For the third straight week, the AP #1 team went down and for the second straight week it came against an unranked opponent on the road. Packed arenas are creating pandemonium once again and it is rippling across the entire college basketball world. Three top-10 teams went down in major upsets this week, so stay tuned to see how that affected our Power 16 rankings going into mid-December.
1. Baylor (9-0)
It only took 9 games for the Bears to prove all the preseason doubters wrong and get back to the top of the rankings. Let me know if this sounds familiar: Scott Drew has three dominant starting guards, relentless wings who can jump out of the building and a physical frontcourt that makes life miserable inside of the arc on both ends of the floor. Sophomore point guard LJ Cryer (pictured), the team’s leading scorer, has knocked down 47% of his threes on the year. This team has the exact makeup of the national championship team from last season, so don’t be shocked if they do it again.
2. Arizona (9-0)
I took a lot of time deliberating between Arizona and Baylor this week, but Baylor’s dominant defensive display made it impossible to keep them out of the top spot. But whatever Tommy Lloyd is doing in Tucson is working and he has his Cats back in the national spotlight. If we knew what the Pac-12 was going to do in the NCAA Tournament last year before it happened, Arizona may have sneaked into the tournament just like UCLA and made considerable noise like the rest of the league. This year they will get that chance, and they will be a tough out.
3. Purdue (8-1)
Losing on a half court heave at the RAC is certainly forgivable, but responding with a loss to NC State on a neutral floor would be much worse. Trevion Williams almost single-handedly prevented that as he was an assist away from a triple-double and consistently came up with a big play whenever his team needed it. The Boilermakers would be 7-2 without him, but instead they are still in the top three in the nation.
4. Duke (7-1)
Finals week in Durham prohibited us from seeing the Blue Devils play this week, so we’re forced to think back to the last time we saw them, which was during a court storming in Columbus. Despite the upset loss, this is still a national championship contender, so don’t forget about Duke.
5. Alabama (8-1)
While there was controversy surrounding the ending of the Alabama-Houston game this weekend, the Tide still came out on top and proved that they can score on ANYONE in the country. If they can put up 83 points in 40 minutes against Houston’s defense, it’s hard to imagine anyone slowing them down.
6. Gonzaga (8-2)
The Zags finally had a quiet week after facing four teams who entered the week ranked in the top-10 in the first quarter of the season. However, they’ll get right back to work on Saturday against a ferocious defense in Texas Tech who will find themselves back in the AP Poll for the first time all season.
7. UCLA (8-1)
Saturday’s game against Marquette very easily could’ve been the latest in a line of top-10 upsets this week, but the Bruins came out flying with six three-pointers and jumped out to a 33-10 lead and held on the rest of the way. The defense that carried them to the Final Four looks to be clicking once again and the pending return of Cody Riley this week should do wonders.
8. Auburn (8-1)
I can’t say enough good things about Jabari Smith who looks like the best NBA prospect in the country right now. The Tigers are relentless on both ends of the floor and are a complete headache to play against with their physicality and speed. Since they survived a postseason ban with the NCAA investigation, there is nothing stopping these guys from making a deep run in March.
9. Kansas (8-1)
What the Jayhawks did to Missouri in the Border Showdown was straight up mean. Bill Self played 13 of his players during a 37-point drubbing of the Tigers where his team dropped 102 points. These guys boast one of the most potent offenses in the nation, which will be a breath of fresh air for Big 12 viewers who will have to get used to low-scoring games this season.
10. Villanova (7-3)
Villanova’s three losses have come against teams that were either ranked 1st or 2nd at some point in time and are still currently in the top-five. Two of those losses came on the road and the other was at a neutral site, so you can’t exactly judge this team by their record. Depth and size are certainly credible issues, but this team is battle tested and unlucky to be 0-3 in these big games. They aren’t going anywhere, so don’t give up just yet on the Wildcats.
11. Michigan State (8-2)
There may not be anyone with a tougher opening schedule than Michigan State. Losses to Kansas and Baylor are surely forgivable and key wins against Butler, UConn, Loyola-Chicago, Louisville and Minnesota are more impressive than the losses they endured. As many as nine guys can lead the way for the Spartans who are as hard to prepare for as anyone in the nation.
12. Houston (8-2)
Credit to Houston for scheduling a brutal non-conference road test against arguably the best offensive team in the country in Alabama. They were one goaltending whistle away from pulling off the upset and this physical battle will be a great learning experience for the rest of the year for the Cougars.
13. Iowa State (10-0)
Iowa State’s undefeated record can be questioned no more. After a 20-point domination in their rivalry win against Iowa, the Cyclones should officially be ranked in the top-10 by 2022 in which they open the year by hosting Baylor on New Year’s Day. Circle that one now because it could very easily be a matchup of unbeatens.
14. Ohio State (8-2)
Duke’s loss at Value City Arena is starting to look better and better every day. The Buckeyes are finding their groove and they proved it with a massive home win against Wisconsin on Saturday. They’ll have another tough test on Saturday against Kentucky in Las Vegas.
15. Seton Hall (9-1)
The Pirates completed their second top-10 upset of the season this week when they took down #7 Texas 64-60 on Thursday night. They followed it up with a 14-point win against Rutgers without star center Ike Obiagu in the Battle of New Jersey to solidify their spot in these rankings. This team can legitimately compete with Villanova and Connecticut for a Big East title.
16. Connecticut (9-2)
The Huskies might have lost this week, but losing by 3 in Morgantown without two of your best players could only go down as a win in my book. They responded with an impressive win against St. Bonaventure on Saturday and hopefully they will get their guys back ahead of a massive Big East clash against Providence next Saturday.
Next 5: LSU, USC, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee
Players of the Week
Ron Harper Jr., SF, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Although he couldn’t exactly follow up his performance against Purdue versus Seton Hall, his epic performance to knock off the #1 Boilermakers is worthy of winning player of the week. Harper posted a 30-point double-double and drained a half court heave at the buzzer to complete the improbable upset. You can check out the incredible shot below.
Trevion Williams, PF/C, Purdue Boilermakers
As I mentioned above, Purdue would be 7-2 without Williams’ heroics late against NC State. He didn’t give Matt Painter any reason to put Zach Edey back on the court despite 9 points and 7 rebounds in 12 minutes. Williams dominated on both ends of the floor with four blocks and two steals, but the most impressive part of his game was his pinpoint and timely passing, which led to 9 assists. Williams was one of the favorites for Big Ten Player of the Year before the season and he showed exactly why on Sunday.
Bennedict Mathurin, SG, #11 Arizona Wildcats
Nobody seems to be able to stop Ben Mathurin who is cementing his spot in the lottery with his recent performances. He is averaging over 27 points per game in his last three and is shooting 11/23 from the perimeter in that time. His combination of perimeter shooting and floaters in the lane is lethal and it is no wonder teams are having so much trouble stopping the 6’6 sophomore.
Jamaree Bouyea, PG, San Francisco Dons
The Dons will probably end up in the AP Poll at some point this season and a lot of that can be attributed to the play of their star point guard Jamaree Bouyea. He is averaging 20 points per game through 10 games and is shooting 47% from beyond the arc in that time. He led his team past UNLV and Fresno State this past week with 30 and 27 points, respectively, including going 12-18 from distance. Learn his name and learn it fast because he could be a first round pick this summer.
Alfonso Plummer, PG/SG, Illinois Fighting Illini
The only reason Illinois was in the game against Arizona on Saturday was because of Plummer and Trent Frazier seemingly knocking down every three-pointer when they needed one. Plummer is quickly becoming one of the best shooters in the nation as he is shooting 43% from beyond the arc in this early season while averaging nearly 17 points per game thanks to 6 straight 20-point games.
Play of the Week
The entire college basketball landscape would be a lot different if it weren’t for this week’s play of the week. Purdue would be the top team in the country and nobody would care what Rutgers is up to. Ron Harper, Jr. had other ideas. This buzzer-beater from just inside the half court line sent the RAC into a frenzy and provided the Scarlet Knights with their biggest win in program history. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, but that crowd reaction is worth hearing at least one more time. Check it out!
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/nTE3isW0kJw” title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>