As we head down the stretch of conference play, the excitement of the NCAA tournament is looming on the horizon. It's an ideal time to take a look at what the top 25 teams in college basketball look like from Las Vegas' perspective.
Handicappers Wunderdog, Dave Tuley and myself each submitted our personal, private power ratings and averaged them to form the list below. Power ratings from handicappers don't match the polls because, in general, we're not too concerned about individual wins and losses during any given week. Instead, the focus is on overall talent level and a season-long view of the best teams in the country.
The betting markets themselves rely heavily on the computer-generated numbers provided by statistical gurus like Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin. There's no question that these Vegas power ratings are much more in line with those algorithm-generated numbers than they are with the pollsters' opinions.
A quick primer on how the power ratings work: Our top team has a power rating of 100. If it faced a team rated at 97 on a neutral floor, the system would expect a point spread of minus-3 for the top team. The key is the differential between teams, not the hard numbers themselves. I've taken the liberty of rounding off the numbers to the nearest half point.
Here are the top 25 teams in college basketball, according to Vegas, along with where they stand as of Feb. 10 in terms of Associated Press poll rank and championship odds from the Las Vegas Hotel: