Have you ever tried to make power rankings when just about every team in America lost? No? It’s not easy at all! Since more than half of the ranked teams in the nation lost to an unranked team, several on this list actually moved up in the rankings based on their performance in another matchup. Catch up on what felt like January Madness below!
1. Kansas (14-2)
Although Kansas had arguably the worst upset loss at UCF in the middle of the week, they followed it up with a top-10 win over Oklahoma to stay put in this week’s rankings. It’s easy to believe in Bill Self when all he ever does is win year after year. Expect another deep run in 2024.
2. UConn (15-2)
The more I watch both teams play, the more I think the UConn-Kansas game at Allen Fieldhouse was between the two best teams in college basketball. The rankings this week back that up. If the Huskies look this good without Donovan Clingan, things could get ugly for the rest of the Big East.
3. Purdue (15-2)
Matt Painter and the Boilermakers should just protest playing on the road in the Midwest against unranked opponents for the foreseeable future. It never seems to go well and a double-digit loss to Nebraska was the latest example. An unbelievable performance from Zach Edey against Penn State got his team back on track on Saturday.
4. Kentucky (13-3)
The Wildcats dropped a game on the road to a desperate Texas A&M squad but it was the way they did it that should concern fans the most. Defense has been an issue all season long, but it went to a new level from the opening tip until the final whistle as they conceded 97 points to a team that was held under 56 in two previous games.
5. North Carolina (13-3)
North Carolina might come in at five on this list, but you can make an argument that this is the hottest team in college basketball right now. We know the offense is elite, which they showed with 103 points against Syracuse, but it’s the lockdown defense that could make the Tar Heels a national championship contender in March.
6. Arizona (12-4)
Tommy Lloyd’s group is now two games back in the Pac-12 title race after a loss to Washington State dropped the Wildcats to 4-4 in their last eight games. This team is too talented not to figure things out, and in a fairly weak conference, they could pick up steam at just the right time in a hurry.
7. Duke (13-3)
The Blue Devils continue to rise in these rankings as a 2-0 week made it eight wins in a row for Jon Scheyer’s group. One of the most hyped teams coming into the season is starting to show why with All-American level play from Kyle Filipowski down in Durham.
8. Tennessee (12-4)
There aren’t many easy games in the SEC anymore. The Vols found that out the hard way this week with a loss to Mississippi State and a battle in Athens where they barely survived. This is still a top-10 team, however, with an elite resume and a new-look offense that can keep up with anyone in the country.
9. Baylor (14-2)
You have to take advantage of every home game in the Big 12 and that’s exactly what Baylor was able to do this week. The Bears hosted No. 18 BYU and upstart Cincinnati in their brand new arena, squeaking out wins to remain unbeaten in the best conference in basketball.
10. Auburn (14-2)
One team that keeps creeping up without much attention in the national spotlight is the Auburn Tigers. All they did this week was extend their winning streak to nine games with another balanced offensive effort. The Tigers have had a bench player score in double figures in the last 12 games and it’s this depth and intensity that makes them legit contenders in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.
11. Houston (14-2)
Sorry, Houston. A home game against West Virginia is not actually what a Big 12 schedule entails. After routing the Mountaineers in their first ever game in the conference last weekend, the Cougars dropped a pair of road games to Iowa State and TCU to put a damper on what was an undefeated start to the season. Kelvin Sampson has some things to figure out in his brand new conference.
12. Wisconsin (13-3)
Are the Badgers… the favorite in the Big Ten? I wouldn’t go that far yet but another perfect week has them two games ahead of Purdue and climbing up our power rankings. Greg Gard has never been known for offensive efficiency, but his team hasn’t scored less than 70 points since late November, so times might be changing in Madison.
13. Memphis (15-2)
Is averaging 110 points in one week good? Ignore for a second that the Tigers also conceded 94 per game and appreciate just how special Penny Hardaway’s offense looked in wins over UTSA and at Wichita State. The simultaneous balance was even more impressive and showed why Memphis is the best mid-major in college hoops right now.
14. Illinois (12-4)
Sunday’s loss to Maryland is just the latest example of how easily things could get off the rails for the Illini without Terrence Shannon. Finding offensive production outside of Marcus Domask continues to be an issue and if they can’t fix that problem fast, we might be losing sight of them in our power rankings sooner rather than later.
15. Utah State (16-1)
Thanks to five points in one play, Utah State survived against UNLV and improved to 16-1 in what could be a top-three conference in college basketball this season. The Aggies are legit under first-year coach Danny Sprinkle and could be the FAU of this season, taking over in March after a terrific regular season.
16. Dayton (13-2)
We’ll talk more about DaRon Holmes below, but it’s worth mentioning here the kind of tear he’s been on for Dayton this season. His return to school is looking like a brilliant decision, because in a year without many top prospects, a strong finish could find Holmes well inside the first round with a deep run in March this season.
Next 5: Marquette, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Creighton, Grand Canyon
Players of the Week:
Zach Edey, No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers
There aren’t many 30-20 games in college basketball but there aren’t many people like Zach Edey. His dominance against Penn State continued this weekend and after a quiet performance against Nebraska earlier in the week, this could be a much-needed confidence booster for the reigning NPOY.
Kyle Filipowski, No. 11 Duke Blue Devils
Duke’s star sophomore flipped a switch this week, no pun intended, to continue the team’s resurgence in the new year. After a quiet week to begin 2024, Filipowski averaged 28 points in a pair of wins this week, shooting 8-9 from beyond the arc and posting a double-double in each.
DaRon Holmes, Dayton Flyers
Back to Daron Holmes. The junior forward has more than doubled his 3-point production from his previous two season in just 15 games for the Flyers so far. Three more on Friday helped him put up 33 points in a win over Duquesne and catapulted his team into the Power 16 for the first time this season.
Dalton Knecht, No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee didn’t have a prayer of knocking off Georgia if Knecht showed up to the wrong arena on Saturday. The best transfer in the sport scored 36 points in the win, with impressive shooting splits of 60/63/77, fresh off a 28-point effort in a loss to Mississippi State on Wednesday.
Tucker DeVries, Drake Bulldogs
Tucker Devries is one of my favorite mid-major prospects who should be given his flowers after an outstanding week. The Bulldogs knocked off two impressive teams in Southern Illinois and Indiana State behind 34- and 29-point performances by the 6-7 wing. The Waukee, Iowa native is now averaging 19.5 points per game and will be must-watch television should Drake make the NCAA Tournament in March.
Play of the Week
Duke might have got revenge on Georgia Tech in the game but Kowacie Reeves earned some bragging rights of his own with a pulverizing poster slam at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Ryan Young might want to step aside next time he sees the Florida transfer heading toward the hoop.