What else should we have expected? After a near-chalk week from the ranked teams we see some major shakeups in this week’s rankings thanks to some major upsets. Most notably, Duke fell to SF Austin and Michigan State lost to Virginia Tech. The AP No. 1 team had never lost more than once in the month of November so it only makes sense that we’ve seen three such cases this year. After an eventful week, here are the Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Louisville (7-0)
Louisville takes over at the top of the rankings thanks to Duke’s loss this week. The Cardinals only played one game this week and they easily handled Western Kentucky. The only knock on the Cards so far is the lack of competition they have played. However, with a Michigan and ACC conference play coming around the corner, we will find out if this team can separate themselves from the field.
2. Kansas (6-1)
Kansas took part in three games this week, winning each one. The Jayhawks best win to date is over a streaking Dayton team, but have been playing a good form of basketball since the season-opening loss to Duke. As expected, Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike are doing the heavy-lifting for the offense and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
3. Michigan (7-0)
I believe this is the biggest jump in rankings since I started writing for the website as I normally believe one week can only teach you so much about a team. But this Michigan team did something special this week by beating both North Carolina and Gonzaga and doing it easily. Juwan Howard seems to have figured out this coaching thing pretty quickly, but it helps when you have talented players like Isaiah Livers (pictured), Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske.
4. Duke (7-1)
It’s easy to say that the Blue Devils should be dropped further down the list than just one spot. However, when you look at the overall body of work, I believe the win over Kansas outweighs a loss to SF Austin. The same way we didn’t overreact to Kentucky losing to Evansvile, we’re doing the same thing here. That being said, Duke does need to figure out the half-court sets on both sides of the ball, but will be fine in the long-term.
5. Kentucky (6-1)
The Wildcats beat UAB in their only game of the week by cruising through the game. Coach Cal will likely see a similar performance from his team as the next two weeks don’t pose much of a threat. But before the month of December ends Kentucky will meet Ohio State and Louisville on the hardwood in statement games for all teams involved.
6. Arizona (9-0)
Arizona pulled off a trio of wins this week but not quite in an impressive way. Nico Mannion needed to float in a layup in the final seconds to get past Pepperdine while UPenn and Wake Forest put up a fight as well. The Wildcats get another chance to prove their worth this week against Baylor before eyeing up Gonzaga in a mid-December tilt.
7. Michigan State (5-2)
Two losses this early in the season is not a good look for a team that was heavily viewed as the favorite to win it all this year. When you look closer at the schedule, it’s not as bad as it looks. A loss to Kentucky is always acceptable and while it doesn’t look too hot anymore, Virginia Tech was seemingly a legit team at the time of the loss. No team is perfect this year and, in all likelihood, this will be a forgotten loss in a month or so.
8. Gonzaga (8-1)
The Zags were able to edge out Oregon in overtime before getting manhandled by Michigan in the Bahamas. The win over the Ducks was impressive but the way Gonzaga was outclassed by the Wolverines was far worse. The Bulldog’s biggest critique is the schedule and lack of competition they see on a yearly basis, which is why we look for these out-of-conference games to give us a better look at what the team is made of. Unfortunately, it seems like Mark Few might be missing just a little too much to be viewed as one of the favorites to cut down the nets.
9. North Carolina (6-1)
Similarly to Gonzaga, North Carolina beat Oregon in a close game and lost to Michigan in a bad fashion. The Tar Heels were able to make it close on the scoreboard, but it really wasn’t that close. Cole Anthony looks like the only player on the team who can perform at a high level on a nightly basis which will likely cause UNC to faulter a handful of times throughout the season. Although, the team has shown capabilities of being elite if everything is clicking.
10. Maryland (8-0)
Maryland is getting a lot of love in the AP Polls and maybe I’m an outlier, but the Terps haven’t proved themselves as a top five team to me yet. The opposition they’ve faced has been fairly weak but they are doing very well with what they’ve got. Anthony Cowen leads the offense with the help of Jalen Smith and are possibly the real deal, I just need to see it in conference play.
11. Virginia (7-0)
I find myself often repeating the same sentiments when it comes to the Cavaliers. The defense is impeccable and the offense leaves a lot to be desired but night-in and night-out it’s enough to leave with a win. It’s still confusing how Virginia is receiving a first-place vote but holding an NCAA team to 26 points, which is what they did to Maine this week, is impressive nonetheless.
12. Ohio State (7-0)
The Buckeyes flew past Kent State and Morgan State this week to remain undefeated. We finally get to see Ohio State play a real opponent as they will travel to the Dean Center to face UNC in the always exciting Big Ten/ACC Challenge. They also will play a respectable Penn State team which should make up an informative week in terms of what kind of team the Buckeyes really are.
13. Memphis (6-1)
The Tigers have barely been winning their games recently, but without their star player in James Wiseman, I give them the benefit of the doubt. As is expected with Group of 5 teams, there are limited chances to see the elite programs cross over into the Power 5’s territory. Thankfully, we do get to see Memphis clash with Tennessee in two weeks which could potentially be the last ranked team they play this season.
14. Baylor (5-1)
Baylor did not play this week but move up thanks to some losses from other teams. The Bears have the build of a team that shouldn’t get blown out often but also probably won’t be able to beat the better teams in the country. They’ll have a chance to prove me wrong when they match up with Arizona this week.
15. Seton Hall (6-2)
The Pirates are hovering in that grey area for a Big East team. The two losses are to Michigan State and Oregon, which are respectable losses, especially because each game was decided by one possession. However, there’s no signature win on the resume either which leaves us in the dark when trying to figure out how good Seton Hall truly is.
16. Auburn (7-0)
Outside of one scare in the second week of the season, Auburn has been crushing everyone they’ve squared off with. The Tigers should be able to move up these rankings in the coming weeks as the December schedule is fairly easy. It’s yet to be seen if Auburn can contend in the SEC but we don’t really have a reason to believe otherwise as of today.
Next Five: Oregon, Colorado, Texas Tech, Xavier, Utah State
Players of the Week
1. Armondo Bacot – North Carolina
I know I said up above that Cole Anthony is the only consistent performer on the team, but Bacot strung together a couple of solid performances this week as well. He opened the week with 12 points on 5-7 shooting and compiled 15 rebounds in 26 minutes. The freshman then hit a bit of a wall against Michigan but responded well with a 23-point, 12-rebound and 6-block performance against Oregon. Bacot is the x-factor on this UNC team and performances like these can help catapult his team alongside the true contenders.
2. Myles Powell – Seton Hall
A friend of the program here on the Players of the Week list, Powell was his spectacular self once again. The senior dropped a swift 32 points against Oregon before tallying 15 points and 5 rebounds against Southern Miss and 24 points with 5 boards against Iowa State. While this is a great week by normal standards, this was more of the same for Powell.
3. Markus Howard – Marquette
Along with Powell, Howard is a familiar face on the list. To be clear, the standout guard laid a dud against Maryland this week, but he was so special against USC he is worthy of a spot on the list. Howard scored 51 points on 14-for-24 shooting, including nine 3-pointers, on his way to the history books. He now has three of the four 50-point games in Big East history and is the only player in the last 20 years with multiple 50-point games.
4. Vernon Carey – Duke
The freshman big man is becoming a regular on this list as well as he has been a walking 20-10 machine this season. Carey scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds against SF Austin and proceeded on to a 17-point 10-rebound outing against Winthrop. He’s averaging 18.4 points and 9.5 rebounds this year and has been a valuable piece of the Duke team.
5. Devon Dotson – Kansas
Dotson led his team in scoring with 19 points on an efficient 7-12 shooting in a walkthrough against Chaminade to start the week. The Jayhawk guard then recorded 13 points and 8 assists against BYU before exploding for 31 points on 11-16 shooting and filling the stat sheet with six rebounds and four assists in an OT win over Dayton.