Quick and dirty post this week, didn’t have time go super in depth with this one. Based on games through Sunday, 1/26.
San Diego State
East Tennessee State
Stephen F. Austin
New Mexico State
William & Mary
South Dakota State
Monmouth/Prairie View A&M
Robert Morris/Norfolk State
First 4 Out:
Next 4 Out:
In the Hunt:
- Baylor (–) – The Bears survived a bit of a scare on Monday night when Oklahoma’s Austin Reaves missed a potential game winning three with just a few seconds left, but rebounded over the weekend with a strong road win at a decent Florida team. This could be a team locked in at the #1 spot for quite some time, with the next 5 games presenting winnable opportunities against not a single surefire tournament team.
- Gonzaga (–) – Quiet week for the Bulldogs with only a home blowout of Pacific on the schedule. This week presents one of, if not the toughest weeks in WCC play yet for Gonzaga, with road trips at Santa Clara and San Francisco lying ahead. Gonzaga *should* win both, but I doubt either will be a cakewalk.
- Kansas (–) – The end of game brawl against Kansas State put a clear damper on an excellent performance where the Jayhawks blew out their in-state rival by 21. Due to suspensions, the roster was a little thinned out for the weekend matchup with Tennessee, but Kansas held off a solid effort from Volunteers and hung on to win by 6. Despite 3 losses, Kansas remains a clear #1 on predictive metrics like KenPom so I’m comfortable putting them as a clear #3 in my poll ahead of teams with the same amount or a fewer number of losses.
- San Diego State (–) – The Aztecs survived a major scare on Sunday at UNLV to remain undefeated, and continue to climb up rankings, both resume-based and predictive. I have a hard time seeing San Diego State falling below the 1 seed level without more than 1 loss the rest of the way, but this week will present a couple challenges with a road game at New Mexico and a desperate Utah State squad coming to San Diego.
- Dayton (–) – Dayton continues to impress me with its ability to handle each and every challenge thrown their way. My favorite part about this Flyers squad is that Obi Toppin is a lock to be an NBA Lottery pick and could very well be the Wooden Award winner, yet this team isn’t entirely reliant on him. Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson are excellent complimentary pieces, and this team’s only losses have come in OT against my #3 and #22 teams on neutral courts.
- Florida State (–) – Had a couple questions last week about Dayton being ahead of FSU, and my answer is that Dayton’s losses are better than Florida State’s (@Indiana isn’t bad at all but @Pitt isn’t ideal) and while the Seminoles are probably the best team in the ACC right now, their overall resume isn’t stunning. Wins at Florida and at Louisville are excellent, but beyond that, their best win would be what…a neutral court win against Tennessee or Purdue? A home win against UVA? None of those are tournament locks, so I’m looking forward to what the Noles accomplish with two road games at a couple bubble teams in UVA and Virginia Tech this week.
- Seton Hall (+1) – Straightforward week for the Pirates this week, as they handled a pesky Providence squad at home to win by 9. Winnable games at home against DePaul and Xavier lie ahead this week before a massive road trip the first week of February with games at Georgetown then at Villanova. For my money, the Pirates are one of the hottest teams in college hoops right now, up there with Baylor and San Diego State.
- Louisville (-1) – Kind of a toss up between #7 and #8 for me this week, but I decided to drop Louisville back one spot based on the close call against a bad Georgia Tech team at home. Overall, I like Seton Hall’s top two wins at home against Maryland and @Butler more than Louisville’s top two of @Duke and at home against Michigan. Obviously the Duke win is better than basically nearly any other win in the country, but it’s the only win against a tournament-quality team the Cardinals have in conference play, and Seton Hall is off to a 7-0 start in a loaded Big East.
- Villanova (+2) – I’m a Villanova fan so I try to avoid too much bias, but I do think the Wildcats are red hot right now and have a tremendous ability to grind out wins when they aren’t at their best that some other teams don’t have. A convincing Tuesday night win over Butler was the deciding factor for me to jump Nova over Duke into the Top 10 this week – Duke beat the living daylight out of Miami that same night, but I’ll take a win over a top 15 team over a down Miami squad.
- Duke (-1) – Like I said above, Duke did nothing wrong to fall back a spot this week, I was just more impressed by Villanova’s grittiness to get a top 15 win at home and follow that up with a road win at a decent Providence team.
- Oregon (+3) – Nice bounce back week for the Ducks, who took down a USC squad (that I believe to be Top 25-caliber) in 2OT, then smoked the Fighting Mick Cronins soundly on Sunday. I do have a weird feeling that this Oregon team is more prone to a complete stinker of a performance than most other Top 15 teams and I have nothing to substantiate that claim, but when they’re on, this team is legit.
- West Virginia (+4) – I may have overreacted to the complete no-show the Mountaineers had last weekend against Kansas State, as they came out this week and ripped the soul out of the Texas Longhorns basketball program on Monday night. They followed that up with a dominating win over Missouri this weekend. Neither of those teams are tournament-level but the sheer domination of those two games was impressive.
- Kentucky (+4) – Every time I start to count Kentucky out, they follow it up with impressive performances. The last time was after the buzzer beater loss to South Carolina which they followed up with a strong road win at Arkansas, a home win over
Anthony Edwards Georgia, and a SUPER impressive road win at Texas Tech in OT. I’m not sold on Texas Tech yet but they’re not a bad team and that was a crazy environment.
- Auburn (-1) – Dropping Auburn back a spot was in part due to West Virginia and Kentucky impressing me as well as my lack of being impressed by Auburn’s weekend performance against Iowa State. They did have a 17 point lead early in the 2nd half, and had a 14 point lead with as little as 2:52 remaining which suggests they were in control of the game, which they were. The part where I wasn’t impressed was when Iowa State ripped off a 10 point run to make it a 4 point game and Auburn responded by coughing the ball up, only to be bailed out when Iowa State missed a three that would’ve made it a 1 point game. Wins are wins, but I would’ve liked to see a better closeout to a game at home against a then-.500 opponent.
- Butler (-3) – Butler’s 3 game losing streak nearly continued into a 4 game losing streak on Friday night until Kamar Baldwin took over in extraordinary fashion to lead the Bulldogs to an OT victory over a good Marquette squad. It was the type of slump-buster that could save Butler’s season, with a potentially tricky road game coming up at a pretty desperate Georgetown team. Had it turned into a 5 game losing streak, the wheels would’ve been completely coming off, but for now, I think Butler will be just fine.
- Maryland (+2) – Consider me impressed with Maryland’s 2-0 road trip this past week in Big 10 play. Yes, the win over Northwestern isn’t anything special, but to absorb a gut punch from Indiana in the form of a 24-7 run to start the 2nd half, fall down by as many as 8 on the road against a team coming off a Top 10 upset, and come back to get the win with a couple seconds left? Yeah, that’s the type of win that says something to me about the caliber of a team. Turgeon’s coaching may always be a point of contention for Terps fans, but I really like the way this team plays.
- Michigan State (-7) – In no way do I think a 4 point road loss at a borderline Top 25 team in Indiana warrants a 7 spot drop in the rankings. My ranking of the Spartans at 17 is more of a reflection of several teams not far behind them having exemplary weeks like West Virginia and Kentucky. At the risk of being too overly reliant on 1 game sample sizes, I just couldn’t justify putting the Spartans ahead of Maryland when the Terps accomplished what Michigan State couldn’t with the road win at Indiana on Sunday.
- LSU (+1) – I am genuinely baffled at how LSU continues to win such closely contested games, but at the end of the day they just keep adding wins. This week, they pulled of a 2 point home win over the Florida Gators and followed that up with another 2 point at Texas after coughing up a 16 point lead. I look forward to seeing how narrowly they escape Alabama and Ole Miss this coming week.
- Houston (+3) – Nothing super inspiring in a close home win against UConn and a home blowout of USF this week, so Houston is this week’s beneficiary of some poll carnage with teams ahead of them like Memphis, Arizona, and Rutgers taking losses.
- Iowa (NEW) – Hand up on this one, I flat out should’ve ranked Iowa last week. I was probably a bit too cynical about the baffling loss at Nebraska and while I’m admittedly very down on Michigan right now, the win against Maryland should’ve been more of an influence. This week’s win over Rutgers was enough for me to admit my mistake and put the Hawkeyes in. Hopefully they can stay here with a very difficult week ahead at home versus Wisconsin, @Maryland, and then home again versus Illinois.
- Wichita State (+3) – Lump the Shockers in here with their AAC counterparts in Houston. Nothing too impressive winning at USF and at home versus UCF, but wins are wins, and Arizona, Rutgers, and Arkansas were all just ahead of Wichita State and couldn’t accomplish as much this past week.
- Colorado (NEW) – Solid week for the Buffaloes, who handled business in their homestand against the Washington teams by double digits each time. A road trip the LA schools lies ahead this week, with a particularly big matchup at USC coming on Saturday night.
- Illinois (NEW) – The Fighting Illini are another team I’m a bit late to the party on. This one I felt a bit more justified on, as heading into this week, their resume consisted of wins at home over Michigan, Rutgers, Purdue, and a road win at Wisconsin. All are good wins, but were counteracted by blowout road losses to Arizona and Michigan State and baffling home/neutral losses to Miami and Missouri. This week, though, featured road wins over Purdue and Michigan, and I have no doubt now that this isn’t a Top 25 team.
- Arizona (-4) – Against my better judgment, I’m not going to overreact and drop Arizona any further for a 1 point road loss at their bitter rival. I don’t think Arizona State is particularly good this year and Arizona held a 22 point lead, so this isn’t a very good loss, but as I mentioned last week, Arizona has SO MANY close losses this year. I refuse to believe they’re as bad as their record, and a KenPom rating of #12 seems to back that up. Hopefully they don’t make me regret saying this with a road trip into the state of Washington coming this week.
- USC (–) – I initially dropped USC just outside of my Top 25 after they lost in double OT to Oregon, but that was a road loss to a team I have ranked just outside my Top 10. They followed that up with a massive 20 point road win at Oregon State and convinced me to give them another chance in the Top 25 this week after Indiana’s loss to Maryland this afternoon. Indiana had a very impressive week to take down a Top 20 Michigan State team and nearly do the same to Maryland, but I’m okay keeping USC at #25 and bumping Indiana from #27 from last week’s poll to #26.
Memphis (was #15): Hard to find any silver lining. Starting with Saturday, Memphis went scoreless for the final 6 minutes of the game and ended up losing by 4 at home to SMU, who is a decent but unspectacular team this year. Before that though, they got absolutely STOMPED on by another decent but unspectacular Tulsa team. They lost by 40 points! 40! They were easy to drop out of my Top 25, and they’re not all that close to being back in at this point.
Rutgers (was #21): On the surface, a narrow and highly competitive road loss at a team I now have ranked #20 is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, I still had Rutgers in my top 25 until Saturday, when they needed a buzzer beater to defeat Nebraska at home. With all due respect to Nebraska, they are terrible this year. On the bright side, it’s been forever (read: NEVER) since Rutgers could legitimately be disappointed with *too close* of a home win against a Big 10 opponent, so there’s plenty of reasons to remain excited in Piscataway.
Arkansas (was #23): Mixed bag of results for the Razorbacks this week. A road loss by just 7 to Mississippi State isn’t a terrible loss by any means, and home win over a decent TCU team is solid. Just don’t see any compelling reason to keep them ranked for now after losing 2 of 3 and 3 of 6. Their win at Indiana is solid, and there’s not much to the resume after that.
Next 5: Indiana, Rutgers, Penn State, Creighton, East Tennessee State
- Baylor (–) – Baylor faced a big challenge for much of the game from Oklahoma State, but ultimately prevailed over the weekend to complete a 2-0 week. It wasn’t against the Big 12’s best by any means, but beating Iowa State and Oklahoma State are still decent wins and I don’t see any reason to downgrade Baylor from the top spot.
- Gonzaga (–) – That said, I do feel like Gonzaga closed the gap significantly between themselves and Baylor in my mind. The Bulldogs eviscerated a solid Santa Clara team by 50 (!!!!!!) points on Thursday, then thoroughly whooped BYU, a legitimate at-large contender, by 23 late Saturday night. Gonzaga, without a doubt, is among the nation’s elite and will be in contention for a #1 seed all year long.
- Kansas (+2) – The Jayhawks quietly had a really strong week, going on the road and coming away with two wins. Oklahoma is an at-large caliber team, and Texas isn’t far off from being in that conversation, so those are two wins that will look good on a resume. Kansas has also moved up to take over #1 on KenPom, so I’m comfortable ranking them ahead of my #4 team….
- San Diego State (+3) – The Aztecs just won’t stop winning, and with Auburn faltering, they’re now the lone undefeated left in the nation. While they haven’t beaten any ranked teams, wins at BYU and on neutral courts against Creighton and Iowa have help up exceptionally well, and San Diego State should be in conversation for a #1 seed.
- Dayton (+4) – HUGE week for the Flyers as they took down VCU comfortably at home, then managed to survive in OT at Saint Louis, thanks to some last second heroics by Jalen Crutcher. This team has some of the best chemistry in the country, which should help them as they continue through the gauntlet of their schedule, with a home game against St. Bonaventure and road games at Richmond and Duquesne coming up. By the way, in case anyone thinks this isn’t a top 10 team, Dayton is up to 5th on KenPom.
- Florida State (+4) – The Seminoles continued their red hot play of late, extending their winning streak to 9 this past week. They survived a spirited upset bid from Virginia at home mid-week, then made a late comeback to force OT and came out with a win at a Miami squad that can’t really defend, but can still score really well. I was slow to recognize Florida State’s talent this season, but I think it’s fair to say at this point that this is the best team in the ACC right now.
- Louisville (+6) – Last week I noted that Louisville would have a huge barometer test with the game at Duke, but needed to not overlook the road game against Pitt. That almost happened, but Louisville did sneak out of the Pete with an OT road victory (and some help from the refs). Still, winning on the road isn’t easy, and the Cardinals did that and then some by taking down Duke at Cameron Indoor, which is up there with Baylor’s win at Kansas as possibly the most impressive win of anyone this year. And by the way, David Johnson is a STUD and if he isn’t hurt, this is a legitimate Final Four contender.
- Seton Hall (+10) – Seton Hall also picked up a contender for best win of the year by going into Hinkle Fieldhouse and mounting a second half comeback to knock off Butler. That win doesn’t look as thrilling now that DePaul manhandled Butler, but make no mistake, Seton Hall is among the nation’s elite and Myles Powell is right there with Obi Toppin for Player of the Year in my mind.
- Duke (-6) – Tough week for Duke with two losses, but so many teams are losing so many games that I have no doubt that this is still a top 10 team. Yes, the loss to Clemson is pretty dumbfounding considering Clemson has the 172nd best offense on KenPom and Duke has a top 10 defense, but that’s college basketball 2019-2020 for ya.
- Michigan State (+4) – It was a good rebound week for the Spartans, who are currently in a light part of their schedule (from quantity of games, not quality). They rebounded from last Sunday’s thrashing at the hands of Purdue to take down a weirdly dangerous Wisconsin team handily at home, and are off again until this Thursday night, when they head to Bloomington. We’ll see if the rest results in any rust with two road games this week, but I think the Spartans will be equipped to win at least 1, if not both of their upcoming games.
- Villanova (+5) – It wasn’t pretty, but Villanova managed to come out of this past week unscathed. DePaul mounted a furious comeback and forced OT early in the week at the Pavilion before the Wildcats prevailed by 4, and once again, Jermaine Samuels became the hero with a late game dagger three in the Wells Fargo Center as the Cats knocked off future conference mate UConn by 6.
- Butler (-6) – Another team that in any other week or season would probably fall further in my rankings, but this year is crazy and the depth of the Big East is so stellar that you can’t really hold it against Butler too much to go 0-2. Seton Hall is a legitimate team, and while DePaul began Big East play 0-4, they lost only close games and were a volcano ready to erupt after such a promising non-conference season.
- Auburn (-9) – I was tempted to drop Auburn a bit lower, but I do still think this is a really good team despite a week of getting blown out twice by unranked teams. They are down to 26th in KenPom which suggests that more losses are coming, but for a team that “hasn’t played anyone” (i.e. no ranked teams), the Tigers have the 69th best SOS according to KenPom, so it hasn’t been a cakewalk to earn a 15-2 record.
- Oregon (-6) – It was nearly a catastrophic week for the Ducks until Payton Pritchard went full blown Damian Lillard mode and hit some ridiculous shots to force OT and win the game at Washington. It saved Oregon from going winless in the state of Washington after getting manhandled in the final minutes and losing convincingly to an undermanned, and quite frankly, not good, Washington State team on Thursday night.
- Memphis (+5) – Admittedly have some poll inertia happening here with Memphis. Their only action this past week was an 11 point home win against Cincinnati, which in a normal year would be a great win, but this is a down year for Cincinnati so that game alone isn’t worth a 5 point boost in the polls. But, so many teams had worse weeks, and someone’s gotta take this spot, so Memphis it is.
- West Virginia (-5) – Of all the upsets that have happened this year, there have been some real head scratchers like Kentucky falling to Evansville, Duke losing to Stephen F. Austin, etc. The result on Saturday where West Virginia got manhandled by an awful Kansas State squad won’t have the name recognition, but for me, it’s almost as surprising given the trajectories of these two teams this year. The Mountaineers brought the #1 ranked defense on KenPom going into that game (#3 now) and gave up 84 points to a team that is now ranked #174 on offense according to KenPom,and hadn’t yet won a conference game. I love college basketball so much.
- Kentucky (–) – Kentucky fell mid-week at the hands of South Carolina on a stunning buzzer beater, but more than made up for it with a strong win at a good Arkansas team over the weekend. The Razorbacks looked to have stolen not just the lead, but all the momentum midway through the 2nd half until John Calipari got himself ejected and the Wildcats rallied to win by 7.
- Maryland (-3) – Did you know the Maryland lost early last week to Wisconsin by 2? Apparently, they did, but it feels like approximately a decade ago with everything that’s happened since. Regardless, the Terrapins bounced back at home over the weekend to defeat the Jekyll and Hyde Boilermakers after nearly blowing a large lead. Feels like that’s as pretty standard of a week as you can get in this year’s Big Ten.
- LSU (+4) – I’m still not convinced that LSU is particularly good, but being 5-0 in a power conference, even if it’s a down year for the SEC, is worth mentioning. And quite frankly, simply winning games on a consistent basis is worth mentioning this year, too. It took OT to win by 4 at Texas A&M early in the week, and LSU survived again by just 4 at Ole Miss over the weekend, but it was a 2-0 week. The Tigers have won their past 4 games by a total of 11 points, so we’ll see how they handle games at home against Florida and at Texas this week.
- Arizona (NEW) – I was a little reluctant to unrank Arizona over the past couple of weeks, thinking that they were a supernova getting ready to blow, and that finally happened when they dismantled Colorado over the weekend. Prior to last Sunday’s 17 point loss to Oregon State, the Wildcats’ 4 previous losses all came by 5 or fewer points, so this is a team that I think is significantly better than its record shows.
- Rutgers (NEW) – Tell your children about a ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights! I’ve been holding off until I saw this team play more Big Ten action, but after seeing them win games against Indiana and Minnesota rather handily this week, I’m comfortable putting the Knights in my top 25 for now. I’d like to see more from them on the road, so the mid-week game at Iowa should be a good barometer for Rutgers.
- Houston (NEW) – The Cougars did fall to Tulsa last weekend, but a home win against a decent SMU team and a convincing road win at Wichita State in which they held a 22 point lead at one point in the 2nd half is one hell of a week. Houston is now in a tie for 1st place in the American Conference with Tulsa, who they play again with one month from now at home. I think it’s fair to say that Houston controls their destiny in the American moving forward, as I don’t think Tulsa will maintain this fast start.
- Arkansas (-2) – The Razorbacks fell at home by 7 points to Kentucky in their first matchup against a ranked opponent, but there have been many worse losses so far this season, and they dismantled Vanderbilt by 20 earlier in the week. Arkansas is 31st on KenPom, so I think it’s fair to say that anywhere from 20-35 would be appropriate to place them, but I do feel like it’s hard to have a great read on how good this team is just yet.
- Wichita State (-12) – I had been super high on Wichita State going into this week, but my enthusiasm has definitely faded after their youth showed big time in an 0-2 week. Road losses happen so that 12 point loss at Temple is excusable despite Temple being in a down year, but the meltdown at home to allow Houston to open up a massive lead was pretty rough. The defense remains strong, but the Shockers’ inability to consistently score (123rd ranked offense on KenPom) is becoming an issue.
- USC (NEW) – USC is definitely one of the most under-the-radar teams this year, but that may start to quickly change. The Trojans are now in a tie for the Pac 12 lead with the Stanford team that they just beat in OT over the weekend, just two nights after eviscerating Cal by 32. The blowout loss to Washington is pretty confounding at this point, but even with that game, USC has won 9 of 10 including road wins at TCU and a neutral court win over LSU. It’s not a beefy resume at this point, but USC is consistently winning right now, which is more than can be said about many other teams.
Colorado (19) – Not actually a terrible week for Colorado, with a road win over Arizona State to add to the resume, but they got absolutely boatraced by Arizona over the weekend, so I opted to go with USC over the Buffaloes for the final spot.
Indiana (22) – Pretty standard week for the Hoosiers. They feel to Rutgers on the road mid week, which wasn’t unexpected, and came out Lincoln unscathed with an 8 point victory on Saturday. According to Bart Torvik, the Hoosiers have played the easiest Big Ten schedule by far, so it’ll be interesting to see how Indiana handles the upcoming tests.
Creighton (24) – Again, pretty decent week for Creighton with an exciting over a pesky Providence on Saturday and a tough fought loss mid week at Georgetown. I’m still pretty high on the Jays, but need to see them do a better job against teams with dominant big men to keep them in the rankings.
Ohio State (25) – Don’t have a whole lot to say here. You just can’t keep losing games and stay in the rankings. Ohio State is plummeting down the rankings and the seed lines of bracketologies and needs to quickly figure things out or they may be looking at bubble talk.
Next 5: Colorado, Indiana, Penn State, Iowa, Creighton
Sunday seed list for games through Saturday, 1/18. Auto-bids (in italics) are now based on current conference standings, with the exception of the Ivy league with only 1-2 games played for those teams. Numbers in parentheses are the movement since last week’s posting.
San Diego State (+1)
West Virginia (–)
Seton Hall (+1)
Florida State (+1)
Michigan State (–)
Penn State (–)
Ohio State (-2)
Wichita State (-3)
Saint Mary’s (-1)
Texas Tech (+1)
Northern Iowa (+2)
East Tennessee State (+1)
NC State (NEW)/Minnesota (NEW)
Virginia Tech (-1)/Virginia (NEW)
New Mexico State (+1)
Stephen F. Austin (+1)
North Texas (NEW)
Wright State (-1)
Stony Brook (NEW)
UC Irvine (+1)
William & Mary (–)
Little Rock (NEW)
St. Francis PA (+1)
South Dakota State (NEW)
Murray State (NEW)
Montana (NEW)/Prairie View A&M (–)
Monmouth (NEW)/Norfolk State (NEW)
Georgetown (was 11)
Xavier (was 11)
VCU (was 12)
Louisiana Tech (was 13)
Vermont (was 13)
Georgia State (was 14)
Belmont (was 15)
Northern Colorado (was 15)
North Dakota State (was 16)
Rider (was 16)
Bethune Cookman (was 16)
Last 4 Byes
Last 4 In
First 4 Out
Next 4 Out
AAC: 3 teams
ACC: 6 teams
Big 10: 12 teams
Big 12: 5 teams
Big East: 5 teams
Pac 12: 5 teams
SEC: 5 teams
WCC: 3 teams
- Baylor (+2) – Road wins at Texas Tech AND Kansas, the toughest road environment in the country? Yeah, that’s a hell of a week. I’ve been higher than most on Baylor all season, and I’m sure there will be some who won’t rank them #1, but in my eyes, this is the clear best team in the country right now.
- Gonzaga (-1) – After starting WCC play with a couple closer than expected victories, the Bulldogs went on the road and absolutely throttled San Diego and Loyola Marymount, winning by 44 and 25, respectively. Gonzaga returns home this week for a pair of tougher matchups, with a home game against a Santa Clara team coming off a road upset of Saint Mary’s followed by a weekend battle against BYU.
- Duke (+1) – Duke was challenged on Wednesday night by a pesky Georgia Tech team, but Tre Jones led the way with a strong performance highlighted by some vicious Cassius Stanley throwdowns. The Blue Devils returned home and beat down on Wake Forest over the weekend. They’ll face their first top 25-level competition in a month and a half when Louisville comes into Cameron this weekend, which should serve as a good barometer for both programs.
- Auburn (+1) – Auburn remained undefeated this past week with two home games against Vanderbilt and Georgia. While the game against Vandy was closer than expected, the Commodores that were crushed by Texas A&M on Saturday certainly aren’t the same team without the SEC’s leading scorer Aaron Nesmith. Regardless, Auburn followed up that win by pounding Georgia by 22 and containing freshman sensation Anthony Edwards. Auburn’s greatest strength is its balance, as 4 different players have led the team in scoring the last 4 games.
- Kansas (-3) – The Jayhawks began the week in strong fashion, dominating Iowa State in Hilton, but were completely stunned by Baylor over the weekend as they suffered their first home loss of the season. What was most shocking was how plainly Baylor dominated the game – the Jayhawks hung with them and were down just 27-24 with two and a half minutes left in the first before Baylor finished the half on a 10-0 run. From there on, the closest Kansas could get within was 5 points, and they didn’t get within single digits the final 9 minutes of the game.
- Butler (–) – Butler took care of business this week once again, going on the road and taking down Providence to hand the Friars their first loss in Big East play. Circle Wednesday night on your calendars, as Butler welcomes Seton Hall, the only other undefeated Big East team, to Hinkle Fieldhouse.
- San Diego State (–) – This week’s summary for the Aztecs will probably be able to be copy and pasted several more times this season. San Diego State did what they needed to do this past week, beating Wyoming on the road and Boise State at home and refused to fall into a trap game. This week presents tougher challenges in Fresno State on the road and with Nevada coming to town, but those are both games the Aztecs *should* win.
- Oregon (+1) – The Ducks had a big week, taking down both schools from Arizona in the span of three days, including a thrilling 1 point OT win against Arizona. This week, the Ducks have to go on the road but face winnable games against a bad Washington State team and a Washington program in freefall and without star PG Quade Green due to academic ineligibility.
- Dayton (+2) – The Flyers won’t have many opportunities to pick up statement wins to catapult themselves up the rankings, so in order to climb, they, like San Diego State, have to continue to win and wait for carnage around them. Dayton did just that this weekend, blasting UMass by 28 points in their lone affair. This week, however, presents multiple big opportunities – VCU comes to town on Tuesday night, and Dayton travels to a tough Saint Louis squad on Friday night. Hopefully star F Obi Toppin is available for both after spraining his ankle on Saturday.
- Florida State (+3) – The Noles did what they needed to in Wake Forest Wednesday night, beating the Demon Deacons by 10 to improve to 4-1 in ACC play, good for 2nd place behind Duke. Prior to traveling to Miami next weekend, the Seminoles will take on a Virginia team in freefall and in desperate need of a win to right the ship. While it’s a down year in the ACC for sure, neither of these games will be gimmes for Leonard Hamilton and company.
- West Virginia (+4) – After one lone down year that featured a CBI appearance, the Mountaineers are unequivocally back and while it’s not the “Press Virginia” that Jevon Carter led, this team still plays suffocating defense. They went into Stillwater this past week and choked Oklahoma State to just 41 points, and held Texas Tech to just 54 in a win over the weekend. UVA still technically has the best defense according to KenPom, but West Virginia is literally just 0.1 points behind them in AdjD efficiency.
- Wichita State (+4) – Wichita State is another team that we can declare as “Back” after a one year hiatus. Without shame, I’d like to state that I’ve been a believer in the Shockers returning to the national picture since before the season, when I pegged them as a 10 seed, but I didn’t see anything like this coming. Wichita State took down a ranked Memphis team on Thursday night, before outlasting UConn in a wild double OT game of
- Louisville (+1) – Louisville bounced back from 2 straight losses and made it through unscathed this week after a home game against Miami and a wild road game against Notre Dame that featured one of the most baffling final possessions I’ve ever seen. This week is a big one for the Cardinals, with a road matchup in Cameron Indoor awaiting on Saturday that follows a road game at Pitt on Tuesday that should not be overlooked at all.
- Michigan State (-6) – I know the cool thing to do in the Big 10 this year is lose on the road, but uh, Michigan State? That’s not what we meant…. The Spartans got absolutely hammered on Sunday by a Purdue team that refuses to die and continues to defy the haters of advanced analytics. While it was in Mackey against a Top 10 defense, you have to do better than shoot 35% from the field with 18 turnovers if you want to be a top 10 team.
- Maryland (-3) – What a hell of a week for the Terps. First, they take down a reeling but still wildly-talented-and-ranked-in-the-KenPom-Top-10 Ohio State team on Tuesday night, then they get crushed on the road by the Hawkeyes on Friday night. It was confoundingly polarizing, which fits with the theme of college hoops this year, and which also means we should expect Maryland to win at Wisconsin on Tuesday but lose at home to Purdue next weekend because why not?
- Villanova (+4) – The Wildcats bounced back from the loss against Marquette by somehow managing to beat Creighton on the road Tuesday night, a game in which the Cats jumped out to a blistering 1-0 lead and then didn’t have the lead again until less than 3 minutes remained in the game.
- Kentucky (+2) – The Wildcats of Kentucky also stood pat this week with a 2-0 record and no losses to speak of, unlike many other top 25 teams. They managed to come out of Georgia with a 9 point win, which does not accurately represent how tight that game was, and followed that up with another 9 point win at home against Alabama, which was also closer than the final score indicates, though Kentucky maintained control throughout. Two road games await this week with a big one over the weekend at Arkansas.
- Seton Hall (NEW) – I think a lot of people, myself included, wrote off the Pirates after a 6-4 start against a brutal schedule that was punctuated with a blowout loss to Rutgers. Since then, though, the Pirates have weathered the storm of temporarily loses Myles Powell and have gone without Sandro Mamukelashvili and have ripped off a 6 game winning streak. This past week saw them record strong wins at Xavier and at home over Marquette. The preseason Big East favorite has reclaimed the top spot in the standings for now.
- Colorado (NEW) – The Buffaloes rebounded from the surprising home collapse against Oregon State last week to trounce Utah by 39 earlier this afternoon in their lone game this week. This one wasn’t even close, with Colorado racing out to a 16-2 lead before 5 minutes had even passed by.
- Memphis (-2) – The Tigers dropped their first AAC game this week, as they couldn’t get past Wichita State on the road, but bounced back to survive another admirable but insufficient USF upset bid. Precious Achiuwa has asserted himself as “The Guy” on this team.
- Arkansas (+4) – This is the point where this ballot became impossibly difficult to fill out. Do I think Arkansas is the 22nd best team in the country? Well, no, but is there anyone else with a more compelling argument for this spot? Also, no. The Razorbacks fell in a thrilling road loss to LSU this week by just 2, and rebounded to grab a road win at Ole Miss over the weekend. After a game against a hobbled Vanderbilt squad, the Razorbacks welcome Kentucky into town, which will be a great test to see where this team stands.
- Indiana (NEW) – I had to give a nod to Indiana this week and recognize that while it hasn’t been pretty, they are 13-3 with a winning record in the brutal 2019-2020 edition of the Big 10. They came oh-so-close to losing at home to a horrible Northwestern squad, but pulled it out and bounced back with a big win over Ohio State this weekend.
- LSU (NEW) – To be honest, LSU was on my radar last week but there were many more teams I had in front of them that I would’ve expected to see in the top 25 before the Tigers. I subconsciously wrote them off when they dropped to 7-4 following a blowout home loss to East Tennessee State and a loss to USC, but since then, they’ve beaten Liberty, Tennessee in Knoxville, Arkansas, and Mississippi State on a buzzer beating prayer. Wins are wins, and most of the other teams in the back of the top 25 and beyond did a lot less winning than LSU this past week.
- Creighton (NEW) – This is another one where I guess I just don’t know who to put here. So many teams in this area of the rankings suffered losses that it becomes a matter of who had the least bad of the losses. I had Creighton at 27 this past week, and despite the collapse at home that led to the loss to Villanova, I came away impressed by their 12 point road win at Xavier.
- Ohio State (-15) – I so, so, so badly wanted to unrank Ohio State this week (they have literally not won since before Christmas!!!) but I just couldn’t convince myself that any of the next 5 teams deserve it more than they do. The Buckeyes have now dropped to 1-4 in Big 10 play, but the good news is that they are still 8th in KenPom’s AdjEM rating, while coming in at just 320th in luck. Aside from the home loss to Maryland, the other 3 losses in this losing streak have all come to teams I have in the top 25, too.
Penn State (17) – I almost left the Nittany Lions in this week at 25, but couldn’t justify putting them in over Ohio State after that 32 point loss earlier in the season. Neither loss was that bad for Penn State this past week, as Rutgers legitimately may be a tournament team and the RAC is a hellscape when they’re good, and Wisconsin is just a weird ass team this year.
Virginia (21) – I’ve been trying so hard to believe in Virginia this year, and the defense still remains elite at #1 in KenPom’s AdjD. But after losses to Boston College and an OT loss at home to a weak Syracuse team, I’m giving up on Virginia. They are not only a top 25 team, but they may not even be a tournament team at this point.
Texas Tech (22) – I’m starting to lose faith in Texas Tech this year, too. I love what Chris Beard is doing down there, but this team hasn’t gelled quite like last year’s version did. Maybe I’m wrong and it will still happen later on, but the defense, while still phenomenal, is only 11th best and not at last year’s level, and the offense can be brutal to watch at times. The Red Raiders managed only 52 and 54 points in their two losses this past week.
Arizona (23) – I was prepared to keep Arizona in the top 25 and even considering them moving up if they Sunday night at Oregon State – a 1-1 week with a 1 point OT loss on the road to a top 10 week ain’t too bad at all. But, alas, they went winless on their Oregon excursion, and I’ve since dropped them out of the top 25. I do think the pieces are there for Arizona to get back in the top 25 and stay there, but they need to find a way to win close games against good teams – 4 of their 5 losses have been to Power 6 schools by 5 or less.
Michigan (24) – It looks like the Atlantis honeymoon with Juwan Howard is officially over in Ann Arbor – the Wolverines continue to slump hard after needing double OT to pull out a win against Purdue and falling to Minnesota on the road. That’s certainly not an indictment on Howard at all, either, as he has done very well. But without Isaiah Livers, I just don’t see this as a top 25 team for the time being.
Next 5: Michigan, Penn State, Arizona, Texas Tech, Rutgers
Here’s how I would set the Field of 68 based on games through Saturday, 1/11. Auto-bids noted in italics, and they are based on resume at this point. Once more conference games are played I will pivot towards awarding auto-bids to the team leading the conference standings at that point in time. Numbers in parentheses indicate increase/decrease from last week.
Midwest Region (Indianapolis)
St. Louis, MO
1 Butler (#3 overall) (–)
16 North Dakota State (–)
8 Indiana (+2)
9 Memphis (-1)
5 Michigan (-1)
12 East Tennessee State (-1)
4 Dayton (–)
13 Akron (–)
6 Arizona (-1)
11 Virginia Tech (NEW)
3 Michigan State (–)
14 Stephen F. Austin (-1)
7 LSU (+3)
10 Marquette (-4)
2 Gonzaga (–)
15 Northern Colorado (–)
East Region (New York City)
1 Duke (#1 overall) (–)
16 St. Francis (PA) (–)/Rider (-1)
8 Illinois (NEW)
9 Houston (–)
5 Kentucky (+3)
12 Purdue (-3)/VCU (-1)
4 Maryland (-2)
13 Vermont (–)
6 Iowa (–)
11 USC (–)
3 Seton Hall (+2)
14 Colgate (+1)
7 Creighton (–)
10 Florida (–)
2 West Virginia (+1)
15 Belmont (-1)
South Region (Houston)
1 Baylor (#2 overall) (+1)
16 UC Irvine (NEW)
8 Stanford (+3)
9 Saint Mary’s (-2)
5 Wichita State (–)
12 Northern Iowa (–)
4 Villanova (+2)
13 Louisiana Tech (–)
6 Arkansas (+1)
11 Xavier (-2)
3 Florida State (–)
14 Georgia State (–)
7 Penn State (-3)
10 Oklahoma (+1)
2 Auburn (–)
15 William & Mary (NEW)
West Region (Los Angeles)
St. Louis, MO
1 Kansas (#4 overall) (–)
16 Prairie View (–)/Bethune Cookman (–)
8 BYU (–)
9 Rutgers (+2)
5 Ohio State (-1)
12 Yale (–)
4 Louisville (+2)
13 Wright State (+1)
6 Wisconsin (+1)
11 Texas Tech (-2)/Georgetown (NEW)
3 Oregon (–)
14 New Mexico State (–)
7 Colorado (-2)
10 Liberty (–)
2 San Diego State (-1)
15 Radford (+1)
Virginia (was 8)
NC State (was 12 – last 4 in)
Oklahoma State (was 12 – last 4 in)
College of Charleston (was 15)
UC Santa Barbara (was 16)
Last 4 Byes
Last 4 In
First 4 Out
Next 4 Out
A10: 2 teams
AAC: 3 teams
ACC: 4 teams
Big 10: 11 teams
Big 12: 5 teams
Big East: 7 teams
Mountain West: 1 teams
Pac 12: 5 teams
SEC: 5 teams
WCC: 3 teams
- Gonzaga (–) – I’m sure others are going to drop Gonzaga due to a particularly close call Saturday night at home versus Pepperdine, but I’m comfortable leaving them at the top. For one, I don’t want to be too reactionary, and two, the WCC is better this year than it has been in quite some time.
- Kansas (+1) – This week, I’m bumping Kansas back up to the #2 spot in my rankings thanks to their performance Saturday against a very good West Virginia team. It’s not a knock against Baylor at all, but a 7 point win against a top 20 team compared to a 15 point win against an unranked team is more impressive to me. Plus, Kansas has proven they can win on the road, while Baylor does still remain untested in true road environments.
- Baylor (-1) – Like I said, Baylor is dropping less due to their own performance and more due to Kansas’ big win. They showed some serious defensive chops by stifling Texas to a measly 0.75 points per possession on Saturday.
- Duke (–) – Some have asked why I have Duke at 4 behind Baylor and Kansas, and here’s my reasoning – Duke’s wins over Kansas and at Michigan State are as good as any in the country, but beyond that, a win over an inconsistent Georgetown team is their best, and the Stephen F. Austin loss is a big black mark. Baylor’s lone loss is a neutral site match against Washington, and they’ve got wins over Arizona, Villanova, and Butler. Kansas does have the losses to Duke and at Villanova, but wins over BYU, Dayton, Colorado, at Stanford, and now West Virginia, plus a couple solid mid-major wins in UNC Greensboro and East Tennessee State.
- Auburn (+3) – The Tigers opened SEC play with a solid win over Mississippi State in their first true road test against a power conference foe. Two winnable games lie ahead this week with Vanderbilt and Georgia coming into town as Auburn continues to keep its undefeated start going.
- Butler (+4) – Butler continues to be one of the most underrated teams in the country (at least by some) as they picked up a couple more wins as Big East play started. The Bulldogs gave up a massive 23 point lead to St. John’s, but ultimately recovered to grab a gritty road win, then held Creighton at bay over the weekend. Heading into Sunday’s games, Butler ranked #3 in NET, #2 in SOR, #6 in BPI, and #5 in KenPom, and had more combined Q1/Q2 victories than anyone in the country. This squad isn’t going anywhere.
- San Diego State (+4) – The Aztecs picked up one of the biggest victories of their dazzling season over the weekend, taking down their biggest Mountain West competition, Utah State, on the road. While the strength of schedule moving forward won’t be too great, a road win at BYU plus neutral court wins over Creighton, Iowa, and Utah are going to continue to age well for their resume.
- Michigan State (+8) – Are the Spartans finally starting to turn into what we thought they could be in the preseason? Michigan State took down both Illinois and a ranked Michigan team down in convincing fashion this week, and have ripped off a 7-game winning streak.
- Oregon (-2) – The Ducks climbed into the Top 5 for the first time this year, and suffered a fate that many other Top 5 teams have experienced with a loss to an unranked team. Losing to a good Colorado squad on the road, though, isn’t something to be too ashamed of, and coming out of the difficult mountain road trip isn’t too shabby.
- Ohio State (-4) – The magical start for the Buckeyes has started to wear off, but don’t think that losing 3 of their past 5 games means that this still isn’t a legitimate Big 10 contender. Obviously, losing the home game to the Badgers on Friday night was a blow to the conference title hopes, but there’s tons of basketball still to be played and I firmly believe this squad is among the nation’s elite.
- Dayton (+3) – Dayton began A-10 play this past week with two road games in Philly, and came away with two victories. Most conference games are going to be trap games for the Flyers this season, so coming out hot with a 2-0 start is a good sign.
- Maryland (+3) – Two consecutive road losses at Seton Hall and Penn State followed by an uninspiring effort against Bryant has made some sour on the Terrapins, but I think this is still a good team, though the depth has taken a hit with the loss of the Mitchell brothers. Still, a shellacking of a decent Indiana team over the weekend was a positive sign moving forward. Ohio State comes into town Tuesday night for a massive game.
- Florida State (+12) – I had been lower than the consensus on the Noles for some time, but let this be my mea culpa – this team is legit and has a very real chance of winning the ACC if they can outpace Duke. Going into Louisville and leading wire to wire was not a performance I saw coming, but it certainly served as an eye opener.
- Louisville (-9) – Speaking of Louisville, I’ve started to sour just a bit on this squad. I do believe this is a good basketball team, but they’ve lost 3 of 5, with each loss being against a good team, and quite honestly, a home win against Michigan is the only notable win on their resume. I think they have the talent to climb back into the top 10 and even top 5, but I need to see more wins against quality opponents.
- West Virginia (-3) – The Mountaineers lost their only game this past week, but there’s really nothing to be ashamed about losing in the toughest home court environment in college hoops. I may have been a bit premature jumping them up to #12 this past week, but I believe this team will settle inside the top 25 for the majority of the season.
- Wichita State (+1) – The Shockers kicked off conference play this week with a surprisingly close win over East Carolina, then rebounded with a dominating 20 point victory over Ole Miss to wrap up conference play. They’ll take on Memphis on Thursday night for a battle for early AAC supremacy.
- Penn State (+3) – Penn State continued its dream start to the season by taking down Iowa in a thrilling win at The Palestra over the weekend. Their next game is Tuesday night at Rutgers – a game that will be a hotly contested affair and will be worth watching, and a game that very few, if anyone, had circled on their calendars before the season.
- Memphis (-9) – After kicking off AAC play with a contested but comfortable win over Tulane, the Fighting Penny Hardaways were stunned at home by Georgia over the weekend. The loss did come without the services of DJ Jeffries, and while Georgia did need a buzzer beater to defeat Chaminade in Maui, they might not be all that bad of a team considering Anthony Edwards only shot 4-17 in the win.
- Kentucky (-1) – Rather straightforward week for Kentucky, who played and won their lone game against Missouri to open SEC play. A road matchup against a suddenly confident Georgia team awaits them on Tuesday night, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Wildcats handle their first true road environment.
- Villanova (-7) – After opening Big East play with a close but controlled victory over Xavier, the Wildcats hit the road and were pretty much dumped on by Marquette. They had several opportunities to get close in the 2nd half but squandered each one, and now a daunting road matchup at a Creighton team that can outshoot anyone awaits.
- Virginia (–) – The Cavaliers improved to 3-0 in early ACC play with a convincing win against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Don’t look now, but UVA may just be slowly but surely starting to figure it out on offense, having scored 65 points in each of their last two games. Braxton Key, pun intended, has been the key, averaging 16.5 points on 65% shooting the last two games.
- Texas Tech (–) – After knocking off then #1-ranked Louisville, the Red Raiders somewhat sputtered, reeling off 3 uninspiring wins against Southern Miss, UT Rio Grande Valley, and CSU Bakersfield. Then, Big 12 play opened on Saturday, and Texas Tech assaulted Oklahoma State in the 2nd half and won by 35. Jah’mius Ramsey has been awesome since returning from injury, averaging over 17 PPG and shooting over 55% from 3 point territory.
- Arizona (–) – After winning the Wooden Legacy, the Wildcats stalled and lost 3 out of 4. Pac 12 play opened this weekend and Arizona quickly put those losing memories behind them, whooping their hated rival Arizona State by 28 points at home. A challenging road trip awaits this week to Oregon and Oregon State.
- Michigan (-5) – After running through the Battle 4 Atlantis, Michigan was deemed as the most underrated team in the country and shot into the top 5 in the polls. It seems like that was quite an overreaction, as they have gone 3-4 since then, with a good win over Iowa and then two buy games. 3 of the 4 losses have been on the road, so I’m not writing the Wolverines off by any means, but the injury to Isaiah Livers and loss of floor spacing will be a major challenge for them going forward.
- Arkansas (NEW) – I’m a little gunshy to pull the trigger just yet on the Razorbacks, but at the end of the day, you’ve gotta win games, and they’ve been doing a lot of it. Sure, they lost at Western Kentucky, needed a prayer to escape Georgia Tech, and had closer than expected victories against Northern Kentucky, Austin Peay, and Valparaiso, but they’re 12-1 with a defense ranked 10th on KenPom and that’s worth recognizing.
Northern Iowa (24) – I was quite impressed by the Panthers’ non-conference performance, taking down Colorado on the road, defeating South Carolina in Cancun, and only dropping a narrow battle against West Virginia in Cancun, but they dropped a dud to start MVC play this week against Illinois State. I definitely can see them being a dark horse 11 or 12 seed in the tournament, but I don’t think they’re at a top 25 level at this point any longer.
Next 5: Colorado, Creighton, Marquette, Iowa, Seton Hall