The regular season is coming to a close in the next couple of days, leaving us with a final look of each team going into conference tournaments. As this is the time of the year where things matter most, there are some big changes in the rankings based on recent play. Everything is up to date as of Saturday night. Here are your final Power 16 and Players of the Week of this wild NCAA Basketball regular season.
1. Kansas (28-3)
Kansas added two more wins over TCU and Texas Tech this week. As of today, the Jayhawks have to be considered the best team in the country and the favorite to cut down the nets. That being said, this season has shown that nothing is a sure bet.
2. Gonzaga (29-2)
Gonzaga did not play this week as they received a bye straight to the WCC semifinal so there’s nothing to pull from. The Zags are still one of the premier teams in the country.
3. Dayton (29-2)
Dayton secured its school record 29th win over George Washington to close out the regular season. Obi Toppin has proven himself as a leader and has the capabilities to lead this team deep into the postseason. The Flyers are a big favorite to win the A10 championship and rightfully so, they are as legit as they come.
4. Florida State (26-5)
The Seminoles closed the regular season with a pair of wins over Notre Dame and Boston College. Florida State has been near the top of the ACC rankings for a majority of the season, but haven’t really been considered the best team in the conference. There is a real case for FSU to be the ACC champs and maybe even the national champs.
5. Oregon (24-7)
Oregon beat Cal pretty handedly and then took care of business against Stanford. Oregon has now won four in a row behind the stellar play of point guard Payton Pritchard (pictured). The Ducks have a recent history of playing its best basketball at the end of the regular season/conference tournament and we might be seeing this again this year. This is the favorite, in my eyes, to win the Pac 12 and should likely be the last remaining team in the conference in April.
6. Virginia (23-7)
There is a good chance I’m overreacting, but Virginia has arguable been the best team in the nation over the past two months, having beaten both Louisville and Duke in the past two weeks alone. The Cavaliers always seem to peak at the perfect time, and this year seems no different. The defense is elite, the offense seems to be good enough. Here comes a late room.
7. Duke (25-6)
Duke both avenged an earlier season loss to NC State and took down rival UNC at home this week. The Blue Devils have been a little shaky late in the season but have maybe turned a corner. There’s no question of the talent on the team, it’s just about putting it all together on the court. I still like Duke as one of the favorites to win it all.
8. Kentucky (25-6)
Kentucky lost to Tennessee this week, but responded with a come-from-behind win at Florida. I still peg the Wildcats as the favorite to win the SEC tournament as I believe they are both the most talented and complete team in the conference.
9. Baylor (26-4)
The once unquestioned No. 1 team in the land has fallen off a cliff lately. The Bears have lost 3 of their last 5 games and sometimes in bad fashion. It’s possible this team has been waiting for the postseason for awhile and fell asleep at the wheel, but I want a strong Big 12 tournament showing to regain my trust in this Baylor team.
10. San Diego State (30-2)
After being thought of as a near-lock to go undefeated, San Diego State now has two losses on the resume after losing to Utah State in the Mountain West championship. I do still think the Aztecs are one of the best teams out there, it’s just a matter of how they’ll hold up against the better competition that will be coming their way.
11. Michigan State (21-9)
The Spartans played just one game this week, but used that game to add a road win over a ranked Penn State team. Michigan State has come back from a bad place for program standards and are once again back in the conversation for title contenders.
12. Villanova (24-7)
Nova beat Seton Hall and Georgetown both on the road this week. These are two good wins to close out the regular season and build some confidence. The Wildcats are one of those teams that you can’t sleep on in March and will try to emerge as the best in the Big East in the upcoming conference tournament.
13. Louisville (24-7)
A 4-point win against Virginia Tech and a 3-point loss against Virginia leave the Cardinals feeling a bit uncertain at the end of the regular season. I don’t know if Louisville is a true contender right now, but a strong showing in the ACC tournament may be able to change my mind.
14. Creighton (24-7)
The Blue Jays beat Georgetown and Seton Hall this week, locking in a share of the Big East regular season crown. Now the true test starts, where every team will play like there is no tomorrow. Creighton is right there with Villanova as the best in the conference and both teams will fight for the title of best in conference.
15. BYU (24-7)
BYU, like Gonzaga, did not play this week and thus leave us with no takeaways for the week. However, the Cougars will be looking to pull a Utah State-esque upset over a big favorite in the conference tournament in the coming weeks.
16. Maryland (23-7)
The Terps lost to Rutgers by 11 points in their only game of the week. Maryland does get a chance to rebound with a win over Michigan tomorrow night which could help ease the pain of the late-season loss.
Next Five: Auburn, Seton Hall, Ohio State, Wisconsin, West Virginia
Players of the Week
1. Udoka Azubuike – Kansas
Despite being questionable with an ankle injury, Udoka Azubuike snapped for 31 points on 13-for-14 shooting and 14 rebounds in a win over TCU. He also added 5 blocks. Then, against Texas Tech, Azubuike tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds. He’s been one of the better players in the country in the last couple weeks and this was another great addition to the run.
2. Markus Howard – Marquette
Markus Howard had a typical Markus Howard week. 31 points and 7 rebounds against DePaul and 30 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists against St. John’s. There’s no question that Howard is one of the best scorers the game has seen in quite some time, and this was a great way to end his final regular season.
3. Marcus Zegarowski – Creighton
Marcus Zegarowski scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting (4-for-6 from deep) and added 8 assists and 4 rebounds in a dominating win over Georgetown. He then led his team across the board with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists against Seton Hall. He once again shot 8-for-10 from the field, this time including 5-for-5 from behind the arc.
4. Samir Doughty – Auburn
Samir Doughty used 5 three-pointers to pile up 25 points against Texas A&M and quickly turned around for a 32-point outing against Tennessee. Doughty has been one of the better players on this team all season long.
5. Obi Toppin – Dayton
Obi Toppin supplied his team two performances of 20 points and 27 points this week. His 27-5-5 line against Dayton was a perfect way to summarize his season with the Flyers, doing a little bit of everything to help his team succeed.