Last week’s action solidified the top four in this week’s Power 16, even as the Wildcats from Kentucky and Arizona almost proverbially bit off more than they could chew by way of visiting from Texas and Gonzaga.
Atlantic Coast Conference teams Duke (then-No. 2 Wisconsin) and Virginia (Maryland VCU) filled out the top four by moving up a couple of slots apiece with matter-of-fact victories on the road.
This week’s schedule doesn’t include nearly as tasty morsels of matchups as did last week’s.
But here are some that could impact next week’s Power 16: Tuesday, No. 8 Louisville vs. Indiana and No. 9 Villanova vs. Illinois; Wednesday, No. 12 Kansas vs. Georgetown; Friday, Iowa State vs. Iowa; Saturday, No. 1 Kentucky vs. North Carolina, No. 6 Gonzaga vs. UCLA, No. 12 Kansas vs. Utah.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kentucky (1)
|After two wins by the 76ers maybe the ludicrous talk that this team could beat them is finally over. In the meantime, the Wildcats pulled away down the stretch at home Friday for a win over a Texas team that no one has ever suggested could beat the 76ers.|
2. Arizona (3)
|The Wildcats had to overcome a six-point deficit in the final few minutes and a last-possession opportunity by Gonzaga to win in regulation before pulling it out over the Bulldogs in OT Saturday in Tucson. These teams might meet again in a regional final.|
3. Duke (4)
|The singular most impressive “power teams” victory last week was recorded by the Blue Devils in Madison.|
4. Virginia (7)
|Impressive victories at Maryland and VCU helped continue to demonstrate why there has been no slippage at all for the program that won ACC regular-season and conference tourney championships last season.|
5. Texas (6)
|The Longhorns certainly provided – as expected – by far the most physically challenging test for Kentucky so far this season.|
6. Gonzaga (5)
|The Bulldogs were oh-so-close to staking a legit claim on “best in the west” status with their performance in Tucson. That opportunity should come again in late March.|
7. Wisconsin (2)
|The Badgers’ offense was well short of “clicking” against Duke, that’s for sure.|
8. Louisville (8)
|We’re inching ever closer to that Dec. 27 showdown with the Wildcats in Louisville.|
9. Villanova (11)
|Scoring balance is a big key for these team as seven players are averaging from 7.6 to 12.3 points per game.|
10. Wichita St. (9)
|One can’t dock this team too much for an over-time loss in a University of Utah facility in which no opponent may come away from with a win this season.|
11. Ohio State (10)
|The Buckeyes bounced back decently from a bad start in Louisville last week to show why this could prove to be the Big Ten’s second best team.|
12. Kansas (NR)
|The Jayhawks are coming around nicely after being clawed and mangled by Kentucky in Indianapolis on Nov. 18.|
13. Washington (13)
|The Huskies qualify is one of the major surprises in this still young season, no more so than during their impressive victory over San Diego State Sunday night in Seattle.|
14. Northern Iowa (NR)
|Mark it on your “to watch” calendar – this team plays host to Wichita State in MVC action on Jan. 31.|
15. Miami (12)
The jump shots were certainly clanging off the iron in that 13-point loss at home to Green Bay Saturday night.
16. Maryland (14)
|Unfortunately for the Terps, they found out first-hand last week how good their old ACC foe (Virginia) is.|
ON THE CUSP: Baylor 7-1, Butler 7-1, Cal 7-1, Colorado State 8-0, Iowa 7-2, Iowa State 5-1, LSU 6-2, Notre Dame 8-1, Oklahoma 5-2, Oklahoma State 7-1, San Diego State 6-2, Seton Hall 7-0, Texas A&M 6-1, TCU 8-0, Utah 6-1 and West Virginia 8-1.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (Dec. 1-7)
*Justin Anderson (Virginia): The left-handed junior averaged 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in road victories against Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth.
*Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky): The 6-foot-11 junior averaged 16.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocked shots in wins over Texas and Eastern Kentucky.
*Ky Howard (New Jersey Institute of Technology): The junior guard had 17 points, five rebounds and six assists in his team’s stunning 72-70 upset of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Saturday.
*Tyus Jones (Duke): The freshman guard had 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and just one steal in the Blue Devils’ ACC-Big Ten Challenge victory in Madison Wednesday night.
*Justin Sears (Yale): The junior forward had 12 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the 45-44 win at Connecticut Saturday, the program’s first over the Huskies in 28 years.
Frank Burlison has been covering hoops for 30+ years for a variety of publications.
Follow Frank on twitter @FrankieBur. Also make sure to follow his website at www.burlisononbasketball.com. College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]