Lopresti: Re-evaluating the preseason poll, 10 weeks later
New Associated Press rankings are out in college basketball. We also happen to have here the preseason poll. Things seem to have changed a tad the past 10 weeks.
We do know that Arizona, Syracuse and Michigan State are the only teams to start in the top 10 and stay in the top 10. It’s more slippery than the roads this week in the East.
Time to check in on a few of the names on the preseason list to find out how the journey is going.
|Kentucky||1||14||The 10-3 Wildcats are now No. 14. There has been a little trouble with ranked opponents, Kentucky losing to the first three it faced. But how surprising should that be when nine freshman have accounted for 82.2 percent of the Wildcats scoring and 90.4 percent of the 3-pointers?|
The win against Louisville suggested the Rupp Arena kids are growing up. Scary thought to the rest of the world.
|Louisville||3||12||The Cardinals are 13-2 and No. 12, but it has been no pleasure trip, between the dismissal of Chane Behanan (sighs in Louisville) and the loss to Kentucky (nausea in Louisville). The inside play has been a Rick Pitino concern. In the Cardinals’ defeats against North Carolina and Kentucky, they were outscored in the paint 94-50.|
|Duke||4||16||The Blue Devils’ streak of 122 weeks in the top 10 ended Monday. The last time they weren’t in the top 10 was late 2007, Jabari Parker was 12 years old. Duke dropped to No. 16 after its third loss of the season, at Notre Dame; a result most notable for who was sitting on the bench the last few minutes. Jabari Parker. Bad game. “For any kid that is not playing well, you should try to find a kid that is playing well,” Mike Krzyzewski explained|
With Parker and transfer Rodney Hood taking 44.5 percent of Duke’s shots and scoring 45 percent of the points, the Blue Devils are not always the most balanced enterprise.
|Kansas||5||18||The 9-4 Jayhawks have dropped to No. 18 after getting their non-conference home winning streak stopped at 68 by San Diego State. The four defeats are not what the preseason forecasts expected from Andrew Wiggins and the gang, but consider that all four teams to beat Kansas are ranked in the top 15 and a combined 49-6.|
Still, Bill Self was not happy that his young bunch let the game with San Diego State get away in the last minutes. “It’s a learning process and certainly one that I’m disappointed in for sure,” he said to reporters afterward. “But hopefully, if we’re in this situation again, we act a little bit better.”
|Arizona||6||1||The 15-0 Wildcats have soared to No. 1 and are one victory away from matching the school’s best start, back in the Herbert Hoover administration in 1932. But UCLA is waiting Thursday in Pauley Pavilion.|
|Michigan||7||NR||Mitch McGary is likely gone for the season with back surgery and the Wolverines have dropped from the rankings with four losses. Ouch. But the four defeats came against teams with a record of 48-7 and Michigan is still not beating itself, averaging only 9.2 turnovers a game, while searching for an identity.|
|North Carolina||12||NR||Nothing in nature is like the 10-4 Tar Heels, who dropped from the poll this week. How can you beat the (at the time) Nos. 1, 3 and 11 teams in the nation, and be unranked? By losing to four unranked opponents, including Belmont and UAB. In the four defeats, North Carolina has been outscored 81-57 in free throws and hit only 48.7 percent from the line. Nothing free about those throws.|
|Marquette||17||NR||The Golden Eagles have gone from the pre-season top pick in the Big East to 9-6, and some games really hit the upper numbers on the ugly-o-meter. Such as 35 points against Ohio State and 49 against Creighton. But the six opponents who beat them are now 76-9, and Marquette plays good enough defense to cause trouble.|
|Connecticut||18||NR||So much for Texas hospitality. The Huskies were 11-1 before a two-game trip to the Lone Star State, where they shot 39 percent and lost at Houston and SMU. Goodbye rankings.|
|Notre Dame||21||NR||If the football team had running backs who could go back and forth this sharply, the Irish might have finished better than 9-4. Now unranked, Notre Dame managed to lose at home to Indiana State, North Dakota State and nearly Canisius. But the 10-4 Irish have beaten Duke and Indiana, and had Ohio State in the crosshairs before the Buckeyes scored 14 points in the final minute.|
|Virginia||24||NR||The Cavaliers were ranked in the preseason poll for the first time in 12 years, but that didn’t last long, when they lost in the last second to VCU, scored 38 points in a defeat against Wisconsin, and were beaten at Green Bay and by 35 points at Tennessee.|
But a 62-50 win at Florida State, to end a 17-game losing streak in the state of Florida, made Tony Bennett 5-0 in ACC openers. So who knows?