This week's edition features Badger Herald sports editor Ben Voelkel, Daily Cardinal hoops writer Adam Hoge, Janesville Gazette hoops beat writer Aaron Brenner, Badger Nation Publisher Benjamin Worgull and Badgermaniac.
Badger Nation's Power 12
1. Memphis (58 points)
2. Duke (54)
3. Kansas (49)
4. UCLA (43)
5. Tennessee (37)
6. North Carolina (36)
7. Georgetown (31)
8. Wisconsin (21)
T-9. Stanford (14)
T-9. Texas (14)
11. Butler (7)
Ben Voekel, Badger Herald
7. North Carolina
Kansas stays above Duke in this week's poll simply because I think if the two teams played, the Jayhawks would be able to handle the Blue Devils. Losing Lawson hurts North Carolina for now, but building point guard depth can only help the Heels come tournament time. The way UCLA was able to handle Wazzu Thursday night speaks volumes to the type of team the Bruins are. Wisconsin vs Indiana is shaping up to be an absolute monster game in the Big Ten Wednesday, especially after Indiana escaped from Champaign with the double-OT thriller, thanks to Shaun Pruitt.
Adam Hoge, Daily Cardinal
5. North Carolina
No you're not going crazy, Memphis is still undefeated — for now. But Duke is the best team in the country and in my opinion would beat Memphis if the two teams played tomorrow. Duke is like Wisconsin in that they have a balanced scoring attack playing very well in their coach's system — just Duke's players are better than Wisconsin's at almost every position.
Which brings me to the Badgers, who reenter my Power 12 at No. 8 after going 3-0 in a tough stretch against Indiana at home and two straight road games at Minnesota and Iowa. It doesn't get any easier with Purdue coming to Madison Saturday.
Stanford is in at No. 9 after a big win against Oregon Thursday and Texas keeps pace with solid wins against Baylor and Oklahoma. And for what it's worth, Indiana knew it was going to be tested by the Illini Thursday night and banked-three by Eric Gordon or not, they stole a very tough win to stay in this Power 12.
Aaron Brenner, Janesville Gazette
7. North Carolina
You'll notice there's a big fat "empty" marker next to the No. 8 ranking. That's because we have a quite established ‘Tier 1' and ‘Tier 2' in college basketball.
Memphis, Duke and UCLA all look very, very strong. Kansas is looking a little more mortal, but we've all seen what they can do this season. Georgetown and Tennessee have really hit their stride, and with a little luck could grab a No. 1 seed next month. UNC, well, their record keeps them in the top tier. But I was completely unsurprised when they lost at home to Duke, because something about this team turns me off. But after the Tar Heels, there's a noticeable dropoff. To me, it seems these are the only seven teams capable of winning the title this season.
Texas and Butler hold strong at 10 and 11, followed by … Drake? Sure, why not? The Bulldogs have a 20-game win streak going, second-longest in the nation to Memphis. They were featured in this week's "Who's Hot" section of Sports Illustrated. And they've got a great chance to enter the NCAA tournament at 31-1, which would be Drake's first NCAA berth in 37 years.
Benjamin Worgull, Badger Nation
3. North Carolina
It's hard to give Memphis the top spot in the nation for the sole reason is that the Tigers have not played a solid conference opponent, let alone someone outside the Tennessee borders. Therefore, I give the Blue Devils my top spot. Going into Chapel Hill and coming out a win is impressive, no matter what the status of the Tar Heels are.
That having been said, I won't penalize the Heels too much for losing without one of their best players in Ty Lawson.
Wisconsin gets a big boost from me after beating Indiana at home and going on the road to win two tough conference road games. After Texas, however, no team is really that impressive, except for the Huskies, who have won six straight games in the rugged Big East (plus a road win at Indiana with two suspended players). I'll put Butler in at 12 for their squeaker win at Valparaiso, but I am not sold on the Bulldogs, not by a long shot.
6. North Carolina
Kansas gets an impressive win over Missouri, but it isn't enough to bump Memphis from the top of my ratings.
Tennessee continues to rack up good wins against an impressive schedule, now having won 7 top 50 games, tops in the nation.
Duke's win at North Carolina jumps them into the top five, exchanging spots with the Tar Heels.
I am still not sold on Georgetown as an elite team, but someone has to go in that seven spot.
Xavier got two more quality wins over Dayton and UMass, so they jump into the top 10. They are awfully good at the moment.
Texas also gets two solid wins over top 50 clubs this week in Baylor and Oklahoma. They have those four losses, but they have played a top 10 schedule.
The Badgers, as promised following their win over Indiana, jump into my top 12. Their schedule is still very weak for a top-level team. In fact, they are right next to Drake in terms of SOS, but since Drake has more results (more top 50 wins), they get the edge.
My last spot came down to MSU and UConn. MSU still has that 8-1 Top 100 record, but they also have two bad losses on their resume. UConn is only 7-5 in such games, but does not have the bad losses. Based on their recent play (4 straight wins over top 50 teams), I will give the Huskies the nod.