In all likelihood, this past week will go down as the most boring and uneventful week in the college basketball season. It’s Christmas Break for all the schools and therefore had an extremely limited amount of games. While over half the list didn’t even play this week, there was still a couple of big losses in the top five from last week. Here are this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
- Duke (11-1)
The Blue Devils played one game this week and beat down on Brown in a 25-point win. There’s not much to takeaway other than the fact that Duke is taking care of business lately. In a season like this, there’s no clear-cut best team, but if you ask me, I think it’s Duke. (Wendell Moore pictured)
- Gonzaga (13-1)
The Zags did not play this week after gaining the AP No. 1 title. While the Bulldogs don’t have the top ranking here, it’s almost inevitable that they will at some point this season. Duke plays in the ACC; Gonzaga plays in the WCC. There’s a legitimate chance the Zags finish the season with just one loss and in which case would almost guarantee the No. 1 overall seed in the postseason.
- Baylor (9-1)
I couldn’t have imagined having Baylor in the top three before conference play even starts, but here we are. The Bears move up despite not playing a game thanks to Ohio State and Louisville losing this week. For as good as this team has been, they remain flying under the radar. Hopefully they get the respect they deserve soon, because you get the feeling this run could end at any moment.
- Kansas (10-2)
Kansas didn’t have to sit on the Villanova loss to too long as they were fortunate enough to play Stanford. The 16-point win should help the healing process and send the team in conference play with a little more confidence. The Jayhawks will meet the streaking Mountaineers when they host West Virginia to open up Big 12 play.
- Louisville (11-2)
Louisville lost to Kentucky this week. However, please let’s not overreact as usual. A loss in OT to your in-state rival who happens to be another elite team is no reason for concern. The Cardinals are still right there with Duke has the best in the ACC. Actually, if you want to really think about, it’s impressive Louisville made it to overtime with Jordan Nwora having an off night.
- Ohio State (11-2)
Ohio State is the other big-name program to lose this week, this time at the hands of West Virginia. I’m not hitting the panic button just yet, but it’s a little alarming to lose to Minnesota and WVU after beating Villanova, UNC, Penn State and Kentucky. The Buckeyes however, should remain the favorite in the Big Ten.
- Auburn (12-0)
I hate to repeat myself every week when talking about Auburn, but it really is the same story once again. They’re undefeated, but their best win is probably St. Louis, which is nothing to write home about. But once again, in a season like this, you have to reward a team for being unbeaten this far into the season.
- Memphis (11-1)
I have to give credit to the Tigers. The offense is thriving despite the loss of James Wiseman. Players like Precious Achiuwa and DJ Jeffries have been stepping up and leading this team to over 80 points per game on a regular basis. Memphis will play some decent teams over the next couple of weeks which should be a better look into what this team is all about.
- Oregon (11-2)
The Ducks played against Alabama State this week and has you would expect, absolutely crushed them. This team is primed to make a run at the Pac-12 title this season as they have one of the smartest point guards in the game in Payton Pritchard, a good amount of depth and an elite coach in Dana Altman. This team is built for the long haul.
- Kentucky (9-3)
One of the most frustrating teams in basketball this season has been Kentucky. They open with a huge win over Michigan State, then lose to Evansville. They lose back-to-back to Utah and Ohio State and then they beat Louisville. It makes no sense, which is why it makes perfect sense in a season like this one. This seems like a typical John Calipari team, loaded with talent but inconsistent at times, leading to a coin flip when it comes to which team you’ll get on a nightly basis.
- Villanova (9-2)
I’ll be honest, I wrote off Villanova early in the year and I’m willing to admit that I was wrong. Losses to Ohio State and Baylor have now proved to be good losses and they have a win over Kansas. Outside of those three games, we haven’t seen much, but we do get to see the Big East even itself out where I expect to see Nova emerge on top.
- Michigan (10-3)
UMass Lowell was essentially a scrimmage this week as the Wolverines coasted to a 10-3 record. Michigan has now had two weeks of down time to get things straight after a couple losses before moving into conference play in the highly-competitive Big Ten. An opportunity to make another statement is right around the corner, as Michigan State is waiting for them next week.
- Michigan State (10-3)
The Spartans, like Michigan, cruised past an inferior team (Western Michigan) to improve to 10-3. The similarities are glaring between the two in-state rivals and each team will have the chance to separate themselves from one another when they meet in East Lansing.
- Maryland (11-2)
Coming off of two straight losses, the Terps used Bryant as a tune-up game before conference play begins. Like I mentioned above, the Big Ten is loaded at the top and nobody is really breaking away from the pack. Maryland will play Ohio State and Iowa in the next couple of weeks and will look to create that separation.
- Virginia (10-2)
The Cavaliers have been at the center of a lot of talk this season whether it’s how good the defense is or how bad the offense is. Either way, one thing is for certain, this team can not win long-term with the roster playing this way. Unless Virginia goes on a big run in the ACC, I don’t see how this team remains in the Power 16 within the next couple of weeks.
- San Diego State (13-0)
The Aztecs remain unbeaten, but like Auburn, don’t have a ranked win. I still have hope that this team can run the table and go undefeated, and I think there’s only three or four games that put that in jeopardy. San Diego State is an easy team to root for despite not playing any true competition.
Next Five: Butler, Penn State, Florida State, West Virginia, Dayton
Players of the Week
- Isaiah Stewart – Washington
Once again Isaiah Stewart makes an appearance on the Players of the Week. As one of the only teams to play twice this week, Washington players got an advantage here, and Stewart took full advantage. He scored 26 points on 13-for-21 shooting and added 13 rebounds against Hawaii. Stewart then recorded 25 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks against Houston.
- Chris Duarte – Oregon
Chris Duarte makes his first appearance on the list thanks to a lights-out shooting performance. He tallied 31 points on 12-for-15 shooting, including 6-for-9 from deep, and also had 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
- Tyrese Maxey – Kentucky
Tyrese Maxey was the star player in the biggest win of the week. He shot 9-for-14 from the floor and 4-for-5 from behind the arc on his way to 27 points. He also added 7 rebounds in the effort. Macey now has arguably his two best games against the two best teams he’s faced (Michigan State/Louisville) which means we could be seeing more of these performances in the near future. He loves the spotlight.
- Ibi Watson – Dayton
Dayton gave Ibi Watson his first start this week, and will now likely be a starter for the rest of the season. He dropped 30 points, grabbed 5 boards and dished out a pair of assists. Watson shot 8-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from three.
- Precious Achiuwa – Memphis
The freshman big man has inherited a bigger role and has been making the most of it. Precious Achiuwa filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. He hit all four free throws he took and was 7-for-13 overall from the field.