It was a relatively quiet week in the college hoops world, but Villanova-Kansas turned out to be a great game on Saturday, and North Carolina made a big-time statement by beating Gonzaga. And hey, if the matchups aren’t enticing you, you could always spice things up with a wager. Anyway, let’s see how the rankings look as conference play inches closer.
1. Kansas (10-0) Last week: 1
Defeated No. 17 Villanova, South Dakota
Kansas got a stiff test from the defending national champs but escaped with a three-point win. Dedric Lawson and Lagerald Vick were huge for the Jayhawks, combining for 57 points. That duo is scary good.
2. Michigan (11-0) Last week: 3
Defeated Western Michigan
The Wolverines jump Virginia by simply playing a game last week. We have to wait a few weeks for Michigan to get another test, but they’ve already answered the call in a big way this season.
3. Virginia (9-0) Last week: 2
I have an admittedly strange annoyance with teams going a full week without playing a game in the middle of the season. As a result Virginia drops a spot. Regardless, I remain impressed with the Cavaliers, who are playing their usual defense and combining it with a sneakily solid offense. Virginia currently boasts a 21.6 scoring margin.
4. Duke (10-1) Last week: 4
Duke stays put with a ridiculous 101-50 win over Princeton and because its resume is slightly better than the team behind it. The Blue Devils get back to heavy lifting when they take on Texas Tech on Thursday.
5. Tennessee (8-1) Last week: 5
The Volunteers hold steady at number five. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield each average over 19 points and six rebounds per game, and both players shoot better than 42 percent from 3. Keep an eye on the Vols.
6. Nevada (11-0) Last week: 6
Defeated South Dakota State
The Wolf Pack have been a bit shaky lately, but have managed to stay unblemished. That’s enough to keep them at six for now, and it’s fair to start considering an undefeated run as only four top 100 KenPom teams remain on the schedule.
7. Auburn (9-1) Last week: 8
Things get murky at spots 7-12, complicated by North Carolina’s win over Gonzaga and the overall picture of each team in that range. Expect a lot of movement in this area over the next few weeks.
For now, Auburn moves up a spot thanks to Gonzaga’s second-straight loss. But Auburn needed overtime to take down UAB and its six-point loss to Duke is frankly the most impressive thing on its resume right now. The Tigers are holding on to his spot by a thread.
8. Michigan State (9-2) Last week: 9
Defeated Green Bay
The Spartans have played arguably the best schedule of any of the teams in the 7-12 range, and gain a spot because Gonzaga gets punished for its current two-game losing streak, even if those losses were to top 12 teams. Michigan State’s offense is humming with three 16+ points per game scorers in Nick Ward, Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston.
9. Gonzaga (10-2) Last week: 7
Lost to No. 12 North Carolina, defeated UT Arlington
It’s hard to punish the Bulldogs too severely and they should be commended for playing a brutal schedule. But current form is part of the evaluation for these rankings, and two losses in a row (before last night’s win over UT-Arlington) can’t be ignored, regardless of how good the competition is. The problem for Gonzaga is that the opportunities for signature wins are over, as San Francisco, BYU and St. Mary’s are the toughest games remaining on the schedule. Fortunately, the Bulldogs have that win over Duke in their pocket.
10. North Carolina (8-2) Last week: 12
Defeated No. 4 Gonzaga
It’s fair to question UNC remaining behind Gonzaga after a head-to-head win and with the teams boasting similar resumes. But Carolina’s best win outside of the ‘Zags is UCLA, so for now the Tar Heels remain just behind the Bulldogs. A meeting with Kentucky this week and the ACC schedule will provide plenty of opportunity for the Heels to climb the rankings.
11. Florida State (9-1) Last week: 10
Defeated Southeast Missouri State
Florida State falls a spot through not fault of their own, falling victim to the UNC-Gonzaga result. But have no fear ‘Noles fans, we took a deep dive into the numbers and Florida State has our attention. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the Seminoles.
12. Texas Tech (10-0) Last week: 11
Defeated Northwestern State, Abilene Christian
The Red Raiders drop a spot as well despite a 2-0 week. Tech crushed each of its opponents last week, but the quality of those wins just isn’t there, and the overall resume is sorely lacking right now. That changes this week when Texas Tech gets a shot at Duke, and the Big 12 schedule will provide plenty of opportunities to make an impression as well. For now we just have to wait and see just how good the Red Raiders are.
13. Buffalo (11-0) Last week: 13
Defeated Southern Illinois, Syracuse
The Bulls stay put as they keep things rolling. This week is huge for the program and has gotten off to a great start as the Bulls took down Syracuse on the road Tuesday night. A date with Marquette still awaits. A 2-0 week would have us looking at the Bulls in a whole new way. It will be fascinating to see how things play out for Buffalo this week.
14. Virginia Tech (9-1) Last week: 15
The Hokies got a decent win over Washington, and move up a spot as a result. Tech has a pair of layups against North Carolina A&T and Maryland Eastern Shore before kicking off ACC play on New Year’s Day. I love the Hokies’ balance, and they have been good at both ends of the floor.
15. Ohio State (10-1) Last week: 14
Defeated Bucknell, Youngstown State
The Buckeyes have done some nice things so far this season, but we haven’t become believers just yet. A narrow two-point victory over Bucknell didn’t help, and so they drop a spot this week.
Dropped from rankings: none
Lurking: Mississippi State, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Furman, Iowa, Nebraska, Marquette
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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