This season we have seen a lot of chaos in the rankings, but for the most part the top of the list has remained relatively the same. This week that all changed. Four of the top five teams from our rankings suffered a loss, while 12 of the 21 teams from the rankings a week ago couldn’t escape the week unscathed. I don’t even know a proper way to summarize, let’s just get to the Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Kansas (24-3)
The Jayhawks become the top dog in our list after its big win over previously ranked No. 1 Baylor. Kansas has the best resume in the country now. Two of the losses are by a combined three points and come to two teams in the Power 16 (Duke/Villanova) and have now avenged the other loss on the schedule. This likely will not be the last time Kansas meets Baylor, whether it comes in the Big 12 Tournament or during March Madness.
2. Baylor (24-2)
Baylor only drops one spot here. The Bears still have a win over Kansas on the road and remain one of the best teams in the country. I don’t think anyone is really too worried after a loss to Kansas and rightfully so. The Bears are still in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, assuming they don’t collapse in the last couple of weeks.
3. Gonzaga (27-2)
Gonzaga lost its first game in what seems like an eternity. BYU hosted the Zags and were too much to handle for Mark Few’s team. It’s been some time since we had seen the Bulldogs look as bad as they did and for now, we’ll chalk it up as an off-night. Gonzaga’s defense has been a bit suspect at times this season, so hopefully they can tighten it up come crunch time.
4. Dayton (25-2)
Dayton moves up thanks to wins over VCU and Duquesne, but really, it’s more because of the losses ahead of them. The Flyers seem to be thought of as a fluke team, but they have already proven they can compete with the elites (i.e Kansas) and show no signs of weakness in the A10. I like Dayton to run the table and secure a No. 1 seed in the postseason.
5. Kentucky (22-5)
The Wildcats built on their lead in the SEC with wins over LSU and Florida this week. Kentucky has been showing a tendency to be in a lot of close games, which is both concerning and promising. On one hand, they can’t pull away from opponents, but they also have shown time and time again they can execute down the stretch and find ways to win games.
6. San Diego State (26-1)
I was so sure that SDSU had secured the perfect season, but then UNLV came to town. Of the remaining games on the schedule, UNLV was probably the last team I would’ve picked to beat the Aztec but here we are. I don’t think this loss is too much to look into but it did probably cost San Diego State a No. 1 seed moving forward.
7. Louisville (23-5)
Louisville responded to its back-to-back losses with two blowouts over Syracuse and UNC. The Cardinals have almost made you forget last week even happened because of how good they looked on the court this week. A big clash with Florida State is awaiting the Cards, the winner of which will take the top spot in the ACC standings.
8. Duke (23-4)
The Blue Devils opened the week with an embarrassing performance against NC State. A 22-point loss is a pretty bad look this late in the season, but the team did respond with a 24-point win over Virginia Tech. Duke does get a chance to avenge this loss with a matchup against NC State in a couple weeks.
9. Florida State (23-4)
The third straight ACC team in the rankings goes to the Seminoles. The top of the conference is tight as can be, and a looming matchup against Louisville can help give FSU a much-needed boost. Florida State slots right behind Duke, since Duke has the head-to-head win over the Seminoles.
10. Maryland (22-5)
Maryland suffered its first loss in a while, this time at the hands of Ohio State on the road. Regardless, the Terps are still the top team in the Big Ten, having built a multi-game lead in the loaded conference. A road loss in the Big Ten is nothing to be concerned about since literally every other team seems unable to win a road game in conference play.
11. Villanova (21-6)
Villanova picked up a pair of wins two of the Big East’s weaker opponents in DePaul and Xavier. Despite not having the best conference record, I still do believe that Nova is the best team in the conference. Seton Hall and Creighton are close, but Jay Wright has earned the benefit of the doubt in these situations.
12. Creighton (22-6)
The Blue Jays had a big week. They took down Marquette on the road and then absolutely clobbered Butler at home. The last two and a half weeks have been incredible for Creighton, picking up three ranked wins. Watch out for this team making a late push in the Big East.
13. Seton Hall (20-7)
Rounding out the second same-conference trio in the rankings, comes Seton Hall. The Pirates beat Butler and St. John’s this week and are now gearing up for a brutal end of the season schedule. They have to travel to Marquette and Creighton as well as host Villanova for the team’s final three games. If Seton Hall can finish the regular season unbeaten, they would have to be the top team in the Big East.
14. Auburn (23-4)
Auburn looked pretty bad when they lost to Georgia early in the week, but did rebound a little with a win over Tennessee. The Tigers are the one team in the nation with an elite record that doesn’t get the elite-level love. For now, I don’t think they deserve it but can add a win over Kentucky this week which may change my mind.
15. Oregon (21-7)
The Ducks travelled to Arizona State, the hottest team in the Pac 12, and suffered a 5-point loss. They then went into Arizona’s place and won an OT thriller by a single point. The top spot in the conference is now a five-team race which makes these next couple of games important for the Ducks. I’m going to view the upcoming games as playoff games and see if Oregon is good enough to be a legit contender.
16. Penn State (20-7)
There’s no other way to put it other than that this was an embarrassing week for the Nittany Lions. They crack a spot in the top ten and then immediately lose two games, one to Illinois at home and then on the toad to Indiana. Despite late game runs in each contest, Penn State looked outclassed in both games. PSU needs to pick it back up in the coming weeks.
Next Five: Virginia, Iowa, BYU, Colorado, Arizona State
Players of the Week
1. Udoka Azubuike – Kansas
Udoka Azubuike opened the week with a modest 13-point, 7-rebound performance but then absolutely snapped in the win against Baylor. He finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks and was unquestionably the best player on the floor. Azubuike was 5-for-7 from the field against Iowa State and 11-for-13 against the Bears.
2. Payton Pritchard – Oregon
Payton Pritchard helped spark a late-game run, but ultimately the team fell short against Arizona State. He finished with 18 points against the Sun Devils, but made a bigger impact in the OT win over Arizona. Pritchard tallied 38 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in the contest, setting a career-high in scoring.
3. Immanuel Quickley – Kentucky
Immanuel Quickley makes his first appearance on this list after leading the Wildcats in scoring in both games this week. He scored 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting and added 5 assists, 4 boards and 3 steals against LSU. Quickley then scored a career-high 26 points in a win over Florida.
4. Jordan Nwora – Louisville
It’s been awhile since Jordan Nwora made this list, but he’s back. It wasn’t a crazy week by any means, but two solid outings nonetheless. He scored 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds against Syracuse and recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds against UNC.
5. Daniel Oturu – Minnesota
Daniel Oturu Started the week with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks in a loss to Indiana, but responded with a 22-point, 12-rebound, 3-block outing against Northwestern. Oturu is one of the best big men in the Big Ten, and maybe even the country. He’s definitely been playing like it.