Kansas Jayhawks Top the Rankings, Purdue Boilermakers Gaining Ground

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer INovember 17, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 27:  Cole Aldrich #45 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks against the Michigan State Spartans during the third round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Lucas Oil Stadium on March 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kansas entered the season as the top team in the country, and one week into the season, the Jayhawks didn't disappoint. Bill Self's team dominated its opening game against a tough Hofstra team.

Kansas could have company atop the rankings as several extremely talented teams trail the Jayhawks. Michigan State, Texas, and Purdue all rolled in their openers as all three teams did what elite teams do: don't even give inferior opponents hope.

The Boilermakers jump up a few spot in the rankings after the opening because of the play of several highly touted teams. Kentucky looked pretty good against Morehead State without stud freshman John Wall, but with Wall in the lineup, Miami (OH) put on a three-point shooting clinic against a porous Wildcats' defense.

North Carolina did not look outstanding against Florida International or Valparaiso in uninspiring wins against those two squads. It's still very early in the season, but Carolina does not look like an elite team...yet. Roy Williams has a roster loaded with outstanding young talent, but the Tar Heels aren't coming out of the gate as a dominant top 10 team.

There's a great chance UNC will move back into top five or 10 by the end of season, but for now, the Heels don't deserve to be there. We'll get an early look at the strength of this team this week when UNC plays Ohio State in New York City and then either California or Syracuse.

A few other teams took understandable tumbles. Minnesota can easily be a top 15 team when at full strength. Without Devron Bostick and stud freshman Royce White, Minnesota is still a top 25 team, but not top 15. Connecticut also fell down a few spots for similar reasons as North Carolina.

The Huskies have the potential to be very good, but right now Jim Calhoun's team is playing a very mediocre brand of basketball. Kemba Walker hasn't shown his All-American potential yet and Stanley Robinson hasn't quite emerged as a go-to scorer. Connecticut will get much better when Ater Majok becomes eligible Dec. 20th.

My rankings will be a part of the Bleacher Report Top 25. If you have contributed to the college basketball community and are interested in voting in the Bleacher Report Top 25, email me at jamesonfleming@gmail.com to receive a ballot. The site's Top 25 rankings will be posted Tuesday.

1. Kansas 1-0

The Jayhawks have not given any voters any reasons to drop them from the top spot. A rematch of the 2008 title game is on deck for Bill Self's team this week. 

2. Texas 1-0

The Longhorns are as deep as anyone, and are one of the longest teams in America. UC-Irvine stood no chance against Rick Barnes' defense.

3. Michigan State 1-0

The Spartans dominated Florida Gulf Coast as expected. Freshman Derrick Nix was outstanding in his debut hauling in a Spartans' freshman debut record 14 rebounds.

4. Purdue 1-0

The Boilermakers held a 28-3 to lead  about five minutes in against a NCAA-Tournament team from last year (Cal-State Northridge). Yeah, that's pretty darn good. Purdue's balanced roster will give teams fits because the Boilermakers excel on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

5. Kentucky 2-0

The Wildcats drew some criticism from me above, but the teams that trail Kentucky in the standings have their own question marks. John Wall wasn't spectacular in his debut, but he showed the moxy to step up and take the last shot, a shot he nailed at the buzzer.

6. West Virginia 1-0

The Mountaineers can win the Big East, but they need Devin Ebanks to do it. He's got "personal problems" and sat out the opener. If he's not back this week for WVU's trip to Anaheim, the Mountaineers might lose two games out west.

7. Tennessee 1-0

The Volunteers have the experience and the talent to take down Kentucky in the SEC East. Bruce Pearl's team flexed its muscles in its opener against Austin Peay. The Volunteers blew out the Governors who were coming off a win against the MAC favorite, Akron.

8. Villanova 2-0

The Wildcats' frontcourt isn't going to thrill anyone, but that's not much different from most of Jay Wright's best teams. But with his previous great teams, there was usually one dominant post player. Unless Mouphtaou Yarou develops quickly, 'Nova could be without that imposing big man.

9. Duke 2-0

The Blue Devils lack depth in the backcourt, but this team is still extremely talented. The young members of the frontcourt have looked strong against undersized opponents thus far.

10. Michigan 1-0

The Wolverines should settle into John Beilein's system this season as Manny Harris looked like a scorer, but also a distributor in Michigan's opener against North Michigan. Harris recorded his first career triple-double in the win.

11. Ohio State 2-0

The Buckeyes make a big jump in the rankings after their dominating wins to open the season. Ohio State's perimeter based attack is going to be very difficult to defend, especially if Evan Turner keeps operating as efficiently at the point. The 6'7'' point guard posted a triple-double in OSU's opener and then followed it up with 17 rebounds in his second game.

12. Washington 3-0

The Huskies got progressively better as the weekend rolled on. They played three games in the three days and finished off that streak with a ridiculous 111-55 win against a pretty solid Big Sky opponent.

13. Syracuse 2-0

Like the Buckeyes, the Orange also make a nice jump in the rankings because of two dominating wins to open the season. Syracuse's defense suffocated Albany and Robert Morris, and Jim Boeheim might have his best defensive team since his Orange won the national title in 2003. California's deadly long range shooting should provide the nation with an accurate barometer on how good the 'Cuse defense will be this year.

14. North Carolina 3-0

The Tar Heels can show they do belong in the top 10 with at least one victory in New York City this weekend.

15. California 2-0

It's going to be a great two days in NYC with my 11th, 13th, 14th, and 15th ranked teams squaring off. California may deserve to be ranked a little lower because of its poor performance against Murray State, but Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, and Theo Robertson are hard to overlook.

16. Butler 1-0

The Bulldogs didn't look very good at all against Davidson. The defense was shaky and the offense stalled at times. Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward have to consistently perform for Butler to be a top 15 team.

17. Georgia Tech 1-0

Much of the Yellow Jackets' success will hinge on their freshmen. Derrick Favors had a respectable first game with 10 points and eight boards in 24 minutes.

18. Georgetown 1-0

The Hoyas went on the road and beat an OK Tulane team pretty easily. Georgetown can be scary good if the Austin Freeman-Greg Monroe-Chris Wright trio is good enough to overcome its lack of depth.

19. Dayton 1-0

The Flyers showed they can really score against Creighton. Last year, Dayton at times was anemic with the rock, but with Chris Wright running the show that should change this season.

20. Connecticut 2-0

As mentioned above, Connecticut can rise into the top 15 by the end of the season. For now, the Huskies haven't looked great against William & Mary and Colgate to open the season.

21. Minnesota 2-0

The Golden Gophers haven't missed a beat without Devron Bostick and Royce White. If they aren't back Tubby Smith's team will eventually get exposed without those two.

22. Cincinnati 1-0

Lance Stephenson's debut was a dud (2-of-10 shooting) and the Bearcats really struggled against Prairie View A&M. Cincy's shots didn't fall, but they eventually will. When they do, the Bearcats will be a tough matchup.

23. Vanderbilt 1-0

The Commodores are one of the most overlooked teams in the country and will contend for the SEC title. AJ Ogilvy had 13 points and nine rebounds in just 19 minutes in their opener.

24. Siena 1-0

The Saints weren't fantastic in their opener, but this team returns much of its core from a round of 32 team last year. Siena is better than last year, and the Saints will show it against a tough schedule.

25. Cornell 1-0

The Big Red get a vote because when the runaway projected winner of the Ivy League beats an SEC team on the road they deserve some recognition. So Cornell gets a top 25 vote out of respect for what Steve Donahue has done with his this program.

For more updates on college basketball, follow Jameson on Twitter.


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