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Jeff Eisenberg

Blogger Power Poll: Pittsburgh up to 12th after beating 'Nova

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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If toppling Villanova on Sunday didn't avenge Pittsburgh's heartbreaking Elite Eight loss to the Wildcats last season, at the very least it has helped the Panthers capture the nation's attention entering March.

Pittsburgh, now in third place in the Big East and in position to earn a top-three seed in the NCAA tournament, enters our blogger poll for the first time this season at No. 12 this week. Villanova meanwhile slips to No. 7 after a two-loss week that also included a home defeat at the hands of UConn.

Kansas maintained its hold on the top spot for the fourth straight week, receiving all eight first-place votes. Up next was Kentucky, followed by Syracuse in third, Purdue in fourth and Duke in fifth.

Also entering the poll this week was BYU, which destroyed Colorado State and Wyoming to remain one-half game behind New Mexico for the Mountain West lead. Gonzaga fell out of the poll after a loss to LMU, as did Texas after falling for the sixth time in nine games against Missouri.

1. Kansas (128)

Comment: Very bad news for Jayhawks opponents: Heralded freshman Xavier Henry averaged 18 points and 6 rebounds in wins over Texas A&M and Colorado. (LW 1)

2. Kentucky (120)

Comment: Survived its toughest week of the season in conference play and tightened its grip on first place in the SEC with narrow wins at Mississippi State and Vanderbilt (LW: 2)

3. Syracuse (109)

Comment: The Orange looked like the best team in the nation for 27 minutes against Georgetown. Then for the final 13 minutes they hung on for dear life to eke out a big road win. (LW: 5)

4. Purdue (107)

Comment: Nobody had a better Sunday than Purdue, which took over first place in the Big Ten when Michigan State fell and then moved into position for a No. 1 seed when Villanova also lost moments later. (LW: 4)

5. Duke (95)

Comment: The numbers say Duke has a realistic shot at a No. 1 seed if it wins out. The voice in my head says the ACC is way down and this team hasn't accomplished enough to deserve that. (LW: 6)

6. Kansas State (82)

Comment: Two 20-plus scoring nights from Denis Clemente keep the Wildcats rolling with wins over Nebraska and Oklahoma. (LW: 7)

7. Villanova (80)

Comment: Losses to UConn and Pittsburgh dropped Villanova to a No. 2 seed in most bracket projections, but the Wildcats can jump right back into the No. 1 seed mix if they beat Syracuse on Saturday. (LW: 3)

8. Ohio State (71)

Comment: Proving perhaps depth is overrated, four Ohio State starters played all 40 minutes in two games this week and still had enough left to hold off Michigan State in the second half on Sunday. (LW: 8)

9. West Virginia (61)

Comment: Held serve in the Big East with wins over Providence and Seton Hall, setting up a critical matchup with UConn on Monday night. (LW: 9)

10. New Mexico (46)

Comment: A spot in the top 10 is the Lobos' reward for avoiding what would have been one of the most shocking upsets of the season against Air Force. (LW: 14)

11. Michigan State (37)

Comment: Now out of first place in the Big Ten for the first time this season, the Spartans will have a chance to regain it with a win on Sunday at Purdue. (LW: 10)

12. Pittsburgh (35)

Comment: Despite losing Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields from last year's Elite Eight team, the Panthers are somehow in third in the Big East. Impressive. (LW: NR)

13. Georgetown (25)

Comment: Credit the Hoyas for trimming a 23-point deficit to two against Syracuse on Thursday night, but that game was a microcosm of the inconsistency that's plagued them all season. (LW: 11)

14. Temple (21)

Comment: They survived an upset bid from rival St. Joseph's to remain one-half game behind Richmond in the race for first in the Atlantic 10. (LW: T15)

15. Wisconsin (18)

Comment: Whatever Big Ten title hopes the Badgers harbored vanished with a loss at Minnesota, but Wisconsin rebounded to beat Northwestern on Sunday (LW: 12)

16. BYU (16)

Comment: The Mountain West title will be on the line Saturday when BYU and New Mexico square off in what has to be the conference's most anticipated game in years. (LW: NR)

Others receiving votes: Butler 14, Vanderbilt 13, Texas 5


Jeff Eisenberg and Matt Norlander, The Dagger

Zach Hayes, Rush The Court

Scott Procious, NBE Basketball Report

Gary Moore, The College Hardwood

Chris Kulenych & Craig Gately, Bracketology 101

Ryan Kish, George Mason Basketball

Jameson Fleming, Bleacher Report

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