For your reference, here is last week's ballot.
Dropped Out: California (#19), Boston College (#25).
Welcome! Purdue (#19), Syracuse (#24)
Waiting Room: California (20-7), West Virginia (19-8)
By Conference: Big East 6, Atlantic Coast 5, Big XII 3, Big Ten 3, Pac-10 2, Atlantic 10 2, Conference-USA 1, WCC 1, Horizon 1, Mountain West 1
- Starting at the top, the biggest winner this week has to be Pittsburgh. Not only did Pittsburgh upset No. 1 Connecticut on the road, but their road to reclaiming the top spot in both polls was cleared by both Oklahoma's and North Carolina's upset losses. Pittsburgh hits the road this week to face Providence and Seton Hall, and finishes at home with two tough games against Marquette and UConn. Pittsburgh jumps 3 spots to take our #1 ballot this week.
- For the second week in a row, we are talking about Marquette. After getting hammered by Villanova, the Golden Eagles got back on track and took care of St. John's, Seton Hall and Georgetown. We move Marquette back up 9 spots to where we originally had them in our first blogpoll ballot a few weeks ago. Mea culpa, Marquette ... for at least a week. It's still entirely possible that Marquette will finish outside of our ballot at the end of the regular season, with arguably the toughest 4 game stretches to finish the regular season - Connecticut, at Louisville, at Pittsburgh, Syracuse.
- Our third winner this week is the Eagles next opponent: Florida State. ESPN.com's college hoops reporter Andy Katz named Florida State the national team of the week for this past week, after their wins against ACC bubble teams Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech
The biggest losers this week all come from mid-major conferences, two of them coming from the Atlantic 10.
- Mid Major #1 - Dayton. After taking out Xavier and this blog ranking the Flyers as high as #15 last week, Dayton beat Richmond 69-63 before suffering a bad loss at Saint Louis on Saturday (BC feels Dayton's pain here). There is little to no room for error for mid majors on our ballot, and when you lose to a team you should put away, and with a strength of schedule in the 100s, we aren't very forgiving. We drop Dayton back down 10 spots to #25, and after thinking about this further, we probably will be in the minority for keeping Dayton in our ballot at all.
- Mid Major #2 - Butler. Disappointing week for the Horizon League's Butler too. Last week, we ranked Butler as high as #11. Then they returned the favor by showing us that we no next to nothing about college basketball by losing to 13-14 Illinois-Chicago, followed by a road loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The only think that somewhat redeems the Bulldogs from last week is their 75-63 win at Davidson. Down 6 spots, probably should have been dropped further ...
- Mid Major #3 - Xavier. Our third mid-major victim this week is Xavier. A 65-60 loss to a 10-16 Charlotte team certainly classifies as a WTF. Xavier's quality out of conference wins (Memphis, Missouri, LSU, Va Tech, UVA) keep them relevant and in our Top 20. Xavier gets one more regular season shot to really impress the committee when they host Dayton on March 5.
And finally, we get to the basketblogpoll. This week's basketblogpoll roundtable is being hosted by a very good Kentucky Wildcats blog, A Sea of Blue. Our answers follow below.
Who really looks like the best team in college basketball this season?
After the Maryland upset of North Carolina and Texas taking out Oklahoma on Saturday, I think you have to look at Pittsburgh as the team to beat this season. They have already dispatched of Connecticut on the road and should finish the regular season 28-3 with two more quality wins over Marquette and Connecticut at home. The Panthers seem all but assured a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs at this point and 28-3 and a Big East tournament championship would all but seal Pitt as the tournament's overall #1.
Outside of Pittsburgh, Connecticut, North Carolina and Oklahoma, some could make the case for a team like Memphis, who should also finish the regular season 28-3 and a perfect 16-0 in C-USA play. However, I think that coasting through C-USA play this year might come back to bite the Tigers in the NCAA. Also, I can't look past the teams that Memphis have lost to ... Xavier and the Big East's Georgetown and Syracuse ... three of the best teams the Tigers have faced this season.
Is Blake Griffin the Player of the Year already, or can somebody catch him?
Blake Griffin IS the Player of the Year right now. However, if he doesn't come back as strong as he has been from his injury from Saturday night, the door is not closed on other candidates. We're looking at you, Stephen Curry ... Luke Harangody ... Tyler Hansbrough ... Jodie Meeks.
The x-factor that Griffin has over these players is that these other players either have a better supporting cast than Oklahoma (Griffin is their #1 and arguably only option) or the teams don't have as impressive a tournament resume. Davidson has struggled, Notre Dame will likely finish with 13+ losses, and we have already talked about how bad SEC basketball has been this season (with all due respect to the roundtable hosts).
What currently ranked team is the biggest disappointment so far this year?
The answer to this question, and based on last week's poll (as this team will likely be unranked when the new polls come out on Monday) is UCLA. No question. UCLA was picked by the media as the near unanimous choice to repeat as Pac 10 champions and make a deep run in the NCAAs. Currently, the Bruins are tied for 3rd in the Pac-10 standings and are now in the mix with Washington, California, Arizona State, and Arizona for the Pac-10 regular season title. Getting swept by Arizona State, back to back losses in the desert and now the most recent setback - an 82-81 loss to Washington State at home - have certainly made the road to repeating as Pac 10 champs very challenging.
During the preseason, some might have thought that the Bruins would have returned to vying for another #1 seed come Selection Sunday. As it turns out, UCLA may be looking at a seeding anywhere from #7 - #10 when it is all said and done.
Predict the next team to beat Oklahoma.
You mean, of course, other than Texas. I think Oklahoma might be in for a rough stretch. I think the Sooners next loss depends largely on whether Blake Griffin is 100% for tomorrow's game against Kansas. If Griffin isn't 100% or is ineffective, I think the Sooners will lose at home to the Jayhawks. If the Sooners can get past Kansas, the next probable loss is on March 4 on the road against Missouri.
Thoughts and comments welcome.