This made for a pretty solid week of college basketball. Five ranked matchups were capped off by the Duke vs. Virginia rematch. Fights for the top spot in the ACC and the Big East were exciting, but it is likely not the last time games of this magnitude will grace our TV screens.
The meat of the season is here, every game really matters at this point. Teams are fighting for seeding, fighting to make the tournament and fighting to win their conference. Six teams from the Power 16 last week were unable to avoid a loss this week so we greet a couple new faces into this week’s rankings. Here are this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Duke (2)
|Duke has to jump back into the top spot in the rankings after huge wins, including beating Louisville in an epic 23 point comeback. They also beat Virginia for a second time this season for their fifth top-15 win of the season. The one knock on the Blue Devils this year has been their inability to shoot the three ball. This week they proved they are capable, hitting 20 of 49 three-point attempts on the road. For a full body of work, Duke’s resume is unmatched. They seem to be playing their best basketball of the year which is the rest of the country’s worst nightmare as we’re inching closer to March.|
2. Tennessee (1)
|I feel bad for Tennessee. They did nothing wrong and yet have lost their No. 1 spot. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when a team in the ACC is going off. The Vols are still right there in the conversation though. With a pair of wins this week and improving to 10-0 in conference play, they continue to remind the fans that this team is no fluke.|
3. Virginia (3)
|Virginia can’t be punished too much for a loss this week. I mean they’re literally 21-0 against teams not named Duke. The Cavaliers did a nice job of forgetting their loss to Duke with their win over North Carolina Monday. There is no reason to worry about Virginia and what they’re capable of. I fully expect to see this team return to full form in the coming weeks.|
4. Gonzaga (5)
|The Zags have been wiping all of their competition off the floor in the last handful of weeks. In their last 10 games. Gonzaga is winning by an average of over 30 points. I love when teams consistently blow out their opposition because I think it says a lot about the team. This stretch of play from the Bulldogs is as impressive as they’ve been all year. Should the Zags roll this into March, they could very well be the team cutting down the nets.|
5. Nevada (7)
|The Wolfpack has once again silenced me as a hater. They beat Colorado State by 16 on Wednesday and then followed it up with a 29-point blowout of New Mexico. I still don’t think that Nevada has a real shot to win the title, but I also am starting to think that they aren’t a first-round bounce in the tournament.|
6. Michigan (6)
|Michigan has rebounded from their loss to Iowa very well. The Wolverines took down Rutgers to open the week and then added another ranked win to their resume with a 61-52 victory over Wisconsin. Michigan has turned it around after a few weeks of shaky play, but there’s still a sense that they need to prove they are legit once again. Lucky for them, Michigan State is just two weeks away.|
7. Marquette (8)
|The Golden Eagles essentially claimed the Big East with a win over Villanova this week. Regardless of who actually wins the regular season title, Marquette is probably viewed as the best team in the conference as of now. There will be a rematch between the two teams at the end of the month where Villanova could level the playing field, or where Marquette could further distance themselves from the pack.|
8. LSU (15)
|With their controversial win at the buzzer over Kentucky, LSU moves up to 10 this week. LSU is the silent but deadly team in the SEC. With all the focus on Tennessee and Kentucky, the Tigers have slipped under the radar and are quietly 10-1 in conference play. They have a chance to surprise everyone and win the Conference, especially with their big victory vs UK on Tuesday.|
9. Kentucky (4)
|Despite their loss to LSU, the Wildcats remain a contender for the SEC crown. Next up they will face Conference leader Tennessee. They slip to 10 this week, however a bounce back after the tough loss to LSU will put them back into the thick of things Nationally.|
10. Houston (11)
|The Cougars keep one of the best records in college basketball with another pair of wins this week. One of those wins was a ranked win over Cincinnati which helps quiet down any questions about their strength of schedule. Houston continues to further and further prove themselves as a legit team that could make some noise in the upcoming month.|
11. North Carolina (9)
|North Carolina survived a nail-biter when Miami took them into overtime in the Dean Center. UNC as a team has looked good, but Coby White has emerged as a star player despite Nassir Little being regarded as the top freshman on the team in the beginning of the season. Their loss to Virginia drops them outside the top 10.|
12. Texas Tech (NR)
|After one of the most tragic downfalls that we’ve seen in a while, the Red Raiders maybe have started to figure it out. The once almighty Texas Tech, who lost three in a row not too long ago, started as one of the most surprising teams and turned into one of the most disappointing. Somehow, Texas Tech is still in the running to win the Big 12 and will need to play their best to really have a shot.|
13. Michigan State (10)
|The Spartans picked up a solid win over Wisconsin Tuesday. They had been slipping for quite some time and it was beginning to look dismal after their loss to one of the worst teams in the conference in Illinois. In the upcoming weeks, Michigan State will have the opportunity to further turn things around as they’ll face Wisconsin again and Michigan twice.|
14. Florida St. (NR)
|It was a good week to be a Seminole. They dominated Syracuse and also bested Louisville in overtime. Despite holding just a 6-4 record in conference play, when you play in the ACC that really isn’t that bad. Florida State is a very talented team, but a team that gives you the feeling that they could either be on upset alert or put teams on it.|
15. Virginia Tech (12)
|Bad week. A very bad week it was for Virginia Tech. It’s one thing to lose to Louisville, they’re a respectable team. But when you are faced with a potential winless week and you play Clemson, you have to win. The Hokies have two .500 teams next week and with a loss to either of them, it may be time to jump off the bandwagon.|
16. Purdue (NR)
|Before their Tuesday loss to Maryland, The Boilermakers had been rolling. They’d rattled off a handful of wins and have looked good doing so. Purdue has come out of seemingly nowhere to throw themselves right in the middle of the Big Ten’s best. There is still no reason to believe that this team can’t win the conference, especially with the rest of the Big Ten struggling.|
Next Five: 17.Iowa (18-5), Iowa St. (19-5), Kansas State (18-5), Villanova (19-5), Kansas (19-6)
Top Five Players of the Week
1. Jordan Caroline – Nevada
Jordan Caroline joined the 40-point club this week as he added 12 boards in his performance against Colorado State. He followed up with another stellar outing in which he recorded 13 points and 13 rebounds to cap off an impressive week.
2. Brandon Clarke – Gonzaga
Gonzaga’s standout tallied 20 points and 16 rebounds on 8-13 shooting against San Francisco to start his week. Next, he shot 9-12 from the field on his way to 24 points in just 23 minutes on the floor. Clarke has been a reason why Gonzaga has been so dominant and if he keeps it up, things should get scary for their opposition.
3. Coby White – North Carolina
Coby White have yourself a week. In a clash with NC State, White went for 21 points. But where the freshman guard really made an impact was in the game against Miami. White went off for 33 points on 11-16 shooting including 7-10 from deep and added 6 assists to his stat line.
4. Markus Howard – Marquette
A familiar face to this portion of the Power 16, Markus Howard makes an appearance once again. Howard did go for 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a loss to St. John’s but he made up for his “lackluster” performance with a showing against Villanova. He went for 38 points on 13-24 shooting as well as 5-11 from behind the arc. Just another game where Howard proved he is one of the best scorers in college basketball.
5. PJ Washington – Kentucky
John Calipari’s big man has been on a tear lately. PJ Washington went for 20 points in a dominating performance over South Carolina and picked it up even more when he scored 23 points on 9-13 shooting in just 24 minutes. Kentucky have been both on ups and downs this year but PJ Washington has been as good as he can be which has helped the Wildcats stay on the up for awhile now.