Posted: Wed January 23, 2013 12:06PM; Updated: Wed January 23, 2013 5:20PM
Luke Winn
Luke Winn>COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS

Kansas soars, Louisville slips in latest edition of Power Rankings

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The new tenant in the No. 1 slot hasn't lost a game since Nov. 13. Two months and 10 days of perfection is enough to earn the nod over Duke, Michigan and Syracuse.

College Hoops Power Rankings
1Kansas Jayhawks
Last Week: 2
Congratulations to Kansas State becoming the first team not to get swatted by Jeff Withey this season. (Also, congrats on helping the Jayhawks get to No. 1 by not making any real trouble at the Octagon on Tuesday.)

Although Withey whiffed against KSU, he remains the game's best rim-protector and block-controller, as Kansas has kept an astounding 72.0 percent of the 75 swats I've charted:



Last week, Run The Floor did a great analysis of blocks-kept stats that showed Withey to be well ahead of three other elite blockers -- St. John's Chris Obekpa, Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski and Kentucky's Nerlens Noel. I updated RTF's numbers to include recent games, putting Obekpa at 62.1 percent, Bachynski at 59.5 and Noel at 55.3. They're nowhere near Withey territory.

Next three: 1/26 vs. Oklahoma, 1/28 at West Virginia, 2/2 vs. Oklahoma State
 
2Duke Blue Devils
Last Week: 3
Here's one reason the Blue Devils miss Ryan Kelly: His frontcourt replacements are far, far more foul-prone than he was. Kelly committed 3.1 fouls per 40 minutes this season and drew 4.4, while freshman Amile Jefferson and senior Josh Hairston have personal foul margins in the red. In ACC games only, Duke has the league's seventh-worst defensive free throw rate (32.3).



Something Duke has not struggled with is getting three-point looks for Seth Curry, who was 6-of-7 from long range in Thursday's win over Georgia Tech. My favorite play to spring him was actually for the three he missed, but it features a nice combination of a Josh Hairston downscreen (1), a Mason Plumlee dribble-handoff (2) and then a Plumlee butt-screen (3) that creates a wide-open look:



Next three: 1/23 at Miami, 1/26 vs. Maryland, 1/30 at Wake Forest
 
3Syracuse Orange
Last Week: 7
Michael Carter-Williams' steal-and-dunk that changed the Louisville game on Saturday will go down as one of the best crunch-time plays of the season. I re-played it a few times to see what went wrong for Louisville, which had a one-point lead with just under 30 seconds left. As much as Carter-Williams deserves credit for the steal, Brandon Triche's positioning was just as important. The play was for Cardinals point guard Peyton Siva to go left off a Gorgui Dieng high ball screen; Siva's man, Triche, got in a high-enough position to make the screen look unattractive, while still being able to cover a drive to the right. Siva chose to turn down the screen, Triche caught up with him quickly, and helped force a critical turnover:



Next three: 1/26 at Villanova, 2/2 at Pitt, 2/4 vs. Notre Dame
 
4Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: 4
The Wolverines' offense was already quite good last season, ranking 22nd in adjusted offensive efficiency, on kenpom.com, but it's an amazing 12.2 points per 100 possessions better this time around. That represents the ninth-biggest gain of any team in the country, and the biggest of any Power-Ranked team not named Butler:



(By the way, second-year Southern coach Roman Banks deserves some recognition for being No. 1 here: The Jags have ridden this offensive wave to an 8-0 start in the SWAC.)

Next three: 1/24 vs. Purdue, 1/27 at Illinois, 1/30 vs. Northwestern
 
5Arizona Wildcats
Last Week: 5
When it comes to scoring with pick-and-roll ballhandlers, no one is in Michigan's league ... but Arizona is the second-most efficient team in the country at it, which isn't bad:



Senior Mark Lyons is their most frequent pick-and-roll scorer (58 possessions, 0.931 PPP), but it's not all his show: Nick Johnson (32, 0.969) and Solomon Hill (16, 1.000) have been just as efficient in smaller doses.

Next three: 1/24 vs. UCLA, 1/26 vs. USC, 1/31 at Washington
 
6Florida Gators
Last Week: 17
If you were impressed with Michigan's offensive-improvement numbers, you should be wowed by Florida's defensive gains since last season. No team has made bigger strides in adjusted defensive efficiency, per kenpom.com, than the Gators:



The Gainesville Sun rightfully lauded the defense of point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who shut down Texas A&M's Elston Turner (four points, 1-of-10 shooting) and Missouri's Phil Pressey (2 points, 10 turnovers) last week. But Florida's interior defenders -- primarily Patric Young and Will Yeguete -- have been just as important, helping hold opponents to the third-lowest two-point percentage (39.3) in the country.

Next three: 1/23 at Georgia, 1/26 at Mississippi State, 1/30 vs. South Carolina
 
7Butler Bulldogs
Last Week: 13
College Basketball Talk tipped us off to this excellent, student-made video from the Butler-Gonzaga thriller, which you should watch as an interlude to all these statistics:



Done? OK. More numbers: I was not surprised to look at Saturday's box score and see that Butler had just two fastbreak points and Gonzaga had none. Both teams rank in the top 10 nationally in fewest transition possessions allowed, according to Synergy Sports Technology; opponents fastbreak on them only around 10 percent of the time. So much focus on limiting transition points can, for many teams, have an adverse impact on offensive rebounding, but the Bulldogs and Zags manage to post respectable OReb percentages, too:



For teams such as Weber State and Indiana State, stopping the break means pretty much giving up on producing points on the offensive glass.

Next three: 1/23 at La Salle, 1/26 vs. Temple, 1/31 at St. Louis
 
8Indiana Hoosiers
Last Week: 8
Even though the Hoosiers lost to Butler on Dec. 15, they were one of the few teams to actually put up transition points on the Bulldogs, scoring 10 to Butler's three. That shouldn't be a surprise, either, since Indiana ranks among the top 20 nationally in highest percentage of offensive possessions in transition, according to Synergy. The table below shows the 10 highest-volume transition teams from major conferences (and the Mountain West), and then looks at the impact it has on their defensive rebounding. NC State, St. John's and Arkansas leave themselves really vulnerable on the defensive glass, while BYU (especially), Indiana and UNLV still do a decent job of minding the boards.



Next three: 1/23 vs. Penn State, 1/27 vs. Michigan State, 1/30 at Purdue
 
9Louisville Cardinals
Last Week: 1
With the Cardinals in a cold-shooting nosedive, the conventional wisdom would be to talk about their shooting problems ... but the reality is that their season-wide improvement in spot-up shooting is the main reason their offense has gone from 103rd in adjusted efficiency to 16th. The chart below lists Louisville's points per possession (per Synergy) in its most-frequent offensive situations, up to but not including the Villanova loss; you'll see that everything but spot-up shooting has stayed pretty much the same:



And the two main gainers in spot-up shooting have been their starting guards, especially Peyton Siva:



Next three: 1/26 at Georgetown, 1/28 vs. Pitt, 2/3 vs. Marquette
 
10Michigan State Spartans
Last Week: 14
When big lefthander Derrick Nix gets the ball in the post, he's likely to make a move over his right shoulder. Opposing teams know this (see: Wisconsin sitting on his right shoulder on Tuesday) and commentators know this (see: Dan Dakich talking about it during ESPN's telecast). But are Nix's tendencies any worse than other big men in the Big Ten ... like, say, Indiana's Cody Zeller?

According to Synergy's logs, Nix goes over his right shoulder 57.3 percent of the time in the post, so the generally accepted scouting report on him is accurate. But Zeller, who's right-handed, actually favors right-shoulder moves more than Nix does, going in that direction 59.3 percent of the time. Zeller has a face-up element to his game that Nix lacks, but if the IU big man is backing down on the block, he's even more predictable than Nix is.



Next three: 1/27 at Indiana, 1/31 vs. Illinois, 2/6 vs. Minnesota
 
11Oregon Ducks
Last Week: 15
It seemed reasonable to expect that the fantastic rebounding numbers 6-foot-7 Arsalan Kazemi posted at Rice, in the Conference USA, would drop off a bit after he transferred to Oregon, in the Pac-12. But that has not been the case. Through five Pac-12 games, Kazemi's conference-only rebounding percentages are on par with his first three seasons in a lesser league:



One factor in his success with the Ducks may be that he's not being asked to do nearly as much on offense as he was in C-USA. After using well over 20 percent of Rice's offensive possessions in each of his first three seasons, Kazemi only has a 16.7 usage rate at Oregon, where there's far more scoring balance.

Next three: 1/23 vs. Washington State, 1/26 vs. Washington, 1/30 at Stanford
 
12Gonzaga Bulldogs
Last Week: 6
The Bulldog-fronted jerseys the Zags unleashed on the college hoops world for the Butler game were actually the start of a regrettable Nike-team trend: At least eight more swoosh schools plan to wear logo-fronts during a road game this season, according to The Dagger. The good news is that these jerseys are (seriously) made from an average of 22 recycled plastic bottles; the bad news is that aside from maybe the Texas model, the logo/number stacks look pretty awkward.



(Photo credits: Gonzaga - Getty Images / Jerseys - fansedge.com.)

Next three: 1/24 vs. BYU, 1/26 vs. San Francisco, 1/31 at Loyola Marymount
 
13Creighton Bluejays
Last Week: 9
There is no player in the college game who can call himself more of a three-point specialist than the Bluejays' Ethan Wragge, who takes 93.7(!) percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He also makes 44.2 percent of them, which makes him a rather valuable specialist. Per hoop-math.com's leaderboards, these are the five players* who take the biggest share of their shots from long range:



(*Minimum of 80 three-point attempts required for consideration.)

Next three: 1/23 at Drake, 1/27 at Southern Illinois, 1/30 vs. Missouri State
 
14Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last Week: 10
If Nike (or Adidas) wanted to make an actual splash with alternate jerseys, and not just slap logos in the place of text, they'd do a Big Ten Coachface Series. These are my prototypes for Saturday's Minnesota at Wisconsin game, if they're willing to suit up as Brimley vs. Bo:



And who wouldn't watch an Indiana game with Epic Creanface jerseys? Someone needs to start this series for real.

Next three: 1/23 at Northwestern, 1/26 at Wisconsin, 1/29 vs. Nebraska
 
15VCU Rams
Last Week: 19
Everyone knows that the Rams force a ton of turnovers in their "Havoc" system, but it rarely gets mentioned that they take care of the ball well on offense. VCU has the highest defensive turnover percentage thus far in the Atlantic 10 and the second-lowest offensive turnover percentage, after Butler. The Rams' TO% margin in A-10 games is well ahead of the rest of the league:



Next three: 1/24 at Richmond, 1/26 vs. La Salle, 1/30 at Rhode Island
 
16Wichita State Shockers
Last Week: NR
The rest of the Missouri Valley gets overshadowed by the Creighton/McDermott show*, but the fact that the Shockers could be setting themselves up to earn a No. 5 seed -- per Andy Glockner's Bracket Watch -- for a second straight season is a major achievement. The conference has only produced three No. 5 or better seeds in its history: 2007 Southern Illinois (a No. 4), 2008 Drake (a No. 5) and last year's Wichita State team, from which coach Gregg Marshall lost his top five possession-users and still managed to build another contender.

(Creighton, if it continues on its current trajectory, could land a No. 3 seed after being stuck in an 8-9 slot last year. Its defense lags behind Wichita's, but its offense is well ahead of the rest of the Valley.)

Next three: 1/23 at Missouri State, 1/26 vs. Bradley, 1/29 vs. Indiana St.
 

The Next 16: New Mexico, 18. Mississippi, 19. UCLA, 20. Ohio State, 21. Miami, 22. Kansas State, 23. Cincinnati, 24. Marquette, 25. Alabama, 26. Baylor, 27. Wyoming, 28. UNLV, 29. San Diego State, 30. Colorado State, 31. Oklahoma State, 32. NC State

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