College Basketball Conference Power Rankings at Week 8

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2012

College Basketball Conference Power Rankings at Week 8

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    Raise your hand if you know what all these numbers have in common—three, seven, eight, 10 and 16.

    If you guessed the rankings in the AP Poll of the various college basketball teams that lost Saturday, then you are correct. There may not have been a headline-grabbing upset like Butler’s over Indiana from a week ago, but there was a lot of moving and shaking at the top of the hoops totem pole.

    So what did all those losses do to the conference power rankings? Well, they made it a bit more difficult on the author to come up with an order that he is comfortable with, but I digress.

    Read on to see how the conferences stack up against each other at Week 8.

No. 10: WCC

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    Let’s put this nicely: There was a lot more bad news than good news for the West Coast Conference this week.

    The bright spot was, as usual, Gonzaga. The Bulldogs beat up on lowly Campbell this week to the tune of 74-52. Not a bad way to go into the holiday break.

    Santa Clara also improved its record to 11-2 by knocking off a couple of cupcakes.

    Now for the bad news—Saint Mary’s was shocked by Northern Iowa, BYU was destroyed by Baylor, Pepperdine was stunned at Tulane, Portland fell to Colorado State, Loyola Marymont lost to Saint Louis, San Francisco fell to Holy Cross, Mississippi and San Diego State and San Diego was beaten by Oregon State and James Madison.

    Ouch.

    If any conference is having a blue Christmas after the past week, it is the WCC.

No. 9: Missouri Valley

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    There were a handful of notable games this week in the Missouri Valley Conference, and none of them involved league front-runner Creighton (the Bluejays did beat Tulsa).

    Wichita State bounced back from its first loss with two cupcake victories, Illinois State knocked off Dayton from the Atlantic 10 in Dayton and Northern Iowa shocked Saint Mary’s from the West Coast Conference.

    There were a handful of losses for the MVC as well, but the big ones came by very close margins. Evansville lost by only eight to Butler, and Indiana State hung tough with San Diego State before ultimately falling by seven.

    Bradley lost both of its games this week, but they were by a combined three points to the likes of Virginia Tech and Portland.

    The Missouri Valley holds steady at No. 9 this week after a number of impressive performances from its members.

No. 8: Atlantic 10

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    To get an idea of how mixed up the Atlantic 10 was this week just look at Temple. The Owls started the week with a shocking double-digit point home loss to Canisius before going to Syracuse and stunning the No. 3 team in the nation.

    Dayton also had an up-and-down week, as the Flyers lost at home to a good Illinois State team but also defeated Isaiah Canaan and Murray State.

    Some other positives for the A-10 came in the form of Butler continuing to win and Massachusetts surprising the Ohio Bobcats. Charlotte almost pulled off an upset over Florida State, but with losses to the Seminoles and Miami, the 49ers may want to avoid teams from Florida for a while.

    The bad results of the mixed week were as follows—Richmond got crushed by Kansas and lost to George Mason, Xavier fell to rival Cincinnati and then was stunned by Wofford, Saint Joseph’s somehow lost to Fairfield and St. Bonaventure was destroyed by NC State.

No. 7: SEC

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    It was just another week of SEC ineptitude on the hardwood since the last time these rankings came out.

    First of all conference favorite Florida lost to Kansas State, marking the team’s second loss in three games. However, compared to some of the other SEC losses this week the Gators’ defeat seems trivial.

    Mississippi fell to Indiana State without Larry Bird, Texas A&M lost to Southern, LSU dropped a game to Marquette, Alabama was shocked by Mercer, Vanderbilt went to Middle Tennessee for some reason and lost and Auburn was beaten by Winthrop.

    In other words, SEC basketball as usual.

    The good news for the conference was Missouri’s victory over previously undefeated Illinois (imagine where this league would be without the newcomer) and the fact that Kentucky hasn’t been playing anyone of merit the past few weeks so it keeps winning.

No. 6: Pac-12

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    The one thing the Pac-12 had going for it in this column was the emergence of Oregon. The Ducks were preventing me from labeling this league a one-trick pony (Arizona) and looked primed to enter the Top 25 next week.

    And then they took a trip to Texas El-Paso. UTEP knocked off the Ducks in triple overtime this week, ending the charade that was the possibility of two Pac-12 teams entering the rankings.

    Utah also lost to Cal State Northridge, and USC fell to Georgia and UC Irvine.

    The rest of the league feasted on cupcakes this week, which doesn’t earn many points in my book. However, Arizona appears to be one of the best teams in the country, especially after a week that saw so many upsets at the top of the rankings.

    The Pac-12 would be wise to just hitch its wagon to the Wildcats and go along for the ride.

No. 5: Mountain West

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    Unfortunately for the Mountain West there was only one notable result from the league this week, and that was New Mexico’s first loss of the season.

    Had the Lobos waited a game and lost to Cincinnati it wouldn’t have turned as many heads, but they fell to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. SDSU isn’t a bad squad, but New Mexico should not have dropped that game.

    The good news for the league is Wyoming is still undefeated, UNLV and San Diego State are both rolling, Colorado State eviscerated Virginia Tech and there is only one team in the entire conference that has a losing record (Fresno State, who hung tough with UCLA this weekend).

    I moved the Mountain West down a spot this week, but that was more about the Big 12’s successful weekend than anything else.

No. 4: Big 12

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    The Big 12 may not be the fourth best conference in the country, but it had a great week and deserves to be at least temporarily rewarded in these power rankings.

    The headline-grabbing victories came from the state of Kansas. The Jayhawks went into Columbus and beat No. 7 Ohio State by controlling the last 10 minutes of the game, and the Kansas State Wildcats upset No. 8 Florida at home.

    Other notable victories for the Big 12 came from Baylor (over BYU by 15 points) and Texas (the Longhorns destroyed a middling North Carolina team). Texas also lost to Michigan State on the road, but the Longhorns fought hard for 40 minutes and almost pulled it out (can Texas have a moral victory?).

    There were some alarming losses mixed in with the big wins, including Oklahoma falling to Stephen F. Austin and Texas Tech getting crushed by Arizona State, but it was still a banner week for the Big 12.

No. 3: ACC

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    It’s probably not fair to hold North Carolina’s failure to live up to its own lofty standards against the ACC as a whole, but when a blue-blood program struggles people tend to take notice.

    The Tar Heels dropped another game this week against a Texas team that frankly isn’t very good itself and is playing without arguably its best player.

    Outside of UNC, it wasn’t the best week in the ACC. Clemson fell to Coastal Carolina, Virginia Tech was absolutely embarrassed by Colorado State by 36 points, Virginia lost to Old Dominion and Miami lost a chance to impress by losing to Arizona by 19.

    Duke is still the best team in the country (at least according to the polls), and Maryland and North Carolina State are both playing consistent and impressive basketball after early losses.

    I don’t think there is enough depth in the ACC as a whole to move it higher than three, but that can change if the Tar Heels start playing like their in-state brethren.

No. 2: Big East

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    In terms of win-loss records at the top, no conference can match the Big East.

    Cincinnati is 12-0 and beat rival Xavier this week, Notre Dame is 12-1, Pittsburgh is 12-1, Louisville is 11-1, Georgetown is 10-1, Syracuse is 10-1 but lost to Temple this week and even Seton Hall is 10-2.

    Most of those victories have come against easy opponents, but that is no different than any other league. What’s more, Connecticut, Rutgers, DePaul, Marquette and Providence are all 8-3 or better.

    However, Providence’s loss to Boston College and Marquette falling to Green Bay this week proved that neither team is truly a threat on the national stage at this point. St. John’s losing to UNC-Asheville wasn’t pretty either.

    Conference play should be very interesting in the Big East because I expect a handful of teams to rise above the rest.

No. 1: Big Ten

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    I still think the Big Ten is the best conference, but this was not a banner week for the conference.

    Ohio State fell at home to Kansas (meaning the Buckeyes have now lost to both ranked teams they have played so far), Illinois lost its undefeated record to rival Missouri and Northwestern, who can pretty much kiss its NCAA tournament hopes goodbye thanks to Drew Crawford’s injury, lost to Stanford.

    The good news for the Big Ten includes the fact that Michigan is still undefeated and looks like a serious Final Four contender, Minnesota continues to impress and Indiana bounced back from its first loss with a couple of delicious cupcakes.

    The best win for the conference this week came from Michigan State against Texas in East Lansing. The Spartans trailed early but were able to control much of the second half and come away with an 11 point victory.

    With the Hoosiers, Wolverines, Buckeyes, Spartans, Illini and Gophers in the Top 25 (half of the league’s 12 teams), the Big Ten is still the best conference, but it wasn’t a great week.