This week was yet another eventful one in what is turning out to be a crazy year of college basketball. The past seven days had it all, teams staying hot, teams staying cold, teams crashing back down to earth and some teams establishing themselves as legit. It’s gotten to the point where multiple surprising things are happening every week and conference play hasn’t even started yet. After another hectic week on the hardwood, here is the Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Louisville (9-0)
The Cardinals silenced all the critics with a dominant victory over Michigan this week. The Wolverines were entering the game as arguably the hottest team in basketball and Louisville stopped all the momentum in an impressive fashion. The team then went on to crush Pitt to improve to 9-0 and establish themselves as the unquestioned top team in the land as of today.
2. Duke (9-1)
Duke made headlines by losing to SF Austin a week ago and inexplicably fell to No. 10 in the AP Poll. However, the Blue Devils responded in a tremendous fashion with an easy win over Michigan State and a win over Virginia Tech. Also, they did it all without Cassius Stanley. Coach K has now beaten the preseason No.1 and No. 2 and could arguably have the best resume in college basketball. One small slip was no reason for concern.
3. Kansas (7-1)
The Jayhawks have rattled off seven straight wins since opening the year with a loss to Duke. Kansas has wins over Dayton and Colorado and have really looked to be in a different class in most of their games. In no surprise to any college basketball fan, Bill Self has yet another championship contender on his hands and should probably run through the Big 12 without too much trouble.
4. Kentucky (7-1)
Since losing to Evansville, Kentucky has been cruising past a slew of mid-major teams to move to 7-1. The Wildcats will now return to Power 5 play with an interesting match against Utah before clashing with Ohio State in a statement game. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen John Calipari’s team face real competition so it’ll be good to see how much this team has grown so far in the young season.
5. Gonzaga (10-1)
The Zags bounced back from their fall to Michigan with a 39-point win over Texas Southern and a quality win over a talented Washington team. With the team’s only loss being to the Wolverines and having a win over Oregon, we quickly realized there is no need for concern. With that said, looming matchups with Arizona and UNC will once again give us a look as to what Mark Few’s team is really like this year. These will likely be the last true competition the team faces this season.
6. Ohio State (9-0)
Last week I said that the games against UNC and Penn State would be telling about this Buckeye’s squad. What did we learn? This team is REAL. Ohio State absolutely crushed each team, 74-49 against UNC and 106-74 against Penn State. Now undefeated with wins over Villanova and UNC, there’s no denying that Kaleb Wesson and his team are in fact true contenders.
7. Maryland (10-0)
Maryland still has not played a ranked team this season and won’t do so until they meet Seton Hall next week. I hadn’t been sold on what I had seen from the Terps leading into the week, but as each game passes, I start to buy in a little bit more. The Big Ten is going to be a fun conference to watch this year and UMD has a chance to be the top dog.
8. Michigan (8-1)
The Wolverines came back down to earth after their miraculous run just a week ago. Louisville beat up on them and some people were starting to question whether the hype was an overreaction. Michigan will get to win back some fans this week against a gritty Illinois team and a respected Oregon team. I do think Juwan Howard and company are legit, let’s see if they can prove it once more.
9. Arizona (9-1)
Arizona has been struggling recently. After starting the year winning every game by what seemed like 50 points, there have been a handful of close game and finally, the Wildcats lost this week at the hands of Baylor. They do get a chance for revenge as they get to play Gonzaga in a game that both teams desperately want to win. Arizona needs a quality win, this is the perfect change to get one.
10. Memphis (8-1)
The Tigers are counting down the days until James Wiseman return, but until then, they need to keep taking care of business. A tilt with a ranked Tennessee team is around the corner in what could be a very impressive win without their star player. Memphis has their doubters, maybe rightfully so, but the team is loaded with talent and you get the feeling the talent will mesh at some point this season, it’s just a matter of when.
11. Baylor (7-1)
Baylor had slowly been putting their names on the map in the past couple of weeks but really drew some national attention with their win over Arizona. The Bears have now beaten Villanova and Arizona and are becoming too good to remain unnoticed. A win over an undefeated Butler team could help launch themselves further up this list next week.
12. Virginia (8-1)
This is one of those frustrating weeks you get in college basketball, but that’s part of being a group of teenagers and young 20-year-olds. UVA opened the week with an embarrassing loss to Purdue in which they scored just 40 points. The Cavaliers followed up with a win over UNC. It doesn’t make sense, but this season hasn’t made sense so far. I still don’t think Virginia is good enough to compete at the top of the ACC but we’ll see if the offense can start clicking by the time conference play starts.
13. North Carolina (6-3)
This was just a bad look for the Tar Heels this week. They played Ohio State and Virginia and didn’t seem like they could be competitive with either. Granted, they lost to two respectable teams, but when you want be elite, those are the wins you need. A trend that seems like it’ll be around for awhile is that North Carolina can be a great team when things are clicking, but inconsistency will be frequent and probably detrimental.
14. Auburn (8-0)
Although the Tigers are undefeated, they have not been overwhelming. They’ve now gone to overtime with Furman and gone to the final seconds with South Alabama. Regardless, a win is a win and there’s no shame in winning, but in order to move up on this list, some flare doesn’t hurt.
15. Oregon (7-2)
Oregon has faced one of the toughest schedules in the sport to this point. Having played Memphis, Seton Hall, Gonzaga and Oregon, being 7-2 is nothing to scoff at. Unfortunately for the Ducks, the challenges will continue as Michigan is waiting for them this weekend. We’ll see if the previous tests have conditioned or worn down this team in yet another ranked matchup for Dana Altman.
16. Michigan State (6-3)
The Spartans are hanging on to a spot on the Power 16 by a thread. Tom Izzo’s group has been under performing by his standards and maybe a bad loss to Duke is the wake up call the team needs, but not a reassuring look for the team in general. It’s starting to be a real question whether or not Michigan State is a contender or just another run-of-the-mill decent basketball team. They need to turn it around.
Next Five: Dayton, Utah State, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Butler
Players of the Week
1. Luka Garza – Iowa
Iowa’s standout big man had himself a week. Garza started off against Syracuse and recorded 20 points, nine rebounds and a pair of steals. He shot 9-for-15 from the floor. Where Garza really exploded was against Michigan. He dropped 44 points on 17-for-32 shooting and grabbed eight boards to cap off the impressive week.
2. Tre Jones – Duke
Jones has been under the microscope this year as the “veteran” leader of a young Blue Devils team. This week, he shined. In the dominant win over Michigan State, Jones scored 20 points, dished out 12 assists, had three steals and also blocked a shot. He then led the Blue Devils team in points, rebounds and assists with 15, six and four, respectively. Jones also tallied four steals.
3. Jordan Nwora – Louisville
Nwora is the best player on the best team right now, and he has been living up to his role. This week he went for 22 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Michigan and then scored 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting against Pitt. The junior is averaging 21.6 points per game has a large role in the recent success of his team.
4. Saddiq Bey – Villanova
Bey opened his week with a career-high scoring performance against UPenn. The sophomore forward shot 10-for-18 from the floor on his way to 27 points. Bey kept the momentum rolling into the game with Saint Joseph’s where he dropped 22 points and nine rebounds in what was a career week for the big man.
5. Isaiah Stewart – Washington
Stewart is a potential No. 1 pick in the draft and has been playing like it this year. He played in three games this week, scoring 16 points and chasing down 15 rebounds against South Dakota, going for 12 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes against Eastern Washington, and putting up 21 points and 10 rebounds against Gonzaga.