As the weeks go by, we learn more and more about each team and how the season might play out. Arguably the biggest thing we’ve learned is that Gonzaga is the best team in the country, and it might not even be that close. Aside from the Zags, it’s a bit of war to find the next best teams. It’s sure to be a year full of upsets, and we’ve already seen a couple of big ones. With that said, here is this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (4-0)
Anybody who questioned Gonzaga as the best team in the country should have been humbled this week. The Zags took down Iowa relatively easily, having the lead for what seemed like the entire game. The Bulldogs just booked a game against Virginia for the upcoming week, showing that they are truly scared of no one… and honestly, there’s no reason they should be.
2. Baylor (5-0)
The Bears moved to 5-0 on the season with a 31-point win over Kansas State to open up Big 12 play. Baylor will close the month with a couple of cupcake games, but soon enough we’ll be able to see this team face off with the rest of the conference.
3. Iowa (6-1)
Iowa played just one game, and that was a loss to the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. Like so many other teams in these rankings, it’s not too big of a blemish to lose to the best team in the nation. I still anticipate the Hawkeyes to be a one-seed come the NCAA Tournament as they are led by, in my opinion, the best player in college basketball and also have an elite supporting cast.
4. Kansas (7-1)
The Jayhawks picked up another ranked win over Texas Tech in their only game of the week. With only one loss to Gonzaga and three ranked wins on the resume, it’s fair to talk about Kansas being the top team behind the Zags. For now, we’ll leave them at No. 4, but with two more ranked opponents coming up there’s a big opportunity to jump further up.
5. Villanova (7-1)
Nova was one of the few teams to play more than once this week and used that blessing to pile on two more wins to the resume. As of today, Villanova doesn’t have a ranked opponent until the middle of February, while that’s obviously subject to change, it’s a little disappointing to know the Wildcats have a bit of an easy stretch. However, from what we’ve seen this team is pretty solid top to bottom.
6. West Virginia (7-1)
Well, here we reach yet another team who’s only loss is to Gonzaga (that makes three in the top seven teams). WVU tallied a win over Iowa State this week and are getting ready for a huge test against Kansas in a couple of days. The winner of that game likely takes the title of top contender to Baylor in the Big 12.
7. Michigan State (6-1)
We had to wait until Sunday to see the Spartans take the floor this week and it was quite disappointing once we did. Michigan State looked pretty bad in the 14-point loss to Northwestern, the game wasn’t even competitive. I still peg MSU as the second best team in the Big Ten, but things have been a little shaky recently.
8. Wisconsin (6-1)
Wisconsin added two wins this week, one of which was a 37-point victory over Louisville. I can’t say I agree with Louisville being ranked, but beating a ranked team in that fashion is a good look for the Badgers moving forward. Wisconsin is a bad bounce and some sketchy refereeing away from being undefeated and should maybe be taken a little more seriously.
9. Houston (5-0)
The Cougars beat Alcorn State in a 33-point blowout in their lone game this week. As could be expected, Houston won’t play much competition this season and will likely be in that San Diego State territory from a year ago. I expect this team to run the table, and one loss could be detrimental to my view on their potential moving forward.
10. Texas (7-1)
Texas added two wins over Sam Houston State and Oklahoma State. I really like what the Longhorns have, and the emergence of Greg Brown will only make them better. Maybe I’m a little too optimistic, but a game against Kansas this week will show us a little more.
11. Virginia (3-1)
Virginia had only cancellations this week, but I’m still surprised on how low they’ve been dropping in the national rankings. I get that there’s been issues, but this team is still decently talented and still has one of the best coaches in the country, we shouldn’t count them out just yet.
12. Michigan (6-0)
The Wolverines also didn’t play this week, but remain undefeated as conference play begins. I think Michigan has an outside shot at taking the Big Ten crown and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Don’t worry, Michigan fans, I got your back.
13. Duke (3-2)
Seeing Duke drop to No. 21 in the AP rankings after two losses to top-10 teams didn’t make much sense to me, especially since Creighton only dropped one spot after losing to Kansas, but that’s besides the point. The Blue Devils are still super talented and are only going to get better as the freshmen get more comfortable. Some early woes are far from a concern for Duke fans.
14. Tennessee (4-0)
I’ve been waiting to let Tennessee crack the Power 16 because we had yet to see them on the court until two weeks ago. The Volunteers have increased their margin of victory in each game so far, winning games by 9, 10, 41 and 54 points. I’ve now seen enough to let them crack the rankings, but can’t put them as high as some other polls just quite yet.
15. Rutgers (6-0)
I’ve had Rutgers just outside the power 16 for a week or two, and with the signature win over Illinois this week, they have now done enough to crack the rankings. Being undefeated with quality wins such as Syracuse, Maryland and now the Fighting Illini, it’s time to give the Scarlet Knights the respect they deserve.
16. Virginia Tech (6-1)
Virginia Tech has two ranked wins this year, and only one loss to a respectable Penn State team. There’s not too much to add from this week as a blowout win over Coppin State doesn’t tell us much. However, I think VTech should be hanging around the bottom of these rankings for a good part of the season.
Next Five: Missouri, Illinois, Creighton, Oregon, Georgia
Players of the Week
Quincy Guerrier – Syracuse
Syracuse is quietly 6-1 on the year and that is in large part to Quincy Guerrier. He recorded 18 points and 16 rebounds against Northeastern before a 27-point and 11-rebound performance against Buffalo to close the week.
Ron Harper Jr. – Rutgers
Just as Rutgers is making it’s push, Ron Harper Jr (pictured) is establishing himself as a serious threat. This week Harper Jr. tallied 27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks against Maryland followed by 28 points and 9 rebounds against Illinois.
Kofi Cockburn – Illinois
Kofi Cockburn opened the week with an absolute banger of a game, 33 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks against Minnesota. Cockburn came back with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Rutgers. He combined for 19-for-29 from the floor in his two games.
Oscar da Silva – Stanford
Oscar da Silva had a big breakout week. First, 32 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks and then 21 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals in the win against Arizona. Da Silva was also very efficient from the floor, shooting 17-for-24 between the two games.
Manny Bates – NC State
For those who don’t know, Manny Bates is one of the best rim protectors in the country. He showed that this week when he recorded 20 points, 7 rebounds and 8 blocks against Saint Louis. He also had a 10-point, 6-rebound and 2-block performance against Campbell.
Play of the Week
Not much of a surprise here. Anyone who watched the game knows the Adam Kunkel buzzer beater has got to take the title of Play of the Week. Check out the Xavier game-winner below.