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