This week contained our first true dilemma of the season. With Villanova head coach Jay Wright coming down with COVID, we have our first high-profile team shutting down indefinitely. This is either the first of many, or just a small bump in the road… either way it’s notable. Aside from that, we saw a couple of upsets and some big movers which leads us to this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (7-0)
It feels like as the weeks go by, the gap between Gonzaga and the rest of the country just continues to widen. With three wins this week, including one against Virginia, the Zags have caught up with the rest of the country in terms of total wins… but nobody comes close when it comes to the quality of those wins. Gonzaga, for now, is far and away the top team in the land. With a player like Andrew Nembhard (pictured) coming off the bench, this team is one of the deepest squads we have seen in years.
2. Baylor (6-0)
The Bears played just one game this week and it was a blowout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Baylor has absolutely crushed every opponent thus far and have shown no signs of slowing down any time soon. With five of their six wins coming by 30+ points, Baylor is the only other team in the conversation with Gonzaga atop these rankings.
3. Kansas (8-1)
Kansas has started conference play about as well as you can ask for. With two ranked wins over Texas Tech and West Virginia, it brings the December total of ranked wins up to four (technically Kentucky was a ranked win). The Jayhawks don’t have much time to relax as another tough conference foe waits around the corner in the form of Texas.
4. Villanova (8-1)
I’m a little reluctant to put Villanova this high as I do still have some concerns about the team’s depth, but the numbers don’t lie and Nova is 8-1 with a handful of quality wins. It’s unquestioned that the Wildcats are the top dog in the Big East, but there’s also some serious concern about the future of the season now that all basketball activities have been halted.
5. Wisconsin (8-1)
The Badgers picked up arguably the biggest win of the week with the victory over Michigan State. Wisconsin is now 8-1 with the only loss coming with some questionable refereeing and play clock keeping. With the win over MSU and the struggles in Iowa, it might just be that the Badgers are the Big Ten’s best team at the moment.
6. Iowa (7-2)
As I just mentioned, Iowa struggled a bit this week by losing to Minnesota in overtime. In general, I still think the Hawkeyes are the best in the Big Ten, but as I said, Wisconsin is making a real case for that spot. Iowa will have a couple of great opportunities to bounce back with matchups against surging Northwestern and Rutgers next week.
7. Houston (7-0)
Houston added two wins this week, this time over Temple and UCF. As I mentioned last week, I’m a little torn on the Cougars since they won’t be tested by any team who comes close to them in terms of talent and prestige. They’re in a dangerous territory where any loss will cost more than a handful of wins would make up for.
8. West Virginia (7-2)
The Mountaineers lost in their only game of the week. However, with West Virginia’s two losses coming at the hands of two teams in the top three on this list, I still think WVU is one of the elite teams in the country. Don’t count this team out.
9. Texas (7-1)
Texas didn’t take the court this week, and now have some extra time to get ready for the clash against Kansas. The Longhorns have the build of a team that could be primed to make a push into the postseason. The big man may be losing worth in the pros, but it still works in college, and Texas has a couple of good ones.
10. Michigan (7-0)
The Wolverines picked up a win over Nebraska on Christmas day to improve to 7-0 and 2-0 in conference. It’s no secret that I’ve been bigger on Michigan than the rest of the country, but I think people are starting to take this team seriously. The Big Ten is crowded and I believe UM can push through to the top.
11. Michigan State (6-2)
Michigan State has now dropped two in a row and while I’m not ringing the alarms just quite yet, I am watching the team a little bit closer. I still think that the Spartans will bounce back next week, but if they don’t we might need to have a different conversation a week from now.
12. Tennessee (6-0)
First, I was waiting to see Tennessee take the floor after the early cancellations, now I find myself waiting to see a team with some real talent face off against them. On Wednesday, I will finally be able to make a definitive decision on the Vols when they play Mizzou. All signs point to this team being the real deal, but we have to see it play out first.
13. Virginia Tech (7-1)
Virginia Tech just impresses me for some reason. The Hokies are beating up on the lesser opponents, which I always look to see, and still have that win over Villanova from earlier in the season. Conference play should give us a better look as to what VTech is really made of and we won’t have to wait much longer.
14. Duke (3-2)
The Blue Devils, like many other teams, didn’t play this week and therefore, there isn’t much to say. Hopefully, Duke is getting more comfortable playing together and finding out their own winning formula. That’s always the early season issue for Duke, it’s just a matter of how quickly they happen to figure it out this time around.
15. Missouri (6-0)
Mizzou is undefeated and has a pair of wins over Illinois and Oregon. I like what I’ve seen so far from the Tigers, but I will say the 1-point win over Bradley this week was a little concerning. We will have the chance to see Missouri play Tennessee this week in what will be an important game for both teams.
16. Creighton (7-2)
I’m letting Creighton slide back into the Power 16 after the win over Xavier this week. I’m not overly impressed by the Blue Jays but I see the vision on where the team can go. I don’t see them competing with Villanova in the Big East, but can certainly be the next best in the conference.
Next Five: Illinois, Rutgers, Northwestern, Virginia, Oregon
Players of the Week
Luka Garza – Iowa
Expect anything different? Once again Luka Garza finds himself on this list, this time on the back of a 32-point and 17-rebound performance as well as a 22-point, 9-rebound and 2-block outing. It’s something to say that these types of games are just normal for this guy.
Ayo Dosunmu – Illinois
Ayo Dosunmu has had a great season so far and that continued this week. The Illinois guard tallied 30 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists against Penn State and 30 points and 5 assists against Indiana.
Corey Kispert and Drew Timme – Gonzaga
I’m not sure if I’ve ever had two players from the same team on this list, but here we are. In three games this week, Kispert averaged 25.7 points and 4.7 rebounds on a combined 28-for-40 (70%) shooting and 14-for-23 (60.8%) from three. In those same three games, Timme averaged 22 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 23-for-38 (60.5%) shooting.
Efe Abogidi – Washington State
Washington State’s 6’10” freshman had a week to remember. First, Abodigi went for 16 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks before recording another 15 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. He shot 58.8% from the floor and was truly doing it on both ends of the floor.
Play of the Week
This week we’re back with a poster, but this time it’s a putback poster… all the more disrespectful. Donta Scott beats out a handful of buzzer-beaters with this baptism over a defenseless La Salle defender. Check it out in the link below.