We can all agree that preseason polls are kind of silly. Sure, they can be fun and provide topics of debate. But in terms of providing any insight into what the landscape will look like at season’s end, they shouldn’t be heavily leaned upon (see #2 Arizona’s 3-3 start or Florida State and Michigan’s preseason top-10 ranking in college football). Now that we have a bit of a sample size, we can feel more comfortable ranking teams. So we offer the first iteration of The Sports Fan Journal’s college hoops power rankings. These rankings will combine a team’s season long performance with their current form to highlight the cream of the crop in the college hoops world.
1. Duke (7-0)
Duke entered the season with a ton of hype, and they have lived up to it and then some. In addition to taking out Michigan State at the Champions Classic, the Blue Devils won the Motion Bracket at the PK80 Invitational with impressive comeback wins over Texas and Florida. They now hold two top-10 wins. Marvin Bagley III continues to make a case to be the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft, Grayson Allen looks more like the sophomore version of himself that was one of best players in the country, and the other talented freshmen have answered the call.
2. Michigan State (5-1)
The Spartans suffered an early-season hard-fought loss to Duke, which is nothing to be ashamed of. They’ve since won four straight, including a 63-45 thrashing of #9 North Carolina. Michigan State held Luke Maye (21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds) to just eight points. The Spartans put on a defensive clinic, forcing the Tar Heels to shoot just 24.6% from the floor and 1-18 from three, after averaging nearly 93 points per night entering Sunday’s game.
3. Kansas (5-0)
The Jayhawks notched an early-season win over Kentucky. They have won their other four games by an average of 39 points. While the schools on that schedule may not strike fear in the hearts of the college hoops world, South Dakota State, Texas Southern and Oakland have legitimate NCAA Tournament hopes. Kansas has been impressive across the board.
4. Villanova (6-0)
Villanova spent its holiday winning the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Its path to that title ended up being different than expected, as Purdue and Arizona were upset. The Wildcats took an early blow from Tennessee in the semifinal before opening the second half on a 23-3 run. Jalen Brunson has been spectacular, while Mikal Bridges is developing into one of the best early-season stories in college basketball.
5. Notre Dame (6-0)
The Irish got a signature win, coming from behind to beat Wichita State in Maui. Bonzie Colson has been a beast, averaging a double-double, while Matt Farrell provides an outside threat. A date with Michigan State on Thursday will provide another opportunity for the Irish to make a statement.
6. Texas A&M (6-0)
Outside of Duke, the Aggies may have the two best wins of the young season. They trounced West Virginia to open the season, then got a double-digit road win over USC on Sunday. Wins over Oklahoma State and Penn State aren’t too shabby, either. Texas A&M has made the most emphatic statement of the young season. The Aggies look to be a legitimate threat to Kentucky and Florida in an impressive SEC.
7. Florida (5-1)
Speaking of Florida, the Gators seemed poised to make a run higher in these rankings after spending a good portion of Sunday night leading Duke. The Blue Devils came back, but it’s hard to punish a team for a loss to Duke. Florida notched a win over Gonzaga on the way to its meeting with Duke, and have been impressive offensively. The defense will need to improve, but the Gators are fun to watch and are off to an excellent start.
8. Kentucky (6-1)
There were early concerns after Kentucky struggled against the likes of Utah Valley and Vermont. The Wildcats had a solid showing in a losing effort against Kansas, then struggled with Troy after blowing out East Tennessee State. But they seem to be finding their stride after easy wins over Ft. Wayne and UIC. Kentucky should get better as the season progresses and the youth settles in.
9. Minnesota (7-0)
Minnesota took part in one of the most bizarre college basketball games of all time on Saturday when Alabama was forced to play three-on-five for an extended period. Shorthanded Alabama actually outscored the Gophers over that stretch, but Minnesota held on the for the win. The Gophers also hold a win over Providence, and have destroyed everyone else in their path. Junior Jordan Murphy has been a monster (22 points, 12.3 rebounds) and Minnesota is among the best scoring and rebounding teams in the nation. A test against Miami on Wednesday should be fun.
10. Wichita State (6-1)
The Shockers blew a lead to Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational title game, but Notre Dame is really good. Wichita State has wins over Cal and Marquette, and every win has come by double-digits. Landry Shamet and Shaquille Morris have been great for the Shockers. Wichita State has several upcoming opportunities to prove they deserve a spot in these rankings, with games against Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma on the horizon.
Lurking: Miami, Cincinnati, UNC, Arizona State, Gonzaga, Xavier, Baylor.
There you have it, the inaugural TSFJ College Hoops Power Rankings. Get in the comments and tell us what we got right and what we got wrong, and check back next week to see how the rankings have changed.
Josh Naso aka The Silver Fox has a love for all things sports that borders on disorder. Here, he aims to share his thoughts on and passion for those sports with you.