Monday, January 21, 2008

Shakeup in the Top 25

Some very big noise made via upsets over the past few days, not the least of which was Maryland's 82-80 overthrow of number one North Carolina.

(the current poll results are over in the left-hand column)

However, considering the level of overall talent in the ACC, it was to be expected that the Tar Heels were going to lose at least a couple of games in the conference. Now, losing to a very green and unranked Maryland team may surprise some, but the Terrapins always have a team capable of ruining any opponent's plans, and they always make the NCAA field of 65.

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Coach Gary Williams consistently puts a solid product on the floor, has a NCAA championship to his credit and is in his 19th season at the University of Maryland, so, no surprise that the Terps beat the Heels, but doing it at Chapel Hill does raise some eyebrows.

What is interesting is to find another ACC team - Duke - jumping past their arch-rivals into the #3 spot behind Memphis and Kansas, both of which remained undefeated. Memphis made the top spot (in the AP Poll) for the first time since 1983, before any of the current players were even born. Duke knocked up Clemson pretty good on Sunday, 93-80, and were given the credit they deserve. The Blue Devils are just a one-point loss at Pitt from being undefeated themselves.

Other Top 25 teams that lost on Saturday:

Mississippi, 80-77, at Auburn
Pittsburgh, 62-59, at Cincinnati
Texas A&M was outscored 40-21 in the second half in its 75-54 thumping at Kansas St.
Miami, 79-77, at NC State
Arizona State, 67-52, at Stanford
UCLA, 72-63, at home to USC

Sunday's solitary Top 25 loser was Marquette, 89-73, at Connecticut. That's two straight losses for the Golden Eagles and their third in the Big East (3-3).

It's fascinating to note that the biggest upsets - North Carolina and UCLA - were on their home courts. Really great teams don't lose many on their own floors, so it bears watching if these two stumble as tourney time approaches.

Things are still pretty fluid and no team has demonstrated clear superiority, though, as stated in a previous post, Memphis appears on track to make it to the tourney unbeaten. For Kansas, accomplishing that feat would make them odds on to win it all. For now, the Jayhawks look to be gilt-edged, but the Big 12 is hazardous.

Looking ahead, #23 Drake is at Creighton and #5 Tennessee should cruise at Kentucky Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, #16 Texas A&M travels to Baylor, looking to avoid their second straight road loss. #4 North Carolina visits Miami. The Tar Heels don't want to lose their second straight, while the Hurricanes seek respect and a return to the Top 25.

On Thursday, the Dayton Flyers (19) travel to Xavier (22). The winner will take at least a share of the Atlantic 10 lead.

We'll be updating those games and others in the days ahead. Tonight, Syracuse visits Georgetown. While the 'Cuse is in somewhat of a downtrend, they'll give the Hoyas a game, but Roy Hibbert, who terrorized the Irish to the tune of 21 points in Saturday's 84-65 pounding of Notre Dame, looks to be putting his complete game together.

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