- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Butler and Pittsburgh were both winners Monday night, joining Wisconsin as the only members of the 20-win club. Those teams should have some company pretty soon, since seven ranked teams have 19 victories.

One of those is Kansas, which re-asserted itself in the last two weeks while beating up on Baylor and Colorado, the dregs of the Big 12. The Jayhawks one-upped themselves last night, bolting to a 39-6 lead against Nebraska en route to a 20-point victory.

In some ways, it was as impressive a win as Kansas’ dismantling of Oklahoma State earlier this month.

Nebraska isn’t nearly the team the Pokes are, but the Jayhawks have shown the markings of Connecticut ‘06: A supremely talented team not always interested in the game. It showed in losses to Oral Roberts and at DePaul and surprisingly tight victories over Missouri and Iowa State (though those are teams to keep an eye on in the longer term once their first-year coaches can bring in their desired personnel).

But the Jayhawks also destroyed Oklahoma State and Boston College (back when BC had shot-blocker Sean Williams) and outlasted Florida in overtime.

So which is the real team?

It’s usually unwise to make declarative statements about how far a team will go in the NCAA tournament more than five weeks before there’s an actual bracket. But Kansas amazingly possesses two possibilities: A first-round exit, like the last two years against Bucknell and Bradley, or a run to the Final Four. An early gut feeling: A victory to start the tournament will be followed by at least two more.

The Jayhawks are sixth on my AP ballot this week, right in line with the rest of the voters. Some other teams, particularly at the bottom, are bit mixed up.

The complete ballot:

1. Florida (19-2)

2. North Carolina (19-2)

3. Wisconsin (21-1)

4. UCLA (18-2)

5. Ohio State (18-3)

6. Kansas (19-3)

7. Pittsburgh (20-3)

8. Oregon (19-2)

9. Memphis (17-3)

10. Texas A&M; (17-3)

11. Duke (18-3)

12. Butler (20-2)

13. Nevada (19-2)

14. Marquette (19-4)

15. Oklahoma State (18-3)

16. Virginia Tech (16-5)

17. Southern Illinois (17-5)

18. Texas (15-5)

19. Air Force (19-3)

20. Indiana (15-5)

21. Arizona (14-6)

22. Alabama (15-5)

23. Washington State (17-4)

24. Clemson (18-4)

25. Stanford (14-5)

Next five: Michigan State, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Virginia Commonwealth, Vanderbilt

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