What. A. Week. Duke goes down, allowing Michigan to take the top spot, then Michigan goes down seemingly opening the door for Virginia, then Virginia goes down which launches Tennessee up to the number one team in the country. That sequence right there is enough to make it one of the best weeks in basketball, but there is much more that went down.
Big 12 frontrunners Kansas and Texas Tech both had weeks to forget, all remaining undefeated team going into the week, left the week with a loss on their resume and all together half of last weeks Top 12 suffered losses. With a fair amount of shakeup, here is this weeks Power 16 and Players of the Week.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Tennessee (3)
|Tennessee moves up to No. 1 thanks to both Michigan and Virginia losing this week. The Vols were able to handle Arkansas rather easily and were also able to survive against Alabama. Tennessee’s fans have been saying they were the top team in the land for quite some time and finally the title is theirs. The Volunteers have seemed to have silenced any critics they might have had and have, for quite some time now, established themselves as legit national title contenders.|
2. Duke (4)
|How do you bounce back from a loss to Syracuse at home? Beating the last remaining undefeated team in the country isn’t a bad way to do so. Despite being without Tre Jones, who has become the most important player on the team, Duke was able to tarnish Virginia’s record and prove to the world they can still be among the nation’s best even without a key player.|
3. Michigan (1)
|Michigan is no longer undefeated after falling at the hands of Wisconsin on Saturday. I don’t think that people should read too much into this game however. The Wolverine’s simply just had an off night. None of their starters shot above 50% from the field, they shot under 30% from deep and only shot 45% from the charity stripe. In a season where Michigan has played almost perfect, one bad game was bound to happen. They will have a decent stretch of games where they will be able to prove that this game was just a fluke.|
4. Virginia (2)
|The Cavaliers started the week off very strong with an easy win over No. 9 Virginia Tech. However, during the ACC clash with a shorthanded Duke team, they were unable to come out with a win. Virginia is just another team with an impressive resume that has suffered a loss to Duke and there’s no reason to think less of them moving forward. This team is still one of the most disciplined and effective teams in the country and will surely be near the top of the rankings for the duration of the season.|
5. Michigan State (5)
|Michigan State just continues their stretch of elite play by extending their winning streak to 11 games with a win over Nebraska this week. Cassius Winston is looking more and more like a viable NBA talent as he has been leading this veteran laden squad to success. The Spartans will be tested again very soon as they square off with Maryland and Iowa next week as Big Ten conference play rolls on.|
6. Gonzaga (6)
|I talk about it every week, blow out the bad teams you play to make me a believer. Gonzaga did just that with a pair of 20+ point wins to improve to 18-2 on the season. I will admit there is a reason for slight concern for the Zags as they have lost two of their three games against real competition, but still boast a win over Duke. Barring any set backs, Gonzaga is still up there with the best of them.|
7. Nevada (10)
|Nevada still worries me after their loss. They came back with a 39-point win but have only emerged victorious by 10 points against Fresno State and by a single point over Boise State. The Wolfpack won’t play a team with a winning record until Feb. 20 so a loss before then could really tarnish Nevada’s resume.|
8. Kentucky (13)
|Kentucky and Kansas switch spots in the Power 17 this week. The Wildcats rattled off a pair of impressive wins with a clobbering of Georgia and a nail-biter with Auburn. Kentucky can’t hang on these wins for too long because right around the corner is Mississippi State and Kansas waiting for them. With a pair of wins over those ranked opponents Kentucky could find themselves thrown near the top five of this list.|
9. Buffalo (11)
|Buffalo are the owners to one of the best records in the country at 17-1 and really have shown no sign of slipping up. Many would argue that it’s a skewed record, but they have beaten Syracuse, a team that beat Duke, so they have showed they can eat quality opponents.|
10. Virginia Tech (9)
|You can’t punish a team too much for losing to Virginia. The Hokies are still 15-2 and will have a chance to redeem themselves with a matchup against North Carolina. VTech doesn’t necessarily have a signature win but have a handful of decent wins that hold enough weight to keep them in the Top 10.|
11. Texas Tech (7)
|Texas Tech has seemingly fallen off a cliff. After being one of the most impressive teams of the year they have hit a definite rough patch, suffering losses to both Iowa State and Baylor this week. This is as an unexpected week for a team that we’ve seen all year. I did say last week that the blueprint for the Red Raiders is hold a team under 70 and hope for the best and this week that just didn’t happen. The offense was off, the defense wasn’t as elite as we expect and the result showed. We’ll hope that this is a fluke of a week because this team is a fun one to watch.|
12. Marquette (14)
|The Golden Eagles have proven they can win, but now they’ve done it without Markus Howard. They edged out Georgetown after Howard played just three scoreless minutes which opened the door for Sam Hauser to have a breakout game. If this duo can play together at their highest level, Marquette has a real chance to make a run this season.|
13. Kansas (8)
|What is wrong with the Kansas Jayhawks? The month of January has been one to forget for Bill Self as they have two losses in the month and even their wins have looked pretty ugly. Kansas only has a net score of +5 for the month which is a huge red flag for a team that everyone though was one of the best teams to start the year. With Texas Tech’s struggles this week, Kansas had a chance to distance themselves from the Red Raiders but missed on the opportunity.|
14. Iowa (15)
|Iowa made sure not to let that win over Ohio State go overlooked by adding their fifth consecutive win this week. The Hawkeyes have been slightly overlooked this season just because they haven’t been able to string wins together. Right now, that’s exactly what they’re doing and with a battle against Michigan State on the horizon, Iowa will be looking to make a statement.|
15. Houston (16)
|The Cougars are trying to get the same national attention that Nevada and Buffalo are getting as a mid-major basketball team. So far, they’ve done a pretty good job. Houston has a handful of Power 5 wins and still remain with just one loss. I’ve got my eyes on Houston and you should too.|
16. Auburn (12)
|Auburn started the week by slapping around Texas A&M by a score of 85-66 and then capped off the week with a heartbreaker against Kentucky. Since I’m so big on Kentucky I don’t overvalue this loss by any means. I’ve been saying that I think Auburn and Kentucky were neck and neck in terms of who has the best chance of taking down Tennessee in the SEC. This week, Auburn just caught the short end of the stick.|
Next Five: NC State (15-3), Villanova (14-4), Mississippi State (14-3), Maryland (16-3), North Carolina (14-4)
Top Five Players of the Week
1. Ja Morant – Murray State
Ja Morant is becoming a familiar face on this list as he has broken off a streak of very impressive play this month. This week Morant went for 27 points on 11-16 shooting to go along with 9 assists in a blowout of Eastern Illinois and the went off for a career-high 40 points in a game where he was a perfect 21-21 from the free throw line and also added 11 assists and 5 steals. Morant is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting players to watch in recent memory.
2. Zion Williamson – Duke
With Tre Jones and Cameron Reddish out in the game against Syracuse, there was a big load placed on Zion Williamson’s shoulders. Being he’s 6’7” and 285 pounds, that weight was nothing for him. The freshman snapped for 35 points and 10 rebounds against the Orange and also had 27 points and 9 rebounds in a top five matchup against Virginia. There’s been talks about Zion sitting out the rest of the season since he’s distanced himself from the rest of the pack and is thought to be a surefire number one pick, but I sure hope he keeps playing because he has been an absolute pleasure to watch this year.
3. Sam Hauser – Marquette
Similarly to Williamson, Sam Hauser was left with a big responsibility when Markus Howard was limited to just three minutes against Georgetown. Hauser responded by scoring a career-high 31 points and also added 8 rebounds. Even with Howard back against Providence, Hauser dropped 25 points on 8-13 shooting and added 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Hauser hit 8 threes on the week which will go down as one of the best weeks of his career.
4. Ky Bowman – Boston College
Ky Bowman had a bit of an off night in terms of shooting against Louisville but still hung a stat line of 14 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Then, in an upset of Florida State, Bowman shot 13-18 en route to 37 points and also hauled in 9 rebounds. The junior guard was an electric watch last year and looks to be returning to form in an impressive way.
5. Ethan Happ – Wisconsin
Ethan Happ is quietly in contention for the Player of the Year award and this week just added to his case. In this upset of the week over Michigan, Happ tallied 26 points on 12-22 shooting and also contributed in other facets of the game by grabbing 10 boards and also finding his teammates for 7 assists. The senior big man is averaging 20-10-5 on the year and should be on everyone’s radar if he wasn’t already.