Last week, we saw the three remaining unbeaten teams fall, setting the stage for a wild and wide-open college basketball season. This week the trend continued, as 15 of the teams ranked in the top 25, including five teams ranked in the TSFJ College Hoops Power Rankings, all lost, igniting all-out chaos not only in these rankings but across the college hoops world. This week, we do our best to make sense of the mayhem.
1. Villanova (14-1) Last week: 3
The Wildcats make a quick return to the top of the rankings after falling from the number one spot a week ago. Villanova responded to its first loss of the season with a win over Marquette, and with both Michigan State and Duke suffering losses, ‘Nova again ascends the throne. At this point no team in college basketball looks like a lock for the Final Four, but Villanova has been among the most consistent teams in an inconsistent season.
2. West Virginia (14-1) Last week: 5
Defeated No. 7 Oklahoma
West Virginia derailed the Trae Young show, getting the best win of the week. Young managed 29 points, but shot just 8-22 while turning it over eight times. Jevon Carter got the better of things, scoring 17 points, dishing out 10 assists, and grabbing seven rebounds. So far, the Mountaineers have been able to avoid the chaos of the season, and their stock continues to soar.
3. Michigan State (15-2) Last week: 1
Defeated Maryland, lost to Ohio State
Things appeared to be following the script after the Spartans dismantled Maryland, but the Buckeyes had other ideas, stunning Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. Michigan State and Villanova have appeared to be the two most complete teams through the first half of the season, but neither has been able to escape the upset bug. Despite the stumble, the Spartans remain the favorite in the Big Ten.
4. Duke (13-2) Last week: 2
Lost to NC State
Duke suffered one of the more surprising losses of the week as they fell to NC State. Defense remains a major concern for the Blue Devils, as six NC State players scored in double figures and the Wolfpack hung 96 on Duke. Marvin Bagley continues to impress, and the Blue Devils remain a dangerous team. But until the defense gets cleaned up, you have to think there are a few more losses lurking in the ACC.
5. Texas Tech (14-1) Last week: 9
Defeated No. 10 Kansas, Kansas State
The Red Raiders continued their impressive run with a win at Kansas followed by a home victory over Kansas State. Texas Tech remains stingy on the defensive end while Keenan Evans carries the load offensively. We’ll have a much clearer picture of the Red Raiders in a few days, as Oklahoma and West Virginia loom this week. For the time being, Texas Tech finds itself tied with West Virginia atop the Big 12 standings.
6. Purdue (15-2) Last week: 8
Defeated Rutgers and Nebraska
The Boilermakers made easy work of Big Ten foes Rutgers and Nebraska, winning those two games by an average of 21.5 points. Purdue is one of just two teams in the country ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency by KenPom (the other is Michigan State). It has won 11 straight and sits tied with Ohio State atop the conference.
7. Wichita State (13-2) Last week: 10
Defeated Houston, USF
Losses to Notre Dame and Oklahoma served to quiet the hype surrounding the Shockers. But Wichita State has wasted no time establishing itself as a factor in the AAC, winning its first three games in its new conference by an average of 22 points, including an impressive 18-point victory over Houston.
8. Virginia (14-1) Last week: NR
Defeated Virginia Tech, No. 12 North Carolina
Here at TSFJ, we’ve been hesitant to buy in on the Cavaliers, largely due to a weak non-conference schedule and a stumble in their biggest test against West Virginia. But that has changed with last week’s win over North Carolina, where they held the Tar Heels to just 49 points. Only three opponents have been able to crack the 60-point mark against Virginia. While the offense is far from explosive, Virginia takes care of the ball, and paired with the nation’s best defense it is more than serviceable. A stretch of winnable games will give the Cavaliers an opportunity to climb the rankings further.
9. Oklahoma (12-2) Last week: 3
Defeated Oklahoma State, lost to No. 6 West Virginia
A loss to West Virginia is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s enough to send the Sooners tumbling from their perch at number three. Trae Young continues to be must-watch, and Oklahoma remains a dangerous team. The Sooners’ run through the Big 12 schedule will be fascinating to watch.
10. Auburn (14-1) Last week: NR
Defeated No. 23 Tennessee, No. 22 Arkansas
With virtually every team who was listed as “lurking” last week suffering a loss, the final spot in this week’s rankings was open to a surprise. Auburn and Clemson emerged as the two teams under consideration, and Auburn gets the nod thanks to the fact that it was singlehandedly responsible for part of the chaos that reverberated throughout the college basketball world last week.
The Tigers are winners of 12-straight, with the best of those wins coming in the last week. Mustapha Heron and Bryce Brown lead a potent Tiger offense that averages 87.3 points per game. But Auburn is one of only two teams unbeaten in SEC play, and it takes advantage of the tumultuous week in college hoops to make its debut in these rankings.
Lurking: Xavier, Arizona State, Arizona, Kansas, Clemson, TCU
Dropped from rankings: Xavier, Arizona State
Xavier fell following its loss to Providence. The Musketeers have a legitimate case to remain in the rankings, but the loss coupled with several recent close calls was enough to push them just outside the top 10. They will have an opportunity for a quick return with Villanova and Creighton awaiting them this week. Arizona State lost to Colorado, (who has been on a rampage this week as they also beat Arizona) and that is enough to cost the Sun Devils their spot in the rankings.
It was a wild week in college basketball, and as the distance between teams continues to shrink, the importance of each game grows. The intensity will continue to increase, as it appears there will be very few easy nights in college hoops the rest of the way. All of this will make for a fun ride for hoops fans, and is sure to lead to more changes in these rankings. We’ll see you next week to assess the tumult.
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.