With the 2012-2013 NCAA basketball season now several weeks deep, we’ve had an opportunity to see some of the top teams tested. Duke is one squad that’s definitely risen to the occasion after defeating three of the nation’s top teams. And Indiana has done an admirable job of taking care of business and remaining undefeated. So which of these teams is playing the best right now? Let’s take a look….
1. Duke Blue Devils (9-0) – Most people didn’t view Duke as a top title contender entering the season. Sure, they were expected to have another good season and grab a decent tournament seed, but championship….that was left for Indiana and Louisville to contend for. However, the Blue Devils have already beaten Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State this year, thus giving them our top power rankings spot.
2. Indiana Hoosiers (9-0) – The Hoosiers remain the pollsters’ favorite team since they’ve stayed undefeated – including an 83-59 trouncing of North Carolina. The only thing keeping Indiana from the top spot is the fact that they haven’t beaten as many quality opponents as Duke. C Cody Zeller is having a great sophomore campaign with 15.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 1.4 BPG.
3. Florida Gators (7-0) – Entering this year, Billy Donovan worried about his club’s ability to defend opponents. Looking at the results, which see Florida win by an average of 25 PPG, you might just chalk this fear up to Donovan’s perfectionism.
4. Michigan Wolverines (9-0) – While Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. command the national attention here, freshman Nik Stauskas has been just as good averaging 13.7 PPG while shooting 60.5% from behind the arc. Teams have certainly had trouble shutting down all of the Wolverines’ scoring options.
5. Syracuse Orange (8-0) – Michael Carter-Williams has really stepped up his game in 2012 since he’s averaging a nation-best 10.4 APG and a nation-second-best 3.8 SPG. Expect the Orange to be remain undefeated for quite some time since their schedule is pretty soft until Big East play.
6. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1) – The Buckeyes carried an eight-point lead into the half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, they couldn’t hang on and will have to wait until a matchup against Kansas on December 9th to make a national statement. DeShaun Thomas is picking up where he left off from last season in averaging 20.6 PPG and 6.1 RPG.
7. Illinois Fighting Illini (10-0) – Illinois receives a huge boost in our power rankings because they just knocked off previously-unbeaten Gonzaga. Senior Brandon Paul saved his best for his last season by averaging 19.5 PPG – up five PPG from the previous year.
8. Louisville Cardinals (8-1) – The Cardinals were our favorite team to open the season, and they looked every bit the part…..up until a home loss against Duke and an injury to starting center Gorgui Dieng (8.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG). With Dieng out, Louisville’s lineup is certainly weakened.
9. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0) – The Bearcats are looking very good heading into a game against crosstown rival Xavier. They’ve also become one of the favorites to win the Big East.
10. Arizona Wildcats (7-0) – Arizona may have point guard difficulties at the moment, but they’re hoping that Xavier transfer Mark Lyons can eventually fill the role. A big test is coming up on December 15th when the Wildcats face Florida.