The Washington Times - December 1, 2008, 09:26AM

Really, Louisville?

You really lost by double-figures to Western Kentucky at home a neutral floor (thanks, loyal reader jxnms)? Really?

SEE RELATED:


No disrespect to the Hilltoppers, who were quite impressive last year. But that was last year. And as if to prove it, Western Kentucky was a little more than a week removed from a 28-point loss at Murray State.

These are the situations that can create headaches while trying to figure out a top 25. There’s not enough evidence to suggest this is an anomaly. It might be, it might not be. For now, perception still matters a little bit, simply because there isn’t much to go on.

So that’s why Louisville stays ranked – at No. 23 on my AP ballot, a 21-spot tumble. The Cardinals are 2-1 with a 14-point home loss to Western Kentucky on their resume. At this point, No. 23 might be generous.

Teams that really helped themselves last week (both for rankings and the long term): Gonzaga, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Syracuse. Especially Syracuse.

Oh, and Notre Dame, too. That victory over Texas will mean quite a bit down the road, and the Irish are just the first of many teams to take a loss to North Carolina this year and elicit a shrug. If you stay within 20 points of the Tar Heels, it probably shouldn’t hurt your standing.

Here’s a top 45 for the week, though in all truthfulness I ran out of teams around No. 40 or so. There are some unbeaten teams in that range with one maybe-good victory (Nebraska over Creighton, Florida State over California), so they bear monitoring this week.

1. North Carolina (7-0)
2. Connecticut (6-0)
3. Pittsburgh (7-0)
4. Gonzaga (5-0)
5. Duke (7-0)
6. Oklahoma (6-0)
7. Notre Dame (5-1)
8. Texas (5-1)
9. Tennessee (5-1)
10. Purdue (5-1)
11. Syracuse (6-0)
12. Xavier (6-0)
13. Michigan State (4-1)
14. Villanova (6-0)
15. Wake Forest (6-0)
16. Florida (5-1)
17. UCLA (4-1)
18. Georgetown (4-1)
19. Memphis (4-1)
20. Baylor (6-1)
21. Arizona State (5-1)
22. Miami (4-1)
23. Louisville (2-1)
24. Wisconsin (5-1)
25. Davidson (5-1)

26. Clemson (7-0)
27. Dayton (6-0)
28. Ohio State (3-0)
29. Kansas (4-1)
30. Marquette (5-1)
31. Brigham Young (6-0)
32. Saint Mary’s (4-1)
33. Illinois State (7-0)
34. Stanford (4-0)
35. Louisiana State (5-0)
36. Michigan (5-1)
37. Missouri (5-1)
38. Washington State (5-1)
39. Illinois (6-0)
40. Vanderbilt (5-1)
41. Nebraska (5-0)
42. Butler (5-0)
43. Florida State (7-0)
44. San Diego State (5-1)
45. Minnesota (6-0)

Patrick Stevens