The title, inspired by what was fairly good T.V. show before it vanished weeks ago, is for my top 9 College Basketball teams at the moment. Though hopefully none of the players on this list are ever involved in a bank robbery. I'll be posting my top 9 every Wednesday as we head down the home stretch of the season. This is just MY top 9 teams, as of the end of games tonight. East Coast games at least, some late starts will not come into play until the following weeks. Without further ado.... The Nine N' 5
1. North Carolina
UNC will be moving up to #2 in the USA Today poll, but here they're an easy choice for #1. Mainly because of their utter dominance over everyone since falling to Virginia Tech. UNC has throttled 5 strait opponents since the loss, including tonight's 105-64 win over Miami. Miami isn't any good, I know that, but Clemson, and Arizona are solid and they were both blown off their home floors. UNC should hold this spot through next week as I don't think Duke can beat them even at home.
This Week: 2/3 @ NC State, 2/7 @ Duke
I know they just lost to Washington, but that was without Aaron Brooks, that game I have no doubt is an Oregon win if he plays. Oregon has been fantastic this season picking up road wins over Arizona, and Washington St., to go with home wins over UCLA, and Stanford. Can the Ducks hold this spot though? They're hitting the L.A. double dip over the next three days as they head to UCLA tomorrow, and then to USC on Saturday. There's a good chance Oregon loses both games.
This Week: 2/1 @ UCLA, 2/3 @ USC
I can argue for the Gators to be higher, and I still think they're the best "team" but they tend to fall asleep, and let inferior opponents hang around. One of these nights it's going to get them beat, tonight however, they came back from 12 down to beat Vandy by 10 tonight. Just imagine if they had played that way the entire game, if they do that Florida might win this game by 40-50 points, and completely destroy all that Vandy has done recently. I like Georgia's odds to shock them next Wednesday but I don't know that I guarantee it.
This Week: 2/3 Tenn, 2/7 @ Georgia
While they beat the Gators they've lost to Oral Roberts, and while OR is a solid pick to pull an upset with Caleb Green and Co. Kansas shouldn't be losing to them. Georgetown beat OR by 15, so Kansas should have probably won that game by at least 27. Even worse the Jayhawks were at home. Kansas sits here maybe on talent alone, I think next to UNC, maybe even ahead of UNC they're the most talented team in the country. But they have a lot of no shows and youth is no longer an excuse, as it was in the past two NCAA tournaments. Kansas will host Texas A&M on Saturday which could determine the Big 12 winner as its the only time the two teams meet this year. I don't know if Acie Law is enough, but they're defense should frustrate Kansas and they have a shot to win this game.
This Week: 2/3 Texas A&M, 2/7 Kansas St.
The Badgers took a bit of a fall after tonight's loss to Indiana, this loss however doesn't have as much to do with their #5 ranking as you'd think. Wisconsin despite their 21-2 is a bit overrated, they play great team defense but too often rely on just Alando Tucker to do the scoring. Tucker is a fantastic player, a contender for national player of the year, some would say he's even the current leader in that race, but he cannot carry Wisconsin by himself. I thought Wisconsin was playing to many close games with bad teams, and they'd lose soon. Indiana doesn't really fall into the bad category, but this in my opinion is a game a top 5 team wins, on the road or not. Wisc. should have no problems bouncing back against Northwestern and Penn State, though NW did give them a scare a few weeks back this one is in Wisconsin.
This Week: 2/3 Northwestern, 2/7 @ Penn St.
Despite Saturday's loss to Stanford I still think UCLA is a top tier team, though if they lose to Oregon tomorrow they may lose the Pac-10 altogether. UCLA is a lock for at the very least a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament as their gritty defense continue to frustrate people. Aaron Afflalo has been fantastic this season but he, much like Tucker won't be able to single handily carry their offense come march. The loss of Ryan Hollins inside has hurt this team more than I expected it to, and their vulnerable against teams with dominating big men up front like the Stanford twins. If UCLA does end up a #2, they better hope Ohio State is not the #1 in that bracket as that's exactly the kind of team they do not want to have to go through to make the final four. They should stay in the top 9 even if Oregon gets them again as long as they beat USC next Wednesday.
This Week: 2/1 Oregon, 2/3 Oregon St., 2/7 USC
7. Ohio State
The Buckeyes fall all the way to #7 mainly due to the fact that they have yet to beat a true contender. Also their one win over a ranked opponent came at home against a Tennessee squad that has since fallen out of the rankings with Chris Lofton hurt. OSU needs to beat Wisconsin in their rematch to get any final four consideration around here. They were absolutely destroyed by Florida, and lost close games to UNC, and Wisconsin. While some would say I'm over valuing the Florida loss because Oden was still getting adjusted, I disagree. Oden made one bad foul after another in that game and didn't play for most of it, allowing Al Horford and Noah to dominate the inside for the most part. Oden was dominant defensively when he was on the floor though, and for that reason OSU if they can beat Wisconsin when they get their rematch in Columbus on February 25th. After beating Purdue tonight they must go to Michigan St., and take on a team that probably should have beaten them last week if not for their bad first half. I'll take MSU this time, and do so with confidence.
This Week: 2/3 @ Mich St., 2/6 Michigan
8. Washington St.
Arguably the third best team in the Pac-10, Washington St. is coming off a thrilling loss to Oregon in overtime. A game that they probably should have won, but Aaron Brooks as I said before is clutch. Derrick Low has been truly amazing this season including his 37 points in the Oregon loss. WSU really has no bad losses unless you count the 14 point loss at Utah. Which I would understand, outside of that game though they're lost to good teams in UCLA, Oregon, and Stanford by a combined 9 points, 3 points each which has to hurt. Head coach Tony Bennett has opened up the offense and these guys are making him look like a genius for doing it. If WSU goes into Arizona and wins this week they are the 3rd best team out west in my eyes, despite Arizona's recent slide they're still a good team. With that said I like WSU to prolong the 'Zona slide and then beat Arizona St. as well.
This Week: 2/1 @ Arizona, 2/3 @ Arizona St.
The best way for me to explain Marquette's place in The Nine despite some bad loses is their recent history along with one phrase; "match up nightmare." The three guard offense of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wes Matthews has been frustrating to many of their big east foes, including the team they beat out for this spot, Pittsburgh. The Golden Eagles went into Pitt and walked out with a victory, just a week earlier they blew WVU out by 18. Marquette is one team to avoid in a one game situation as you never know what D. James might do, he's drawing comparisons to former Golden Eagle Dwayne Wade. I'll call shenanigans on that one but he has been impressive thus far and as only a sophomore he's only going to get better. These guys gotta beat Providence to at least maintain this spot, Rutgers shouldn't be a problem.
This Week: 2/3 Providence, 2/7 Rutgers
Others Receiving Consideration:
Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Duke, Butler, Air Force, USC, Stanford, and Nevada.
The Bottom 5:
These are the 5 teams I consider to be the most overrated, and most likely to be exiting early come march.
5. Duke - Almost off this list.
4. Texas - Won @ Texas Tech tonight, something Kansas and A&M couldn't do/ But Still needs to show more consistency.
3. Michigan State - That's IF they make the tournament.
2. Alabama - Getting throttled by average and bad teams on the road and their still ranked?
1. LSU - No excuse to lose Alabama at home, none. Auburn blew them out at home for f#%@s sake.