The Super Bowl has come and gone and now we can get back to focusing on college basketball right before the final push into the postseason. In typical fashion, we saw 10 of the 21 teams from last week’s rankings lose a game. Our top seven teams remain the same, but after that, everything changed. The next couple of weeks should be a wild ride, but for now here is this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (23-1)
The Zags keep the top spot here after improving to 23-1 on the season. Joel Ayayi (pictured) and Gonzaga did have a bit of a scare this week when San Francisco took them down to the final seconds. Regardless, the formidable Bulldogs won yet again and will most likely finish the season with just one loss. A No. 1 seed is almost promised for Mark Few this season.
2. Baylor (19-1)
Baylor is a perfect 8-0 in conference this season after beating Iowa State and TCU this past week. Slowly but surely, I am starting to buy-in to the thought that the Bears are as good as we think. Naturally, as has been the case this season, this now means Butler has a loss coming up. February is a tough month for Butler and should prove to straighten out the Big 12 and reveal the true contenders.
3. Louisville (19-3)
The Cardinals have now won eight straight games since suffering back to back losses in the beginning of January. Louisville holds the top spot in the ACC while Jordan Nwora continues to build his case for Player of the Year. The Cards’ toughest games are behind them and now have just a game or two left on the schedule that poses a threat.
4. Kansas (18-3)
Kansas’ only losses are to Duke, Villanova and Baylor. That’s nothing to be ashamed of by any means. On the other hand, the Jayhawks have beaten Dayton, Colorado, WVU and Texas Tech. Having arguably one of the best resumes in the sport, it’s no surprise that Kansas is right in contention for a No. 1 overall seed.
5. San Diego State (23-0)
The Best in the Mountain West. San Diego State remains undefeated and I’m ready to confidently say it. The Aztecs will finish the year without a loss. It’s been a long time coming but this week’s win over Utah State all but sealed a perfect season in my eyes. History could be made with this SDSU team.
6. Duke (18-3)
It’s tough to imagine a season where the ACC is so weak that we’re into the final month of the season and Duke has only played in three ranked games, but that’s the world we live in. Luckily for the Blue Devils, the team looks dominant most nights on the floor. However, as is the case with all recent Duke teams, inexperience can prove fatal on certain nights.
7. Dayton (20-2)
Dayton has only lost to Kansas and Colorado, both respectable losses, but the issue comes when you look at Dayton’s wins. The Flyers best wins comes down to a debate between Georgia and Virginia Tech. Dayton does have the benefit of playing in a season where every other team loses too much and they get thrown up ladder without having to do too much. I can’t say I’m sold on Dayton being a Final Four team just yet.
8. Auburn (19-2)
The Tigers had a very exciting week. First, they beat Ole Miss in a double-OT thriller and then took down Kentucky with a 9-point win. Auburn will get another chance to boost their status as a matchup against LSU is slated for next weekend. If they beat LSU this week it’ll be tough to argue that Auburn isn’t the best team in the SEC.
9. Maryland (17-4)
Maryland played just one game this week but it was a significant win. The Terps beat Iowa and are now just a half game out of the lead in the Big Ten. The next month of play is a true gauntlet for Maryland, playing Rutgers, Illinois, and Michigan State two times. This provides a huge opportunity for the Terps to make a big late-season jump.
10. Florida State (18-3)
Florida State lost to Virginia on the road before traveling to VTech where they took a win to split the week. For some reason, it seems like the Seminoles are just a product of the ACC being weak rather than just being a deserving team. A matchup against Duke in two weeks should tell us more.
11. Oregon (18-5)
Oregon also split games this week, beating Cal on the road and losing to Stanford at their place as well. I think we’ve reached the point where regardless of what happens, we think of the Ducks as the best team in the Pac 12, it’s just a question of how the conference stacks up against the rest of the country.
12. Villanova (17-4)
Villanova beat Saint John’s but lost to Creighton at home which results in a disappointing week. Nova has a good solid core of players but you still get the feeling that they are missing that one extra piece to make them a real title contender. It’s the Wildcats, which means there’s always a chance for some magic, but I don’t think it’ll happen this year.
13. LSU (17-4)
The Tigers beat Alabama and Ole Miss this week to improve to 17-4 and a perfect 8-0 in the SEC. No other team in the conference has less than two losses which puts LSU in a prime spot to win the regular season title. The national respect is coming in a little late for this team, but it’s here and doesn’t look like it’ll be going away.
14. Kentucky (16-5)
Kentucky was on the wrong side of a loss to Auburn this week, pushing the Wildcats down to third in the SEC. John Calipari’s team has only played 5 games on the road this year and is a mere 3-2 in those games. Kentucky needs to be more consistent on the road to be a title contender and time is running out to do so.
15. Iowa (16-6)
Iowa did lose to Maryland, but was able to salvage the week with a win over Illinois. It’s not often that a team loses and jumps into the rankings but that summarizes the week we experienced. The Hawkeyes are right in the midst of the Big Ten and are certainly not out of the running to make a late push.
16. West Virginia (17-4)
WVU traveled to Lubbock where they lost to Texas Tech but rebounded with a win over Kansas State. However, when you look forward, these games don’t mean a thing. The entire country will be watching in two weeks when the Mountaineers take on Kansas and Baylor back-to-back in what will decide the results of the Big 12.
Next Five: Michigan State, Penn State, Seton Hall, Illinois, Butler
Players of the Week
1. Vernon Carey – Duke
Duke’s double-double machine, Vernon Carey, had yet another tremendous week. Against Pitt, Carey had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists. He then put up 26 points and 17 rebounds against Syracuse. Carey was efficient from the floor, shooting a combined 20-for-31 in his two games.
2. Filip Petrusev – Gonzaga
Filip Petrusev scored 31 points on 14-for-18 shooting and added 9 rebounds against Santa Clara. He closed the week with a 23-point and 11-rebound performance in which he shot 8-for-14 from the floor. Petrusev has been picking it up lately and will surely be a key to Gonzaga’s success in the NCAA Tournament.
3. Luka Garza – Iowa
Luka Garza added to his stellar campaign with yet another week which lands him on the Players of the Week list. He went for 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting (4-for-9 from three) and contributed 10 rebounds against Illinois. He also added 21 points against Maryland.
4. Markus Howard – Marquette
Markus Howard scored his 2,500th point this week to just add on to what can only be describes as an incredible career. His minutes were limited against Xavier due to a head injury suffered in-game, but he came back against DePaul and swiftly dropped 31 points.
5. Anthony Cowen – Maryland
Anthony Cowen is a player everybody wants to have on their team. He’s experienced, smart and talented and he used all of that to put up some big numbers this week. Cowen played in just one game, but scored 31 points, grabbed 6 boards and dished out 6 assists in a win over Iowa.