This college basketball season has already shown it’s going to be a bumpy ride throughout the year. Games are being canceled and postponed at a rate we’ve never seen and it doesn’t look likely to end anytime soon. There’s been a lot to take in thus far, so let’s get right into this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (3-0)
Cancellations prevented Gonzaga from taking the floor this week, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the best team in the country right now. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to see the Zags play Iowa this week in a clash between two of the top teams in the nation.
2. Iowa (6-0)
The Hawkeyes picked up three wins this week over UNC, Iowa State and Northern Illinois. Iowa is averaging over 100 points per game this season and might have the best offense in the country. Like I just mentioned, we might get to see Iowa play Gonzaga this week in what would be Game of the Year thus far.
3. Baylor (4-0)
Baylor was one of many teams to struggle with some game cancellations, but we’re still able to take the court for a game against SF Austin. Baylor’s balanced offense and solid defense make up what is clearly one of the top teams in the NCAA and the unquestioned favorite in the Big 12.
4. Michigan State (6-0)
The Spartans beat Oakland in a high-scoring 109-91 affair this week. MSU has largely played bad teams, but the wins over Duke and Notre Dame are enough to lock in Michigan State as a top five team so far this year. The Big Ten will provide some good competition and right now, we have to think the Spartans are the top dog.
5. Kansas (6-1)
The Jayhawks were able to add a big win over Creighton as well as Omaha. After dropping the season opener to Gonzaga, Kansas has now rattled off six straight that include two ranked wins. Kansas has a lot of potential and could give Baylor a run for their money, but would need to clean things up a little first.
6. Villanova (5-1)
Nova’s win over Texas showed me a lot about the team. I had my concerns, but now see the vision on Villanova’s capabilities. Next week, the Wildcats will face off with Butler and Virginia (hopefully), which will let us see more about what kind of team Jay Wright has this year.
7. West Virginia (6-1)
The Mountaineers picked up a pair of wins over North Texas and Richmond. I believe Richmond was vastly overrated, but it’s a ranked win nonetheless. I like what West Virginia has to offer, and with the only blemish being a loss to Gonzaga, there isn’t much reason for concern. WVU has an outside shot at taking the Big 12 crown.
8. Houston (4-0)
Houston is one of many teams who didn’t play this week, so there’s not too much to talk about. Former Kansas recruit, Quentin Grimes, is the team’s best player and leader, but the team has a good group of role players who compliment Grimes’ play pretty well. Don’t write off Houston just based on name value.
9. Wisconsin (4-1)
The Badgers beat Rhode Island to improve to 4-1 and got the much needed bounce-back win after the Marquette loss a week ago. Wisconsin is one of the biggest question marks in my eyes. I can’t say for sure if this team is the real deal or not as they are largely untested. The first ranked matchup on the schedule isn’t until the 25th, so we might be in the dark until that clash with Michigan State.
10. Illinois (4-2)
After beating Duke, the Fighting Illini fell to Missouri on Saturday for the second loss of the year. I never want to put too much into one game, but I definitely would have liked to see Illinois get past a team like Mizzou, especially with the expectations this team has. I still think Illinois has all the pieces it needs, but I guess we’ll see as the season progresses. It was likely just a fluke.
11. Texas (5-1)
Texas easily beat Texas State in what was essentially a glorified exhibition (Texas State lost to Our Lady of the Lake this week as well). I’m probably a little higher on the Longhorns than most, but I see all the pieces they need to be a great team. The Big 12 is super talented this year, so we’ll get to see where Texas ranks amongst those teams.
12. Virginia (3-1)
Yet another team who didn’t grace the court this year, Virginia remains at 3-1. A potential game against Villanova this week would be an exciting one as well a telling one. The Cavaliers have had a rough start to the year, not looking good in many (if any) of their games so far. UVA should have some chances to silence the doubters soon enough.
13, Michigan (6-0)
I’ll say it again, Michigan is being disrespected more than any team in the country. Since starting the season ranked, the Wolverines have won six straight and remain outside of the AP rankings. It would be a crime if they are left out once again, but I would imagine this team starts to get some recognition this week.
14. Duke (2-2)
The Blue Devils fell once again this week, this time to Illinois. Falling to 2-2 isn’t a great look by any means, but at least those losses came to a pair of top ten teams. Duke has a lot of issues that need to be worked out, but scheduling these tough games early in the year should prove to be beneficial in the long run.
15. Creighton (4-1)
The Blue Jays opened the week with a one-point loss to Kansas and then came back with a 24-point win over Nebraska. I think a lot can be said about being so competitive against a team like Kansas. Creighton is no joke and has the capability to be a legit contender.
16. Ohio State (5-0)
The Buckeyes moved to 5-0 this week, but have been largely untested. EJ Liddell is a capable leader and could very well lead this Ohio State team to a run for the Big Ten title. Obviously, conference play will show a lot, but for now I’m buying in on the Buckeyes.
Next Five: Tennessee, Rutgers, Oregon, Virginia Tech, North Carolina
Players of the Week
Justin Champagne – Pittsburgh
What an absolute week Justin Champagnie had. Champagnie had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Northern Iowa and then tallied 24 points, 21 rebounds and 5 assists against Gardner-Webb.
Fardaws Aimaq – Utah Valley
With so many games cancelled this week, I was forced to dive deep into the smaller conferences to find players of the week, and we found Fardaws Aimaq from Utah Valley. First, 20 points, 15 boards and 5 blocks followed by 27 points and 20 rebounds on a combined 16-for-27 shooting.
Luka Garza – Iowa
It almost goes without saying, Luka Garza once again makes this list. In three games this week, Garza added a 16-point, 14-rebound, 4-block performance against UNC, a 34-point on 13-for-14 shooting outing, and a 23-point and 8-rebound game to his resume. This man should be the clear frontrunner for the Player of the Year award.
Ayo Dosumnu – Illinois
In the win over Duke, Dosumnu led his team with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. He followed up by recording 36 points along with 5 boards against Missouri. Dosunmu will likely be another familiar face on this weekly list.
Charles Bassey – Western Kentucky
Bassey, while at a smaller school, is putting up bigger numbers than most. It’s tough to tell how he would translate to a power conference, but at this point in the season most schools are playing bad competition, so what’s the difference? Anyways, Bassey put up 29 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks before recording 13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks to close the week.
Play of the Week:
This week we’re moving away from the poster dunks and going towards a deep buzzer-beater. Lamar’s own Davion Buster hit a three-pointer from the logo at the buzzer to put Lamar over UL-Lafayette. Check it out below.