The weekend between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl always delivers in college basketball. The hype for the game is at a season-high after three top-10 matchups headlined a loaded slate of college hoops this Saturday. The games will only continue to get more intense as teams battle for seeding in the NCAA Tournament, conference superiority and a chance to go dancing come March. Let’s see how the rankings shake out in our first release of February!

1. UConn (20-2)

UConn’s 15-point loss to Seton Hall is well in the rearview mirror as the Huskies’ winning streak is now into double digits. Now at full strength with Stephon Castle starting to hit some 3’s, Dan Hurley’s group has never looked better and more poised to go back-to-back in 2024.

2. Purdue (21-2)

It wasn’t easy but the Boilermakers extended their winning streak to seven with a pair of nailbiters against Northwestern and Wisconsin. Purdue’s big one is blossoming into a big three after another fantastic week by Braden Smith and Lance Jones.

3. North Carolina (18-4)

One way to make people forget you lost to 10-12 Georgia Tech is by beating your top-10 archrival just a few days later. The Tar Heels stay put at No. 3 despite the loss because of it. If they can head into the NCAA Tournament with six or losses or less, I’d expect them to grab hold of one of the four top-seeds on Selection Sunday.

4. Tennessee (16-5)

Speaking of shaking off upset losses, Tennessee had a similar strategy this week with a statement win in Rupp Arena following a loss to South Carolina at home. The most impressive part was doing so while Dalton Knecht had his worst game in weeks.

5. Kansas (18-4)

Saturday’s top-eight showdown with Houston was just another reminder that Allen Fieldhouse is one of the premier destinations in all of college athletics. The Jayhawks used the raucous atmosphere to score the most points the Cougars allowed all season in a 78-65 win. Eight days after dealing with Hilton Coliseum, another terrifying atmosphere awaits them on Big Monday in the Octagon of Doom in Manhattan.

6. Houston (19-3)

Allowing a season-high 78 points on Feb. 3, all things considered, is a heck of an accomplishment for the Cougars. They’ll have as much of a “get-right” game as humanly possible in the Big 12 with Oklahoma State travelling to Houston on Tuesday.

7. Arizona (17-5)

More trouble on the road awaits the Wildcats next week as they travel to face two of the more underrated teams in college basketball in Utah and Colorado. If they manage to win both of these contests, the rest of the country should be on high alert as Arizona’s ceiling is as high as any team in the country under Tommy Lloyd.

8. Marquette (17-5)

Any undefeated road trip in the Big East is something to be proud of, especially against two of the most storied programs in the conference. The Golden Eagles, having won six in a row, are flying high ahead of their first showdown with UConn that is just two weeks away.

9. Alabama (16-6)

I still don’t think the Tide have what it takes to win a national championship this season, but they’re one of the last teams I’d want to see in my region on Selection Sunday. They are averaging 97 points over the last three games with a chance to complete a season sweep of Auburn on Wednesday night in the jungle.

10. Duke (16-5)

The Blue Devils put up a valiant effort in Chapel Hill on Saturday but are very clearly not on North Carolina’s level quite yet. Jon Scheyer needs a true big man, not Kyle Filipowski, to emerge and play the five if this Blue Devils team wants any chance to neutralize big men like Armando Bacot.

11, Baylor (16-5)

The only thing worse than the camera angle at Baylor’s new arena is allowing a 20-0 run on your home floor over a six-minute stretch. Fortunately, the Bears were able to overcome this brutal stretch to come back and defeat Iowa State to gain some ground in the Big 12 standings.

12. Auburn (18-4)

After blowing a pair of chances for a Quad 1 win last week, the Tigers used a 13-point comeback in Oxford to redeem themselves. Bruce Pearl’s depth is his greatest strength, which will go a long way in single-elimination format where stars are sure to struggle at least once.

13. Illinois (17-5)

Illinois is still looking for a signature win this season and there really aren’t a whole lot of opportunities in the Big Ten this season. They hardly survived Sunday night at home against Nebraska, bringing further doubt that they belong this high in the rankings. I wouldn’t be surprised if a rapid downfall is coming soon.

14. Wisconsin (16-6)

Remember that two-game lead Wisconsin had in the Big Ten not too long ago? Now they’re down a game and a half. Sunday’s loss to Purdue capped off a nightmare week for the Badgers who are now far closer to the bubble than a top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament.

15. South Carolina (19-3)

Welcome to the power rankings, South Carolina! The Gamecocks made it impossible to ignore them the past two weeks with wins over No. 6 Kentucky, in dominant fashion, and now a pair of road wins over Tennessee and Georgia. Lamont Paris is the clear choice for SEC Coach of the Year right now with what he’s doing in Columbia.

16. Iowa State (16-5)

Despite the heartbreaking loss that took years off the lives of the Cyclone-faithful, Iowa State remains in the top-three of the Big 12 with just a month remaining in the regular season. Unfortunately, that can change in a flash, especially with a brutal slate of games awaiting them in the next 13 days.

Next 5: Kentucky, Saint Mary’s, Dayton, Utah State, FAU

Players of the Week:

Tyler Kolek, No. 9 Marquette Golden Eagles

Kolek put in an All-American performance for Marquette this week – first in a road win over Villanova on Tuesday night. He finished with 32 points and nine assists against the Wildcats, leading the Golden Eagles to an 85-80 win. It was Kam Jones who went ballistic on Saturday with 31 points in just 21 minutes although Kolek was solid with 17 points and eight assists as well.

Zakai Zeigler, No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers

Kentucky has enough trouble defending ball screens as it is but what Zeigler did on Saturday was simply torturous. It’s been a back and forth season for the 5’9 point guard but he saved his best for the biggest stage with 26 points and 13 assists for the Vols in a bounce-back win against the Wildcats after dropping a home game to South Carolina earlier in the week.

Harrison Ingram, No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels

It seems Hubert Davis is going to hit a home run in the transfer portal every other year to perfectly mold into his team’s identity. It was Brady Manek in 2022 and now Harrison Ingram is blending perfectly into what Carolina is trying to do on both ends of the floor.

The Stanford transfer was the star of the show in Saturday’s showdown with No. 7 Duke, drilling five 3-pointers, crashing the glass for 13 rebounds and scoring 21 points behind only Bacot’s 25 for the Heels.

Rob Dillingham, No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats

The only bright spot of Kentucky’s dreadful week was the clinic Dillingham put on to keep them in the game against Tennessee over the weekend. He scored 35 points on 14-20 shooting (6-8 from beyond the arc) in the loss and even caused fans to boo Calipari just for taking him out of the game. The Hickory, NC native keeps rising the ranks on this summer’s draft board.

Drew Pember, UNC Asheville Bulldogs

The mid-major player of the week has to be UNC Asheville’s Drew Pember. The 6’11 senior went off for 36 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against Winthrop as the Bulldogs squeaked by in a four-point win. Pember is a fluid athlete with confidence putting the ball on the deck to create for himself and others, making him an interesting prospect to watch in a class without much high-end potential.

Play of the Week

Kel'el Ware is having a breakout year in Bloomington, although most of his team is struggling to support him. His latest highlight came in Tuesday’s win over Iowa where he scored 23 points and delivered one of the dunks of the season over Owen Freeman.


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