Week one of the college basketball season might’ve disappointed, but week two absolutely delivered. With upsets, buzzer-beaters and incredible atmospheres, college basketball is officially back. If you have more time on your hands this week with Thanksgiving approaching, feel free to tune into some of the exciting early season tournaments that will hog the ESPN airwaves.
1. Texas (3-0)
I expected Texas to come out on top against Gonzaga, but the nature in which they dismantled the Zags was the real surprise. This could end up as the most impressive win of the regular season and proved that the Longhorns’ ceiling is as high as any team in the country. Tyrese Hunter (pictured) led all scorers with 26.
2. Houston (5-0)
Oregon might’ve lost on their home floor to UC Irvine, but Houston’s win in Eugene is as impressive as any win this week. This was a true road test and the relentless Cougar pressure was up for the challenge leaving an undefeated regular season in the cards for a team that can truly pull it off.
3. Virginia (4-0)
What a weekend for the Cavaliers. Tony Bennett looks to have another contender in Charlottesville with the same identity that brought the school its first national championship. After this weekend, there’s legitimate buzz he can do it again.
4. Baylor (4-1)
I remain high on the Bears despite a setback loss to the aforementioned Cavs this weekend. I’d put their backcourt up against any other in college basketball and a bounce back win over UCLA is nothing to be overlooked.
5. Gonzaga (3-1)
Speaking of bounce backs, Mark Few couldn’t ask for a better response than the one he got to a humiliating loss in Austin at the beginning of the week. After steamrolling the Wildcats, the Zags will get a temporary break before a 2021 national championship rematch with Baylor at the beginning of December.
6. Kansas (3-0)
It’s hard to remember an uglier Champions Classic game than the one Kansas played on Tuesday. But there’s something to be said about winning ugly rather than losing ugly, especially against a team as talented as Duke.
7. Michigan State (3-1)
Tom Izzo is known for hitting his stride in March, which is what makes this team so special for doing so in November. Wins over Kentucky and Villanova this week should give the Spartans the respect they deserve and the Big Ten a real threat to end their national championship drought.
8. Illinois (4-1)
It might sound crazy, but I think Illinois will be even better without Kofi Cockburn. Brad Underwood enjoyed a ton of success with a spread, five-out offense with Stephen F. Austin and now that he’s running the scheme he popularized, the Illini look more comfortable, which they proved with an impressive weekend in Las Vegas.
9. North Carolina (4-0)
It was another frustrating week for Tar Heels fans as they watched the defending runner-up’s play down to competition once again. They’ve won all four games, but they haven’t left home or played a power-five opponent in 2022. That will change this week in what should be a major gut check for Hubert Davis and the Heels.
10. Duke (3-1)
Between first-year coach Jon Scheyer and a rotation dependent on freshmen, the Blue Devils have plenty to learn early in the season. The loss to Kansas was living proof of that, but I don’t believe there’s any reason to panic yet in Durham, especially with the return of Dariq Whitehead on Friday.
11. Indiana (4-0)
The Hoosiers notched an under-the-radar win over an underrated Xavier squad on Friday night. Trayce Jackson-Davis is shooting 75% in his first four games and the rest of the Hoosiers rank in the top 11 in offensive and defensive efficiency according to KenPom.
12. Alabama (4-0)
The Tide stayed away from elite opponents in the first two weeks, but the looming Phil Knight Invitational will prove whether they are legit contenders or frauds early in the season. I’m leaning towards contenders thanks to their standout freshman who is honored below.
13. Kentucky (3-2)
I hesitate to punish losses against great teams, but Kentucky looked like they were playing a different sport than Gonzaga on Sunday night. A plethora of turmoil and tragedy early in the season set the Cats’ chemistry back, but as things stand, they are far from the top tier of college basketball. I do have hope they’ll figure it out as their top players gel with more minutes together.
14. Arizona (3-0)
The Wildcats lead the nation in tempo and two-point field goal percentage to start the year, but the Maui Invitational will put those marks to the test for the first time all season. If they prove they can do it against real competition this week, expect a major jump for Tommy Lloyd’s squad next week in these rankings.
15. UCLA (3-2)
It was a disappointing and winless weekend for the Bruins, but they were competitive in both matchups against high-quality opponents, which is nothing to be ashamed of. The emergence of Jaylen Clark is a huge boost and as their star freshmen become more accustomed to the college game, this team will only improve throughout the year.
16. Creighton (4-0)
After an offseason of high expectations, the Blue Jays finally have a chance in Maui to prove they are legit contenders not just in the Big East but in all of college basketball. I don’t know if they’ll win the whole thing, but anything other than at least two wins should feel like a disappointment after the last few months built up to this moment.
Next 5: Arkansas, Auburn, Maryland, Iowa, Saint Mary’s
Players of the Week:
Terrence Shannon, SG/SF, No. 19 Illinois Fighting Illini
Lingering injuries held Shannon back last season, but he is back with a vengeance with his new team in Champaign. He didn’t just look like a star in Las Vegas – he looked like a National Player of the Year favorite. If his elite shooting and stellar defense continue, expect him to work his way into the lottery of next year’s draft as well.
Joey Hauser, SF, Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans don’t beat Kentucky and Villanova this week if it isn’t for the sensational performances put on by Joey Hauser. He’s shooting 50% from beyond the arc to begin the season, but more than that, he is becoming the go-to guy whenever his team needs a shot late in the game. His brother, Sam, is excelling in the NBA this season and Joey is proving he can do the same early in his senior season.
Tyrese Hunter, PG, No. 11 Texas Longhorns
Marcus Carr looked lost in the lead-guard role last season for the Longhorns. With Hunter alongside him, both look poised for breakout campaigns, which they proved Wednesday night. Hunter exploded for 26 points in the win and if he continues to stroke it from beyond the arc, he could work his way into first-round discussion this season or the next.
Brandon Miller, SF, No. 18 Alabama Crimson Tide
Nate Oats wasn’t quiet this summer about how special Brandon Miller looked and it’s easy to see why. The standout freshman dropped in 28 points against Jacksonville State and finished 7-9 from 3-point range in the process. He already soared to the third overall pick in our latest mock draft and while it’s unlikely he rises any higher, it’s also unlikely he drops very far, if at all.
Jalen Wilson, SF/PF, No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks
Wilson was a popular candidate for a breakout season and this week showed exactly why. The 6-8 junior averaged 29 points in two games this week, including a big win over No. 9 Duke, and while he went 2-11 from the perimeter, his average is up to 33% on six attempts per game. The Jayhawks new star can carry them back to the Final Four and improve his draft stock into a first-round projection as he develops in year three.
Play of the Week:
There was a full-court pass with one second left to send a game to overtime, a half-court buzzer-beater and multiple big shots in some of the week’s best games. None of those plays came close to measuring up to Trevon Brazile’s poster dunk against South Dakota State. It wasn’t just the play of the week; it could also be the play of the year. Check out the punishing slam below and enjoy your week!