After an intense weekend of college basketball, things continue to shuffle in this week’s TSFJ College Hoops Power Rankings. Trae Young’s antics against Wichita State opened room for several teams to move up, while helping his Sooners make their debut in the rankings. ETSU’s near-upset of Xavier cleared the way for another first-timer to join the party as well.
The Wildcats turned a potential trap game against Temple into a clinic, trouncing their city rival, 87-67. How lopsided was this game? Temple went on a 16-3 first-half run and still trailed by seven, and the Owls still faced a 17-point halftime deficit. Jalen Brunson and Omari Spellman each posted career-highs in points while highlighting just how dangerous Villanova is. We said last week that Michigan State and Villanova were 1A and 1B, and after leapfrogging the Spartans in the polls, Villanova does the same in this week’s power rankings.
Michigan State was pushed to the brink against Oakland before a late run led to a 13-point victory. Ultimately this will be a good win for the Spartans and will likely make them better, but a failure to control the majority of the game combined with Villanova’s performance drops the Spartans a spot…for now.
The Sun Devils continued to roll, one of only four remaining unbeatens. After falling behind 13-0 against the Commodores, there were concerns of a letdown following the win over Kansas. But ASU finished the half outscoring Vanderbilt 30-16 to take a one-point lead before cruising to a 12-point victory. Tra Holder continued to lead the way, and the Sun Devils had one of their better defensive performances of the season. They will be expected to remain unbeaten heading into the Pac-12 opener against surging Arizona.
The Blue Devils had the week off, left to stew over the defeat to Boston College. Nobody behind the Dookies did quite enough to unseat them, as the strength of their early-season accomplishments keeps them holding steady at No. 4.
Defeated Virginia Tech
It feels like Kentucky is flying under the radar. After some early-season scares against cupcakes and a close loss to Kansas, it seems the college basketball world has pushed the Wildcats to the back of its mind. A less-than-impressive schedule hasn’t helped, but Kentucky began to handle lesser teams the way it is expected to. The Wildcats were tested by an offensively potent Virginia Tech team and answered the call. The young talent is settling in, and Kentucky should continue to improve as the season goes on. Don’t worry BBN, The Sports Fan Journal sees you.
Defeated George Washington
The Hurricanes remain unbeaten, playing lockdown defense. Only two opponents have managed to score over 60 points on Miami. Meanwhile five Hurricanes are averaging double-figures, and highly-touted freshman Lonnie Walker is finding his stride. The ACC will provide plenty of chances for Miami to prove just how good it is, but you have to like what you’ve seen so far. The ingredients for March success are present.
Defeated No. 20 Tennessee
The Tar Heels marched into Knoxville and got one of the best wins of the week, turning a six-point halftime deficit into a five-point win. North Carolina has recovered nicely from the disastrous outing against Michigan State, and looks prepared to defend its national title. The backcourt of Joel Berry II and Kenny Williams looks like a championship-worthy duo, while Luke Maye continued his impressive campaign.
A&M throttled Savannah 113-66 in its lone game this week. The Aggies are solid at both ends of the floor, while showing elite rebounding and passing ability. They appear primed to be a factor in what is shaping up as a very interesting SEC race. And they have done all of this without the expected production from NBA hopeful Robert Williams. Should Williams regain his form, look out.
Defeated Wheeling Jesuit
Sure, a win over Wheeling Jesuit doesn’t carry much weight, but the Mountaineers did win by 48 points, nearly doubling-up on the Cardinals. They’ve been lurking just outside the power rankings since their win over Virginia, and now at 10-1, with the lone loss coming to the team just ahead of them in these rankings, they finally make their debut. Jevon Carter has quietly been one of the best players in the country, averaging 19.4 points, six assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game.
Defeated No. 3 Wichita State
This final spot was a toss up between Oklahoma and last week’s occupant, Xavier. The Musketeers needed a 39-15 run to erase a 22-point second half deficit and escape with a win over ETSU. Meanwhile the Sooners notched their second-straight top 25 win, taking down No. 3 Wichita State in Wichita. Freshman Trae Young has become must-watch TV, averaging 28.8 points, 8.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals. Much like the SEC, the Big 12 schedule is looking mighty intriguing, and Oklahoma is a big reason why.
Lurking: Purdue, Xavier, Texas Tech, TCU, Gonzaga, Florida State, Wichita State, Kansas
Dropped from rankings: Wichita State, Xavier
The Shockers’ first loss to Notre Dame is looking worse by the day, and the second one to an unranked team (albeit a good one) is enough to send them tumbling from the rankings. Xavier escaped with a W, and remains a very real national threat, but you have to bring you’re A-game to make the cut around here, and that simply wasn’t the case for the Musketeers this week.
Between finals and the holidays, the college hoops schedule is pretty light this week. But weird things seem to happen in college sports when we least expect it, so be sure to check back next week to see how the rankings have changed. UNC, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Xavier in particular have upcoming games that could affect the next rankings.
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