Top 25 Poll – Week 6

  1. Louisville (–) – Had to think about the #1 spot this week, but Louisville thoroughly dominated the team I had ranked #2 at the start of last week and I can’t justify moving the Cards down in the polls with that type of win on their resume.
  2. Ohio State (+3) – The Buckeyes pulled off one of the most impressive weeks out of anyone this season the past seven days, going on the road and completely ripping the soul out of UNC, then putting their foot down over the final 10 minutes to completely destroy a pesky Penn State squad.
  3. Kansas (+1) – The Jayhawks only played once this past week but they made it count, with a convincing home win over a ranked Colorado team. Turnovers remain an issue but Kansas has played elite defense so far this year.
  4. Maryland (-1) – Maryland started off the week strong with a dominating win over Notre Dame in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, then nearly threw it all away against Illinois before Anthony Cowan bailed the Terps out. This Maryland squad has shown remarkable resilience in the second half of games this year.
  5. Gonzaga (+3) – After a business-like win over Texas Southern, the Bulldogs went into enemy territory and took care of business win a solid road win over Washington. Joel Ayayi had another big week and continued to establish himself as a key part of the rotation with a 16 point, 9 rebound, 4 assist performance against Texas Southern and 12 points against Washington, including a dagger triple to seal the game.
  6. Michigan (-4) – It was a tale of two games for the Wolverines this week, as they bounced back from an UGLY, ugly loss to Louisville and rebounded with a 103-91 win over the Fighting Luka Garzas. Most promising was the career-best 18 point performance from freshman Franz Wagner.
  7. Duke (+5) – Huge bounce back week for the Blue Devils, as they throttled Michigan State in the Breslin Center, then overcame their demons in Blacksburg with a big road win over Virginia Tech. As bad as it was, the loss to Stephen F. Austin may prove to be a turning point for the Duke squad.
  8. Baylor (+5) – After an easy breezy win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, Baylor grinded out a 5 point win over a then-undefeated Arizona team, and firmly cemented their place as a national title contender. This Baylor team can do it all and they do it all very well.
  9. Oregon (–) – Not too much went on for Oregon this week, as they cruised to a dominant 25 point win over Hawaii over the weekend. This coming Saturday will be their toughest test yet with a road battle at another top 10 team in Michigan.
  10. Kentucky (–) – Same goes as above for the Wildcats, who crushed Fairleigh Dickinson, as expected. A home battle against Georgia Tech this weekend provides a bit more of a challenge, but it’s one that this team should have the talent to overcome.
  11. Butler (+7) – Another huge week for one of the hottest teams in America, who could also have a claim to be the best team not just in the Big East, but the SEC. The Bulldogs went on the road to Oxford, MS and took down Ole Miss, then avenged a blowout loss a year ago by convincingly taking down the Gators at home.
  12. Auburn (+2) – It took OT, but the Tigers managed to avoid their first loss of the season to a scrappy and talented Furman team. Isaac Okoro continues to look like one of the best freshman in the country.
  13. Virginia (-7) – UVA’s ugly offense finally thwarted their defensive efforts in a blowout loss to Purdue. On the flip side, the Cavaliers rebounded nicely this weekend with a strong, thorough win at home over UNC. This team still needs to find offense to be a legitimate title contender, but its defense will help keep them on the fringe of the conversation.
  14. Dayton (+7) – Another big week for the Flyers, who have built a non-conference resume that will allow them to be in the conversation for a top 4 seed in March. The home win against Houston Baptist was simply taking care of business, but the neutral court victory over Saint Mary’s was a huge resume builder.
  15. Arizona (+1) – Arizona lost its only game this week, but a narrow 5 point loss on the road to what I think is one of the 10 best teams in the country is nothing to be ashamed about. The freshman trio will learn a lot from this loss and come back even stronger.
  16. Memphis (+4) – The question of who would be “the guy” without James Wiseman was resoundingly answered by Precious Achiuwa, who had a key 8 points in the final 4 minutes to help spur a thrilling 20 point come from behind victory against UAB.
  17. Colorado (–) – Another “nothing to be ashamed about” ranking here, as I don’t think a road loss in Allen Fieldhouse is something to penalize a team for. That said, I’d like to see a bit more offense from the Buffaloes, especially with a sneaky challenging week ahead with a home matchup against Northern Iowa and a road matchup at in-state rival Colorado State.
  18. Tennessee (+4) – Quiet week for the Vols, with a thorough whoopin’ of a bad Florida A&M team the only mark on the calendar. An exciting matchup against Memphis awaits this weekend.
  19. Villanova (NEW) – It wasn’t a dominating week, but Villanova did take care of business at home against Penn and on the road at St. Joe’s, improving to 3-0 in Big 5 play as they look to reclaim the city title. A neutral court battle against Delaware is the only matchup that lies between the Wildcats and a big home battle against Kansas.
  20. Utah State (+5) – The good? Neemias Queta finally made his season debut. The bad? It took overtime for the Aggies to defeat a subpar Fresno State team, at home. For now, I’ll give ’em the benefit of the doubt with a new rotation piece being worked in, but that’s not an ideal performance.
  21. Xavier (NEW) – Xavier handled their business Wednesday night against Green Bay, and followed that up with a solid win in the Crosstown Shootout. The best performance to come out of the Musketeers this week, though, was Travis Steele having his son drop a wad of cash to buy an entire bar their next round of drinks
  22. Michigan State (-11) – I briefly considered dropping Michigan State out of the top 25 completely, and actually did in the early part of the week after they got smoked by Duke at home. It’s not easy to justify ranking teams with 3 losses at this point. But I’m still not selling any Spartan stock just yet, with Michigan State still sitting at #4 on KenPom. Definitely the best 3 loss team in the country, but I’d like to see the Spartans start racking up some wins.
  23. San Diego State (+1) – San Diego State has been one of the most fun stories this year, as one of the highest climbers in AdjEM on KenPom thus far. All of that nearly went away on Sunday until Malachi Flynn saved the Aztecs with a game winner against 28 point underdog San Jose State. Like Utah State, that kind of performance isn’t going to get it done long-term.
  24. Florida State (-5) – Mixed bag of results for the Seminoles this week, as they dropped a tough one on the road to Indiana by 16, though it was much closer than the final score indicated, before crushing Clemson by 19 at home with a nice second half runaway. FSU gets a nice break now, with no games scheduled until North Florida visits on the 17th.
  25. Seton Hall (-10) – It feels a little unfair to drop a team 10 spots for a tough loss on the road to Iowa State, especially when Seton Hall beat Iowa State on a neutral floor. However, the Pirates are now up to 3 close losses against good teams, and haven’t shown a consistent ability to hang on and win these types of games, and they could face additional injury trouble with Sandro Mamukelashvili going down with some type of hand or wrist problem early against the Cyclones.

Dropped Out: UNC (7), Oklahoma State (23)

Next 5: Wichita State, UNC, Purdue, Washington, DePaul

Top 25 Poll – Week 5

What an awesome week of chaos. Feast Week delivered and then some, and college basketball is the absolute best.

  1. Louisville (+2) – Louisville avoided any major catastrophe with a strong, 17 point win over Western Kentucky in Nashville. The Fighting Charles Basseys are by no means a pushover, but it’s still nowhere near the competition they’ll face when Michigan rolls into town on Tuesday night.
  2. Michigan (NEW) – You could make a case for Michigan as the #1 team in the country and nobody would think you’re crazy. They most certainly have the best resume in the country now after storming through the Battle 4 Atlantis field and taking down Iowa State, and two top 10 teams in UNC and Gonzaga. Juwan Howard (plus his sidekick Phil Martelli) are doing a phenomenal job this season and I gave them serious consideration at #1. For now, I’ll let Louisville slide up to that spot, but it’ll all go down on Tuesday night.
  3. Maryland (+1) – I’m hoping that slowly but surely, more people will join me on the “this isn’t the same old Maryland squad” train. Maryland stormed through the Orlando Invitational and defeated feisty Temple and Harvard squads before dismantling Marquette and completely taking Markus Howard out of the game. Anthony Cowan is playing at an elite level this year.
  4. Kansas (+1) – The horrifying performance at the Champions Classic seems all but a distant memory at this point, as Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike led the Jayhawks to the Maui championship. It wasn’t the most impressive or best resume-building week on paper given that the Jayhawks faced no Power 5 opponent, but BYU is an at-large contender and Dayton has leaped into the national top 25 conversation.
  5. Ohio State (+3) – No chaos in Columbus this week. The Buckeyes were challenged for large portions of the game against Kent State, but buried the Golden Flashes in the late stages of that game and then dismantled Morgan State to remain unbeaten.
  6. Virginia (+4) – To be honest, I feel dirty ranking UVA this high given the state of their offense and the fact they managed to score a whole 46 points against KenPom’s #261 rated defense of Maine, but UVA’s defense is just ridiculous. The difference between the #1 (UVA) and #2 (Ohio State) AdjD’s on KenPom is the same difference between #2 and #39. It’s stupid good.
  7. North Carolina (-1) – The Tar Heels came away in 3rd place from the loaded Atlantis field, with the only blemish being a loss to a red hot Michigan team. The Cole Anthony-Armando Bacot 1-2 punch is very fun to watch.
  8. Gonzaga (-1) – The Zags drew the lucky straw in Atlantis, facing an overmatched Southern Miss squad to start things off, and survived in OT against a very talented Oregon team to claim early season West Coast supremacy. The red hot Wolverines were too much for the Bulldogs to handle, but if Gonzaga can stay healthy, a #1 seed could be on the table. The three game upcoming stretch of @Washington, @Arizona, and vs. UNC will have the final say for that.
  9. Oregon (+4) – Poll inertia (which is dumb as shit) typically means that if a team loses, they drop in the next week’s poll. When a team loses twice, they drop even further. So it may be a bit surprising that I bumped Oregon up after a 1-2 week, but they may have just played the toughest single week that any team will play all year, and acquitted themselves quite nicely. They rallied from a 19 point second half deficit to stun Seton Hall, then narrowly lost by 1 point in OT to Gonzaga, and were topped by UNC by just 4 points. If you’re keeping score, that’s a minus 3 (-3) scoring differential over 3 games against top 15 opponents.
  10. Kentucky (+2) – Relatively uneventful week in Lexington, where the Cats took down UAB by 11 in their only game. Saturday’s upcoming game against Fairleigh Dickinson is the only game until a December 14th showdown with Georgia Tech, so Kentucky will be able to weather the storm of Nate Sestina’s injury for the immediate future.
  11. Michigan State (-10) – As I was saying early, I think poll inertia is dumb. Dropping a team 10 points for going 2-1 against Power 5 opponents on a neutral site floor may seem overreactionary, but I also think it’s time that preseason expectations begin to taper out from rankings. Right now, I’m not convinced that the Spartans are one of the 10 best teams in the country. I believe they have as much potential as anyone in the country to become that, but this roster just hasn’t quite gelled like I thought it would.
  12. Duke (-10) – The loss to Stephen F. Austin, from Duke’s perspective, is unforgivable. Coach K coming up with the standard “I was feeling sick” response is an even worse look. I finally had started to believe in Duke prior to last week, bumping them from #4 to #2, but I’m back to questioning the long-term ability to contend that Duke has. Most concerning about the loss to SFA was that the Lumberjacks shot just 20% from the three point line and 65% from the foul line, yet still managed to get it done.
  13. Baylor (+2) – Nothing happened this past week for the Bears, but their inaction let them slide up past some teams that exhibited flaws. A Saturday showdown with the Wildcats of Arizona will be another great early season test for Scott Drew’s squad.
  14. Auburn (+3) – Samir Doughty is emerging as a bona fide superstar for Bruce Pearl this year, leading Auburn in scoring in both games of the Legends Classic. The Tigers downed two solid mid major squads in New Mexico and Richmond by comfortable margins, and have a legitimate case to claim the title of “Best in the SEC” so far.
  15. Seton Hall (-4) – The Pirates rebounded to another gut-wrenching loss in the final moments, this time to Oregon, by finishing 5th in Atlantis after defeating Southern Miss and Iowa State. The Pirates have shown they can compete with anyone so far, but what they haven’t shown is an ability to find a secondary scoring option for the final seconds of a game beyond Myles Powell.
  16. Arizona (+2) – Sean Miller’s guys won a surprisingly competitive Wooden Legacy on Sunday night, defeating Pepperdine on a late Nico Mannion runner, holding Penn at bay, and then withstanding a late Wake Forest push. The freshman trio of Mannion, Green, and Nnaji continues to lead the way.
  17. Colorado (+3) – The Buffaloes don’t win pretty, but they do win. I really thought McKinley Wright was the best player on this team, but Tyler Bey has easily claimed that title, going for 18-10 and and 11-17 in Colorado’s two wins this week.
  18. Butler (NEW) – Everyone knew Kamar Baldwin was good, which he reinforced with his game winner over Stanford, but the biggest revelation for the Bulldogs has been Bryce Nze’s presence in the frontcourt, as he averages 12.7 points on 66.7 FG% to go along with 7.6 rebounds per game.
  19. Florida State (NEW) – The season-opening loss to Pitt was bad, but it’s time to give the ‘Noles their due. Two hard-fought wins over gritty Tennessee and Purdue squads landed FSU the Emerald Coast Classic title. Leonard Hamilton has kept the machine rolling.
  20. Memphis (+2) – The 5 point win over NC State is easily Memphis’ most impressive win this season, as they did it not only without James Wiseman, but also with quad king Lester Quinones sidelines.
  21. Dayton (NEW) – The Flyers ultimately came up just short in OT against Kansas, but after taking down Georgia and Virginia Tech in blowout fashion, Dayton proved it’s a legitimate contender for the A10 title and could be on the path to a seed in the 4-6 range on Selection Sunday.
  22. Tennessee (-1) – The Vols began the Emerald Coast Classic by dropping a tough 3 point game to Florida State, but rebounded in spectacular fashion to take down VCU on Lamonte Turner’s game winner at the buzzer. The Vols have just one game between now and the mid-December showdown with Memphis.
  23. Oklahoma State (NEW) – Oklahoma State has very quietly put together a very strong resume thus far. It hasn’t always been pretty with single digit wins over Oral Roberts, Yale, and Western Michigan, but a road win at Charleston plus neutral court wins over Syracuse and Ole Miss, with the latter being a complete blowout, is a strong start. The Cowboys have a huge week upcoming with Georgetown and Wichita State coming to town.
  24. San Diego State (NEW) – I’m not convinced that Utah State isn’t still the king of the Mountain West, but the Aztecs look extremely legitimate after ravaging Creighton and then topping Iowa to win the Las Vegas Invitational. The defense is strong, as expected, and now the offense is doing more than enough to keep San Diego State unbeaten.
  25. Utah State (-9) – A narrow road loss to a strong Saint Mary’s team, especially without star Neemias Queta, is definitely not enough to drop a team 9 spots in a vacuum; the Aggies drop in my poll is more a product of other teams having impressive performances and leapfrogging them. I remain a big believer in what this team can accomplish this year.

Dropped Out: Texas Tech (9), VCU (14), Villanova (19), Xavier (23), Oklahoma (24), Washington (25)

Next 5: Villanova, West Virginia, Xavier, Washington, DePaul

Mid-Major of the Week: I’ll just use the same reasoning I had for Evansville and apply it to Stephen F. Austin. Knocking off the #1 ranked team on the road is an insane accomplishment for a team out of the Southland Conference. Kudos the Lumberjacks on an incredible performance that will be remembered for a long time.

Top 25 Poll – Week 4

  1. Michigan State (–) – Quiet week for the Spartans on the court, with a blowout of Charleston Southern the only action. Off the court, Joey Hauser lost his eligibility appeal, meaning instead of the rich getting richer, the rich just remain rich.
  2. Duke (+2) – I’ve been bullish on the Blue Devils this year, primarily due to shooting concerns. This week saw them play their first competition since the opening night battle against Kansas and Duke pulled through and won the 2K Empire Classic with wins over Cal and Georgetown. Shooting was improved, but in all reality, it may not matter when the Blue Devils can just feed the beast known as Vernon Carey.
  3. Louisville (-1) – It was a tale of two stories for Louisville this week. The Cards struggled early against the juggernaut of South Carolina Upstate (KenPom #344), leading by just 2 with as little 10:57 left in the game before pulling away to win by 26. Then, the Cards spanked Akron early, building their lead up to 22 before holding off the Zips and winning by 6.
  4. Maryland (-1) – Maryland took care of business once again this week, dispatching Fairfield by 19 and impressively routing a decent George Mason squad by 25. A date with Temple to start off the Orlando Invitational lies ahead this week.
  5. Kansas (+2) – Quiet week for the Jayhawks, but East Tennessee State is a strong mid major and Kansas took care of business. They’ll head to Maui this week and could potentially see a matchup with Michigan State in the finals if both take care of business.
  6. UNC (-1) – The Tar Heels defeated Elon by 14 on Wednesday night, but the biggest takeaway was someone other than Cole Anthony leading the way. Freshman big man Armando Bacot dropped a casual 22 points to go along with 14 boards, and could be the secondary scorer the Heels need to be truly elite.
  7. Gonzaga (-1) – Gonzaga whacked CSU Bakersfield by 28 on Saturday, but had to hold off a feisty UT-Arlington squad by just 6 on Tuesday night, though it wasn’t quite that close. The Bulldogs will be one of many strong teams looking to capitalize on the opportunities presented in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
  8. Ohio State (–) – The Buckeyes took care of business against two cupcakes in Stetson and Purdue Fort Wayne, and should have two more victories this week, though Kent State is no pushover. The December 4th game at UNC will be a key barometer to see how this team plays outside of friendly confines.
  9. Texas Tech (–) – The Red Raiders continued their run of powderpuff opponents to start the season and did their job in getting two wins. One thing that may be worth paying attention to is Texas Tech’s 1st half performances; they took just a 5 point lead into halftime against Tennessee State before winning by 15, and were actually down a point against Long Island before ultimately crushing them by 30.
  10. Virginia (–) – It wasn’t pretty, but it was three strong wins for the Hoos this past week. They survived a strong effort by a feisty Vermont team led by Anthony Lamb, and then won the Hall of Fame Tip-Off through holding UMass and Arizona State to a combined 91 points. The offense is still, quite honestly, not pleasant to watch at all, but it doesn’t need to be with the level of defense the Cavaliers have played so far.
  11. Seton Hall (–) – Quiet week for Seton Hall, with a 36 point destruction of Florida A&M the only game. A late night matchup on Wednesday night against Oregon lies ahead to start the Battle 4 Atlantis, where the Pirates have a chance to grab the signature win that slipped from their grasp against Michigan State.
  12. Kentucky (–) – I considered bumping Kentucky down a bit more after narrowly escaping Utah Valley at home, but Kentucky responded by obliterating Mount St. Mary’s and Lamar to restore order somewhat. The loss to Evansville has not aged well at all, but that’s college hoops for ya.
  13. Oregon (+1) – Oregon crushed a solid Houston team by 12, which is a statement that doesn’t really make sense, until you consider that Oregon was up by 21 with 5 minutes to go. Oregon has a chance to cement themselves as the top team in the Pac 12 with the opportunities ahead in the Bahamas.
  14. VCU (-1) – Light week of work for VCU with only a blowout against Florida Gulf Coast on the calendar. Monday night should be another blowout against Alabama State, before a huge opportunity awaits the Rams in the Emerald Coast Classic. VCU will face Purdue on Friday night, with Tennessee and Florida State co-headlining the event as well.
  15. Baylor (+4) – Baylor avenged their late collapse against Washington with a strong finish against Villanova to win the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The two were tied at 67 with a hair over 5 minutes remaining before Baylor ripped off a 20-11 run to finish it off. The guard play on Baylor could be some of the best in the nation.
  16. Utah State (–) – Utah State, still without Neemias Queta, pulled off a miraculous 19 point comeback to defeat LSU by two on Friday night. It was the type of win that will be monumental for the Aggies’ seeding come Selection Sunday. The Aggies also capped off the weekend with a somewhat too-close-for-comfort 9 point win over North Texas.
  17. Auburn (–) – Auburn was inactive aside from a 29 point drubbing of Colgate on Monday night. An intriguing matchup awaits them in the Legends Classic, with a game against New Mexico set to start things off on Monday night. Auburn is the clear favorite in this 4-team tournament that includes Wisconsin and Richmond, but no team is a pushover.
  18. Arizona (+3) – Arizona didn’t actually dominate every aspect of the games this week, with a pesky South Dakota State team hanging around and ultimately falling by 7 to the Wildcats. Arizona responded to that incomplete performance by eviscerating Long Beach State by 37. Expect that domination to continue in the Wooden Legacy next weekend, where Arizona is the clear best team in the field.
  19. Villanova (-4) – Villanova fell to 0-2 against ranked teams, which does cause some concern, but this is a young team, and they did have a solid 7 point win against a respectable Power 5 team in Mississippi State. The Wildcats need to step it up on the defensive side of the floor if they want to be able to close games out moving forward in what looks to be a deep Big East Conference.
  20. Colorado (–) – The Buffaloes doubled their win total this week, moving from 2-0 to 4-0 as they defeated a solid UC Irvine team by 16 and started off the MGM Resorts Main Event with an ugly 56-41 win over Wyoming. McKinley Wright may be a more well-known name, but Tyler Bey is the player to watch. Averaging 15.0 points and 9.7 rebounds after posting a 11 point, 19 rebound (!!!) performance against Wyoming.
  21. Tennessee (+3) – Tennessee was mostly inactive this week, save for a blowout of Alabama State. Opportunities abound in the Emerald Coast Classic this weekend, which features a trio of teams (Purdue & FSU being the other two) that are also in the “It doesn’t matter who’s on the roster cause they’re just gonna find a way to be a top 15-20 team anyway” phase.
  22. Memphis (+1) – James Wiseman officially got his 12-game sentence handed out by the criminal organization known as the NCAA, and Memphis began the post/pre-Wiseman era with an uninspiring 10 point win against Little Rock. They did rebound nicely to post a strong win over a good Ole Miss squad on Saturday, where freshmen Precious Achiuwa and DJ Jeffries costarred with 25 and 23 points, respectively.
  23. Xavier (-5) – The heart attack Musketeers appear to have decided that every game they play, no matter what, will come down to just one or two plays. Naji Marshall put up another “fuck you” bucket to force OT against UConn, and the Musketeers managed to choke spectacularly in the first OT period allowing the Huskies to force a second OT, and somehow overcome Marshall, Paul Scruggs, and Quentin Goodin all fouling out to get the W. Then, Xavier fell behind by 17 points to Florida early in the second before rallying all the way back with a chance to tie in the final seconds until Scruggs’ 3 pointer rimmed out. Buy your Zantac/some drug that doesn’t cause cancer now, Xavier fans.
  24. Oklahoma (+1) – To be honest, I’m still not sure if Oklahoma is actually good or not, so this week’s Hall of Fame Classic will give some more insight on the Sooners. They survived a pesky William & Mary upset bid on Monday night and blew out Maryland-Eastern Shore on Thursday, so a game against Stanford followed by a matchup with either Missouri or Butler will be a good test.
  25. Washington (New) – Straightforward week for the Huskies, with expected wins over Maine, Montana, and San Diego. They’ll actually get a full week off, then have to deal with South Dakota and Eastern Washington before a big showdown with Gonzaga on December 8th.

Dropped Out: Texas (22)

Next 5: Texas, Michigan, Florida State, Florida, Marquette

Mid-Major of the Week: Let’s give a shoutout to Bowling Green this week. The Falcons knocked off Western Kentucky in a battle of two strong mid majors, then took down Cincinnati in OT at the Paradise Jam after a stirring comeback from a 10 point deficit with just over 3 minutes to play. Michael Huger is doing a hell of a job, and they get a chance to win the Paradise Jam when they take on Nevada on Monday night.

Top 25 Poll – Week 3

  1. Michigan State (+1) – The Spartans rallied around Cassius Winston and completed a thrilling road win at Seton Hall in what has been the best game of the year. Malik Hall may be the answer for the Spartans at the 4 moving forward.
  2. Louisville (+1) – Two games and two blowouts for the Cardinals this past week. Expect this coming week to have more of the same. The first true test for Louisville will come against Western Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend.
  3. Maryland (+1) – Quiet week for the Terps, but their 30 point destruction of Oakland did nothing to convince me that this team isn’t the one to finally get over the hump. I still really, really like the makeup of this roster.
  4. Duke (+1) – The Blue Devils ripped apart Central Arkansas then held steady against a feisty Georgia State squad. Tre Jones looks like he’s gonna be “the guy” for Duke this year. 3-point shooting is still a concern with the team shooting 30% so far this season.
  5. UNC (+1) – Right now the Tar Heels’ offense seems to be “let Cole Anthony do his thing”. So far, that’s been a good plan of attack. A secondary scoring option needs to emerge as the non-conference schedule continues along.
  6. Gonzaga (+1) – Texas A&M may be in a deep rebuild in Buzz Williams’ first season, but a 30 point road win against a high major is impressive no matter what the situation is. The machine keeps on rolling in Spokane.
  7. Kansas (+1) – The most interesting part of the Jayhawks’ week was Monmouth’s George Papas stealing the ball as the Jayhawks ran out the clock, which delightfully ruffled the feathers of some of social media. Tuesday night’s matchup with East Tennessee St. has the potential to be a sneaky good game.
  8. Ohio State (+2) – The Buckeyes shook off the cobwebs of their offense against Villanova, and did so in a big way with a 25-point throttling of the reigning Big East champs. Chris Holtmann has a legitimate national title contender.
  9. Texas Tech (+3) – The Red Raiders still haven’t played anything remotely close to a competent team yet, but it’s probably a good thing, as the roster will have plenty of time to gel with so many new faces. Jahmi’us Ramsey is a legitimate star in the making.
  10. Virginia (+3) – The Hoos defense really caved in on Saturday, as they allowed a whole……42 points… Columbia. Yeah, nothing has changed there. What is a concern moving forward is 3-point showing – UVA ranks 348th in the early going. One of Casey Morsell or Kody Stattmann has to emerge as a threat.
  11. Seton Hall (+3) – The Pirates may have lost on Thursday night, but they took arguably the best team in the country down to the wire, despite Wooden Award candidate Myles Powell hobbled with an ankle injury. This team is LEGIT. I’ll take Powell for Player of the Year so far, too.
  12. Kentucky (-12) – The loss to Evansville has been well-documented thus far. I really thought this was the best team in the country at the start of last week, but the experienced Purple Aces squad exposed some major flaws on defense, particularly with grad transfer Nate Sestina. Kentucky is yet another team struggling to hit the three-ball this season, coming into this week at 24.5%.
  13. VCU (+3) – I was already high on VCU to begin with, but a gritty and emotionally-charged win over LSU has me even higher. This team defends at an elite level, and while they have plenty of room for improvement on offense, the growth from last year is massive already.
  14. Oregon (NEW) – I really missed on Oregon in my preseason projections. Complete whiff, never should have doubted Dana Altman’s machine. This team is really, really good, and Oregon teams aren’t usually this good this soon, either.
  15. Villanova (-4) – The Ohio State drubbing has me even more convinced that Villanova sold its soul to blow out Michigan in the 2018 championship, since they’ve been HORRIFIC against the Big Ten since that night. Villanova’s biggest issue is the lack of a true PG, and no matter how good Bryan Antoine can be, that issue likely won’t go away.
  16. Utah State (+2) – The close win against Montana State on opening night has aged well thanks to the stunning half court buzzer beater Montana State used to defeat UNC Greensboro over the weekend. Get excited for the Aggies’ first true test this Friday night against LSU.
  17. Auburn (+5) – It took a last second shot, but the Tigers rallied past South Alabama this past week to stay unbeaten. South Alabama isn’t a joke, either, as they could very well be the Sun Belt representative in the tournament. Credit to Bruce Pearl for scheduling a road game at a true mid major.
  18. Xavier (+1) – It wasn’t a pretty week for the Musketeers against the state of Missouri, but they managed to get two wins. It took OT in the first game and they held off an inconsistent Missouri State by just 3 points in the second, but wins are wins. Xavier is yet another team that needs to resolve its three point shooting woes soon.
  19. Baylor (+4) – The Bears didn’t do anything to necessarily gain 4 positions in the poll with a single digit victory at home against Texas State, but they did have an 18 point lead at one point. Simply surviving while others around them imploded is enough to move back into the top 20.
  20. Colorado (+4) – Colorado finally managed to beat San Diego over the weekend, so that’s a nice improvement for them. UC Irvine comes to town Monday night for another good early season test for the Buffs.
  21. Arizona (+4) – The Wildcats shredded San Jose State by 48, but their 30 point blowout of a good New Mexico State team is even more impressive. But what’s most impressive is Zeke Nnaji, shooting a ridiculous 81% from the field while taking almost 11 shots per game.
  22. Texas (NEW) – The Longhorns did not have exactly inspire confidence with 13 and 14 point wins over Cal Baptist and Prairie View A&M, but wins are wins. Thursday night’s matchup against Georgetown will be a good barometer for both teams.
  23. Memphis (-2) – Memphis took care of business against Alcorn State and played competitively against Oregon. The James Wiseman situation remains up in the air but I have a feeling that Memphis and the NCAA will come to a resolution that lets the #1 recruit back on the court sooner rather than later.
  24. Tennessee (NEW) – It’s time to stop doubting Rick Barnes. Yves Pons is an athletic freak, Jordan Bowden is pouring in points, and Lamonte Turner is distributing the ball very well. I have a feeling that win over Washington will age like a fine wine.
  25. Oklahoma (NEW) – Another coach we need to stop doubting is Lon Kruger. The Sooners are 3-0 with two wins over Power 5 teams. Sure, Minnesota and Oregon State aren’t top tier teams, but winning those at “neutral sites” where the Sooners had a major geographic disadvantage is still impressive.

Dropped Out: Florida (9), Saint Mary’s (15), Purdue (17), Providence (20)

Next 5: Marquette, Washington, Purdue, Florida State, LSU

Mid-Major of the Week: Vermont going on the road and taking down St. John’s warranted consideration again, but nothing tops a true mid major taking down the #1 ranked team on their home floor. Have a day, Evansville.

Top 25 Poll – Week 2

  1. Kentucky (+4) – Tyrese Maxey came out and stole the show opening night as the Wildcats took down the consensus preseason #1 team. This defense is already strong, and will only get better.
  2. Michigan State (-1) – Tough loss on opening night, but I still have tons of confidence in the Spartans. Thoughts and prayers go out to Cassius Winston and his family.
  3. Louisville (+1) – A convincing road win against Miami showed the potential that this Louisville team has, and they’re not even at 100% yet. Buying Louisville stock.
  4. Maryland (+2) – The trend through the first two games has been slow starts, but credit to the Terps for finding ways to adjust and win big in both those games.
  5. Duke (+3) – The Blue Devils won the worst game anyone has ever watched and forced 28 Kansas turnovers. I’m not sold on the cohesiveness of the offense yet, but this defense will keep them in the top 10 conversation all year long.
  6. UNC (+1) – Take your pick – will Cole Anthony or Cole Anthony’s dad be this year’s Trae Young??? The Tar Heels have themselves a star in the making.
  7. Gonzaga (+2) – Nothing unexpected in the Bulldogs’ first two games. A road matchup at a rebuilding Texas A&M poses a mild challenge this weekend, but we won’t really know who Gonzaga is until Thanksgiving.
  8. Kansas (-6) – A solid win over UNC Greensboro got the Jayhawks back on track after their disastrous opening night performance. This is still a strong team, though free throw shooting has been ugly so far and could be a concern going forward.
  9. Florida (-6) – I was super high on Florida going into the year and still buy them as a title contender long term, but Sunday’s home loss to Florida State was uninspiring. Blackshear no-showed, but so did basically everyone but Keyontae Johnson.
  10. Ohio State (–) – Wednesday night’s win over Cincinnati was a solid start for what I believe is the best Big 10 team outside of Michigan State. This Wednesday’s matchup versus Villanova will be an even tougher test.
  11. Villanova (–) – Uneventful start to the season for the Wildcats with a dismantling of a weak Army team (on Military Appreciation Night, no less!). Wednesday will be a big test for a young team.
  12. Texas Tech (–) – Hard to take away very much from two early blowouts. The Red Raiders are another team who will be hard to peg until the Thanksgiving tournament season arrives.
  13. Virginia (+1) – UVA’s defense is already an ugly beauty. 48-34 win at Syracuse? Midseason form already.
  14. Seton Hall (+1) – The Myles Powell injury could change this drastically. Holding them here until more is known about the severity.
  15. Saint Mary’s (+6) – A strong “neutral” court OT win against Wisconsin and some poll carnage of teams ahead of them helps the Gaels make a jump.
  16. VCU (–) – Two routine wins for the Rams this week, though a 3 point home win over North Texas was undoubtedly a little too close for comfort. This Wednesday’s matchup against LSU will be a great opportunity.
  17. Purdue (-4) – Tough home loss to Texas on Saturday night, but the Boilermakers will have a redemption shot in their Gavitt Games matchup at Marquette this coming week. Don’t forget that Purdue started slowly last year only to come within seconds of a Final Four berth.
  18. Utah State (–) – A too-close-for-comfort home win against Montana State was followed by a dismantling of Big Sky contender Weber State. When Neemias Queta is added back to the mix, the Aggies will be very good.
  19. Xavier (–) – Two routine wins for the Musketeers this week. Tuesday night against Missouri is a sneaky must watch game.
  20. Providence (–) – My bold preseason prediction was that Providence’s offense would be watchable. So far, it hasn’t been unwatchable. Also, very cool to see Emmitt Holt playing once again after a life threatening injury scare and two lost seasons.
  21. Memphis (+1) – The James Wiseman eligibility situation hangs a cloud over this ranking, just as Myles Powell’s injury does with Seton Hall. So long as Wiseman is on the floor, Memphis is a top 25 team.
  22. Auburn (New) – I wasn’t quite sold on Auburn heading into this season, but a strong neutral court win over a Davidson team I am high on has me back on the Bruce Pearl bandwagon, not that I should have ever left. Shutting down both Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson is not easy.
  23. Baylor (-6) – Saturday night’s loss was a tough loss, particularly with the way they faded late after leading for much of the game. Washington has some very talented athletes on that roster, though, and is knocking on the door of my top 25, so this is the definition of a “quality loss”.
  24. Colorado (-1) – McKinley Wright is healthy and McKinley Wright is good. Solid start to the year for the Buffs in their conference-game-that-doesn’t-count-as-a-conference-game win over Arizona State in China.
  25. Arizona (–) – Nico Mannion is a freshman sensation. So is Zeke Nnaji. So is Josh Green. Sean Miller has got himself some dudes this year.

Dropped Out: Davidson

Next 5: Texas, Washington, Oregon, Florida State, Marquette

Mid-Major of the Week: Vermont – Nail-biting road wins at St. Bonaventure and Bucknell is a heck of a start for the Catamounts. Put St. John’s on upset alert for Saturday night.

Preseason Bracketology

Note: Italics indicate projected auto-bids

Midwest Region (Indianapolis)

Cleveland, OH
1 Michigan State (#1 Overall)
16 Weber State/Grambling State
9 Cincinnati

Sacramento, CA
5 Xavier
12 Dayton/Wisconsin
4 Virginia
13 Buffalo

Omaha, NE
6 Saint Mary’s
11 Missouri
3 Texas Tech
14 Northern Iowa

St. Louis, MO
7 Arizona
10 Wichita State
2 Kentucky
15 Wright State

East Region (New York City)

Tampa, FL
1 Florida
16 Long Island/NC Central
8 Michigan
9 Georgetown

Sacramento, CA
5 Baylor
12 New Mexico State
4 Seton Hall
13 Liberty

Cleveland, OH
6 Memphis
11 Oklahoma State
3 Ohio State
14 Charleston

Greensboro, NC
7 Oregon
10 Harvard
2 North Carolina
15 Radford

West Region (Los Angeles)

St. Louis, MO
1 Louisville
16 South Dakota
8 Tennessee
9 Houston

Spokane, WA
5 Providence
12 Western Kentucky
13 Belmont

Spokane, WA
6 Colorado
11 Creighton/Alabama
3 Gonzaga
14 UC Irvine

Albany, NY
7 Florida State
10 Washington
2 Maryland
15 Iona

South Region (Houston)

Omaha, NE
1 Kansas
16 Sam Houston State
8 Marquette
9 Notre Dame

Tampa, FL
5 Utah State
12 Vermont
4 Purdue
13 East Tennessee State

Albany, NY
6 Davidson
11 NC State
3 Villanova
14 Colgate

Greensboro, NC
7 Auburn
10 Illinois
2 Duke
15 South Alabama

Last 4 Byes
Wichita State
Oklahoma State
NC State
Last 4 In
First 4 Out
Penn State
Iowa State
West Virginia
Next 4 Out
Ole Miss
Also Considered (listed alphabetically)
Mississippi State
San Diego State

Multi-Bid Conferences
A-10: 3 teams
AAC: 4 teams
ACC: 7 teams
Big 10: 7 teams
Big 12: 4 teams
Big East: 7 teams
Pac 12: 4 teams
SEC: 7 teams
WCC: 2 teams

Preseason Rankings – Top 25 & Others

  1. Michigan State – The Spartans enter the year led by Cassius Winston, a leading contender for Player of the Year honors. Alongside Winston is a healthy Joshua Langford and two guys who are role players on this roster, but would likely be stars on other teams – Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry. Throw in a number of high potential young pieces like 4 star recruits like Rocket Watts (5 star name) and Malik Hall, and all the pieces are there for Tom Izzo & co.
  2. Kansas – After a tumultuous offseason, the Jayhawks are likely more than ready to decide things on court – as they should be. A loaded roster led by Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike looks primed to reclaim the Big XII title. Ochai Agbaji, Iowa transfer Isaiah Moss, and defensive terror Marcus Garrett will hold things down on the wing, and Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility will let Bill Self thrive with two legit frontcourt options.
  3. Florida – I absolutely love the makeup of this Florida team. PG Andrew Nembhard is one of the most common breakout candidates listed on season previews, and the addition of grad transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. gives Florida a monster down low. A loaded recruiting class headlined by 5 stars Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann will join promising sophomores Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson in the rotation.
  4. Louisville – Chris Mack has already done a fabulous job in Louisville, and the Cardinals look to be a legit national title contender this season. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Jordan Nwora’s return boosted this roster into the top 5, but the balance of experience and youth should have fans excited. Three 5th year seniors, Dwayne Sutton, Steven Enoch, and grad transfer Fresh Kimble join a loaded recruiting class led by 5 star wing Samuell Williamson. Co-captain junior C Malik Williams is dealing with an injury, but the Cardinals have the depth to weather the storm.
  5. Kentucky – Another year, another wave of transition in Lexington. The Wildcats have loads of talent, but as usual, there may be some growing pains early on. PG Ashton Hagans is quite possibly the best defender in college basketball, and guards Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley join him in a loaded backcourt. The frontcourt is led by returnees EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and grad transfer Nate Sestina, and the wing rotation could feature 3 top 50 recruits, led by Kahlil Whitney. One concern is whether the Cats have enough shooting, but this should be a phenomenal defensive team.
  6. Maryland – I know, I know – Mark Turgeon is the coach. But it’s hard to not love what Maryland brings back in PG Anthony Cowan and F Jalen Smith. Add in jumps from junior Darryl Morsell and sophomores Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins, and this is a really balanced roster. The biggest question mark is who picks up the slack in the frontcourt when Jalen Smith sits – could sophomore Ricky Lindo or freshman Makhi Mitchell be the answer?
  7. UNC – Freshman superstar Cole Anthony is my pick to be this year’s Trae Young/Zion Williamson. Fellow freshmen big man Armando Bacot forms a super intriguing duo with Anthony, and returnees Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson, and Leaky Black join grad transfer additions Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce to form a strong supporting cast.
  8. Duke – I’m really not in love with the makeup of Duke’s roster this year. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most talented in college basketball, and the freshman foursome of Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, and Cassius Stanley is a loaded group of players. But while Duke should have an elite defense led by the incredibly active Tre Jones, shooting remains a question. Moore and Stanley don’t have reputations for being major outside threats, so the question remains whether Matthew Hurt and a bench crew of Alex O’Connell, Joey Baker, and Jack White can provide enough.
  9. Gonzaga – The Mark Few machine just keeps rolling. Grad transfer additions Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge offset early NBA departures, and expect to see major leaps from Corey Kispert and Filip Petrusev. This is Killian Tillie’s team, but health remains a big question mark. A stellar recruiting class comes into Spokane and the Malian Oumar Ballo may be the most promising of all of them but his eligibility for this season is still up in the air.
  10. Ohio State – I think the Buckeyes are being severely underlooked coming into this year. Kaleb Wesson could be the 2nd best player in the Big Ten behind Winston, and returnees Luther Muhammad, Andre Wesson, and Kyle Young should continue to improve. On top of that, Chris Holtmann (top 10 coach in college) gains transfer CJ Walker and the best recruiting class in the Big 10, headlined by G DJ Carton.
  11. Villanova – Lots of talent remains on the Wildcats roster, but the question lingering around this program is who takes the place of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall and steps up as an alpha dog? Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has received lots of early buzz and is a player to watch.
  12. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders experienced a ton of turnover, but Chris Beard is a freaking magician. Davide Moretti is the returning leader of this team, and transfer Chris Clarke plus freshman sensation Jahmius Ramsey make up the core of this roster.
  13. Purdue – Purdue is another team with lots of losses, but a hell of a coach. Nojel Eastern is going to be a problem, Matt Haarms is only going to get better, and the sophomore tandem of Aaron Wheeler and Trevion Williams greatly improved as last season went on.
  14. Virginia – If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is the “great programs with great coaches who have earned the benefit of the doubt” section. Tony Bennett will find a way to overcome the losses of Ty Jerome, DeAndre Hunter, and Kyle Guy. Core returnees include Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key, and Kihei Clark, and expect Jay Huff to be a major breakout candidate.
  15. Seton Hall – Myles Powell is perhaps the biggest challenger to Cassius Winston for Player of the Year, but he’s got a ton of returning talent around him in Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight, and Sandro Mamukelashvili. 7’0″ Florida State transfer Ike Obiagu is the key addition who I think could be the difference maker.
  16. VCU – 7 of the top 8 players return on a team that had a top 10 defense in the country this season. Seniors Marcus Evans, De’Riante Jenkins, and Issac Vann will try to lead the Rams to a conference title in a reloaded Atlantic 10.
  17. Baylor – The Bears somehow managed to not only survive an injury to leader Tristan Clark, but get better last season. His return along with an expected freshman-to-sophomore year leap from Jared Butler should have folks excited in Waco.
  18. Utah State – Sam Merrill is an All-American candidate, and the Aggies return 6’11” big man Neemias Queta after an NBA Draft flirtation. This is easily the best team in the Mountain West, and could quite possibly the best team on the “West Coast” outside of Gonzaga.
  19. Xavier – Naji Marshall is primed for a breakout, and the trio of Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, and Tyrique Jones make up a fabulous core to go along with a promising freshman class. The Musketeers greatly improved down the stretch and should continue to grow in Travis Steele’s 2nd season.
  20. Providence – UMass transfer PG Luwane Pipkins could be the sparkplug that gets the Providence offense going. Alpha Diallo is a difference maker on both ends, and big man Nate Watson anchors the frontcourt. AJ Reeves is a lethal threat from downtown, and the addition of Pipkins should help take the pressure off of G David Duke.
  21. Saint Mary’s – 9 of the top 10 scorers return from last year’s Gael roster, and they’re led by Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts. If 7’3″ transfer Aaron Menzies can be an impact player and anchor the defense with rim protection, this could be a second weekend caliber team.
  22. Memphis – This team has been well-documented in previews across the internet. The Tigers boast an embarrassment of riches in their incoming freshman class, but experience is nearly non-existent on this roster. James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa are the stars to watch on this team – but regardless, it’ll be fun to watch.
  23. Colorado – The Buffaloes finished the season strong, and with a healthy McKinley Wright, who played through a torn labrum, joined by Tyler Bey, Colorado could be the best team in the Pac 12.
  24. Davidson – Bob McKillop will undoubtedly have this offense once again humming this year – I am a huge fan of junior Kellan Grady, and he’ll have help in Jon Axel Gudmundsson (another 5 star name) and Luke Frampton. The frontcourt depth is the biggest question mark for the Wildcats this year.
  25. Arizona – Transfers Stone Gettings and Max Hazzard join incumbent Chase Jeter, but make no mistake – this season, the Wildcats will go as far as freshmen sensations Josh Green and Nico Mannion can take them.

    Other Contenders
  26. Florida State
  27. Auburn
  28. Oregon
  29. Marquette
  30. Tennessee
  31. Creighton
  32. Michigan
  33. LSU
  34. Cincinnati
  35. Georgetown
  36. Notre Dame
  37. Washington
  38. Illinois
  39. Wichita State
  40. Harvard

Also Considered: Houston, Oklahoma State, NC State, Missouri, Alabama