Power 16: Expert Lists

Originally Published: January 12, 2006
ESPN.com

The ESPN.com Power 16 is compiled each week by a panel of ESPN experts and ESPN.com's college basketball editor. These individual lists help create the final rankings each week.

Here is how ESPN.com's experts ranked the top teams in the country.

(Through Wednesday's games)

Editor's note: Andy Katz's and Doug Gottlieb's 16s were incorrectly posted earlier Thursday in this file. The corrected lists appear below and were included originally in the overall tabulations.

ESPN.com Experts' Top 16s
Andy Katz
I know you're going to think my Power 16 is a bit off, but I'm going with the hot teams. Pitt deserves top-five mention. The Panthers are undefeated, won at least one road game (South Carolina), beat Wisconsin and continue to get better. West Virginia shredded Villanova late to pull away from the Wildcats on the road. I'm not down on UConn, but the Huskies weren't overly impressive in gutting out two home games against LSU and Cincinnati. Will they be a Final Four team? I say yes, but they're not at that level yet. The Wolfpack deserve to be in the top 16 after trashing BC on the road. I'm going Big Ten-heavy because so many of the teams are even. I'm moving Gonzaga all over the Power 16 because of the SOS of the WCC at this juncture. UNC followed up a home win over N.C. State with the road win at Virginia Tech. Sorry, but Louisville didn't make the cut.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. Pittsburgh
4. West Virginia
5. Villanova
6. Texas
7. Memphis
8. Connecticut
9. Gonzaga
10. Illinois
11. North Carolina
12. N.C. State
13. Michigan State
14. Indiana
15. Ohio State
16. Wisconsin

Joe Lunardi
Duke's edge as the highest No. 1 seed is unusually large for this point of the season, and the Blue Devils could probably lose twice before we'd even think about them as a No. 2 seed. The competition is further down this list, where UConn is pushing for a return to the top four (if not already there in the minds of most). But I'm not giving a No. 1 seed position -- at least not yet -- to a team with a nonconference schedule ranked No. 272. Even Florida, with a schedule criticized in many corners, checks in with the No. 169-ranked nonconference schedule. The bottom line in ranking the one-loss teams is the "quality" of their losses, and this is the primary separation between Memphis (Texas), Villanova (West Virginia), and Connecticut (Marquette).

1. Duke
2. Memphis
3. Villanova
4. Florida
5. Connecticut
6. Wisconsin
7. Illinois
8. Texas
9. Gonzaga
10. Michigan State
11. Pittsburgh
12. UCLA
13. Arizona
14. Indiana
15. Ohio State
16. North Carolina

Pat Forde
It's been a rough week for injuries to key players on key teams: D.J. White goes down at Indiana, Josh Shipp shuts it down at UCLA, Armein Kirkland blows a knee at Cincy, so does Chuck Davis at Alabama ... looks like we've reached the survival-of-the-fittest portion of the schedule. With Duke bucking the injury trend and getting DeMarcus Nelson back from a broken ankle, the Blue Devils are the clear and undisputed No. 1. After that comes a Florida team that has earned the No. 2 spot as much through attrition as anything else -- the Gators are having a great season, but even Billy Donovan admitted Monday that his guys are overrated at No. 2. The third and final unbeaten, Pittsburgh, gets a chance to make a few more believers Sunday at Louisville -- just the second true road game of the year for the Panthers.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. Connecticut
4. Villanova
5. Memphis
6. Illinois
7. Texas
8. Gonzaga
9. UCLA
10. Pittsburgh
11. Wisconsin
12. Michigan State
13. Washington
14. N.C. State
15. West Virginia
16. Indiana

Howie Schwab
Every time you blink, there is another surprise. I am still getting over last weekend's Washington loss to Washington State. Boston College must be happy to be in the ACC after an 0-3 league start! Say goodbye to the top 16. Give Wisconsin some credit for wins over Iowa, Michigan State and at Minnesota in a short span.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. Connecticut
4. Memphis
5. Villanova
6. Illinois
7. Indiana
8. Texas
9. Pittsburgh
10. Ohio State
11. Gonzaga
12. North Carolina
13. Washington
14. N.C .State
15. Wisconsin
16. West Virginia

Dick Vitale
More surprises as Boston College was blown out by N.C. State, and Oklahoma lost at home to Missouri Tuesday night, meaning more changes in the top 16. The Big Ten is so much better this season and three schools from that conference are in my top nine -- Illinois, Ohio State and Indiana.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. Connecticut
4. Memphis
5. Villanova
6. Illinois
7. Ohio State
8. Texas
9. Indiana
10. Gonzaga
11. Pittsburgh
12. UCLA
13. North Carolina
14. West Virginia
15. Louisville
16. N.C. State

Jay Bilas
Duke is improving and is the most fluid offensive team out there right now. UConn has had some relative struggles as the Huskies try to find out exactly who they are, but Marcus Williams provides them with easy baskets. To me, those are the two best teams, and Duke takes the top spot by virtue of being unbeaten. I still can't figure out what a Power 16 really is ... is it a projection of which teams will be the best or a reflection of this week's scores? Heck, if there is no projection in it, who needs it? All you have to do is look at records. For me, it is a combination of both schools of thought. I try to consider how good a team really is, balanced with how they have played this particular week -- and I do it all in less than three minutes. That's what I think of polls ...

1. Duke
2. Connecticut
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Villanova
6. Illinois
7. Memphis
8. Michigan State
9. Gonzaga
10. Indiana
11. Wisconsin
12. Ohio State
13. Washington
14. West Virginia
15. UCLA
16. Pittsburgh
16. Tyler Hansbrough

Fran Fraschilla
With Daniel Gibson moving off the ball to the two-guard spot and the return of Brad Buckman from assorted injuries, the Longhorns look to be hitting their stride. While Gibson has flourished, his replacement at the point, Kenton Paulino, has put together back-to-back career-high games, including 20 points at Iowa State. Can anybody beat Wisconsin at the Kohl Center? The faces on the court change, but Bo Ryan's system should be firmly entrenched in our power poll for a while. Alando Tucker is the classic in-between forward that is perfect for the swing offense.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. Villanova
4. Connecticut
5. Illinois
6. Memphis
7. Gonzaga
8. Texas
9. N.C. State
10. Pittsburgh
11. Washington
12. UCLA
13. West Virginia
14. Ohio State
15. Wisconsin
16. North Carolina

Doug Gottlieb
I think this poll is incredibly important to measure the ebb and flow of the college basketball season. A perfect example is West Virginia, which, just a month ago was out of many top 25s, and now you can make a legitimate argument that given the right draw, with their perimeter shooting, that there are very few teams they cannot beat. Arizona is high in my poll because they are road-tested and I expect Jawann McClellan to contribute significantly to the Wildcats' overall improvement. You could make a very easy case to add a number of MVC teams into the Power 16, most notably Southern Illinois, which is 4-0 in the conference after beginning the season 2-3 overall. For those who thought Roy Williams' career was based on the incredible talent he stockpiled at Kansas and walked into at North Carolina, take a good, hard look at the coaching job he and his staff are doing this season -- further proof that Williams is an elite basketball coach.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. West Virginia
4. Connecticut
5. Texas
6. Memphis
7. Villanova
8. UCLA
9. Gonzaga
10. Arizona
11. Illinois
12. Michigan State
13. North Carolina
14. Pittsburgh
15. Indiana
16. Wisconsin

Andy Glockner
There's wrong, there's dead wrong ... and there's my preseason opinion of North Carolina. When Joe Lunardi had UNC in his first summer bracket as a No. 5-seed, I asked him if he had accidentally sent me a prototype for NIT Bracketology. Now he doesn't look so silly ... and I sure do. Incredible job by Roy Williams and his staff to let go of last season, not look ahead to the big recruiting class coming next year, and make the best use of the better-than-expected talent on the current roster. It's hard to get a grip on just how good Florida is, especially with how down the SEC is. I like the Gators; just not sure they're the second-best team in the land just yet, even though they wind up there sort of by default this week in my 16. It might be a bit unfair, but I had to drop Indiana this week after the Hoosiers lost D.J. White and were beaten soundly at Michigan State.

1. Duke
2. Florida
3. Connecticut
4. Memphis
5. Villanova
6. Texas
7. Illinois
8. Michigan State
9. Gonzaga
10. N.C. State
11. North Carolina
12. UCLA
13. West Virginia
14. Wisconsin
15. Pittsburgh
16. Arizona