Florida No. 2 After National Ratings Shakeup
Eric Hicks
Eric Hicks
National Basketball Columnist
Posted Jan 9, 2006

Connecticut, Villanova, Ohio State and Illinois each suffered their first losses of the season during a seven-day stretch. So Billy Donovan's team, which improved to 14-0 while the others were stumbling, took full advantage to catapult itself in the latest Scout.com Top 25.

Nine of the first 12 teams in last week’s Scout.com Top 25 lost at least once last week.


Those results are reflected in the updated version of the ranking – except at the top, of course.


Season-long No. 1 Duke cruised past host Wake Forest Sunday night to wrap up a weekend in which previously unbeaten Illinois, Ohio State and Villanova each stumbled in conference games.


Moving into the second slot this week is one of the three remaining unbeatens, Florida, which padded its mark to 14-0 with an 18-point Southeastern Conference victory at Georgia Saturday.


The third team sans a loss, Pittsburgh (12-0), moved up five spots to No. 18.


Here is a look at some of the week’s best matchups, as well as Scout.com’s updated Top 25 and the five Scout.com Players of the Week:



Cincinnati at Connecticut: The Huskies got smoked by, and struggled to beat, teams (Marquette and LSU) last week that weren’t playing nearly as well as the Bearcats are right now. The groundswell that is the “Give Andy Kennedy the job” push could become a tidal wave for the Cincinnati interim coach if the Bearcats win this one.


Texas at Iowa State: The Longhorns are back to looking like a strong possibility for a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed after recent victories at Memphis and at home against Colorado. Ironically enough, each of the Cyclones’ three losses (Iona, Fresno State and Ohio State) has come in Ames.


Gonzaga at Santa Clara: If the Bulldogs are going to lose a West Coast Athletic Conference game (they opened with a 68-60 victory at Saint Mary’s Saturday night), it will happen in this one or when they visit the University of San Diego on Jan. 21.



North Carolina State at Boston College: Both are coming off tough road losses (at UNC and Georgia Tech, respectively) over the weekend. The Eagles are making their home ACC debut after two-points defeats at Maryland and Georgia Tech.


Vanderbilt at Kentucky: Randolph Morris makes his sophomore debut – and no time soon for the Wildcats, who got slapped goofy (73-46) by Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse Saturday. The Commodores are 10-2 and, despite a win at Georgetown, have operated under the national radar all season. A victory in Lexington changes that, pronto.


Wisconsin at Minnesota: If the Gophers are going to add some figurative heft to their NCAA Tournament at-large bid resume, a win over a Badgers’ club that smacked Michigan State on national television Sunday afternoon would be a good place to start.



Maryland at Duke: Not that the 14-0 and top-ranked Blue Devils need any extra motivation these days but . . . the Terrapins swept them last season.


Indiana at Michigan State: The Hoosiers won narrow Big Ten Conference decisions over Michigan and Ohio State in Bloomington last week. The going will be even tougher in East Lansing – especially against a team stinging after lopsided losses at Illinois and Wisconsin Thursday and Sunday.


Georgetown at West Virginia: The Hoyas (10-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big West) haven’t lost in a month. Winning in Morgantown would add considerable pizzazz to a streak that would extend to eight in a row.


Syracuse at Notre Dame: Definition of a “favorable schedule” – during a 13-2 start, the Orange has played outside of New York only once (at Towson in Baltimore) and away from the Carrier Dome just three times (including the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals and final in Madison Square Garden).



Washington at USC: Definition of a “favorable schedule”, Part II – the 12-2 Huskies (1-2 in the Pac 10 Conference) have played away from Seattle just once.



Villanova at Texas: The best non-conference game of the week – and it could prove to be one of the most entertaining games played outside of conference all season.


Washington at UCLA: After playing against a Washington State team that will do all it can to make it a 47-foot battleground Thursday night, the Bruins hook up with a squad that figures to create baseline-to-baseline tempo. The final score in this one should be in the 90-85 stratosphere.


Players of the Week

(based on games Jan. 2-7)


Tyler Hansbrough (6-8 ½, Fr., North Carolina): It would be hard to quibble about his ACC debut, as he scored 20 points (while perfect in 14 free-throw attempts) and grabbed four rebounds to go with two blocked shots and two assists in the Tar Heels’ 82-69 victory over visiting North Carolina State Saturday. Four days earlier he had 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot during an 82-58 win in Chapel Hill over Davidson. For the season: 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game.


Eric Hicks (6-5, Sr., Cincinnati): The forward helped the Bearcats make a nice splash in their first-ever Big East Conference games, albeit they came against fellow alumni of Conference USA. In the 82-60 (over DePaul) and 70-66 (at Marquette) victories, Hicks totaled 42 points (hitting 18 of 30 from the field) and 27 rebounds and didn’t turn the ball over at all. He also blocked 10 shots in the game with the Golden Eagles Saturday. For the season: 15.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.3 apg and 3.5 blocked shots per game.


Marco Killingsworth (6-8, Sr., Indiana): The Hoosiers got off to a 2-0 start in the Big 10 and, not surprisingly, the Auburn transfer played a big role in both victories in Bloomington. Tuesday he had 15 points, six rebounds and two assists as Mike Davis’ team held off Michigan, 71-63. Saturday he had 26 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots as the Hoosiers rallied to hand Ohio State its first loss, 81-79. For the season: 19.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.1 bpg.


Steve Novak (6-9, Sr., Marquette): The guy with one of the sweetest jump shots in the sport is the only Top Five player for games last week whose team lost. He scored 41 points (on 12 of 20 from the field, including six of 13 behind the arc, and 11 of 11 at the foul line) and grabbed 16 rebounds Tuesday as the Golden Eagles’ pasted previously unbeaten Connecticut, 94-79. His team couldn’t hold onto a 10-point advantage at intermission against Cincinnati Saturday and lost (70-66) but Novak had 17 points and 10 rebounds. For the season: 15.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.2 apg and .442 shooting on 3’s.


P.J. Tucker (6-5, Jr., Texas): The Longhorns had a pair of decisive and impressive victories, one of those (89-64, Saturday in Austin) in a Big 12 opener over a Colorado team that took a 10-1 record into the game. Tucker had 24 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in the 69-58 non-conference victory over Memphis on Jan. 2. Against the Buffaloes he produced 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals. For the season: 18.5 ppt, 9.3 rpg, 2.7 apg and 2.1 spg.


Scout.com’s updated Top 25

(Last week’s rating in parentheses)


1. (1) Duke (14-0) Next game: vs. Maryland (Wednesday)

2. (7) Florida (14-0) Next game: vs. Mississippi State (Wednesday)

3. (3) Villanova (10-1) Next game: at Rutgers (Wednesday)

4. (4) Ohio State (11-1) Next game: at Purdue (Wednesday)

5. (5) Illinois (15-1) Next game: vs. Michigan (Saturday)

6. (2) Connecticut (12-1) Next game: vs. Cincinnati (Monday)

7. (6) Memphis (13-2) Next game: at East Carolina (Wednesday)

8. (9) Gonzaga (11-3) Next game: at Santa Clara (Monday)

9. (13) Indiana (10-2) Next game: at Michigan State (Wednesday)

10. (14) Wisconsin (12-2) Next game: at Minnesota (Wednesday)

11. (19) Texas (12-2) Next game: at Iowa State (Monday)

12. (8) North Carolina State (12-2) Next game: at Boston College (Tuesday)

13. (20) UCLA (13-2) Next game: vs. Washington State (Thursday)

14.  (21) North Carolina (9-2) Next game: at Virginia Tech (Tuesday)

15. (16) Arizona (10-4) Next game: at Oregon State (Thursday)

16. (11) Washington (12-2) Next game: at USC (Thursday)

17. (22) Cincinnati (13-2) Next game: at Connecticut (Monday)

18. (23) Pittsburgh (12-) Next game: vs. DePaul (Thursday)

19. (24) George Washington (10-1) Next game: vs. Saint Louis (Wednesday)

20. (ur) West Virginia (10-3) Next game: vs. Georgetown (Wednesday)

21. (10) Michigan State (12-4) Next game: vs. Indiana (Wednesday)

22. (ur) Air Force (14-1) Next game: at Wyoming (Wednesday)

23. (15) Maryland (11-3) Next game: at Duke (Wednesday)

24. (12) Boston College (11-3) Next game: vs. North Carolina State (Tuesday)

25. (25) Iowa (12-4) Next game: at Penn State (Saturday)


Dropped out: Kentucky (17) and Louisville (18)


Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.FrankHoops.com

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