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College Hoops Top 25 Review

   by Scott Spreitzer - 12/26/2011


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: Louisville Cardinals



This is the second time this season I have inserted Louisville in this spot. I still believe the Cardinals are not currently a top-5 team. We will find out over the next few days just how good this team is. While Rick Pitino's squad is 12-0 SU, not a single one of those 12 opponents are currently ranked in the top-25. But they do host Georgetown on Wednesday before playing on the road at Kentucky on Saturday in what will be just their second true road test of the season. A split would be a decent result, but if Louisville doesn't get much help from their bench they could be staring at a 0-2 week. I certainly do like the starting five, but it's the bench...or lack thereof, that could hurt this team when it really counts. As I stated a few weeks ago, Pitino's Cardinals are solid, have deep tourney potential, and I do believe they're a top-12 team. But I don't believe they should be ranked in the top-5...at least not yet. The top seven players on this team are extremely talented. But a player or two are going to have to step-up and be a difference maker for this team to do a lot of damage in March. As for now, Louisville is my Most Overrated Ranked Team for the second time this season.



MOST UNDERRATED RANKED TEAM: UNLV Runnin' Rebels



While David Rice's Rebels moved up a couple of spots to 19th in this week's AP Top-25, I believe they're ranked about 5 spots too low. UNLV is not only 13-2 on the season, but "owned" then top-ranked North Carolina for the final 20 minutes of a 90-80 win in late November. They also pounded Illinois, a game played in Chicago, by a 64-48 margin. And the Rebels crushed a decent California team 85-68...a final score that didn't truly represent the wire-to-wire mismatch that it was. The Rebels' only 2 losses came on the road in extremely tough environments. UNLV lost at Wichita State to a Shockers's squad that may very well be ranked next week if they take care of business at Bradley on Wednesday then knock-off Creighton in Wichita on Saturday. The Rebels' second loss came in Madison, Wisconsin...enough said. UNLV has shown that they can play at any pace - and more importantly win at any pace. Chase Stanback leads 6 players averaging between 14.5 ppg and 7.6 ppg. Fellow UCLA transfer Mike Moser is averaging a double-double, scoring over 13 ppg while pulling down over 11 rpg. Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall are both averaging over 5 apg, while combining for more than 20 ppg. And the team has 3 "bigs" in the paint on defense in Carlos Lopez, Brice Massamba, and Quintrell Thomas. The 3 immovable forces not only clog the lane on the defensive end, but completely understand their roles. They combine for over 18 ppg and 10 rpg. UNLV is a "tough out" for any opponent this season. Their number one concern is not to lose focus. Assuming they're able to remain focused, UNLV's next big game isn't until January 14 when they play at San Diego State in a battle of the two most athletic teams in the Mountain West. That's going to be a fantastic battle and UNLV may have their problems in "America's Finest City." But for now, I believe the Rebels are this week's Most Underrated Ranked team.



UNRANKED TEAM THAT SHOULD BE RANKED: Xavier Musketeers



Talk about "buying low!" Since the suspensions were temporary the pollsters should judge teams at their level of play when they're at full strength. Let's not forget that Xavier was the 8th ranked team in the nation heading into their December 18 game with Oral Roberts. But their "basket-brawl" game with Cincinnati left Xavier hamstrung for a 4-game stretch. They dropped 3 straight before finally snapping the skid on Sunday in a 10-point win over Southern Illinois. Guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons were given one and two-game suspensions, respectively, while Dez Wells and reserve guard Landen Amos were handed four-game suspensions. Before the suspensions were handed down, Xavier was 8-0 SU. No less than 10 players average at least 12 minutes played per game. And at full strength, Xavier can be suffocating on the defensive end. The Musketeers rank 26th, holding opponents to 38.1% shooting. They have held their first 12 opponents to 26.3% from the 3-point line which ranks 13th in the nation. And opposing teams don't get many "second looks" with Xavier averaging 39.8 rpg! The Musketeers will have had 6 days to get everyone back on the same page before hosting Gonzaga on Saturday. It's a big revenge spot for Xavier after losing 64-54 in Spokane last season. The Musketeers were outscored 30-18 at the free throw line and shot horribly in that contest. I'm sure they'll have this one circled on the calendar - and I can't wait to see if the line represents "full strength" Xavier, or the team we saw in their last 4 games. Back at full strength, Xavier is this week's Unranked Team That Should Be Ranked.

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