This week in college basketball was filled with some big-time upsets, buzzer-beaters, and a lot of movement in our Power Rankings. The top spot in the land has changed once again and a few select teams continue to impress and move their way up the rankings. The bottom half of the rankings have been changing fairly drastically each week which has allowed reigning national champions, Villanova, to inch their way back towards the Power 16.
We also introduce the Players of the Week section to the Power Rankings this week. From here on out we will be recognizing the top five performers of the week from some of the best teams in the country. With a couple of new teams breaking their way into the rankings and a new aspect to look at, here are your top teams in the country.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kansas (2)
|Kansas is able to move back up to the spot they were handed in the pre-season polls due to a Gonzaga loss. The Jayhawks have had two overtime wins and a three-point win over New Mexico in their last four games but have won them all nonetheless. Bill Self will still have to face off with Villanova and Arizona State before conference play starts which will give them an opportunity to further solidify themselves as the top team in the land.|
2. Duke (3)
|The Blue Devils are on an absolute tear. Their level of athleticism and talent is unmatched in the country and it’s showing. Even with Cameron Reddish struggling from the field, Duke’s other freshman stars, RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson}, have been doing more than enough to carry the Blue Devils through their recent games. With three straight 30+-point victories and an average win margin of 27.2 points per game, Duke has looked dominant. Coach K will take his young core to Madison Square Garden to face off with a very good Texas Tech team next week in what will be their first real competition in a few weeks.|
4. Gonzaga (1)
|Gonzaga suffered their first loss of the season due to a late three-pointer against Tennessee. This loss should cause no worry for Zag fans as I believe this game was more about how real Tennessee. The Bulldogs have proven they are legit as they have beaten Duke. What Gonzaga has done already is promising and people should remember they’ve done it without one of their best players in Killian Tillie. Tillie should return either towards the end of the month or early January which could vault Gonzaga to a whole other level. The country hasn’t seen the best Bulldog team yet, which is a scary though for their opposition.|
5. Tennessee (7)
|The Volunteers just earned their signature win of the year thanks to a closing-seconds three-pointer from Admiral Schofield. Between Schofield and Grant Williams, the Vols have one of the most dynamic duos in college basketball. Tennessee has been working to establish themselves as an SEC powerhouse and we might very well be seeing it come to fruition. As Kentucky looks inexperienced and with Auburn looking somewhat inconsistent, the Volunteers are in a prime situation to take the SEC by storm and win their first regular season SEC championship since 2002.|
6. Virginia (6)
|Seven seems like a disrespectful placement for the Cavaliers, but similarly to Nevada, Virginia has really only faced one challenging opponent. Playing in the ACC, Virginia will have more than a couple chances to skyrocket up the rankings if they can take-down some other elite opponents. Head Coach, Tony Bennett, who has been called college basketball’s secretary of defense, always has his team ready to go to war with the other ACC bluebloods and this year should be no different. We saw Michigan’s football team go on a “revenge tour” and we could very well see Virginia at the top of their game all season long due to their historic loss last season.|
7. Nevada (5)
|I feel like I’ve said it every week, Nevada just continues to handle their business. A team that won’t “wow” you or look overpowering is sometimes hard to give respect to, but they haven’t done anything to lose any respect. Nevada has formed a Big Three between Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, and Jordan Caroline who seem capable of carrying Nevada through any opponent. A grimy come-from-behind win over Arizona State showed the team can deal with adversity which they will surely need. The Wolfpack doesn’t have a ranked opponent left on the schedule, but if they continue to win games they will stay near the top of the national rankings.|
8. Auburn (8)
|I can’t say enough about how well Auburn has rebounded from their loss to Duke. It’s easy to get discouraged after losing a close game with a top tier opponent but the Tigers have taken it as motivation. Auburn is the frontrunner to be Tennessee’s number-one contender in the SEC. The Tigers won’t be tested again until conference plays tips off so a lose in the next week or two could be detrimental to Auburn.|
9. Michigan State (11)
|The Spartans have had one of the tougher schedules in the nation this year. They have wins over UCLA and Iowa and suffered five-point loss to #1 Kansas. Michigan State is well deserving as the top two-loss team as they have more quality wins than some of the teams ranked ahead of them. While his in-state rival is getting a lot of the attention in the Big Ten, Tom Izzo is more than capable of vaulting his team to the top of the conference as the season progresses.|
10. Texas Tech (10)
|For years the Big 12 has been Kansas and then everybody else. Texas Tech is desperately trying to change that. The Red Raiders made an Elite Eight run last year and are primed to repeat their success. Texas Tech hasn’t been tested yet, but they have still looked impressive. Chris Beard is making a name for himself in the coaching world and could very well win another Big 12 Coach of the Year award if his team proves this is more than just a hot start.|
11. North Carolina (12)
|North Carolina is loaded with one of the most talented rosters in the country, but they haven’t quite been able to put it all together yet. Two huge games against Gonzaga and Kentucky coming up is an early make-or-break stretch to their season. If UNC is able to emerge victorious in both those games, it would be hard to keep the Tar Heels out of the top five, but if they lose both games, it would be hard to keep them in the rankings. This is an enormous opportunity for Roy Williams, but with opportunity comes risk.|
12. Florida St. (14)
|Florida State usually flies under the radar in the ACC, but always gives the top teams a good game. This year, the Seminoles are getting the national respect they deserve. Everyone knows that ACC conference play can destroy a team’s season, any many believe that is the fate for FSU. I believe that this is the year Florida State gets their named mentioned with the Dukes, UNCs, and Virginias of the world.|
13. Kentucky (9)
|The Wildcats were on the wrong end of one of the most exciting games of the season. A half-court heave from Keldon Johnson that sent the game into overtime was outdone by a three-pointer from Seton Hall is the final 10 seconds that ultimately gave Kentucky their second loss of the season. Seton Hall is by no means a bad team, but they’re still a team that we would expect Kentucky to beat. Coach Calipari hasn’t had the same level of dominance that he was accustomed to in a couple years and this year is no different. The Wildcats have a very good team, but with what we’ve seen, they can not compete with the top teams.|
14. Buffalo (15)
|After being tied with Le Moyne at halftime, Buffalo went on to score 52 points in the second half while holding the Dolphins to 18 points in the same period. Buffalo also does not have a ranked opponent on the schedule, but have some decent teams to play in their conference. Buffalo will likely remain on this list until the drop a game, but with this high-powered offense, it’s unclear if that loss will come anytime soon.|
15. Virginia Tech (NR)
|Virginia Tech could very well be getting disrespected on this list. They have a good win over Purdue, and their only loss is to a Penn State team that has shown they can have stretches of really impressive play. The thing with V-Tech is that there aren’t any other notable games on their schedule thus far. Just like every other team in the ACC, the regular season is riddled with chances to prove your worth and superiority. Virginia Tech will be one of the teams that are most ready to for the gauntlet that is ACC conference play.|
16. Ohio State (NR)
|Is there a sport that Ohio State isn’t good at? Despite being on a bit of a decline since the departure of Aaron Craft, I believe this is the year that the Buckeyes can start to return to a national contender. The Ohio State team is deep and has a good mix of experience and young talent. Don’t sleep on the Buckeyes in the Big Ten.|
Next Five: Villanova (8-2), Mississippi State (8-1), Syracuse (7-2), Kansas State (6-2), Arizona State (7-1)
Top Five Players of the Week
RJ Barrett – Duke
Duke’s freshman sensation had a monstrous week. RJ Barrett was able to record 27 points on 10-14 shooting while also grabbing 15 rebounds against Hartford. The young Blue Devil did not slow down against Yale. Barrett tallied 30 points while recording 7 boards and dished out 6 assists. There is a reason why everyone was calling this kid the future number-one pick, and we saw it first-hand this week.
Admiral Schofield – Tennessee
Admiral Schofield was the big performer in the big game of the week. Tennessee’s senior guard was able to score 30 points in the win over Gonzaga. One of his six threes on the night was the game-winner with 9.5 seconds left on the clock. Scoring 25 points in the second half against the top team in the country will definitely earn you some national recognition.
Lamar Peters – Mississippi State
Junior point guard Lamar Peters has taken over as the team’s clear floor general and leader and his last two games he’s been on fire lately. He set career highs in back to back games with 27 and 28 points on 8-of-13 and 8-of-11 shooting from 3 against McNeese State and Clemson respectively. he also adding 5 assists in each game. Hitting 16 threes in two games on 66% shooting from behind the arc is no doubt a week to remember. If Peters keeps his hot shooting going, the Bulldogs will be a very tough matchup in the SEC.
Carsen Edwards – Purdue
Despite Purdue starting the season on a relatively bad note, Carsen Edwards has been putting the ball in the basket. In a loss to Texas, Edwards went off for 40 of his teams 68 points. He knocked in seven three-pointers and shot 15-26 from the floor. Edwards also recorded 20 points in a win over Maryland. This man constantly scores a third of his teams points and could very well be the most valuable player to his team in this country.
Nick Ward – Michigan State
In a ranked, Big Ten game, Nick Ward was perfect from the floor. Ward shot 10-10 en route to scoring a career high 26 points. The junior big man also was active on the glass by pulling in 9 rebounds to add to his incredible performance. Ward, for some reason, doesn’t get as many minutes as he should, but he always makes a profound impact in the minutes that he does get.