Jay Bilas rankings of top ten below mentions Florida's suffocating 2-3 zone. While I couldn't be a bigger fan of Miller, there's no question his Arizona teams have really struggled against 2-3 zones...including this year. Can't even remember a really solid offensive performance against a good zone team.
Really hoping for a break-out game. I'm optimistic but feel like it's going to come down to how "hot" we are from behind the 3-pt arc. Couldn't find the exact stat but UF has held most of their recent opponents in check from 3, with the understanding that they haven't faced anyone of Arizona's calibar or left the state of florida. Hate to enter a game having to live or die by the three but at least it's one of our strengths if we move the ball well and get good looks.
1. Indiana Hoosiers (Last Week: 1)
Indiana has not played the toughest slate, with the weakest overall schedule of any team in the top 25 of The Bilas Index. However, it has beaten Georgia, Georgetown and North Carolina. With the exception of Butler this weekend, the Hoosiers should not be pushed until they play Minnesota on Jan. 12. Indiana remains the top-rated offensive team in the country, according to KenPom.com. What makes Indiana No. 1 in The Bilas Index is the steady improvement of the IU defense, which is top 10 in the nation. Victor Oladipo!
2. Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: 2)
"How can Louisville be rated ahead of Duke when Duke beat Louisville?" Well, The Bilastrator hears you, but it is much the same way North Carolina was rated ahead of Duke last season when Duke beat North Carolina. The Bilas Index is not a poll that swings as wildly for the fences as Dave Kingman in a blindfolded home run contest. Louisville has superior numbers, and The Bilastrator has seen the Cardinals improve throughout the season to be a much better team later in the season. One troubling thing about the Cards is that they are not getting to the free-throw line at a high enough rate, but Louisville forces a turnover on 32 percent of its opponents' possessions, best in the nation. However, if Gorgui Dieng is not back in January, and Marshall Plumlee is as good as The Bilastrator believes, this can and will change.
3. Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: 4)
The more The Bilastrator watches this Duke team, the more we (still, the royal we) like it. Duke has an intangible quality and a collective spirit that makes one think of the 2010 team. But, at this stage of 2010, few were projecting Duke as a champion. This has not been a typical Duke defensive team. The Blue Devils do not force turnovers and are more of a gap-protection, help-side defensive team. It is working. Staying home instead of extending has improved Duke's defensive rebounding and has created tougher shots for opponents. Duke has four wins against teams ranked in the top 50 of ESPN's BPI -- no other team has more than two such wins.
4. Michigan Wolverines (Last Week: 3)
Trey Burke has matured into the best point guard in the nation, and Canadian Nik Stauskas has added a reliable shooter and scorer who makes great offensive decisions. Michigan is yet another terrific team that does not shoot enough free throws and does not force turnovers. However, the Wolverines' offensive rebounding numbers have been impressive and a great improvement.
5. Florida Gators (Last Week: 7)
The Gators have knocked off some very solid teams, and have made them look silly while doing it. Florida has taken apart Wisconsin, Marquette and Florida State, all of which are ranked in The Bilas Index. Billy Donovan has his team rated third in both overall offensive and overall defensive efficiency by KenPom.com, and Florida's 2-3 zone has been almost as effective as Syracuse's. Florida is limiting opponents to 36 percent shooting from 2-point range, best in the nation.
6. Syracuse Orange (Last Week: 6)
Jim Boeheim is about to get win No. 900, which is truly remarkable. Despite his low profile and gruff demeanor, Boeheim is one of the best and smartest coaches this game has ever known. Syracuse is winning with defense, and its zone is long and athletic with bulk in the middle. By the way, the top two defensive teams in the country play zone defense, Louisville and Syracuse. (There may be a lesson there.)
7. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Week: 8)
The Buckeyes are getting better, and will be worthy of this high ranking as the season progresses. However, let's not go overboard just yet. Ohio State has not beaten anyone at this point in the season -- not one of its wins has come against a team rated among the top 90 in the KenPom.com ratings. Still, Ohio State takes care of the ball (turning it over on only 14 percent of its possessions) and has versatility. This team will be very good in time.
8. Michigan State Spartans (Last Week: 10)
Michigan State is really good on the defensive end, and does not give up anything easy. Actually, the only time the Spartans give up anything easy is when they cough up the ball and let opponents take it the other way. A key for Michigan State will be the amount of times its opponent has to inbound the ball. Live-ball turnovers lead to advantage situations, and so do defensive rebounds off of questionable shots. Better offense will improve an already good defense.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 11)
Jeff Withey will keep the Jayhawks in most every game on the defensive end. He blocks so many shots, yet hardly ever fouls. (Good luck getting a shot in the lane.) Plus, Ben McLemore is getting better and better, and will be an all-league performer before he's done this season.
10. Arizona Wildcats (Last Week: 16)
The Wildcats rebound the ball well, and showed some toughness at Clemson, continuing to defend in a game that could not have been fun to play. Nick Johnson has been hot, posting 18 points per game over his last two contests headed into exam week. Arizona needs to better guard the 3-point line, and should be able to build out to that point.