I don’t even know what to say in these anymore. I’m beginning to learn that nothing in college basketball can surprise me anymore. We’re at the point where two weeks ago, a team universally considered a top five team in the country is now struggling to remain in the Power 16 and it doesn’t even seem that surprising. As the weeks go on, a couple of teams at the top continue to distance themselves further and further from the rest of the league. After a hectic week, here is the Power 16 and Players of the Week for week nine.
1. Gonzaga (15-0)
The Zags played just one game this week and beat up on a defenseless Pacific team. Unfortunately, these are the types of games that we have been getting and will continue to get for the rest of the season. All you can do is hope that Gonzaga doesn’t lose their edge as they play a bunch of glorified exhibition games.
2. Baylor (14-0)
Baylor continues to close the gap towards that No. 1 spot and did so this week with wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State. You have to give it up to the Bears for what they’re able to accomplish despite not being a recruiting powerhouse or having a true star player.
3. Villanova (10-1)
The Wildcats made their return to the hardwood after a couple of weeks absence with two wins over Seton Hall and Providence. It was good to see one of the elite programs get back on track after some COVID issues, and it seems as if they are more than ready to keep things rolling.
4. Michigan (13-1)
Michigan continues to impress me every week. After the loss to Minnesota last week, the Wolverines were able to rattle off a 24-point win over Maryland and a 17-point win over Purdue. However, the next three scheduled games have already been postponed and it looks like the earliest we will see Michigan play again will be Feb. 11.
5. Texas (11-2)
The Longhorns had a pair of games postponed this week and therefore did not get to play this week. They are seemingly back on track to return to the court on Tuesday to play a surprisingly surging Oklahoma team.
6. Virginia (10-2)
UVA added one win to the resume this week after a 2-point victory over Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers are being slept on this year, but this is certainly a better team than the one that lost to San Francisco early in the season.
7. Houston (13-1)
Houston has been taking care of business lately and I have to give them respect for it. I was ready to count them out after the Tulsa loss, but was willing to stick around for a little to see how they would perform. Since the loss, the Cougars have won their next six games by an average margin of over 17 points per game.
8. Missouri (10-2)
In my opinion, Mizzou was the big winner of the week. The Tigers were able to avenge their 20-point loss to Tennessee earlier in the year with a win over the Vols in which they never trailed for a second. There’s now a good argument to call Missouri the best team in the SEC.
9. Iowa (12-3)
It pains me to drop Iowa this low in the rankings, but it seems like it needs to be done. Even in some of the Hawkeyes’ wins, it seems like something is just a little off. A team with this much talent should never lose to a mediocre Indiana team by double-digits, but that’s exactly what happened. When playing at their peak, I think Iowa can be as good as anyone, but they need more consistency.
10. Florida State (9-2)
For some reason inexplicable to me, Florida State wasn’t ranked in the AP Poll last week. FSU has won four straight against the likes of NC State, UNC, Louisville and Clemson. The Seminoles are right up there with the best in the ACC and should continue to see success down the road.
11. Alabama (13-3)
To any Bama fans out there, I should apologize. I have 100% been sleeping on the Crimson Tide this season, but that stops today. The SEC is no longer a two-team race between Mizzou and Tennessee, and I can’t even say for sure that Alabama isn’t the best of the bunch. The Tide have won their last six games by an average margin of 18 points per game.
12. Tennessee (10-3)
Just as I say I’m starting to come full circle on the Vols after some early doubts, they lose two games to Florida and Missouri without really being competitive in either. Even with my concerns resurfacing, I don’t want to punish a team too harshly based on one bad week. However, I have a close eye on Tennessee moving forward.
13. Ohio State (12-4)
The Buckeyes are another team to lose a game and move up in the rankings, but that;s just the type of year we’re having. A two-point loss to Purdue isn’t great, but the 12-point win over Wisconsin more than cancels that out. With wins over Wisconsin, Illinois and Rutgers (twice), the Buckeyes are an interesting team to watch in the Big Ten
14. Virginia Tech (11-3)
Virginia Tech played just one game this week and got beat down by Syracuse. Despite the loss, I still see the vision on the Hokies. Two upcoming games against Notre Dame and, more importantly, Virginia will give VTech a good opportunity to bounce back.
15. Louisville (10-3)
The Cardinals went from No. 16 to unranked in the AP Poll after one loss. Doesn’t make sense. Louisville did actually lose this week to FSU, but was able to beat Duke, which I still consider a good win. The team moves into the Power 16 thanks to a lot of losses from ranked teams last week.
16. Kansas (10-5)
Well, tough week for Kansas, huh. As a five-loss team, I wasn’t sure if the Jayhawks deserved a spot in the Power 16 this week. However, I can;t bring myself to punish a team too harshly for having three losses to teams ranked No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 in the country. That being said, Kansas, figure it out.
Next Five: Wisconsin, Oregon, USC, Creighton, West Virginia
Players of the Week
Justin Champagnie – Pittsburgh
Justin Champagnie went off against Duke with a 31-point, 14-rebounds and 5-block performance. He shot 12-for-15 from the floor in the game. He followed up with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals against Wake Forest. Champagnie was 7-for-12 from the floor.
Jared Butler – Baylor
Jared Butler tallied 30 points on 10-for-14 shooting and added 8 assists in the win against Kansas. He then recorded 22 points and 6 assists on 8-for-13 shooting (6-for-7 from deep) against Oklahoma State.
Sharife Cooper – Auburn
Sharife Cooper is making a case as the most dynamic player in the country this season. In a blowout of South Carolina, Cooper went for 16 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. He also put up 25 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds against Arkansas.
Evan Mobley – USC
Evan Mobley is one of the highest graded prospects in the country for a reason. This week he added a 12-point, 13-rebound and 2-block performance to his resume against Oregon State. He then went for 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks against Cal.
Jalen Tate – Arkansas
Jalen Tate filled up the stat sheet this week with a 25-point, 8-assist, 5-rebound and 4-steal outing against Vanderbilt as well as a 14-point, 5-assist, 4-rebound and 4-steal game against Auburn.
Play of the Week
This week our play of the week is, well, two plays actually. Malik Osborne from Florida State had a couple of highlight plays and both deserve recognition. First, check out his rim protection skills by meeting a clemson player at the rim (Pro Tip: don’t try to poster someone while wearing a full face mask) and then for good measure, see him put a Louisville player on a poster. You know, because he can.