We’re just two weeks into the college basketball season and we’ve already
seen the number one team in the country lose twice. Many expected a season filled
with parity, but not many predicted a change in the top ranking three times this
early. Throughout the year this should be a constantly changing list, but as of
today, here is the Power 16 and Players of the Week.
Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Duke (1)
|The Blue Devils are that last remaining undefeated|
team from the Champions Classic big four. Duke has earned wins over Kansas,
Colorado State, Central Arkansas and Georgia State. The average margin of
victory is 24.5 points and should remain unbeaten through the end of the
month. Tre Jones is proving he’s more than an on-ball defender
by showing his offensive skillset, scoring and setting up his teammates
for easy baskets. Once again, Duke is a force in the college basketball
world and should be one of the top dogs for the entirety of the season.
2. Louisville (2)
|Louisville has a star in /> Nwora and will lean on him to help them compete in the highly-competitive|
ACC. The Cardinals are looking for their first ACC title, regular or postseason,
and many believe this is the year they could hoist the trophy. With a clear-cut
No.1 option, good depth and a variety of secondary scorers, the team just
seems fit to make a deep run in the tournament. Do not sleep on Louisville.
3. Michigan State (3)
|Tom Izzo has responded to his season-opening|
loss by crushing Binghamton and edging out Seton Hall in a 3-point win.
[Plater: Cassius Winston] has been as advertised thus far and will surely
be in the conversation for the Naismith National Player of the Year award.
The Spartans are without Josh Langford which means the team will
only improve upon his return. Michigan State started the year ranked No.
1 for a reason and once the team figures out the small corrections, they
will become even more of a problem for opposing teams.
4. Kansas (4)
|After losing to Duke to|
open the season, the Jayhawks have rattled off two wins and look to have
improved their ball security on the offensive end. They hung 112 points
on Monmouth and seem primed to make another run at a Big 12 title. Kansas
has talent at all positions and is anchored by Devon Dotson and
Udoka Azubuike. Barring injuries, Bill Self likely has another
title contender on his hands.
5. Gonzaga (5)
|Mark Few and his team could easily be ranked|
higher on this list based on the body of work so far. The Bulldogs have
won every game by at least 30 points and that includes a 79-49 domination
of a decent Texas A&M team. The defense is suffocating and the offense
has explosive capabilities, which is a recipe for success against the elite
competition. Unfortunately, we will not see Gonzaga play much competition
due to the weak WCC, but until given a reason to believe otherwise, we must
view the Zags as a top-five team.
6. Kentucky (6)
|Kentucky was at the center of what could|
be the biggest upset we see all season with their loss to Evansville. It’d
be easy to drop the Wildcats past the No. 6 spot but the win over Michigan
State carries enough weight to give John Calipari’s squad the benefit
of the doubt. Big Blue Nation should have a good chance to make the country
forget about the embarrassing loss with an upcoming schedule that consists
of Utah Valley, Mt. St. Mary’s, Lamar and UAB. The team has many gifted
players, but as is the case with most Kentucky teams, figuring out the on-court
dynamic will take some time.
7. North Carolina (7)
has lived up to the hype so far in the young season and has helped UNC jump
out a 3-0 start. However, outside of Anthony, it’s unclear what kind
of talent the Tar Heels have. Armondo Bacot will surely need to
refine his game and become a more polished scorer for Roy Williams to have
the balance he needs for long-term success, but as for now, Anthony is doing
enough for the team to get by.
8. Arizona (8)
|Arizona brought in some|
highly-touted recruits in Nico Mannion and Josh Green,
but it has been Zeke Nnaji who has been the most productive among
the freshmen. Nnaji leads the team in scoring and rebounding and has been
a vital part in the Wildcats hot start. All four games have been won by
a minimum of 21 points and unlike some other undefeated teams, have a Power-5
win under their belts. Arizona is young, but loaded with talent, it’ll
be interesting to see how things play out for Sean Miller’s program.
9. Virginia (8)
|You have got to know the|
drill by this point. The Cavaliers are the epitome of what team defense
should look like. Tony Bennett is college basketballs Secretary of Defense
and has allowed an average of 36.7 points through three games. The offense
is still working things out, as are most teams, but with returners like
Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key and Kihei Clark,
there’s enough to keep UVA near the top of the ACC.
10. Maryland (9)
|The Terps have three blowout|
wins, but against three teams that probably should get blown out. Rhode
Island isn’t terrible, but Maryland won’t see the real competition
until December when conference play tips off. Anthony Cowen and
Jalen Smith lead a two-headed attack, but there are some others
on the roster who can provide a good scoring night. Maryland provides the
biggest threat to Michigan State in the Big Ten and watching the standings
in conference play should give us a clearer insight as to what this team
11. Oregon (10)
|Oregon picked up a signature win this week|
over a full-strength Memphis team. Payton Pritchard is the leader
of the senior-laden team, and will continue to be the heart and soul the
Ducks need to continue being an impressive early-season team. They might
not be beating the United States National team like their women counterparts,
but Oregon has proven to be a team to look out for and will almost certainly
be fighting for the Pac 12 crown.
12. Texas Tech (11)
|Coming off of a loss in|
the national championship, it was unclear how Texas Tech would respond in
the new season. Despite the loss of Jarrett Culver, the Red Raiders
haven’t missed a beat. A 3-0 start and each game being separated by
at least 25 points is about as good as it could be. Texas Tech will probably
be fighting Kansas once again for the Big 12 title, and while not the same
team as a year ago, could pull it off once again.
13. Seton Hall (13)
being one of the best players in the country is no secret, but how good
this team actually is may be flying under the radar. Seton Hall took Michigan
state to the final seconds and a 3-point loss to the Spartans actually helps
build this teams’ resume. An upcoming clash with Oregon will help decipher
what exactly the Pirates are made of, but expect a close game with either
team only winning by a possession or two.
14. Ohio State (14)
|The Buckeyes were on most|
fans’ watch list, but with a blowout win over Villanova, this team
really has the countries attention now. Ohio State took the lead early and
didn’t look back as they handed Nova one of the biggest losses in recent
program memory. I always say that Ohio State is good at everything and this
year is no different. It’s unsettled whether or not this roster can
compete with MSU and Maryland, but it’s definitely possible.
15. Villanova (15)
|Villanova is undoubtably|
a team that should be kept a close watch of. The amount of talent they lost
compared to what they brought in is alarming. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
is a raw prospect who is being asked to mature quickly, and regardless of
his progression, could be a part of a team that underachieves this year.
Big East conference play will show a lot about the make up of Jay Wright’s
16. Memphis (16)
|The biggest wildcard of|
the NCAA is Memphis. James Wiseman and his legal issues provide
such a looming question mark over this team that nobody can say for sure
what’s on the horizon for the Tigers. If he does sit out, /> Precious Achuiwa and Boogie Ellis have the capabilities to keep
the team on top, but will most likely lack the consistency needed to be
regarded as elite. This really is a “wait and see” type of situation
and that is exactly what we will do.
Next Five: Utah State, Baylor, Xavier, Washington, VCU
Players of the Week
1. Zeke Nnaji – Arizona
As I alluded in the power rankings, Nnaji has been astounding for the Wildcats
this season. He’s currently fourth in the country in field-goal percentage,
shooting 81.3% from the floor. He reached that number largely in part because
he did not miss a shot this week. The freshmen scored 28 points on 8-8 shooting
(10-12 from the line) and also grabbed 11 rebounds against San Jose State. He
also scored 19 points on 7-7 shooting (5-5 from the line) in a win over New
2. John Mooney – Notre Dame
John Mooney is leading the Power-5 players in rebound per game with 12.5 but
is providing in multiple areas for the Fighting Irish. This week he tallied
18 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a block in a win over Howard.
He also recorded 28 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks
in a win over Marshall. While Notre Dame isn’t the best team in the ACC,
one could argue Mooney is on track to be one of the better players in the conference.
If he replicates weeks like this, it’d be hard to say otherwise.
3. Myles Powell – Seton Hall
Myles Powell is a walking bucket and he showed that once again this week. Against
Michigan State, the senior guard recorded 37 points and looked like he couldn’t
miss. In the following game, Powell added another 26 points, including 10 free
throws. He also grabbed six rebounds in both games. Don’t expect Powell
to slow down any time soon as he is a man on a mission this year and is as explosive
as it gets.
4. Vernon Carey – Duke
The Blue Devils freshman big man is starting to show why he was such a highly-rated
recruit. He picked up a pair of double-doubles this week with a 17-point 10-rebound
performance and a 20-point 14-rebound outing. Carey was efficient from the floor,
shooting 15-24 from the floor in the two games. He will be an important part
of Duke’s success moving forward and if he keeps it up, will make the team
5. Jordan Bowden – Tennessee
Jordan Bowden had a week to remember as he both set a career-high in points
and helped his team upset Washington. He dropped 26 points thanks to six three-pointers
in a comeback win over Murray State before adding 18 points and six rebounds,
leading the team to a win over Washington.