Another week has gone by in which the AP No. 1 team has fallen. Kansas was not number one on this list, so there is no change at the top, but a bunch of shakeups throughout the Power 16. This week we saw a handful of top ten teams fall and one lost more than once. If there is one thing we learned this year, it’s that nobody is safe. Any team can lose on any night against any opponent. Here is this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Duke (10-1)
One thing we’ve learned this year is that the AP Poll overreacts. Whether it was Duke’s loss, Kentucky’s loss, Michigan’s wins or anything else, their rankings have been all over the place. Let’s not get it twisted, Duke is still the best team in the country at the moment. The Blue Devils were already dangerous, but with the emergence of Joey Baker and the return of Cassius Stanley, the team is only improving. I expect Duke to remain in the top five of this list for the remainder of the season.
2. Gonzaga (13-1)
Gonzaga will in all likelihood be the No. 1 team in the national polls, and maybe rightfully so, but something seems off about it. They have beaten Oregon, Washington, Arizona and UNC, but those wins look less and less impressive as the weeks go by. Still, winning those games are important and valuable. Being ranked No. 2 is not an easy thing to accomplish and if the Zags keep winning, it may be hard to keep them from the top spot.
3. Ohio State (11-1)
The Buckeyes got their signature win with a six-point victory over Kentucky. When the offense is at full throttle, there might not be a better team in the country, although the offense has gone dry for periods of some games. Nonetheless, Ohio State is a legit contender and now the clear-cut favorite to win the Big Ten. Freshman DJ Carton (pictured) has proven to be an x-factor for them off the bench. This team should only get better as time goes on which is worrisome for the competition.
4. Louisville (11-1)
The Cardinals only played one game this week and dominated Miami (OH) in a glorified exhibition. Despite the early success, the road does not get easier as a motivated Kentucky team is waiting to host Louisville before a streaking Florida State team comes to town. If they are able to come out of those two games without a loss, we may be seeing the Cards making their way back towards that coveted No. 1 spot.
5. Baylor (9-1)
Baylor has been arguably the biggest surprise of the season. The Bears’ only loss is to Washington, while they have beaten Villanova, Arizona and Butler. This team is an extremely solid defensive unit, but have also proven they are capable of winning games that are more of a shootout. The makeup of Baylor is one that’s tough to beat and one that’s hard to game plan for. The Big 12 should be on watch.
6. Kansas (9-2)
The Jayhawks are the most recent of the group of AP No. 1 teams to fall this season. I’m not going to take too much away from Bill Self’s team as Villanova is improving and it’s not an awful loss. Also, Kansas went about three weeks without facing anyone that posed any sort of threat. The Big 12 is loaded with a handful of decent teams so there will be no shortage of opportunities to boost their resume.
7. Auburn (11-0)
I know that the Tigers haven’t beaten anyone notable, but in a season like this, it gets to the point where you got to reward a team for making it this far without a loss. Given the manner of their wins, usually by a small margin, it’s tough to see this Auburn team remaining undefeated for too much longer, but you have to give credit where it’s deserved as of today.
8. Memphis (10-1)
This week the news broke that James Wiseman would not be returning to Memphis, and that one hurts. The team has been surviving during his absence, but not having him for the entire season is one that will certainly have a negative impact. I can’t drop Memphis straight out of the rankings, but with this news, I certainly expect them to fall off in the near future.
9. Oregon (10-2)
The Ducks finally got a week without a tough game. Two easy wins over Montana and Texas Southern move Oregon to 10-2 on the season and back into the top ten. After facing one of the toughest schedules to date, the Ducks get one more easy game before kicking off conference play against Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
10. Villanova (9-2)
Nova made the big splash of the week by taking down Kansas in a one-point thriller. At the beginning of the year, there were some major questions about this team, but in typical Jay Wright fashion, things are coming together at a good time. If Villanova keeps playing at this level, they should have no problem ending the year atop the Big East standings.
11. Kentucky (8-3)
Unquestionably a bad week for Big Blue Nation. The Wildcats lost both games this week at the hands of Utah and Ohio State. Luckily for Coach Calipari, there is an immediate chance for redemption as in-state rival Louisville is waiting around the corner, and with it a chance to regain some respect from the country.
12. Michigan (9-3)
The Wolverines only played once this week and it was against Presbyterian in a dominant effort. Michigan has had some time to reflect on their back-to-back losses to Illinois and Oregon and should be able to enter conference play against Michigan State at top form. The Big Ten will be a wild ride and you can expect this team to be in the conversation.
13. Michigan State (9-3)
Just like it’s in-state counterpart, Michigan State played in one game against a far inferior team. This break from competition will also benefit the Spartans as working over the kinks before conference games begin is as important as it gets. MSU needs a strong start to increase confidence and they will have a chance to do so with early games against Illinois and Michigan.
14. Maryland (10-2)
The Terps have lost two straight since starting the season 10-0. The loss to Penn State isn’t that bad, but a loss to a Myles Powell-less Seton Hall team is surely not a good look. Maryland still does not have a true quality win this season and I have more concerns than ever about if this team is real or not.
15. Virginia (9-2)
I have been admittedly a non-believer of Virginia this year. The defense can still be elite, but not quite as dominant, and the offense does not have the firepower to overcome any potential slip ups on D. We saw that this week when the Cavaliers fell to South Carolina 70-59. Tony Bennett’s defense is likely good enough to get past the average teams, but I don’t see this offense being efficient enough to be able to beat the top teams in the ACC.
16. San Diego State (12-0)
San Diego State finally makes the cut as they remain unbeaten 12 games into their season. A win over Utah this week isn’t the best thing in the world, but winning by 28 points shows enough to know this team is no joke. The Aztecs don’t play the best competition in the world, so there is a slim chance this team could actually go unbeaten this season.
Next Five: Butler, Penn State, Arizona, Florida State, Dayton
Players of the Week
1. Markus Howard – Marquette
No surprise here, Markus Howard is back on top of the Players of the Week. He opened the week against Grambling State and dropped 26 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including 6-for-10 from three, and added six rebounds, four assists and two steals in the effort as well. He also played well against North Dakota State where scored 32 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out 4 assists. An unsurprising, yet impressive, week from Howard.
2. John Petty – Alabama
This week John Petty scored 39 points in a game against Samford, the most by an Alabama player since Collin Sexton in the infamous 3 on 5 game two years ago. Petty shot the lights out from behind the arc, going 10-for-13 from deep and 12-for-18 overall from the floor. He also contributed 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
3. Payton Pritchard – Oregon
Payton Pritchard has become a fan favorite for Duck fans thanks to his effort and talent on the floor. This week he recorded 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals against Montana before scoring 29 points on 6-for-8 shooting (15-for-17 FT) and adding six assists and five boards against Texas Southern.
4. Filip Petrusev – Gonzaga
Gonzaga’s forward, Filip Petrusev, has been another Bulldog who has been close to cracking the list, and finally did this week. He tallied 20 points in 27 minutes against UNC and 24 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three steals against EWU.
5. Isaiah Stewart – Washington
Isaiah Stewart is a fairly common face on this list, as the freshman is competing to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. Stewart built on his resume to be the first selection by scoring 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting and corralling 13 boards in his first game of the week. He finished the week with a 19-point and 10-rebound performance in which he shot 8-for-12 from the floor.