We hope you had a great holiday and that in between the food and football, you were able to squeeze in a little college hoops as Feast Week delivered in a big way. We were treated to a handful of top ten matchups and a plethora of other quality games, some of which produced surprising results. Consequently, we have a lot of movement in this week’s rankings.
Gonzaga’s win over No. 1 Duke sparked a weekend of debate on whether the ‘Zags should/would jump Kansas for the top spot. They Jayhawks have already been jumped in the AP Poll once this season despite not losing and added a good win of their own last week over No. 5 Tennessee. Here’s how we see things after a fun week of college basketball.
1. Kansas (5-0) Last week: 2
Defeated Marquette, No. 5 Tennessee
After long consideration, we give Kansas the nod in the top spot. Marquette has flirted with the top 25 while Tennessee has been a top 10 team throughout the season. The Jayhawks gutted out a tough overtime win over the Vols, and their two quality wins last week are enough to take the throne. We had Duke as our preseason No. 1, so Kansas wasn’t jumped in our rankings like they were in the AP Poll, and they won’t be jumped this week either.
2. Gonzaga (7-0) Last Week: 3
Defeated Arizona, No. 1 Duke, North Dakota State
A win over the No. 1 team will always draw attention. When that No. 1 team happens to be a blue blood program that has steamrolled everyone in their path to date and has three top five picks on the roster, beating it really opens some eyes. Sophomore Zach Norvell Jr. made some great plays against Duke while Rui Hachimura continued to be a force. Upcoming games with Creighton, Washington, Tennessee and North Carolina will give the Bulldogs an opportunity to overtake the top spot before conference play.
3. Virginia (6-0) Last week: 3
Defeated Middle Tennessee, Dayton, No. 25 Wisconsin
The Cavaliers won the Battle 4 Atlantis, securing nice wins over Dayton and Wisconsin in the process. They have been lost in the hype surrounding Duke and some of the other big-time matchups we saw last week, but continue to handle their business and deserve a share of the attention. An upcoming date with Maryland is intriguing, but Virginia won’t have an opportunity to truly stand out until the ACC schedule begins.
4. Duke (5-1) Last week: 1
Defeated No. 8 Auburn, lost to No. 3 Gonzaga
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, their win over a very good Auburn team has been overshadowed by the loss to Gonzaga. Regardless, Duke remains a Final Four favorite and will remain a threat to top the rankings, especially with all the quality win opportunities coming in ACC play.
5. Nevada (6-0) Last week: 5
Defeated Tulsa, UMass
Nevada stays put at five after two solid if unspectacular wins. The Wolf Pack boast the top-ranked offense per KenPom and have taken care of the ball incredibly well. Strength of schedule remains a concern, but for now Nevada has handled business.
6. Tennessee (5-1) Last week: 6
Defeated Louisville, lost to No. 2 Kansas
For now the Vols stick at No. 6 despite the loss to Kansas. They took the Jayhawks to overtime and it’s hard to punish them too much for that loss. Tennessee was also helped by the results and resumes by some of the teams right behind them. The Vols have one more big non-conference test against Gonzaga before the attention shifts to SEC play.
7. Michigan (6-0) Last week: 9
Michigan was close to moving into the sixth spot, but Chattanooga is just too underwhelming, especially considering the tests some of the other teams in the rankings faced last week. We’ll see just how good the Wolverines are this week, as they have games against North Carolina and Purdue.
8. Kentucky (5-1) Last week: 7
Defeated Winthrop, Tennessee State
The Wildcats drop a spot despite a 2-0 week. This is partially due to a correction in Michigan’s status, as the Wolverines were underrated to start the year. But it is also due to Kentucky’s resume at this point. Three of its five wins have come outside the KenPom top 230, and the best win is over 113th ranked Southern Illinois. There will be plenty of opportunities for convincing wins in conference play, but right now the resume is severely lacking and leaves the Wildcats vulnerable to teams playing more impressive competition.
9. Michigan State (5-1) Last week: 13
Defeated No. 17 UCLA, Texas
The Spartans make a sizeable jump after a very strong week. Michigan State crushed UCLA and beat a Texas team that beat North Carolina. The Spartans fell off the radar after opening the season with a loss to Kansas, but this is a team to keep an eye on.
10. Auburn (5-1) Last week: 10
Lost to No. 1 Duke, defeated Arizona
The Tigers bounced back from a close loss to Duke with a convincing victory over Arizona. They’ve been good at both ends of the floor. The rest of the non-conference schedule is underwhelming, with North Carolina State and Dayton the biggest remaining tests, so we’ll see if Auburn can handle business before SEC play.
11. North Carolina (6-1) Last week: 8
Lost to Texas, defeated No. 17 UCLA
The Tar Heels got nipped by Texas, but responded by trouncing UCLA. Coby White continues to impress and it’s likely that we haven’t seen the best of North Carolina yet. A date with Michigan this week provides a big opportunity.
12. Kansas State (6-0) Last week: 11
Defeated Missouri, Lehigh
Kansas State drops a spot because, well, its schedule has been weak. With teams around them playing marquee matchups, the Wildcats have just one top 100 KenPom win, and that is catching up to them as other teams test themselves. Marquette provides a bit of a test on Saturday, and there will be plenty of opportunities in the Big 12, but for now K-State is hindered by its resume.
13. Virginia Tech (5-0) Last week: 12
Defeated St. Francis
The Hokies suffer from a similar issue to Kansas State, but their situation is compounded by the fact that they didn’t start the season as a top 15 team. Tech holds a nice win over Purdue, and conference play will offer plenty of opportunity, but this week they drop a spot as their schedule doesn’t match the quality of other teams around them.
14. Iowa (5-1) Last week: NR
Defeated Alabama State
Losses from Florida State and Oregon created a pair of vacancies in the rankings, and a pair of Big Ten teams take advantage. Iowa edged Ohio State on the strength of its win over Oregon, although that win looks a bit less impressive at the moment. Iowa’s spot is precarious, and we’ll know more about the Hawkeyes next week as a date with Wisconsin looms on Friday.
15. Ohio State (6-0) Last week: NR
Defeated Samford, Cleveland State
The Buckeyes hold wins over Cincinnati and Creighton, but overall their schedule has been underwhelming. Ohio State has been stingy defensively, not allowing more than 62 points in a game so far this season. For now they’ve been good enough to make their debut in the rankings, joining Big Ten brethren Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa.
With Purdue and Wisconsin lurking, the Big Ten is threatening to take over the rankings.
Dropped from rankings: Florida State, Oregon
Lurking: Texas, Purdue, Texas Tech, Buffalo, Wisconsin, Florida State
Josh Naso aka The Silver Fox has a love for all things sports that borders on disorder. Here, he aims to share his thoughts on and passion for those sports with you.
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