Bracketology Breakdown

What college basketball teams are rising and which ones are falling? Who's destined for a top seed and which teams are dropping off the radar? Badger Nation brings in the local experts to offer their opinions.

With Selection Sunday less than a month away, Badger Nation debutes a new weekly edition that brings in Madison's college basketball experts to debate which are the best 16 teams in college basketball.

This week's edition features Badger Herald sports editors Kevin Hagstrom and Michael Poppy, Badger Herald basketball reporter Eric C. Krueger, Daily Cardinal sports editors Zach Kukkonen and Adam Hoge, Daily Cardinal basketball writer Sam Pepper and Badger Nation's senior contributor Benjamin Worgull

The Top 16

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. North Carolina

4. UCLA

5. Texas A&M

6. Ohio State

7. Memphis

8. Pittsburgh

9. Kansas

10. Washington State

11. Nevada

12. Georgetown

13. Oregon

14. Butler

15. Marquette

16. USC

Air Force, Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Southern Illinois also received votes.

Eric C. Krueger, Badger Herald

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. North Carolina

4. Ohio State

5. UCLA

6. Pittsburgh

7. Texas A&M

8. Kansas

9. Memphis

10. Nevada

11. Washington State

12. USC

13. Kentucky

14. Georgetown

15. Butler

16. Oregon

In my mind, the top five teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, despite UCLA's recent slip-up. Of these five, Florida has clearly been the most dominant and Wisconsin has tallied the most impressive resume.

Memphis has been rolling through a sub-par conference schedule, but there is still something to be said about repeatedly beating up on teams you should beat. While it might be true that Nevada hasn't faced a tournament quality team yet, Nick Fazekas is putting up as good of numbers as anyone not named Kevin Durant.

Washington State and USC continue to impress due in no small part to brilliant coaching performances from Tony Bennett and Tim Floyd, respectively. Both of these guys should be considered for National Coach of the Year.

We find Georgetown higher here than in most other lists, not only for crushing a very overrated Marquette team, but because their last loss came at Pittsburgh almost a month ago.

Michael Poppy, Badger Herald

1. Florida

2. UCLA

3. Wisconsin

4. North Carolina

5. Ohio State

6. Texas A&M

7. Kansas

8. Memphis

9. Pittsburgh

10. Butler

11 Oregon

12. Marquette

13. Washington State

14. Nevada

15. Kentucky

16. Arizona

The reigning national champs just keep rolling, while the Bruins only three losses have come on the road. While Wisconsin, the Big Ten's version of UCLA, maintains steady, North Carolina's two upset losses, even though they beat Duke, leaves them at the bottom of the No. 1's.

Texas A&M is finally getting some love after upsetting Kansas while the Jayhawks still have the potential to win it all, but have been inconsistent all season. Hiding under the radar, Memphis is one, if not the, quickest team in the nation.

Kevin Hagstrom, Badger Herald

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. UCLA

4. North Carolina

5. Ohio State

6. Texas A & M

7. Pittsburgh

8. Kansas

9. Memphis

10. Nevada

11. Oregon

12. Marquette

13. Duke

14. Washington State

15. Air Force

16. Kentucky

Florida is the best overall team in the NCAA. Even if the Gators fell to the Kentucky Wildcats they still would be No. 1. North Carolina has great depth and can out-run almost everyone, but hasn't shown the consistency of the Florida and Wisconsin teams in front of it.

While it's true that Ohio State has lost to three quality opponents on their home courts, the fact is they lost those games. And the rest of its schedule has been fairly weak.

Texas A & M has made its mark, defeating Kansas on the road, blowing past No. 22 Texas. The Aggies' three losses have come against either quality or top 10 ranked opponents away from home.

Oregon, Marquette and Duke haven't played particularly well this past week. Still, they have played formidable foes and I expect full recoveries. After all, they have some of the best talent in the NCAA.

Kentucky rounds out the Top 16 because of its strength of schedule. The Wildcats are No. 6 nationally in the RPI and an 18-7 record is respectable considering those circumstances.

Benjamin Worgull, Badger Nation

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. North Carolina

4. UCLA

5. Texas A&M

6. Ohio State

7. Memphis

8. Pittsburgh

9. Kansas

10. Washington State

11. Oklahoma State

12. Georgetown

13. Oregon

14. Butler

15. Marquette

16. USC

Let's be fair - the only other team that is having a better year than the Badgers are the defending national champion Florida Gators. Florida is a perfect 10-0 in the SEC and has won 16 straight games since losing at Florida State. Not far behind is Wisconsin, as the Badgers are the only team, besides Florida, to return 90 percent of their scoring from last year's tournament team. Wisconsin is 6-2 against teams from the projected tournament field and continues to look strong with a player of the year candidate leading the charge. North Carolina got a big win at Duke and UCLA's loss at West Virginia without starting point guard Darren Collison won't hurt them much.

A&M keeps rolling with big wins at Kansas and over Texas while Ohio State is lucky to be in first place in the Big Ten after the close games they have been through recently. The team on the rise in college basketball, however, is Georgetown. After routing Marquette at home, the Hoyas have won seven straight games, moving them into second in the Big East.

Adam Hoge, Daily Cardinal

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. North Carolina

4. Ohio State

5. Texas A&M

6. UCLA

7. Pittsburgh

8. Memphis

9. Washington State

10. Kansas

11. Marquette

12. Georgetown

13. Southern Illinois

14. Nevada

15. Kentucky

16. USC

UCLA falls the furthest after its loss to West Virginia, while Georgetown makes the biggest jump after soundly defeating Marquette. Florida, UCLA, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio State have been a step above the rest of the field all season long, but Texas A&M is starting to show that it might be deserving of a No. 1 seed come March. North Carolina's squad is reminiscent of the 2005 National Championship team and is probably the most talented team out there. Roy Williams just needs to keep his players focused to prevent any other slipups.

Southern Illinois might be a surprise at No. 13, but the Missouri Valley Conference has been a victim of its own success with its teams beating up on each other all year long. The eventual champion of the MVC will be deserving of at least a No. 4 seed and SIU is atop the conference and hot right now.

Kentucky was a buzzer beater short of upsetting Florida, proving that as of now, the Wildcats are among the top 16 in the country. Meanwhile USC's performance thus far in an above average Pac-10 is surprising.

Zach Kukkonen, Daily Cardinal

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. UCLA

4. North Carolina

5. Ohio State

6. Texas A&M

7. Oregon

8. Butler

9. Kansas

10. Pittsburgh

11. Marquette

12. Nevada

13. Washington State

14. Memphis

15. Air Force

16. Oklahoma State

It's hard to argue against giving the defending champions a No. 1 seed when they've played quite well all season and have only two losses. The Badgers have not been overly dominant over the past three weeks, but they've only lost once since Nov. 24, and that was at a very tough arena against a ranked Indiana team. Wisconsin does have a rough road going into the Big Ten tournament, however, as they play Michigan State twice and at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes are certainly talented, as they have two of the best freshmen in the country in Greg Oden and Daequan Cook while the Aggies have four players that score more than 12 points a game.

Marquette missed a big opportunity to cement themselves as contenders Saturday as they were blown out by Georgetown. The young Panthers are extremely talented, but will their inexperience be a hindrance come March? Big games against Notre Dame and Pittsburgh could help answer that question.

Sam Pepper, Daily Cardinal

1. Florida

2. Wisconsin

3. North Carolina

4. UCLA

5. Ohio State

6. Texas A&M

7. Kansas

8. Pittburgh

9. Memphis

10. Nevada

11. Marquette

12. Washington State

13. Oregon

14. Southern Illinois

15. USC

16. Georgetown

The tournament committee would love to see this order stay in tact at the end of the season. The No. 1 seeds and 2 seeds are really clear. Ohio State, with losses to Florida, Wisconsin and UNC is clearly not top seed material and the same goes for Memphis down for No. 2 seeds.

The loss to Georgetown doesn't hurt Marquette as much as it helps the Hoyas. They are still near the top in their conference, and a big loss to John Thompson's squad is certainly not embarrassing. Also, Butler is probably 17 right now. A loss to Cleveland State is not acceptable, but dropping 20 threes the game before is flat out scary.


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