State, 2/27 at Iowa State
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