1. North Carolina - A 98-63 victory over Michigan State eliminated any doubt in my mind that UNC is the best team in the country. Their other quality wins (or should I say blowouts) are 102-87 over Notre Dame and 77-58 over Kentucky. They are averaging 97 points per game while letting up just 66.6. They have five players averaging double-digit points; including reigning Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough averaging 22 with 6.8 rebounds per game.
2. Connecticut- The undefeated Huskies take the second spot in the power rankings. Their two big wins have come over Miami (FL) 76-63 and Wisconsin 76-57.Hasheem Thabeet has been a monster, averaging 13.6 points per game, 11.7 rebounds per game, and an unreal 4.1 blocks per game. He had seven blocks against Miami.
3. Pittsburgh- The second Big East team to make the list, the undefeated Panthers have yet to play legitimate competition. Their closest game so far is 14 points. Pitt has been led by their big three: Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, and Levance Fields. Blair is averaging 15.1 points per game and 13 rebounds per game.
4. Gonzaga- The pride of the West Coast Conference is off to a hot start, with wins against Oklahoma State, Maryland, and Tennessee. They have five players averaging double-digit points; with Jeremy Pargo averaging 9.6 points per game and seven assists per game. Upcoming games against UConn and a rematch against Tennessee will test this Bulldogs squad. Interesting trend—Amount of points scored in each of the Bulldogs' games: 83, 80, 83, 81, 83. They are scheduled to score 82 and 83 in their next two games.
5. Duke- After an early scare against Rhode Island, the Blue Devils appear to be back on track. This includes a 16 point victory over a talented Purdue team. Duke is led by forward Kyle Singler, who is averaging 17.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. They have two challenges left on their non-conference schedule: Xavier and Davidson.
6. Oklahoma - Blake Griffin has put the Sooners on his back and has carried them to an undefeated start. Griffin is averaging 25.7 points per game and 19.2 rebounds per game. Oklahoma's big wins have come against Davidson and an overtime victory over Purdue. Freshman Willie Warren and the rest of the guards will need to step up if this team wants to be considered a contender in March.
7. Notre Dame- The Fighting Irish are off to a good start behind the leadership of Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney. Harangody is averaging a double-double, 22.6 points and 11.2 rebounds, while McAlarney is averaging 20.7 points per game. Their two biggest games of the year resulted in a one point win over Texas and a loss to UNC. Notre Dame has proved that it has the ability to be one of the best in a stacked Big East this year.
8. Texas - The Longhorns' only loss so far this season was a one-point loss to Notre Dame, so it's only fitting they come directly after the Fighting Irish in the power rankings. Besides the Notre Dame game, Texas has not faced any formidable competition. They handily beat Saint Joseph's and Oregon. Upcoming games against UCLA and Villanova will tell more about this team. A.J. Abrams has led the Longhorns so far, averaging 15.8 points per game.
9. Tennessee- The Volunteers are 6-1 with their only loss coming from the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They beat Georgetown 90-78 and Siena 78-64. The tests left on the non-conference schedule are Marquette and a rematch against Gonzaga. Tyler Smith leads the team with 17.4 points per game.
10. Xavier- The Atlantic 10's Xavier Musketeers finish off the Power 10. Their big wins came with an overtime victory over Virginia Tech and a win against Memphis in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship. They still have a tough matchup against Duke on December 20. They are being led by B.J. Raymond and Derrick Brown, who are averaging 13.7 and 12.6 points per game respectively.
Just missed (listed alphabetically): Louisville, Michigan State, Purdue, Syracuse, UCLA, Villanova
Mid-major to watch: Dayton - The undefeated Flyers are off to a 7-0 start, including a 14 point win over Marquette. Dayton beat Marquette at their own game, out-running their opponent. The Flyers do not have a star player but use their depth to win games, as evidenced by them going 12 players deep against Marquette. Look out for Dayton in March because this team can run with the best of them.
Player to watch: Ryan Wittman, Cornell- Even though the defending Ivy champions are off to a 4-4 start, junior forward Ryan Wittman has been lighting it up. He is averaging 22.5 points per game, including 33 against Syracuse. Wittman was the main reason the Big Red hung around with a more talented Orange team. When Wittman is hot from three-point land, the Big Red will have chances to win games this season.
Team not to watch: Delaware State- The Hornets scored 42 points in four consecutive games in the middle of their current nine-game losing skid. They are only averaging 54.5 points per game overall, and they have losses to Oakland and Longwood.
The Hornets do have one of the hardest non-conference schedules in the country though. They play Dayton, Ohio State, Kentucky, West Virginia, UConn, Maryland, Rutgers, Notre Dame, and Lehigh. Did the president of the university ask the basketball team to help raise money for the school by playing buy-a-win games? Or did the coach overestimate the Hornets' ability? Either way, it's a bad story for Delaware State.
Game of the Week - Longwood Lancers 79, James Madison Dukes 76 (12/3)
The Lancers rallied from as much as a 13-point deficit to beat the Dukes. James Madison's nailed three free throws with six seconds remaining to bring the score to 78-76. Kevin Swecker of Longwood hit one free throw at the other end to extend the Lancers' lead to three points. However Julius Wells' three-point attempt as time expired clanked giving Longwood the victory. Ryan Bogan of Longwood led all scorers with 24 points.