Top 25 – Week 12

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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….
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.

Dropped Out:
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

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