New Year’s Top 25

Bracket projections don’t start here at HvG until at least February 1, but a quick look at our Top 25 as we ring in the new year is in order.

Top Tier

1. Villanova (14-0) – The defending champs have been on the ropes, but they just refuse to lose.

2. Baylor (13-0) – One of three remaining undefeateds with wins over Oregon, MSU, Louisville, and Xavier.

3. UCLA (14-1) – Only loss is a buzzer-beater at Oregon. Probably have the best win of the year at Kentucky.

4. Kansas (12-1) – 12 in a row for Self after an opening loss to IU. Might be the favorite to win it all with Mason, Graham and Jackson clicking.

Round Robin

5. W. Virginia (12-1) – Impressive wins at Virginia and Oklahoma State give them the top spot in the next tier of teams sorted by head-to-head. Can they stop KU’s run of 685 consecutive Big 12 titles?

6. Florida State (14-1) – The ‘Noles are loaded with talent and also have a win at Virginia (even though they missed 12 of 24 FTs).

7. Virginia (11-2) – Lost to #5 and #6 at home, and beat #8 on the road. Strange start, but they play ridiculous defense.

8. Louisville  (12-2) – Impressive bounce back win in dominant fashion over IU on Saturday. A battle in South Bend awaits on Wednesday.

9. Kentucky (11-2) – Probably should be higher, but they are 1-2 against ranked teams with losses to UCLA and Louisville. They also couldn’t do what Virginia did:  win at Louisville.

The Rest

10. Creighton (13-1) – Couldn’t pull out a W against ‘Nova, but that backcourt is going to be dynamite in the Big East.

11. Purdue (12-2) – Swanigan’s dominance gives the Boilers the look of the Big 14 favorite.

12. Duke (12-2) – For all the hype around the frosh, and all the attention to the tripping, this team hasn’t been that great…yet.

13. Oregon (13-2) – Followed up the win over UCLA with an equally impressive throttling of USC. Brooks has the Ducks on the right track.

14. UNC (12-3) – Surprising loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, but this is another team that just needs Joel Berry to get fully healthy.

15. Wisconsin (12-2) – Only losses are at Creighton and to UNC in Maui. At IU on Tuesday.

16. Gonzaga (14-0) – Duke West comes in way below where the polls have them, because they just aren’t that good. Slim wins over Florida and Arizona are the best wins, and 6-9 Pacific led them by 5 at half last night.

17. Butler (11-2) – Many solid wins and two bad losses (Indiana St. and St. John’s) so far. Still not sure about them.

18. Arizona (12-2) – If they get Trier back, they could contend in the Pac 12. Only losses to Duke West and Butler.

19. Virginia Tech (12-1) – Dismantled Duke on Saturday. Buzz has an exciting, talented squad.

20. Notre Dame (12-2) – Big win at Pitt eases the blown double-digit leads against ‘Nova and Purdue. Cards are next in the gauntlet.

21. Xavier (12-2) – A little lower than most, but I have them below ND because of their loss to Colorado (who ND beat).

22. Florida (10-3) – Nice road win at Arkansas to start SEC play. Gators were competitive in losses to Duke, Duke West and FSU.

23. Cincinnati (11-2) – Just a gritty bunch that has to be the favorite in the AAC. Best win is at Hilton.

24. Indiana (10-4) – In the midst of a free fall after recent losses to Butler, Nebraska (who just won at Maryland) and Louisville. They miss Yogi.

25. Clemson (11-2) – Looked at a few teams for this spot, but the recent road wins at S. Carolina and Wake give the Tigers the nod.

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