As conference play tends to do, the men are being separated from the boys and we are starting to sort out which teams can really contend for a National Championship and which teams just aren’t quite there.

Injuries have played a large role for many contending teams this season and that was on full display this week as Duke falls out of our rankings for the first time this season, due in large part to Amile Jefferson‘s injury and with teams like Louisville and Creighton dealing with injuries to key players as well.

The grind of a college basketball season can be tough on players, coaches and fans but I doubt anyone would have it any other way.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kansas (1)
It isn’t as if the Jayhawks aren’t being tested during conference play, they just keep rising to the occasion.  It was the team’s work on the glass that made the difference in a close one against Iowa State as Kansas had six players with 5+ rebounds.
2. UCLA (2)
A big time second half surge kept UCLA from dropping their second game in the Pac-12 and putting them behind the eight ball in the conference standings.  Still concerned with this team’s depth down the stretch but they have three of the best five players in the conference.
3. Gonzaga (3)
St. Mary’s was supposed to be the team that could challenge the ‘Zags in the WCC this season but a 23 point win by the Bulldogs on Saturday night put that to rest and cemented them atop of the standings for the foreseeable future.
4. Villanova (5)
They’ve rattled off four straight since their loss at Butler, winning all by double digits.  They manhandled a reeling Xavier team last week and took down Seton Hall on MLK Day by 30.  Josh Hart has shaken off a little mid-season rust (if you want to call it that) and is back on top in my POY standings.
5. Kentucky (6)
Coach Cal’s squad got a little scare from Vandy early last week but Isiah Briscoe and De'Aaron Fox made enough plays down the stretch to keep the Wildcats undefeated in SEC play.  At Florida early in February will be the rest of the SEC’s best shot at a win.
6. Baylor (4)
Losing on the road to West Virginia would be deemed as a "good loss".  The pressure defense got to the Baylor guards in that one forcing the Bears into 29 turnovers on the night.  I’ll still take Kansas over every other team in the Big 12 but Baylor and West Virginia are going to make it tough on them.
7. Creighton (9)
The story should be on Creighton’s impressive performances over the last week or so but instead we are talking about another injury and a potential devastating one.  Maurice Watson went down with a knee injury on Monday and his status is uncertain moving forward.
8. Louisville (6)
Another team dealing with an injury to one of its star players is Louisville.  Quentin Snider will be out at least two weeks with a hip injury.  Luckily the Cards have some winnable games during that stretch even with him on the sideline.
9. Oregon (11)
Undefeated in the Pac-12 and absolutely rolling lately.  This team hasn’t lost since before Thanksgiving and aside from a close win against UCLA, has been absolutely torching their opponents allowing the starters to rest and maintain fresh legs for the stretch run into March.
10. Florida St. (7)
The Seminoles ran into the buzz saw that has been the Tar Heels of late and just couldn’t pull off the "Blue Blood" sweep after taking down Duke earlier in the week.  How this team responds in their next two contests against quality competition at home will tell a lot about how far they could go this season.
11. North Carolina (12)
Roy Williams won his 800th game on Monday and whether you believe that any of them should be vacated or not, the number alone is something that demands respect.  He’s one of the best coaches in college basketball history and that can’t be argued.
12. West Virginia (16)
They went 3-1 against teams from Texas over the last two weeks and finally get a chance to play a team from a different state as they get Oklahoma at home on Wednesday.  Forcing what was the #1 team in the country into 29 turnovers was a thing of beauty for those who love defense.
13. Notre Dame (NR)
As the lone undefeated team in the ACC, the Irish jump back into this week’s rankings after two tough road wins.  They’ve yet to face Florida State, Duke or North Carolina so far this season but you play the teams on the schedule and worry about the rest later and they’ve definitely done that.
14. Virginia (15)
I’ve been predicting a slide all season for this team and it just hasn’t happened.  They rebounded well from their two game skid against FSU and Pitt to get much needed wins against Wake and at Clemson, two of the more surprising teams in the ACC this season for different reasons.
15. Arizona (NR)
The Pac-12 is loaded at the top with Oregon, UCLA and Arizona.  Sean Miller’s bunch gets their first big time road test in a while as they travel to Southern Cal Thursday evening and then follow that up with UCLA on Saturday.  There hasn’t been and won’t be a bigger two game stretch for this team all season.
16. Butler (14) 
Kethan Savage has been on a tear lately and is really pacing Butler’s second unit.  The transfer from George Washington has scored 10+ points per game in six out of his last seven and has given Chris Holtmann some much needed scoring off of the bench.

First Five Out

Wisconsin, Duke, Florida, Purdue, Xavier

Follow me on Twitter @CCroweNBADraft



  1. North Carolina-Wilmington is

     North Carolina-Wilmington is also a team to watch moving forward, this team will be a problem in March definitely a possible cinderella squad 

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