College Basketball Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 6 Poll

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterDecember 16, 2013

College Basketball Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 6 Poll

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    Arizona is the consensus No. 1 in the power rankings.
    Arizona is the consensus No. 1 in the power rankings.Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Until this week, there has been one man to yell at when your team did not receive the respect it deserved. Me. 

    Well, guess what? It's time to share the blame!

    The power rankings have gone all democratic with Bleacher Report newcomer Jason King and bracketology expert Kerry Miller joining as voters.

    King and I will trade off on writing the weekly series, which means every other week you might get a break from weird numbers and decimal points.  

    As for this week, get ready to do some more math. 

    Teams to Watch: San Diego State, Saint Mary's

    Dropped Out of Power Rankings: New Mexico

     

    All advanced stats, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of KenPom.com (subscription required).

25. Pittsburgh

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Previous Power Ranking: 18

    Record: 10-0

    Lamar Patterson continues to play as well as just about any wing in the country. Patterson has scored in double figures and had at least four assists in eight of 10 games. He got the assists in the one game he didn't get the points, and he got the points the one time he didn't get the four assists. 

    The Panthers also continue to take care of business, winning nine of their 10 games by double figures with the one exceptiona nine-point win over Penn State. 

24. Iowa

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    Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 25

    Record: 10-2

    What will ultimately be forgotten about Iowa's three-point loss at Iowa State on Friday is the performance of Aaron White. 

    White scored 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds in a game that his team led most of the way. White is playing at an extremely high level on the offensive end this year, making 70.9 percent of his twos.

    It's hard to criticize Fran McCaffery's offense, because the Hawkeyes are averaging 88.9 points per game, but White is making a case for more touches. He takes a shot on only 18.9 percent of his team's possessions. Six other Hawkeyes shoot more often than that. 

23. Missouri

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    Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: Not ranked

    Record: 10-0

    Frank Haith's team is 10-0 for the second time in his three years in Columbia. Before he arrived, the Tigers hadn't opened the year 10-0 since 1991-92.

    Soon the comparisons will come up with this team and Haith's first at Mizzou, and the major difference between the two is size. Missouri's starting lineup this year has no one over 6'5", led by dynamic point guard Jordan Clarkson, and two years ago Haith started four guards, including three who were 6'2" or shorter. 

    That group was incredible offensively, but this team has a chance to be much better on the defensive end because of all that size. If Haith has anything left to prove, it's that he can coach a great defense, and this would be the group to get it done for him. 

22. Gonzaga

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    William Mancebo/Getty Images

    Previous Power Ranking: 20

    Record: 10-1

    Gonzaga is in the middle of a shooting slump, especially for its standards. The Zags have made just 13 of their past 44 three-point attempts (29.5 percent) after starting the year 85-of-167 (50.9 percent). 

    The good news is that the Zags have kept right on winning, and it's because, like last year, they're not one-dimensional offensively. They have Sam Dower inside, and the senior big man has been a reliable scoring source from the blocks. Dower is scoring 1.33 points per possession on post-ups, per Synergy. That makes him the third-most efficient scorer on post-ups for players who have used at least 20 post-up opportunities. 

21. Kentucky

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Previous Power Ranking: 13

    Record: 8-3

    John Calipari has a lot to be frustrated about right now, but the most frustrating thing for him has to be what he can usually count on: his team playing with great defensive effort. 

    It's just not there right now, and there's an efficiency number that shows it. In all three of UK's losses, those three teams have scored better than 1.1 points per possession. 

    Two years ago, that happened only three times in 40 games. Last year, it happened only four times in the first 23 games (before Nerlens Noel got hurt). Then it happened six times in the final 10 games. 

    Yes, these 'Cats are still extremely talented, but they're defending more like an NIT UK team than a championship one. They better get that fixed if they want to eventually live up to all that preseason hype.

20. UMass

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 23

    Record: 9-0

    One big difference in the Minutemen this year compared to Derek Kellogg's teams in the past is that this team is shooting better from distance (38.4 percent). 

    A big reason for that could be that this team is more choosy than Kellogg's teams in the past that haven't really hesitated to chuck it. UMass is attempting only 15.3 threes per game, compared to 21.2 per game last year. 

19. Colorado

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 24

    Record: 10-1

    One reason Tad Boyle might have his best team yet is that this team is dominant on the defensive glass. Colorado is the best defensive rebounding team in the country, according to KenPom.com, grabbing 77.9 percent of its opponents' misses. 

    That's an impressive feat considering the Buffs lost Andre Robertson to the NBA. Robertson ranked eighth last season in defensive rebounding percentage. The Buffs are getting it done this year without one dominant rebounder too. They don't have one player who ranks in the top 100 of defensive rebounding percentage. 

18. Kansas

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 14

    Record: 7-3

    Point guard play has been extremely important (and inconsistent) the past two seasons for Kansas. The Jayhawks looked much better offensively on Saturday in their 80-63 win over New Mexico, and a big reason why was Naadir Tharpe's nine assists. 

    When Tharpe or freshman Frank Mason have had six assists or more this year, the Jayhawks are 3-0 and averaging 84.7 points per game. Last season, when either Tharpe or Elijah Johnson had at least six assists, the Jayhawks went 12-2 and averaged 84.4 points per game. 

    In one of those losses (Michigan in the tournament), the other point guard (Johnson) had zero assists and five turnovers, and in the other loss (Oklahoma State), Johnson did have six assists but he also had four turnovers. 

    If Tharpe or Mason can set up their teammates and keep their turnovers low, the Jayhawks will look as fluid as they did against New Mexico. But if the point guards struggle, the offense likely will follow suit.

17. Oregon

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    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 17

    Record: 9-0

    A year ago, Dana Altman won with a dominant defense. This season, Oregon is off to a great start thanks to a dominant offense built around a bunch of transfers. 

    What has made the Ducks so good is their ability to get out in transition and capitalize. Oregon is averaging 22.9 transition points per game and scoring 1.329 points per possession in transition, per Synergy. That transition efficiency ranks second to only Notre Dame. 

16. Memphis

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    Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 16

    Record: 7-1

    Josh Pastner's team will get another chance to prove himself on a national stage on Tuesday against Florida at Madison Square Garden. 

    Pastner got his first win against a ranked opponent a few weeks ago against Oklahoma State. A win on Tuesday would be his first win against a coach who has won a national title in the past two decades. (He did beat SMU and Larry Brown last season.) He's lost his other seven battles with champion coaches. 

15. Florida

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 22

    Record: 7-2

    In the first game with both its point guards (Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill) available, Florida had only seven turnovers against Kansas last Tuesday. 

    Hill, a freshman, has only four turnovers in 127 minutes. The Gators are going to force a lot of turnovers because of their length and speed—KU had 23 giveaways. 

    Considering how talented the Gators will be once they're at full strength, which will finally happen soon with Chris Walker now on the team, it's going to be tough to beat them when they should consistently get so many extra possessions. 

14. North Carolina

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 19

    Record: 7-2

    North Carolina has beat Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky by making seven threes total in those three games. Those not named Marcus Paige have now made four threes all season for the Tar Heels. 

    The Tar Heels beat Kentucky on Saturday even though they missed 19 free throws. They held Julius Randle to 11 points and five rebounds, both season lows.

    With P.J. Hairston still out, Roy Williams is forced to start a freshman point guard, and that freshman had one assist and one turnover before fouling out against Kentucky.

    Should we go ahead and give Williams Coach of the Year now or wait until the end of the season?  

13. Duke

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Previous Power Ranking: 15

    Record: 7-2

    The Blue Devils play for the first time in 13 days on Monday against Gardner-Webb. They also travel to Madison Square Garden on Thursday to play UCLA. 

    The UCLA game will be a test for Duke's defense. The Bruins are the most efficient offense in the country, scoring 1.25 points per possession. Duke ranks eighth. In other words, tune in. 

12. Villanova

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    John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 11

    Record: 10-0

    Villanova's defense continued its dominance on Sunday in a 21-point win over La Salle. The Wildcats held the Explorers to 18 points in the second half and forced more turnovers (11) than made field goals (six). 

    It's actually the sixth time this season a Villanova opponent has had more turnovers than baskets in a half. The Wildcats even pulled it off in the first half against Kansas.

11. Iowa State

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    Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 10

    Record: 8-0

    I witnessed Hilton Magic on Friday night, and Iowa guard Mike Gesell was the victim. Gesell, an 80 percent free-throw shooter going in, missed two free throws with his team trailing by one with 12 seconds left. 

    Gesell had never missed two free throws in one trip to the line in his career, and he'd never missed more than two free throws in a game before—he missed three on Friday. 

    The Cyclones have lost only one game in the past two seasons at Hilton, and it took 39 points from Elijah Johnson, a fortunate no call and overtime for Kansas to pull that off. 

10. Baylor

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 12

    Record: 8-1

    Baylor didn't play this past week, so let's take a moment to go back to appreciate Baylor's work on the boards in the Kentucky win. 

    The Bears got back 18 of their 33 misses that night. Their offensive rebounding percentage (54.5) was the second-highest mark against Kentucky since Calipari took over in Lexington. Baylor ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage (43.2 percent) in the country.

9. Connecticut

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 7

    Record: 9-0

    The Huskies didn't play this past week and have 12 days between games. 

    That break and Connecticut's upcoming schedule could make Kevin Ollie's team the favorite to stay undefeated the longest. The Huskies don't play a ranked opponent again until a Jan. 16 trip to Memphis, their 17th game of the season. 

8. Wichita State

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 8

    Record: 10-0

    Wichita State has trailed at some point in the second half in six games this year and been tied on multiple occasions with a seventh opponent. 

    In those seven games, the Shockers have won by an average of 13.4 points, and their closest margin of victory has been five points (at Saint Louis).

    Is this because of Gregg Marshall's adjustments? Or Wichita State's defense getting stops when the game gets tight? Both probably play a factor, but I believe it speaks to the mental toughness of the Shockers. They don't panic. They don't get nervous in close games. They lock in, and they play their best basketball. 

7. Wisconsin

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 9

    Record: 12-0

    I was watching Iowa warm up on Saturday in Ames and made the comment to someone that Iowa was one of those teams that opponents have to underestimate when they watch them warm up. That someone then made an astute comparison: "Kind of like Wisconsin." 

    But what followed wasn't so astute: "At least Iowa can score." 

    Please, take the time to watch the Badgers this year. Yes, last year they did struggle to score at times, but Bo Ryan's offense is back to its efficient self. In the past three games, the Badgers are scoring 1.24 points per possession and put up 86 points in 62 possessions on Saturday against Eastern Michigan. 

    Sure, they take their time—only five teams out of 351 have longer possessions—but they're also really good at putting the ball in they basket once they find the shot they like.  

6. Michigan State

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    Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 4

    Record: 8-1

    Michigan State survived against Oakland on Saturday, winning by four points after trailing by eight early on. 

    Wait, what!? 

    No offense to the guys from Oakland, but this is a team that lost by 31 to UCLA, by 23 to North Carolina, by 17 to Indiana and by 15 to Gonzaga. 

    The Spartans should have rolled. Sure, they were without Gary Harris, but that should not matter against Oakland. Sparty is in a funk, and that Kentucky win at the Champions Classic isn't looking as good as it once did. 

5. Ohio State

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 3

    Record: 10-0

    Hey LaQuinton Ross, welcome to the 2013-14 season. 

    It took Ross a few games to join his Buckeye friends, but he appears to be back to playing like the NBA prospect who ended last season as one of the best weapons off the bench in the country.

    Then Ross opened the season acting like Aaron Craft was guarding him. He averaged 5.2 points in Ohio State's first five games, including a three-game stretch where he scored only seven points. Ross is scoring again—17.4 points per game over the past five games—and that's good news for the Buckeyes, who don't really have anyone else who can play the go-to scorer role.  

4. Oklahoma State

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Previous Power Ranking: 5

    Record: 9-1

    Since the Memphis loss, Oklahoma State has got back to playing dominant defense. Both South Carolina and Louisiana Tech had their worst offensive games of the season against the Pokes.

    The difference since that Memphis game has been that Marcus Smart and his buddies have increased the defensive pressure. They forced 40 giveaways against the Gamecocks and Bulldogs, and they had forced only 28 turnovers in their previous three games.

3. Syracuse

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

    Previous Power Ranking: 6

    Record: 10-0

    Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is playing at such a high level offensively right now that it might be time to at least consider the possibility that he's the equal or maybe even better than Michael Carter-Williams on the offensive end.

    In the past six games, Ennis has 35 assists against just five turnovers and has averaged 15.3 points. He also has scored more than 20 points twice. Carter-Williams topped 20 points only once in 40 games last year. 

2. Louisville

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    Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 2

    Record: 9-1

    Louisville has continued to look better with freshman Mangok Mathiang in the middle doing his best Gorgui Dieng impression. Mathiang moved into the starting lineup after the North Carolina loss and has started the past four games. 

    Like Dieng, Mathiang is great at blocking shots without fouling, which is quite the feat considering the rule changes. Dieng had a block rate of 9.4 percent and committed 3.3 fouls per 40 minutes, and Mathiang's block rate is 8.2 percent and he's fouling 3.6 times per 40 minutes. 

    It's still early and Louisville hasn't had a difficult game with Mathiang, but it appears he'll stick as a starter. The Cardinals are plus-75 with Mathiang on the floor since Rick Pitino made him a starter. 

1. Arizona

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Power Ranking: 1

    Record: 11-0

    Arizona is proving itself to be a really complete team, and each week there's someone else who deserves the praise. Nick Johnson started off the season really hot and has cooled as of late, but the Arizona offense has not slowed down because of the emergence of Brandon Ashley.

    The sophomore big man just had the best five-game stretch of his career thus far, averaging 15.4 points including a team-high 18 points on Saturday in the two-point win at Michigan.

    Ashley has been a great weapon in Sean Miller's offense because he can score so many different ways. And his progression is pretty impressive when you compare how he performed in similar situations last season.

    Check out these numbers, via Synergy

    On post-ups, Ashley is scoring 1.143 points per possession compared to 0.733 last year. In pick-and-rolls, he's scoring 1.526 points per possession compared to 0.556 last year. And in isolation, Ashley is scoring 1.333 points per possession compared to 0.526 last year.

     

    C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @cjmoore4.