Top 25 – Week 10

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll for Week 10. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Pacific 95-49
    • Gonzaga is still the best.
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. #9 Kansas 77-69 and def. #23 Oklahoma State 81-66
    • Another week of Baylor closing the gap, this team by quite a bit. If Baylor wins their next four, which includes a major road matchup at Texas, I’ll be very close to flipping the top two.
  3. Villanova (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Seton Hall 76-74 and def. Providence 71-56
    • The Cats finally returned to the court and looked surprisingly unrusty, even as the Pirates took them to the wire. I was pretty torn on whether Michigan should get the nod at #3 given a superior body of work, but to be honest, while Michigan has the stronger overall resume in terms of quantity, I still take Villanova’s road win at Texas over anything the Wolverines have.
  4. Michigan (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Maryland 87-63 and def. Purdue 70-53
    • Very strong week, but see above – Michigan technically has four wins against AP Top 25 ranked teams, but Northwestern has since fallen apart and Minnesota is a team on the outside of this week’s poll for me. It’s close for #3, but the top 10 road win for Nova is the deciding factor.
  5. Texas (+2)
    • Last Week: No games played
  6. Houston (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Tulsa 86-59 and def. Temple 68-51
    • Another good week for the Cougars who avenged their lone loss and kept cleaning up the AAC. Computer metrics also back up the eye test with the Cougars despite the Charmin Ultra Soft version of the AAC this year.
  7. Iowa (-3)
    • Last Week: Lost to Indiana 81-69
    • Bizarre loss on Thursday night saw the Hawkeyes unable to generate their typical offense. The defense bit them once again, giving up 81 to an offense that is not the most aesthetically pleasing. Luckily, carnage all around them helps keep Iowa in the top 10.
  8. Alabama (+9)
    • Last Week: Def. LSU 105-75 and def. Mississippi State 81-73
    • Phenomenal week for the Crimson Tide. Moved them ahead of Texas Tech since they are so red hot and honestly have put together a better overall resume.
  9. Texas Tech (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  10. Virginia (+6)
    • Last Week: Def. Georgia Tech 64-62
    • Poll inertia helps out the Cavs as a 2 point home win over the Ramblin’ Wreck certainly doesn’t justify this jump on its own. That being said, the computer metrics have flipped on UVA as well, as they now sit at #9 on KenPom.
  11. Florida State (+11)
    • Last Week: Def. #25 Louisville 78-65 and def. #20 Clemson 80-61
    • It appears that the demise of the Seminoles was greatly exaggerated. This team is legit and along with UVA’s resurgence, the ACC has finally found its contenders. Of course, Clemson has fallen apart which makes that win just a bit less impressive, but blowing out a conference opponent by over 30 for much of the game is noteworthy no matter how good or bad that opponent is.
  12. West Virginia (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Kansas State 69-47
    • Mountaineers were finally back in action and took care of business. They quickly face a brutal test on Monday with Texas Tech coming to town, so we’ll see how quickly they can actually get up to speed.
  13. Ohio State (+1)
    • Last Week: Lost to Purdue 67-65 and def. #11 Wisconsin 74-62
    • Here’s where things started to get super funky – with the exception of Texas Tech (who didn’t play), all of my teams from #9 through #14 lost a game this week. In the Buckeyes’ case, winning on the road at #11 is enough to justify actually moving up a spot despite losing on the buzzer beater to Purdue.
  14. Wisconsin (-3)
    • Last Week: Def. Northwestern 68-52 and lost to #14 Ohio State 74-62
    • The Badgers also went 1-1 this week and had a better loss than Ohio State, but obviously the head to head result was not in their favor and their win against Northwestern doesn’t carry anywhere near as much weight as it might’ve a month ago.
  15. Creighton (-3)
    • Last Week: Lost to Providence 74-70 and def. #13 UConn 74-66
    • I was tempted to drop Creighton a bit more given the home loss and that the UConn with came with no Bouknight/Akok/Jackson for their opponent. But, the computer metrics still favor the Bluejays and other teams ahead of them (Kansas, Tennessee) had much worse weeks.
  16. Missouri (+8)
    • Last Week: Def. South Carolina 81-70 and def. #5 Tennessee 73-64
    • I was really torn on which one of Missouri or Tennessee belonged at #15 given they split the season series and Tennessee won on aggregate, but went with the hotter hand here. Mizzou has won three in a row while Tennessee has lost two in a row, including one in embarrassing fashion.
  17. Tennessee (-12)
    • Last Week: Lost to Florida 75-49 and lost to #24 Missouri 73-64
    • See above.
  18. Kansas (-9)
    • Last Week: Lost to #2 Baylor 77-69 and lost to Oklahoma 75-68
    • The Jayhawks are spiraling downwards but neither one of these losses is *that* bad. Baylor consistently outplayed them but who hasn’t been outplayed by Baylor? As for Oklahoma, road losses to good teams in conference play happen. I was tempted to drop the Jayhawks a bit further with three straight losses and four losses in six games, but with three of those coming to teams I have ranked, and no strong candidates behind them, I’m fine keeping Kansas here.
  19. Saint Louis (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  20. Virginia Tech (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to Syracuse 78-60
    • Not a good performance for the Hokies on Saturday. This is another team that I felt may have warranted dropping back further, but honestly, I had a hard enough time finding teams to round out the Top 25 this week that I’m comfortable leaving them at #20.
  21. Boise State (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Fresno State 73-51
    • Time to give the Broncos some respect. It goes without saying that the competition hasn’t been the best, but they have a 4 point road win at BYU and lost by 10 at Houston to open the season as their only loss. 13 wins in a row is not easy and outside of a narrow escape in game 2 at San Jose State, they’ve breezed through conference play.
  22. Illinois (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Penn State 79-65
    • The Illini have been maddeningly inconsistent this year, but took care of business at home and get to jump back in thanks to a number of other Top 25 candidates losing.
  23. UConn (-10)
    • Last Week: Lost to St. John’s 74-70 and lost to #12 Creighton 74-66
    • This one was one of the toughest to rank. Without Bouknight, Akok, and Jackson, the loss to Creighton is excusable and honestly pretty expected. Even without a star like Bouknight, though, losing at home to a mediocre St. John’s team is no bueno. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and keep them in for now, but they’ve got to beat Villanova this week to stay in.
  24. St. Bonaventure (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. VCU 70-54 and def. Duquesne 65-61
    • Giving another nod to a good mid major here. The Bonnies unfortunately didn’t have much of a non-conference slate to prove their worth, but they’ve won 6 in a row, including games with at-large contenders Richmond and VCU.
  25. Oklahoma State (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to #2 Baylor 81-66
    • Keeping OK State here because outside of a 90 second outburst, they hung with the #2 team in the country without Cade Cunningham. Couldn’t justify Drake’s undefeated record with their weak strength of schedule over OK State’s performance.

Dropped Out:
Clemson (was 20) – Last three games: 85-50, 83-65, and 80-61, all losses. I guess that 85-50 drubbing wasn’t a one-off, after all.
Minnesota (was 21) – Minnesota has gotta be one of the most frustrating teams this season, and now they’re going against the grain by losing at home. My Top 25 polls include a power ranking element and losing 4 out of 6 doesn’t do well in that aspect.
Louisville (was 25) – Louisville drops out by default with the loss but realistically, they didn’t do anywhere near as badly this week as the previous two teams, especially with how Florida State is ripping teams apart. Still, they drop out and get leapfrogged by a few teams that keep winning, so they’re down to #32 for me.

Next 5: Drake, Oklahoma, Oregon, Minnesota, Loyola-Chicago

Bracketology – 1/23

Here is the latest bracketology: Auto-bids (bolded) went to current conference leaders. Went with A, B, C, and D as the region names, A being the best 1 seed and D being the worst 1 seed. Number in parentheses represents change in seed line from last week. One note for this week – Penn State was previously in the First 4 Out last week but won’t be found on the page this time. Their solid computer metrics and handful of good wins are actually enough to put them over the cut line, but we’re at a point in the season now that I am not considering any below .500 teams for at-large status. I may change my tune on this a little bit later on given the strange circumstances, but for now they are not considered.

Region A
1 Gonzaga (–)
16 Southern (NEW)/North Carolina A&T (–)
8 Virginia Tech (+1)
9 Xavier (–)
5 UCLA (–)
12 Winthrop (–)
4 West Virginia (+1)
13 UAB (–)
6 Creighton (-3)
11 Richmond (–)
3 Wisconsin (–)
14 Grand Canyon (NEW)
7 BYU (+2)
10 Seton Hall (+1)
2 Alabama (+3)
15 Bryant (–)
Region B
1 Michigan (–)
16 Montana State (-1)/South Dakota (NEW)
8 San Diego State (+2)
9 Clemson (-5)
5 Colorado (-1)
12 Toledo (–)
4 Ohio State (+2)
13 Wofford (NEW)
6 Missouri (+1)
11 UNC (-1)
3 Kansas (–)
14 Northeastern (+1)
7 LSU (-1)
10 Oklahoma State (-2)
2 Villanova (–)
15 Sam Houston State (–)
Region C
1 Baylor (–)
16 Texas State (NEW)
8 Indiana (+4)
9 Saint Louis (-1)
5 Oregon (+1)
12 Drake (-1)
4 Florida State (+4)
13 Belmont (–)
6 Minnesota (+2)
11 St. Bonaventure (+1)
3 Tennessee (-1)
14 Navy (–)
7 Boise State (–)
10 Oklahoma (–)
2 Iowa (-1)
15 Siena (-1)
Region D
1 Houston (+1)
16 UMBC (NEW)
8 Florida (+2)
9 Louisville (-5)
5 Texas Tech (–)
12 Stanford (NEW)/Loyola Chicago (NEW)
4 Virginia (+3)
13 Liberty (NEW)
6 USC (-2)
11 Arkansas (-2)/Maryland (–)
3 Illinois (–)
14 UC Irvine (-1)
7 Purdue (–)
10 UConn (-4)
2 Texas (–)
15 Cleveland State (-1)

Conference Count
American – 1
Atlantic 10 – 3
ACC – 6
Big 10 – 9
Big 12 – 7
Big East – 5
Missouri Valley – 2
Mountain West – 2
Pac 12 – 5
SEC – 6
West Coast – 2

Last 4 Byes
UConn
Seton Hall
Richmond
UNC

Last 4 In
Arkansas
Maryland
Stanford
Loyola Chicago

First 4 Out
SMU
Syracuse
Utah State
Pittsburgh

Next 4 Out
Rutgers
Providence
Marquette
Colorado State

Dropped Out
Rutgers (11)
Syracuse (12)
Furman (13 – SoCon Auto-Bid)
Coastal Carolina (14 – Sun Belt Auto-Bid)
Lipscomb (16 – A-Sun Auto-Bid)
Stony Brook (16 – America East Auto-Bid)
Utah Valley (16 – WAC Auto-Bid)
North Dakota (16 – Summit Auto-Bid, this actually should have been North Dakota State last week but it would not have changed the seeding)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (16 – SWAC Auto-Bid)

Top 25 – Week 9

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll for Week 9. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Pepperdine 95-70 and def. Saint Mary’s 73-59
    • Gonzaga is still the best, though Baylor closes the gap by a bit. Not anything that Gonzaga did wrong, just a lesser quality of win.
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. #12 Texas Tech 68-60
    • Baylor closes the gap by a little bit with a gritty road win at a good Red Raiders squad but Gonzaga is still ahead by a clear margin for me.
  3. Villanova (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
    • Someone had to go here.
  4. Iowa (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Northwestern 96-73
    • Nice win for the Hawkeyes who are closing the gap on the top three. I still have too many concerns about the defense to move them higher but they’re definitely showing some improvement.
  5. Tennessee (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Vanderbilt 81-61
    • Feels like the Vols are possibly the quietest great team this year. Not a lot of attention in part to a very down SEC, but this team is going to have a run at a 1 seed.
  6. Michigan (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. #9 Wisconsin 77-54 and lost to Minnesota 75-57
    • Jekyll & Hyde week for the Wolverines who simply assaulted a very good Wisconsin team. That game alone is why they only dropped one after a disappointing loss, but they were never gonna go undefeated, and not having a key rotation piece (Eli Brooks) helps explain the loss too.
  7. Texas (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to #12 Texas Tech 79-77 and def. Kansas State 82-67
    • Losing on a near-buzzer beater to a top 15 team is nothing to be ashamed about, but I did drop them behind the Wolverines since the quality of the win in a 1-1 week is much less than Michigan’s win.
  8. Houston (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. UCF 75-58
    • Last week I said Houston needed teams ahead of them to lose games to move up, and lo and behold, here we are. I do think this is a great team, but in this year’s AAC it’s brutally difficult to find quality games, so they’ll need to continue putting up impressive results to justify this top 10 ranking.
  9. Kansas (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to Oklahoma State 75-70
    • Ah, the Bill Self special – throwing a bone to his alma mater in the annual loss to OK State (I’m joking, but am I?). Not overly concerned about the Jayhawks but it is worth noting they’ve lost 2 of 4 and narrowly escaped Oklahoma at home in the other game so it’s worth watching to see if this is a blip.
  10. Texas Tech (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. #3 Texas 79-77 and lost to #2 Baylor 68-60
    • In a brutally tough week, the Red Raiders acquitted themselves quite nicely. They were neck and neck with the second best team in the country for about 35 or so minutes before Baylor controlled the last couple minutes. Absolutely no doubt for me that they deserved to move up based on this week’s performance.
  11. Wisconsin (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to #5 Michigan 77-54 and def. Rutgers 60-54
    • Can’t justify dropping the Badgers behind Creighton given that I had Wisconsin ahead already and the quality of loss greatly favors Wisconsin. Right now, I think the top 12 teams have kind of separated themselves so neither drops any further for me.
  12. Creighton (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to Butler 70-66 in OT
    • See above.
  13. UConn (–)
    • Last Week: Def. DePaul 60-53
    • Even without Bouknight, a road win at DePaul does not do anything to move the needle closer towards the top dozen.
  14. Ohio State (+5)
    • Last Week: Def. Northwestern 81-71 and def. #17 Illinois 87-81
    • Another great week for the Buckeyes who have solidified their top 25 spot. Moved them up past the Mountaineers since West Virginia has lost 3 of 5 versus 3 straight wins with 2 on the road for Ohio State. Not at UConn level for me, as I am still high on the Huskies even with Bouknight out for now.
  15. West Virginia (-1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  16. Virginia (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Notre Dame 80-68 and def. #16 Clemson 85-50
    • UVA has looked good in the metrics for a while, but I’d kept them out of the Top 25 due to a complete lack of a quality win. Not anymore. That was a shellacking.
  17. Alabama (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Kentucky 85-65 and def. Arkansas 90-59
    • Talk about a couple of statement victories – Alabama is taking advantage of a down SEC and I am fully on-board the Nate Oats bandwagon. The growth in this team’s defensive abilities is striking.
  18. Virginia Tech (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. #22 Duke 74-67 and def. Wake Forest 64-60
    • Solid stuff for the Hokies who continue to hang around the late teens/early twenties section of the rankings. Home win over an iffy top 25 team catapults them over the idle Billikens.
  19. Saint Louis (-1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  20. Clemson (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to Virginia 85-50
    • I feel like a 35 point home loss should warrant a much greater drop. But 1) I have probably underrated Virginia leading up to this and 2) that game was so lopsided that it’s almost an aberration to me. I can’t discount it by any means, but I don’t think it’s representative of this team at all.
  21. Minnesota (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #5 Michigan 75-57
    • I guess at this point Minnesota’s ranking will be entirely dictated by their geographic location. Staying at home? They’ll stay ranked. Going on the road? They’ll drop out for the week.
  22. Florida State (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. NC State 105-73 and def. UNC 82-75
    • Neither of the Carolina teams they played this week are as good as they usually are, but those are still two wins over bubble-caliber teams which definitely counts for something. Biggest factor this week is my eye test – especially winning without Scottie Barnes against UNC and looking good while doing so.
  23. Oklahoma State (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #7 Kansas 75-70
    • They’ve been knocking on the door long enough so here ya go, Pokes. They’ve hovered on the edges for a while, and once they got the upset over Kansas, the schedule aligned for them (aka not playing 4 ranked teams in 5 games) to be able to hang around instead of losing to another ranked team.
  24. Missouri (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Texas A&M 68-52
    • Nothing wrong with their performance to warrant dropping a spot, but they simply got leapfrogged by teams I was more impressed with this week.
  25. Louisville (-10)
    • Last Week: Def. Wake Forest 77-65 and lost to Miami 78-72
    • Couple of factors here to explain a huge 10 spot drop – 1) I was probably a little too eager on the Cardinals and overcorrected after they somewhat fell off my radar following the Wisconsin blowout, 2) Miami is a BAD loss, and 3) even if they had won both games, they probably would have dropped a few spots anyway to teams like Ohio State, UVA, and Bama who put up great weeks.

Dropped Out:
Illinois (was 17) – Yes, they’ve played a brutal schedule, and yes, the eye test and metrics say this is a good team. But you need to win games at a certain point and they continue to drop games.
Duke (was 22) – It’s January 17th and Duke has played three above average teams. They’ve lost all 3. Enough is enough. Their best win is against KenPom #86 Notre Dame who has the #198 ranked defense!
Oregon (was 24) – Sorry Ducks – being idle costs you in a way it hasn’t hurt other teams higher up. Less breathing room at the end and a number of teams on the outside had great weeks.
UCLA (was 25) – Another team that mainly got dropped because teams behind them leapt past. But, a 5 point home win against a horrendous Washington team was also not a top 25-worthy performance.

Next 5: Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, UCLA, LSU

Bracketology – 1/16

Here is the latest bracketology: Auto-bids (bolded) went to current conference leaders. Went with A, B, C, and D as the region names, A being the best 1 seed and D being the worst 1 seed. Number in parentheses represents change in seed line from last week. One note – Indiana is technically above Richmond as an 11 seed on the true seed list, but flipped to a 12 to avoid a Big 10 conference matchup in the First Four.

Region A
1 Gonzaga (–)
16 Arkansas Pine Bluff (NEW)/North Carolina A&T (NEW)
8 Oklahoma State (+2)
9 Virginia Tech (+1)
5 West Virginia (-2)
12 Winthrop (–)
4 USC (+1)
13 Furman (–)
6 Oregon (-1)
11 Maryland (NEW)/Richmond (NEW)
3 Illinois (-1)
14 Cleveland State (+1)
7 Virginia (+1)
10 Florida (-3)
2 Tennessee (+1)
15 Bryant (-1)
Region B
1 Michigan (–)
16 Utah Valley (NEW)/North Dakota (NEW)
8 Saint Louis (-2)
9 Arkansas (-1)
5 Alabama (-1)
12 Toledo (–)
4 Louisville (–)
13 UAB (–)
6 Ohio State (+1)
11 Drake (–)
3 Creighton (+1)
14 Coastal Carolina (NEW)
7 Purdue (+3)
10 San Diego State (-4)
2 Texas (–)
15 Northeastern (–)
Region C
1 Baylor (–)
16 Stony Brook (–)
8 Minnesota (-3)
9 BYU (+2)
5 Texas Tech (+3)
12 Indiana (-4)/Syracuse (–)
4 Colorado (+1)
13 Belmont (–)
6 UConn (–)
11 Rutgers (-4)
3 Wisconsin (–)
14 Siena (–)
7 Missouri (-1)
10 Oklahoma (+2)
2 Houston (–)
15 Sam Houston State (NEW)
Region D
1 Iowa (+1)
16 Lipscomb (NEW)
8 Florida State (+2)
9 Xavier (–)
5 UCLA (+2)
12 St. Bonaventure (NEW)
4 Clemson (–)
13 UC Irvine (+1)
6 LSU (+3)
11 Seton Hall (–)
3 Kansas (–)
14 Navy (–)
7 Boise State (+2)
10 UNC (-1)
2 Villanova (-1)
15 Montana State (NEW)

Conference Count
American – 1
Atlantic 10 – 3
ACC – 6
Big 10 – 10
Big 12 – 7
Big East – 5
Mountain West – 2
Pac 12 – 4
SEC – 7
West Coast – 2

Last 4 Byes
San Diego State
Florida
Seton Hall
Rutgers

Last 4 In
Maryland
Indiana
Richmond
Syracuse

First 4 Out
Stanford
Penn State
Wichita State
Duke

Next 4 Out
Utah State
Michigan State
VCU
SMU

Dropped Out
NC State (11 – Last 4 Byes)
Stanford (11 – Last 4 In)
VCU (12 – A10 Auto-Bid but was also above the cut line)
Abilene Christian (13 – Southland Auto-Bid)
Little Rock (15 – Sun Belt Auto-Bid)
Grand Canyon (15 – WAC Auto-Bid)
Southern Utah (16 – Big Sky Auto-Bid)
North Dakota State (16 – Summit Auto-Bid)
Norfolk State (16 – MEAC Auto-Bid)
Jacksonville (16 – A-Sun Auto-Bid)
Texas Southern (16 – SWAC Auto-Bid)

Top 25 Poll – Week 8

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll for Week 8. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: Def. BYU 86-69 and def. Portland 116-88
    • Gonzaga is still the best, what else is new?
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Oklahoma 76-61 and def. TCU 67-49
    • Baylor is still the second best, what else is new?
  3. Texas (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Iowa State 78-72 and def. #13 West Virginia 72-70
    • Yes, Villanova has the head to head victory and I don’t want to dismiss that, but that’s the Wildcats’ only truly notable victory. Texas notched its 2nd road win at a top 20 team in their past 3 games this weekend and have done more to justify this ranking than the Wildcats in my opinion.
  4. Villanova (-1)
    • Last Week: No games played
    • See above.
  5. Michigan (+6)
    • Last Week: Def. #21 Minnesota 82-57
    • For the second week in a row, Michigan thrashed a Big Ten team I had ranked that subsequently has become unranked, due to the nature of said thrashing. The Wolverines are taking names and kicking ass and I view them as the best Big Ten team, hence jumping Iowa.
  6. Iowa (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Maryland 89-67 and def. #21 Minnesota 86-71
    • The Hawkeyes avenged their lone non-conference loss on Sunday as part of a strong week. The only reason they dropped is that I have come to believe that Michigan is simply a better team in large part due to the stark difference between the defense.
  7. Kansas (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. TCU 93-64 and def. Oklahoma 63-59
    • Solid week for the Jayhawks, but no compelling reason to leap them ahead or drop them behind any team near them, aside from the aforementioned Michigan jump.
  8. Tennessee (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Arkansas 79-74 and def. Texas A&M 68-54
    • The SEC is undoubtedly a softer conference than the Big Ten, but I gave the nod to the Vols here because of their work against a solid Arkansas team in regulation compared to the Badgers’ escape in 2OT against an Indiana team I view as weaker than the Razorbacks.
  9. Wisconsin (-2)
    • Last Week: Def. Indiana 80-73 in 2OT
    • See above.
  10. Creighton (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Seton Hall 89-53 and def. St. John’s 97-79
    • Two excellent wins for the Pirates, but I still lean towards Wisconsin at #9 over the Bluejays. Notable data point is the Creighton loss at home to Marquette by 5, while Wisconsin’s loss to Marquette came by 1 point on the road.
  11. Houston (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Wichita State 70-63 and def. Tulane 71-50
    • Feels like this is a good spot for the Cougars to settle in. The AAC is atrocious (1 bid league, don’t @ me) and they may not play a quality opponent the rest of the season so they’ll need to keep winning and have teams in front of them lose games to move up.
  12. Texas Tech (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Kansas State 82-71 and def. Iowa State 91-64
    • Two easy wins to pad stats and move up the rankings from poll inertia. Brutal week ahead @ #3 Texas and home against #2 Baylor to prove their mettle.
  13. UConn (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Marquette 65-54 and def. Butler 72-60
    • No, Marquette and Butler are not what they usually are, but I’m still gonna drop the “I TOLD YOU”. This team is a couple free throws away from having beaten a top 10 Creighton team and being undefeated, including a neutral court win over a USC team I have just outside the Top 25.
  14. West Virginia (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Oklahoma State 87-84 and lost to #4 Texas 72-70
    • From the highs of a major comeback road win to the lows of a late blown lead at home. Roller coaster of a week but if you’re biggest blemish is losing on a buzzer beater to a top 5 team in the country, things aren’t really all that bad.
  15. Louisville (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #19 Virginia Tech 73-71
    • The Cards had Covid and got smacked upon return by Wisconsin and somewhat fell not off my radar, but to the side of it. Not anymore – that undermanned loss to Wisconsin is the only blemish on a resume that includes wins over Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Pitt, Western Kentucky, and maybe Kentucky in that conversation? Nothing spectacular, but this is a good and overlooked team.
  16. Clemson (+6)
    • Last Week: Def. NC State 74-70 in OT
    • Poll inertia jumps the Tigers up here, but despite a narrow OT win over a mediocre NC State, I’m not apologizing for it – Clemson has the best defense in the country per KenPom.
  17. Illinois (-5)
    • Last Week: Def. #24 Northwestern 81-56 and lost to Maryland 66-63
    • Blowout over a then-ranked Northwestern but I have quickly cooled off on the Wildcats, so not enough to counteract a disappointing home loss to Maryland late Sunday night.
  18. Saint Louis (–)
    • Last Week: No games played
  19. Ohio State (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #14 Rutgers 79-68
    • Forever flirting with the Top 25, the Buckeyes finally jump in and with some breathing room after an impressive win in the Trapezoid of Terror, albeit an empty one. Their win over UCLA is aging well, helping give me confidence that this is not just Rutgers voodoo.
  20. Alabama (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #25 Florida 86-71 and def. Auburn 94-90
    • In what were definitely the most consequential sporting events on the minds this week of Crimson Tide fans, Alabama rolled on and kept up the momentum from their Tennessee upset. Florida is not as good as I had believed but I’m giving some credit to their red hot play by giving Bama the nod here.
  21. Virginia Tech (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to Louisville 73-71 and def. Notre Dame 77-63
    • Unfortunate loss to Louisville but for reasons I detailed above, I’m not penalizing the Hokies as much for that loss with the Cardinals surging. Plus, I simply can’t justify putting any of the next 4 teams ahead of Virginia Tech right now.
  22. Duke (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Boston College 83-82 and def. Wake Forest 79-68
    • If, in the context of the past 5 years of college basketball, I had to close my eyes and come up with the most underwhelming 2-0 week you could have in conference play as a high major, this would be pretty close to it. The Blue Devils pulled away late from Wake to make it a double digit win but man, the eye test is reallllly forcing me to question this ranking.
  23. Missouri (-6)
    • Last Week: Lost to Mississippi State 78-63
    • Huge yikes on that huge letdown in the second half. I wanted to drop them further, but the neutral court win over Oregon is still a valuable data point that can’t be overlooked.
  24. Oregon (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to Colorado 79-72 and def. Utah 79-73
    • Welcome to the Pac 12 region of my rankings – I’ve got the Conference of Champions representing 24, 25, 26, and 27. I still think Oregon is the leader in the clubhouse but it’s really not by a lot.
  25. UCLA (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Arizona State 81-75 in OT and def. Arizona 81-76
    • Had the Bruins done a better job against an undermanned Sun Devils team and won comfortably without OT, I’d slide them past the Ducks but so be it. There’s still two games between the two to sort that out. I went with UCLA for the final spot over Colorado since the Bruins have the head to head, and I had UCLA much closer to the rankings to start with, anyway.

Dropped Out:
Rutgers (was 14) – I try to keep my poll as a hybrid of a “Power Ranking” as well as a resume review. There’s probably an argument that Rutgers is a Top 25 team from a resume perspective, but as far as power rankings go, the Scarlet Knights aren’t close with 4 losses in their past 5 games. They could really, really use a win on Friday against Wisconsin.
Minnesota (was 21) – Minnesota is still a good team overall but they are absolutely atrocious on the road. As good as their wins are over teams like Iowa, Saint Louis, and Ohio State, they need to prove their ability outside of the Barn at this point for me.
Northwestern (was 24) – I cut the Wildcats some slack last week after losses to good Iowa and Michigan teams, but yeah, it was fun while it lasted. Two straight blowouts with a road game at Ohio State and home game against Iowa lurking, could get ugly quick for Northwestern.
Florida (was 25) – Yeah, they probably should not have been ranked. The loss of Keyontae Johnson was particularly evident in each of their losses this past week.

Next 5: Colorado, USC, Xavier, Virginia, Oklahoma State

Bracketology – January 9th

Finally have just the bare minimum of data to use for my computer formula bracketology. Auto-bids went to current conference leaders except for conferences where at least half of the teams haven’t played a conference game yet, in those scenarios it went to who I deem the best team. Went with A, B, C, and D as the region names, A being the best 1 seed and D being the worst 1 seed. Auto-bids are bolded.

Region A
1 Gonzaga
16 Norfolk State/Jacksonville
8 Texas Tech
9 LSU
5 Colorado
12 Oklahoma/Syracuse
4 Alabama
13 UAB
6 Missouri
11 Drake
3 Kansas
14 Navy
7 Florida
10 Purdue
2 Iowa
15 Little Rock
Region B
1 Baylor
16 Texas Southern/Stony Brook
8 Indiana
9 Xavier
5 USC
12 Toledo
4 Louisville
13 Furman
6 San Diego State
11 NC State
3 Wisconsin
14 Siena
7 Ohio State
10 Oklahoma State
2 Houston
15 Grand Canyon
Region C
1 Villanova
16 North Dakota State
8 Arkansas
9 UNC
5 Oregon
12 Winthrop
4 Clemson
13 Belmont
6 Saint Louis
11 Stanford/Seton Hall
3 West Virginia
14 UC Irvine
7 UCLA
10 Florida State
2 Illinois
15 Northeastern
Region D
1 Michigan
16 Southern Utah
8 Virginia
9 Boise State
5 Minnesota
12 VCU
4 Creighton
13 Abilene Christian
6 UConn
11 BYU
3 Tennessee
14 Bryant
7 Rutgers
10 Virginia Tech
2 Texas
15 Cleveland State

Conference Count
American – 1
Atlantic 10 – 2
ACC – 8
Big 10 – 9
Big 12 – 7
Big East – 5
Mountain West – 2
Pac 12 – 5
SEC – 6
West Coast – 2

Last 4 Byes
Oklahoma State
Purdue
BYU
NC State

Last 4 In
Stanford
Seton Hall
Oklahoma
Syracuse

First 4 Out
Richmond
Penn State
Saint Mary’s
Duke

Next 4 Out
St. Bonaventure
Michigan State
Providence
Maryland

Top 25 Poll – Week 7

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll for Week 7. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll. Back of the rankings were brutal this week, finding that Covid pauses make it super hard to evaluate some teams.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Northern Arizona 88-58, def. Dixie State 112-67, def. San Francisco 85-62
    • Gonzaga is still the best and nothing has been shown that changes my belief. Blowing out a solid San Francisco team was impressive.
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Central Arkansas 93-56, def. Alcorn State 105-76, and def. Iowa State 76-65
    • The Iowa State game was much closer than it should’ve been but they still won by double digits on the road despite shooting 21% from three. Still nothing to convince me that they aren’t the #2 team.
  3. Villanova (+2)
    • Last Week: No games played
    • Poll inertia here – Villanova slides up to #3 due to carnage around them.
  4. Texas (+4)
    • Last Week: Def. #3 Kansas 84-59
    • Defeating KU in Allen Fieldhouse in any year could be a top 10 win, but doing it by 25 is by far the best win of the year. At the risk of overvaluing a one game sample, I’m keeping them behind Nova despite the Wildcats not playing because of the head-to-head result.
  5. Iowa (+5)
    • Last Week: Def. #17 Northwestern 87-72 and def. #13 Rutgers 77-75
    • Huge week for the Hawkeyes – impressive home win over a ranked opponent, and even more impressive road win in the Trapezoid of Terror. I’m a broken record about their defense at this point, but can’t leap them up any further because of it and because of Texas’ win over KU.
  6. Kansas (-3)
    • Last Week: Lost to #8 Texas 84-59
    • Just a shockingly bad performance that tanked Kansas all the way down to #13 on KenPom’s AdjEM, but I’m not gonna dwell on it too much – I sincerely doubt that when these two play again, Texas will again shoot 46% from three while KU shoots 13%.
  7. Wisconsin (-3)
    • Last Week: Lost to Maryland 70-64 and def. #22 Minnesota 71-59
    • Completely bizarre and abnormal result on Monday night but a great rebound later on to beat Minnesota. Gonna chalk up the former to be an off night and not drop them any further with a ton of Top 10 carnage.
  8. Tennessee (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. #16 Missouri 73-53 and lost to Alabama 71-63
    • I was prepared to drop Tennessee by a spot or two or just keep them at #9, but the 20 point road win at a top 20 team was too hard to ignore. The loss to Alabama at home was strange and not good, but that Wednesday night performance differentiates them from other top 10 teams that I dropped further behind them that lost on the road.
  9. Creighton (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Providence 67-65
    • Bluejays are a beneficiary of some inertia here, as I bumped them past Houston and West Virginia due to the lack of any loss. I initially put them at #8, but didn’t put them in front of Tennessee in the end because the win over Missouri I discussed above is stronger than anything on Creighton’s resume. I think the Bluejays have a stronger cumulative teamsheet resume than UT, but at the end of the day I just think the Vols are better.
  10. Houston (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to Tulsa 65-64, def. SMU 74-60
    • I saw someone comment that polls are stupid because Houston staying at #6 or even moving up was dependent on the Tulsa player making or missing his FTs. To that I say, well….yeah, I guess, they are stupid. But at the end of the day, you have to win and Houston put their opponent in position to capitalize by fouling late. I was torn about Creighton/Houston at #9/#10, but ultimately went with Creighton due to Caleb Mills’ departure and the unknowns about length of it.
  11. Michigan (+14)
    • Last Week: Def. Maryland 84-73 and def. #17 Northwestern 85-66
    • Excellent week for the Wolverines who have finally convinced me. Until now I didn’t feel that Michigan had a single quality win so while a 7-0 record was nice, it didn’t have substance behind it. That is no longer the case – this is a very good team.
  12. Illinois (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Purdue 66-58
    • Ugly game aesthetically with the Illini shooting 41% from the charity stripe but a win is a win, and in the Big 10, pretty much any win is a quality one.
  13. West Virginia (-6)
    • Last Week: Def. Northeastern 73-51 and lost to Oklahoma 75-51
    • The Mountaineers lost a game on the court and also lost off the court with Oscar Tshiebwe’s departure. While his production had been disappointing and while it could benefit WVU in the long run with a possible locker room culture improvement, it’s objectively a worse roster with a lower ceiling, so I’m dropping them a bit more than other teams with conference road losses.
  14. Rutgers (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Purdue 81-76 and lost to #10 Iowa 77-75
    • Tough home loss but when it comes against a Top 10 team with the NPOY favorite, it’s really hard to ding the Scarlet Knights very much.
  15. Texas Tech (-3)
    • Last Week: Def. Incarnate Word 79-51 and lost to Oklahoma State 82-77 (OT)
    • Against my better judgment, I’m keeping Texas Tech around for another week after losing to another quality opponent. Their losses have been close, but they’re starting to add up – the Red Raiders have just one good win but I’m trusting the eye test and the metrics here.
  16. UConn (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. DePaul 82-61
    • Huskies benefit from some carnage here but they did what they needed to do and blew out a lesser team. I know I’m on a bit of an island ranking them this high, but I had them in my preseason top 25 and they have done nothing worthy of dropping out. They beat USC, which is a fairly respectable win, and had the opportunity at the free throw line to beat what I view is a top 10 Creighton squad in their only quality matchups thus far.
  17. Missouri (-1)
    • Last Week: Lost to #9 Tennessee 73-53 and def. Arkansas 81-68
    • Dreadful home performance to a Top 10 squad probably was worth dropping a bit more but the Tigers redeemed themselves very well with a complete turnaround at Arkansas over the weekend which saved them from dropping further.
  18. Saint Louis (+5)
    • Last Week: No games played
    • Someone had to go here. Poll inertia wins this battle.
  19. Virginia Tech (+5)
    • Last Week: Def. Miami 80-78
    • Narrow home win against a lesser conference opponent isn’t great, but they did win unlike the four teams previously higher ranked that lost and don’t have any elite victories, unlike the Hokies’ one over Villanova.
  20. Oregon (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Cal 82-69 and def. Stanford 73-56
    • Hand up, I’m late to the party here. I was a bit lower than consensus in the previous and the season-opening loss to what I viewed (at the time) as a mediocre Missouri squad hurt my view of the Ducks, but obviously Missouri has blown away my expectations.
  21. Minnesota (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. #18 Michigan State 81-56, lost to #4 Wisconsin 71-59, def. Ohio State 77-60
    • They lost to the best team they played but it was on the road, and defended their home court against two solid conference opponents in style with blowout wins, so I’m fine bumping them up a spot. Will be interested to see how the Gophers fare this week on the road, which has not resulted in anything positive thus far.
  22. Clemson (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #20 Florida State 77-67 and def. Miami 66-65
    • So it turns out that the Seminoles may not be great this year, but they are still a quality win and Clemson has now picked up a number of them. This one is probably the best as they have not played any elite teams, but even if they are coming against midpack teams, it’s now 6 power conference victories for the Tigers.
  23. Duke (NEW)
    • Last Week: No games played
    • Another case of “someone had to go here”. Enough teams gave me reason to doubt them that Duke slides back in by default despite an underwhelming resume. Other teams behind them that just missed my rankings closed the gap with good victories but I didn’t have them all that close to Duke to begin with. As I noted, the resume is unspectacular (pretty weak, to be honest) but the talent still has to be considered alongside solid metrics.
  24. Northwestern (-7)
    • Last Week: Lost to #10 Iowa 87-72 and lost to #25 Michigan 85-66
    • The Wildcats ultimately lost by double digits but they kept it close for the bulk of the game before the train fell off the tracks late against Iowa. At Michigan, that was not the case. Despite the bad week, I’m giving the Wildcats the benefit of three previous strong performances and keeping them in here between a couple teams I’m also lacking confidence in.
  25. Florida (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Vanderbilt 91-72 and def. LSU 83-79
    • Ultimately went with the Gators over Oklahoma State at #25 based on recent results – the Gators won both of their games exiting a pause, and while OK State had the best win either team has had with the Texas Tech upset, they had also lost their previous two games, albeit narrowly. Also, the LSU win was particularly notable since it’s the first quality opponent (sorry Vandy) the Gators have faced without Keyontae Johnson and they handled it very well, which alleviated some of my (strictly on-court) concerns about that loss. Above everything though, awesome to see Keyontae back on the sidelines.

Dropped Out:
San Diego State (was 15) – What the hell, Aztecs? I now have them as my #32 team and believe they can get back into the top 25, but you simply cannot blow a 26 point lead to a mdi major on your home court and remain ranked with as many teams with a viable case to make it in.
Michigan State (was 18) – The 0-3 start to Big 10 play did come against quality competition, and the road win at Duke is a good win, but it was the complete lack of competitiveness shown against Minnesota that made me drop them out. Worth noting they are now #52 on KenPom’s AdjD at the time of writing, so the metrics have also lost favor in this group.
Florida State (was 20) – I anticipate the Seminoles will be back sooner rather than later as they have a couple solid victories like the Indiana and Florida victories. But, recent play over their past 3 with the UCF loss, struggles against Gardner-Webb, and loss to Clemson do not give me confidence this is a top 25 team right now.
UNC (was 21) – UNC’s resume continues to look less and less impressive after a loss to a mediocre Georgia Tech team, and the eye test looks worse after barely squeaking past a weak Notre Dame team (#183 AdjD on KenPom!!!) at home. Their best win is what, Stanford? Their current best performances are the losses to Texas and Iowa.

Next 5: Oklahoma State, UCLA, Ohio State, Arizona, Florida State

Top 25 Poll – Week 6

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll following two weeks of games played. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Northwestern State 95-57 & 95-78 and def. #14 Virginia 98-75
    • Gonzaga is basically a pro team at this point, with 5 surefire NBA draft picks currently playing and others who have the potential to become pros further down the depth chart. They continue to absolutely mutilate basically whoever they play – low major, mid major, and high major. Outside of maybe a road game against Saint Mary’s or a rescheduled Baylor game, only BYU stands in Gonzaga’s way to an undefeated regular season.
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Arkansas Pine-Bluff 99-42
    • See above – Baylor is the clear #2 team in the country and there is a vast gap between them and #3. And, for that matter, I personally feel there’s also a vast gap between #1 and #2. Gonzaga is that good.
  3. Kansas (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. #3 West Virginia 79-65
    • The Jayhawks continued this week to do what the Jayhawks do – win at Allen Fieldhouse. This week, a dominant win over a good West Virginia team has me thinking that Kansas is a pretty clear #1 seed. I was skeptical on their roster makeup but Jalen Wilson’s breakout and McCormack not trying to do too much and settling in to his role has allowed them to settle in offensively.
  4. Wisconsin (+4)
    • Last Week: Def. Nebraska 67-53 and def. #12 Michigan State 85-76
    • Like Gonzaga, one could argue Wisconsin is also a pro team, but on an entirely different level. The Badgers are simply old, and by old, I mean experienced. The senior-laden roster proved its mettle on Christmas Day with a gritty, assertive road victory in East Lansing over Michigan State. Outside of an early road loss to a streaky Marquette team in a rivalry game, the Badgers have been close to dominant.
  5. Villanova (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Marquette 85-68
    • Entering Wednesday, the Cats had lost 3 of 4 on the road to Marquette in recent years. Thanks to a torrid 49-point second half outburst, though, they exorcised those demons en route to a blowout win.
  6. Houston (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Temple 76-50 and def. UCF 63-54
    • It was a solid week for the Cougars as they opened AAC play on Tuesday night, downing the Owls convincingly. They hit the road over the weekend for the first true road game of the season, and fought off a scrappy UCF team still on a high from a Florida State upset to pull away late. I absolutely love the balance of having Sasser/Grimes/Mills all being able to torch opponents on a given night, while Jarreau consistently lurks and wreaks havoc defensively.
  7. West Virginia (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to #4 Kansas 79-65
    • Bob Huggins made a preseason comment about how his team could actually generate offense this year in the halfcourt and that if they hit shots, they could beat anyone in the country. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers not named Sean McNeil shot 2-13 from beyond the arc against the Jayhawks, and 10-35 from the field outside of McNeil and Miles McBride. Tshiebwe and Culver managed a total of just 11 points, so to only lose by 14 with that little frontcourt production means better days are coming.
  8. Texas (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  9. Tennessee (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Saint Joseph’s 102-66 and def. South Carolina Upstate 80-60
    • Didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know this week from the Vols. Their defense remains elite, and they can pour it in against overmatched opponents. They’ll get their first real matchup against a top opponent on Wednesday night at Missouri.
  10. Iowa (-5)
    • Last Week: Def. Purdue 70-55 and lost to Minnesota 102-95 in OT
    • The poor defense of the Hawkeyes finally came back to bite them against a non-Gonzaga/NBA opponent. The Fighting Marcus Carrs forced OT on the back of the aforementioned star guard and ultimately toppled Iowa in the extra period. The defensive efficiency, per KenPom, is now down to #91 which does not bode well heading into Big 10 play, which features four other Top 10 offenses plus two others ranked in the Top 16 in KenPom AdjO.
  11. Creighton (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. #24 Xavier 66-61
    • The Bluejays continued their good recent play, ripping off their 3rd consecutive win in Big East play following the loss to Marquette. Notably, their past 2 wins came against teams I had ranked in my personal Top 25, re-establishing Creighton as the clear second-in-command program in the Big East this year.
  12. Texas Tech (+4)
    • Last Week: Def. Oklahoma 69-67
    • The Red Raiders really gave it their best effort, but in the end, they were unable to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at Oklahoma on Tuesday night. I’m gonna go out on a limb and speculate that boxing out was a focus in any practices this group has had since that game. Regardless, a win is a win, and the Red Raiders currently boast the top AdjD ranking in the country.
  13. Rutgers (-2)
    • Last Week: Lost to Ohio State 80-68
    • Rutgers fell from the ranks of the undefeated this week, but I supposed that should have been expected going on the road in the Big 10. Ron Harper Jr. is still playing at a 1st Team All-American level so far, so the only thing that seems to slow down the Scarlet Knights is frontcourt foul trouble and injuries. Jacob Young will hopefully be back in action for the Knights to rebound this week against Purdue and Iowa.
  14. Illinois (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Penn State 98-81 and def. Indiana 69-60
    • Great rebound week for the Illini, who smoked Penn State on the road and handled their business at home. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this is the best 3 loss team in the country, and it will likely remain that way. Northwestern appears to be the only soon-to-be-ranked opponent the Illini will get in the next 4 games, and that game is no lock by any means, but one ranked game out of four seems to be as much of a reprieve as you can get in the Big 10 this year.
  15. San Diego State (+6)
    • Last Week: Def. Saint Mary’s 74-49
    • Something tells me the home loss to BYU lit a fire under the Aztecs. They only responded by absolutely eviscerating a decent Gaels squad by 25 on a neutral court. That BYU loss will be a stain on their resume as they won’t get too many opportunities in the Mountain West, especially not until the close of the season against Boise State. Still, I firmly believe this is a top 20 team.
  16. Missouri (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Bradley 54-53
    • The Tigers were one of the great early season stories in college basketball this year, and without a Jeremiah Tilmon game-winning bucket, that almost evaporated this week. Luckily, they were bailed out by Tilmon’s heroics to remain undefeated ahead of their SEC opener against Tennessee. Bradley is no slouch as they also pushed Xavier to the brink in Cincinnati, but Missouri should have won that more comfortably.
  17. Northwestern (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Indiana 74-67 and def. Ohio State 71-70
    • What a thrill it is to be a Wildcats fan right now, as Northwestern has begun Big 10 play 3-0 for the first time since ’67-’68. Their most recent victory came from late-game dramatics courtesy of Boo Buie, but rest assured, they’ve not been getting lucky. The lumps this young core took last year is paying dividends now, and this is a legitimately good team.
  18. Michigan State (-6)
    • Last Week: Lost to #8 Wisconsin 85-76
    • The Spartans are still 6-2 on the season and lost to a top 5-10 team by single digits, but I’m thinking that if anything, I may not have dropped them far enough. This team just doesn’t have it on the defensive end of the court right now, which probably should have been evident when they gave up 91 to a then-winless Oakland team. The other issue is that this team point blank does not have a great resume right now – their only good win is at a Duke team I don’t believe is a top 25 team.
  19. UConn (–)
    • Last Week: No games played
  20. Florida State (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Gardner-Webb 72-59
    • The Seminoles end up just hanging around at the #20 spot in my rankings thanks to them bypassing a couple teams with losses. But I was very underwhelmed by their performance against a Big South team that hung within 3 points with as little as 5 minutes left in the game. They ultimately did what they needed to, but it was not an impressive performance.
  21. UNC (-3)
    • Last Week: Lost to NC State 79-76
    • The Tar Heels also had a disappointing week, but their performance is not one to be overly worried about. A 3 point road loss at your rival is not all that uncommon, and NC State is a pretty good team this year. I’d like to see them clean up their performances sooner rather than later, as they are 1-3 against quality opponents, but luckily for them (or maybe unluckily), the ACC is pretty underwhelming this year with no top teams.
  22. Minnesota (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Vanderbilt 78-67 and def. Loyola-Chicago 75-73
    • Welcome to the party, Golden Gophers. I am admittedly a bit hesitant to bring them into the rankings so soon after they got blasted by Illinois, but off nights happen, and more importantly, they just won two straight against teams I have ranked. Marcus Carr is an absolute star and perhaps the most clutch player in all of college basketball.
  23. Saint Louis (–)
    • Last Week: Def. UMKC 62-46
    • Not much to say here. The Billikens did what they needed to by finishing non-conference play with a relatively painless win. All in all, a 2-1 record against Power 5 opponents should give them good optimism heading into what is a pretty competitive A10 field this year.
  24. Virginia Tech (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Longwood 84-58
    • Again, not a whole lot to add. The Hokies took care of business against a thoroughly outclassed opponent. They’ll head into ACC play full-time on Tuesday before a big showdown against their rival Virginia, who is in desperate need of a big win.
  25. Michigan (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Nebraska 80-69
    • In any given week, the Wolverines have not failed to do what they’ve need to do, but as someone who was lower than the consensus in the preseason, I found myself continually jumping teams lower down my list past them after big wins. Outside of maybe UCF, depending on how the Golden Knights fare, one could argue that Michigan doesn’t really even have a “good” win, but they’ve played everyone and beaten everyone on their schedule, and that deserves a ranking at this point.

Dropped Out:
Virginia (was 14) – In retrospect, the Cavaliers should not have been ranked, but at least I have finally come to my senses. Going into the game against Gonzaga, they had a neutral court loss to a mid major, got taken to OT on their home floor by another mid major, and only had victories and mid and low majors. In their first game against a prominent opponent, they got absolutely shellacked. While Gonzaga seems to do that to everyone, I can’t justify a UVA ranking based on preseason expectation and coaching pedigree any longer – I need to see it translate to the floor.
Richmond (was 22) – The rules are pretty simple – don’t lose to a mid major on your home court when you are a mid major trying to justify a ranking. Richmond’s seemingly big win at Kentucky has lost all its luster, and they need to string together several wins to get back into close consideration.
Xavier (was 24) – Xavier has the easiest path back to the rankings of the three I dropped this week, as they only slid down a couple spots following their first loss of the season at Creighton. They would have had ample opportunity to leap way back up next weekend, but with Villanova’s Covid pause, they’ll have to beat Seton Hall and hope a few teams near the back end of the rankings disappoint me.

Next 5: Ohio State, Xavier, Duke, Clemson, UCLA

Top 25 Poll – Week 5

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll following two weeks of games played. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: Def. #4 Iowa 99-88
    • After being sidelined and out of action for over 2 weeks due to Covid, Gonzaga was back in action and flexed their muscles with a resounding victory over Iowa. There were no signs of rust despite the time off, and Gonzaga rose to 4-0 with all of their victories coming against high majors. I’m not sure they’ll go undefeated, but it’s nearly impossible to envision them being an underdog in any other game that’s currently scheduled.
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Kansas State 100-69
    • Just like Gonzaga, Baylor exited a Covid pause and didn’t appear to have lost a step. They dismantled a pretty awful Kansas State team and at this point, the Bears are the only thing preventing this from becoming a “Gonzaga vs. the field” scenario. It is worth nothing that Baylor actually leads the KenPom AdjEM rankings now by a slim margin over Gonzaga.
  3. West Virginia (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Iowa State 70-65
    • The Mountaineers only had one opportunity this week and they really did not do much with it as they narrowly avoided a colossal home upset to an Iowa State squad coming off a loss to Kansas State. That said, the 3-4-5 slots have essentially turned into the “best teams with only one loss and it’s to Gonzaga” section of my rankings, and the Mountaineers have given them their best attempt so far.
  4. Kansas (+5)
    • Last Week: Def. #15 Texas Tech 58-57
    • Ever since the season-opening loss to Gonzaga, the Jayhawks have done nothing but win. It hasn’t been the prettiest at times, but they’ve put together back-to-back one point victories in their two most recent Top 25 matchups, and there’s something to be said for finding a way to win close games, which statistically, Bill Self-led teams do better than ANYONE else in the country.
  5. Iowa (-1)
    • Last Week: Lost to #1 Gonzaga 99-88
    • The Hawkeyes remain the best offensive team in the country after they took their first loss of the year to Gonzaga this weekend, but their defensive woes that had made me a skeptic all year came back to bite them. At the end of the day, I opted to keep them in the top 5 because their offense is so spectacular, and also because I expect any team other than Baylor to lose fairly handily to Gonzaga right now.
  6. Villanova (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Butler 85-66 and def. Saint Joseph’s 88-68
    • The Wildcats finally hit their home court this week and won by a combined 39 points, solidifying their place among the nation’s best. Despite running one of the 10 slowest paces, Villanova has the 4th best AdjO per KenPom, to the surprise of few. I opted to keep Villanova behind Iowa because despite Iowa’s 82nd ranked defense, Villanova’s loss is not as good as Iowa’s, and the Wildcats’ win over Arizona State has lost quite a bit of its luster.
  7. Houston (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Alcorn State 88-55
    • Not a whole lot to say here. Houston came back from a Covid pause with a tune-up that they were heavily favored in, and they cruised to a blowout win. Shoutout to Quentin Grimes and his 27 point-10 rebound performance – his shooting numbers have been down this season but he continues to pour in points and is becoming a star.
  8. Wisconsin (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. Loyola-Chicago 77-63 and def. Louisville 85-48
    • Great week for the Badgers with two quality wins. Loyola-Chicago is no slouch and the Badgers handled their business comfortably in a potential trap game before dismantling a good but badly undermanned Louisville team. Baylor and Gonzaga may be the clear #1 and #2 teams, but after Saturday, Wisconsin is the only team in the country with a top 10 offense AND defense per KenPom.
  9. Texas (-1)
    • Last Week: Def. Sam Houston State 79-63 and def. Oklahoma State 77-74
    • Another good week for the Longhorns, whose only blemish remains the home loss to a top 10 Villanova team. They had to fend off a scrappy late effort from Oklahoma State on Sunday but that will be a quality win for them come Selection Sunday. They only drop due to Kansas and Wisconsin’s wins being of a higher quality.
  10. Tennessee (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Appalachian State 79-38 and def. Tennessee Tech 103-49
    • Just a dominating week for the Vols who now boast one of the top 5 defenses in the country. They’ll have what should be 2 more tune-ups before they return to facing quality competition and what is now a highly anticipated SEC opener at Missouri on the 30th.
  11. Rutgers (+12)
    • Last Week: Def. Maryland 74-60 and def. #10 Illinois 91-88
    • It’s quite possible that Rutgers may have had the best week out of anyone in the country. They left the friendly confines of the RAC for the first time on Monday and left College Park with a 14 point win, then defended the Trapezoid of Terror with a thrilling second half surge to topple a very good Illinois team. Rutgers is suddenly knocking on the door of the Big 10 race with two great victories.
  12. Michigan State (-6)
    • Last Week: Lost to Northwestern 79-65
    • You know college basketball is back when the inevitable happens – a top 10-ranked Michigan State team inexplicably no-shows and loses a random conference game to a middling opponent and demonstrates lack of effort that results in Tom Izzo emptying the bench with 3 minutes to go. The Spartans will be fine, but man was that a horrendous performance.
  13. Creighton (+1)
    • Last Week: Lost to Marquette 89-84, def. St. John’s 94-76, def. #16 UConn 76-74 (OT)
    • It’s admittedly odd to move a team up after losing a game in the past week, but this portion of the rankings had a ton of carnage this week – all of my teams ranked #13 through #17 lost games this past week, my #18 and #20 didn’t play, and my #19 and #21 also lost. So, given that I’m very high on UConn, I’m okay with Creighton basically hovering where they are.
  14. Virginia (+4)
    • Last Week: No games played
  15. Missouri (+5)
    • Last Week: No games played
  16. Texas Tech (-1)
    • Last Week: Lost to #9 Kansas 58-57
    • Texas Tech had its first chance to notch a quality win on Thursday but came up just short in an intense game. Their resume is pretty unspectacular at this point with 6 wins over low majors and 2 competitive losses to top 10 teams, but they have an opportunity to tack on a solid W against Oklahoma on Tuesday.
  17. Illinois (-7)
    • Last Week: Def. Minnesota 92-65 and lost to #23 Rutgers 91-88
    • Illinois remains a supremely talented team as evidenced by their absolute demolition of a previously unbeaten Minnesota team earlier in the week. But while a 3 point road loss to a ranked conference foe is nothing to be ashamed about, Illinois now has just a 5-3 record and a 2-3 record against high majors. I still have a lot of confidence in this team but would like to see them turn some of these close losses into wins.
  18. UNC (+4)
    • Last Week: Def. Kentucky 75-63
    • It’s a strange world when a ranked team defeating Kentucky isn’t worth a whole lot in terms of moving up, but the 1-5 Wildcats turned into just another ho-hum victory for the Tar Heels. North Carolina doesn’t seem to be an elite team, but thus far they have won the games they should have and stayed competitive in their two losses to top 10 teams.
  19. UConn (-3)
    • Last Week: Lost to #14 Creighton 76-74 in OT
    • The Huskies came back from two breaks on Sunday – the Covid pause and their break from the Big East Conference. They kept it competitive against a good Creighton squad and for a few minutes, it looked like they were headed to a splendid homecoming win, until some missed free throws late cost them a regulation win and they failed to capitalize in OT. I’m still really high on this team – as I’ve said in the past, Bouknight is a stud and has legit Kemba/Shabazz potential.
  20. Florida State (-7)
    • Last Week: Def. Georgia Tech 74-61 and lost to UCF 86-74
    • Yeah, this one caught me off guard. Really don’t have any idea how Florida State managed to no-show as badly as they did against UCF, and credit should go to the Golden Knights as well. But even though UCF is a generally respectable program, this was a brutal home loss to be pretty much non-competitive. Going to recalibrate a bit with this ranking.
  21. San Diego State (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to BYU 72-62
    • Pretty surprised with the result of this game on Friday night – even without fans, Viejas is a hell of a place to try and get a road victory but BYU found a way. Matt Mitchell is an absolute stud but it’s hard to win when 3 of the 5 starters combine to go 3-23 from the field. Jordan Schakel is a stellar sidekick and likely doesn’t go 1-9 very often if at all the rest of the season, so I’m not too concerned about this team.
  22. Richmond (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Vanderbilt 78-67 and def. Loyola-Chicago 75-73
    • Very glad I didn’t sell yet on a ranked Richmond team, as they put together a solid couple of wins this past week. Vanderbilt may still be Vanderbilt, but at the end of the day an A10 team getting a road win at an SEC team is still a quality victory for a team that likely won’t get too many opportunities in conference play, and Loyola-Chicago is one of the better mid-majors this season.
  23. Saint Louis (-4)
    • Last Week: Def. NC State 80-69 and lost to Minnesota 90-82
    • Still a Billikens believer, but this ended up not being the best week for them. They do add a 2nd Power 5 win with a newly scheduled game against NC State which will look nice on the resume but the Wolfpack were missing a handful of players, including DJ Funderburk and Cam Hayes. They followed that up Sunday night with a tough loss at Minnesota – not a bad loss but tough in the sense that they missed an opportunity to solidify their standing and struggled to hit shots.
  24. Xavier (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Marquette 91-88
    • Adam Kunkel hit the shot of the week and launches the Musketeers into my rankings for the first time this season. This is one team I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to do with, as they narrowly squeaked past three mid-majors at home in Bradley, Toledo, and Eastern Kentucky, but now have three consecutive wins over Cincinnati, Oklahoma, and Marquette. Given that they’ve added Kunkel and now Ben Stanley with the blanket transfer waiver, I’m gonna buy more into the recent results over the earlier results.
  25. Virginia Tech (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. #21 Clemson 66-60 and def. Coppin State 97-57
    • After sinking out of my polls thanks to a blowout loss to Penn State, the Hokies jump right back in and take the spot Clemson had previously taken from VT. This was an especially critical week as this team had trended downwards post-Nova upset, narrowly beating low major VMI and getting smoked by the Nittany Lions.

Dropped Out:
Clemson (was 21) – Clemson’s tenure in my rankings was the epitome of the Homer Simpson walk in and walk right back out GIF. They took a spot from the Hokies and promptly lost it right back after falling on the road. They still boast the #2 defense and I expect Clemson will make it back into my top 25 at some point, but need to become more efficient on offense (#73 AdjO per KenPom).
Ohio State (was 25) – Up and down week for the Buckeyes, who fell on the road at Purdue 67-60 only to bounce right back with a great 77-70 victory over UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic. They only fell 4 spots overall in large part due to E.J. Liddell’s absence in that loss to Purdue. That said, teams are more than one player so I still felt that dropping them out was warranted due to the loss.

Next 5: Duke, Michigan, Clemson, Ohio State, UCLA

Top 25 Poll – Week 4

Below are my rankings for the Reddit User Poll following two weeks of games played. Note – the rankings in the “Last Week” summary are my own personal rankings, not the Reddit User Poll, Coaches Poll, or AP Poll.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
    • Last Week: No games played
  2. Baylor (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Stephen F. Austin 83-52
    • Blowout win for Baylor this week, as was expected. Stephen F. Austin isn’t a slouch of a program but clearly not at the same level. Baylor now enters a pause and likely will be out of action this coming week, much like Gonzaga.
  3. West Virginia (–)
    • Last Week: Def. North Texas 62-50 and def. #15 Richmond 87-71
    • Sunday’s victory over Richmond solidifies the Mountaineers further in my eyes and I think they are clearly at the top of the next tier of teams after Gonzaga and Baylor. They definitely had a more impressive week than Baylor and may be able to close the gap while the Bears are paused but there’s still a ways to go before I think they are at the top.
  4. Iowa (+3)
    • Last Week: Def. #18 UNC 93-80, def. Iowa State 105-77, and def. Northern Illinois 106-53
    • I’ve been a skeptic all year on Iowa’s defense but am very much starting to buy into their offense being able to carry them because it’s just so ridiculous. Luka Garza is far and away better than every other college player right now and it’s just a joy to watch this team on offense. I maintain that they need to improve from the KenPom #79 ranked defense to win a title but have to give credit where credit’s due.
  5. Villanova (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Georgetown 76-63
    • For a while in the first half, it looked like Villanova was simply going to be a hot/cold team that never met its potential. Then, the second half happened and the Wildcats erased an 18 point deficit and stormed to a 13 point win. A remarkable in-game turnaround that emphasized how experienced and under control this group is.
  6. Michigan State (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Oakland 109-91
    • It was more of the same for the Spartans this year against Oakland – despite a feisty early effort from the underdog, Michigan State was able to handle themselves and pulled away throughout the second half. I am continually amazed by how insanely balanced this team is – 7 players scored in double figures and just one reached 20 – anyone on the floor can score on any possession.
  7. Houston (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  8. Texas (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Texas State 74-53
    • Texas took care of business and easily bounced back from the loss to Villanova last Sunday. With Baylor’s Covid cases, the Longhorns missed an opportunity to pick up another marquee victory and test themselves against a top 10 opponent and will have to wait for January for their next chance.
  9. Kansas (+11)
    • Last Week: Def. #10 Creighton 73-72 and def. Omaha 95-50
    • Hand up, I sold stock too quickly on the Jayhawks after seeing them win the Omaha Cup this week. The one point home win over a top 10-15 team isn’t enough to move up 11 spots in a vacuum, but it was the first win over an actually good team (shoutout Kentucky) and completely restored my confidence in this team. Jalen Wilson is a STUD.
  10. Illinois (-6)
    • Last Week: Def. #16 Duke 83-68 and lost to Missouri 81-78
    • It was a tale of two stories for the Illini this week as they went into Cameron Indoor and convincingly thumped Duke but followed it up with a narrow loss at Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game. Certainly not a week worthy of dropping down several spots but it is 2 losses in the past 3 games for this group, even if they are to teams I (now) have ranked.
  11. Wisconsin (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Rhode Island 73-62
    • Solid week for the Badgers who rebounded nicely after the Marquette loss by controlling a pretty solid mid major team from start to finish. Still gonna be a couple more games before Wisconsin has a chance to play a top team as this past week was their first win against a half-decent team.
  12. Tennessee (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Colorado 56-47 and def. Cincinnati 65-56
    • The Vols finally got going this week and despite the offense looking a bit rusty and missing shots, this defense came out in midseason form as they shut down two pretty good teams. Already at KenPom’s #5 AdjD, I think Tennessee has emerged as a clear SEC favorite very early on.
  13. Florida State (+1)
    • Last Week: Def. Indiana 69-67 (OT) and def. Florida 83-71
    • Excellent week for the Seminoles who held off a solid Indiana team in OT and then polished off the Gators, though the latter was missing Keyontae Johnson for much of the game (best wishes to Keyontae). Despite the good work, couldn’t really justify moving the Seminoles up any further as a lot of teams in this area of my rankings had strong weeks.
  14. Creighton (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to #20 Kansas 73-72 and def. Nebraska 98-74
    • Despite the loss, I’d classify this as a good week for the Jays as well – they were just leapfrogged by teams that had better results. Coming a lone missed free throw away from a win at Allen Fieldhouse is nothing to hang your head about, especially after dismantling their in-state rivals over the weekend.
  15. Texas Tech (-2)
    • Last Week: Def. Abilene Christian 51-44 and def. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 77-57
    • It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Raiders did manage to survive against Abilene Christian and avoid a colossal upset. The Southland foe is certainly no pushover, but any Southland win over a Big 12 team would be fairly shocking. That said, it was a horrendous offensive performance which put a damper on how good the defense has been, as it currently ranks #1 in AdjD per KenPom.
  16. UConn (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  17. San Diego State (+7)
    • Last Week: Def. #23 Arizona State 80-68
    • It seems that the demise of the Aztecs has been greatly exaggerated. Not only did they win convincingly on the road to nab their 2nd Pac 12 victory of the year, but their victory over UCLA looks even better in retrospect after the Bruins won their 5th straight over the weekend over a solid Marquette squad.
  18. Virginia (+1)
    • Last Week: No games played
  19. Saint Louis (+2)
    • Last Week: Def. Central Arkansas 88-65
    • Another quiet week (in a good way) for the Billikens who dispatched another low major with ease. Up at the end of next week is a key road matchup at currently unbeaten Minnesota, presenting the only opportunity left for Saint Louis to defeat a power conference foe.
  20. Missouri (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Liberty 69-60 and def. #4 Illinois 81-78
    • The Tigers, who were barely on my radar in the preseason, have quietly put together one of the best resumes in the country. Although, I suppose you could argue that after their Team of the Week performance, it’s no longer quiet. They avoided upset in a classic trap game against an underrated Liberty team, then pulled off the huge win in the Braggin’ Rights game. This team is very fun to watch and it is super disappointing that we don’t have a game between Mizzou and Saint Louis.
  21. Clemson (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Maryland 67-51 and def. Alabama 64-56
    • Another team that wasn’t on my radar very much in the preseason but this set of Tigers has also burst onto the scene with two solid wins this past week. On top of that, Clemson has quietly jumped all the way to #2 in AdjD on KenPom – could they oust UVA from the top of the ACC defensive totem pole?
  22. UNC (-4)
    • Last Week: Lost to #7 Iowa 93-80 and def. NC Central 73-67
    • Not a great week for the Tar Heels but hard to penalize them too much for losing to a top 10 team on the road that shot the absolute lights out of the ball and have the nation’s best player. The final score against NC Central was closer than the game was but it also wasn’t a blowout once would expect in an ACC/MEAC matchup, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Tar Heels.
  23. Rutgers (NEW)
    • Last Week: Def. Syracuse 79-69
    • I had hope we’d get a fun and competitive Rutgers team after they missed on what would’ve been a drought-ending tournament appearance and it does appears we have that. I’d been cautious to buy in until they had a quality win and that victory over what seems to be a solid Syracuse team was a nice boost to their resume.
  24. Richmond (-9)
    • Last Week: Def. Wofford 77-72, def. Northern Iowa 78-68, and lost to #3 West Virginia 87-71
    • Tough week for the Spiders who narrowly scooted past two typically decent mid-majors having slow starts by a combined 15 points, then got pretty much waxed by an elite West Virginia team. With the Kentucky win losing luster, this resume is not stellar right now but luckily for them I was fairly high on the Spiders in the preseason so I’m gonna stay bought into this program for now.
  25. Ohio State (–)
    • Last Week: Def. Notre Dame 90-85 and def. Cleveland State 67-61
    • I started to have Notre Dame slotted up in the 20-22 range until this afternoon’s ugly performance where they struggled to put away a Cleveland State team that gave up 40 straight to Ohio last week. That said, the road win at Notre Dame was definitely a good win and finally something to have on the resume.

Dropped Out:
Duke (was 16) – Not actually sure that Duke is a “bad” team relative to expectations like with Kentucky, but there’s also literally no justification in my mind to have them ranked. They’ve lost to the two good teams they’ve played (both at home) and struggled against MEAC opponent Coppin State with only a blowout against Bellarmine as a comfortable win.
Virginia Tech (was 22) – I still like the Hokies but perhaps this reversion to the mean was overdue after a less than stellar follow-up from Bubbleville against VMI. Getting waxed at home by a decent but not great Penn State team was not a performance worthy of a ranking.
Arizona State (was 23) – Tough week for the Sun Devils, who fell at home to San Diego State and barely escaped Grand Canyon on the road. Grand Canyon typically has a wild home court advantage but in the pandemic world, that’s not something that comes into play, so Arizona State should have won that game by more.

Next 5: Duke, Louisville, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State