Headlining: The beauty of a Tuesday column, at least this season, is that whoever ends up No. 1 can do so with an asterisk based on Monday's games. (*In case you didn't know already, Pittsburgh beat Connecticut.) And it appears that next week, we'll likely have a new No. 1 team in the nation. That will likely be Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners. Which is fitting, considering Griffin dropped a rediculous 40-point, 23-rebound Valentine's Day stat line on Texas Tech Saturday night.
But for now, at least, UConn is still your No. 1 based on this week's rankings. And it's not like they don't deserve it either; yes, Hasheem Thabeet was outmanned by DeJuan Blair down low (from the start, no less), and yes, the Huskies missed Jerome Dyson, but they're still a top-five squad despite losing on their home court Monday.
Freefallin':Duke (20-5). "Freefall" might be a stretch considering Duke is "only" at ninth overall. But they've lost four of six overall and the only two wins were over Virginia (unimpressive) and Miami (a textbook squeaker). The Blue Devils have serious issues right now, particularly with their point guard and post play, and unfortunately, those are two pretty important aspects of basketball. The home stretch, featuring North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Florida State, isn't pretty either. Butler (22-3). Here's a hint, mid-majors: Don't lose. The Bulldogs, a very talented and dangerous, albeit young, team, coughed up a single game to Loyola-Chicago and nearly got booted from the top 25. Presuming Stephen Curry can play this Saturday, they'll have a chance for redemption at Davidson. Matt Howard, by the way, is very much for real. UCLA (19-6). It's a pretty simple formula, really. Lose twice in a week after having your value inflated (sixth in the Coaches' Poll!) and you'll hurt yourself moving down the poll the next week.
You Gotta Rise Up:Arizona State (20-5). Just another 20-game winner plus a trip to the NCAA for Herb Sendek, eh? The Sun Devils rode a four-game winning streak, including a home victory over UCLA for a season sweep of the Bruins, all the way up to 11th in the coaches' Poll (14th in the AP). LSU (21-4). Clearly, the Tigers felt that the SEC was under performing and needed someone to rep the conference in the polls. That, and they ripped off six straight wins (and nine of their last 10); granted, every single one of those wins is in-conference, so the whole "grain of salt" thing applies, but that doesn't make a tiny taste of cream rising above sour milk any less impressive. Back-to-backs against Florida and at Kentucky might even come after they've locked up an SEC West title and an NCA tourney bid.
Hyped:Duke, clearly, right? The Devils aren't "bad" per se, but right now, I'm extremely confident that they are not the ninth best team in the nation. Sure, college basketball is rife with parity and the ACC is most likely the best conference in the nation (the Big East, obviously, would disagree) but if you're a top-10 team in the nation, you're not coughing up four of six games. The Clemson game -- an absolute embarrassment -- stands out more than anything.
Bunked:Arizona, despite winning seven straight games -- in-conference no less! -- isn't pulling much love from the pollsters. And sure, maybe they aren't a legit top-25 team (sorry, Bacon) at this exact moment, if we're going to reward Syracuse for losing seven games, I see no reason why the Wildcats can't get some love with eight. Missouri is ranked 11th in the AP poll, and while that might seem generous even following a huge come from behind win over Kansas and a throttling of Nebraska, I think they're better than that. Certainly better than Duke and Wake Forest, no?
WTF? Why are there only 500 some names on the Pollspeak petition to force all college voting polls into the public? There should be five million. Do your country a favor and sign that sucker electronically so we can make sure the integrity of our college athletics aren't being compromised. Or, "more compromised than they already are by the BCS."
People Who Vote Are Smart (Brought to You by Pollspeak.com):Michael Vega was the pretty clear winner in "insane voter of the week" for the past seven days. While I don't necessarily disagree with all of the points he appears to be making with his ballot, there are still some, ahem, irregularities. For instance, Duke is 25th. Even I won't agree with that. Additionally, Butler is sixth. Not doable following a loss to Loyola. He has Dayton at seventh, while Louisville clocks in at a lowly 17. Additionally, Arizona State is unranked. LSU sits at 13. And even Connecticut was number two (regardless if that turned out to be correct, it's indicative). All told, six of his teams are higher in the polls than anyone else, with another six checking in lower than anyone else. It's like someone handed Jeff Goldblum (the Jurassic Park version) a ballot and some sort of chaos theory erupted, only with less non-pertinent lines of thinking.