(A word of explanation: This feature was part of our first weekly college basketball package, which is scheduled to run every Tuesday in the print AJC. I offer it to you in the interest of full digital disclosure.)
1. Who’s the third-best team (behind North Carolina and Duke) in the ACC? Right now it’s Virginia, but there’s some question as to how the deliberative Cavaliers have gotten to 14-1. Their only win over a ranked team came against Michigan, and their loss was to unranked TCU. Their next two games are on the road — at Duke and then at Georgia Tech. We’ll know more soon.
2. Who’s the second-best team (behind Kentucky) in the SEC? Florida lost its conference opener at Tennessee. Mississippi State lost its conference opener at Arkansas. The team to watch is Vanderbilt, which lost four times in pre-conference play (twice in overtime) but has won five in a row and has gotten big man Festus Ezeli back from a knee injury.
3. Can Georgia State really win the Colonial? A confession: I rolled my eyes when Panthers coach Ron Hunter told me his team could take its conference, but let’s look now. Georgia State, picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA in a preseason coaches’ poll, just played the teams picked first, second and third — and it beat Drexel and VCU and gave George Mason a rough ride on the road.
1. Syracuse: Is this Jim Boeheim’s best team since the one-and-done season of Carmelo Anthony?
2. Kentucky: Is this John Calipari’s best team since … er, the overstuffed UK crew of 2009- 2010?
3. North Carolina: The towering Tar Heels might win the ACC by three games. If not four.
4. Indiana: The again-hurryin’ Hoosiers keep winning big games and influencing people.
5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are a very good team that doesn’t get nearly enough notice.
6. Baylor: The schedule keeps getting tougher, but the Bears remain undefeated.
7. Michigan State: The Spartans lost their first two games but haven’t lost since.
8. Missouri: That weird Frank Haith hire doesn’t look quite so weird now, does it?
9. Duke: The Blue Devils had to work hard to beat Georgia Tech after losing to Temple.
10. Murray State: Is this the swiftest band of Racers since the days of Popeye Jones (circa 1990)?
11. Virginia: The Cavaliers’ eye-opening 14-game winning streak gets tested this week by Duke.
12. Georgetown: A 11-game Hoya winning streak was halted at West Virginia. (Update: Georgetown also lost at home last night to Cincinnati.)
13. UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels will ride that November upset of North Carolina all season.
14. Kansas: The Jayhawks haven’t lost since being upset in Kansas City by Davidson.
15. UConn: Jim Calhoun returned from his suspension just in time to lose at Rutgers.
16. Louisville: Unbeaten as of Dec. 27, the sinking Cardinals have dropped three of four.
By Mark Bradley