NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 12:06pm

The regular season of college basketball is winding down, which means we get to see rivalry games and important conference matchups. That’s exactly what this week consisted of as we got to see Duke vs. UNC, Tennessee vs. LSU, Kansas vs. Texas Tech and Michigan vs. Michigan State among others.

Teams in contention cannot afford to slip up at this point in the season as every team wants to be playing their best basketball at this point in time. It was undoubtably an eventful week with a lot of solid performances. Read the recap and see what this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week look like.

Rank (Last week's rank)
Record
Comment
1. Virginia (2)
24-2
The Cavaliers move into the number one spot after a Duke loss this week. Virginia has wins over North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Louisville over the past two weeks alone. Tony Bennett has still yet to see his team fall to anybody besides Duke. There were many questions regarding whether or not Virginia would be the same team after suffering a historic loss in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, but they have proven they are back and possibly better than before.
2. Gonzaga (3)
27-2
Gonzaga has now rattled off 18 straight wins and have reestablished themselves as a national contender for quite some time now. Earlier in the season Gonzaga lost back-to-back games at the hands of UNC and Tennessee but those remain the only blemishes on their resume. The Bulldogs are loaded with talent are rightfully one of the front runners to be cutting down the nets at the end of the season.
3. Duke (1)
24-3
Duke suffered their third loss of the season to their biggest rival in UNC this week. However, Duke was without Zion Williamson for all but 30 seconds of the game. The Blue Devils did bounce back without Williamson to avenge their earlier loss by beating Syracuse. One thing we’ve learned is that while Duke is debatably the most talented team in the country, Zion being on the court is a huge factor in how the team plays on both ends of the court and that without him, they could be on upset alert for any team moving forward.
4. Kentucky (4)
23-4
Kentucky may hold the title as hottest team in the land even with losing to LSU a few weeks ago. The Wildcats dominated Tennessee, beat Auburn and slaughtered an Auburn team coming into town. Coach Calipari will have his hands full moving forward with the rematch against Tennessee right around the corner. All eyes will be on Kentucky as they have the potential to close out the season in spectacular fashion and have all the momentum moving into March.
5. North Carolina (11)
22-5
UNC had a great week with two ranked wins, including the biggest win of their season over Duke. Whether there’s an asterisk on that game or not, North Carolina played spectacularly and kept it moving right into Florida State and won by 18 points. The Tar Heels don’t seem to have as much star power as some other teams, but somehow, they are playing at as high of a level as we’ve seen this year. Nobody should be surprised if Roy Williams keeps his team at this level for the duration of the season.
6. Marquette (7)
23-4
Marquette has been lowkey on a tear. They haven’t lost to a team not named St. John’s since November. In my eyes, the Golden Eagles are clearly the best team in the Big East and they could possibly be in the running for a Final Four run. The last regular season Big East game that anybody truly cares about will happen this week as Marquette travels to Villanova in an attempt to make one last statement before post-season plays tips off.
7. Tennessee (5)
24-3
Despite the issues Tennessee has had, I don’t think anybody thinks that the Vols should be overlooked. They did go from the clear-cut number one team in the SEC to possibly the third best after losing to LSU and Kentucky, but all three teams are pretty close where you could argue anything at this point. This week, the LSU game had a bit of a controversial ending with a foul being called with 0.6 seconds remaining in overtime 75-feet from the basket, but that’s basketball. Don’t give up on the Volunteers just yet.
8. Michigan State (13)
23-5
Michigan State has fully bounced back from their struggles as they have beaten Wisconsin, Ohio State and now Michigan in the past two weeks. The victory over Michigan was an important one for the Spartans as they control the Big Ten. The two teams will face off once more to close the regular season where each team will be motivated to prove that they are the best team in the state of Michigan.
9. Houston (10)
26-1
It’s tough to argue against what Houston has accomplished this season. Regardless of competition, it’s not an easy job to be this deep in the season and only have one loss. We’ve seen it with other mid-major teams like Nevada, Buffalo, Wichita State, Butler and so on, regardless of how good you might be, there’s usually multiple hiccups along the way. If the Cougars close out the season without another loss, who’s to say they can’t make a deep run?
10. Texas Tech (12)
22-5
Statement game. That’s exactly what it was this week for the Red Raiders. A 29-point win over Kansas will definitely be in our minds for the rest of the season when filling out Brackets. Texas Tech may be the biggest rollercoaster of a team this year, starting out as hot as anyone, losing three straight, and now back on a hot streak, it’s been a wild ride for Chris Beard and his team to say the least. Regardless of what happened earlier, it’d be tough to say Texas Tech might be back in the form that brought them into the national conversation a couple months back.
11. Nevada (6)
25-2
I’ve been tough on Nevada all year long, that’s not news to anyone, but they shut me up for a good stretch mid-season. Now, they’ve given me another excuse to sell on the Wolfpack. I don’t expect a team to not have off-nights throughout the season, but when you’re Nevada, you’re supposed to still beat these teams when you do have a bad game. San Diego State isn’t some scrub team, but still a team Nevada should beat. With no wins over teams that are currently ranked, I cant entirely buy-in to this team moving into March.
12. Michigan (9)
24-4
Michigan’s shaky play continued this week as they lost to Michigan State at home. Once considered to be arguably the best team in country, they may have lost a little momentum in the national conversation. I still think the Wolverines are capable of cutting down the nets, but they need to play more consistently like they were early on in the season.
13. LSU (8)
22-5
LSU’s last 7 games have come down to the wire and have been on the winning end of 5 of them. Most recently they lost to Florida in overtime but bounced back to take down fellow SEC contender Tennessee in overtime. The most impressive thing about the win is the Tigers were able to do it without Tremont Waters. This LSU team seems like the kind of team that could be on upset alert at any point but also capable of beating anybody in the nation.
14. Purdue (16)
20-7
At 20-7 overall and 13-3 in conference play, the Boilermakers are quietly tied for first in the Big Ten. Purdue is also undefeated at home, which is promising because they will play their next two games at Mackey Arena. Purdue is definitely capable of big things on the back of Carsen Edwards. Don’t be surprised if this team makes a run for the Big Ten championship and maybe even more.
15. Kansas State (NR)
21-6
It seems like most of the talk about Big 12 teams are Kansas and Texas Tech, but people look over the fact that the Wildcats control their own destiny. It looks like the Jayhawks streak of regular season conference championships might be over, but it may not leave the state of Kansas. KState is seemingly always down a man but somehow never skip a beat. Dean Wade is one of the biggest mismatches in college basketball and if he’s healthy the Wildcats could return to the Elite Eight once again.
16. Washington (NR)
22-5
Don’t tell Bill Walton, but the so called “Conference of Champions” is unquestionably the worst Power 5 conference in college basketball. However, Washington is clearly the best team in the conference. They are 13-1 in conference play and undefeated at home. Look for the Huskies to represent the Pac-12 the best they can, as they’re probably the only team that can do so.

Next Five: Cincinnati (22-4), Buffalo (24-3), Florida State (21-6), Virginia Tech (21-6)

Top Five Players of the Week

1. RJ Barrett – Duke

RJ Barrett had a dominant week, doing his best to fill the void left by Zion Williamson and his injury. The freshman star went for 33 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to UNC. Barrett followed up with another 30-point performance on 14-20 shooting. He also recorded 7 assists and 5 boards. As someone who watches the vast majority of Duke games, it seemed as if Barrett was just playing basketball instead of attempting to outplay his co-star Williamson. I could be in the wrong, but RJ seems more comfortable on the court without Zion on there with him.

2. Luke Maye – North Carolina

Luke Maye took full advantage of Zion’s injury to dominate the low post against Duke. Maye finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds on 14-24 shooting in the big rivalry win. In the next game against Florida State, Maye had yet another double-double as he tallied 15 points and 11 boards in what was an impressive week as a player and as a team.

3. Ja Morant – Murray State

Ja Morant has finally hit the national mainstage and deservingly so. The man has been setting records all year long. He has 13 games on the season with 20 points and 10 assists while no other D1 player has more than 3. The athletic guard tallied 30 points and 9 assists on 9-14 shooting to start the week and didn’t slow down when he went for 23 points and 12 assists on 9-12 shooting in his following game.

4. Cassius Winston – Michigan State

Michigan State got back on track this week and that’s in large part to the play of Spartans’ point guard Cassius Winston. In the week’s opener against Rutgers, Winston went for 28 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. In the rivalry win over Michigan, Winston continued his strong play with a 27-point and 8-assist game to conclude a spectacular week.

5. Rui Hachimura – Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s star player is fantastic for a variety of reasons, but I love his efficiency and consistency. This week against Pepperdine, Hachimura shot 10-13 from the floor on his way to 23 points and 7 rebounds. Then, against BYU, Hachimura went for another 23 points on 8-13 shooting and hit the glass as he recorded 10 rebounds.

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