Welcome to the conclusion of college basketball’s second week. Remain calm.
What just happened!?
Former #2 Arizona lost twice in a row to formerly unranked opposition. Former #21 Purdue is gone after losing to now-ranked Tennessee and unranked Western Kentucky. This same Tennessee team was leading Villanova at the half by twelve. . . and lost. Chaos.
1. Duke (5-0)
First half struggles against Portland State hurt the Blue Devils, but the lack of other #1 contenders keeps Duke in the top spot.
2. Kansas (4-0)
Don’t underrate the Jayhawks blowout of South Dakota State. Jackrabbits star Mike Daum was neutralized despite a “weak” frontcourt, and Devonte’ Graham went off. Kansas might not have the nation’s most difficult schedule, but the Jayhawks have picked up some quality wins.
3. Villanova (5-0)
Villanova took on their first test of the season and defeated a good Tennessee team. Tennessee was leading at the half, (46-34!) but Jalen Brunson went off for 25 points as the nation’s new #3 advanced to the final of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Excuse me, the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis. Companies these days.
4. Michigan State (3-1)
A blowout win over DePaul doesn’t imply anything about Michigan State, but the Spartans might coast until Big 10 play tips off.
5. Notre Dame (6-0)
The Irish won Mike Brey a preseason tournament. Blowouts of Chaminade and LSU led to a made-for-TV final against Wichita State, one Notre Dame led twice. . . 4-2 and 67-66. That’s it.
6. Miami (4-0)
Bruce Brown and JaQuan Newton have played well during Lonnie Walker’s slump, but La Salle and Florida A&M weren’t expected to challenge a top 10 team anyways.
7. USC (4-0)
The Trojans needed overtime to defeat Vanderbilt 93-89, although the Commodores seem Tournament-caliber. USC’s frontcourt is going to be a problem for the rest of the Pac-12.
8. Minnesota (5-0)
The Golden Gophers won eight games two years ago. Now they’re ranked number eight. Richard Pitino has done wonders for this program, and recruiting has surged. Isaiah Washington has played a key role as the sixth man, leading Minnesota to blowout victory after blowout victory. They will be tested tomorrow against Alabama and against Miami on the 29th. Win those and Minnesota could catapult into the top five.
9. Wichita State (4-1)
A loss to Notre Dame hurts the Shockers, but dominating wins over California and Marquette indicate Wichita State’s solid grip on a top three seed. The Maui Invitational showed Notre Dame is much better than we thought. Stop with the “overrated” chants. Don’t forget top scorer Markis McDuffie is still out. Wichita State will be a force in March. . . and all it takes is one game for Landry Shamet to go off, and ruin the year for the rest of the American Athletic.
10. Kentucky (5-1)
The Wildcats have struggled against one of the easiest schedules in the nation, needing second half surges to beat ETSU and Troy. Preseason projections remain a force in these rankings, which is why Kentucky is in the top 20, let alone top ten. Jarred Vanderbilt can’t get healthy soon enough for the SEC frontrunner.
11. North Carolina (4-0)
Stanford put up 72 against UNC and 87 against Florida. . . and lost both games. Luke Maye has become a force in the paint, while Joel Berry’s accelerated recovery doesn’t hurt. In other news, I expect some Tar Heel fans to complain about #1 Duke, #5 Notre Dame, and #6 Miami. The ACC is stacked again.
12. Texas A&M (4-0)
Two weeks in, the Aggies boast a fantastic non-conference resume with wins over West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Penn State. Keep in mind the first two were without potential NBA lottery pick Robert Williams.
13. Arizona (3-2)
The Wildcats don’t like preseason projections. Not only did Arizona lose to NC State, but the Wildcats lost to SMU as well. Who would’ve thought the seventh place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis—excuse me, the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis for sponsorship reasons—would be Arizona vs. Purdue? This crazy sport.
14. Cincinnati (5-0)
The Bearcats fall three spots not because of losses, but because of scheduling. Wyoming is decent, but Richmond and Coppin State are not. Cincinnati will have a chance to shoot right back up the rankings December 2nd at Xavier.
15. Xavier (5-0)
Speaking of the Musketeers, Xavier dominated Wisconsin in the Gavitt Games, then blew out Hampton and George Washington. The winner of the Cincinnati-Xavier game could rise into the top 10.
16. Saint Mary’s (5-0)
An 18 point victory over Harvard vaults the Gaels up two spots
17. NC State (5-1)
#2 Arizona sauntered into Imperial Arena and lost to the upstart Wolfpack. Braxton Beverley lit up for 20 points in 27 minutes as NC State finds themselves ranked.
18. Florida (4-0)
The Gators can’t afford to give up 87 points to any team if they want to go far in March. Gonzaga is the next opponent for, in my opinion, the nation’s most overrated team.
19. Louisville (3-0)
Brian Bowen will officially not play for the Cardinals, amplifying Quin Snider’s turnover struggles. Louisville has played an easy schedule, and despite the undefeated record, doesn’t appear ready for ACC play.
20. Baylor (5-0)
The Bears enjoyed one of the better weeks of any team in the nation, knocking off Wisconsin and Creighton. Baylor appears the best-suited to challenge Kansas in the Big 12.
21. Seton Hall (4-1)
Losing to Rhode Island at the buzzer hurts, and knocks the Pirates down a few spots. Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington are producing, but Seton Hall needs Desi Rodriguez to be more consistent if the Pirates want to challenge Villanova.
22. Tennessee (3-1)
This Tennessee team is better than anyone expected. The Vols upset Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis—sorry, the B—ah, forget it. Then coach Rick Barnes led Tennessee into a massive game against Villanova. Predicted by most important people to lose by twenty, at the half the Vols were beating the #6 team in the country by twelve! Despite a massive Villanova rally to fuel a Wildcat victory, Tennessee has proved to the nation how good this Vols team can be.
23. Creighton (4-1)
Creighton crushed UCLA, pushed Baylor to the brink, and find themselves in this week’s power rankings. That win against the Bruins could prove crucial come March, because after UCLA gets their three freshmen back, the Bruins will win games. And Creighton? They get Gonzaga December 1st. Somebody scheduled well.
Collin Sexton is playing and stuffing the box score. Alabama only played against UT-Arlington and Alabama A&M though, and will receive a sterner test against #8 Minnesota. Two years ago, even I would never believe those words, and I’m a Minnesota fan!
The first time a vaunted team loses, rank the team they lost to. The second time they lose, rank the upstarts #23 or below, as it indicates an uncharacteristic skid.
On a more important note, what the Mustangs did was amazing. Defeating the former #2 is nothing to scoff at. Point guard Shake Milton has been terrific for SMU, buoying them to success.
Next five (in order): West Virginia, Temple, Virginia, Gonzaga, Rhode Island