Luke Winn's Power Rankings
1. Illinois (16--0) You would expect the nation's No. 1 team to be a little more boastful. Instead we get this from guard Dee Brown: "We're expecting to lose." Doesn't look likely anytime soon.
2. North Carolina (13--1) Headlining my midseason team of Leading Scorers Who Don't Get Enough Publicity is Jawad Williams, who drops in 16.8 points a game but ranks fifth on UNC's roster in name recognition behind Rashad McCants, Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams.
3. Kansas (11--0) The Jayhawks may be banged up--at the end of last Saturday's win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena neither Wayne Simien nor Keith Langford was on the floor--but their supporting cast is swelling with confidence. It's clear this team is a title contender.
4. Wake Forest (13--1) In the Deacons' first meeting with an elite team this season, an ugly loss to Illinois on Dec. 1, they allowed the Illini to shoot 56% from the field. Will Wake Forest redeem its damaged defensive reputation or get left in the dust when UNC--a faster-paced, higher-scoring and better-shooting squad than Illinois--visits Lawrence Joel Coliseum on Saturday?
5. Oklahoma State (11--1) How about this coaching move made by Eddie Sutton during the Cowboys' 76--66 comeback win over Texas Tech last Saturday. Sixth man extraordinaire Stephen Graham picks up foul number 4 with 6:14 left in the first half. He returns to the game 41 seconds later. Pure idiocy, right? Nope. He goes on to lead the OSU rally with 12 second-half points--and never fouls out. When moves like that pay off, you can't help but think it's your year.
? Luke Winn's College Basketball Power Rankings appear every Thursday at SI.com/basketball/ncaa.
Stewart Mandel's Weekly Awards
Player of the Week: Dan Grunfeld, Stanford Strictly a reserve in his first two seasons, Grunfeld has become a scoring machine for an otherwise punchless Cardinal team. He scored 29 last Saturday as Stanford knocked off No. 13 Arizona. The 6'6" Grunfeld (left) is the latest in a long line of deceptively athletic Stanford stars who can get to the basket while also lighting it up from outside.
Team of the Week: St. Mary's Overlook the Gaels at your own risk. St. Mary's started the season with a surprise run to the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals--where the cover of the programs still listed Cal, which St. Mary's knocked off to get there--despite playing without star guard Paul Marigney. He's healthy now, and last Saturday he scored 30 points in an 89--81 upset of No. 11 Gonzaga. The WCC has gotten two NCAA berths in the past with Gonzaga and Pepperdine. Could it make it three this year with the Bulldogs, the Waves and the 14--4 Gaels?