We had an exciting week that included a couple of top ten matchups, big upsets and unfortunately, many canceled games. This will likely become the status quo this season, but with this disappointment brings opportunity. Teams calling out other teams to fill in for canceled games has endless possibilities for what we could see throughout the year and could actually benefit a lot of teams. Anyways, here’s this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (3-0)
We thought we were going to get to see No. 1 vs No. 2 this week, however that was canceled. I guess we just have to settle with Gonzaga only playing (and beating) West Virginia, who by the way was ranked No . 11 nationally. Unfortunately, Gonzaga only has one true test remaining on it’s schedule at the moment, but as we’ve said that could all change as things move along. I hate to say it this early, but Gonzaga has a real shot at running the table this year.
2. Iowa (3-0)
Iowa picked up one easy win this week against Western Illinois and will not get ready for a clash against UNC in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. I know there’s a handful of doubters of this team, but next week will give the Hawkeyes a chance to show everyone they are as good as it gets in college basketball.
3. Baylor (3-0)
The Bears picked up the biggest win of the week with a convincing dub over Illinois. However, there is little time for celebration as Baylor will square off with Texas later in the week. Baylor has had a different leading scorer, rebounder and assist leader in each of its games thus far, proving just how well-balanced and deep this team truly is. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see this team play Gonzaga, but I’m sure they’ll see more elite competition down the road.
4. Michigan State (5-0)
Michigan State was able to add three wins to the resume this week by beating Duke, Detroit Mercy and Western Michigan. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure this team is built for a deep run, but you can’t argue against what we’ve seen so far. This team is winning games, and will get another chance to add a quality win this week when they square off with Virginia.
5. Kansas (4-1)
The Jayhawks had an eventful week, tallying three wins against Kentucky, Washburn and North Dakota State. I know it’s unusual to have a team with a loss already this high in the rankings, but given what has happened this year I think it makes sense. It also doesn’t hurt that the token loss is to the consensus top team in the country. Don’t let one game fool you, Kansas is very good.
6. Illinois (3-1)
A second one-loss team towards the top of the rankings, and for many of the same reasons as Kansas. A loss to one of the unquestioned best teams in the country is not world-ending. Is it possible I’m being a little too forgiving? Possibly. But the Fighting Illini will come right back and play Duke this week as both teams will be looking to bounce back a little bit.
7. Duke (3-1)
I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but what else is there to say. Yet another one-loss team that is to one of the top four teams on this list. Yes, Duke is young and needs to figure some things out, but that’s always the case. Plus, like I just said, the Blue Devils will get a shot at Illinois this week in an attempt to prove themselves.
8. Villanova (4-1)
Villanova added a much needed win over a quality opponent this week. Nova matched up against a Texas team who was coming off of a UNC win and handed the Longhorns their first loss of the year. I still have concerns about this team, but this week gave me some more confidence in what they are capable of.
9. Houston (4-0)
The Cougars remain undefeated after picking up a win against South Carolina Saturday night. As of right now, Houston doesn’t have a ranked game on the schedule, but as I’ve alluded to before, on-the-spot makeup games could benefit Houston as much as any team if they decide to partake against some other teams when the openings occur.
10. West Virginia (4-1)
West Virginia deserves a lot of credit. Bob Huggins got on the phone and demanded Gonzaga play them this week. The Mountaineers ended up losing that game, but kept it within five points, that’s an accomplishment to me. WVU then went on to beat Georgetown to close out the week. Upcoming games against ranked Richmond and Kansas will give this team a couple of chances to bolster it’s resume.
11. Wisconsin (3-1)
The Badgers lost a game that had its fair share of referee controversy, but nonetheless it is a loss to an unranked team who lost it’s three best players. As a whole, Wisconsin’s three wins are against teams whose combined number of students is less than half of Wisconsin’s itself. Add a loss to an unranked Marquette, and that’s why I’m a little more harsh on the Badgers than some other teams.
12. Creighton (3-0)
The Blue Jays have three wins against North Dakota State, Omaha and Kennesaw State which as a whole is less than impressive and also is why I can’t put this team in the top ten just yet. I see the vision for Creighton, but need to see it first-hand to put this team in the conversation with the ones above.
13. Virginia (3-1)
It’s rare to see a team drop in these rankings without losing, but Virginia has too many issues right now. The loss was bad, but going to overtime against Kent State might be worse. The Cavaliers have a huge opportunity to prove me wrong by beating Michigan State this week, but with the way UVA is playing it looks unlikely.
14. Virginia Tech (4-0)
Virginia Tech has the signature win over Villanova which really gives them the push to get into the Power 16. The rankings get tough from this point on, and having a signature win this early on gives a lot of leverage. The list of unbeaten teams with a ranked win isn’t very long, and it just wouldn’t feel right leaving VTech out of these rankings.
15. Texas (3-1)
The Longhorns had an eventful week. First, they beat UNC in a close game, then they lost to Villanova another close one. With both a top-15 win and top-15 loss, it felt about right to leave Texas right where we had them last week. We’ll learn a lot about this team when they play Baylor to close the week.
16. Michigan (4-0)
Michigan might be one of the most disrespected teams this year. The Wolverines were ranked to start the season, tallied two wins, and then fell out of the rankings for some reason unbeknownst to me. With a win over NC State, Michigan would enter Big Ten play undefeated, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Next Five: Tennessee, Ohio State, North Carolina, Rutgers, Oregon
Players of the Week
Sahvir Wheeler – Georgia
Sahvir Wheeler filled up the stat sheets this week with a pair of double-doubles. First, he went for 17 points, 10 assists and 3 rebounds and followed up with 21 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds. He’s currently the NCAA leader in assists per game, so keep an eye on this kid.
Eugene Omoruyi – Oregon
Oregon got a little bit of a late start to the season, but Eugene Omoruyi wasted no time getting out to a hot start. With a 31-point, 11 rebound outing and a 22-point, 4-rebound performance already under his belt, Omoruyi has proven to be a reliable scorer for the Ducks.
Luka Garza – Iowa
At this point, it’s almost without question that you’ll be able to find Luka Garza on this list every week. He only played in one game, but recorded 35 points on 13-for-21 shooting and added 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Garza is truly one of the best college basketball has to offer.
Charles Bassey – Western Kentucky
I usually avoid mid-major players just due to the level of competition they go up against, but Charles Bassey deserves some recognition. The former five-star recruit put up 13 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks against Louisville before his 13-point, 11-rebound, 4-block outing against Mississippi Valley State.
Derek Culver – West Virginia
Derek Culver opened the week with an 18-point and 15-rebound performance against Gonzaga. He then tallied 14 points along with 9 boards against Georgetown to cap off an impressive week.
Play of the Week
I said last week it was likely that the Play of the Week would be a poster dunk, and that seems to be the case so far. This week we have Duke’s freshman guard, DJ Steward, hopping into a passing lane, getting the steal, and putting it on someone’s head on the other end for two points. Check it out in the link below.