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College Hoops Overrateds and Underrateds
by Scott Spreitzer - 12/19/2011
Each week throughout the college basketball season, Scott will dissect the new top-25 rankings on Monday evenings and post what he feels is the week's most overrated top-25 team, along with the most underrated ranked team, and an unranked squad that he feels should be in the AP top-25.
MOST OVERRATED RANKED TEAM: Illinois Fighting Illini
I guess I could have inserted Ohio State when Jared Sullinger isn't in uniform...joking. But my overrated ranked team this week is Bruce Weber's Illini. Yes, I know they're only 25th in the AP top-25, but they shouldn't be ranked, in my opinion. I went against Illinois on Saturday and we cashed easily when they were crushed by UNLV. They followed the loss (in Chicago) with an "escape act win" over Cornell. Yes, they did beat Gonzaga earlier this season, but Illinois is missing a couple of key parts from last year's version in Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey. The Illini still have Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard, but St. Bonny's laid the blueprint to slowing down Illinois this season when they doubled Leonard inside. Weber is relying on 6 freshman this season, along with Bradley transfer Sam Maniscalco at the point. The senior PG is certainly struggling with his shot making just 2 of 17 attempts in his last 2 games. He was completely out-classed by UNLV's athletic backcourt. Many times I look to play against teams with a lot of underclassmen early on then search for opportunities to play on them later in the season. I don't get that feeling with the Illini. While we might find a spot or two to jump on board, we'll be against them more often than not in all likelihood. Illinois is this week's most overrated ranked team.
MOST UNDERRATED RANKED TEAM: Creighton Blue Jays
I was ready to insert the Jays in this spot even before they crushed Tulsa on the road on Monday evening. Doug McDermott went into Monday as the nation's second leading scorer, then threw down 35 road points on 16 of 23 shooting. The sophomore forward is a beast! His dad, Greg, is the team's coach and recently said he knows he has at least 3 years of job security thanks to his son. But Greg better watch out. Doug has the "goods" to come out after next season. He's hitting 61% of his shots despite taking over 15 shots per game and he's connecting on 55% of his 3-pointers and leads the team in rebounding averaging 8.8 per game. But the Jays are also strong at the point with senior Antoine Young who is a serious creator on the offensive end. And they have toughness in the paint with Gregory Echenique. Creighton's only loss came on the road at an underrated St. Joseph's squad - a somewhat predictable outcome. But they're right back on track as they close in on conference season. Following a home game with Northwestern, CU takes on back-to-back Mo-Valley opponents, including a road game at ultra-tough Koch Arena against Wichita State to end December. That one promises to be a barn-burner. As long as McDermott and Young remain healhty, CU has a legit shot to play deep into March. But let's not put the cart before the horse. CU is a beast and they are this week's most underrated ranked team.
UNRANKED TEAM THAT SHOULD BE RANKED: Harvard Crimson
Yes, the Crimson are a repeat from last week. They received the 26th most votes and should swap places, at the very least, with Illinois. As I stated last week: Tommy Amaker has done a tremendous job with Harvard. Two weeks ago, they landed their first AP top-25 ranking. I don't believe the Crimson should have dropped from the rankings based on a loss at Storrs, still their only loss of the season. Harvard went through a couple of rough shooting droughts in the loss at UConn, but it should be noted that they were within 7 points with 4:30 to go in the contest. Everyone is back from last year's 23-7 squad. No less than 10 players have seen a decent amount of action in all 10 games this season. Eight of those 10 average between 14 and 29 minutes played per game. Harvard slammed the door on the glass and defensive end when they held then 22nd-ranked Florida State to 41 points in a 5-point Crimson win. That's the same FSU team who's only other two losses came against UConn and Michigan State. Harvard owns athleticism and power with forwards Kyle Casey and Keith Wright, respectively. They're deep and well coached - and should be able to remain focused for Thursday's home game with FAU, even through they haven't played since 12/10. Once again, Harvard is this week's unranked team that should be ranked.