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NCAA Basketball Weekly Report
by Scott Spreitzer - 02/21/2012
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: Wisconsin Badgers
I began this week's article with the thought that the pollsters got it mostly right this week as far as the top-10 is concerned. I could still make a solid argument that Duke doesn't belong in the top-5, and I truly believe that. But with that in mind, I also feel that the Wisconsin Badgers are currently overrated. Wisconsin has been one of the more inconsistent teams when it comes to perimeter shooting. They can look like "world beaters" on night and look like they shot with the lights turned off in the next. Wisconsin misses the outside shooting of Jon Leuer with no one stepping up to take his place. The Badgers are still one of the best teams in the nation on the defensive end, but one has to feel that when they're challenged by athletic and quick teams in March, their stingy defense will not be enough. Wisconsin does play in the difficult Big-10, but they're just 8-5 SU in their last 13 games and they have suffered some ugly losses, including those to Michigan State, Michigan, and Iowa. The Badgers must stay focused on Thursday in Iowa and not look ahead to Sunday's game at Ohio State or they could get swept by the Hawkeyes. That's how vulnerable this team has been all season. Wisconsin is this week's most overrated ranked team.
MOST UNDERRATED RANKED TEAM: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
This is another situation where I could have gone with Wichita State from last week. All the Shockers have done is win all of their games since then. But after posting Notre Dame as an unranked team that deserved to be ranked on a couple of occasions, they're currently in the top-25, but not ranked high enough, in my opinion. Since Mike Brey tweaked the Irish attack and lineup, they have done nothing but win. The Irish have won 8 in a road SU, while going 7-1 ATS. Notre Dame has beaten Syracuse and won on the road over West Virginia, Seton Hall, UConn, and Villanova, while whipping Marquette by 17 in South Bend. The Irish have held their last 8 opponents to 55.9 ppg on 38.3% shooting. They have been getting stingier on the defensive end on the deep perimeter, holding their last 5 opponents to 16 of 79 3-point shooting, a connection rate of just 20.3%. Notre Dame is playing as well as anyone in the top-25 right now, but must be cautious when they host West Virginia on Wednesday. But for now, Notre Dame is this week's most underrated ranked team.
UNRANKED TEAM THAT SHOULD BE RANKED: St. Louis Billikens
Last week, St. Louis shared this spot with Temple. We got the Owls into the rankings this week, but the Billikens still remain unranked. Since last week's article, Rick Majerus' squad crushed Richmond and Fordham. While we expected the Bills to make it past those two teams without much resistance, we still felt that by doing so, they deserved a few more votes. As I stated last week - and it deserves to be re-visited: The Billikens, at 22-5 SU, are just a handful of plays from a 26-1 SU mark. And all 5 losses came against teams that will be playing in postseason tourneys. Rick Majerus has always produced Billiken teams that were stingy on the defensive end as far as points allowed per game. But before building this program to this season's level, it was usually due to the fact that they had to play a deliberate pace because of a lack of scorers on the offensive end. Now that his program contains nothing but Majerus players, they're holding teams to 56.1 ppg (7th in div. 1), because of great defensive play. This year's version can score points. St. Louis averages nearly 70 ppg on 45.7% shooting. St. Louis has a great shot to finish the season with 3 more wins in as many tries, facing Rhode Island on the road, hosting Xavier, then playing at Duquesne. I believe by the time the regular season is finished, SLU will be ranked in the top-25.