Posted: Wed February 6, 2013 1:52PM; Updated: Wed February 6, 2013 3:21PM
Luke Winn
Luke Winn>COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS

Indiana reclaims Power Rankings throne, Syracuse tumbles

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All hail the Hoosiers, king of the two-loss teams -- and No. 1 again after a month-and-a-half in exile:

College Hoops Power Rankings
1Indiana Hoosiers
Last Week: 4
The atmosphere for Saturday night's Michigan-IU game was so charged that my laptop was literally shaking for two-plus hours; Macbook Airs are eminently portable but not impervious to the vibrations of chainsaw-level crowd noise and thousands of feet stomping on bleachers. I went back and re-watched it a quieter setting, a few days later, to do some serious charting.

I had been curious if there was a way to visualize how Indiana's offense was concentrated into two, out-of-the-gate bursts -- on the first eight possessions of each half, the Hoosiers scored 2.06 PPP, while scoring just 0.88 PPP the rest of the game -- and whether increased ball-rotation/passing had any correlation to efficiency. What I came up with is a mosaic that shows completed-pass types (regular, post, kick-out, reversal) and their volume, as well as the streaks of good/bad offense:



(There wasn't a game-wide correlation between passing volume and points, or between ball-reversals -- the darkest-red squares -- and points. But I will say that IU's smartest displays of quick, crisp passing came during those two scoring surges, and that left a strong enough impression on me that I was compelled to back and chart it.)

Next three: 2/7 at Illinois, 2/10 at Ohio State, 2/13 vs. Nebraska
 
2Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: 1
In non-conference play, Michigan freshman Nik Stauskas was the nation's best sharpshooter, making 55.7 percent of his threes, but he's shooting just 38 percent during Big Ten games. What can we learn by looking at his 3Maps from those two stretches?

Stauskas started the season being equally dangerous from the left-corner and left-wing zones, where he took the bulk of his threes:



In Big Ten games, he's become even more left-side concentrated -- but he's gone ice-cold from the left wing, making just 21.7 percent of his shots in that zone. Even though Stauskas' overall numbers have slipped, he remains a dead-eye shooter from the left corner:



Next three: 2/9 at Wisconsin, 2/12 at Michigan State, 2/17 vs. Penn State
 
3Kansas Jayhawks
Last Week: 2
Like Stauskas, Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson has been suffering through a slump. He had a solid non-conference season, shooting 52.0 percent inside the arc and 36.2 percent on threes. But in Big 12 games he's only shooting 33.3 percent on twos and 28.1 percent on treys, while also committing an inexcusable volume of turnovers. If there's a bright side to this, it's that Johnson has been a cold January-February guy for his whole four-year career, with a knack for heating up in March:



Next three: 2/6 at TCU, 2/9 at Oklahoma, 2/11 vs. Kansas State
 
4Arizona Wildcats
Last Week: 7
A Pac-12 tangent that has next-to-nothing to do with the Wildcats (sorry!):



It's been a big season for Bill Walton, who turned 60, became the Voice of Pac-12 basketball for its return to ESPN ... and authored the liner notes for an official release of a legendary 1973 Grateful Dead show from just a few weeks before the start of his senior season at UCLA, on his home court at Pauley Pavilion. He delivers an epic Walton Word-Salad: "UCLA, basketball, and the Grateful Dead -- it all rolls into one. Teamwork, creativity, imagination, electricity, fundamentals, physical fitness, speed and quickness, the fast-break, dexterity, flexibility, footwork, crazy fingers, communication, discipline, the beat, rhythm and pace, offense, sacrifice, structured freelance, soaring through time and space, a dream, vision, and a plan. Never had such a good time."

The band has strong ties to the Pac-12: According to Lost Live Dead, Arizona, Washington State and Utah are the only schools at which the Dead haven't played a hoops-arena show. They played six at Pauley, where Walton was a fixture and apparently, a valuable space-creator. An excerpt from Corry at Lost Live Dead:

When I was a freshman at Berkeley in 1975, Southern California Deadheads explained to me that the first thing they did at a general admission show was spot Walton. ... Then, like every player in the Pac-8 or the NBA, they had to decide where they wanted to be in relation to Walton. Believe it or not, a school of thought held that being close to Walton was prudent because you could get behind him for some clear air to breathe (no one could see over him, so there was always empty space behind him).

Photo credit: John Papanek/SI, from our Never-Before-Seen Bill Walton Gallery

Next three: 2/6 vs. Stanford, 2/10 vs. Cal, 2/14 at Colorado
 
5Florida Gators
Last Week: 3
Long-range shooting wasn't Florida's problem when it was upset by Arkansas on Tuesday, but will the Gators' reliance on the three hamper their bid to win a national title?

They take 41.2 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, the 26th-highest rate of any team in the country. In the previous five NCAA tournaments, these are all the teams seeded No. 1-8 that took at least 40 percent of their shots from long-range:



There isn't a Final Four team in the bunch. You'll see that only one team -- last year's Gators -- overachieved relative to its seed, winning two more games than expected. Meanwhile five teams ('08 Georgetown, '12 Michigan, '11 Louisville, '08 Drake and '10 Oklahoma State) were victims of early upsets. Florida's incredible defense this season may make this irrelevant, but three-point reliance is liable to make an offense too volatile to win six straight games in the NCAAs.

Next three: 2/9 vs. Mississippi State, 2/12 vs. Kentucky, 2/16 at Auburn
 
6Miami Hurricanes
Last Week: 9
Given that Miami was expected to be an NCAA bubble-ish team in the preseason, it was initially shocking to see the 'Canes as a No. 2 seed in Mr. Glockner's Bracket Watch. But the more I look at their resume, the more I think they have a real shot at finishing as a No. 1. They already have three great wins (Duke, NC State and Michigan State) and two decent ones (North Carolina and La Salle). They could very well go 16-2 in the ACC. And all of their losses can be excused in some fashion by the selection committee: Durand Scott was out for the Florida Gulf Coast game, and Reggie Johnson was missing for the Arizona and Indiana State games. The fact that Miami has not lost a single game while at full-strength should carry some weight.

Next three: 2/9 vs. North Carolina, 2/13 at Florida State, 2/17 at Clemson
 
7Duke Blue Devils
Last Week: 6
In last week's Power Rankings, readers were asked to ID any team that could top Arizona's streak of five straight seasons with a different starting point guard. I figured I might have missed an obscure team ... and then it was pointed out by Ray Horn (@R_Horn21) and Zach Huston (@ZKhuston1) that Duke had beaten it:

2007-08: Greg Paulus
2008-09: Nolan Smith*
2009-10: Jon Scheyer*
2010-11: Kyrie Irving
2011-12: Seth Curry/Austin Rivers/Tyler Thornton**
2012-13: Quinn Cook

* You'll recall that Scheyer and Smith started alongside each other for most of these two seasons, but Scheyer didn't take on the role of primary distributor until his senior season.

** This was the "no pure point guard" lineup of Curry and Rivers, and Thornton was later added to the backcourt as a stabilizer.


Next three: 2/7 vs. NC State, 2/10 at Boston College, 2/13 vs. North Carolina
 
8Gonzaga Bulldogs
Last Week: 12
The Zags are a curious case where frontcourt size -- a rotation of 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, 6-8 Elias Harris, 6-9 Sam Dower and (in spot minutes) 7-1 Przemek Karnowski -- doesn't translate a particularly stout interior D. I put all 16 of this week's Power-Ranked teams into the table below along with their defensive 2FG and block percentages, and the Zags ranked 13th and 14th, respectively:



Gonzaga has an elite offense, but this defensive gap is a big reason why it remains outside the group of prime national title contenders.

Next three: 2/7 vs. Pepperdine, 2/9 vs. Loyola Marymount, 2/14 at St. Mary's
 
9Syracuse Orange
Last Week: 5
Michael Carter-Williams just isn't the same point guard without James Southerland on the floor. Southerland was the Orange's best spot-up shooter and MCW's favorite assist target, but has been held out for the past seven games due to an NCAA investigation. These were MCW's with/without Southerland splits prior to this week's Notre Dame game:



Five fewer assists per game and an assist percentage 11 points lower: those are huge drops that can't just be explained by the switch from non-conference to Big East competition.

This GIF shows how Carter-Williams' assist distribution changed once Southerland stopped playing (no new favorite target emerges):



Next three: 2/10 vs. St. John's, 2/13 at UConn, 2/16 at Seton Hall
 
10Louisville Cardinals
Last Week: 14
A chart in last week's Power Rankings showed that Cardinals guard/relentless basket-attacker Russ Smith was the national leader in transition possessions per 40 minutes. He's still No. 1 this season, but I wanted to take it a step further and find out where Smith ranks in the past four seasons, from which we have reliable Synergy Sports Technology data on power-conference players:



Smith comes in second only to The Jimmer, but the BYU star was far, far less efficient than Russdiculous is in the open court. It seems that in transition, Jimmer deserved the "reckless" label far more than Smith does.

(I computed Poss./40 from Synergy possession logs and playing-time data.)

Next three: 2/6 at Rutgers, 2/9 at Notre Dame, 2/14 vs. St. John's
 
11Michigan State Spartans
Last Week: 11
Total Rebounding Percentage is a stat, kept by TeamRankings.com, that measures the percentage of available rebounds a team grabs on both ends of the floor. Last season, Michigan State was tops in the Big Ten in this category and No. 3 in the nation; this season, the Spartans are not nearly as dominant:



In Big Ten games only, according to kenpom.com, Michigan State ranks sixth in OReb% (32.1) and second in DReb% (72.0).

Next three: 2/6 vs. Minnesota, 2/9 at Purdue, 2/12 vs. Michigan
 
12Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 13
Ohio State wanted to turn Trey Burke into an inefficient, volume shooter on Tuesday, much like he was on Saturday at Indiana, when he used 39 percent of Michigan's possessions -- his highest rate in any Big Ten game this season. Burke scored 25 points against IU but his offensive rating was just 108, well below his season average.

But Burke didn't play into the Buckeyes' plan. Instead he posted his lowest-usage Big Ten game, at just 22 percent of possessions, and it resulted in his second-highest ORating of the conference season:



(Data from kenpom.com's Burke profile page.)

Next three: 2/10 vs. Indiana, 2/14 vs. Northwestern, 2/17 at Wisconsin
 
13Butler Bulldogs
Last Week: 8
Condolences go out to Butler junior Erik Fromm, who lost his father, Leonard, on Saturday to a battle with cancer. Leonard, 70, was an associate dean at Indiana's law school for 33 years and played a crucial role in Erik's early basketball development, as he told the Indy Star in a touching piece that ran Tuesday. Fromm plans to have a necklace inscribed with one of his father's key lessons: "It's all about perspective."

Leonard had to be proud that his son had broken through and become a valuable reserve for the Bulldogs this season. In 12.2 minutes per game, Fromm is posting a team-high OReb% of 14.2 and is making 60.6 percent of his twos, second only behind center Andrew Smith. With Smith graduating this spring, Fromm should have the chance to grab a significant glue-guy role as a senior.

Next three: 2/6 vs. St. Bonaventure, 2/9 at George Washington, 2/13 vs. Charlotte
 
14New Mexico Lobos
Last Week: 21
New Mexico thrives on forcing its opponents to run long possessions, and then shutting them down. The Lobos rank fourth nationally in percentage of defensive possessions that reach the final four seconds of the shot clock, according to Synergy Sports Technology, and they allow 0.481 PPP in those situations ... which is amazingly stingy.



Next three: 2/6 vs. Air Force, 2/9 at UNLV, 2/13 at Fresno State
 
15Creighton Bluejays
Last Week: 17
ESPN's BracketBusters is dying after 10 years, and the Bluejays' final appearance -- a road game at St. Mary's on Feb. 23 -- is one they don't need to get in the NCAA tournament, and won't do much to bolster their seeding resume, either. Creighton is safely in the dance as a 4(-ish) seed. What the game does give them is a chance to play against a just-slightly-worse version of themselves, as the Gaels have the most Creighton-like kenpom.com profile of any team not named Creighton.

* St. Mary's ranks 10th in offensive efficiency and 117th in defensive efficiency. It shoots a very-good 55.0 percent from inside the arc.

* Creighton ranks fourth in offensive efficiency and 83rd in defensive efficiency. It shoots a best-in-the-nation 56.9 percent from inside the arc.

High-quality offense + marginal defense should make for great television.

Next three: 2/6 at Indiana State, 2/9 vs. Illinois State, 2/13 at Northern Iowa
 
16Cincinnati Bearcats
Last Week: 26
Because everyone loves Cheikh Mbodj Twitter Trivia:

1. The Bearcats' Senegalese center is one of five Big East starters whose first and last names end in double-consonants. Can you name the other four?

2. There's only one Big East starter who's the anti-Mbodj, with a first and last name ending in double-vowels. Can you name him?

Tweet your answers to @lukewinn. The first correct responder will have their name/Twitter handle updated into these Rankings, and all the glory that comes with it.

**UPDATE: The winner for Question 1 is Jordan Cohen of Cincinnati (@AirJordan), who answered Russ Smith, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Anthony Collins and Trent Lockett. Cohen also had Question 2 correct, but Mike Tam of Pittsburgh (@mike10003) beat him to the punch by sending in Mouphtaou Yarou one minute earlier. Thanks to both of you for putting a swift end to this nonsense.

Next three: 2/6 at Providence, 2/9 vs. Pitt, 2/12 vs. Villanova
 

The Next 16: 17. Marquette, 18. Oregon, 19. Georgetown, 20. Pitt, 21. Colorado State, 22. Oklahoma State, 23. Kansas State, 24. Minnesota, 25. St. Louis, 26. VCU, 27. San Diego State, 28. Kentucky, 29. Notre Dame, 30. Mississippi, 31. Belmont, 32. UNLV

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