We’re back with the third TSFJ College Hoops Power Rankings. Through the first two weeks of the rankings, we saw things remain steady at the top, but that changes with some of the country’s top teams having a rough week. We also see some new teams crack the rankings, with even more fresh faces knocking on the door.
1. Michigan State (9-1) Last week: 2
Defeated Rutgers and Southern Utah
The Spartans weren’t tested much over the past week, but with Duke’s loss and Michigan State’s overall accomplishments this season, Sparty vaults into the number one spot. Michigan State gets the nod over unbeaten Villanova on the strength of the three ranked teams it has played.
2. Villanova (10-0) Last week: 4
Defeated #12 Gonzaga and LaSalle
After a convincing win over #12 Gonzaga on Tuesday night in which Mikal Bridges announced himself to the country, the undefeated Wildcats made a strong case to be ranked at the top of this week’s rankings. However, they were unsteady in their performance against LaSalle, so Michigan State’s strength-of-schedule was enough to put the Spartans over the top. That being said ‘Nova may be the most complete team in the country, and the top two teams are really 1A and 1B at this point.
3. Wichita State (8-1) Last week: 7
Defeated South Dakota State and Oklahoma State
A big boost this week for the Shockers, taking advantage of stumbles by teams ahead of them and an impressive road win against Oklahoma State. Landry Shamet and Shaquille Morris provide a great one-two punch for Wichita State. The Shockers await another test this week from Oklahoma.
4. Duke (10-1) Last week: 1
Defeated St. Francis, lost to Boston College
The Blue Devils’ loss to Boston College sends them tumbling to fourth this week. The scheduling quirk that produced this early ACC game caused something you don’t see very often: Duke held the #1 ranking in the country but was in last place in the ACC. As good as Duke has been on the offensive end (93.3 ppg, 2nd in the country), they have struggled defensively (75.2 ppg, 233rd). Duke remains the most talented team in the country, but will need to get things straightened out on the defensive end.
5. Arizona State (9-0) Last week: NR
Defeated St. John’s and #2 Kansas
The Sun Devils’ great start got a whole lot more impressive over the weekend. After handling an improved St. John’s team on Friday, Arizona State rode into Lawrence and handed #2 Kansas its second-consecutive loss. Tra Holder has been electric, and he has gotten plenty of help from Shannon Evans II, Romello White and Kodi Justice, who are all averaging 15+ points per game. The Sun Devils’ offense has been humming, and they now hold wins over ranked squads Xavier and Kansas. After spending last week in the “lurking” section of the rankings, Arizona State catapults to #5 this week.
6. Kentucky (8-1) Last week: 6
Kentucky had a light week, easily dispatching Monmouth in its only game. The Wildcats have won six straight and the young roster seems to be getting more comfortable with each game. But they will have to show more to move up the rankings, as the schedule has been less-than-impressive.
7. Miami (8-0) Last week: 8
Defeated Boston University
The Hurricanes also had a light week, earning a double-digit win over Boston. They move up a spot due to Kansas’ disastrous week. Miami continues to be one of the best defensive teams in the country, and it feels like the best of the Hurricanes offense is yet to come.
8. North Carolina (9-1) Last week: NR
Defeated Western Carolina
The Tar Heels finally make their debut in the TSFJ rankings. UNC has won four in a row since its loss to Michigan State. Luke Maye is on the short list of most improved players in the country, while Joel Berry II and Kenny Williams have formed a formidable backcourt. The Tar Heels get a shot at a quality win on Sunday when they travel to #24 Tennessee.
9. Texas A&M (8-1) Last week: 5
Lost to Arizona, defeated Prairie View
The Aggies finally stumbled last week, succumbing to a desperate Arizona team. While that loss doesn’t look great at the moment due to Arizona’s early struggles, the Wildcats are incredibly talented and are likely to climb their way back into the top 25. A&M’s win over #10 USC is suddenly not looking as good as it did at the time, but the Aggies still have a solid list of wins, and the SEC schedule will provide plenty of opportunities to add to that list. Each of A&M’s eight victories have come by double-digits.
10. Xavier (9-1) Last week: 10
Defeated Kent St. and Colorado
The Musketeers followed up their strong wins over Baylor and Cincinnati with convincing ones over Kent St. and Colorado. Despite the easy victories, Xavier is clinging to its spot in these rankings as several teams are right on its heels.
Lurking: Florida State, West Virginia, Seton Hall, TCU, Mississippi State, Kansas, Gonzaga
Dropped from Rankings: Kansas, Gonzaga
The week was a disaster for Kansas, who lost consecutive home games to unranked Washington and #16 Arizona State. As good as the Jayhawks have been this season, that’s enough to send them tumbling from the rankings. There is no shame in Gonzaga losing to #4 Villanova, but its second loss was too much to overcome to remain in the rankings.
As college hoops chaos continues to spread around the country, the rankings should continue to be increasingly volatile, so be sure to check in again next week. And as always, tell us where we were right, where we were wrong, and where we were way off.
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.