Sunday’s game between North Carolina and Alabama epitomized the complete anarchy and absurdity of this year’s college basketball season. In just three weeks, we’ve seen enough action and upsets to last an entire season, which pushed four of the best programs in the history of the sport out of the top 16 and into the next five.
If I’ve learned anything in this young basketball season, these rankings will look completely different next week, but here are the top 16 teams right now with the Big Ten making a major push in this week’s rankings!
1. Texas (5-0)
The Longhorns’ win over Gonzaga remains the most impressive performance by a team this season, which helps them hold onto the top spot in week three. A clash with Creighton this week is another opportunity for the brand new Moody Center to flex its muscles on a national stage.
2. Houston (6-0)
Kent State put a scare into Houston this week, but the Cougars are yet to give up more than 56 points in a game and that streak could last into December before they host Alabama in a non-conference heavyweight matchup next week (December 10th).
3. Virginia (5-0)
It was a lighter week for the Cavs, but it doesn’t take away the massive tournament championship they had last week with wins over Baylor and Illinois. A rough week for UNC and Duke also places them as the front runner in the ACC with conference play opening this weekend.
4. Purdue (6-0)
Nobody had a better week than the Boilermakers who ran through the Phil Knight Invitational with 18- and 19-point wins over Gonzaga and Duke. Zach Edey (pictured) is a legit Wooden Award contender and the supporting cast remains elite even without Jaden Ivey.
5. Arizona (6-0)
The Maui Invitational had the best field out of any Multi-Team Event (MTE) and the Wildcats impressed the most on their way to a championship in a tightly contested final against Creighton. Oumar Ballo is the most improved player in the sport and Tommy Lloyd will boast another top-five offense despite his lottery pick loss in Ben Mathurin.
6. Creighton (6-1)
Things are clicking better than expected in the early season for the Blue Jays who were a shot away from knocking off Arizona in the championship. As Villanova struggles without Jay Wright, Creighton is emerging as the clear favorite in the Big East with a challenging trip to Austin on the horizon this Thursday.
7. Baylor (5-1)
It’s not the 1-2 clash of the 2020 National Championship but Baylor vs. Gonzaga on Friday promises to be a candidate for the game of the year. Look for the best backcourt in the nation to assert themselves and knock off Gonzaga for the second time in three years.
8. UConn (8-0)
Dan Hurley couldn’t have asked for a better weekend as his Huskies rolled over their competition with double-digit victories in all three matchups in the Phil Knight Invitational. UConn is now 8-0 and ready to compete with Creighton for superiority in the Big East.
9. Arkansas (5-1)
10. Illinois (5-1)
It was easy to forget about Illinois this week with so many teams hovering around the tenth spot in action, but their runner-up display last weekend is worthy of keeping them in the top ten this week. Brad Underwood thinks this is his most talented team in Champaign and the upcoming slate will either confirm or dispute that claim.
11. Gonzaga (5-2)
This isn’t the same dominant Gonzaga team. That’s now two double-digit losses in the first six games for the Zags and they nearly dropped to 4-3 as Xavier took them to the final minutes on Sunday. Not only will they struggle to capture a top seed, they will struggle to win a competitive and frisky WCC as well.
12. Iowa State (5-1)
It might not be sexy, but the Cyclones style of basketball is certainly efficient and produces wins with a 5-1 start to the year. An upset over No. 1 North Carolina reminded us why T.J. Otzelberger is one of the nation’s most underrated coaches and he has his team ready for a dark horse run at the Big 12 in year two.
13. Alabama (6-1)
The Tide’s shot selection is as frustrating as ever, but they continue to find ways to win against top teams with North Carolina and Michigan State falling to them in Portland. Nate Oats has an actual contender this year, not just a fraudulent one.
14. Michigan State (5-2)
Out of the seven games the Spartans have played this season, five came against power five opponents and a 3-2 record in those games is something to be proud of. Road contests in South Bend and State College await in the next three games, so it isn’t getting any easier.
15. Indiana (6-0)
The Hoosiers started the year as the Big Ten favorites and with an undefeated start, you’d expect that is still the case. Not quite. The light schedule to start the year has them back in the shadows, but North Carolina will come to Assembly Hall as the perfect opportunity for Mike Woodson and company to reinsert themselves into the national spotlight again.
16. Tennessee (5-1)
The upset loss to Colorado is well in the rearview mirror by now after the Vols took home the Battle 4 Atlantis crown with a win over No. 3 Kansas. Another elite defense in Knoxville should terrorize the SEC and keep Tennessee in the games where they don’t shoot well.
Next 5: Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Auburn, Duke
Players of the Week:
Oumar Ballo, C, No. 14 Arizona Wildcats
Ballo earned the Maui Invitational MVP this week and it’s hard to imagine anyone is more improved in the sport than the 7-foot junior. What is most impressive is how well he is running the floor and establishing position and if he continues this emergence, the Wildcats will be a top seed once again.
Anthony Black, PG, No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks
Black looked every part of a five-star freshman and projected lottery pick in the Maui Invitational as he averaged 22 points and four assists over three games. The Razorbacks earned a third-place finish in the tournament and as Black continues to develop, it’s only going to get better in Fayetteville.
Justice Sueing, SG/SF, Ohio State Buckeyes
After a season-ending injury last season, Sueing is finally back and even better than where he left off. Texas Tech has a typically impenetrable defense, but the senior guard exploded for 33 points and five assists to seal a fifth-place finish for the Buckeyes in Maui.
Zach Edey, C, No. 24 Purdue Boilermakers
Endurance was always going to be the biggest issue for Edey this season with an increased role, but the 7-4 big man is averaging 30 minutes per game for the Boilermakers. He is translating that to 21 points and 12 rebounds per game and he cemented himself as a Wooden Award contender in Portland.
Gradey Dick, SG, No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks
Not only is Gradey Dick starting a sensational 48 percent from beyond the arc, but he is also emerging as the big-shot maker for the Jayhawks as a young freshman. He is Bill Self’s most reliable shooter when he needs a bucket and it has Dick soaring up draft boards and into the lottery.
Play of the Week:
Before Kansas lost to Tennessee, they looked poised for a massive upset at the hands of Wisconsin. Enter Bobby Pettiford, who is averaging three points per game in his sophomore season. His putback layup with 0.2 seconds remaining elevated the Jayhawks past the Badgers and sent them to the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship. Check out the acrobatic game-winner below!