Let the record show that I was the first to jump on the Alabama at No. 1 bandwagon last week, which should be a much more popular trend with three of the other top four teams either losing or narrowly losing against inferior opponents. Not the Tide. Led by superstar freshman Brandon Miller and an ever improving defense, it’s more clear now than ever that they are the best team in college basketball.

1. Alabama (17-2)

No team in the SEC has proven to be any match for the Tide with all seven of their conference wins coming by double digits. It helps that Brandon Miller continues to prove that he is the best college prospect in the country.

2. Purdue (19-1)

The more looks the Big Ten throws at the Boilermakers, the more dangerous they’ll be in March. Whether it’s leaning on Edey, a true freshman point guard, or the shooters who surround them, Purdue just knows how to win. And they’re going to keep doing it.

3. Kansas State (17-2)

The win over Kansas in Manhattan was an instant classic and catapulted the Wildcats to the top of the standings in the nation’s deepest and toughest conference. Taking care of business against Texas Tech over the weekend was enough to headline their stacked conference and ascend into the top-three of these power rankings.

4. UCLA (17-3)

Whoever made UCLA’s schedule did them no favors with a road trip that includes Arizona State, Arizona and USC, but they got off to a solid start with a win over the Sun Devils before coming up just short against the Wildcats on Saturday. A win over USC will make the trip a massive success and put them firmly in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12.

5. Houston (18-2)

The Cougars had been struggling with their competition in the American Conference and it finally caught up with them on Sunday afternoon against Temple. A trip to Orlando in the middle of the week now feels like a must win game if Houston wants to maintain a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

6. TCU (15-4)

A mid-week loss to West Virginia was the third in the last four games for the Horned Frogs. On Saturday, they dismantled the second-ranked Jayhawks by 23. To quote Jon Rothstein – Anarchy? Nope. Just college basketball.

7. Kansas (16-3)

The Jayhawks got blown out at home around this time of year last season and still went on to win the NCAA Tournament. Don’t hit the panic button just yet in Lawrence. They still boast one of the best starting lineups in the country with a chance for revenge in Rupp Arena on Saturday after last year’s meltdown in Allen Fieldhouse.

8. Virginia (15-3)

Ben Vander Plas is emerging as the X-factor in Charlottesville, taking the Cavaliers offense from good to great as they climb the ACC standings and make a run for a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

9. Iowa State (14-4)

The Cyclones fell asleep at the wheel after building a big early lead and it cost them in Stillwater on Saturday. Their week also included a huge win over Texas, so it’d be crazy to knock them out of the top-10 for a quad 1 loss to the Cowboys.

10. Texas (16-3)

Timmy Allen shot 0-5 from the field in Morgantown on Saturday and the Longhorns still found a way to win with their interim head coach. As Rodney Terry gets more experience alongside his talented players, this team will only get better when it starts to matter most in March.

11. Baylor (14-5)

A lot of people, myself included, gave up on the Bears after a three-game losing streak to start conference play, but in hindsight these losses aren’t nearly as bad as everyone thought. This is still one of the best backcourts in the country and I expect Scott Drew to get this team right back into title contention in the best conference in the sport.

12. Saint Mary’s (17-4)

The Gaels’ winning streak is up to nine and it included making a potential lottery pick in Maxwell Lewis look pedestrian late Thursday night. Believe it or not this is the team to beat in the WCC.

13. Xavier (16-4)

It’s hard to believe that Xavier’s 11-game winning streak ended against DePaul of all teams in the Big East, but the Musketeers are still the favorites in their loaded conference. A pair of road tests against UConn and Creighton this week will give them the chance to prove it.

14. Tennessee (16-3)

It’s hard not to be impressed by the response of the Volunteers who won a pair of road games this week against Mississippi State and LSU with the latter coming in convincing fashion.

15. Gonzaga (17-4)

Thursday’s upset was a long time coming for the Zags, who had played with their food for the entirety of conference play. Loyola’s guards, specifically Cam Shelton, were simply better than Gonzaga’s, which will be the downfall of the Zags in the NCAA Tournament. I’d genuinely be surprised if this team makes it to the second weekend if they continue playing like they are now.

16. New Mexico (18-2)

I felt the need to showcase the Lobos after a terrific performance and win over Boise State on Friday night. I’d put their backcourt trio up against any team in the nation and they all showed out against the Broncos to bolster a resume that shouldn’t need a conference tournament championship to make the NCAA Tournament.

Next 5: Arizona, Marquette, Boise State, Auburn, UConn

Players of the Week:

Jalen Wilson, SF/PF, No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks

Jalen Wilson was a man on a mission this week, but unfortunately, he was the only Jayhawk who showed up during their most important week of the season. After keeping his team in the game with 38 points against Kansas State, he was forced to do it again against TCU, scoring 30 points against the Horned Frogs. Neither effort made any difference as the Jayhawks dropped both contests to fall out of the top spot in the Big 12.

Oscar Tshiebwe, PF/C, Kentucky Wildcats

The reigning player of the year hasn’t found the same success this season, but was up to his old tricks in one of the season’s best individual performances. Tshiebwe collected 37 points and 24 rebounds to lead a comeback effort against Georgia and continue Kentucky’s momentum after a road win over Tennessee last week. Something is starting to click in Lexington, giving plenty of 2013-14 vibes when they reached the national championship as an eight seed.

Zach Edey, C, No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

You’re always told to be careful what you wish for and Tom Izzo learned that lesson as well as anyone this week. He dared the 7’4 Edey to beat him on Monday, forcing him into a season-high 26 field goal attempts, but the junior center responded with 32 points and 17 rebounds, including the game-winning field goal with just four seconds remaining.

Tyson Walker, PG, Michigan State Spartans

In that instant classic matchup between Purdue and Michigan State, Edey wasn’t even the best player on the floor. Tyson Walker had his best performance as a Spartan with 30 points and nearly willed his team to a massive upset over the third-ranked Boilermakers.

Trayce Jackson-Davis PF/C, Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana desperately needed a big week from their big man and Jackson-Davis delivered to reinsert his name into the Big Ten Player of the Year conversation. After 35 points in Champaign, the four-year starter delivered on his home floor to carry the Hoosiers past Michigan State in a heavyweight battle on Sunday afternoon.

Play of the Week:

There were some electrifying poster dunks, birthday buzzer-beaters and terrific transition dishes, but none had the impact of Keyontae Johnson’s game-winning alley-oop slam. For that reason, the nation’s feel-good player of the year is this week’s recipient of the national play of the week. Check it out below!


Video Credit: NCAA March Madness Twitter


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