This week in college basketball was capped off with one of the best UNC-Duke rivalry games in recent memory. Outside of that we saw ranked opponents take games into overtime, ranked teams suffer multiple losses and some surefire changes in next week’s AP rankings. The top 10 teams from last week remain the same, although in slightly different order, but the bottom of these rankings is completely different from a week ago. Eight of the last 11 teams from the previous Power 16 rankings lost a game this week which leads to a new and improved Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (25-1)
After surviving the scare from San Francisco a week ago, the Zags decided to go on a tear. This week the Bulldogs beat Loyola Marymount by 18 and beating Saint Mary’s by 30 on the road. Gonzaga literally couldn’t miss, shooting a combined 66-for-103 (64.1%) from the floor in their two games. I’m always a critic of Mark Few’s teams because I don’t believe beating bad teams is that impressive, but this year I get a different feeling. They crush everyone which leads me to believe this might be the year for the Bulldogs.
2. Baylor (21-1)
Baylor kept the ball rolling with a pair of single-digit wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The Bears didn’t play exceptionally well, but they won. Next up are games against Texas and West Virginia. The latter of the two should make for a great matchup and yet another chance for Baylor to distance themselves from the rest of the Big 12.
3. Louisville (21-3)
The Cardinals bested Wake Forest and Virginia this week to improve to an ACC best 12-1 in conference play. Besides holding the best record, Louisville arguably has the easiest remaining schedule in the conference, only having four of the remaining seven games against teams with a winning record.
4. Kansas (20-3)
The Jayhawks continue to hang in there with Baylor atop the Big 12 and national rankings. They have won 8 straight games since losing to Baylor and it seems people have already forgotten about the KU-KSU brawl a couple of weeks ago. The next two weeks are huge for Kansas as they’ll play West Virginia, Oklahoma and Baylor.
5. San Diego State (24-0)
Five Games. That’s all that stands between San Diego State and an undefeated regular season. ESPN’s BPI gives the Aztecs at least a 70% chance to win each remaining game, including a 90%+ in three of the five games. The toughest remaining game will play out next week as SDSU travels to play Boise State.
6. Duke (20-3)
I won’t say too much because you must’ve had to intentionally try and avoid it if you didn’t see how the Duke-UNC game played out. However, the magnitude of winning college basketball’s biggest rivalry on the road and in that fashion is nothing short of phenomenal. The Blue Devils get no time to rest as they will host Florida State on Monday and look to further close the gap will Louisville.
7. Auburn (21-2)
Auburn won both games this week in OT and each by one possession. First on the road at Arkansas and then at home against LSU. I’ve admittedly had my doubts about the Tigers, but I think it’s time to say that this team is in fact the best in the SEC. Bruce Pearl will get some time to relax a bit as they play four straight average opponents.
8. Dayton (21-2)
Despite continuing their win streak, the Flyers drop in these rankings because it’s inevitable that playing lesser opponents will catch up to you. When teams like Auburn are beating LSU and you’re busy playing Fordham, people are going to have some doubts. Regardless, Dayton is still highly ranked and really shouldn’t move much further down.
9. Maryland (19-4)
Maryland added to the resume by taking down Rutgers and Illinois this week. With the Big Ten being such a mad house, Maryland has been able to slightly move ahead of the pack with a nice winning streak as of late. Although every game in the Big Ten is dangerous this season, a matchup with Michigan State is particularly worrisome next week in Lansing.
10. Florida State (20-3)
It’s been over a month since we’ve seen the Seminoles face another elite opponent, but the wait is up with a looming clash against Duke at Cameron Indoor. There’s no arguing that Florida State has looked good, but we want to see if they can take down a solidified beast of a team. Next week will tell us a lot.
11. Kentucky (18-5)
Kentucky responded to the Auburn loss with back-to-back wins against Mississippi State and Tennessee. Next week should be an easy one for the Wildcats, playing Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. However, Big Blue Nation will get to play both LSU and Auburn as they make a late push to become the top team in the SEC.
12. Seton Hall (18-5)
The Pirates had a nice week, picking up two road wins against Georgetown and Villanova. The Big East has been a little like the Big Ten in the way that teams just continue to beat each other, but Seton Hall is the one team who has found some success. A 10-1 conference record is far above the pack and having wins over the conference’s best team is never a bad look either.
13. Penn State (18-5)
Penn State is the biggest surprise in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are second in conference record and have a win over Maryland, who is the team above them. This week PSU added wins over Michigan State on the road and Minnesota at home. Lamar Stevens is playing some of his best basketball which has led to a conversation if Penn State could actually be the best team in the Big Ten.
14. Oregon (18-6)
For the second straight week the Ducks fell to an unranked team. This week, it was the teams only game of the week. Even with two recent losses, Oregon’s resume is up there with the best of them thanks to a brutal early season slate, however the recent struggles are a bit worrisome.
15. Colorado (19-5)
Colorado has an 8-3 record in the Pac 12 and actually holds the lead in the conference. Many people think of Oregon as the only real contender out of the Pac 12 with Arizona as a distant second, but the fact is that the Buffaloes might be better than both. They will play Oregon next week.
16. Houston (19-5)
I’m taking a big jump on Houston here. They haven’t done anything to necessarily jump off the page, but they’ve put together a very respectable season. The Cougars have beaten Wichita State twice and a ranked Washington team. Houston has a couple of chances to boost their resume in the coming weeks, which could justify my spot here a little more.
Next Five: Creighton, West Virginia, Villanova, LSU, Iowa
Players of the Week:
1. Udoka Azubuike – Kansas
Udoka Azubuike had a monster week. Azubuike has somewhat fallen off the map from years past but still remains a viable option in the paint. This week he recorded 17 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks against Texas and then added 20 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks to his weekly total against TCU.
2. Lamar Stevens – Penn State
Lamar Stevens has led the Nittany Lions to the top of the Big Ten and this week was an example of how he’s done so. In a road win at Michigan State, Stevens had 24 points, 7 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. He followed up with 33 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists against Minnesota.
3. Tre Jones – Duke
Tre Jones went crazy at the end of regulation and into overtime against UNC, almost single handedly bringing the Blue Devils to a win. He finished with 28 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals against the Tar Heels. Jones also hit the shot to send the game to OT and had the “pass” which set up Wendell Moore for the game-winner.
4. Daniel Oturu – Minnesota
Daniel Oturu, standing at 6’10” 240 lbs., is a force in the paint. He used his size and skill to tally 17 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks against Wisconsin. Against Penn State, Oturu finished with an impressive 32 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. Monster week from a monster player.
5. Jalen Smith – Maryland
Jalen Smith has been one of the brightest spots on the Maryland roster this season. His 14 points, 15 boards and 6 blocks helped the Terps get past Rutgers and his 11-point, 11-rebound outing got Maryland past a ranked Illinois team.