College Basketball Top 25: Kentucky, Ohio State Lead B/R Writers Rankings

Ari Kramer@Ari_KramerSenior Analyst IIDecember 5, 2011

College Basketball Top 25: Kentucky, Ohio State Lead B/R Writers Rankings

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    Kentucky and Ohio State used impressive wins to secure the top two spots in the first Bleacher Report Writers Top 25 of the season.

    How far did UNC and Duke fall after losing to the Wildcats and Buckeyes, respectively, and where does everyone else stand?

    If you're a Bleacher Report college basketball writer who wants to participate in the weekly poll, message me with your email address to indicate your interest.

    Voters: Doug Brodess, Ryan Eshleman, Ari Kramer, Jesse Kramer, Matthew Overing, Robert Pace, Joshua Sexton, Gene Siudut

Others Receiving Votes

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    California Golden Bears, 9

    St. Louis Bilikens, 9

    Harvard Crimson, 7

    Texas A&M Aggies, 7

    Michigan State Spartans, 5

    Indiana Hoosiers, 3

    Ole Miss Rebels, 3

    San Diego State Aztecs, 3

    Virginia Cavaliers, 1

25. Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Record: 8-0

    Key Wins: Gonzaga

    Voting Points: 13

    Illinois' stainless record attracted national attention, but the Fighting Illini lacked a quality win—they had beaten a rebuilding Richmond, a very mediocre Maryland and several low-level teams.

    Bruce Weber's squad picked up that much needed win this weekend, defeating Mark Few's Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Fighting Illini, who trailed the Bulldogs for just 1:30, have a trio of players—Meyers Leonard, D.J. Richardson and Sam Maniscalco—with double-digit scoring averages. 

24. UNLV Rebels

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    Record: 8-1

    Key Wins: UNC

    Voting Points: 29

    UNLV shocked the college basketball world last week with its win over then-No. 1 UNC, but the Rebels fell to Wichita State by 19 points on Sunday.

    Mike Moser and the Rebels have another shot at a Top 25 opponent on Saturday, when they visit Wisconsin.

23. Vanderbilt Commodores

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    Record: 5-3

    Key Wins: Oregon State, NC State

    Voting Points: 32

    Despite its two losses this week, Vanderbilt cracked the Top 25. The Commodores suffered overtime losses to Top 25 teams—Xavier and Louisville.

22. Gonzaga Bulldogs

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    Record: 5-1

    Key Wins: None

    Voting Points: 33

    Gonzaga lacks a signature win—Notre Dame doesn't count without Tim Abromaitis—and lost its first game of the season this weekend, but the Bulldogs still found a spot in the Top 25.

    Until they lost to Illinois, the Bulldogs were on a three-game streak of double-digit victories.

21. Creighton Blue Jays

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    Record: 7-0

    Key Wins: San Diego State

    Voting Points: 34

    Creighton proved it belongs in the Top 25 this week with a come-from-behind win at San Diego State and a double-digit victory over Nebraska. Doug McDermott, who has been an absolute beast, averaged 24.5 points and 12 rebounds in the two wins.

    The Blue Jays are on a roll now, but they shouldn't take Saturday's game at St. Joseph's lightly.

20. Memphis Tigers

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    Record: 4-2

    Key Wins: Belmont, Tennessee

    Voting Points: 36

    Memphis has been inconsistent thus far, beating Belmont and Tennessee but losing to Michigan and Georgetown.

    Because the Tigers have two quality wins and have trounced Jackson State and Austin Peay, they are perched at No. 20.

19. Georgetown Hoyas

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    Record: 7-1

    Key Wins: Memphis, Alabama

    Voting Points: 43

    Hollis Thompson's three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left sealed Georgetown's resume-building win at Alabama.

    The Hoyas have lost just one game—by four against Kansas at the Maui Invitational.

18. Mississippi State

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    Record: 8-1

    Key Wins: Texas A&M, Arizona, West Virginia

    Voting Points: 56

    Mississippi State suffered an embarrassing loss to Akron in its second game of the season, but the Bulldogs showed their resilience by beating Texas A&M and Arizona at Madison Square Garden a week later.

    With Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie leading the charge, Mississippi State has reeled off seven consecutive victories.

17. Michigan Wolverines

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    Record: 6-2

    Key Wins: Memphis, UCLA

    Voting Points: 64

    Michigan followed up its strong Maui Invitational performance with a 12-point loss at Virginia. Still, wins over Memphis and UCLA and a well-played game against Duke kept the Wolverines inside the poll's top 20.

16. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Record: 6-2

    Key Wins: BYU

    Voting Points: 81

    After a convincing win over BYU, Wisconsin dropped both its games this week. Those losses weren't resume-killers, though—UNC is still one of the best teams in the nation, and Marquette is off to a torrid start.

15. Pittsburgh Panthers

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    Record: 7-1

    Key Wins: Tennessee

    Voting Points: 85

    Pittsburgh has won five consecutive games since falling to Long Beach State. Though Travon Woodall will miss a few weeks with a strained groin, the Panthers beat Tennessee in their first game without their point guard.

14. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Record: 7-1

    Key Wins: Wichita State, Purdue

    Voting Points: 91

    Alabama picked up solid wins against Wichita State and Purdue, and a win over Georgetown could have catapulted the Crimson Tide into the top 10. However, Hollis Thompson's late trey kept Alabama on the periphery.

13. Florida Gators

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    Record: 5-2

    Key Wins: None

    Voting Points: 99

    Though Florida lacks a quality win, the Gators have played well against Ohio State and Syracuse, two elite teams. 

12. Marquette Golden Eagles

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    Record: 7-0

    Key Wins: Wisconsin

    Voting Points: 111

    Marquette has scorched the nets thus far. The Golden Eagles are averaging 84.1 points per game on 50.9 percent shooting and have won all but two of their games by more than 20 points. 

    Their win at Wisconsin proved the torrid start was not a fluke.

11. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Record: 5-2

    Key Wins: Georgetown, UCLA

    Voting Points: 111

    Kansas has one high-quality win over Georgetown and a win over UCLA that will probably look better by March. Yes, the Jayhawks have lost twice, but they've fallen to Kentucky and Duke.

10. Missouri Tigers

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    Record: 7-0

    Key Wins: Notre Dame, California

    Voting Points: 127

    Missouri hasn't won by fewer than 15 points this season and has trounced Notre Dame and California by 29 and 39 points, respectively. 

    In their sole game of the week, the Tigers walloped Northwestern State by 34.

9. Xavier Musketeers

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    Record: 6-0

    Key Wins: Vanderbilt, Purdue

    Voting Points: 134

    Led by Tu Holloway's will to win, Xavier has a never-say-die attitude. The Musketeers rallied from a nine-point second half deficit to beat Vanderbilt in overtime and—a few days later—overcame a 19-point deficit to down Purdue.

    Those two wins pushed Xavier into the top 10.

8. UConn Huskies

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    Record: 7-1

    Key Wins: Florida State

    Voting Points: 147

    UConn beat Arkansas in its only game of the week, but a 13-point win over the Razorbacks couldn't erase the memories of the Huskies' collapse against Central Florida and their narrow escape against Florida State. 

    Fortunately for UConn, Ryan Boatright is eligible and has been extremely valuable in his first two games.

7. UNC Tar Heels

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    Record: 6-2

    Key Wins: Michigan State, Wisconsin

    Voting Points: 150

    UNC fell to Kentucky in an epic regular season battle, but at least the Tar Heels followed up their loss to UNLV with a win over Wisconsin. 

6. Duke Blue Devils

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    Record: 7-1

    Key Wins: Belmont, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan, Kansas

    Voting Points: 156

    Though Duke has several quality wins, losing by 22 to Ohio State precluded the Blue Devils from cracking the top five.

5. Baylor Bears

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    Record: 7-0

    Key Wins: San Diego State, Northwestern

    Voting Points: 158

    Baylor's length and athleticism completely overwhelmed a previously undefeated Northwestern team, and the Bears beat the Wildcats by 28 points on the road.

    With Perry Jones available, the Bears are in the nation's upper echelon.

4. Louisville Cardinals

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    Record: 7-0

    Key Wins: Butler, Long Beach State, Vanderbilt

    Voting Points: 167

    Peyton Siva's last second layup to beat Vanderbilt preserved Louisville's perfect record, making possible a top five appearance. 

    The Cardinals have won five games by double digits—including impressive victories over Butler and Long Beach State.

3. Syracuse Orange

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    Record: 8-0

    Key Wins: Stanford, Florida

    Voting Points: 185

    The Syracuse Orange destroyed Eastern Michigan on Tuesday and then defeated Florida, a team with the shooting ability to overwhelm Jim Boeheim's zone. 

    The Orange might have struggled more than they should have against Virginia Tech and upstart Stanford, but this team looks like it could compete with the nation's best.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Record: 8-0

    Key Wins: Florida, Duke

    Voting Points: 191

    Ohio State sent Duke home with a 22-point loss and then beat Texas-Pan American by 29 in its first game without star Jared Sullinger (back spasms).

    Not much else to say here.

1. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Record: 8-0

    Key Wins: Kansas, UNC

    Voting Points: 200

    Kentucky beat UNC—the preseason No. 1—in a thrilling game this Saturday. The Wildcats are rolling—with the exception of the UNC game, John Calipari's squad has won by no fewer than 10 points. 

    Terrence Jones is playing like a Player of the Year candidate, and Anthony Davis looks like the best defender in the country. But it's Kentucky's wealth of talent—not just Jones and Davis—that makes this team so formidable.