We’ve been waiting on it for two months now. Conference play is under way and while it meant good things for a few teams, it was a reality check for a few others. Seven teams from last week’s rankings suffered losses this weekend. Duke looked awful on the road at Virginia Tech while Villanova impressed at Creighton.

Some teams, well their fans at least, have already started to worry. There’s still a long way to go and the conference slate is a grueling one with tough matchup after tough matchup each night. Never get too high or too low with individual wins and losses, because losses happen for all but seven teams in college basketball history.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Villanova (1)
Jalen Brunson had his best game of the season when the team needed it most.  His 27 points in their win at Creighton were a season and career high. The Jenkins/Hart/Brunson trio is going to be hard to stop come March.
2. Kansas (5)
No Azubuike, no problem. At least that’s what Landen Lucas is trying to say. He was a monster in the paint against TCU notching his first double double of the season with 15 points and 17 rebounds.
3. UCLA (2)
Heartbreaking loss on the road against Oregon. That’s twice in recent memory where an Oregon wing hit a game winning three to take down a top ten Bruin team. They rebounded well on the road against Oregon State two nights later.
4. Gonzaga (6)
Two extremely easy wins to open up conference play for the ‘Zags. I’ve said it a few times before, but this team could very easily go undefeated until the NCAA Tournament and their first two conference games didn’t do anything to change that thought process.
5. Baylor (8)
Like Villanova and Kansas above them, starting conference play with a big road win pushes them up in the rankings.  Johnathan Motley is one of the best players in the country that few people know about.
6. Louisville (4)
I knock them and they take down Kentucky, I praise them and they lose at home to Virginia.  A win at Indiana on New Years Even lessened the blow from the prior loss, but I still can’t figure this team out.
7. Kentucky (9)
They started off conference play with a ho hum win on the road against Ole Miss. They were in control the entire night and made it look easy. There aren’t any teams in the SEC that can hang with them, so they should cruise through conference play.
8. Duke (3)
Are they as bad as they looked on Saturday? Absolutely not. Does that loss raise a question or two about this team sans Grayson Allen? Absolutely. Defense was the main concern against the Hokies, who shot over 55% from the field.
9. Creighton (7)
They played the #1 team in the nation extremely tough for 38 minutes. But in the end, it was their inability to get enough good offensive looks down the stretch. They’re still one of the best teams in the country and this loss could make them better come March.
10. Florida St. (14)
The ACC has been really tough to figure out so far this season. The most consistent team so far has been the Seminoles who now sit atop the conference after wins against Wake and at Virginia. They win 2 out of their next three against stiff competition and they’ll make a believer out of me.
11. West Virginia (15)
That "Press Virginia" defense is just hard to go up against for a full 40 minutes. Oklahoma State kept it close but in the end it was just too much for them to overcome. This might be one of Bob Huggins’ better teams in recent memory.
12. Oregon (NR)
Dillon Brooks might have hit the shot of the year against UCLA. This team has turned things around quickly after a sluggish start to the season. After starting the season 2-2, they’ve rattled off 11 straight with wins against (previously unbeatens) UCLA and USC.
13. Virginia (13)
Big time win at Louisville, followed by a home loss to Florida State. And so goes the ACC this season. I still think conference play is going to get them, as they aren’t that deep of a team. Even so, they have enough talent to beat anyone on a given night.
14. North Carolina (10)
At 0-1 in conference play, it is far from time to hit the panic button, but this team just hasn’t looked the same since Joel Berry‘s injury. He’s back but the team is just 2-2 since then. Georgia Tech isn’t a good team and that loss just can’t happen for an elite team.
15. Wisconsin (12)
They had the week off and so they drop a few spots. Not because of what they did not do, but because of what a few teams that were behind them did. They are back in action on January 3 with a tough road test at Indiana.
16. Xavier (NR)
They survived a tough road test at Georgetown on an afternoon when Trevon Bluiett couldn’t get anything going. Edmond Sumner and JP Macura picked up the slack as the Musketeers showed their depth.

First Five Out

Arizona (13-2), St. Mary’s (12-1), Butler (12-2), Virginia Tech (12-1), Purdue (12-3)

Follow me on Twitter @CCroweNBADraft


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