As most conferences have just one week remaining in the regular season, we were greeted with an absolutely insane week in the Power 16. A whopping 12 of the 16 teams from last week’s rankings suffered a loss which brings some major shakeups to the penultimate Power 16 of the regular season. Check out the changes along with the Players of the Week below.
1 Gonzaga (24-0)
The Zags are the last unbeaten team in the country and seems like perfection is all but wrapped up. Gonzaga has just one game left on the schedule, but an opponent is not locked in yet. Even though the Bulldogs haven’t faced tru competition in quite some time, the team is clearly the favorite to cut down the nets in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Michigan (18-1)
With wins over Iowa and Indiana, the Wolverines move up to No. 2 in the country on our list. Michigan still has three games left on the schedule, one against Illinois and two against Michigan State. If Michigan can finish the season with just one loss, the team will be firmly locked in as a one-seed entering conference tournament play.
3. Baylor (18-1)
The Bears suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday when they fell to Kansas by 13 points. It was weird to see Baylor lose after cruising through most of the regular season, but it just shows that this team is beatable. I had doubts on Baylor at the beginning of the year, but even this loss isn’t too worrisome for me. Baylor is still the real deal.
4. Illinois (18-6)
Illinois picked up two wins over Nebraska and Wisconsin, but still face a tough road to close the season. The Fighting Illini still have to square off against both Michigan and Ohio State and with two wins, should be considered one of the top teams in the country. Sophomore big Kofi Cochburn (pictured) has anchored the Illini’ interior play.
5. West Virginia (17-6)
Two wins this week over TCU and Kansas State allow West Virginia to fly up the rankings. WVU has had an up and down season, but seem to possibly be peaking at the right time. The month of February alone has seen the Mountaineers beat Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas while taking Oklahoma to overtime.
6. Florida State (14-4)
The Seminoles did lose against UNC this week, but also beat Miami. Florida State remains as the top team in the ACC, at least in my opinion, and should be seriously considered as a threat moving forward. The conference tournament will give FSU more chances to prove its worth.
7. Arkansas (19-5)
Arkansas has been arguably the biggest mover in the last couple of weeks. The Razorbacks have won six straight games including a couple of wins over Alabama and Missouri. There’s a real case to be made that Arkansas is the best team in the SEC.
8. Virginia Tech (15-5)
The Hokies both won and lost one game this week. They beat Wake Forest but lost to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech is the biggest wildcard in the country in my eyes. I feel like this team is capable of beating anybody on a given night but have shown some inconsistency in their play. I’ll be keeping a close eye on VTech in these closing weeks.
9. Oklahoma State (16-6)
Oklahoma State had maybe the biggest week of any team in the country. First, the Cowboys beat Texas Tech and followed up with a win over Oklahoma. Although both games went into overtime, this shows that OSU can beat anybody thanks to the talent on the team.
10. Iowa (18-7)
Iowa opened up the week with a loss to Michigan, that’s understandable. However, Iowa was able to beat Ohio State to finish the week which is huge for the Hawkeyes. At the beginning of the year, Iowa seemed like a top five team in the country. After some mid-season struggles, the Hawkeyes might be back on track.
11. Villanova (15-4)
Ever since Villanova turned down an opportunity to play Gonzaga, things have been going downhill, fast. The Wildcats have lost three games this month, the most recent of which came this week against Butler. Sure, Nova should be one of the best teams, but the team simply is not playing up to its potential. Villanova needs to turn things around quick.
12. Ohio State (18-7)
The Buckeyes had a tough week, losing both games to Michigan State and Iowa. I still think that Ohio State is a very good team, but I’m not sure it’s a national contender team. Of course, any team can get hot at the right time, but things might be heading in the opposite direction for Ohio State.
13. Oregon (16-5)
Oregon finds its way back into the Power 16 after two wins over Stanford and California. The Ducks have been near the bottom end of these rankings all year long, but can possibly make a push by closing the season off with three wins next week. The Pac 12 is weak, so the conference needs someone to step forward.
14. Virginia (15-6)
Virginia played just one game this week and lost to NC State. This now makes three straight losses for the Cavaliers and something clearly needs to be fixed. One thing I’ve learned is to never count out Tony Bennett, but things do not look good for Virginia.
15. Alabama (19-6)
The Crimson Tide lost to Arkansas this week in what was possibly a changing of the guard in the SEC. Alabama can still end the season on a strong note as games against Auburn and Georgia pose decent challenges.
16. Oklahoma (14-7)
Oklahoma lost two games this week to Kansas State and Oklahoma State. For a while, OU seemed like a top dog in the Big 12, but the optics of things are starting to change. A 14-7 record isn’t terrible, but it’s not miraculous either. The Sooner’s last two games will be against Oklahoma State and Texas, two good chances for a bounce-back opportunity.
Next Five: Houston, USC, Creighton, Texas, Texas Tech,
Players of the Week
Moses Wright – Georgia Tech
Moses Wright had an outstanding week for Georgia Tech. First, he went for 26 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists before exploding for 31 points, 16 rebounds and 2 assists. Wright also blocked a shot in each game.
Cade Cunningham – Oklahoma State
At the beginning of the year, I expected to see Cade Cunningham on this list more often, but this is the first time we’ve seen him here. He tallied 40 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in an overtime win against Oklahoma. He also had a 20-point, 5-rebound and 2-assist performance against Texas Tech.
McKinley Wright IV – Colorado
McKinley Wright IV has been on my watch list for a while and he finally breaks into the list this week. Wright recorded 15 points, 14 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals before going for 26 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Zach Freemantle – Xavier
Zach Freemantle had a 24-point, 12-rebound and 2-steal outing against Providence as well as a 17-point, 10-rebound, 3-assist performance against Creighton. Freemantle is now averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds over the last 5 games.
Marcus Carr – Minnesota
Minnesota has struggled mightily recently, but Marcus Carr has been getting his buckets along the way. He recorded 41 points to go with 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists after going for 21 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds earlier in the week.
Play of the Week
In my mind, there’s only one thing better than a posterization. When someone is willing to lift up and meet someone at the rim and actually succeed in swatting it away, it deserves recognition. RaiQuan Gray has been here before and he’s back again. Check out the block below.