Breaking Down College Basketball's Top 25

Daniel EvansCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2008

I run my own personal website and this is one article from it. I thought I'd put it here on the Bleacher Report and see what all you guys think!

North Carolina is far and away the nation's best team, but after that the argument starts. At this point the top teams are pretty clear, but after that the field starts to get blurry.

I honestly can tell you that there is not a lot of difference between my No. 18 team and the "on the cusp" teams at the bottom.

I considered extending this to 30 teams, but that's just too many. At some point all the good teams will show themselves, and my nightly bracketology already gives enough credit to teams that don't get enough.

NOTE: This is my personal top 25. Tomorrow night the rest of my writers and I will combine our top 25 ballots and create the "OSF Top 25" so make sure you check that out. Also please comment at the bottom and let me know what you think.


1. North Carolina (9-0): The Tar Heels are clearly the nation's best team right now, far and away better than anyone else. It will be interesting to see how many teams challenge UNC before the tournament. So far they have wins over Kentucky (by 19), Notre Dame (by 25), and Michigan State (by 35). The Tar Heels should roll through the rest of their out-of-conference schedule before starting ACC play.


2. Connecticut (8-0): Connecticut already has wins over Miami (FL) and Wisconsin. They survived Buffalo last week with a big defensive stop at the end. Next week's battle with Gonzaga looms large before conference play begins when they host Georgetown.


3. Oklahoma (8-0): The Sooners and Longhorns are not only fighting over bragging rights on the football field, but they are also fighting over the right to be called the favorite in the Big 12 in basketball. Hopefully there will be no three-way tie in basketball. The Sooners are led by Blake Griffin, the early preseason favorite for player of the year.


4. Gonzaga (7-0): I have to give love where it is needed and Gonzaga has earned it. Not only have the Zags been the most impressive team outside of UNC so far but they've also racked up some big Ws to prove how good they are. Wins over Tennessee, Washington State, Maryland, and Oklahoma State do not lie.


5. Pittsburgh (10-0): The Big East is absolutely loaded this year. How would you feel if you were No. 3 in both polls but still second in your conference? The Panthers have wins over Washington State, Texas Tech, and Vermont. Florida State and Georgetown will be tough games ahead.


6. Texas (8-1): The Longhorns have already played Notre Dame (L), Villanova (W), and UCLA (W) this season. On Sunday, they play Michigan State before taking on Wisconsin and Arkansas.


7. Louisville (6-1): The Cardinals just aren't playing well so far this season. The loss to Western Kentucky stings, but it better not for long. Mississippi, Minnesota, UAB, UNLV, and Kentucky are the next five.


8. Duke (8-1): Duke knows how hard it is to beat the same opponent twice in one year, as evident by their loss in meeting No. 2 with Michigan. The Blue Devils meeting with Xavier on Saturday is absolutely huge.


9. Syracuse (9-0): It's so hard to tell who is good and who isn't this early in the season. I look at Syracuse and I see their wins over Kansas and Florida (who have four losses combined already). Then I see Eric Devendorf's name and it reminds me that in a few weeks this team could look completely different.


10. Xavier (10-0): I really still have to question how good Xavier is at this point. The win at Virginia Tech was by a buzzer beater and it opened the door for the Memphis win to take place. So basically where would they be without a buzzer-beating three?


11. Wake Forest (8-0): Many media outlets are calling this team a "surprise," but I will give credit where it is due. OSF's own Blake Hofstad called this before the season. The Demon Deacons already have a win over Baylor on their early season resume.


12. Ohio State (6-0): I did not expect Ohio State to be this good. Before you call me crazy think about this: they have knocked off Notre Dame, Miami (FL), and Butler already this season. Barring an upset, their game against West Virginia on Dec.  27 should be interesting.


13. Notre Dame (6-2): How can I discredit Notre Dame for losing to the nation's No. 1 team (by far) and for losing to an undefeated Ohio State team? Remember Luke Harangody is just now getting well.


14. Tennessee (6-2): J.P. Prince didn't play in Tennessee's loss to Temple, but it was still a terrible loss. This is going to be a crazy season so I won't put too much into it at this point, at least not for a team that has knocked off Siena and Georgetown. They also played Gonzaga very tough. Wednesday night's game against Marquette should be very fun to watch.


15. Georgetown (7-1): The Hoyas have already knocked off Maryland, Memphis, and American this year. Although Memphis has been disappointing thus far the Hoyas appear to be a national contender. It still has to be discouraging to be picked No. 8 in your conference and fifth in this poll.


16. Villanova (9-1): I can't really penalize Villanova for losing to Texas by single digits, especially with wins over Rhode Island and Saint Joseph's already to their credit. The Wildcats game against Navy on the 22nd will be one of the best under the radar games this week.


17. Purdue (7-2): The Boilermakers have basically folded in their big games this season (it seems like Michigan State and Purdue have the same gameplan) with losses to Duke and Oklahoma already. On Saturday they get a chance to redeem themselves against Stephen Curry and Davidson.


18. Davidson (8-1): You cannot argue with results, and for Davidson that holds true. Their lone loss is to unbeaten Oklahoma, and they already have wins over N. C. State and West Virginia. Plus when Stephen Curry goes scoreless, they still win. On Saturday, they get Purdue in another national profile game.


19. UCLA (5-2): The Bruins have disappointed me this season, although they haven't exactly been bad. Their two losses are to giant killer Michigan and highly ranked Texas. Although Mercer is a decent team they really shouldn't be challenged again until Jan. 4 at Oregon.


20. Baylor (8-1): The Bears are trying to prove that last season was no fluke, and so far they are doing just that. They already have wins over Arizona State and Washington State, and their lone loss was to undefeated Wake Forest.


21. Arizona State (7-1): The loss to Baylor hurt, but that night they were just outplayed. On Dec. 20, the Sun Devils play an undefeated BYU team that doesn't get enough love, but at least they get them in the desert. The Sun Devils should be a contender in the Pac-10 all season long.


22. BYU (10-0): It's time to give BYU some credit. They have quietly reeled off 50 home wins in a row, and they already have knocked off WAC giant Utah State this season on a neutral court.

On Jan. 3, Wake Forest will come in trying to end BYU's streak (barring an upset before then). Shooting guard Lee Cummard is shooting 51.9 percent from behind the three point stripe this season.


23. Memphis (5-2): I still think Memphis is overrated, but they do deserve a spot in my top 25. The two losses the Tigers have suffered are to Xavier and Georgetown, both teams I rank in the top 15. Syracuse and Cincinnati are two of their next four games.


24. Clemson (10-0): I can't argue with a team that has already knocked off Temple (ask Tennessee about the Owls) and won at Illinois during the ACC/Big Ten challenge. It seems like every single season, the Tigers start strong and fade, but this year looks like it could be different.


25. Michigan State (6-2): The Spartans have been struggling up to this point. The losses were to Maryland by 18 and North Carolina by 35. Clearly, this team has not lived up to expectations. On Saturday, they will take on Texas with another chance to prove they aren't this season's biggest bust.

On the Cusp: Missouri, Illinois State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Dayton, Marquette, Butler.