Everything is bigger in Texas, both the wins and the upset losses, and with both Texan schools going down this week after being ranked in the top two, there were major ripples sent across the college basketball world. The Longhorns and Cougars both blew second-half leads, which opened the door for a new team to take over the top spot in our weekly power rankings.

1. Connecticut (11-0)

The Huskies are one of seven undefeated teams left and all 11 wins have come by 10 points or more. With Houston and Texas going down this week, there’s a new “lead dog” in college hoops and Dan Hurley has them undefeated heading into conference play. Sophomore wing Jordan Hawkins, {pictured) has stepped up his level of play recently, and if he can play at this level all season, the sky is the limit for Connecticut.

2. Purdue (10-0)

Nebraska gave the Boilermakers all they could handle Saturday afternoon, but they squeaked out an overtime victory to remain unbeaten. Zach Edey’s improved endurance (42 minutes on Saturday) raises the ceiling exponentially in West Lafayette.

3. Alabama (8-1)

Alabama hadn’t beaten a top-ranked team since 1994, but they’ve done it twice this season after a road victory over Houston on Saturday. It took a 15-point second-half comeback, but the impressive start for the Tide will face more challenges this week against Memphis and Gonzaga.

4. Virginia (8-0)

Finals week gave the Cavaliers a much deserved rest, which they’re going to need ahead of a heavyweight clash with Houston on Saturday. It’s not the same old Hoos of old, as the offense is even better than the defense according to KenPom, providing teams with a challenge on both ends of the floor.

5. Houston (9-1)

The hunt for a perfect regular season is over, but the Cougars have bigger problems on the horizon: a date with Virginia, who could be ranked No. 1 next week, on Saturday afternoon. The trip to Charlottesville will be an old-fashioned race to 50, which I think the Cougars will win to get back on track.

6. Texas (7-1)

A late collapse caused the first loss of the season for the Longhorns, but this was more about the impressive shot-making of the Illini than it was about a letdown from Texas. I expect Chris Beard and the Longhorns to bounce back emphatically, especially with the light schedule they have until January.

7. Arizona (8-1)

We saw the Wildcats at their best this weekend, dominating Indiana from start to finish in a top-15 matchup in Las Vegas. They’ll have another chance in one of those matchups when they host Tennessee next weekend in a battle between the top offense and defense in the nation according to KenPom.

8. Tennessee (8-1)

The Tennessee defense is on a different level right now as they’ve only surrendered more than 53 points once in the last eight games. That stretch includes wins over Kansas and Maryland and makes the Vols legit national championship contenders despite their offensive struggles.

9. Kansas (9-1)

Since being held to 50 points by the Volunteers in the Bahamas, the Jayhawks are averaging 91 points and have dismantled power conferences foes in Seton Hall at home and previously unbeaten Missouri on the road. Back-to-back national championships is not out of the question for Bill Self.

10. Arkansas (9-1)

I wouldn’t subject my worst enemy to watch the first half of Arkansas vs. UNC Greensboro from Tuesday night. The Razorbacks didn’t score for over eight minutes, but managed to score 65 for the game and stave off an upset attempt by the Trojans. An 88-point outburst against Oklahoma was a terrific response, so there isn’t too much reason for concern in Fayetteville.

11. Baylor (7-2)

The Bears dominated a pesky Tarleton State squad without LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler, as they continue to make a case for the best backcourt in college basketball.

12. Duke (10-2)

Things are starting to click for the young Blue Devils, who had breakout performances by their top two freshmen in Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively. Circle this game because it could end up being the turning point these young freshmen needed to create something special in Durham.

13. Gonzaga (7-3)

This isn’t the same Gonzaga we’ve come to expect the last few seasons, but maybe that’s a good thing for Mark Few. Going into the tournament as the favorites with a target on their back hasn’t worked out, but maybe the lower expectations will allow the Zags to finally reach the promised land in 2023.

14. Illinois (7-3)

Weeks like this from Illinois make my job increasingly difficult, because how do I rank a team that beats the second-ranked team in the country and then gets demolished at home by an unranked team? I’ll just throw them here and see what happens next week.

15. UCLA (8-2)

Since a disappointing week in Las Vegas in November, the Bruins have taken care of business against an undemanding slate of games. That time is done. A trip to College Park on Wednesday followed by a weekend battle against Kentucky await the Bruins, who will receive their second gut check of the season in these highly anticipated ranked matchups.

16. Kentucky (8-2)

There’s too much talent in Lexington for this team to not figure it out offensively and the answer could be as simple as allowing Cason Wallace to take over. The talented freshman is a two-way star in the making who can unlock this offense given more opportunities to do so.

Next 5: Xavier, Ohio State, Marquette, Maryland, Miami (FL)

Players of the Week:

Cam Whitmore, Villanova Wildcats

It didn’t take long for Whitmore to remind us why he is an elite player in his class. The true freshman returned from injury and quickly showed off his impressive shot-creation and shot-making. Whitmore can transform the entire season for the Wildcats and he’s already showed it in just three games.

Matthew Mayer, No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini

Mayer was unconscious from beyond the arc on Tuesday night, shooting 5-5 to help knock off the No. 2 Texas Longhorns. The Baylor transfer had only scored in double figures once before this week, but a pair of them this week could be a sign of better things to come for the 6-9 senior.

Isaiah Wong, Miami (FL) Hurricanes

After carrying the Canes to the Elite Eight last March, Isaiah Wong is picking back up where he left off. The senior point guard posted a 36-point performance in a shootout against Cornell on Wednesday and helped mount a comeback victory over NC State with 22 points and eight assists on Saturday.

Kendric Davis, Memphis Tigers

Davis was a highly sought after transfer this summer and he proved why while leading an upset win over No. 11 Auburn on Saturday. The SMU transfer scored 27 points and added nine rebounds and six assists to capture the battle of the Tigers in Atlanta and provide a major resume-boosting win for his new team.

KJ Williams, LSU Tigers

When Williams followed head coach Matt McMahon from Murray State this summer, it was because he foresaw games like these in his new home. He headlined a 20-point comeback win for the Tigers with 35 points and 10 rebounds and knocked down seven of his nine 3-point attempts. There was a time this offseason when LSU had zero scholarship players left, but they’re now 8-1 and have Williams to thank for a lot of those wins.

Play of the Week:

Many know Hansel Emmanuel for his spectacular highlight reel despite losing his left arm when he was just six years old. What they don’t know is that he is a Division I freshman who just scored his first career points and did so in style. Check out his first points and pulverizing slam below!


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