Let’s try to make sense of yet another nutty week of college hoops.
- Baylor (+1) – Last week I flip-flopped Gonzaga into my top spot after they nuked Saint Mary’s on the road, and this week I’m going back to Baylor in my top spot. With all due respect to Pepperdine, Gonzaga’s 12 point road win was not as impressive of a week as Baylor’s 7 point road win at Texas and most importantly, a convincing double digit win over a ranked West Virginia squad over the weekend.
- Gonzaga (-1) – Like I said above, Gonzaga did their job and continued to win, but I treat my poll as a combination of a resume ranking and a power ranking of “who’s hot” right now, and that’s why I’ve flipped the last couple weeks. Baylor and Gonzaga are both really good teams who are playing great basketball and each one has a serious argument for the #1 ranking, which is why recently, for me, it’s come down to whichever team has had the better week.
- Kansas (–) – Kansas also had a really good week and for me has closed the gap on the top two. The mid-week road win at West Virginia was a phenomenal win in a place that Kansas hasn’t traditionally had a ton of success at, and they defended their home court really well against Oklahoma over the weekend. They’re a clear #1 on KenPom and they’ll jump up and be my #1 team if they can win at Baylor this weekend.
- San Diego State (–) – Ho hum, two more dominant wins over decent teams as far as the MWC goes. The Aztecs cruised early in the week against New Mexico, then easily conquered Boise State on the road in what may have been one of their last two real chances to lose the rest of the way. The regular season at Nevada will still be a test, but the Aztecs could very easily run the table at this point.
- Maryland (+2) – In my opinion, the top 4 have easily separated themselves from the field as a Tier 1, but Maryland and Duke can definitely make a case as being part of a Tier 1A. The gutsy road win at Michigan State over the weekend solidified that for me, and eliminated any concerns from a surprisingly and concerningly close victory over Nebraska mid-week.
- Duke (+3) – After somewhat of an unimpressive week with narrow road wins at bad UNC and Boston College squads, the Blue Devils bounced back in a huge way and brought me back into believing in them. Aside from a trouncing of a decent Notre Dame team over the weekend, they handled a very tough test from an extremely talented Florida State team last Monday. Every game left for the Blue Devils is very winnable and this team has a chance, however small, to fight its way to the edge of the 1 seed discussion should crazy things happen out west and in the Big 12.
- Dayton (-2) – Dayton continues to do well and rack up wins, but this is where being a part of the A10 is a mixed blessing. Being far and away the best in the conference has allowed them to steadily climb, but it also doesn’t present many opportunities to impress and has far more opportunities to disappoint. I actually was quite impressed by Dayton’s performance in their Tuesday win over a Rhode Island team I had ranked, but wasn’t pretty disappointed by their performance in Saturday’s win at a 10-15 UMass team. Plus, a home win over Rhode Island just doesn’t compare to a road win at Michigan State or a home win over Florida State.
- Penn State (+4) – It is the year of our lord 2020 and Penn State is about to be ranked in the top 10 in men’s basketball. The Nittany Lions have established themselves as one of the top two teams in a loaded Big 10 conference and it is simply awesome for that fanbase. Also awesome was their performance on Tuesday night, when they stormed into Mackey and fairly easily took down a Purdue squad that had previously looked unbeatable within the confines of their home arena.
- Florida State (+2) – This past week definitely won’t go down in the history books for the Seminoles, as they fell on the road in a narrow loss to Duke then escaped at home against a likely NIT-bound Syracuse team. Still, there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about their performance in Cameron Indoor, as that loss is a much better loss than any of the other teams ranked around Florida State suffered this past week.
- Oregon (+5) – Great week for the Ducks, who avenged an earlier loss to Colorado with yet another double digit comeback win on Thursday night, then easily handled Utah on Sunday night. With a road trip to the Arizona schools coming up next week, it was key for the Ducks to get back on track.
- Kentucky (+2) – Not a super impressive week for the Wildcats, but going 2-0 is far better than a lot of other top 25 teams can say. They managed to win at Vanderbilt which fellow SEC competitor LSU can’t say, then they nearly stumbled over their own feet on Saturday with a pitiful three-point shooting performance, but they pulled out a narrow win over a weak Ole Miss squad. I can’t say I have a ton of faith in Kentucky (especially with a 30th ranking in AdjEM on KenPom) but I do love the clutch performances I’ve seen from Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards.
- Seton Hall (-4) – Definitely a baffling week from Seton Hall, who went 0-2 with a loss at home to a legit Creighton team and a road loss to a puzzling Providence program. The Pirates have now lost 3 out of 5, but in that stretch they’ve managed to win at Villanova, so I don’t think anyone should have their hands on the panic button just yet, especially with a pair of home games coming this week.
- Louisville (-7) – Louisville, uh….what the fuck? I was all set to put Louisville right there with Maryland and Duke as my Tier 1A teams, then they went and put up two baffling performances, with bad road losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson. Yes, they both came on the road, but neither one of those teams has a snowball’s chance in hell of making the tournament (yes, GT is banned, but the point still stands anyway). Two home games against two teams on the outside of the bubble should hopefully allow the Cardinals to bounce back this week.
- Creighton (+6) – Possibly one of the best week’s for the Creighton program this past week, as they forced their way right back into the thick of the Big East battle. They single-handedly did it by storming into South Orange mid-week and took down Seton Hall on the road, then returned to Omaha over the weekend and trounced DePaul while the Pirates fell to Providence, drawing the Bluejays to within just 1 game of the Big East lead. Friendly reminder that just 7 years ago, this was a true mid major in the Missouri Valley Conference.
- Auburn (-5) – The Auburn luck machine rolled on into the middle of this past week with another stunning OT win, this one coming at home against Alabama. Finally, the nation’s luckiest team ran out of magic over the weekend with an uninspired road loss to a bad Missouri team (they allowed KenPom’s 147th ranked offense to score 85 on 55% shooting – yikes).
- Villanova (+3) – The Wildcats bounced back very nicely from a three game losing streak this past week, as they survived a spirited Marquette comeback effort to win at home on Wednesday, then played one of their best halves of the season with a dominant 2nd half effort to run away from Temple and claim the Big 5 title.
- Marquette (–) – For the 2nd straight week, Marquette only played one game and it was against a ranked team. This week, they were unable to come up with a victory as they fell by just one point at Villanova. They dug themselves a big hole in the first half and damn near completed the comeback before Markus Howard failed to replicate the magic of Tre Jones’ intentional FT miss from the previous weekend. With just a 1 point road loss at a top 25 conference foe, I see no reason to demote Marquette down the rankings.
- West Virginia (-4) – Not a great week for the Mountaineers by any means, which is kind of an obvious statement when you look at the 0-2 record. And yes, they’re now in a three game losing streak, but the last two losses this past week came at home to a team I have ranked at #3 and on the road to my now-#1 team – there’s really not a whole to be ashamed of there. If the Mountaineers can put a complete game together and avoid the offensive droughts they occasionally go through, they’ve got a very good chance of playing in the 2nd weekend.
- Houston (-3) – Houston survived at USF in the middle of the week with a 4 point road win but couldn’t pull out another narrow road victory over the weekend, falling by one point in OT to SMU. While the Cougars do have 3 losses in an average caliber AAC league, those 3 losses have all come by a combined 5 points. This team is still very good.
- Colorado (+1) – The Buffaloes skidded back a bit after there Thursday night loss in Eugene, but losing a competitive game against a borderline Top 10 team, in my eyes, is not something that warrants much of a penalty. They rebounded very nicely on Saturday with a 22 point road blowout of an Oregon State team that had previously won in Boulder, which was a big redemption moment for this team. Despite the one loss, I actually am okay moving Colorado up, as I feel like I may have been a bit too low on them previously.
- Butler (-3) – Mixed bag of results this week for the Bulldogs, who held steady in Hinkle on Wednesday night against a rising Xavier team, but faltered in surprising fashion over the weekend and lost at home to a severely undermanned Georgetown team. Butler’s defense has really struggled of late, as they have dropped to the 55th ranked AdjD on KenPom after surging up inside the top 10 earlier this season. I might be a little bit too high after their 3rd loss in 5 games, but we’ll let this coming week play out to see if Butler can hang steady with road games at Seton Hall and Creighton.
- Iowa (–) – Mixed bag of results also applies to Iowa this week, as their defense faltered in a major way Thursday night in Assembly Hall where Indiana defeated the Hawkeyes 89-77. They rebounded nicely on Sunday, however, to grab a hard fought 3 point road win at Minnesota, which could be the loss that knocks the Golden Gophers out of tournament contention, at least for the time being.
- BYU (NEW) – This is the part of the rankings where I kinda struggled to find three teams to fill it out. BYU is a darling in the computers, ranking 19th in KenPom’s AdjEM, but they’ll have confounding efforts like Saturday night, where a final minute go-ahead alley-oop was necessary to defeat San Diego (read: NOT San Diego State). Still though, I do see a lot of talent on this roster and am comfortable moving them into the rankings as other teams continue to drop games.
- Michigan State (-1) – Definitely an up and down week for Sparty. After going on a big slide prior to this week, they came out and blitzed Illinois on the road early before the Fighting Illini fought all the way back, only to fall victim to Xavier Tillman’s emphatic game-winning putback in the final seconds. That was a huge win for the Spartans, but they responded by collapsing late (don’t slap the damn floor!) at home against Maryland on Saturday night, which put a damper on what started out to be a promising week. Until I can feel like I can trust the Spartans, I can’t justify ranking them any higher despite all the talent on this roster.
- Ohio State (NEW) – I’m officially back on the Buckeyes train, though that may only last as long as Thursday when they head into the Breslin Center for a matchup with Michigan State. Despite inconsistent results in Big Ten play, they have remained very favorable in the eyes of the computers, and are now back up to 9th in KenPom’s AdjEM ratings. They held off a pesky Rutgers team and put a pretty thorough beatdown on Purdue this week and have now won 5 of their last 6, so I think a return to the rankings is warranted.
Dropped Out: Rhode Island (24), Illinois (25)
Next 5: Arizona, Rhode Island, LSU, Rutgers, Virginia
- Gonzaga (+1) – Pretty simple reason for moving up Gonzaga to #1 in my poll this week – winning by 30 points at Saint Mary’s on Saturday night was a stunning and thoroughly impressive victory. I really believed the Gaels were gonna give a strong effort and keep it close, but Gonzaga just dismantled them.
- Baylor (-1) – I still think Baylor may have the best resume in the country (Kansas right there behind them), but a 6 point road win and an 8 point home win against the two worst teams in the Big 12 just doesn’t match up with Gonzaga throttling a tournament team on the road. Baylor will have plenty of opportunities to reclaim the #1 spot in my poll but right now I’m more impressed with the Bulldogs.
- Kansas (–) – Pretty straightforward week for the Jayhawks, with two wins in games that they were expected to win. Neither Texas nor TCU appears to be a tournament team right now, so winning both games was a job well done when it comes to not looking past inferior opponents ahead of the big Wednesday night matchup in Morgantown.
- San Diego State (–) – Ho hum, another undefeated week for the Aztecs. This team, they only faced one challenger in Air Force, who actually put up a very strong effort and was within just 3 points with 6:41 to go. San Diego State’s defense took over from that point as they finished on a 22-10 run and avoided what would’ve been a bad loss. Perhaps the toughest game left for the Aztecs awaits Saturday night in Boise.
- Dayton (–) – Dayton escaped with another close victory over Saint Louis, who appears to be the only kryptonite this Flyers team has. Well, that and OT games against elite power conference opponents (looking at you, Kansas and Colorado). A huge week and a half lies ahead with Rhode Island coming to town this week before the Flyers head on the road into the Siegel Center next week.
- Louisville (–) – Since losing at home to Florida State to lose 3 of 5 and drop to 11-3 overall, the Cardinals have stormed through the ACC and ripped off a 10 game winning streak. They’re one of the hottest teams in the country, and that was proven over the weekend when even UVA, typically a thorn in Louisville’s side, couldn’t get over the hump and land a road upset. The next 4 games on Louisville’s schedule are all very winnable games, which could be a great lead-in to a top 10/15 matchup with Florida State.
- Maryland (+2) – The Mark Turgeon haters have to be beside themselves this week, after Maryland hung on for a gritty, gutsy win at home against Rutgers (still hard to believe that statement actually holds consequence) and then went on the road and took down Illinois to take the outright lead in the Big 10. The Terps on a 6 game win streak that includes 3 road wins and 3 home wins, with all of those home wins coming against likely NCAA Tournament teams.
- Seton Hall (+2) – I know it’s a little bold to put a 5 loss team this high, especially with two very good 3-loss ACC teams right behind, but I couldn’t not recognize what the Pirates did this week. They started out taking down a feisty Georgetown team on the road, then traveled up 95 into Philly and took out Villanova on the road for the first team since 1994. Seton Hall is well on its way to capturing the outright Big East regular season title.
- Duke (-2) – As tempting as it was, I didn’t drop Duke for having to go to OT against UNC, as no matter how good or bad Duke & UNC are, they will always find a way to make the rivalry games close. Really, I just felt that Maryland and Seton Hall put up better weeks with each posting a huge road victory over Top 25 teams. Duke, on the other hand, also put up 2 road wins, but they came against teams that likely won’t even make the NIT.
- Auburn (+1) – Auburn is another team I was impressed with this week. No matter how difficult they make it, the Tigers just always find a way to win. Tuesday night, they came out of Fayetteville with a 3 point OT victory following a frantic regulation comeback, and they repeated that same frantic comeback against LSU on Saturday, before collapsing and surrendering a 7 point OT lead, then capping it all off with a buzzer beater to win. For those counting at home, that’s a road win and a home win against two likely NCAA Tourney teams.
- Florida State (-3) – I genuinely feel bad about dropping the Seminoles 3 spots, as it’s really through no fault of their own. They put up 2 solid home wins this week by a combined 24 points, but home wins against UNC and Miami this year just don’t ring the bell for me like the wins that Maryland, Seton Hall, and Auburn had this week. It’s alright though, because with a road trip to Cameron Indoor lined up for Monday night, the Noles will be able to jump right back up into the Top 10 if they can pull off the upset.
- Penn State (+8) – I try as hard as I can to stay away from true poll inertia, but the Nittany Lions are definitely a major beneficiary this week with so many teams ahead of them dropping games this week. That said, going into the Breslin Center and pulling off a 5 point road win was a phenomenal win to add to the resume and makes me feel better about launching Penn State way up in my rankings.
- Kentucky (+2) – I still don’t really know what to do with Kentucky, but they did post two pretty good wins this week, so I have no problem inching them a bit further up despite the metrics not necessarily reflecting as much. A home win against Mississippi State and a road win at Tennessee aren’t earth shattering victories, but both teams can make a case to be in the bubble conversation, so it was big for Kentucky to avoid any slip-ups and stay in the thick of the SEC title race.
- West Virginia (–) – Hard for me to not drop a team due to a loss, but a 10 point road loss to Oklahoma isn’t really that big of a deal, and a lot of teams around the Mountaineers had a worse loss or in some cases, losses, so I’m okay with not dropping them. Looking at the teams I have below them, my only question is who would anyone put above them? I can’t make a convincing argument for any team, so that’s why I’m good with this for now.
- Oregon (-2) – Only one game for Oregon this past week and they dropped it to Oregon State on the road. Not a bad loss by any means, but it’s now a 2 game losing streak with a tough game looming with Colorado coming to town. Given that Oregon is 0-2 for the month of February, I’m okay dropping them 2 spots while leaving WVU stationary above.
- Houston (+6) – The Cougars are definitely ending up as a beneficiary of some inertia due to mid-ranking carnage this week, but don’t sleep on the performance they had on Sunday, where they completely throttled a solid Wichita State squad by 33 points.
- Marquette (+8) – Marquette only had one game on the calendar, and they were clearly ready for it. They whooped Butler by 19 and didn’t even need a dominating performance from Markus Howard to do so. Initially I moved Marquette up to #18 behind Butler, but considering that Marquette took the Bulldogs to OT at Hinkle, I’d be crazy to not give the advantage to the Golden Eagles here.
- Butler (+1) – I know Butler got beaten pretty soundly on Sunday at Marquette, but I’m higher on Marquette than the consensus and can’t fault the Bulldogs too much after Kamar Baldwin’s heroics led them to a victory over Villanova earlier in the week. Plus, losing a road game to the team I now have ranked at #17 is much better than going 0-2 (see Michigan State, Villanova, and LSU – all of which I had ranked above Butler).
- Villanova (-7) – Tough week for the Wildcats with two losses by a combined 9 points to top 20 teams. Kamar Baldwin ripped the hearts out of Villanova with the step-back buzzer beater on Tuesday night, then a collective effort from Seton Hall led to the Wildcats dropping a home matchup to the Pirates for the first time in over 25 years. This 3 game losing streak is concerning, but I have Creighton/Butler/Seton Hall all ranked within the top 20 so I think they’ll be fine. Marquette comes to town Wednesday night, though, presenting yet another challenge in a loaded Big East.
- Creighton (-2) – While I’d accept an argument saying that Creighton is playing better basketball than Villanova, and I recognize that Creighton did just recently beat Villanova on the road, the Wildcats did beat Creighton in Omaha, so I’m comfortable leaving Creighton just behind them. Plus, the Blue Jays lost on the road to Providence this past week, something that Villanova managed to avoid earlier this season. A big Wednesday night showdown at Seton Hall lies ahead for the Blue Jays this week.
- Colorado (NEW) – Gonna take the L here and admit for being far too harsh on Colorado for losing to an improving UCLA squad a couple weeks back. They put up a solid week despite a couple close calls, avoiding upset against a rising Cal squad and completing a second half comeback to dispatch Stanford over the weekend. A Pac 12 title is very easily within reach for this bunch.
- Iowa (-1) – All things considered, I’d say I’m being pretty generous this week to not drop Iowa any further. Sure, they won at home against Nebraska, but this Hawkeyes team got absolutely curbstomped on the road at Purdue. The Boilermakers clearly have some kind of voodoo magic going on at Mackey Arena, but still, that only explains a normal victory, not a 36 point bloodbath.
- Michigan State (-6) – Part of me wanted to unrank the Spartans after an 0-2 week, but I just can’t quit on this team yet. Also, I really couldn’t justify putting some of the teams I have behind them higher. The home loss to Penn State definitely raised some concerns after the Spartans fought back from an early deficit, took the lead, then stumbled home, but I was actually less concerned by a hard fought 9 point loss on the road to a Michigan team that finally returned a healthy Isaiah Livers.
- Rhode Island (NEW) – Don’t sleep on the A-10! Dayton is obviously Dayton, VCU is on the rise, and some other teams like Richmond, Duquesne, Saint Louis, and St. Bonaventure are having competitive seasons. But Rhode Island has easily stepped into the clear #2 spot in the conference. After dropping their A-10 opener to Richmond and falling to 8-5, the Rams have roared back to life with a 10 game winning streak that includes a sweep of VCU, a home win against Duquesne, and a road win in Olean, NY against the Bonnies. The road matchup at Dayton on Tuesday will be must-see TV.
- Illinois (-1) – Only one game on the calendar this past week for the Fighting Illini and they dropped it – the home game against Maryland on Friday night. While it cost Illinois a chance at claiming the lead in the Big 10 standings, it’s not a catastrophic loss by any means. They do need to find a way to gut out a win soon, though, as they’re on a 2-game losing streak heading into the gauntlet of home vs. Michigan State, @Rutgers, and @Penn State.
Dropped Out: LSU (16), Arizona (23)
Next 5: LSU, BYU, Ohio State, Arizona, Rutgers
Based on results through games played on 2/2. Asterisk indicates auto-bid, number in parentheses indicates increase/decrease since last update.
San Diego State* (–)
Seton Hall* (+1)
West Virginia (-1)
Florida State (–)
Penn State (+1)
Michigan State (-1)
Ohio State (+1)
Texas Tech (+3)
Rhode Island (-1)
Wichita State (–)
Saint Mary’s (-1)
Northern Iowa* (–)
Xavier (NEW) (Last 4 Byes)
Arkansas (-3) (Last 4 Byes)
East Tennessee State* (+1)
VCU (NEW) (Last 4 Byes)
Minnesota (NEW) (Last 4 Byes)
Virginia (–)/USC (-3) (Last 4 In)
Florida (-2)/Mississippi State (-1) (Last 4 In)
Stephen F. Austin* (–)
North Texas* (NEW)
New Mexico State* (–)
Wright State* (–)
Little Rock* (–)
North Dakota State* (NEW)
Murray State* (+1)
Bowling Green* (-1)
UC Irvine* (-1)
Monmouth* (–)/Prairie View A&M* (NEW)
Robert Morris* (–)/North Carolina A&T* (–)
First 4 Out
Next 4 Out
In the Hunt
Indiana (was 10)
Stanford (was 11)
Tulsa (was 12)
Louisiana Tech (was 13)
Eastern Washington (was 15)
South Dakota State (was 16)
Texas Southern (was 16)
Based on results through games played on 2/1. Asterisk indicates auto-bid, number in parentheses indicates increase/decrease since last update.
San Diego State* (–)
West Virginia (-1)
Florida State (-1)
Seton Hall* (-1)
Michigan State (–)
Penn State (+1)
Ohio State (+1)
Saint Mary’s (-1)
Wichita State (-1)
Rhode Island (+2)
Northern Iowa* (+1)
Indiana (-1) (Last 4 Byes)
Oklahoma (–) (Last 4 Byes)
Mississippi State (NEW) (Last 4 Byes)
Texas Tech (NEW) (Last 4 Byes)
Stanford (-1)/Purdue (-1) (Last 4 In)
Virginia (+1)/Cincinnati (NEW) (Last 4 In)
East Tennessee State* (-2)
Louisiana Tech* (NEW)
Stephen F. Austin* (–)
New Mexico State* (+1)
Wright State* (–)
Bowling Green* (NEW)
Little Rock* (–)
UC Irvine* (–)
Eastern Washington* (NEW)
South Dakota State* (NEW)
Murray State* (-1)
Monmouth* (–)/Texas Southern* (NEW)
Robert Morris* (–)/North Carolina A&T* (NEW)
First 4 Out
Next 4 Out
In the Hunt
NC State (was 11)
VCU (was 12)
Minnesota (was 12)
Alabama (was 12)
Akron (was 12)
North Texas (was 13)
William & Mary (was 15)
Montana (was 16)
Prairie View A&M (was 16)
Norfolk State (was 16)
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