This was definitely the hardest rankings of the year to put together. Throughout the week, 9 of the 16 teams from last week lost at least one game, including each team ranked between 7th and 12th. Most conferences have just one week remaining in the regular season while some others are starting conference championships this week. With one final week remaining, here are this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Kansas (26-3)
Kansas built it’s lead on the rest of the country with two wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas State. The Jayhawks have really established themselves as a legit No. 1 seed moving into the postseason are probably playing the best basketball as a team all season. There is still the possibility of a trilogy between Kansas and Baylor which would be another fight for the crown in the Big 12.
2. Gonzaga (29-2)
The Zags closed out the regular season strong, adding wins over San Diego and Saint Mary’s to rebound from the BYU loss from last week. Mark Few will get over a week to get his team ready to close out the WCC tournament having secured a bye until the semifinal. Also, the tournament will likely give Gonzaga a chance to redeem themselves against BYU.
3. Dayton (27-2)
Dayton took down George Mason on the road before beating Davidson by 15 points at home this week. Despite what some people may think, this Flyers team has a real chance at cutting down the nets this season. We know about Obi Toppin, but there are other players on this team that can hurt you if you zone in on Toppin too much. Dayton will likely deservedly receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
4. Kentucky (24-5)
The Wildcats further proved what I’ve believed for some time now. Kentucky is the best team in the SEC. Wins over Texas A&M and Auburn have locked up the conference’s regular season crown and John Calipari’s team is now hitting its stride at the perfect time. This team is built to make a deep run in the postseason.
5. Baylor (25-3)
Baylor cruised past Kansas State this week, but also lost to TCU on the road. This was the Bears’ second loss in as many weeks and will be on upset alert for the final two games of the year as well. Texas Tech and West Virginia are no walk in the parks and are the next opponents on the schedule. This is a huge bounce back spot for Baylor.
6. San Diego State (28-1)
The Aztecs survived two pretty close games this week with a 6-point win over Colorado State and a 7-point win over Nevada. This wasn’t the type of response I was hoping for after the loss to UNLV, but at least it’s two wins. Having no ranked wins on the schedule and a pretty weak conference I don’t think SDSU deserves a spot on the No. 1 line, but a No. 2 seed is no short feat for this team.
7. Florida State (24-5)
This is where the rankings became very tough between a handful of teams. FSU outclassed Louisville, but then lost to Clemson. However, Clemson is a team that has a couple of high-profile upsets and was also at home, which lets me give the Seminoles the benefit of the doubt. The ACC tournament should be a lot of fun and will also provide Florida State a chance to further increase its ranking.
8. Seton Hall (21-7)
Seton Hall only played once this week, but picked up a win on the road against Marquette. The Big East has been similar to the Big Ten this season, a lot of good teams without one being able to separate from the pack. I think Seton Hall and Villanova are neck and neck, but Seton Hall has played the better basketball over the last month. The Big East tournament should be a hell of a ride.
9. Oregon (22-7)
The Ducks also graced the hardwood just once, but used the time to beat up on in-state rival Oregon State. Oregon seems to have lost the steam from earlier in the year but still remains as one of elite teams in the country in my eyes. I’m looking for Oregon to make a statement in the closing weeks before the big dance.
10. Louisville (24-6)
Louisville got beaten pretty bad by Florida State before bouncing back with a win over Virginia Tech. It seems like an eternity ago that this same team was once viewed as the consensus No. 1 team in the country. I don’t think the Cardinals are one of the favorites to win it all, but they’re definitely capable of getting hot and making a run at it.
11. Maryland (23-6)
Maryland skated past Minnesota on the road before being beaten by Michigan State at home. My faith in Maryland ahs been dwindling a little bit in the last couple of weeks, but the Terps are still the top team in arguably the toughest conference and that deserves some credit.
12. Virginia (21-7)
I’ve slowly been moving Virginia up the ranks the past couple of weeks and this week the team made the big statement to vault them into the Power 16. The win over Duke was a much-needed resume booster and now the Cavaliers are right in the conversation amongst the top teams in the ACC. As always, the team isn’t flashy, but they are finding ways to win games and that’s what really matters.
13. Duke (23-6)
Duke has now hit a wall. The Blu Devils have lost three of the last four games, including dropping both games this week against Wake Forest and Virginia. As is usually the case, Duke has one of the most talented rosters in the country, but seem to be struggling lately when it comes to figuring out how to use that talent.
14. Michigan State (20-9)
The Spartans have risen from the (seemingly) dead and have jumped back into our rankings. This week MSU added two big wins over Iowa and Maryland. Just like that, Michigan State is back in contention for the Big Ten title. The end of the year brings two more ranked opponents in Penn State and Ohio State, making the final stretch a difficult one for Tom Izzo.
15. Villanova (22-7)
Believe it or not, Villanova is third in the Big East, a conference we’re used to see them dominating. A loss to Providence, at home, isn’t a great look at this point in the season but I’m still not too concerned. A clash with Seton Hall next week is a great chance to make people forget about this loss and would also be a big confidence booster moving into the postseason.
16. BYU (24-7)
BYU made the big headlines a week ago with a win over Gonzaga, but only got to play one game this week in which they beat Pepperdine. I have to be honest, I don’t know if this team is truly a top 16 team right now, but hopefully we see a rematch against the Zags that will shine a brighter light on the makeup of the makeup of the Cougars.
Next Five: Creighton, Auburn, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State
Players of the Week
1. Luka Garza – Iowa
It’s only right that Luka Garza is up here once again. He is the overwhelming favorite (in my eyes) to win National Player of the Year and this week just built his case even stronger. He scored 20 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 assists against Michigan State before going for 25 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks in a win over Penn State.
2. Cassius Winston – Michigan State
Like I mentioned above, Michigan State is back and it’s largely in part to Cassius Winston. In the team’s big week, he had a 20-point, 9 assist and 5-rebound performance against Iowa, and tallied 20 points, 6 assists and 3 boards against Maryland.
3. Immanuel Quickley – Kentucky
Long story short, Immanuel Quickley went off this week. Against Texas A&M, he snapped for 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 8-for-12 from behind the arc. Quickley then followed up with 18 points and 12 rebounds against Auburn in a title-clinching game.
4. Filip Petrusev – Gonzaga
Against San Diego, Filip Petrusev tallied 21 points and 9 rebounds and then finished with 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting against Saint Mary’s. On a pretty balanced team, Petrusev has emerged as arguably the most lethal threat and will need to stay hot for the team’s success moving forward.
5. Obi Toppin – Dayton
We all know Obi Toppin is good, but he just continues to prove it week after week. This time around he scored 19 point and grabbed 7 boards against George Mason and then scored 23 points on an impressive 10-for-11 shooting against Davidson. He also corralled 12 rebounds and had 4 assists in the game.