Florida Ranked #1 In My College Top Ten
by Kelso Sturgeon
Contributing Sportsbook Editor
Anyone with even a little knowledge of college basketball saw it coming. They just did not expect it to happen in this game, a contest in which Syracuse was a solid 14-point home favorite over Boston College, a team that was 1-12 in its last 13 games and battling Virginia Tech for last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Handicappers knew the end to Syracuse's unbeaten streak would most likely soon come to an end but that would take place because four of its last six games are on the road-at Duke (21-5), at Maryland (15-12), at Virginia (22-5) and at Florida State (15-11). No win by a visiting team is ever a sure thing in those far-away places.
But a 62-59 home loss to a bad BC team-never.
But with that said, we in the world of laying 11 to win 10 had watched Syracuse begin to struggle to struggle after its 91-89 draining overtime home win over Duke, February 1. That game took everything out of the Orange and the energy spent to win it left Syracuse with a near-empty tank of gas.
After Duke there was a 6-point home win over a bad Notre Dame team, followed by a 13-point home win over Clemson-and then it all showed three games out with a 2-point win at Pittsburgh, followed by 1-point home win over a mediocre N.C. State team.
Syracuse was all at once a team with a declining performance profile because of (1) the tremendous pressure to stay undefeated and (2) the fact it had finally run out of gas. Mentally and physically drained, the Orange played terribly against Boston College and when it was all over Syracuse had shot 32.0% from the floor (20-of-62), including 17.0% from 3-point range (2-of-12).
Bettors should not over-react to this loss by a now 25-1 Syracuse team. The Orange remain the same team that opened 25-0 and will get their energy back, remaining one of the best teams in NCAA basketball.
Meantime, Wichita State (28-0) is now the only unbeaten team in college basketball.
Florida Heads List Of 10 Teams Most Likely To Make It To NCAA Sweet Sixteen
At this point of the season both fans and bettors are beginning to prepare for the NCAA Tournament and I would like to kick things off with the 10 teams I believe have everything it takes to get to the Sweet Sixteen round and I am not reluctant to say the national champion will come from this group.
Kelso's College Top 10
Here is Kelso's latest college basketball Top 20 with all records as of Tuesday, February 18.
1. Florida (24-2)-I said before season started Gators were best team in SEC and they proved it this past Saturday with 69-57 win at Kentucky (20-6). The Gators only two losses this season were suffered at Wisconsin (21-5) and at Connecticut (20-5). Florida is as well coached as a team can be, has enough blue-chip talent, depth and experience to beat any opponent on any floor.
2. Wichita State (28-0)-May be most under-rated basketball team in last 50-years of the game. Shockers won NIT two seasons ago, made it to Final Four last year, losing to eventual national champion Louisville by four, returned three starters from that team and blind critics still say they have much to prove. Wichita State is the nation's only undefeated team
3. Kansas (20-6)-Has played toughest RPI schedule in country, with its losses coming against Villanova (23-3), at Colorado (19-7), at Florida (23-2), San Diego State (23-2), at Kansas State (17-8) and at Texas (20-6)-and every one of those teams is NCAA-Tournament bound.
4. Syracuse (25-1)-Orange have been my number one for most of the season (Kansas was in that spot the rest of the time) and now plays four of its last six games on the road-at Duke, at Maryland, at Virginia and at Florida State. Syracuse can go 2-2 in those games and do nothing to tarnish its NCAA chances.
5. Arizona (24-2)-Very good but not as good without starting blue-chip power forward Brandon Ashley who is out for the season with a foot injury. However, it must be noted the Wildcats two losses have come by a total of five points and in both they played without Ashley. In their last outing they lost at Arizona State (19-6) 69-66 in overtime and at California (17-8), 60-58. Still very dangerous.
6. San Diego State (22-2)-Despite its top ten rankings in the national polls San Diego State does not get the recognition it deserves. The Aztecs are loaded with blue-chip players who can adapt to any style of play, have the third-ranked defense in the country, giving up an average of 57.0 points per game and own wins over both Creighton (21-4) and Kansas (20-6). San Diego State beat Creighton on a neutral floor, 86-80, and won at Kansas, 61-57.
7. Saint Louis (24-2)-This is a team built on a rock, is riding a school record 17-game winning streak, is enjoying its third straight 20-win season and is one of three teams (Syracuse and Wichita State are the others) who are undefeated on the road this season. The Billikens are 9-0 away from home this season and 17-1 on the road in their past 18 road games. Their two losses came at home to Wichita State (27-0) 70-65 and on a neutral floor to Wisconsin (21-5), 63-57.
8. Wisconsin (21-5)-This is a classic Bo Ryan team, talented and hard-working on both sides of the ball, had proved it's ready for the Big Dance in its last game, a 75-62 upset win at Michigan. The Badgers the most fundamentally sound team in all of college basketball and under Ryan's right-on game plans has a chance to win against anybody. The Badgers are 9-2 on the road this season and 6-2 against teams ranked in the Top 25.
9. Virginia (22-5)-Surprise! Surprise! If you look at today's Atlantic Coast Conference standings you will find I not Syracuse, Duke, Pittsburgh or North Carolina in 1st place but the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia is another talented team coached to the second by Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers have bought into his disciplined ball-control program. Virginia has won 10 straight, including a school record seven ACC road games.
10. Creighton (22-4)-The Bluejays just keep getting better with each game and proved that again in their last outing by crushing Marquette 85-70 on the road. Creighton returned four starters from last year's 28-8 team, including first-team All American Doug McDermott, a 6-8 forward who leads the nation in scoring (25.9 points per game) and who is one of the best 2-3 players in college basketball. It also is a big factor Creighton is one of the most experienced teams in college basketball.