Last week’s “1-2” squads in the Power 16 suffered their first losses of the season last week, which translated into the six squads that were immediately below them to move up a couple of notches each.

The losses by Maryland and Kentucky helped create the best matchup of this week: when now-No. 3 Villanova visits No. 4 Oklahoma on Monday night.

With the upper-level movement, the Big 12 Conference continues to look mighty strong with three of the six top squads in this Power 16.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Michigan St. (6)
Izzo teams generally peak in March. Can this team sustain this level of play all season?
2. Iowa St. (5)
 The Cyclones play host to a squad from Iowa City Thursday night. Yeah, it will be loud in the building.
3. Oklahoma (4)
Will a win over Villanova leave the folks in Norman as they were when the national football semifinals pairings were announced? Uh . . . probably not.
4. Villanova (5)
The game in Norman certainly qualifies as a real test for a team that has pretty much rolled its competition so far.
5. North Carolina (7)
It’s tough to envision not putting them into the top spot of these ratings at some point this season.
6.  Kansas (8)
 There is just one game the Jayhawks will play outside of Lawrence (Dec. 22 at San Diego State) before they open Big 12 play vs. Baylor on Jan. 2.
7. Kentucky (2)
The bulk of those who watch college basketball – especially those who reside in Big Blue Nation – didn’t see that happening in Thursday night.
8. Maryland (1)
All in all, it was no disgrace to lose to a team the caliber of North Carolina on its home court Tuesday night. The Terps hung tough most of the way.
9. Duke (9)
Freshman Brandon Ingram is finally demonstrating what all of the hyperbole was about.
10. Virginia (10)
The Cavs’ next three games (vs. West Virginia, Villanova and Cal) should be quite telling for all involved.
11. Xavier (11)
We’re getting way ahead of ourselves with this one but . . . Xavier at Providence on Jan. 26.
12. Providence (15)
Ditto to the above comment.
13. West Virginia (16)
Only one of the victories has come by a margin of fewer than 10 points (nine vs. Richmond).
14. Purdue (NR)
I supposed the Boilermakers should be considered “tri-favorites” – along with Michigan State and Maryland – to come out on top of the Big Ten standings.
15. Miami (NR)
 The Hurricanes would be the “best team” in a whole lot of other non-ACC conferences.
16. Arizona (NR)
What was more impressive, the Wildcats winning at Gonzaga or UCLA beating Kentucky in Pauley Pavilion? Saturday night’s game between the Bruins and Gonzaga in Spokane should be an indication.

ON THE CUSP: Baylor 6-1, Butler 6-1, Cincinnati 8-1, Connecticut 5-2, George Washington 7-1, Gonzaga 5-2, Louisville 6-1, Oregon 6-1, SMU 6-0, UCLA 6-3, UNLV 7-1, Utah 7-1 and Vanderbilt 6-2.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (Nov. 30-Dec. 6)

*AJ Hammons (Purdue): The senior center averaged 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in victories over Pittsburgh and the University of New Mexico.

*Marcus Paige (North Carolina): His return (from a broken bone in a hand) showed how valuable he is to the Tar Heels’ hopes for a national championship. He averaged 16.5 points and 4.5 assists during wins over Maryland and Davidson, during which he committed just two turnovers in a collective 58 minutes.

*Taurean Prince (Baylor): Prince, a senior forward, will no longer be one of the more “underrated” players in the country if he continues to play like he did in the win over Vanderbilt Sunday night (30 points, including five 3s, to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals).

*Thomas Welsh (UCLA): The sophomore continues to play like a likely all-Pac 12 selection as he averaged 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds during the Bruins’ stunner over then-No. 1 Kentucky and Sunday night come-from-behind win over Long Beach State.

*Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV): The freshman center had 12 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots, two assists and no turnovers as his team added Oregon its first loss of the season Thursday night.

Frank Burlison / BurlisonOnBasketball has been covering hoops for 30+ years for a variety of publications.

Follow Frank on twitter @FrankieBur. Also make sure to follow his website at College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]


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