Breaking down media mock; more notes (cont.)
I say it every year, but there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Notre Dame on the bubble.
This is a big week at Wisconsin. Bo Ryan told me he should know in the next couple of days when -- and whether -- junior forward Jon Leuer will return from his broken wrist. A few of Ryan's players have been forced to gain from experience in Leuer's absence, so if he comes back with enough time to get up to speed, the Badgers will be an even better team than they were before he went out. That's a scary thought.
Sorry to see Ed Davis' season effectively come to an end at North Carolina because of a broken wrist. But I cannot fathom why he continues to be listed as a top 10 -- or even a top five -- NBA draft pick. Davis might have potential, but right now he is an above-average college player at best. If somebody drafts him that high, it could very well cost that somebody his job.
Could the season get any worse for Oklahoma? Willie Warren, who was already having a terrible season, is out indefinitely with mono, two freshmen were cited for shoplifting last week, and now freshman forward Tiny Gallon has been suspended for reportedly having improper contact with an agent before the beginning of the season. In a word: Oy.
This week's AP ballot
(Last week's rankings on my ballot in parentheses)
1. Kansas (1)
Dropped off my ballot: Georgia Tech (18), BYU (20), Cornell (22), South Florida (24), Northern Iowa (25)
Skinny: I thought I was finishing my ballot early by completing it around 2:00 on Sunday afternoon. Then those two big upsets from the Big East happened, throwing my fellow voters and me for a loop. Obviously, Syracuse and Georgetown should pay a price for their losses. But how steep should that price be?
The Associated Press doesn't give us any instructions on this stuff, so it's up to each individual voter to decide what is important at this point in the season. I try to balance a team's entire body of work against what it has done recently. You could make a case that Syracuse, with just two losses, still deserves to be ranked fourth, but I knocked the 'Cuse down a peg because both of their losses came at home. Plus, Louisville had just gotten embarrassed at St. John's. Meanwhile, I only dropped Georgetown five spots because, while Rutgers is not a good team, the RAC is still a tough place to play. On the other hand, I also had to consider that the Hoyas lost recently to South Florida at home. I can give a team a mulligan for one loss against a middling Big East team, but two in two weeks is harder to justify.
Michigan State suffered the other big tumble at the top, mostly because the Spartans' loss to Purdue came at home. West Virginia lost twice last week, but I couldn't see fit to punish the Mountaineers too badly for losing to a team ranked ahead of them (Villanova) and to a good team in triple overtime on the road (Pittsburgh). The Panthers deserved to be rewarded for that win, though, so they're back on my ballot after being absent for just one week.
I wasn't sure where I was going to rank Wake Forest, but I knew the Deacons were going to be on my ballot. I'm assuming my fellow voters will agree because we've been a little late coming around on this team. Wake Forest has now won six of its last seven games to surge into a tie for second place in the ACC. Its nonconference wins over Gonzaga, Richmond and Xavier are looking even better now than when they happened.
I am still not ready to drink the Atlantic 10 Kool-Aid, but Temple did knock off Villanova a while back, and Xavier's road win at Florida on Saturday was impressive, so those guys are back on the board. (Remember the Musketeers also nearly knocked off Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse.) The other teams I strongly considered but didn't rank were Northern Iowa, Siena, Missouri and Ole Miss. Better luck next week, guys.
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