Losses last week by Indiana and Duke cleared the path for Gonzaga to take over the top spot in the Associated Press poll, which is a sorry excuse for a method of rating teams.
Of course, there is only one definitive word on basketball merit and accomplishment, and that is The Bilas Index. With it, you have a comprehensive information bank of incontestable, watertight and indubitable basketball data made easy to understand by the massive brain and roundball experience of The Bilastrator.
While The Bilas Index would be unassailable using only the two eyes and basketball judgment of The Bilastrator, The Bilas Index also incorporates reliable metrics from ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Sagarin Ratings, KenPom.com, the UPS Team Performance Index, Basketball Prospectus and Synergy Sports Technology. The result is a ranking of the most accomplished and best basketball teams in America, ordered from 1 to 68.
Because of the beautiful basketball mind of The Bilastrator, The Bilas Index is "storm worthy," despite the potential for grievous bodily harm visited upon those who might deny its logic.
Don't kid yourself: The selection committee is looking at The Bilas Index and pretending not to, but it really doesn't matter. The committee still has to hit the right buttons on the voting computers by themselves with no help from their assistants, and the chances the committee does it right are the same as John Blutarsky's GPA at Faber College -- 0.0.
As you enjoy the beautiful certainty of The Bilas Index, as always, you're welcome.
Moving out: Valparaiso, Indiana State
Coming in: California, Dayton
Highest rise: Saint Louis, Virginia
Largest drop: Arkansas
1. Indiana Hoosiers (Previous ranking: 1)
The Hoosiers got hammered on the glass and in the paint against Minnesota, when even Victor Oladipo wasn't able to make plays down the stretch. Indiana might have lost the No. 1 ranking with the loss but will not lose a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Although Indiana did not play a challenging nonconference schedule, there were still wins over North Carolina and Georgetown, and Indiana has eight overall wins against teams in the top 50 of the KenPom.com efficiency ratings and all four of its losses are against teams rated in the top 50 (Butler, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota).
The Hoosiers bounced back against Iowa behind the great play of Cody Zeller, who scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds, and Yogi Ferrell, who had a career-high 19 points. Indiana leads the Big Ten in overall efficiency, effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, and both free throw and 3-point shooting percentage. Zeller is in the top five in the Big Ten in scoring (third), rebounding (second), field goal percentage (fourth) and offensive rebounds (second).
2. Louisville Cardinals (Previous ranking: 4)
The Cardinals were a favorite of The Bilastrator for a reason. Is this a team without flaw? Of course not. But it is a team that continues to guard people and has challenged itself with a terrific schedule. Louisville has four losses against teams ranked in the Sagarin top 25, and the Cards have been in every game down the stretch. The Cardinals have the highest BPI in conference games in the nation (90.6).
The only problem The Bilastrator sees for Rick Pitino's team is its inconsistent perimeter shooting. Louisville is 252nd in the nation in 3-point shooting but 10th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage. And this team plays hard and with an edge. Don't be surprised to see it in Atlanta.