Another week, another No. 1 team falling to an unranked team. Altogether, five of the remaining undefeated teams in the country lost, leaving just four unbeaten teams. In a week where many of the top teams had some time off, we still saw an eventful week and some major shakeups in the Power 16. Here is this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Duke (9-1)
Duke moves back up to No. 1 on this list thanks to a Louisville loss to Texas Tech. The Blue Devils did not play a game this week, gearing up for a clash with Wofford who just took down UNC. This team is stacked with talent, including one of the premier big men in Vernon Carey and one of the best perimeter defenders in Tre Jones. Duke has already compiled wins over Kansas and Michigan State and will look to boost the resume even more during conference play.
2. Kansas (9-1)
The Jayhawks only grazed the hardwood once this week and flattened UMKC when they did. There’s not much to take away from this game, but upcoming games against Villanova and Stanford will be much more competitive and provide a better chance to make their case for No. 1.
3. Gonzaga (11-1)
The Zags were able to take down Arizona in a high-scoring affair by the score of 84-80. Gonzaga now has wins over Arizona, Washington and Oregon while their only loss was to Michigan. The Bulldogs have arguably the most impressive resume this year even though their chances of gaining quality wins is running out.
4. Kentucky (8-1)
People act like Kentucky isn’t the same team that beat Michigan State in the season opener. The loss to Evansville is unquestionably an embarrassing one, but a game that it’s hard to get up for Tuesday night in mid-November. The Wildcats played one game this week and easily pulled away from Georgia Tech. John Calipari has a legit contender on his hands.
5. Louisville (10-1)
Louisville was on the wrong side of the biggest upset of the week. The Cardinals were the most recent of a slew of No. 1 to fall to an unranked opponent and this time it was at the hands of Texas Tech. However, in an opportunity to get some confidence back, they beat up on Eastern Kentucky, winning by 32 points. Texas Tech is a respectable team, so I don’t believe one loss is any reason for major concern.
6. Ohio State (9-1)
The Buckeyes lost their perfect record on Sunday night with a loss to Minnesota. However, with wins over Penn State, Villanova and UNC, Ohio State remains one of the top one-loss teams in the country. Kaleb Wesson is the center of the offense, and while he has shown flashes of stardom, he is inconsistent which can greatly hurt his team.
7. Memphis (9-1)
Penny Hardaway and his team continue to survive and advance without James Wiseman. This week, the Tigers picked up a quality win over Tennessee in a low-scoring game. With just a handful of games remaining until Wiseman’s return, Memphis should be able to reach Jan. 12 without adding another loss to their record.
8. Baylor (8-1)
The Bears are one of the hottest teams in the country at the moment. They are coming off of back-to-back wins over Arizona and Butler and should be able to finish the moth of December unbeaten. Baylor has quickly emerged as a legit threat to Kansas in the Big 12.
9. Virginia (8-1)
Virginia is another team who did not play this week but moves up thanks to the chaos ahead of them. With their time off, Tony Bennett is likely doing everything in his power to figure out how to make the offense more efficient in the half court. The Cavaliers have some time to perfect their craft before conference play begins with some easier matchups in the coming weeks.
10. Maryland (10-1)
This might be a bit of an extreme drop considering one loss to Penn State is not that bad at this point in the season, but the problem is that the Terps have not picked up a win over a ranked opponent. Maryland does get a chance to beat Seton Hall, although the Pirates are on a downward spiral, but at least adding a decent win is some sort of an improvement.
11. Arizona (9-2)
Arizona continues to trend in the wrong direction, now missing out both chances for a ranked win is two weeks. Falling to Baylor and Gonzaga aren’t the end of the world, but without the wins to offset the losses, you start to question how legit the Wildcats are. Luckily, Arizona only has two games in the next two weeks, giving them time to work out the kinks and get back to a high-level of play.
12. Auburn (9-0)
One of the last men standing in the undefeated category, Auburn improved to 9-0 with a six-point win over Saint Louis. This continues the trend of the Tigers winning games, but in an unimpressive fashion. Auburn will go some time without playing a ranked team, so we will look for them to stay unbeaten ti keep their name in the conversation.
13. Oregon (8-2)
Oregon played in just one game, but made a mark with an OT win against Michigan. Payton Pritchard has become one of the nation’s top guards and has been doing some heavy lifting in bringing this Ducks team to prominence. With the sheer number of ranked opponents Dana Altman’s team has faced, it is outstanding to be 8-2. The Ducks are a gritty team who can get hot and stay hot.
14. Michigan (8-3)
What a difference a couple of weeks can make. Michigan went from unranked to top five in the span of one week, and now almost out of the power rankings completely two weeks later. The Wolverines have now lost three of their last four games to Louisville, Illinois and Oregon. Was the extreme jump an overreaction? Probably. Is this team a national title contender? Potentially. Does Michigan need to bounce back fast? Definitely.
15. Michigan State (7-3)
The Spartans played just one game against Oakland this week, and they dominated from start to finish. Michigan State has been debatably the most disappointing team thus far, but there is still plenty of hope for Tom Izzo. The Big Ten is talented this year, which means there is an abundance of opportunities to throw your name back into the group of elite teams.
16. Dayton (8-1)
Dayton is a team that has quietly been one of the most consistent teams in the country. The Flyers have come decent wins against Georgia, Virginia Tech and Saint Mary’s and will be given the chance to add Colorado to the resume before the months end. They’re a fun team to watch and with a continued hot streak may need to be taken seriously as a threat in the postseason.
Next Five: Villanova, San Diego State, Butler, Penn State, North Carolina
Players of the Week
1. Luka Garza – Iowa
For the second straight week, Luka Garza finds himself on the top of the Players of the Week. While he didn’t quite replicate his numbers from last week, he was impressive nonetheless. Against Minnesota, Garza tallied 21 points and 11 rebounds and against Iowa State he dropped an identical 21 points and 11 boards. If he keeps it up, he might be in Player of the Year talks.
2. Kofi Cockburn – Illinois
Kofi Cockburn has added to his astounding freshman campaign with yet another good week. In an upset win over Michigan, Cockburn scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. He followed up with a 11-point and nine-rebound outing against Old Dominion. The 7-footer is something special for Illinois. Now if he can just work on not being so destructive with his celebrations!
3. Ashton Hagans – Kentucky
Despite playing just one game this week, Ashton Hagans makes the list due to a game-breaking performance. Against Georgia Tech, he led to the team across the board with 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and a pair of steals. Hagans is surely one of the top point guards in the NCAA and is the glue that hold Kentucky together.
4. Jordan Nwora – Louisville
Although Louisville lost the perfect record next to its name, Jordan Nwora was once again a bright light for the team. He recorded 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in the loss to Texas Tech and then added another 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting to go along with seven boards, three assists and two steals.
5. Corey Kispert – Gonzaga
The amount of times Corey Kispert has just missed being a player of the week was getting frustrating. He finally grazes the list after an 18-point 8-rebound performance against Arizona. Over his last five games, Kispert is averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and is shooting 51 percent from the floor. A well-deserved spot on the list for Kispert.