As expected, both the Coaches and Associated Press poll elevated Kentucky to #1 for the second time this year. Tomorrow, the Wildcats will have their first test at the top, on the road vs. the Georgia Bulldogs.
To my thinking, Kentucky has been up and down over the last few games, barely eeking out a win at Tennessee (but to be fair, the Vols are improved). Then Kentucky easily handled the Arkansas Razorbacks in a game that, but for some crooked shooting, might have been one of Kentucky's better games of late. Finally Kentucky ground out a victory at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game which saw UK miss many short, easy shots.
I think if I had to pick a team that was likely playing the best basketball right now, it would be Missouri. Defeating Baylor on the road is just very impressive to me. The Tigers have weaknesses, though, and if there is one team besides Kentucky who has the fewest weaknesses, it is certainly not them, but the Ohio St. Buckeyes. Since dropping that game at Illinois that saw the Buckeyes collapse in the second half, Ohio State has been throttling its opponents like they have something to prove.
If it sounds like I am down on UK, I'm not. They have earned this position and they deserve to be #1 in the land. The fact that they are not playing their best basketball (yet) can be seen as a glass half-full as easily as half-empty. No matter what others may tell you, in this writer's opinion, Kentucky's far from reaching their potential, and they are still winning every game. There's a lot to be said for that, and they are doing it with defense and by essentially refusing to let some spotty play stop them. After all, you want to be playing your best basketball in late February, not necessarily in mid-January.
I do need to say a word or two about the Syracuse Orange. That defeat at Notre Dame was a shock. I have seen Syracuse play many times, and it looked to me like they panicked after getting down about 12 in the second half, heaving up crazy threes from 23 feet over and over again. Up until that game, Syracuse had looked like a smooth wall, running over the competition with far superior play on both ends. I can't believe Fab Melo made that much difference.
By comparison, Kentucky has been down a few times in the second half, but they have yet to panic even once, and Syracuse is a much more experienced team. I think that says a ton about the confidence and presence of mind of these young Wildcats.
Okay, so here are the two polls, condensed, with some commentary afterward.
|APRank||Prev||Delta||Coaches||Prev||Delta||Team||Wins||Losses||Votes||1st||SOS||SOS Proj.||SOS Rnk||SOS Proj. Rnk||Conference|
|4||6||2||3||6||3||Ohio State||17||3||1411||0||0.5614||0.6006||37||16||Big Ten|
|10||9||-1||11||9||-2||Michigan State||16||4||1009||0||0.6013||0.6299||3||1||Big Ten|
|11||12||1||9||10||1||Murray State||20||0||925||0||0.4643||0.4524||263||253||Ohio Valley|
|13||16||3||12||16||4||San Diego State||17||2||832||0||0.5228||0.5668||109||65||Mountain West|
|21||24||3||20||23||3||Saint Mary's||19||2||345||0||0.5031||0.5099||144||137||West Coast|
|22||25||3||24||-||-||Kansas State||14||4||252||0||0.5585||0.5847||49||39||Big 12|
|**||Coach's poll only|
- I think the Connecticut Huskies are still over-ranked in the Coach's poll.
- Shouldn't Vanderbilt be in there somewhere?
- Not buying Louisville at 25th. Beating the struggling Pittsburgh Panthers is just not enough.
- Baylor loses two back-to-back, one at home, and they drop only 3?
- The Coach's poll still has Duke ranked way too high.
Those are my thoughts. Feel free to add yours below.