College Basketball: B/R Top 25—Explaining My Picks

Andrew KaufmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 20, 2009

Each week, Jameson Fleming publishes a weekly college basketball top 25, featuring a variety of voters from throughout the Bleacher Report community.

But great minds do not always think alike, and I have a tendency to disagree with the general consensus. Below, I explain my picks, particularly those which could be considered a bit controversial. My actual top 25 can be found in the comments section.

UConn needs to show me something

Sure, the Huskies have only had one slipup all year—a tough loss to Georgetown to open Big East play. And sure, the Huskies’ early-season performance might have been second-best in the country, behind North Carolina.

But you know what? Connecticut has yet to really accomplish anything in Big East play, despite assembling a 5-1 conference record. The Huskies’ best victory in league play came against West Virginia; Pittsburgh’s road victory over Georgetown was much more impressive.

Louisville and Georgetown have already shown me plenty

Speaking of big conference wins, these two Big East teams’ résumés speak for themselves. Louisville has been extremely hot of late, beating three straight top-25 opponents, including a victory over then-No. 1 Pittsburgh.

Georgetown’s low ranking speaks to people’s obsession with losses. Yes, the Hoyas have four losses. But two of those losses came to top-five opposition (Pittsburgh and Duke), and Georgetown has already beaten UConn and Syracuse.

Thus, the Hoyas join Louisville in the top 10 ahead of conference foes Syracuse and Marquette, who do not have the same level of quality wins.

Texas remains unimpressive

That “low” ranking of No. 19 next to Texas’ name? That was me.

Last week, I pointed out that Texas hadn’t registered a big-time win since beating UCLA and Villanova in early December. They still haven’t, and in a year where there aren’t too many heavyweights in the Big 12 the Longhorns needed to put up a better showing against Oklahoma. A 15-point loss doesn’t cut it.
UCLA isn’t that good, but is better than Arizona State

While UCLA was ranked ahead of Arizona St. in this week’s poll, I figured I would discuss my decision to rank the Bruins a full six spots ahead of the Sun Devils (especially since, had I not voted, Arizona St. actually would be ahead of UCLA in the Bleacher Report poll).

I was wrong about UCLA. They haven’t really beaten anybody, and they lost the benefit of the doubt by blowing this game against the Sun Devils. Thus I dropped them a full eight spots in my rankings, from No. 6 to No. 14.

But Arizona State isn’t very good either. Two days before beating the Bruins, the Sun Devils couldn’t break the 50-point barrier in a loss to USC.

Plus, head-to-head performance isn’t the only factor that should be considered when evaluating teams. Otherwise, Georgetown should certainly be ahead of Syracuse after beating the Orange by 14 points this week (Arizona St. beat UCLA by three, in overtime) So, Sun Devils, enjoy that No. 20 ranking.

Thanks for stopping by, Minnesota

I think the Golden Gophers’ résumé is somewhat misleading, as their victory over Louisville came when the Cardinals weren’t playing very good basketball. When Minnesota faced the cream of the Big Ten, Michigan State, they lost by 12 points at home.

Throw in a defeat at the hands of Northwestern, a team that was previously winless in conference play, and the Golden Gophers find themselves on the outside looking in.