Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! The best present for all college basketball fans is the return and/or beginning of conference play which is finally right around the corner. Buckle up for an exciting run towards the NCAA Tournament and remember to spread joy in this wonderful holiday season! Now let’s get into this week’s edition of our power rankings.

1. UConn (13-0)

It wasn’t just the streak of double-digit wins to start the season that was in jeopardy this week for the Huskies, but also their winning streak as a whole. Both streaks were salvaged thanks to a second-half surge from transfer guard Joey Calcaterra, who is just the latest role player in Hartford to step up and prove that this is one of the deepest rosters in the sport.

2. Houston (12-1)

McNeese State is no powerhouse, but the Cougars holding them to 29 points through over 35 minutes is still an incredible feat for one of the nation’s best defenses. Don’t be surprised if they don’t lose again and earn the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

3. Purdue (12-0)

The Boilermakers will go another week ranked first in the AP Poll, but they have an unimaginable slate heading for them in the first week of the new year. Three conference games in six days, including two away from home, await them in 2023, so their fanbase might want to get their celebrations out on New Year’s Eve before the season heats up in a major way.

4. Kansas (11-1)

The hot streak continues in Lawrence as the Jayhawks keep proving why they are the team to beat in the Big 12 and potentially all of college basketball.

5. Arizona (12-1)

Any team that keeps the Wildcats under 90 points should be proud, and with the Pac 12 looking as weak as ever this season, it could be an enjoyable few months for Tommy Lloyd and the ‘Cats.

6. Texas (10-1)

If Arterio Morris starts to figure it out like he did this week, I can’t think of a more terrifying backcourt than the one in Austin. Even without Chris Beard, the Longhorns are a force to be reckoned with.

7. Virginia (8-2)

Don’t hit the panic button just yet in Charlottesville. A lot of teams in college basketball would lose on the road against Miami and to Houston anywhere. This is still a top-10 team in the country, despite what the ludicrous AP Poll might tell you.

8. Tennessee (10-2)

Holding Arizona to 90 and scoring 50 on Tennessee are two of the hardest things to do in this sport. Austin Peay was the latest to fall short of the threshold and as long as the Vols are playing on their home floor, plenty of SEC teams will fall short too.

9. Gonzaga (10-3)

It’s time to hit snooze on the Gonzaga alarm clock for the next three months and prepare for whatever they have in store for us in the NCAA Tournament. There’s a good chance they still have three losses when that time comes.

10. Alabama (10-2)

It’s time to see what this Alabama team is all about. Coming off a loss to Gonzaga and a frustrating win over Jackson State, they’ll go up against one of the best defenses in the nation in Mississippi State this week – a perfect opportunity to prove this isn’t last year’s Crimson Tide.

11. Baylor (9-2)

Injuries have been the downfall of the last two seasons for the Bears, but as long as they stay healthy, they can challenge for the most difficult conference crown in Division 1. That’s a huge “if” that I’m not sure they can abide by.

12. UCLA (11-2)

The Bruins can ride one of the best 1-2 punches all they want in Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez, but it’ll take the emergence of their five-star freshmen to do any serious damage the next few months.

13. Arkansas (11-1)

Speaking of 1-2 punches, the Razorbacks have an elite one of their own with their pair of freshmen, Nick Smith and Anthony Black. Will their inexperience hold them back or will their young hunger catapult them to the top of the SEC? I’m far more comfortable in the latter.

14. Miami (12-1)

The Hurricanes didn’t just pass their first major test of the season; they aced it. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated, but they’ll still need to improve drastically closing out games if they want to keep the respect they earned with their win over Virginia on Tuesday.

15. TCU (10-1)

The Horned Frogs are finally starting to live up to the preseason buzz, squeaking out a sneaky impressive win over an underrated Utah squad. It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the Big 12, but TCU has as good of a chance as anyone to dethrone the Jayhawks in 2023.

16. Wisconsin (9-2)

The Badgers held a lead in the final minute of both losses this season, but that’s the nature of the game when you play so many tight contests. It’s impossible to tell if these tight wins are a sign of a great team or a fraudulent one, so I’ll leave it up to them to prove it over the course of an entire Big Ten schedule.

Next 5: Duke, Indiana, Xavier, New Mexico, Charleston

Players of the Week:

Bryce Hopkins, SG/SF, Providence Friars

Hopkins’ transfer from Kentucky to Providence is one of the more underrated transfers from last summer’s portal. The true sophomore is flourishing with Ed Cooley in the Big East and after his 29-point, 23-rebound outburst in a win over No. 24 Marquette, he is emerging as a national breakout star.

Drew Timme, PF/C, No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Another week, another player of the week mention for Drew Timme. The senior forward continues to carry Gonzaga past upset bids and ranked opponents. It was a 32/11/5 performance against Montana on Tuesday and I’d only expect his dominance to continue as conference play begins on New Year’s Eve.

Cason Wallace, PG, No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats

The more Kentucky’s offense runs through Cason Wallace, the better the product ends up being. As soon as Coach Calipari hands the reigns over to his superstar freshman, the Wildcats will start living up to their lofty preseason expectations and make a run for a title in March.

Kobe Brown, SG/SF, Missouri Tigers

As Seth Davis put it, Thursday was the Kobe Brown game. The senior guard led a 22-point beatdown over No. 16 Illinois with 31-points and eight assists in his breakout performance in St. Louis. Add in four steals and 67% shooting from the field and you have one of the best performances of the season. If the Tigers are going to knock off Kentucky this week, they’ll need another performance like this from their sensational senior.

Isaiah Wong, PG, No. 14 Miami Hurricanes

You can make an argument that Isaiah Wong is the best player in college basketball right now. That’s four straight games with at least 22 points and five assists and every performance was better than the box score suggests. He carried the Canes to the Elite Eight last season and it’ll be no surprise if he does it again if he continues to play at this elite level.

Play of the Week:

The Diamond Head Classic was exciting from the opening tip until the literal buzzer-beater finish as the hosts buried a 3-pointer at the horn to capture the tournament championship. Check out the incredible finish to an incredible holiday tournament below!


Video Credit: Hawaii Athletics Twitter


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