2. Pittsburgh (61.9) 12-0 (0-0 Big East) – Pitt currently possesses one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country; currently shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 63 from the free throw line while putting up better than 75 points per game.
3. Texas Tech (52.3) 10-2 (0-0 Big 12) – Red Raider head coach Bobby Knight offered an apology Tuesday for using profanity toward a reporter who asked Iowa coach Steve Alford about his relationship with Knight in a nationally televised interview broadcast last week.
4. Connecticut (28.4) 8-1 (0-0 Big East) – UCONN continues to run the table against nearly everyone it opposes following its Nov. 26 loss to Georgia Tech which knocked the Huskies out of the national spotlight. Since, nobody has come within 20 points of UCONN.
5. Kentucky (7.3) 7-1 (0-0 SEC) – The Wildcats, ranked in the top spots in most college hoops polls across the country, suffered a daunting blow Sunday as they were upset at home by Louisville. The ‘Cats still received votes in our poll, and remain one of the most individually talented teams in the nation.
6. Georgetown 9-0 (0-0 Big East) – Georgetown remains among a handful of teams still undefeated, but are hindered due to strength of schedule. The Hoyas' only quality win was slim, a 79-78 survival of Penn State.
7. South Carolina 11-1 (0-0 SEC) – The Gamecocks have received early contributions from freshmen Renaldo Balkman, Tre Kelley, and Brandon Wallace; who were key in a stunning 26-2 run early in SC's most recent 86-50 win over South Carolina State last Tuesday.
8. Southeast Missouri State 6-4 (0-0 SVC) – The most underrated team in the county. Don't let their record fool you; SMS suffered three quality losses against solid programs while limping through what has been an unbelievably unfortunate month for the Aztecs.
9. BYU 7-2 (0-0 Mountain West) – BYU's only two losses have come by a combined margin of three points. Meanwhile, Cougar big man Rafael Araujo has been busy transforming his game into one of the most complete centers in the country.
10. Gonzaga 7-2 (0-0 West Coast) – One of the nation's top five mid-majors? Maybe five years ago. The Bulldogs have easily done away with some of the country's most potential bubble teams; dismantling each; Georgia, Washington, Maryland… who's next?
11. Utah 8-3 (0-0 Mountain West) – The Utes got off to the earliest start of any major program in the country in 2003, and have stayed the course to survive some of the nation's toughest competition. Their most recent victory, a 20-point dismantling of Colorado, shows just how quietly lethal Rick Majerus' team is.
12. Delaware 6-2 (0-0 Colonial) – Delaware's had a soft schedule, true enough. But they've played it on the road against no less than five teams which have legitimate chances to be double-digit seeds in our brackets come March.
13. Iowa State 7-0 (0-0 Big 12) – The Cyclones received a blow unusual to a program with a perfect record last week, as it was announced that Senior guard Tim Barnes has been declared academically ineligible and will not play for the Cyclones this season.
14. Minnesota 6-2 (0-0 Big 10) – 6-foot-8 Minnesota freshman forward Kris Humphries has averaged higher than 23 points in 33.9 minutes per game this season for Minnesota. He has scored no less than 14 points in any one game this year, and lit up Virginia for 32 in one of the Gophers' only two losses of the season.
15. Boston College 9-1 (0-0 Big East) – The Eagles have faced a decent slate this season, but have had a difficult time dismissing any of it. After showing inconsistencies all year the trend finally caught up with Boston College last week, as the Golden Eagles blew a 12-point halftime lead and dropped its first loss to Stony Brook.
16. Villanova 7-2 (0-0 Big East) – Wildcat center Jason Fraser, who returned to the team on Dec. 12 and played nine minutes in a win over Northeastern two weeks ago, played briefly in ‘Nova's recent 74-66 win over Columbia after tweaking a knee.
17. Arkansas State 8-1 (0-0 Sun Belt) – State hasn't venture too far away from Arkansas early this season, but when they have they've been good. The Indians are 3-0 on the road this year, including a 64-58 victory over TCU on Dec. 22.
18. Illinois-Chicago 9-3 (0-1 Horizon) – The Flames are hanging by a thread in BC's Top 25, especially after dropping its most recent decision to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Dec. 23. But one loss doesn't erase five road victories and a recent three-game win streak. ICU's defining moment this early season will come Tuesday night when they'll host Illinois.
19. Creighton 8-0 (0-0 MVC) – Creighton might be the deepest teams in this week's poll. Don't take their top scorer (senior Deren Brody; 11.5 points per game) as the team's only form of offense. Creighton has a wealth of senior leadership which will serve it well as non-conference play concludes.
20. COLORADO 6-2 (0-0 Big 12) – The Buffs dropped a shocking 20-point defeat in their last time out, only stressing the importance of its remaining homestand which will last well into the new year; it's longest in three years, which will conclude with a nationally televised matchup against Kansas on Jan. 5.
21. Louisville 7-1 (0-0 C-USA) – Give credit to Rick Pitino's team for overcoming a double-digit deficit, began as Kentucky shot lights out from beyond the three-point line to begin Saturday's nationally televised in-state rivalry, and going on to upset the top-ranked team in the country.
22. Rider 6-3 (1-1 MAAC) – Key road victories have lifted Rider into our poll this week, helped along by three experienced guards averaging well into double-digits. The team has much to prove still, as seven of its next ten will come on the road.
23. Florida 8-2 (0-0 SEC) – The Gators continue to prove themselves among the most solid teams in the country, with no less than four true scorers capable of lighting up anybody for 25 on any night of the week.
24. Charlotte 6-3 (0-0 C-USA) – Sophomore forward Curtis Withers and junior guard Brendan Palvich have both averaged better than 14 points for a 49ers team which has lost its only three games by an average margin of three points.
25. Vanderbilt 9-0 (0-0 SEC) – Led by 6-foot-9 senior forward Matt Freije's 20.1 points per game, Vandy continues its perfect start as we round the corner into 2004. With the cupcakes out of the way, Vanderbilt prepares to play powerhouses ranked Kentucky and Florida twice in the next month.
Kansas – Unranked (Down from 17th) 6-2 (0-0 Big 12) – The Kansas Jayhawks are the fourth-best team – in the Big 12. Right now there's little doubt that Iowa State, Texas Tech and Colorado are better than KU. CU will be primed to do in the Jayhawks in their Big 12 opening matchup on Jan. 5. An injured Mike Lee could be back by then, but he'll be rusty, and KU can't depend too heavily on him. Best thing is for those currently adrift to get focused and cohesive, now, before they don't have a choice.
Southeast Missouri State – 8th (Unchanged) A top ten team for long? Perhaps not, but I stand by my assessment that this is the most overlooked team in the country. Don't let the 6-4 mark fool you. Statistically, they're very mundane, and their schedule has them playing well below their level, but this squad literally has more talent that it knows what to do with. A Pepperdine-style team that will likely not become fully appreciated until after Valentines Day.
Arizona – Unranked (Unchanged) Hate to even label the Wildcats as underachieving and overapreciated just because of their obvious talent, but this team just hasn't played anybody. Six games, and perhaps two quality wins into the season, all the Wildcats have to put on this season's resume is a one-point survival over St. Louis and a decent home victory against Marquette. If Arizona wants to prove itself, they'll probably have to wait until Stanford on Jan. 10.
On the Fringe
Heads up: Tuesday night showdown with Louisville.
Not out of the picture yet, but running out of time in the best conference in the country. West Virginia
What a schedule… but they keep dropping the easy ones!
Four ranked teams on the way – a far cry from Lubbock Christian.
Across the Board
Colorado 20th; Denver 59th; Air Force 63rd; Colorado State 108th.
The Big 12… Texas Tech 3rd; Iowa State 13th; Colorado 20th; Kansas 28th; Oklahoma State 44th; Oklahoma 50th; Texas 73rd; Kansas State 88th; Nebraska 98th; Missouri 168th; Texas A&M 212th; Baylor 247th.
Bottom of the Barrel Who wished to disappear for Christmas: UNC-Asheville (2-7), Idaho State (1-8), The Citadel (3-7), Alabama State (2-6), Charleston Southern (2-7).
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