For the first time in what seems like forever, we had a relatively calm week in the Power 16. Almost the entire top end of the rankings remained the same from a week ago, but I have a feeling this won’t be the case very often. Here’s this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (12-0)
Two more games, two more easy wins for the Zags. This should be the norm for the rest of the season as the WCC doesn’t hold much competition for Gonzaga. However, the Bulldogs may have already compiled a resume that can’t be beaten with the handful of ranked wins from earlier in the year. Honestly, it’s just a matter of if this team can go undefeated or not.
2. Baylor (11-0)
The Bears added two wins over Oklahoma and TCU this week. Baylor is clearly the No. 2 team in the nation and the maybe the only team that could possibly beat Gonzaga this season. Baylor has a tough road ahead, with three straight games against ranked teams next on the docket.
3. Villanova (8-1)
Villanova had basketball activities resume for what felt like 20 minutes before they got shut down again. The Wildcats have two games scheduled this week, but it’s really anybody’s guess as to when we see this team take the floor again.
4. Iowa (11-2)
Iowa picked up wins over Maryland and Minnesota to improve to 11-2 on the season. The Hawkeyes are one of the most well built teams in the country and have, in my opinion, the best player in the country as well. The upcoming week consists of just a Thursday game against Michigan State.
5. Texas (10-1)
I have no problem with anyone putting the Longhorns over Iowa, or even Villanova for that matter. The win over West Virginia puts them in that conversation for sure. I’ve been raving about this Texas team and how they are set up for a good postseason run, and honestly, they’re looking better than I thought they would at this point in the season.
6. Michigan (10-0)
Michigan won their second straight game against a ranked opponent this week when they took down Minnesota by a whopping 25 points. I still believe that the rest of the country is heavily disrespecting the Wolverines by barely letting them crack the top ten this week, but maybe eventually someone will see what a great team this is.
7. Kansas (10-2)
Kansas edged out Oklahoma in it’s lone game of the week and now stands at 10-2 for the year. With losses to only Gonzaga and Texas and wins over Creighton, Texas Tech and West Virginia, the Jayhawks resume still competes with the top of this list. I feel like there are some people sleeping on KU, and we should know that’s never a good idea.
8. Wisconsin (10-2)
The Badgers beat Indiana in double overtime in the only game of the week and now will prepare for two huge games. Wisconsin will have to face off with both Michigan and Rutgers in what could be the most important week of the season. It’ll be interesting to see where they stack up against the rest of the loaded conference.
9. Creighton (10-2)
I keep looking for reasons to drop Creighton in these rankings, but ball doesn’t lie. The Blue Jays keep on winning, although it isn’t against the toughest competition in the world. I’m at the point where i really only care about a Creighton/Villanova matchup, but we won’t see that until the middle of February.
10. Tennessee (9-1)
The Vols beat both Arkansas and Texas A&M to move to 9-0 this week. I can’t say I’m sure of how good this Tennessee team really is, but I do know the SEC is pretty awful compared to the other conferences in the nation. Realistically, this team shouldn’t have much trouble running through the conference.
11. Duke (5-2)
Duke finally made its return to the court and picked up a pair of wins over Boston College and Wake Forest while doing so. I try not to punish teams for games getting canceled due to the situation this year, and I still think the Blue Devils are one of the better teams out there. That being said, the team still has it’s fair share of issues.
12. Houston (10-1)
I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to figure out where the Cougars belong on this list or if they belong at all. With the type of schedule that Houston has, if I’m going to consider them a top team, I don’t think they can afford another loss this year.
13. Virginia (7-2)
It’s crazy to think that just about a month and a half ago people were arguing that Virginia should be the No. 1 ranked team in the country. I haven’t given up on the Cavaliers as much as some other people, but with two wins this week they seem to be back on the right track.
14. Clemson (9-1)
It’s time to give Clemson some respect. With the ACC seemingly wide open, the Tigers have been one of the teams to make an early run. I’m very excited to see how the game against UVA will go this week, and with over a week and a half to prepare, Clemson doesn;t have any excuses.
15. Louisville (8-1)
The Cardinals are another sleeper team in the ACC. Sitting at 8-1 and with a big win over Virginia Tech this week, who;s to say Louisville isn’t arguably the best team in the conference? Technically, they are first in the ACC standings.
16. Virginia Tech (9-2)
The ACC finishes loading up the bottom of these rankings with Virginia Tech slotting in the last spot. The Hokies lost to Louisville, but rebounded with a win over Notre Dame. Like I’ve mentioned, the ACC is wide open and there’s so many teams that seem similar in talent to one another. VTech needs another signature win to move up.
Next Five: Oregon, Illinois, Saint Louis, Florida State, Missouri
Players of the Week:
Derek Culver – West Virginia
Derek Culver had a great week by a couple of standards. Against Oklahoma State, Culver tallied 22 points, 19 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Then, he recorded 14 points to go along with 16 rebounds against Texas.
[Kofi Cockburn] – Illinois
Kofi Cockburn is no stranger to this list. This week he went for 18 points and 12 rebounds on 8-for-9 shooting against Northwestern and also scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards on 8-for-10 shooting against Maryland. Both an effective and efficient week for the Illinois big man.
[Matthew Hurt] – Duke
It’s a little odd to have a Duke player on this list and have it be anything other than a freshman, but here we are. Matthew Hurt scored 17 points and cleaned the glass for 11 rebounds against Boston College. He followed up with a 26-point, 6-rebound and 3-steal performance against Wake Forest.
[Sam Hauser] – Virginia
Sam Hauser has been a very valuable addition to the Virginia team and he showed that once again this week. He recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds in his first game as well as 17 points and 10 rebounds in his second.
[Trayce Jackson-Davis] – Indiana
Trayce Jackson-Davis played 49 minutes in the double-OT thriller against Wisconsin and picked up 23 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. He then scored 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots against Nebraska. A big week for the IU forward.
Play of the Week
I debated switching things up this week and going with an Isaiah Wong steal, spin dribble into a euro step, but I’m a sucker for a violent dunk. Wong gets beat out by his own teammate nonetheless. Anthony Walker put one down on a UNC defender who made a bad business decision by jumping at the rim. Check it out below.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) January 6, 2021