Top 25 Poll – Week 9

Don’t have the time to write a summary and detailed reasoning this week, but with so few games played mid-week due to the holiday, it’s just as well.

  1. Gonzaga (–)
  2. Baylor (+2)
  3. Kansas (+2)
  4. Duke (+2)
  5. Louisville (-2)
  6. Ohio State (-4)
  7. Oregon (–)
  8. Auburn (–)
  9. Memphis (–)
  10. Butler (–)
  11. San Diego State (–)
  12. West Virginia (+7)
  13. Villanova (-1)
  14. Dayton (-1)
  15. Maryland (-1)
  16. Michigan State (-1)
  17. Wichita State (-1)
  18. Kentucky (+5)
  19. Michigan (-2)
  20. Penn State (-2)
  21. Virginia (-1)
  22. Texas Tech (-1)
  23. Arizona (-1)
  24. Northern Iowa (–)
  25. Florida State (–)

Dropped Out: None

Next 5: DePaul, Colorado, Creighton, Arkansas, St. John’s

Bracketology – 12/24

It’s that time of year again! Conference play is set to ramp up full-time across all of Division 1 within the next week and a half, and it’s time to start seriously looking at bracketology. For those of you reading this who aren’t familiar with my process, here’s a brief explanation:

My rankings are based on a computer formula I designed that is mostly based on current resume – this is not a projection of where teams will stand midway through March, but rather, my viewpoint of where teams stand at this point in time. Of course, I do include predictive ratings such as KenPom, BPI, and Sagarin, so there is still a little predictive influence, but it’s predominantly resume-based. That’s why you’ll see San Diego State and Butler on the 1 seed line over teams like Kansas and Ohio State, both of whom you could argue for being a clear 1 seed. At this point in time, San Diego State is 5-0 and Quad 1 & Quad 2 opponents, #1 in NET & SOR, and 2-0 against Quad 1A opponents, which is the highest tier of Q1. If I were projecting out to March, I would absolutely place Ohio State on the 1 seed above the Aztecs, as they’ll have many, many more opportunities to earn Q1 victories in the Big 10 compared to the Mountain West. But, for now, San Diego State has a resume that I’m comfortable placing over the Buckeyes. And for those wondering about Butler being on the one seed line, my response is why not? They have more victories against Q1 and Q2 opponents than ANYONE in the country, are ranked in the top 5 of NET and SOR, and in the top 10 of BPI and KenPom. They’re tied with my #1 overall, Duke, with 4 Quad 1 victories as well. Factors that go into my ratings include:

  • NET, KPI (not included today as it hasn’t been released yet), SOR, BPI, KenPom, Sagarin
  • Non-Conference Strength of Schedule (new to the formula this year)
  • Records against each Quadrant (1-4)

Now, here’s the bracket – italics indicate the auto-bid.

Midwest Region (Indianapolis)

St. Louis, MO
1 Butler (#3 overall)
16 St. Francis (PA)/Coppin State
8 Utah State
9 Georgetown

Albany, NY
5 Villanova
12 Yale
4 Michigan
13 Vermont

Cleveland, OH
6 Saint Mary’s
11 Houston
3 Louisville
14 Belmont

St. Louis, MO
7 Marquette
10 Florida
2 Kansas
15 Radford

East Region (New York City)

Greensboro, NC
1 Duke (#1 overall)
16 Hofstra
8 Xavier
9 Arkansas

Sacramento, CA
5 Memphis
12 Washington/Minnesota
4 Iowa
13 Stephen F. Austin

Albany, NY
6 Indiana
11 Stanford
3 West Virginia
14 Wright State

Cleveland, OH
7 Seton Hall
10 Texas Tech
2 Ohio State
15 Rider

West Region (Los Angeles)

Spokane, WA
1 Gonzaga (#2 overall)
16 Oral Roberts/Texas Southern
8 Colorado
9 Virginia

Tampa, FL
5 Penn State
12 East Tennessee State
4 Florida State
13 Louisiana Tech

Greensboro, NC
6 Arizona
11 Tennessee/Oklahoma
3 Maryland
14 Georgia State

Spokane, WA
7 Creighton
10 Oklahoma State
2 Oregon
15 New Mexico State

South Region (Houston)

Sacramento, CA
1 San Diego State (#4 overall)
16 Hawaii
8 BYU
9 NC State

Omaha, NE
5 Dayton
12 Northern Iowa
4 Michigan State
13 Kent State

Omaha, NE
6 Wichita State
11 Purdue
3 Baylor
14 Northern Colorado

Tampa, FL
7 Liberty
10 DePaul
2 Auburn
15 Colgate

Last 4 Byes
DePaul
Houston
Stanford
Purdue
Last 4 In
Tennessee
Oklahoma
Washington
Minnesota
First 4 Out
Kentucky
Temple
Rutgers
USC
Next 4 Out
VCU
Iowa State
Illinois
Wisconsin
Waiting List
UNC
UNC Greensboro
LSU
Texas
St. John’s

Multi-Bid Conferences
AAC: 3 teams
ACC: 5 teams
Big 10: 9 teams
Big 12: 6 teams
Big East: 8 teams
Mountain West: 2 teams
Pac 12: 5 teams
SEC: 4 teams
WCC: 3 teams

Top 25 Poll – Week 8

  1. Gonzaga (–) – Last week I was in the minority that had Gonzaga up in the #1 spot, but my reasoning was that Kansas was yet to play a true road game whereas Gonzaga already had multiple wins. So, I do feel vindicated having seen Kansas go down, and right now, Gonzaga may be in the driver’s seat of the #1 spot for a while. After thorough wins over UNC and Eastern Washington, Gonzaga is off till the 30th and the next game that could pose a major challenge is BYU on January 18th. But in this year of college hoops, literally anyone can be considered a challenge.
  2. Ohio State (+3) – While I believe that Gonzaga is the best team at this moment, Ohio State has an extremely strong case as well with an equally impressive resume. Saturday night’s win over Kentucky gives the Buckeyes their second elite-level win to add to its blowout of Villanova, and they’ve got a couple other big time victories in their destruction of a very good Penn State team and a road romp of a UNC team that still had a healthy Cole Anthony at the time.
  3. Louisville (–) – Louisville held serve this week as they pulled away in the second half against Miami Ohio. I think the Cardinals have the pieces to be right there with Gonzaga and Ohio State, but they don’t have the resume wins just yet aside from the win over Michigan. Saturday’s matchup against rival Kentucky is a big opportunity.
  4. Baylor (–) – I’m continuing to ride on the Baylor train and will be on it for the foreseeable future, with a home matchup against an awful Jackson State squad the only thing standing between the Bears and Big 12 play in January. Its trio of wins over Villanova, Butler, and Arizona are right up there with the big wins that Gonzaga and Ohio State have, but they still have yet to go on the road and won’t until January 7th.
  5. Kansas (-3) – It’s of little solace to Jayhawk fans after another loss to Jay Wright and Villanova (yes, they did win the regular season matchup last year), but their two losses have now come to a combined 3 points against two top 15 squads, at a neutral site and on the road. They are by far the nation’s best two-loss team, but working on some free throws before a tough road matchup at Stanford next Sunday would serve them well.
  6. Duke (+2) – The Blue Devils avoided the same fate of their Tar Heel brethren and comfortably won at home against the scrappy Wofford Terriers this past week, and did so with a career night from Joey Baker. Baker is now shooting 53% from 3 point range and could be the sniper off the bench that Duke needs, though Cassius Stanley and Matthew Hurt have provided strong shooting thus far as well.
  7. Oregon (-1) – It felt like deja vu all over again for Oregon on Saturday night, as a scrappy Texas Southern squad once again game them a tough fight. Ultimately, the Ducks pulled through and avoided losing to the Tigers for a second consecutive year. Payton Pritchard is playing like a 1st Team All-American and possibly a National Player of the Year right now.
  8. Auburn (+2) – The Tigers continue to win, and it is no small feat – while Auburn hasn’t played a schedule full of name brand teams, the win over NC State is another victory over a team that should win a lot of games this season. Other wins over Saint Louis, Furman, Richmond, and New Mexico continue to look like good, under-the-radar additions to bolster Auburn’s tournament resume.
  9. Memphis (+2) – After the bombshell news came out that James Wiseman dropped out, I was oh so tempted to drop Memphis a few spots. The more I looked, though, the more I realized that the Tigers’ best wins have come without him in the rotation, and that the current squad’s achievements shouldn’t be ignored. Memphis has beaten Ole Miss at home, NC State on a neutral court, and Tennessee on the road without Wiseman, so they should continue to grab wins in a good but not great AAC.
  10. Butler (+4) – Butler avoided what would have been an epic collapse, and held off rival Purdue to win by 9 in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday. It added to an already impressive resume, which includes home wins over Florida and Minnesota, a road win at Ole Miss, and neutral court wins over the aforementioned Purdue, plus Missouri and Stanford. Butler is just a missed buzzer beater attempt at Baylor away from being undefeated, and they have risen from a preseason rank of #33 all the way up to #7 on KenPom.
  11. San Diego State (+7) – I definitely think it’s time that San Diego State gets some serious respect. They’ve got a road win at BYU to go along with neutral court wins over Iowa and Creighton, all of which look better now than they did at the time. Plus, the Aztecs went out on Saturday night and throttled a Utah Utes squad that just a couple nights earlier took down Kentucky. This team is for real.
  12. Villanova (+4) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Wildcats managed to take down AP top-ranked Kansas on Saturday despite shooting just 24% from 3 point range on 41(!!!) attempts. Computer metrics and the eye test (at times) have shown that Villanova has a lot of potential to unlock this year, and adding this win is the kind of resume builder that validates them as a contender.
  13. Dayton (–) – The Flyers can now claim to have been a part of 2 different contests that could vie for “Game of the Year”, but have fallen short in OT in both contests. Obi Toppin’s end of regulation heroics were outdone by Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz, who nailed the buzzer beating triple to win in it Chicago. While it’s tough to lose this one and the one to Kansas, and this sounds like the moraliest of moral victories, I do think these losses will help the Flyers once March comes around.
  14. Maryland (-7) – Consider me very worried about the Terps. I haven’t pressed the panic button yet, but two straight losses isn’t ideal. The first one is pretty excusable, coming to a now-ranked Penn State squad on the road. But losing to Seton Hall without Myles Powell or Sandro Mamukelashvili? Yeah, it was on the road, but that was one of the ugliest performances I’ve seen. One last tuneup games awaits in Bryant before the Terps head full-on into a brutal Big 10 schedule.
  15. Michigan State (+2) – The Spartans had a solid week, as they beat Northwestern and became the first Big 10 team to win a road conference game, then demolished Eastern Michigan. The biggest positive was Cassius Winston’s play this past week, as he put up 42 points on 50% shooting from the field (46% from 3pt range), and had 13 assists to 5 turnovers.
  16. Wichita State (+6) – I said it last week and I’ll say it again – watch out for the Shockers. Wichita State added another strong win to its resume with a defeat of VCU over the weekend, and have now entered the top 10 of KenPom’s AdjD rankings. All this with one of the youngest squads in the nation.
  17. Michigan (+3) – All business for the Wolverines this week, as they smoked Presbyterian by 44 on Saturday. After one more non-conference tuneup, we’ll get to see who Michigan really is when they start full-time Big 10 play with 3 out of the first 4 on the road.
  18. Penn State (+5) – The Nittany Lions received their first AP Top 25 ranking in 23 seasons this past week, and they handled it exactly as they needed to, shellacking an abysmal Central Connecticut State squad on Friday night. Just like Michigan, one more tuneup lies ahead for Penn State before going full throttle into Big 10 play the rest of the way.
  19. West Virginia (+5) – The Mountaineers held serve this week, with a rare road win at Youngstown State that approximately zero people actually witnessed. With wins over Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Pitt, and Rhode Island, this is actually a sneaky deep resume, especially when the lone loss is against a St. John’s squad with its stock rising quickly.
  20. Virginia (-8) – UVA’s offensive woes have been well documented this season, as has their masterful defense. However, South Carolina became just the 2nd team to score 56+ points against the Cavaliers this year, and those teams are 2-0 now. As ridiculous as this defense is, Virginia now ranks 179th in offensive efficiency per KenPom. There’s just no way to be a top 10-15 team with that kind of production, and right now, this resume doesn’t have a ton of meat on its bones.
  21. Texas Tech (–) – After taking down top-ranked Louisville, the Red Raiders did not have a week that inspired a lot of confidence. They narrowly escaped Southern Miss at home on Monday night, and while Jahmi’us Ramsey did return to action over the weekend, they struggled yet again in the 1st half against UT Rio Grande before asserting themselves and coming away with a win.
  22. Arizona (-7) – It’s really tempting to drop Arizona completely out of the rankings after losing 3 of 4, especially when the latest came against an unranked St. John’s squad, but I’m not completely sold out on the Wildcats just yet. Zeke Nnaji continues to deliver, and 2 of the 3 losses have come against what I believe to be top 5 teams. Without a doubt, they’re limping into Pac 12 play, but I still think this could be a very good team.
  23. Kentucky (-14) – I also gave a lot of consideration to dropping Kentucky completely out of my ballot after going 0-2 this past week. I’m still baffled by the Utah loss, as I don’t think the Utes are a very good team, but I was actually encouraged by the performance against Ohio State. Yes, the Wildcats lost, but they hung right with a top 5 team on a neutral court for the entire duration of the game. They desperately, and I mean DESPERATELY, need someone other than Nate Sestina (38.1%) to even be kind of a threat from beyond the arc.
  24. Northern Iowa (+1) – The Panthers got some much needed rest and picked up a win in their lone game on Sunday, defeating Marshall by a scant 8 points. While the final margin was somewhat close though, UNI led consistently throughout the second half and built as much as a 19 point lead, and never let it get below 6 from that point on. AJ Green continues to put up some crooked numbers for this squad, with 19+ points in their last 5 games.
  25. Florida State (NEW) – I said last week that I envisioned Florida State being back in the rankings sooner rather than later, and here they are. Things did get dicey over the weekend, as the Seminoles had to overcome a 10 point deficit to South Florida, but they turned on the jets defensively and smothered the Bulls to finish the game on a 19-3 run.

Dropped Out:
Tennessee (19) – The Volunteers dropped a tough one on the road at a desperate Cincinnati team on Wednesday night, then rebounded over the weekend with a defeat of Jacksonville State. It wasn’t all positives over the weekend though, as the Vols learned that they’d be without RS Senior G Lamonte Turner the rest of the year, as he opted to end his collegiate career to have surgery on his ailing shoulder. It’s a tough blow for the Vols, but even more disappointing for Turner and for college basketball fans everywhere.

Next 5: Washington, DePaul, Colorado, Creighton, St. John’s

Top 25 Poll – Week 7

  1. Gonzaga (+4) – Wasn’t an easy choice of who to go with at #1 given that Kansas’ lone loss was a narrow, neutral court loss to Duke on opening night, and Gonzaga’s loss was a neutral court blowout. But for me, the overwhelming deciding factor was Gonzaga having 3 true road wins and Kansas having none. Going on the road and taking down Washington and Arizona is super, super impressive.
  2. Kansas (–) – The Jayhawks took care of business and blew out Milwaukee and UMKC in their two games this week. Just two points and probably any one of their one thousand turnovers against Duke on opening night are all that stand in between Kansas and an undefeated record. It’ll be put to the test with a big road matchup at Villanova this weekend.
  3. Louisville (-2) – The Cardinals fell victim to the #1 curse this year, dropping an ugly neutral site battle at Madison Square Garden to Texas Tech. Tough shooting nights happen, especially against top defenses, so I’m still a believer in Louisville. Jordan Nwora is my pick for Player of the Year to this point.
  4. Baylor (+4) – I’m not sure anyone’s stock has risen more than Baylor since the first week and I don’t think enough people are talking about it. Since blowing a late lead to Washington, the Bears have taken down Villanova on a neutral court and just defended their home court against Arizona and Butler, two top 15 teams. My only reservation is that Baylor won’t play a true road game until January 7th.
  5. Ohio State (-3) – I was all set to start writing this blog early this afternoon, thinking Ohio State would be sitting comfortably at #1. Then, the 2019-2020 B1G happened, as Minnesota pretty much controlled the entire game and took down the Buckeyes. Duane Washington would’ve been nice to have for sure, but I don’t think it would’ve been the difference. A big matchup awaits with Kentucky in Las Vegas this weekend.
  6. Oregon (+3) – I’m not sure there’s a better two loss team in the country than the Ducks. The early-season win against Memphis continues to age well, and while the loss to UNC has not done so, going on the road and taking down Michigan in OT is a hell of a resume statement. Oregon looks primed to cruise into a difficult start to Pac 12 play at the turn of the calendar year at Colorado.
  7. Maryland (-3) – After narrowly escaping Illinois at home, the Terps finally fell from the ranks of the undefeated with a 7 point loss to Penn State in their first true road game. A redemption road test lies ahead this week at Seton Hall, who will be without Sandro Mamukelashvili and possibly Myles Powell, currently going through concussion protocol.
  8. Duke (-1) – No action this past week for the Blue Devils, who on Thursday night will look to avoid a similar fate to their arch rivals UNC and lose at home to Wofford.
  9. Kentucky (+1) – The run of cupcakes finally ended this week for the Wildcats, who had a solid win against Georgia Tech in Lexington over the weekend. They’ll face a couple more power conference opponents this week with neutral site matchups against Utah and Ohio State.
  10. Auburn (+2) – Auburn is now the only remaining undefeated from a power conference, and just one of 4 overall. The Tigers held off a sneaky good Saint Louis Billikens team in Birmingham on Saturday, but the team needs to figure out its Free Throw shooting woes soon. As a team, Auburn is shooting just 63% from the charity stripe.
  11. Memphis (+5) – Their stock wavered after digging themselves a big deficit at UAB last weekend, but Memphis responded in a big way by going on the road and taking down rival Tennessee without the services of James Wiseman or Lester Quinones. When those two get healthy/eligible, the AAC better be on notice.
  12. Virginia (+1) – No action for the Hoos this week. Hopefully they took the time off to work on their offensive sets a little bit more, as the #139 AdjO (per KenPom) needs to improve over the next few weeks prior to ACC play beginning in earnest.
  13. Dayton (+1) – Dayton is quickly becoming one of the most fun teams in the country and has a top 5 offense. Obi Toppin is a burgeoning star, and the Flyers will have another big matchup this weekend against Colorado to show off not just Toppin’s NBA Lottery potential, but the rest of the complementary pieces on the roster.
  14. Butler (-3) – The Bulldogs were one of many to drop from the undefeated ranks this week, but there’s no shame in how they did it, coming up just one point short in a 53-52 grinder at a top 10 Baylor squad. A matchup against Purdue in the always fun Crossroads Classic awaits this weekend.
  15. Arizona (–) – Nico Mannion’s performance alone against Gonzaga almost made me drop the Wildcats, but despite a home loss on Saturday night, I just don’t think I can justify moving the Wildcats down when I’m ranking Gonzaga at the top. Despite losing of the past 3 and Mannion being in a shooting slump, I do feel like there’s nobody ranked below Arizona that looks like a better team based on resume OR the eye test.
  16. Villanova (+3) – Villanova’s losses have only aged better and better all season long, despite Ohio State’s loss this evening. That said, this resume really lacks anything impactful beyond maybe a neutral court victory over Mississippi State? The Wildcats have a chance to change that with a possibly #1-ranked Kansas team coming to Philly this weekend.
  17. Michigan State (+5) – A neutral court blowout of Oakland is certainly not justification for the Spartans jumping up 5 spots in the rankings. Their leap is more a product of other teams around igniting in flames, and a recognition that despite the 3 losses, this is still a top 5 team according to KenPom.
  18. San Diego State (+5) – The Aztecs did quite literally nothing to warrant this leap in the rankings, as they were not in action this week, but as noted above, lots of other teams in this area of the rankings lost. A matchup against San Diego Christian precedes a resume building opportunity this weekend against Utah.
  19. Tennessee (-1) – A loss to Memphis at home was the only game for the Vols this week, in a back and forth affair with truly horrific offense. Tennessee has a chance to right to ship on the road Wednesday night against a reeling Cincinnati team in desperate need of a win.
  20. Michigan (-14) – Michigan’s ranking has been a yo-yo this season, surging into the top 5 after storming through the Battle 4 Atlantis before dropping 3 of the past 4. Things will calm down with 2 buy games before Big 10 play starts for good in January, and I think we’ll see that Michigan ends up falling somewhere in the 15-25 range for most of the season.
  21. Texas Tech (NEW) – After the DePaul loss I was very close to selling my Texas Tech stock for the year, but Jahmius Ramsey’s absence kept me from pulling the trigger. I’m glad I didn’t, because the Red Raiders went to the Garden and took down the #1 ranked Louisville Cardinals, and still didn’t have Ramsey available. Chris Beard really is one hell of a coach.
  22. Wichita State (NEW) – If their was an All-American teams for Teams That Haven’t Gotten Enough Attention, the Shockers would be first team. While they haven’t beaten any elite teams yet, they’ve now added a home win against Oklahoma to a resume that includes a neutral site win over South Carolina and a road win at Oklahoma State. Keep in mind this is one of the youngest teams in the country, and they’re ranked #11 in KenPom’s AdjD ratings.
  23. Penn State (NEW) – The Nittany Lions narrowly avoided what would’ve been a massive letdown performance by escaping Alabama at home after the weekend. The home upset of Maryland was easily the biggest moment of this season so far for Penn State, but the way they’ve played and risen into the KenPom Top 25 of AdjEM, it may not be the only big moment.
  24. West Virginia (NEW) – The Mountaineers didn’t do anything inspiring this week after taking care of Austin Peay and Nicholls State following last weekend’s road loss to St. John’s, but I’ve bumped them up in the rankings over Florida State based on the way their resume has aged, with both Wichita State and Northern Iowa joining my top 25 this week.
  25. Northern Iowa (NEW) – Like I said above, Florida State didn’t do anything to warrant a drop out of my rankings. It’s more of a nod to the performance of the Panthers to go into two of the toughest road environments in the country, Colorado and Grand Canyon, and come out with two wins in 3 nights this past week. The Panthers are for real, with their only blemish being a 5 point neutral court loss to the aforementioned Mountaineers.

Dropped Out:
Colorado (17) – The Buffs failed to defend their home court against Northern Iowa, then bounced back with a road win at Colorado State. At the end of the day, though, the eye test has not been pretty and McKinley Wright hasn’t been a difference maker.
Utah State (20) – I do believe that BYU is a tournament team with Yoeli Childs back, so a neutral court loss isn’t devastating, especially with Neemias Queta coming a rebound shy of a double-double in just his 2nd game back. A neutral court matchup this weekend against Florida is the Aggies’ last resume-building opportunity in non-conference play.
Xavier (21) – Xavier’s resume is really starting to look surprisingly questionable with the loss at a weak Wake Forest squad. Their best win is….UConn at a neutral site? OT against Mizzou at home? Home against a Cincinnati team that’s lost to Bowling Green and Colgate?
Florida State (24) – As said above, Florida State only dropped out due to being leapfrogged. Good chance of them being back in if they avoid North Florida and South Florida landmines this week.
Seton Hall (25) – The loss to Rutgers is as ugly as it looked, especially with Myles Powell going down with a concussion. If Seton Hall drops another to Maryland this week, things could quickly teeter out of control, and not only would the top 25 be out of the question, but an NCAA tournament bid could become a legitimate question mark.

Next 5: Florida State, Washington, DePaul, Illinois, Utah State

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.