And in the kitchen, we like our sports spicy.
10. WISCONSIN (19-5)
When others lose, someone has to win. The troubles of Villanova, Syracuse & Connecticut make it easy to vault the Badgers into top-10 territory.
I completely respect their win over Ohio State Saturday, but it was a gimme. Bo Ryan doesn’t lose in Madison, fact, and I doubt any team in the NCAA could have won that game, so it’s almost inherit.
Still, they beat Purdue recently and have strong resume wins over Minnesota & Illinois, however their split OT series with Michigan State is a head scratcher.
9. GEORGETOWN (20-5)
Losing at home to Pittsburgh a month ago hit home for the Georgetown seniors.
Since then, the Hoyas have been mauling the Big East, tackling Villanova away, Louisville & Syracuse away on an 8 game win-streak.
It’s tough to build in the Big East, but if they can vest a reeling Connecticut squad this week, they could be poised to steal the conference away from Pittsburgh should they falter.
8. NOTRE DAME (21-4)
Since dropping back-to-back games in early January, the Irish have been balling out of their minds.
Ben Hansbrough has been lighting up near & far, pushing Mike Brey’s Irish to their best start since 1981 with 3 wins against the top-25 during their 10 game win-streak.
The rest of the Big East better prepare for a fight, because they aren’t going down quietly.
7. BYU (24-2)
They ought not be punished for attempting to polish their RPI, but seeing as they do have a loss to UCLA & that nasty clunker at home to New Mexico, I can’t help but keep them a shade outside the circle.
Jimmer is a cricket and I see big things for him come Mountain West conference tournament time, as well as Madness time, but their major wins aren’t wowing me quite yet.
6. SAN DIEGO ST. (25-1)
It’s not often a team wins a huge conference road game and drops in the polls, but I fear it all too real a possibility for the Aztecs come Monday.
That pesky Jimmer Fredette really mucked things up for SDSU, but seeing as their is a rematch on the horizon, things are far from done in the Mountain West, and for a NCAA hoops fan, that’s exciting.
5. OHIO ST. (24-1)
When Duke lost their first game, they dropped to 4, so consider this generous being that they play in the Big-10.
It was an inevitable loss, especially in Madison, and it wouldn’t surprise me if their was more to come in the L column for the Buckeyes.
With a nice cushion in conference, their is no longer a need to push the envelope, so I expect a full retreat from heavy battles, that is of course unless things get too interesting.
4. DUKE (23-2)
A thrilling rivalry win against North Carolina last week was just what the Blue Devils needed to finish the job in the ACC.
Cemented for a top seed come tournament time, Duke has the arsenal, even on cold nights, with or without Kyrie Irving.
Nolan Smith should be believed, but I need more consistency from a usually fundamental Kyle Singler before I grant them veteran approval.
They belong Top-3, but seeing as they are the more recent to lose, they stay outside for now.
3. KANSAS (24-1)
Their home loss to Texas is the main reason for this placement. Coupled with an unimpressive bounce-back win at Colorado, and a ‘meh’ home win against Missouri last week, I don’t see any intimidating opponents on the horizon.
You must protect your house to be a number one, or two for that matter.
2. TEXAS (22-3)
The Longhorns get me giddy. Rick Barnes has exciting plays, promotes a fast-paced aggressive minded defensive philosophy and Tristan Thompson is make a firm case form himself in the POTY talks.
Their loss to Pittsburgh seems like forever ago, but it will burn for Texas so long as the Panthers continue to thrive.
However, the Longhorns are undefeated in Big-12 play (10-0) and look pretty good to run the conference table, making them a virtual lock for a #1 seed in the tournament.
1. PITTSBURGH (23-2)
Look, I know Kansas or Texas certainly deserve it more in the grand scheme & main stream, but hear me out.
First, the Panthers beat Texas back in November. Yes it was a long time back, and on home turf for Pitt, but still, they won, albeit barely and that’s undeniable.
Second, standing atop the Beast of NCAA hoops has to count for something. When you’re running with contenders night in, night out, beating the likes of Connecticut, Georgetown, Syracuse & Villanova, where’s the respect?
My vote goes to Pittsburgh, and while I do like Texas a lot (especially when compared to Kansas), the grit & poise that Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee & Gilbert Brown have shown in the absence of Ashton Gibbs tells me that they are a tight-knit group poised to rise, or fall, together, and that type of camaraderie is an ingredient for deep tournament success.