The Madness has been going on all season and we’re still a few weeks away from March. The outcomes this season have been impossible to predict as a select few teams have distanced themselves from the rest of the field. This was another crazy week in the NCAA as 13 of the AP Top 25 suffered losses.

The nation’s top three teams all went down this week including Purdue who dropped back-to-back games. UNC got the upper hand in the sport’s biggest rivalry, and powerhouses like Kansas, Kentucky, and Arizona continued to look shaky while Big Ten standout Ohio State further bolstered their resume.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Michigan St. (4)
Michigan State took down Purdue this week in an absolute thriller. Despite having a relatively weak record, Michigan State proved that they are up there with the best of them in terms of talent. Miles Bridges proved he is a real player of the year candidate after hitting the game-winning three-pointer in what was probably the biggest shot of his career. Michigan State silenced the doubters and showed they are a real national contender.
2. Virginia (1)
Virginia’s hot streak ended this week with a tough loss to Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers are still arguably the best team in the nation and a 1-point loss is probably nothing to be too worried about, but it’s a wake-up call to say the least. In a season with so much parity, Virginia had been one of the few teams to look mistake free. Virginia will be fine, and likely will find themselves in the Final Four this postseason.
3. Villanova (2)
Villanova fell victim to a St. John’s team that was fresh off of a big win over Duke. Even with St. John’s tear over the top teams in the nation, they were able to avenge their other loss on the year with a win over Butler. Donte DiVincenzo has filled in for Phil Booth in his absence and has been lighting it up. Villanova always seems to be one of the more complete teams in the nation and this year is no different. Nova fans should expect to see their team make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
4. Xavier (5)
Xavier continues to handle business after a two-game skid earlier in the year and should be able to end the season without another loss. Xavier isn’t very flashy or too athletic but they do play a special brand of basketball. They get wins by whatever means necessary and this year could finally be the year that Xavier finds themselves in a national championship game.
5. Cincinnati (6)
Cincinnati is in the midst of a nation’s best 16-game win streak and have one of the best records in the nation. They have shown the ability to win shootouts as well as low scoring games. They might have the weakest schedule in all of the ranked teams, but they have given no reason to think they aren’t the real deal.
6. Auburn (8)
Auburn is one of the quietest contenders in the NCAA field this season. For some reason it seems nobody wants to give the Tigers the respect of a national contender. Auburn did lose a heartbreaker to Texas A&M this week but I still believe Auburn is one of the best teams in the NCAA and will prove it in the SEC tournament.
7. Purdue (3)
Purdue suffered two crushing losses this week to Ohio State and Michigan State by a combined 4 points. The Boilermakers are still an elite team and lost to two very respectable opponents. Isaac Haas is increasingly becoming a focal point in the offense and with his size and strength could turn out to be the best player on the best team in the nation.
8. Texas Tech (13)
Texas Tech is right there with Auburn as the most disrespected teams at the top of the rankings. Even Clark Kellogg was unfamiliar with the Red Raiders starting roster but it’s time for Texas Tech to get their respect. They’ve beaten the top teams in the Big 12 and can beat any team on any given night. Beware of the Red Raiders this year.
9. Gonzaga (16)
Gonzaga has earned my respect again after taking down conference rival St. Mary’s this week. They handled them pretty easily too. The Zags are good enough to where Rui Hachimura has seemed to be a forgotten man in the lineup. Mark Few is back in the national spotlight and they Zags are here to stay.
10. Duke (7)
I have been hesitant to give up on Duke this year due to their unreal amount of talent. Unfortunately, it might be time. The Blue Devils have been so inconsistent this year that it seems hard to believe that they have a chance to string together enough good games to win the tournament. Don’t get me wrong when they’re on, they’re hard to stop, but how often they are firing on all cylinders has raised major concerns. The perils of a one and done program?
11. Ohio State (NR)
Ohio State has bounced back from its loss to Penn State pretty well. They got their signature win over Purdue this week and solidified themselves as a lethal weapon in the NCAA. Keita Bates-Diop is a legit baller who earned himself a finalist for the Wooden Award. If you catch Ohio State on a good night, you should watch out.
12. Rhode Island (15) 
Riding a 15-game win streak, URI is as hot as any team in the country. Jared Terrell has led this Rhode Island team to a great season that shouldn’t end any time soon. Rhode Island is a legit threat to make a serious run in the NCAA tournament and could ruin a lot of peoples’ brackets.
13. Clemson (14)
Clemson Beat UNC a week ago and responded by completely dismantling Pitt. Clemson has slowly become more than just a football school as their basketball team nearly landed a top recruit and has been playing like a team full of them.
14. Kansas (10)
Things haven’t come easy this year for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks. Their season hit a new low point this week after getting embarrassed by Baylor. Kansas has phenomenal guards this season but struggles with depth in the frontcourt. Their lack of big men will likely be the downfall of Kansas this year, but you can never count out a Jayhawk team.
15. Tennessee (9)
Tennessee was able to beat Kentucky this week but fell short to Alabama by 28 points. Tennessee has had one of the toughest schedules in the nation and their experience has been strengthening them for March Madness. The Vols are definitely legit and could upset some of the top ranked teams on any night.
16. North Carolina
After three straight losses, UNC finally seems to have bounced back. They took down Duke is a huge rivalry game and have earned themselves a spot back in the Power 16. Luke Maye is back on a hot streak which is bad news for any of UNC’s opponents. UNC might look shaky at times, but they are definitely equipped to be the real deal.

First Five Out

Wichita State, Michigan, West Virginia, Kansas State, St. Mary’s


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