If there was ever a day to summarize this wild season it would’ve been this Saturday. On Saturday, 7 ranked teams lost to unranked opponents. What’s crazier is that it isn’t even the most on a single day this season. On our list we have a new No. 1, three new additions to the top 10 and two new teams joining the rankings. Louisville and Seton Hall losing two games a piece caps off the crazy week which leads us to this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Baylor (23-1)
After a couple of weeks, I’m finally ready to give the Bears the No. 1 spot on this list. The win over West Virginia, in which Baylor had the lead from start to finish, was impressive enough to give them the edge over Gonzaga. However, the top spot is in danger as a clash with Kansas this upcoming week brings yet another opportunity to build their resume.
2. Gonzaga (26-1)
Gonzaga only played one game this week and traveled to Pepperdine for an easy win. The Zags, along with Baylor, continue to distance themselves from the rest of the country with their continued success. With a No. 1 seed in the tournament all but locked up, the Bulldogs just need to take care of business from here on out in the regular season.
3. Kansas (22-3)
This week Kansas went on the road to take down WVU and also hosted Oklahoma in a 17-point win. It’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming game against Baylor impacts rankings and perception as the two top dogs in the Big 12 fight for a No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks already dropped their home game against the Bears and will need to steal a win on the road to make up for it.
4. San Diego State (26-0)
San Diego State is now just three games away from perfection after taking down New Mexico and Boise State this week. Assuming that the Aztecs run the table and finish the year undefeated, the only question will be whether or not SDSU gets the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament. If they drop a game, it becomes a question of if they are a No. 1 seed at all.
5. Duke (22-3)
The Blue Devils, despite not having the star power as in years’ past, might have one of the better Duke teams in recent memory. With a win over Florida State and an annihilation of Notre Dame, Duke is now the top team in the ACC. Coach K has depth and multiple shooters, something he’s lacked in the past, and now it’s up to him to figure out a National Championship game plan to implement.
6. Dayton (23-2)
Outside of Obi Toppin throwing down a windmill dunk on his brother who plays for Rhode Island, this was just another run-of-the-mill week for the Flyers. Dayton has won 14 straight games and has shown no signs of slowing down. Dayton has a very real chance of running the table as ESPN’s BPI gives the team at least a 62% chance to win each of it’s remaining games.
7. Maryland (21-4)
The Terps barely edged out a 2-point win over Nebraska this week, but made a bigger splash with their win over Michigan State on the road. Maryland has had a lead on the rest of the Big Ten for quite some time and has now become one of two teams remaining in true contention for the crown.
8. Kentucky (20-5)
Kentucky has been flying under the radar (for Kentucky standards) but has been one of the most solid and consistent teams throughout the year. The rest of the month is pretty tough for the Wildcats, having to face LSU, Florida and Auburn before March comes around. Big Blue Nation holds the lead in the SEC and could very well win the conference once again.
9. Penn State (20-5)
If someone were to tell me that Penn State would be a top ten team this year, I would’ve told them that they’re crazy, but here we are. The Nittany Lions have won 8 straight games and have one of the most impressive road-win resumes in the nation. PSU is just one game back of the Maryland at the top of the conference, but faces a tough schedule for the rest of the regular season.
10. Oregon (19-6)
The Ducks took down both Colorado and Utah this week, picking up a much-needed ranked win against an in-conference opponent. Oregon seems to have dropped off a bit from where they were earlier in the season, but remain a legit title contender in my eyes. The team isn’t flashy, but their scrappy and experienced. Regardless of what standings might say, this is the best team in the Pac 12.
11. Auburn (22-3)
Auburn continued their tendency of being in close games, as they took Alabama to OT in a win, but then lost to Missouri on the road. Despite the loss, the Tigers are still owners of one of the best records in the country, but not necessarily one of the best resumes. You get the feeling that this team still has something to prove in the post season.
12. Louisville (21-5)
Louisville had a week to forget. Two losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson is a tough look for a team that was thought to be the best in the ACC. You could try to justify the losses because they were both on the road, but in neither game did the Cardinals look like they were the better team on the court. Bad week for sure, but not the end of the world.
13. Florida State (21-4)
The Seminoles had to travel to Cameron Indoor to play Duke, but ultimately suffered a 5-point loss. They did avenge the loss with a close win over Syracuse later in the week to bring their overall record to 21-4. Florida State is a very good team. The only question at this point is if they are a great team.
14. Villanova (19-6)
Nova was able to beat Marquette and Temple this week and jump back into the Power 16 because of it. Villanova, when clicking, is right up there with the best of them, however a glaring lack of consistency seems to be too much of a hindrance to allow the team to achieve greatness. Although, there are a couple of tough games left on the schedule to possibly prove me wrong.
15. Creighton (20-6)
Creighton kept their push going with a win at Seton Hall followed by a smacking of DePaul. Next week is another tough one, facing both Marquette and Butler. The Blue Jays are just one game out of the lead spot in the Big East and are using this late-season run to boost their rankings going into the post season.
16. Colorado (20-6)
The final spot in these rankings could have gone to a variety of teams but I ultimately gave it to Colorado. They did lose to Oregon this week, but it was on the road and they responded by beating Oregon State by 22 points. The Buffaloes are atop the Pac 12 standings which is a great accomplishment, but they aren’t a better team than the Ducks.
Next Five: Seton Hall, Marquette, Virginia, West Virginia, Houston
Players of the Week
1. Luka Garza – Iowa
Luka Garza is once again in the spotlight after another spectacular week. Against Indiana, Garza put up 38 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. He then scored 24 points and grabbed 8 rebounds against Minnesota. Garza shot a combined 25-for-43 for the week.
2. Alpha Diallo – Providence
Alpha Diallo opened the week with a monster 19-point, 17-rebound performance. He then followed up with career-high 35 points in a win over Seton Hall. He also tallied 10 boards. Providence’s season hasn’t been much to write home about, but Diallo is a consistent bright spot on the team.
3. Austin Wiley – Auburn
In an overtime win against Alabama, Austin Wiley totaled 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, 17 rebounds and 5 blocks. His next time on the floor he scored 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds in a loss to Mizzou.
4. Jalen Smith – Maryland
During a 2-point win against Nebraska, Jalen Smith shot 7-for-10 from the floor on his way to 16 points and 13 rebounds. In the “upset” over Michigan State, Smith finished with 17 points and 10 boards. Smith has been the best player on the best team in the Big Ten this year.
5. Obi Toppin – Dayton
By now, most basketball fans know who Obi Toppin is. The Dayton star scored 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting and corralled 10 rebounds against Rhode Island before scoring 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting and adding 7 rebounds against UMass.