College Basketball Top 25: Kentucky, Syracuse Top B/R Writers Rankings

Ari Kramer@Ari_KramerSenior Analyst IIFebruary 13, 2012

College Basketball Top 25: Kentucky, Syracuse Top B/R Writers Rankings

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    Kentucky thrived in its most challenging stretch of SEC play to date, beating Florida and Vanderbilt to maintain the No. 1 spot in the B/R Writers Rankings.

    While the Wildcats found success last week, other Top 25 teams didn't fare as well. Harvard was relegated to the poll's periphery after losing to Princeton, Murray State endured a drop after falling for the first time and Creighton barely maintained a ranking after losing three straight.

    Read on to see where everyone else stands.

    If you're a Bleacher Report college basketball writer who wants to participate in the weekly poll, message me with your email address to indicate your interest.

    Voters: Ryan EshlemanAri KramerJesse Kramer, David MayerThad NovakDaniel O'BrienMatt OveringRobert PaceAndrew Pregler, Josh SchochJordan SchwartzGene SiudutJames SullivanDan Vasta

Missing the Cut

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    Dropped From Rankings

    Harvard, 23

    Others Receiving Votes

    Temple, 17

    Harvard, 8

    Vanderbilt, 8

    Southern Miss, 7

    Gonzaga, 6

    New Mexico, 2

    Iowa State, 1

T-25. Creighton Blue Jays

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    Record: 21-5, 11-4 MVC

    Week: 0-2

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Voting Points: 21

    In the midst of a three-game skid, Creighton barely clung to a spot in the poll. 

    The Blue Jays have fallen to Northern Iowa, Evansville and Wichita State in the past two weeks, making this week's games against Southern Illinois and Long Beach State must-wins.

    Fifty percent of voters ranked Creighton, which peaked at No. 20.

T-25. Wichita State

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    Record: 22-4, 13-2 MVC

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: NR

    Voting Points: 21

    Wichita State has won 12 of its past 13 games, and Saturday's win at Creighton helped the Shockers finally crack the Top 25. Beating the Blue Jays by 21 points made quite a statement.

    The Shockers, who won by an average of 23 points last week, appeared on six ballots and topped at No. 19.

24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Record: 17-8, 9-3 Big East

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: NR

    Voting Points: 40

    Sitting in third place in the Big East, Notre Dame made its first appearance in the B/R Writers Rankings. The Fighting Irish, who have vastly exceeded expectations, defeated West Virginia and DePaul last week.

    Wins don't come easily in the Big East, but Notre Dame's remaining schedule is certainly favorable. They'll host Rutgers and visit Villanova this week.

    The Fighting Irish ranked as high as No. 18.

23. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    Record: 19-6, 6-4 SEC

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Voting Points: 45

    Mississippi State avenged its loss to Ole Miss by beating the Rebels last week, but falling to Georgia at home resulted in a four-spot drop in the poll.

    With a pair of road games at LSU and Auburn, Mississippi State needs to regroup and earn two wins this week.

    The Bulldogs didn't appear on four ballots, and they ranked as high as No. 18.

22. Virginia Cavaliers

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    Record: 19-5, 6-4 ACC

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 20

    Voting Points: 65

    After routing Wake Forest, Virginia fell by 18 points at UNC. The Cavaliers have gone just 5-4 since starting 14-1, but Mike Scott's level of play has remained exceptional.

    Two voters didn't rank Virginia, which peaked at No. 15.

21. Michigan Wolverines

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    Record: 19-7, 9-4 Big Ten

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 24

    Voting Points: 74

    Michigan earned its first set of back-to-back wins since Jan. 11, beating Nebraska and Illinois last week. If the Wolverines can upset Ohio State in Ann Arbor on Saturday, they'll have put their inconsistencies behind them.

    Though two voters didn't include Michigan on their ballots, the Wolverines appeared as high as No. 14.

20. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Record: 19-6, 8-4 Big Ten

    Week: 1-0

    Previous Ranking: 22

    Voting Points: 108

    After losing three straight around the turn of the calendar, Wisconsin has won seven of its last eight games to remain in the Big Ten race. The Badgers sit just one game behind Ohio State and Michigan State, which they'll play on Thursday.

    Wisconsin ranked between No. 14 and No. 24.

19. Louisville Cardinals

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    Record: 20-5, 8-4 Big East

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 25

    Voting Points: 109

    Louisville will take its six-game winning streak into tonight's matchup with Syracuse.

    The Cardinals, who are back on track after their midseason slump, appeared as high as No. 11 and as low as No. 24.

18. Florida State Seminoles

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    Record: 17-7, 8-2 ACC

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Voting Points: 112

    Despite beating Miami, Florida State fell two spots because of its loss to Boston College. The Seminoles had won seven straight before losing to the Eagles, who are 8-17.

    Florida State is still immersed in a three-way tie atop the ACC, and Saturday's game at North Carolina State is very important for conference tournament seeding. The Wolfpack sits one game behind the Seminoles.

    Voters ranked Florida State between No. 13 and No. 23.

17. Saint Mary's Gaels

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    Record: 23-3, 12-1 WCC

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Voting Points: 114

    Gonzaga dealt Saint Mary's its first loss in a month-and-a-half this past week, causing the Gaels to drop a few spots in the poll. Rob Jones and company, however, bounced back immediately with a 82-67 win over Santa Clara.

    One voter didn't rank Saint Mary's while one had the Gaels at No. 13.

16. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Record: 19-6, 7-6 Big Ten

    Week: 1-0

    Previous Ranking: 21

    Voting Points: 123

    As a result of a win over Illinois and the setbacks of others, Indiana jumped five spots in the poll. 

    The Hoosiers, who have won three of four, ranked between No. 14 and No. 24.

15. San Diego State Aztecs

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    Record: 20-4, 6-2 MWC

    Week: 1-0

    Previous Ranking: 15

    Voting Points: 137

    San Diego State couldn't complete the season sweep of UNLV, losing by two to the Rebels on Saturday. The Aztecs held a one-point lead with less than one minute remaining, but, following three consecutive UNLV points, they couldn't force overtime on the game's final possession.

    SDSU's schedule won't get any easier this week, when they host New Mexico. The Lobos have won five straight and are tied with the Aztecs and Rebels atop the MWC.

    Voters ranked San Diego State as high as No. 10 and as low as No. 22.

14. Murray State Racers

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    Record: 24-1, 12-1 OVC

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Voting Points: 146

    Murray State finally lost—last Thursday to Tennessee State—but the Racers didn't allow their first loss to carry over. Austin Peay wasn't as lucky as the Tigers, falling as 19-point victims to the Racers on Saturday.

    Isaiah Canaan averaged 27 points last week, and Murray State ranked as high as No. 11 and as low as No. 25.

13. Florida Gators

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    Record: 19-6, 7-3 SEC

    Week: 0-2

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Voting Points: 180

    First, Florida lost by 20 at Kentucky. Then, the Gators fell to Tennessee for the second time this year. 

    It certainly wasn't a good week for Florida basketball, but Billy Donovan's squad still peaked at No. 5. One voter didn't rank the Gators.

12. Marquette Golden Eagles

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    Record: 21-5, 10-3 Big East

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Voting Points: 190

    Marquette ascended five spots after beating DePaul and Cincinnati by an average of 15 points. 

    The Golden Eagles, who have won nine of 10, ranked between No. 10 and No. 16.

11. UNLV Rebels

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    Record: 22-4, 6-2 MWC

    Week: 1-0

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Voting Points: 208

    UNLV avenged its January loss to San Diego State by beating the Aztecs four weeks later. In Saturday's exciting rematch, the Rebels blew a double-digit second-half lead, but held on for the win.

    The Rebels, who ranked as high as No. 9 and as low as No. 14, will visit TCU and New Mexico this week.

10. Georgetown Hoyas

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    Record: 19-5, 9-4 Big East

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Voting Points: 214

    After nearly stealing a win at the Carrier Dome, Georgetown disposed of St. John's for the second time this season. The Hoyas would have preferred a win at Syracuse, but at least they proved they can play with anyone in the conference.

    Georgetown ranked between No. 7 and No. 15.

9. Baylor Bears

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    Record: 21-4, 8-4 Big 12

    Week: 0-2

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Voting Points: 231

    Baylor had an opportunity to finish last week in first place, but losses to Kansas and Missouri relegated the Bears to third place and, in all likelihood, extinguished their chance of winning the conference's regular season title. 

    The Bears, who can rebound at home against Iowa State and Kansas State, came in as high as No. 7 and as low as No. 12.

T-7. Michigan State Spartans

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    Record: 20-5, 9-3 Big Ten

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Voting Points: 261

    Visiting teams rarely win at Ohio State, but Michigan State made itself an exception by beating the Buckeyes in Columbus. As a result, the Spartans are now tied for first place in the Big Ten.

    Tom Izzo's squad ranked between No. 5 and No. 10.

T-7. UNC Tar Heels

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    Record: 21-4, 8-2 ACC

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Voting Points: 261

    North Carolina fell victim to one of the best comebacks you'll see this year, as Duke erased the Tar Heels' late 10-point lead to win at the buzzer.

    Fortunately for UNC, Tyler Zeller, once again, put the team on his back and helped the Heels rebound with a win over Virginia.

    Voters ranked UNC as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 9.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Record: 21-4, 9-3 Big Ten

    Week: 1-1

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Voting Points: 284

    Ohio State mustered just 48 points against Michigan State and lost at home. A win over the Spartans would have separated the Buckeyes from the rest of the Big Ten, but now they're tied with MSU for first place.

    The Buckeyes ranked between No. 4 and No. 9.

5. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Record: 20-5, 10-2 Big 12

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Voting Points: 289

    Kansas used a 34-4 run—that's not a typo—to pull away from Baylor. In Waco, Texas.

    After dominating the Bears, the Jayhawks also easily disposed of Oklahoma State to remain tied with Missouri for first place in the Big 12. 

    Kansas ranked as high as No. 2 and as low as No. 7.

4. Duke Blue Devils

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    Record: 21-4, 8-2 ACC

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Voting Points: 299

    Duke trailed UNC by 10 with 2:35 remaining, but a 13-2 run capped by Austin Rivers' buzzer-beating three gave the Blue Devils an impressive win over the Tar Heels. Then, they soundly defeated Maryland to remain tied for first with UNC and Florida State.

    The Blue Devils ranked between No. 4 and No. 6.

3. Missouri Tigers

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    Record: 23-2, 10-2 Big 12

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Voting Points: 322

    Fortunately for Missouri, Stephen Pledger's celebration was unwarranted. The Tigers earned the win in Oklahoma and subsequently defeated Baylor for the second time this season. 

    This week, the Tigers, who were ranked No. 3 on every ballot, have an opportunity to avenge an earlier loss to Oklahoma State.

2. Syracuse Orange

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    Record: 25-1, 12-1 Big East

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Voting Points: 338

    Syracuse received two first place votes after beating Georgetown and dominating the final six minutes against UConn. 

    Tonight, the Orange look to extend their five-game winning streak by beating Louisville, which has won six straight.

    Syracuse ranked no lower than No. 2 on any ballots.

1. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Record: 25-1, 11-0 SEC

    Week: 2-0

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Voting Points: 348

    Kentucky all but clinched the SEC regular season crown this week, beating Florida and Vanderbilt. With five games left, the Wildcats lead the second-place Gators by three games in the loss column.

    Syracuse stole two first place votes, but both voters tabbed the Wildcats at No. 2.

Full Top 25

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    1. Kentucky, 348

    2. Syracuse, 338

    3. Missouri, 322

    4. Duke, 299

    5. Kansas, 289

    6. Ohio State, 284

    7. North Carolina, 261

    7. Michigan State, 261

    9. Baylor, 231

    10. Georgetown, 214

    11. UNLV, 208

    12. Marquette, 190

    13. Florida, 180

    14. Murray State, 146

    15. San Diego State, 137

    16. Indiana, 123

    17. Saint Mary's, 114

    18. Florida State, 112

    19. Louisville, 109

    20, Wisconsin, 108

    21. Michigan, 74

    22. Virginia, 65

    23. Mississippi State, 45

    24. Notre Dame, 40

    25. Wichita State, 21

    25. Creighton, 21

    Others receiving votes: Temple (17), Harvard (8), Vanderbilt (8), Southern Miss (7), Gonzaga (6), New Mexico (2), Iowa State (1)

Conference Breakdown

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    Big East: 5

    Big Ten: 5

    ACC: 4

    SEC: 3

    Big 12: 3

    MWC: 2

    MVC: 2

    OVC: 1

    WCC: 1