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College Basketball Weekly Report
by Scott Spreitzer - 01/31/2012
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: Duke Blue Devils
This is the first time in the two years that I have been breaking down the weekly top-25 that I have placed Duke in this position. I'm not going to beat up on Coach K's squad too much, after all, they are 18-3 SU on the season. And by now, most who follow me already have heard me state that when you lay points with Duke, you're always going to lay a little extra. But while this team is 18-3 and tied atop the ACC with a 5-1 conference mark, there is little doubt that they can be "had" by quick and athletic teams. Maybe not to the extent of losing to these teams outright on a regular basis, but certainly in winning by as much as the oddsmaker forces you to lay. This year's squad is just 8-13 ATS. They must be given credit for beating Kansas, Michigan, and Michigan State early in the season. But ultra-athletic teams have given them serious trouble. Duke was completely out-classed by a healthy Ohio State team. They were no match for Temple's offensive game plan, and the same can be said against Florida State. Leonard Hamilton took the wraps off the Seminoles (finally) and Duke was no match on the defensive end. In fact, Temple, Florida State, and Ohio State, combined for 93 of 164, 56.7-percent shooting, including 52.6-percent from area code 3. Most recently, Duke couldn't put a depth-shy, but athletic St. John's team away and the Red Storm fought back within 4 points in the final minute of the game, another Duke loss ATS. It took a +21 point margin at the FT line on 21 more attempts to make the difference in the game. Duke certainly deserves to be in the top-12. And they may make some noise deep into the "Big Dance," but in my opinion, they're going to need a decent amount of help from the schedule makers to do so. As far as their current state is concerned, just be careful laying points with a team that would probably be in the 12-to-15 range in the rankings if not for one Coach K on the sideline.
MOST UNDERRATED RANKED TEAM: St. Mary's Gaels
It wasn't all that long ago when SMC occupied my "Unranked Team That Should Be Ranked" slot. Now, here they are a month later, ranked 18th in the AP poll, but still not ranked high enough. No Mickey McConnell this season? No problem. This year's Gaels are simply loaded. Last year's edition was down a notch from the previous year because they didn't possess much experience, as far as their depth was concerned, and the Gaels didn't have much size. That's also not a problem in 2012. The Gaels feature 6 players averaging between 15.4 ppg and 7.4 ppg, led by guard Mattew Dellavedova. The junior used to step aside and let McConnell take the "big shots," but the 6'4 Aussie import is an extremely tough matchup for most opposing guards and operates with extreme confidence. Randy Bennett's troops are as strong on the defensive end as they are successful on the offensive end. Their only weakness to speak of is their deep perimeter defense. But there aren't too many teams who can exploit them from behind the arc on a consistent basis. No less than 9 players are averaging 10 or more minutes played per game. Dellavedova and fellow guard Stephen Holt combine to average almost 10 assists per game, getting everyone involved. And the two main ball-handlers average only 4.65 combined turnovers per game. Forward Rob Jones is a load at 6'6, 240. He throws down a little over 14 ppg, while pulling down almost 11 rpg. Jones is another extremely tough matchup because as good as he is at times inside, he also draws forwards out from the basket, averaging almost 4 3-point attempts per game. And it should be noted that arguably the most impressive performance of the weekend was SMC's blowout win in Provo over BYU. The Gaels crushed BYU 98-82 in Moraga, then opened up a 12-point halftime lead in the "rematch" before cruising to an 80-66 win. I must admit -- I didn't think it was a good spot for the Gaels, but they showed just how strong they are. The Gaels should still be undefeated in WCC play when they travel to Spokane to take on Gonzaga on February 9. And I can't wait for their February 18 "Bracket Buster" tilt at Murray State. For now, St. Mary's is this week's Most Underrated Ranked Team.
UNRANKED TEAM THAT SHOULD BE RANKED: Harvard Crimson
Here we go again. I watched in amazement as the money came in on Yale this past Friday night. The Crimson did get some money later in the day, finally closing at 5 1/2. Tommy Amakers squad then opened up a can of you know what on their "Brain Chain" rivals, jumping out to a 30-19 halftime lead, then going for the jugular in a 65-35 win. The Crimson rank 3rd in the nation, allowing just 53.4 ppg - and it's not just because they can't play on the offensive end. Harvard actually "cans" 46.6% of their shots, including 36.9-percent from behind the arc. No less than 9 players get decent playing time for this squad and they have more than bought into Amaker's team concept. Harvard already squashed Florida State on the defensive end and beat St. Joe's in a faster-paced game, 74-69, showing they can win at any tempo. Harvard was heartbroken when they didn't make the "Big Dance" last season. The only thing keeping them out this season would be a major collapse. Their February 10 game at Penn is intriguing. Harvard should be 6-0 in conference play and 20-2 overall when they play the Quakers.