Before we get to the rankings, we here at Sippin' On Purple would like to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas, and we hope your family gatherings are less awkward and uncomfortable than this introduction from ESPN.com's newest college basketball blogger. On the bright side, at least he's not Anthony Tucker (more on him later).
1. (previously 1). Purdue: Purdue maintains the top spot after an easy win over Ball State. Their only non-conference game before Big Ten play starts is at home against SIU-Edwardsville, so they'll be undefeated going into league play. If I were a Boiler fan though, I'd be concerned about the lack of offense, namely the demise of Keaton Grant. As a sophomore he was an excellent 3-point specialist shooting 44%. Last year he fell to 35%, and this year he's been a terrible 4 for 28 on threes. With the offensively challenged Chris Kramer already starting at guard, it's going to be tough for Purdue to score against legitimate competition with 2 starting guards who can't make a jump shot.
2. (2) Michigan State: They remain in second after an easy win over IPFW (Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne in case you were wondering). Tomorrow night they are in for a very tough test at #2 Texas, it would be a big statement win for the conference if the Spartans can somehow pull that one off, but I don't see it happening as Texas is the deepest team in the country. Just hope Rick Barnes is too dumb to hack Sparty's freshman center Derrick Nix, who is an unfathomable 3 for 27 at the free throw line this season. I would bet that you could pick a random person off the street who'd never played basketball, and that person could make more than 3 of 27 free throws with no practice beforehand. Seriously, how is it possible to be that bad?
3. (3) Wisconsin: They stay at three after blowing out Cal Poly. Fortunately for them, this one wasn't as close as when the Badger football team played Cal Poly last season. This week they try to improve on their 0-1 record vs Horizon League teams as they take on Milwaukee and Illinois-Chicago. Whenever I hear Milwaukee mentioned, I get angry thinking about Northwestern transfer Ed McCants, who bailed on Carmody and ended up taking Milwaukee to the sweet 16.
4 (5) Minnesota: The Gophers continued their run of cream puffs by blowing out Northern Illinois. They were hurt by the departure of top recruit and noted kleptomaniac Royce White, who quit the program amidst allegations that he pulled an AJ Price. Amazingly, he made the announcement via this surreal YouTube video. If he'd put as much effort into basketball as he did into that video, the kid would be an All-American.
5 (6) Ohio State: The Buckeyes were less than impressive in a win Saturday over lowly Delaware State. It's not a good sign when three of your starters have to play 40 minutes vs a cupcake opponent. Tomorrow they will be tested by a Cleveland State team that nearly knocked off West Virginia on Saturday.
6 (7) Northwestern: The 'Cats got two more wins and got a little closer to the top 25 in both polls. It looks like most voters are waiting to see if NU can hang in the Big Ten before they deem them worthy of being ranked, which is perfectly reasonable to me as they haven't beaten any top 25 teams yet (and I know Notre Dame was ranked at the time, but the Irish are not close to being a top 25 team and never should been ranked in the first place).
In reading Andy Katz's Weekly Watch today (a must read every week for college basketball fans), he made the following statement:
If I had to vote for a national coach of the year two months into the season, it would be a close vote between [New Mexico's Steve] Alford and Northwestern's Bill Carmody.
An absolutely incredible sentence. While there's no denying that both men have done a great job so far, I would have wagered every penny I own against those two being the front-runners for national coach of the year ever. Alford was run out of Iowa in part due to classy decisions like letting a convicted sex offender back onto the team, and we all know about the movement to fire Carmody. I think if Carmody can lead Northwestern to a winning record in the Big Ten (a very big if), he'll easily win the award.
7 (4) Illinois: The Illini plummet 3 spots after a loss to SEC bottom feeder Georgia. Their fans have to be concerned about the team's struggles away from home, as they're 1-3 and have put together just one good half (the 2nd half at Clemson). They'll have another tough road game Wednesday night at Missouri before hosting NU to open Big Ten play.
8 (10) Michigan: I'm going to move them up two spots as they showed a lot of heart at Kansas, getting down 20 early yet not quitting and actually making things interesting in the 2nd half. Had they actually made some threes (5 for 28), the Wolverines could have pulled the upset. It's looking less and less likely, but they could get it together at some point and make some noise in the BIg Ten, as this roster isn't much different from last year's NCAA tournament team.
9 (9) Penn State: A win over Gardner-Webb isn't going to impress anyone, but they did score over 100 points which counts for a little something. Still, this is an NIT team at best.
10 (8) Indiana: I got carried away last week ranking them eighth, the win over Pittsburgh was nice but this is still the same team that lost to lowly BU. Maurice Creek is a very good freshman guard but this team is so young I think they will really struggle in Big Ten play especially on the road.
11 (11) Iowa: Just hours after the Hawkeyes avoided the humiliation of going 0 for Iowa with a win over Drake, second leading scorer Anthony Tucker got his second career public intoxication arrest. He's been suspended indefinitely, and without him Iowa may struggle to beat South Carolina State at home tonight.
So those are the rankings, remember that criticizing me in the comments leads to wins.