For your reference, here is last week's ballot.
Dropped Out: Illinois (#18), Louisiana St. (#20), Purdue (#23), Arizona St. (#25).
Welcome! Syracuse (#18), Oklahoma St. (#23), West Virginia (#24), Northern Iowa (#25)
Waiting Room: Illinois, Utah, Dayton, Siena
By Conference: Big East 7, Atlantic Coast 5, Big XII 4, Pac 10 2, Big Ten 1, Conference USA 1, Atlantic 10 1, Horizon 1, West Coast 1, Mountain West 1, Missouri Valley 1
- Syracuse - The 'Cuse has had strong computer numbers all season and they finally seem to have grown into those numbers. Winners of four straight - including a 86-79 win over Marquette - is good enough to vault Syracuse into our poll this week. Syracuse enters our poll at #18.
- UCLA - UCLA swept the hapless Oregon schools this week to finish second in the Pac 10 regular season standings behind Washington. It will be interesting to see how the Bruins perform in the Pac 10 tournament.
- Wake Forest - The Deacs finished the regular season strong, winning their last four games against N.C. State, Virginia, Maryland and Clemson. With Carolina beating Duke today and locking up the No. 1 seed, Wake slides into the No. 2 seed for the upcoming ACC Tournament. I particularly wouldn't want to face them in this year's ACC Tournament, which happens to be the unenviable task of the Maryland/NC State game winner.
- Northern Iowa - We decided to throw some love the way of the Northern Iowa Panthers, winners of the Missouri Valley Conference's tournament this past weekend, their second conference tournament title all-time (2004 being the other). UNI also won a share of the regular season title with Creighton for the first time since 1969. The Valley is statistically the 9th best conference, but given that we threw some Top 25 love to Conference USA champ Memphis (the 10th best conference), we figured we'd give some love to UNI too.
- Illinois - The 38-33 Illini loss to Penn State back on February 18 probably should have been a red flag for throwing Illinois in our Top 25. Even with strong enough computer numbers, a two L week to the cream of the Big Ten crop drops Illinois temporarily out of our Top 25. The Illini go into the Big Ten tournament having won 2 of their last 5, and losing to Penn State twice and Michigan State. Still, no real bad losses on Illinois' resume so they will probably end up getting a fairly favorable seed in the NCAAs.
- SEC -The conference's lone representative in our poll - LSU - laid eggs against Vanderbilt at home (on senior night, nonetheless) and at Auburn. Tennessee was coming on strong having won back-to-back road games against the SEC East leaders South Carolina and Florida, only to lose to 15-13 Alabama on a buzzer beater. South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky haven't necessarily stepped up down the stretch. We're really not sure what to make of this conference. Four teams have to advance to the SEC tournament semifinals, right? If more than 3 SEC teams make the NCAA Tournament, we'll be ... surprised.
- Xavier - The A-10's top team got a great win against Dayton on Thursday, only to follow that up with a WTF loss at 16-14 Richmond to wrap up the A-10 regular season. Given that Dayton and Xavier split the regular season series, it will be interesting to see what happens if they meet in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game. Both teams are likely in the field of 65, but certainly Dayton needs the auto-bid more at this point.